Monday, March 26, 2007

Everything on hold!

Because it's the first day of the new quarter. Because I'm taking the hardcore science classes. Because I'm starting a new job (for which I am totally excited).

Basically everything--the EfL subbing, the fics, and the fanfics--all go on hold because my (real) life is on the go. Profs are crazy, of course, but you'd think that I'd be used to it after having dealt with them for two quarters already. But apparently, I'm not.

Don't worry, though, because I'll probably start working on the projects again next week. EfL subbing won't go nearly as quickly as I (or you, I imagine) would like, but at least it's going. I was offered (and have accepted) help in subbing EfL, too, so it won't be a one person project anymore. :)

In other ways, I've started the first page of the second chapter of Elemental Desire. Don't worry, it wasn't interrupting life, because I was writing it during a lecture to which I had absolutely no need to listen. The last three chapters of Property should be cleaned up and reposted before I leave for the summer, and HP&Nightmares is going to be a duology for sure. Like Magic Underground and Sunrise on a Dragon are both going to be put on the back burner. Especially Sunrise on a Dragon because I tend to write those chapters in an hour or so between classes.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

EfL 01... rerelease?

So I was looking at the video... after I had already encoded, uploaded, and distributed it, and I realized that there were a lot of glitches in there, in spelling, grammar, formatting, and timing. Plus, the songs weren't translated in the episode.

Even worse, though, is that though the mp4 file plays on my machine beautifully with MPC, the video is nonexistent when I play it with QuickTime player. Plus, the image was a bit blocky. Maybe I'll get the image clear or I'll get the size down to 300mb or something.

Friday edit: Rereleased!


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Engagement for Love episode 1 is (almost) out!

It's official: I'm doing this series and it's going to be in hardsubs. I reencoded the video from rmvb and made it 100mb smaller (oops?) but it looks fine to me. But I didn't watch the whole episode (again) either.

I know that there are some parts that are kind of glitch-y, but hey, first try and all that. I'm sure it'll get better with practice. (And if you really have a problem with it, don't watch it.

Also, I'm posting up torrents (at d-addicts), direct download links, and streaming sites. So, I hope you can all watch it. This also means I don't want anybody stealing my things! If somebody steals (and I will find out because these things are made very public), I will stop posting up links. You are, of course, welcome to link to my blog or any page in my blog.

Click here for downloading links


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Engagement for Love

a subtitling project

ethidda and carinelay present to you: Engagement for Love. I haven't even seen all of it, so I don't know if it will end well (though I hear it ends well). I'm doing the translating and carine has kindly offered to time. I hope that you will enjoy it. :)

Rules for downloads:

1.) You are welcomed to link to my blog or this page in particular. Also feel free to share the direct download links, but I would appreciate a link back to this site.
2.) You are not allowed to reupload to anything. This includes YouTube. I will only upload the first episode onto YouTube. The rest, if you can only use streaming video, are available on Veoh and Google Video.
3.) Please don't ask when the next episode is going to come out. I don't try to take a long time, but I'm not a subbing robot either.

Most recent episode: Episode 1
(scroll down for all videos and downloading methods)

Online Videos by

Episode 1v2

Raw video from YDY
Translations, timing, encoding, and distributing: ethidda

Bittorrent: D-Addicts Link
DDL: MegaUpload | GigaSize
Streaming: Veoh


DDL: MediaFire

Current Progress:

Episode 2
translations - done!
timing - 50%
<-- Thank you, carinelay!
Final editing and checks... Raw video seems to have issues...


Friday, March 9, 2007

Harry Potter and the Prince of Nightmares

Chapter Seven: Gods, Souls, and Spirits

Hermione leaned over to Harry and interrupted class rather uncharacteristically. "You really shouldn't attempt the spell," she whispered.

Harry snuck a peak at Professor Snape, who thankfully didn't seem to hear Hermione's chitchat. Professor Snape was lecturing another use for the new DADA spell: tandemus contigo. On a piece of paper—because Professor Snape always seemed to catch him chitchatting—he wrote, I think I have to... I don't think Snape would let me not try the spell.

Carefully, Harry pushed the piece of paper across the desk toward Hermione, who scanned the missive discreetly.

Just as Harry was taking the paper back, though, Snape's voice spoke from behind him, "Potter, why don't you try the spell. With Longbottom."

Harry looked behind him, and just as he had expected, Snape was eyeing the piece of paper with a disgusted expression on his face. It was an expression reserved for Gryffindors, Harry suspected, because he couldn't imagine the Hufflepuffs or the Ravenclaws surviving DADA class if Snape turned this look on them.

Then, Harry looked at Longbottom apprehensively. Because of Snape's association with the Malfoys, Harry suspected very strongly that Snape knew exactly what was happening between Harry and exactly why he couldn't perform the spell.

Furthermore, tandemus contigo was a spell that two wizards or witches did in tandem, to use each other's magic to protect themselves. This was because a wizard's own magic had a tendency to be pulled back within the wizard, and therefore any shell-like protection spell would hold for barely a second. With foreign magic that the body naturally rejected, though, the protection was much more effective. However, the spell was also very draining, and so two wizards had to exchange magic to not be depleted too quickly.

The likelihood of Neville performing such a complex spell correctly the first time under the pressure of Snape's direct scrutiny, though, was practically nil, even if Harry had somehow miraculously recovered enough magic.

Once both Harry and Neville stood at the front of the room, the class fell silent. Harry heard a snort of disbelief and looked over at Draco, who sat as if he didn't have a care in the world. As if he didn’t care—and Harry knew he did—and as if last night didn't happen...

Harry felt his own face heating up at the thought and decided that he might as well try the spell and fail. If he died, at least he'd take Draco's sniggering face with him.

With one final speaking glance at each other, Harry and Neville decided to perform the spell.

"One," Snape started counting without preamble. "Two. Three."

"Tandemus contigo," Neville and Harry shouted at the same time. Faint green light shot out of their wands and enveloped the boys.

Harry felt surprise and satisfaction that he proved Snape wrong, but then the lights went out almost immediately with a thud. Neville had fainted.

The Gryffindor half of the classroom ran toward Neville and tried to ennervate him as the Slytherin side watched. But the Gryffindors parted for Snape as he stalked his way toward Neville.

Snape kneeled down in front next to Longbottom, his black robes pooling around him.

After a short while, he pronounced, "Longbottom is fine, but Madame Pomfrey would want to see him anyways. Since you three never seem to learn anything anyways—" This, of course, was directed at Harry, Ron and Hermione. "—why don't you carry your housemate to the infirmary. Noble Gryffindors and all."

"Professor Snape is a genius," Hermione declared unexpectedly.

Harry and Ron both looked up from their transfiguration essays due tomorrow to stare at Hermione's announcement. Of course, Hermione had already finished the essay, but she was seated comfortably in one of the big armchairs and reading a book, as usual. The only other person in the room was Ginny, but she seemed absorbed in her thoughts as she stared into the fireplace.

Noticing Ron and Harry's disbelieving faces, Hermione elaborated, "The tandemus contigo spell. Of course, Neville fainted, but—"

At this, Ginny looked up. "Neville fainted?"

Hermione nodded. Ron offered, "You know the way Snape is with Neville. At least Snape doesn't teach Potions anymore."

Harry grumbled, "I don't think DADA is an improvement."

"Neville's in the infirmary?" Ginny asked.

Hermione nodded again. "He's been there all afternoon."

At this, Ginny stood up quite suddenly. "I've been wondering where he was." Then, without saying another world, she rushed out of the Gryffindor common room, startling both Harry and Ron.

"It's quite close to curfew," Harry observed.

Ron only stared at the closed entrance to the Gryffindor common room. "Ginny... Neville? Harry, you don't think... That Ginny and Neville..." Seeming too horrified at the thought, Ron couldn't even finish his sentence.

Harry knew what Ron meant, though. "I wouldn't know..."

"But what happened to that guy? Za... something. I think his first name was Mitchell or Michael or something." Ron asked.

Hermione rolled her eyes in exasperation. "That was ages ago. If you don't notice these things, it'll be too late by the time somebody actually tells you."

"But I noticed this time," Ron defended himself.

"Anyway," Hermione continued. "Snape managed to replenish Harry's magical energy. It's not good that Neville fainted, of course, but Harry needs his magical energy more. Besides, Harry didn't drain Neville dry, so he'll probably be fine."

"Wait, wait, wait," Harry interrupted. "What do you mean?"

"Tandemus contigo is a spell based on raw power," Hermione explained. "And because you had a lot of need for magical energy, your body simply absorbed it."

"But it's foreign magical energy," Harry pointed out. "Snape—who, according to you, is a genius—said that the body repels foreign magical energy."

"Well..." Hermione trailed off as she started thinking again.

"Well?" Ron echoed impatiently.

"Well, I think it's like this." Hermione looked at both boys to make sure they were both paying attention. "Harry, your mother died to protect you. I think she somehow gave all of her magical energy to you when she died. So your body is used to foreign magic and it has a storage well for foreign magic before it converts it to your own magic."

"So I took Neville's magic?" At least now, Harry knew for a fact that it was he who had put Neville in the infirmary. "But I don't see how my mother gave her magical energy to me."

Hermione was silent for a moment as she thought of a way to explain what she thought had happened. "You know the Malfoys?"

"The Nightmares?" Ron asked.

Hermione nodded. "And you know how they are both pretty cold and mean and basically don't care about the world?"

"It's because they have no hearts," Ron said derisively.

"No, it's not," Hermione said. "It's because they have no souls."

Harry's green eyes widened at this. "What do you mean?"

"Well, technically, they do have souls," Hermione corrected herself. "The thing is, the human brain is split into two hemispheres with different functions—hemispheric lateralization. The basics of it are that the left part contains the logical and rational part. It also contains what we call the spirit. The right part of the brain contains the instincts and the morals. It's where your conscience is. It's also where the soul is."

In her enthusiasm, Hermione put down the book she was reading, Nightmares and Nightmares, and leaned forward in her seat. "In human brains, these two parts are connected. The soul part can love and hate and have faith. It's these 'soul-deep' feelings that make magic. Then, it sends the magic to the spirit, which makes up reasons for it. The spirit also makes it known to the conscious mind, so that something can be done.

"In muggles, the soul and the spirit are so closely tied together that any magic sent to the spirit gets sent back almost immediately to the soul. They don't have a magic reservoir. In wizards and witches, though, the connection from the spirit to the soul is weaker. And when you get a 'soul-deep' feeling, the magic gets sent to the spirit, but if the feeling is too strong, the spirit can't send all of it back soon enough, and something magical happens, as the spirit tries to funnel off the extra magic.

"Part of Hogwarts training is so that we can contain more magical energy within ourselves, because otherwise, the magical energy will be depleted too quickly, and the soul will have nothing left to feel with. Like Riddle, who was rumored to use a lot of magic even before he started getting trained for it. It made him unable to love. Even trained wizards and witches, though, have a hard time feeling love and hate as deeply as muggles because of this. This is why there are so many arranged marriages and marriages for convenience in the wizarding community."

"That's not true," Ron protested. "My parents are happily in love."

Hermione waved airily. "It's the exception that proves the rule. Besides, they love all things muggle, and I think that has done something to strengthen this connection. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that Lily Potter poured all of her magic into Harry when she died for him, because she loved him. Love is a soul deep feeling and so all of the magical energy in her soul probably transferred directly into Harry and deflected the killing curse."

Harry thought that what Hermione said made sense. At least, it had passed through Hermione's eminently logical mind already. Still, one question remained, "What does this have to do with the Malfoys?"

"The Malfoys are Nightmares, which are described in detail in this exceptional book." Hermione picked up Nightmares and Nightmares to show Harry and Ron. To them, it didn't look exceptional at all, just exceptionally old. "They have a myth for why they don't have souls, but the scientific explanation is that the connections from their spirits to their souls are basically nonexistent. After several years of depleting the soul of magical energy, the soul basically shrivels. And you get—"

"The Malfoys," Ron finished for Hermione.

"Exactly," Hermione said. "Which is also why they need a mate to provide them with magical energy. What they do get, though, is a highly developed spirit that can basically make their magic do whatever they want it to."

Harry thought aloud, "I thought books on Nightmares were banned."

"Well, yes," Hermione admitted reluctantly. "But Nightmares are allowed to have them."

Ron's eyes widened. "You mean you borrowed it from Malfoy?"

"Sort of," Hermione hedged, making Ron even more suspicious. Hermione almost never hedged. "Blaise borrowed it from Malfoy for me."

"Blaise? Blaise Zabini?"

"Yes," Hermione answered clearly and defensively. "He was very polite about it all."

"And you just accepted a gift from a Slytherin?" Ron pursued.

Hermione's eyes narrowed at Ron's tone of voice. "It's just a book, and he lent it to me. He didn't give it to me."

"It's just a book," Ron repeated incredulously, throwing his hands in the air. "Yeah, well, Ginny just wrote in a diary her first year. And Quirrel just wanted a stone our first year. Hermione, he could've hidden any number of hexes in there and it would be too late for you as soon as you looked at the book."

"Well, guess what? It's a risk I chose to take." Before Ron could berate her again—and really, did Ron really think he knew that much more about the magical world?—Hermione continued, "And besides, the book has been very enlightening. I have to remember to give Blaise a thank you gift with the book when I return it."

"But..." Ron said weakly. "Blaise Zabini...?"

Hermione didn't say anything. Instead, she smiled at Ron, the corners of her mouth stretching a little unnaturally, Harry thought.

"Um..." Harry said when neither Hermione nor Ron said anything. "So I don't really have to sleep with Draco anymore?"

After a pause, Hermione answered, "Apparently not."

"Draco?" Ron repeated. "Since when did he become Draco instead of Malfoy?"

Neither Hermione nor Harry answered Ron's bewildered question. Harry didn't really feel like answering and Hermione thought Harry might as well deal with his relationship now instead of later.

Seeing that neither of his best friends was going to answer, Ron covered his face with his hands despairingly. "God save me from Pansy Parkinson."

"Well, thanks for sending advanced warning," Snape said as he found Lucius in his suite moments after a frantic owl had tracked him down in the corridor. "Half-minute advanced warning is better than nothing, I suppose."

Lucius ignored Snape's sarcasm and nodded gracefully. Truly, Snape thought, if you took away Lucius's horrible personality, he would be God's piece of artwork. Draco, too. But as they were, they were quite troublesome to deal with.

"Well?" Snape prompted. He knew he sounded irritated, but he didn't care enough to hide it. He had had a full day of classes today, and double DADA with Potter. Even worse, he had had to help Potter without letting anybody know about it. "It'd better be important. The Dark Lord was throwing the Cruciatus curse left and right yesterday, and since you haven't healed me, I'm not completely healed yet."

"It's my fault, of course," Lucius accepted. "I decided that neither Narcissa nor myself will associate with Voldemort any longer."

"Well, so glad you have a choice." Snape found a chair to sit in. Lucius had taken his favorite chair, again. "Next time, think about us mortals who don't." Snape found himself shifting in his chair. It was really very uncomfortable, which was why he usually made the students sit in it. "I can't believe Narcissa just went along with it."

"Well," Lucius answered vaguely. "I have ways of persuading her."

Snape snorted. He had finally settled to sit in the chair backwards, so he could lean forward onto the back of the chair. It was not a very elegant way of sitting, but then Snape doubted anybody could compare with a Malfoy in the room. In fact, Snape had seen Lucius sitting in just such a way. Elegantly.

"Wonderful," Snape said dryly. "I would much rather not know. And I certainly hope you didn't just come here to tell me that you were the cause of all the pain I went through."

"Of course not." Lucius leaned back in Snape's favorite chair and steepled his fingers. Snape had to envy how beautiful Lucius looked, with his pale blond hair and beautiful silver eyes. From the tips of Lucius's long fingers to the folds of his black robe, Lucius defined the purpose of breeding.

Snape did not envy Narcissa, though. Or Potter, for that matter. Actually, Snape had never envied anybody much, except for Black. But Black was dead now, so that was that.

Lucius continued serenely, "We had a High Councilor meeting yesterday."

"I know. You have one every Sunday."

"And Typhulus brought up an interesting subject—"

"Typhulus?" Snape interrupted. "Damien Typhulus?"

Lucius nodded. "He is a Nightmare who spies on Nightmares. He's a betrayer."

Snape leaned his forehead against the back of the chair and groaned. "He's promised the Dark Lord an alliance with Nightmares. Voldemort will be angry when Typhulus doesn't deliver."

"Not necessarily," Lucius said. "Typhulus brought up the idea of an alliance just as the meeting was ending. He wanted to discuss it in depth at the next meeting."

"What's the point?" Snape asked. "It's not as if the Nightmares are going to ally somebody trying to kill the mate of their prince, and therefore kill their prince. You've told me that Nightmares don't work like that."

"They don't," Lucius confirmed. "But by next Sunday, over thirty days would have passed since the ancient law was invoked. If Potter still hasn't accepted the bond by then, there is a big chance that he won't before the bond withers away."

"And if he won't," Snape finished for Lucius. "Draco will die anyways. If for nothing else, the Nightmares would want to kill Potter out of revenge. You included."

Lucius nodded. "Of course."

"So, let me guess," Snape said, his tone betraying quite clearly his distaste for Lucius's upcoming request. "You want me to somehow persuade Potter to accept the bond."

Again, Lucius acted as if he only heard the words Snape said and not the tone of his voice. "That would be of great help. I would really rather not have to kill Potter." Lucius paused thoughtfully. "Voldemort is quite strong, you know, and Potter still managed to defeat him... numerous times. Disgracefully numerous times for a Dark Lord, actually."

When Lucius looked at Snape expectantly, Snape spat out, "Fine. I'll see what I can do, but I don't think Potter's very inclined to listen to me. I haven't been the nicest person to him."

Lucius nodded regally. "It will be fine, as long as you succeed."

"Isn't that just comforting." After a pause, Snape asked, "Don't tell me that you stopped being a Death-Eater because you decided that the Dark Lord was disgraceful."

"That was part of it," Lucius admitted. "The purpose of being a Death-Eater is the elevation of social status. And disgrace definitely has to do with that."

At this, Snape closed his eyes and sighed. He supposed he could see why he never went very high on the pureblood social ladder, even with his acquaintance with Lucius. Snape just didn't understand these things, and really, he would really rather not. If it hadn't been for trying to compete with the Marauders, he might never have aimed for social status at all.

Lucius still sat in Snape's favorite chair when Snape looked up. "Well?" Snape grumbled. "Don't I at least get healed for all this trouble you're putting me through? Spying on Voldemort, keeping an eye on Dumbledore, looking out for Potter... Especially looking out for Potter."

Lucius smiled but didn't move from his chair. "What's the magic word?"

Snape glared at Lucius. "Fuck you."

"That was two words," Lucius pointed out. "Besides, it's the action that makes the magic, not the words itself. But I'll be nice and heal you anyways."

At this, Snape grumbled sarcastically, "Oh, thank you, Lucius."

On Tuesday, Hermione finished Nightmares and Nightmares. She was carrying it around with her when she saw Blaise in the hall.

"Hello, Blaise," she called to his back.

Blaise stopped and turned around. When he saw that it was Hermione who had called out to him, a smile lit up his face. "Hi, Hermione."

"I want to thank you again for letting me read Nightmares and Nightmares," Hermione said as she started digging around through her bag. "It's the most fascinating book I have ever read. But I have promised to give it back once I finished reading it. So, here it is."

Blaise took back the book hesitantly, for once unsure of what he should say to a girl. Finally, he decided on, "My pleasure."

Hermione smiled. "That's so gentlemanly of you."

Inwardly, Blaise winced. He didn't want to be a gentleman. He wasn't a gentleman. He wanted to win Hermione over so that he could be the single most eligible bachelor in all of Hogwarts. And maybe Witch Weekly, too.

Then, Hermione added, "And I stuck a pass to the Restricted Section in there, as a thank you gift, you know. If you ever need it." As she thought about it, though, she blushed. Really, everybody wasn't a bookworm. Not even most.

"Thank you, I'm sure it will come in handy," Blaise replied, sounding sincere. Despite that he would very probably never go to the Restricted Section, he did appreciate the thought. There was something very refreshing about a gift without an agenda... or at least, a very innocent agenda, because the worst that Blaise could think of was that Hermione would want to borrow more books in the future.

A bell rang somewhere, and Hermione looked up with alarm. "I really have to go now. Otherwise, I'll be late to my class. I'll see you later."

Faced with Hermione's retreating back, Blaise was suddenly unsure what to do. "Hermione," he yelled to her back.

Hermione stopped and turned. "What is it?"

"Um..." Blaise fought not to blush. He actually didn't know what it was. He hadn't wanted the conversation to end. He had wanted to see her genuine smiling face again. But he wasn't going to tell Hermione that. Instead, he searched for something else to say. Dammit, he was a Slytherin!

Finally, Blaise settled with, "Which class are you going to?"

"Double Magical Theory," Hermione answered easily. She didn't seem to have found his question inane, Blaise thought with relief. "I actually quite recommend the class, but I really have to hurry now."

"Okay," Blaise said, flashing her one of his famous Zabini smiles, hoping that it matched hers in brilliancy. "I'll see you around."


Harry Potter and the Prince of Nightmares

Chapter Six: Searching for Milk

Lucius had barely settled into his chair in his study when Narcissa burst through the door. Her underskirt was twisted around her hips and her bare chest had begun sagging from age and bounced rather unattractively as she ran into the room. Although she had put concealer on it, Lucius could still see the faint bite mark on her shoulder. The concealer just made him angry.

"Lucius!" She yelled as soon as she set foot inside his study, running a rather dry hand through her matted blond hair. "What is the meaning of this?"

Lucius blatantly ignored her finger pointing to her left arm, with flapping meat but otherwise unblemished. "I was unaware that I said anything to you."

"You know perfectly well what I'm talking about!" Narcissa stamped her foot for emphasis. At Lucius's continued silence, she said, "The Dark Mark!"

"What Dark Mark?"

"Exactly, where is the Dark Mark?" She breathed loudly. Lucius wasn't sure if that was supposed to make him more compassionate toward her frustration, but he felt that it made him rather disgusted with her. If she was to be a horse, she could at least choose those who mount her, instead of accepting everybody.

Narcissa forged on despite Lucius's apparent nonchalance. "It's good that Nott didn't see anything, but he's going to ask questions."

Calmly, Lucius asked, "So, it's Nott than?"

Narcissa gasped sharply and blanched. She took a step backwards. "N-no, it's not," she stuttered. "Nott... no... time... this..." Her sentences became unintelligible garbles.

"Too late." Lucius shook his head in mock regret as he stood up from his seat. With easy steps, he stepped around his desk to stand in front of Narcissa. "Too late," he repeated softly, as if in mourning, but his eyes held a new spark like just polished silver.

As Lucius walked past Narcissa, she pulled desperately on Lucius's white robe. "No, Lucius..." In desperation, she kneeled behind his departing back. "Please, Lucius..."

Lucius shook his head again. "Too late, sweet Cissy." He stopped walking toward the door, though, much to Narcissa's relief. "I've told you, as soon as I know who it is... You're going to have to find a new toy."

"It's not a game," Narcissa shouted after Lucius, and got up haphazardly to detain him, who had started his even walk toward the door again. "It's not a game! It's love. Just because you can't love doesn't mean the rest of us can't. Just because you're not human doesn't mean the rest of us aren't." She never gave up her grasp on Lucius robe, but he only shrugged it so it lay like a rug in his study.

Lucius easily ignored Narcissa's pleas, and made his way to the door of his study.

"Lord," Narcissa started gasping, her eyes wild from panic. "Oh Lord, oh Lord, oh Lord."

Then, to Narcissa's relief, Lucius stopped and turned toward her. He remarked rather dryly. "I doubt even Voldemort can do much for his followers from afar. Or that he would."

"Not the Dark Lord," Narcissa snapped, gaining courage that she had found something to distract Lucius. "Even I know his rules don't work like that. I'm praying to the Almighty One in heaven."

"You?" Lucius made as if peering down on Narcissa and laughed uproariously, a hard, grating sound in the dim confines of his somber study. "You, who would commit genocide to preserve your pride?"

Narcissa's blue eyes blazed indignantly, but her clothes—or lack thereof—rather ruined the effect. "It's for the good of the world."

"Besides," Lucius continued in a strangely satisfied tone, ignoring Narcissa's interruption. "God is dead. We killed Him."

Here, Lucius paused dramatically, almost as if expecting Narcissa to somehow respond, but she could only totter between belief and disbelief. While powerful and ambitious, Lucius had never showed signs of madness. Rather the opposite, actually. But if God was no more... for Narcissa, who had grown up in a Catholic family like all purebloods, the thought was incomprehensible. God was almighty, all-knowing and eternal.

Lucius smiled beatifically. "I am a Malfoy. Mal foi. Where do you think the name came from?"

Narcissa was still struggling with the fact that Lucius didn't believe in God. At least, not a God who still watched over all of his creation on Earth.

Lucius wasn't a Catholic. By God, he was going to tell her next that he didn't really believe in the pureblood ideal.

Suddenly, Lucius grabbed Narcissa's arm forcefully. "You’re my mate, Cissy. You can believe in a dead God all you want, but you will follow me first. Even when I no longer follow Voldemort."

Narcissa could only think of one intelligible reply. "But, why?"

"Because Draco has taken Harry Potter as his mate." Before Narcissa could offer any objections for an immutable fact, Lucius tightened his hold painfully on her arm. "And if you even entertain the idea of telling Voldemort this," he whispered menacingly. "I'll bite off your tongue and let the sweet taste of copper fill our kiss."

With her eyes closed, Narcissa could see clearly what Lucius meant. The bond between their spirits let Lucius fill her mind with his thoughts. At times like this, she reveled in it. With her mouth open, Narcissa barely controlled her breathing so that it was quiet and even. If Lucius ever knew that she enjoyed these punishments, he would stop them.

Lucius was very good with his punishments. Narcissa had yet to find another to be his equal. Nott, though, had a lot of potential.

Lucius's pale hand traveled up Narcissa's arm, leaving a bruise where he had grabbed her. His hand tickled her neck like feathers and caressed her face. "Then maybe I'll bite off your toes, one by one." His breath was a soft zephyr, a warm wind whispering into her ear. "I'll leave the big toes, I think, because it's quite difficult to walk properly without them. Then, I'll bite parts off of you where it won't show—your thighs, your back, your breast."

Here, he fondled her chest gently for emphasis. "And when I run out of places—that might take some time—I'll heal you... to start all over again. You know how much I love to see you scream." Lucius paused thoughtfully. "I don't think I'll heal your tongue, though. I don't much like to hear you jabber."

He turned and left the study, then, but he still needed to attend the High Councilor meeting before retiring for the night. As he swung on his white and gold cloak and apparated out of the Malfoy Manor, Narcissa found that she was slowly coming out of the all-consuming cloud of silver he had left in her mind.

She started gasping and trembling where she stood, her knees wobbling under her skirt and her teeth chattering. Lucius had said nothing more about Theodore, but she hoped...

Theodore was still waiting for her, Narcissa realized belatedly. He would be impatient by now. He would give her the release that Lucius withheld so miserly. Youth had never been gifted with patience, she thought in one of her rare moments of reflection. But that was what she so loved about them.

Truly, she loved Theodore.

Harry woke up with a gasp. The room was so dark that for a moment he thought he was still stuck in his nightmare. Cautiously, he put on his glasses and turned on the light—careful not to use any spells, because even Hermione had warned him against exhausting his magic.

His ragged breathing slowed to a more even rhythm as his eyes adjusted so he could see the familiar Hogwarts dorm. Harry refused to think of his nightmare, and instead got up to get a drink of water.

And all he could see was Sirius in the Department of Mysteries. Harry turned around the empty room and Sirius was falling behind the Veil. And falling. And falling.

Harry stood rooted as he watched Sirius falling. Sirius wasn't falling slowly, but somehow, he never quite fell, and Harry just watched Sirius fall endlessly behind the Veil without doing anything.

No, Harry wasn't going to think about his nightmare. It was already in the past. It wasn't—it wasn't!—his fault and there was nothing he could do about it now.

But in the dream, people had suddenly appeared, crowding the Department of Mysteries. They were silent, almost zombie like. Harry saw Ron and Hermione and Ginny. Neville and Luna followed. He recognized faces from DA and faces from Gryffindor. He saw Hagrid and Mrs. Figg. But it was so crowded that he couldn't see them all.

Then, one by one, the people turned their big eyes at him. He met Ron's brown eyes first, and then Ron dropped down and became a pile of clothes white bones. Then Hermione. Then Ginny. Then Luna. Then Neville. Until everybody became piles of clothes and white bones.

Then the piles started smoking and the next thing Harry knew, there was not a trace of them anymore.

There was only Malfoy and Malfoy and Malfoy. Somehow, Draco, Lucius and Narcissa were all there. They laughed at him, with a great big silent mocking laugh that could only occur in dreams.

And Harry had wanted to turn away from them.

He did, only to see Sirius falling, falling, falling behind the Veil.

And the Malfoys were laughing, laughing, laughing.

With one hand, Harry grabbed the wooden doorframe to the Gryffindor dorm. His breathing was ragged again, but the solidity of the wood underneath his hand helped to ground him. His other hand tightened on his wand, even if he knew that he shouldn't perform any magic.

I won't relive the nightmare, Harry told himself. I won't. I won't. I won't. He repeated the litany to himself, not caring that he sounded like a petulant child.

In the dream, all the Malfoys became one Malfoy. Harry couldn't quite see his features, but he spoke with Draco's voice.

Harry didn't quite hear Draco, but he knew Draco said, "See, I can make them all live again."

And all the people were back again and they were all walking toward Harry, but he could still see Sirius falling behind the Veil.

But then, all the people were gone again. "But I can't," Malfoy said. "Even I can't undo death." And somehow, that was in Lucius voice.

And the entire world was gone, and Harry stood alone in the night sky, without the ground below him. Except Draco's voice still haunted him. "It's okay," Harry heard Draco say. "I can just make another world. Just for the two of us."

"Grow it back," Harry muttered. "Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back."

Suddenly, Harry was in the Department of Mysteries again, all by himself. And there was Sirius falling behind the Veil. Only, this time, Dumbledore was falling behind the Veil, too. They were falling and falling and falling and falling.

And the people appeared out of nowhere. They shuffled toward Harry. They would look at him and falling down dead. Then the smoke and the empty room and the Malfoys all over again.

Then, Harry was alone in the night sky. The world had disappeared again from under his feet. And he was muttering, "Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back."

And Draco's voice said, "It's okay. I can just make another world. Just for the two of us."

When Harry didn't stop his muttering, though, Draco added, "Of course, I could put the old world back the way it was. But are you sure you don't want their suffering to stop?"

But Harry didn't know what to think. And he didn't seem able to control what he was saying either. He could only keep on muttering "grow it back" until the whole world was the way it was, with Sirius falling behind the Veil. Falling. Falling. Falling.

And Dumbledore falling.

Falling. Falling. Falling.

And Draco falling.

Falling. Falling. Falling. They were all falling behind the Veil.

And the people walking toward Harry and dropping dead and disappearing. Two Malfoys appearing and the world disappearing. Harry stood all alone in the center of nothingness, with nothing, not even stars, for company. All he could think about was that Sirius and Dumbledore were dead, and Harry hadn't even tried to do anything to help them. He just let them fall...

All Harry seemed to be able to mutter was, "Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back. Grow it back."

But there was no Draco to answer him this time, because Draco had fallen behind the Veil, too. And Harry was fated to be the Boy-Who-Lived-in-Eternity-Alone when he woke up.

Harry pinched his arm to bring himself back to reality. He was going to get a glass of water to wash away his nightmare. Or maybe a glass of milk, if the Marauders' Map said that the halls were clear. It had always worked with the nightmares induced by Voldemort.

After checking his map and grabbing his cloak, Harry made his way silently down from the boys' dorm. The Fat Lady mumbled her protest when she opened the entrance, but went back to sleep almost immediately.

Harry looked down at the floor, trusting the Marauders' Map to have told him where everybody was. His invisibility cloak was only for emergency and he figured there was nobody to hide from anyways.

As he passed a secret passage, though, Harry bumped into somebody. He looked up, only to see the sharp-nosed, greasy-haired DADA professor.

Snape asked mockingly, "And what, pray tell, do we have here?" He walked a circle around Harry, who stood immobilized. Somehow, Harry had forgotten in his panic that people moved, and that just because the corridor had been clear didn't mean it would remain that way forever.

"Why, is it Potter?" Snape's voice dripped with even more sarcasm than usual. "Is perfect Potter out in the halls after curfew? My, my, how many points will I have to deduct so you can learn your lesson?"

From past experience, Harry learned that these episodes passed quicker when he remained silent. Besides, Harry was too tired to think of something to say.

Snape continued, "Fifty points? A hundred?" The circle he paced around Harry seemed to get tighter and tighter. "I think I will take a hundred and fifty. Yes, a hundred and fifty points from Gryffindor and you're not a month into the school year yet. I doubt even Dumbledore will be able to make up for that."

Harry schooled his face to be stoic.

Snape snapped, "Well, what are you doing here? Why aren't you heading to your dorm yet?"

Quickly, Harry left toward the direction of the Gryffindor house, but as soon as he rounded the corner, he put on his invisibility cloak. He waited until Professor Snape walked past him before headed back for the kitchens. He had already lost the hundred-and-fifty points, Harry figured he might as well get that cup of warm milk he wanted.

Besides, Snape had managed to wake Harry up completely. That and the nightmare, Harry sincerely doubted that he was going to get any more sleep tonight.

Snape sighed, knowing full well that Potter very probably wasn't heading toward the Gryffindor dorm. But he was in one of his rare moments when he didn't actually care what Potter did or did not do. He was too tired from the latest Death-Eater meeting. If he didn't have an image to upkeep, he would have pretended that he didn't see the Potter boy at all.

Now that he had been his usual nasty self—Snape didn't really consider himself nasty, just candid, but by all other people's accounts, he was rather nasty—he should just be able to leave Potter alone. Potter would probably crash into Filch anyways. Snape personally thought that the squib was much nastier than Snape himself had ever been.

Of course, to be fair, Snape had to make allowances. The poor squib needed the magic of a cat to stay in Hogwarts. How miserable Filch's life must be... Snape would rather not know, actually. He had enough of his own problems.

One of them, for example, was too watch over the Potter boy, per Lucius's request. If it had been anybody else's request, Snape would just have ignored it. But Lucius was his childhood friend—if childhood friendship accounted for anything among purebloods. Furthermore, though, Lucius had spared Remus's life several times, simply by pretending not to know where Remus lived.

Lucius did know, though, because of the number of times that he had had to heal Snape. Psychological healing was one of the few things that could enable a Nightmare to see another's thoughts. Without Lucius's healing, Snape would probably be lying beside the Longbottoms now in St. Mungo's from the sheer number of crucios Voldemort dealt Snape regularly.

Snape shuddered a little at that thought. He'd rather not be compared with the Longbottoms in any way possible.

Snape set his jaws determinedly as he walked toward the dungeons, and cursed his strange attachment to Remus Lupin. Even if Remus Lupin had been the only one in Snape's year to have ever been remotely nice to Snape, Remus had hung out with Black and Potter. Still hung out with Potter.

At least he had some time before he had to go fetch Potter, Snape thought. The only place worth going to in that corridor was the kitchen, where Snape had just gotten some chocolate to reenergize himself. The stupid school didn't even have rum, and Snape certainly didn't feel like going to Hogsmeade in his condition.

À bientôt, Snape thought sourly at Potter.

When Harry tickled the pear, the door to the kitchen opened. Through the opening door, only to reveal a pale, blond head, the signature of a Malfoy, somehow already there. Harry suddenly felt panic overwhelm him. Hermione would've said that it was his right brain recognizing instinctively the object of fear from Harry's nightmare.

Silently, Harry turned to leave. There was no point in getting that cup of milk if he had to deal with Draco.

Harry hadn't taken two steps into the dim corridor when somehow Draco was in front of him, blocking his path. Draco grabbed Harry's wrist with a deceptively skinny hand and deceptively slender fingers. Harry fought not to pull away or wince, but he knew that tomorrow, he'd have to cover finger-shaped bruises somehow.

"So, I wasn't quite the person you wanted to see," Draco observed evenly. As usual, his pale angular faced displayed no expression.

When Harry remained silent—how did Draco expect him to respond?—Draco continued, "Who was it you wanted to meet?"

Harry wasn't meeting anybody, unless Draco considered a cup of milk somebody. Still, he bristled at Draco's dictatorial tone. "None of your—"

"You're my mate," Draco reminded Harry fiercely. This time, Harry couldn't control his wince as Draco's fingers tightened—impossibly more—painfully around Harry's wrist.

Harry waited for a second, but the pain didn't lessen. Honestly, he was tired, he had just come back from the infirmary, he had had a very bad nightmare and all he wanted was a cup of milk. This was really not worth it.

Still, Draco didn't relent. Harry glared at Draco before answering, "No one."

Harry looked up at Draco, who had loosened his hold so that it was firm but no longer painful. Draco was a comfortable distance away again.

Harry thought Draco's pale face should have contrasted sharply with the dark corridors. But instead, it somehow blended seamlessly with the shadows, so that all Harry really could see were two rows of flickering candlelight lining the corridor and fading into the distance. The end of the corridor must exist somewhere, but Harry couldn’t see it.

"What did you want then?" Draco continued doggedly. As Draco leaned in to emphasize his question, Harry pulled away, only to have his other wrist captured by Draco's hand, too.

Harry hadn't thought about it before, but now that he did, Draco's hands were unexpectedly warm. It wasn't even a clammy sort of warm, but a fireplace warm completely at odds with Draco's cold demeanor.

For his part, Draco was trying to remain non-emotional. Malfoys were beautiful, rich, aristocratic, and didn't have a care in the world. Still, tomorrow would be Monday, and that meant classes. Perhaps Potter could get away without any spells in Potions, but he doubted that even Potter could go through DADA without casting at least one spell.

And that spell might just spell the death of them both.

After all, Potter didn't have any more magic in him, and magic begot magic. So, Potter couldn't generate more magic either. Potter might live without magic, but Draco couldn't. And truly, Draco didn't want to die yet. He still had a stack of candy from his mother to eat. He still had first years to terrify. He still had a people to rule.

When Potter had been in his dorm, Draco had been able to convince himself that Potter was asleep and really shouldn't be bothered. Besides, Draco didn't know the password to the Gryffindor house. But when he had felt Potter leave his dorm, all of his Nightmare instincts started acting up at once.

All Draco had wanted to do was to sleep with Harry Potter, whether the wonder boy wanted to or not. Of course, he knew that Potter hadn't come downstairs to sleep with Draco, and then all Draco could think about was whom Potter did want to sleep with.

It was true that the mate of a Nightmare can sleep with other people without endangering the bond, but the bond between Draco and Potter was not fully formed yet. Potter had not yet accepted the bond, and before then, Draco considered Potter exclusively his to chase.

And chase Potter he would. Draco had never yet lost in a game of tag, and he didn't plan to.

Harry vaguely found Draco's silver eyes in front of him. They suddenly seemed only inches away—hadn't Draco moved away sometime? Draco's eyes reflected the flickering candlelight strangely, so that they glinted with strange orange and red hues.

"Nothing," Harry answered, trying to sound firm and courageous. He wasn't scared. He wasn't. Draco in a dark corridor was nothing like his voice in a dark room. Nothing. Harry had a nightmare and now Draco was in front of him and that was it.

But then Draco leaned ominously closer, so that his silver and red and orange flickering eyes loomed in front of Harry. Harry didn't know what hell looked like—he didn't even know if he believed in it—but he thought it must look like Draco's eyes at that moment. Harry couldn't help the step he took backwards, taking him up against the closed door to the kitchen.

"So you came all the way down here for nothing?" Draco's soft tenor whispered the question. Somehow, the step that Harry had taken didn't seem to matter. Somehow, Draco had followed. Harry's belated brain thought that Draco must have floated, for he certainly didn't do something as clumsy taking a step.

"Fine," Harry gave in. He really wasn't up to this. If he knew all the trouble getting a glass of milk would have gotten him in, he wouldn't have come down at all. "I wanted a glass of milk."

Harry was sure that if it were any other circumstance, his Gryffindor stubbornness would have made him continue to refuse to answer Draco's questions. However, Harry considered this one of those unusual circumstances. Harry—if he was truly honest to himself, and he tried to be—had to admit a tickle of fear climbing up his spine. It was only because of the nightmare, though, not because Draco was much stronger than Harry expected. Or that Draco seemed rather demonic. Or that Harry didn't know what he was supposed to be doing.

"You have a lot of work cut out in front of you trying to convince me that you left in the middle of the night after curfew just to get a glass of milk," Draco said evenly.

"Of course middle of the night is after curfew," Harry shot back.

"That is beside the point," Draco gritted through his teeth. "I'm asking you why you decided to break curfew. And don't give me the paltry excuse of wanting a glass of milk."

"I did—and still do—want a glass of milk," Harry replied stubbornly. Just because he was scared didn't mean that he couldn't be brave, too.

"Fine, let's say you want a glass of milk," Draco allowed magnanimously. "Why did you want a glass of milk?"

"Oh, so I can't have a glass of milk now?"

Draco glared at Potter. All his life, he had been the prince. He was the heir to the Malfoy line. He was the prince of the Slytherins. He was even Prince of Nightmares, even if he hadn't actually ascended to throne yet. With power or family or money, Draco had always been able to get his way... except with Potter.

"Yes, you can have a glass of milk, but I'm asking you why you want one now."

"I do because I do." Harry glared at Draco. "Now are you going to let me pass or not?"

Draco glared right back at Potter. At this point, Draco was sure that there was no threat to his impending bond with Potter, but it had become an issue of pride. Draco would ask a question, and Draco would get an answer. "Only if you tell me why you want milk."

Really, Harry wouldn't have thought that head-on stubbornness would be a trait of the most Slytherin of Slytherins, but he supposed that he learned something new each day. Besides, it was going from late night to early morning, and Harry did intend to sleep that night.

"Fine," Harry grounded. "I had a nightmare, alright? Are you happy now? Harry Potter had a nightmare and it scared him so much that he couldn't even sleep without going to get some milk."

Surprisingly, though, Draco didn't take the chance to say anything disparaging. Harry looked behind him reflexively as he felt the door behind him give way. Harry hadn't really counted on Draco keeping his word, since, well... Draco was a Malfoy, and Malfoys were Slytherins.

Harry looked back into Draco's silver eyes for signs of deception, but couldn't find any. There was a quiet moment in Harry's mind. It wasn't quite a revelation, though...

"Why?" Harry asked.

"I said I would, didn't I?" Malfoy shot back.

But Harry couldn't quite leave it at that. If anybody had a reason behind his every action, it would be Malfoy, and Harry was going to find out why Draco had let Harry pass without even insulting him.

"Why?" Harry repeated doggedly, staring at Draco, trying to read his face.

Of course, Draco kept his face impassive. It was one of the first things he had learned as a Malfoy. For some time, Harry had been scared of Draco. Draco had felt it through the bond. Instead of feeling accomplished and satisfied, as he always thought he would, though, Draco had felt a strange sense of loss.

For all of the five and a half years that Draco had known Harry, Harry had been there as Draco's equal. They fought duels. They chased the same snitch. They traded insults. And neither had ever cowed in front of the other. Now that Harry did, there had been something... wrong about it.

Draco wished he could make Harry just go get his milk like he had made Harry tell the truth. He didn't want to admit, even to himself, that he wanted Harry to be arguing with him instead of giving in. He had pushed Harry in hopes of getting Harry to fight back, but Harry had only given in, until Draco felt a strange need to convince Harry that he needn't be scared.

Unfortunately for Draco, the spirit bond was no substitute for the mythical telepathy that even Nightmares didn't possess. Draco could only make Harry tell the truth because the noble Gryffindor already had a penchant for truth telling. He couldn't turn Harry from his persistent questioning.

Although, there was one other thing that Draco could try.

Harry found that somehow, instead of just looking at Draco's eyes, he was looking into Draco's eyes. The silver pools seemed to swirl, and although Harry tried to figure out what was going on, his mind seemed a little sluggish.

Draco leaned toward Harry so that Harry could smell the mint and chocolate on Draco's breath. Without giving away too much, Draco whispered fiercely, "You are my mate. And I am the only Nightmare you will ever have from now on."

When Draco reflected on it—which he refused to do at the moment—he would realize exactly how Gryffindor his vow sounded.

Harry wasn't doing it on purpose, but his vigilant practice of occlumency had paid off, and he could tell whenever somebody wasn't quite telling the truth. This time, Draco was telling the truth.

Harry really oughtn’t to feel safe with Malfoy, but somehow he did. Maybe it was Draco's unusual sincerity. Maybe it was that Harry knew Malfoy could actually do something about his nightmares. Maybe it was simply the soft silver pools he seemed to be swimming in.

Draco hid a satisfied smirk as his plan started succeeding.

Slowly, so that he wouldn't startle Harry and also so that he could pull Harry under his spell even more, Draco leaned in to plant a soft kiss on Harry's lips.

Harry closed his eyes as Draco's lips met his, but that layer of swirling silver didn't leave his mind. Much to his disappointment, Draco's lips left him just as quickly. But then, Harry felt feathered kisses sprinkling down the side of his neck.

Somehow, Draco's hands skimmed over Harry's bare skin under his shirt. He felt—through the layers of restrictive clothing—Draco's firm body lean against his, a comforting pressure trapping him against the kitchen door. When had the kitchen door closed again?

Harry wasn't quite sure what was going on, but whatever it was, it made him better than he had felt since... forever.

When Draco turned Harry around, Harry didn't protest. Harry just wanted to stay in the warm cocoon that was in. For a moment, he was almost shocked out of his pleasant mood by the cold air that suddenly blew past his back and behind.

Then, Draco's warmth covered his back again. Draco's hands played on Harry's—bare?—chest. Draco's mouth was doing something—not quite kissing, Harry was sure something so wonderful wouldn't be called something as trite as kissing—to Harry's neck, and Harry couldn't help but lean back into Draco.

Harry bit his lip so that he could control his breathing. Somewhere in the recess of his brains, he thought that Draco wouldn't like any displays of loss of control, but Harry did let the ball of his feet push into the stone floor.

Suddenly, Harry heard, "Potter, did I not tell you to go back to your dorm, what are you doing here?" Snape's slimy voice was like a splash of cold water, and lifted Harry out of the trance that Draco had put him in.

"P-Professor Snape," Harry stuttered, looking down. Unfortunately, his suspicions were confirmed. He was rather bare. Hastily, he pulled the cape from the floor and pulled it on around him.

Draco stood just to the side, as meticulously dressed as ever. Harry leveled him with a glare just for good measure.

Snape seemed to just realize Harry's state of undress, too. His brown eyes scanned the rest of the dark corridor, and landed on the pale blond. Snape didn't know how he could have missed Draco before... but he decided it must be one of those Nightmare things.

"Malfoy, too," Snape added, just because he could. He didn't like it when people surprised him. And while Draco Malfoy might be the Prince of Nightmares, he was still a student of Hogwarts, under Snape's house, no less. "I want both of you back to your dorms. Now."

Harry left quickly. As he was leaving, he saw Professor Snape give Draco a significant glance. Harry didn't bother to find out what was happening, though. He counted himself lucky that Snape didn't take away any more points.

And he didn't even get his cup of milk.


Finals Countdown!!!

Hopefully, I won't fail.

Quiet hours had already started at dorm, and people have been frantically studying for their finals, especially those premed students, slaving away over the practice finals. I should be, too, I suppose, but I looked at the squiggly lines on the screen (they were from an IR spectrum for organic molecule identity verification, such as the example on the right that I pulled randomly off of the internet) and decided to take a nap for thirty minutes instead. I woke up an hour and a half later, took another look at the squiggly lines and realized that I don't have just one IR spectrum to decipher; I have four IR spectra, in addition to four NMR spectra, two GC-MS spectra on top of the other data I've gathered. All this is due Monday.

Ah... I'm screwed, huh?


Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sunrise on a Dragon

Work in Progress

Fantasy Pre-Romance

Diedre was a princess who rode in the best of carriages... to be sacrificed to a dragon.


Sunrise on a Dragon - Chapter Three

“Come,” Cyrus said. “Let’s away from this dreadful place.”

Diedre peered at him in confusion. “You’re speaking strangely.”

“Ah, well.” Cyrus pulled Diedre up by the hand, even though Diedre hadn’t quite wanted to get up yet. “I just meant that it must be uncomfortable here and you might want to go somewhere more comfortable.”

Diedre snatched her hand back. “Didn’t you hear a word of what I said?” she asked him. When he didn’t answer, she continued, “I am staying here, waiting for an evil, ugly dragon to gobble me up.”

Cyrus took offense to being described as “evil” and “ugly”, but since she was obviously not conscious of referring to him in particular, he supposed he should let her ignorance slide. “And… you are going to wait here to be gobbled up?”

“Obviously, you didn’t hear a word of what I said.”

“I did,” Cyrus protested. “Do you want to be eaten?”

Diedre refrained from rolling her eyes at his utter stupidity, though she supposed that the beautiful must also be vapid, even if she had only thought so of women before. “Of course I don’t want to be eaten by a dragon… nobody does!”

“Then why do you insist on waiting here, uncomfortably, for an unpleasant fate?”

“Because I’m the sacrifice.” Diedre picked up her dress and started pacing in the cave in her agitation. “I’m the martyr. I have to willingly go to my death so appease the dragon so that my people can live in peace.”

She was behind Cyrus now and he turned to watch her with his steady gaze. “But you’re not willing.”

She stopped and rounded on him. “I most definitely am!”

“But you don’t want to be eaten…”

Diedre sighed. “Just because I don’t want to do something, doesn’t mean I won’t. So, just leave me alone and leave, or the dragon might eat you, too. This is, after all, a dragon cave.”

Cyrus had never heard of such a strange tale. He almost told her that no dragon would live in a cave this small—he would not even fit in the cave in his dragon form. He might have told her that he was the dragon and that he didn’t plan on eating her, but then he thought she might put up a fuss about how he must eat her for her imperative sacrifice to be complete.

“Fine,” he said, finally. He would have to think of another way to remove her from this cave, preferably before she got herself sick with exhaustion or starvation.

Diedre stared after Cyrus as he left.

She was all alone in the cave again, and she felt even more miserable than before.

She didn’t know quite what she had expected of Cyrus. After all, this was their first acquaintance, but she could have been secretly hoping that he would convince her that her sacrifice was unnecessary, she supposed, or that she was too pretty to be sacrificed. But of course, she knew she wasn’t very pretty, at least not compared to him, and he probably didn’t care very much either way that she was to be sacrificed.

Oh, well, she thought. He really couldn’t have talked her out of it, since she was determined. She had decided to be determined.

Diedre wondered if she was allowed to explore the forest around the cave. It looked wild, but it couldn’t be too wild, with a human—Cyrus—living there. She should stay in the cave and wait for the dragon, but the dragon was already dreadfully late and surely, it wouldn’t mind not meeting her for a bit longer.

Maybe it thought that she was running away. Diedre looked around the cave. Her cloak was still there, and surely the dragon would be smart enough to know that she would not run into the cold, dark night without her cloak.

Taking one last look to make sure that everything was in order—the cave was still free from dragons and her cloak lay visibly on the floor—she took placed a satin slipper on the earthy forest ground.

“So, the princess doth runneth away.”

Diedre froze and looked around, only to see Cyrus—the cad!—leaning casually against a tree trunk. “Oh! I am not running away,” she told him again, hoping that he could somehow understand it this time. She had never met anybody as obtuse as him. “Surely, the dragon doesn’t expect me to expire out of boredom before it even has a chance to eat me. Besides, I left my cloak in there, and the dragon must have some modicum of intelligence if it can comprehend the idea of a trade.”

Cyrus scoffed at that. “The dragon has more than a modicum of intelligence.”

“You know the dragon?”

Cyrus thought about that. “Yes, I suppose I do.”

Diedre gave him a strange look out of her blue eyes. “What do you mean you ‘suppose’ you do. You do, or you don’t.”

“Hmm… I do.”

“Does he live here?” she asked.

“Not in the cave, actually,” Cyrus answered carefully. “But somewhere in the forest.”

“Is he big and mean and purple?”

“He’s purple.” Cyrus had always been considered one of the smallest dragons, because he was one of the younger ones, barely over a hundred years old. Although, he had heard that some plague had happened in the east and the older ones had been wiped out… He certainly did not consider himself ‘mean’, especially to Princess Diedre. He had even invited her to stay in the comfort of his own home.

“He’s not mean?” Diedre asked. Then, she made an all-encompassing motion with her hands. “Or big?”

“No, not really.”

“Oh, bother,” Diedre sighed. “What am I going to do now? Do you know how awful this is?”

Cyrus shook his head.

“Don’t you see?” Diedre grabbed fistfuls of her skirt. “I am going to be sacrificed to a small, nice dragon. What kind of story is that? What will my father tell my people? ‘Oh, yes,’ he’d say. ‘My littlest Diedre was eaten by a very nice dragon. He was kind of small, too, and not fearsome at all.’”

“Well, how about this?” Cyrus offered, “You can come stay at my home, and I’ll let the dragon know that you’re in the forest. That way, you can be comfortable and well rested and the dragon won’t have to hurry to come get you, which, I am sure, would upset him, or you can wait for a bigger dragon to pass by the area and I can ask him if he would like to eat you.”

“Would you really?” Diedre asked. She should refuse, but since she was to be eaten anyways… “But won’t it eat you?”

Cyrus grinned. It was a crooked grin with a secret. “No, dragons only eat young maidens.”


Sunrise on a Dragon - Chapter Two

Diedre didn't know what she had expected. She hadn't been thinking much beyond the dragon.

The cave was small enough that she could see all of it from the long rays of morning sun, and it was empty. There was no dragon, or even the mountain of glittering jewels that Diedre had expected.

She could run away, Diedre realized suddenly. She had no change of clothing or money and her satin slippers were disgracefully dirty, but if she ran now, she would still have her life.

And feel guilty for as long as she lived.

Diedre paced a bit at the entrance of the cave. Maybe the dragon was testing her purity of heart. If she stayed, the dragon would... take her, but leave the kingdom intact. Otherwise, it would destroy more of the kingdom. And probably chase after her anyways.

She took a careful step into the cave and looked a bit more carefully. Maybe the dragon was hiding in a chamber in the back. Maybe it was still sleeping. Diedre even went so far as to pick up a skinny, brittle branch to poke the dragon in the eye and kill it for the kingdom before she realized the folly of it. After all, if dragons were so easy to kill, she would not be here. Her father would not sacrifice her just if his soldiers could kill dragons.

But there was no hidden inner chamber, and obviously no dragon.

So, Diedre spread her cloak out on the ground of the cave and sat down on it to wait.

And wait.

A squirrel ventured near the mouth of the cave, once, but then darted away.

Then, she waited some more started yawning. She hadn't slept well last night, knowing that it would be her last night in this world, and she had woken up this morning, all anxiety and nerves in the carriage. Sleep hadn't mattered, anyways, since she was being sent to a dragon.

But it was dull waiting around. When she started nodding off, she thought of how disgraceful it would be for the sacrifice to be sleeping in the dragon's lair, even if there was no sign of the dragon.

Then, Diedre thought morosely, maybe if she was sleeping when the dragon came upon her, she wouldn't notice when it eats her. She shivered at that thought.

So, she lay down, settled herself as well as she could on the stone ground, and fell asleep.

Cyrus folded his purple wings as he landed in the clearing in the forest, but the leaves still flew everywhere with the gusts of wind he brought. As soon as his feet touched the ground, he changed into a human shape.

There had been a human here.

He could smell it.

Cyrus sighed in frustration. He thought that he had made it quite clear with some king or another that the forest was not to be disturbed by any human. Even if humans had short memories, they couldn't have possibly forgotten already! It had only been a hundred years or so.

Although, it was the first human since his warning and only one of it, so he supposed he could just find the human and make him leave. Maybe tell it a proper dragon lore to scare it away for a while.

Then, again, the human might just decide to organize a dragon hunt. Cyrus didn't really mind the fire, seeing as he made fire, too, but he hated the smell of a burning forest and lugging water from the lake was always a pain.

Carefully, Cyrus followed the smell of the human... his bare feet already familiar with the forest paths.

He followed its smell until he reached a cave. It was a small cave, too, barely big enough to distinguish it from just another big boulder. He wondered what a human could possibly be doing there before he ventured inside. It was definitely barren inside, and dreary. But the human was definitely inside.

His eyes adjusted easily to the dark, and he saw a clump of something on the ground... probably a miserable old man kicked out from his house. Even so, he couldn't stay in Cyrus's forest. Cyrus approached the clump.

And stopped abruptly when he realized that it was a girl.

And a lovely girl at that, with ivory skin over delicate features. Perfect golden ringlets of hair framed her sleeping face. But most shocking of all was the circlet on her head, signifying that she was a princess.

It was a beautiful run-away princess, Cyrus thought, and wondered if he could keep her since she had run away anyways. But then he realized that if she had run away, there was probably a lover involved somewhere... obviously, not here.

Then, he realized that she wouldn't have worn her princess circlet if she had run away. For whatever reason she was not in palace, she had meant for others to know her status.

Maybe she had been kidnapped, Cyrus mused to himself as he watched her bosom rise and fall with her slow breaths. It couldn't have been for ransom; they would guard the girl. So, some poor human must have seen the princess and decided to steal her away in her sleep.

But with guards? And in her voluminous white dress?

Cyrus couldn't really puzzle it out. Either way, though, it was a human, and only his things stayed in his forest.

The first thing Diedre noticed when she woke up was beautiful blue eyes, with the prettiest color of purple tinting it.

Then she noticed the hard floor, her aching shoulders, her cramped neck, and the general impropriety of the situation in which there was a man in her room when she had been sleeping and that it wasn't actually her room but rather a dragon cave. And did propriety matter if she was going to be sacrificed to the dragon sometime soon anyways? (And please let it be soon so she could be spared of this embarrassing situation.)

She tried to sit up quickly, but only succeeded in drowning in her dress even more. Instead, she asked of the man with the most handsome face she had ever seen—which far surpassed any of the self-important princes and nobilities. "Who are you?"

"Cyrus." Cyrus seemed to consider before he asked, "Who are you?"


"Princess Diedre," he corrected. At her confused look, he added, "You're wearing your circlet."

Since it wasn't a question, Diedre remained silent, pondering her next question.

"Why are you here?" They both asked at the same time.

Diedre glared at Cyrus for trying to steal her question, but ended admiring his eyes and his handsomely shaped jaws. The black hair was nice, too.

"I live here," Cyrus answered first. He hated female humans' tempers, and judging by its glare, it was a bit upset... about something. At her disbelieving look, he added, "in the forest."

Diedre nodded.

When she didn't say anything, Cyrus said, "Well, why are you here?"

"For the dragon," she answered simply.


"I'm the maiden sacrificed to the dragon." When Cyrus still looked uncomprehending, Diedre sighed dramatically. "I'm waiting for the dragon to eat me."

Cyrus frowned slightly. "Why would the dragon eat you?"

In Diedre's frustration in communicating with this dense—but handsome—man, she managed to sit up in her dress, frothing with lace. "Because that's what dragons do." She sighed again. "The kingdom gave me to the dragon."

She's mine, Cyrus understood suddenly. All the kings and nobilities used to offer their spare daughters to dragons. There hadn't been any spare daughters recently, but Cyrus had been okay with that, since most of the girls had been ugly or obese or insufferable after two minutes of their acquaintances, but they had all tasted about the same, so he hadn't really minded.

Surely, though, Cyrus thought as he took in the girl's appearnce again in light of this new information, there were suitors for the girl. She might not be the perfect model for elegance or grace or beauty, but she was attractive enough. And if she was a touch dramatic, with her suffering sighs, well... it only emphasized the spark of life in her eyes.

Cyrus found it a bit upsetting that anybody would even think of putting out such liveliness—that she would be eaten by a dragon.

But... Cyrus thought suddenly, he didn't have to eat her.

After all, the kingdom had given her to him, but it never specified what he should do with her. Since he didn't want to eat her, he would keep her. Either way, she was his.


Sunrise on a Dragon - Chapter One

"Diedre..." The King, his royal highness trailed off, desperately thinking of a way to comfort his daughter without recanting his decision. And failing. "It's not going to be that bad..."

"Yes, it is!" Diedre managed to wail in between her sobs. Being the youngest of the five princesses, she had been petulant and spoilt growing up. Whereas Melanie and Sandria had to marry advantageously, Leana had to serve The Lady, and Arya had to act in their mother's stead in more than one occasion, Diedre had never had any duties. "Father! It's going to be - " hic " - horrible!" Another hic. "The dragon's going to eat me!" Hic.

The King patted her daughter's hand for lack any comforting words. "We don't know what the dragons do, daughter. And you know that the legends dictate a maiden princess."

"Then send Leana!"

His Majesty sighed. He had already explained all this to Diedre once, and there were many other things he had to do: petitioners, floods, possible threats... the list was endless. Still, the ravaging dragon was on top priority because of its horrifying damage. So, he explained again, "Leana serves The Lady. So, in effect, she is no longer unattached."

"Send Arya!"

"Diedre... although the whole kingdom doesn't know, you and I do: Arya is no longer a maiden princess."

"Then - then..." Diedre raised her head from her hands. Her eyes and nose were both red and running like water fountains. Her normally delicate mouth gaped wide open and quivering. For a moment, she looked at some space in front of her. Then, she exhaled noisily through her congested nose and her shoulders sagged. She whispered, "But it's not fair."

No, it wasn't fair, and the king had to agree. Nor did he want this for his youngest and most sheltered daughter. To Diedre, though, he only said, "Would it have been more fair any of your other sisters?" At Diedre's nod, he continued, "We are royalty, Diedre, and that means we serve the country before we serve ourselves - at any time."

Diedre could only nod miserably.

Gruffly, the king patted Diedre's shoulder. "Go pack, daughter. We leave a candlemark before sunrise tomorrow."

Just a little before the time her father had told her to meet with him, Diedre still stood in her lavishly furnished room. She looked at the beautiful, bright silk sheets to her flowing satin gowns. Then stared at the paintings framed in gold on the walls and the emerald trinkets that brought her eyes out just so. And she took none of them, because she knew that she would need none of them in the stomach of a dragon.

So, instead, she packed a pair of comfortable shoes, day dress, and night gown, hoping that she would be able to live until she could sleep again. She also had a silver circlet on her head, to show her status as a princess. Besides, her mother had placed the circlet on her, and Diedre brought it mostly to remember her mother and her courage.

The knocks to her door came swiftly enough. Some guard had taken the unfortunate second night duty. He was probably escorting her to the dragon, too.

Just as well, it wouldn't do for her to be killed before she even reached the dragon.

The carriage she rode in - which was the best of the best since this was probably her last carriage ride ever - bounced rhythmically over the cobbled road. Through a window of the carriage, Diedre had seen the black shadows of houses cram together against a midnight blue colored sky. But those houses had started spacing out more and more and the sky had become lighter and lighter.

Until now. Now, it was almost full day, and surrounding her were the trees. Tall trees. Short bushes. Vines and evergreens. Diedre had never studied herbs - and didn't recognize trees much either - but she was sure that there were many useful herbs in this multifarious forest.

That was growing on a mountain.

With a cave in it.

With a dragon in it.

That ravaged villages, towns, and cities.

So much so that Diedre was going to be a sacrifice.

And that thought brought Diedre back to the present like a snap. To be given to a dragon. To be given to a dragon. To be...

Firmly, she tried to optimistic. There must be something good about this whole situation. After all, didn't every cloud have a silver lining? Well, she just had to find it.

The carriage rolled ominously deeper into the mountain.

And all Diedre could think of was that she would have a quick death - possibly - as opposed to a miserable life spent... locked up by the enemy? Married and miserable? Sending children off to dragons?

She hoped that there weren't that many dragons.

At that moment, the carriage chose to stop. The guard opened the door for her and politely helped her down. Her father, meanwhile, also slid down from his horse and came to give his daughter away. To a dragon.

He tried for a courageous smile, and Diedre appreciated the effort as the sky brightened some more, almost to the point of full day, but not quite yet.

He gave her a quick peck on the cheek, but wouldn't quite look at her. Instead, he squeezed he hand and half whispered and half chocked out a "fare well".

Diedre didn't even manage that much. She gave her dad a nod and a squeeze back. Then, she clutched her bag in one hand, almost desperately, and gathered her courage as she walked towards the cave.

She could see it now, the mysterious dragon lair entrance, and she was loathe to let go of her father.

But a sacrifice had to be made freely. And though she didn't want to do it, she had to do it. For duty. For honor. For her family. For her country.

And laid that foot on the cool stone of the cave, so different from the damp dirt of the forest. She passed the point of no return.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Untitled Story

Work in progress

Paranormal Romance

Ariel is a college student who supports herself by working part-time patrolling the city against the Others. Samael is one of the Lucifer's Children--the Others--who works as an assassin because he can and it pays well. One day, Ariel saves Sam...

Chapter One currently being written


Sunday, March 4, 2007

Elemental Desire - Chapter One

Teagan folded his hands as he distracted himself by watching the dark streets seventy floors below, littered with flickers of light and pitiful humans. He pretended to listen to Seig, but he already knew what Seig would say: that it was time to reveal themselves to the humans.

"If we could interact with them with magic," Seig continued, "we would find our Heart's Desires much easier."

This is new, but not entirely unexpected, Teagan thought, as he turned his gray eyes back to Seig. Like any elemental taken human form, Seig looked like a human at his best, tall and lithe, smooth skin over sleek muscle. Still, there was that pathetic look in Seig's green eyes, hidden behind his coffee-colored hair, like a lost puppy that Teagan itched to kick in the stomach.

There was a moment of blessed silence, when Teagan wished that the conference would be over, but he knew better.

"We should control them, instead," Fernanz said, always rash and forceful.

"Enslave them, you mean," Celia corrected serenely, her white hair framing her perfectly oval face and bringing out the hazel in her eyes.

"However you want." Fernanz made a cutting motion impatiently. He turned to Teagan. "You should—"

Teagan stood up suddenly. "I'm bored. Decide on something and then tell me."

"But, Teagan," Seig objected, "you need to be here—"

Teagan barely paused at the door of his penthouse, his black hair and black silk shirt blending with the shadows beyond the entrance. He waved his hand negligently. "I don't really care what you do with the humans."

"But our Heart's Desires..." Seig said that, of course, still caught up in his dream.

Teagan turned around in impatience. "You've had four thousand years to grow up, Seig."

Celia's laughter sounded like sweet silver bells tinkling. "That's very mean of you, Teagan. You shouldn't dash Seig's belief in the impossible just because you know you are so despicable to humans."

"I don't deal with humans."

Again, Celia laughed, even under Teagan's glare. "You shouldn't lie, Teak."

"Go back to Dram," Teagan suggested as he disappeared, but Celia's laugh rang in his ears.

Teagan preferred to stalk the human world invisibly, faded from the humans' limited sight. Usually, he stayed near his penthouse, because there was no purpose in expanding more energy to go elsewhere when there were humans here. Given a choice, he would rather not see humans at all, but it was part of his duty—he sneered at the useless word—to observe the humans. It didn't matter much in the end, Teagan thought, since he had run out of things to do long before Seig had been born.

Sifting through the street bored him, and he sunk into a human façade again on the street. He wove a spell so that curious eyes would glide over him, and nobody looked at him, or even noticed him. Even without the spell, though, he would have been just another person on the busy night street, hurrying to somewhere he had to be.

Except, he had nowhere to be. The New York night teemed with lights and lives and deaths, but it was always like that in cities. Trying to keep track of human lives was like counting ants at a picnic, just as troublesome and useless.

He had had enough of pointless human-watching when he felt a strong tug of survainer magic. He thought of resisting it, but then he thought he might as well investigate. It wasn't as if he had anything better to do.

When his surroundings settled, he found himself in a small windowless room lit by a single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, whining piteously with every slow swing. Mildew and cigarette smoke filled the air. Five men, with day-old growths on their chins and glazed looks in their eyes, stood in a circle around a girl. She was too small and too pale in her white dress. Her face was drained of pallor and her light blond hair would have been beautiful if it weren't all stuck together in a tangle. When Teagan's eyes met hers, hers widened, as if she could see him.

Then she fell down, her knees cracking loudly against the concrete floor. One of the men had kicked her behind the knees. She bit down hard on her lips—the faint scent of copper colored the air—but refused to cry out.

How typical of humans, Teagan thought, to hurt those weaker than themselves. He watched as the girl crumbled on the floor, her brown eyes pleading. But she couldn't see him, and besides, it was none of his business. Since he didn't feel any more survainer magic, he turned to leave.

"Call an elemental for us, bitch," one of the man said.

Teagan stopped as he heard this. He had thought that these were just drunkards, who had cornered a girl stupid enough to wander into their midst. But if they knew about elementals and they thought that she controlled survainer magic...

The girl shook her head. Her eyes shined wildly and desperately. Teagan could almost see the gold tint of survainer magic in her. "I don't know what you are talking about."

A loud crack rushed through room, and the girl fell down from the slap. Her cheek started to turn red, even under the dim lighting.

"Stop playing with us. We want an elemental and you are going to get one for us."

"I can't." The girl shook her head and sobbed. "I really can't."

Before the men could abuse her any further, the door burst open, its hinges broken and it was landing on the floor and kicking up dust. Another girl stood there, slightly older and on the verge of womanhood. She wore a plain t-shirt and non-descript jeans, but Teagan could see the determination—and the gold of survainer magic—in her eyes.

One of the men asked her, "Who are you?"

The girl at the door narrowed her eyes. "You should have done your homework better; you've got the wrong sister. Emily, here, doesn't have any magic." She didn't give the men any time to respond as the air danced around her, whipping her brown hair about her, and transforming her into something vivid and angry and awful.

Teagan felt lesser air elementals answering her requests and rushing toward the five men, but he could also see the awareness in the men's eyes. They weren't stupid or unprepared, and they dodged the air elementals quite easily.

One of them chuckled, "So we have. You look like more fun to play with, anyways."

That man took a step toward the girl at the door, and she sent more air elementals to batter him, but he evaded them easily, too. When the man stood barely a foot away from the girl, her shoulders tensed. Fear lit her eyes brighter than anger had. She tried to control the elementals, but they were only lesser air elementals and tired out from the earlier attacks. They filtered away from the room.

The man must have felt the elementals leave, too, because he laughed at her, a sort of gleeful grunting from the nose. "You." He grabbed the girl's arm and twisted her around.

Teagan saw her wince, and surprised himself with a surge of anger as the man leaned close to her neck and smelled her.

The girl struggled, of course, as the man tried to force her to join Emily. Teagan saw her clenching her hands uselessly, trying desperately to summon the air elementals who had already fled, but being a survainer, there was little else she could do.

Suddenly, the girl stopped, and the man walked into her. "You want an elemental?" She asked him.

The man laughed at her. "Are you going to cooperate?"

"If you let Emily go."

Out of the corner of his eye, Teagan saw Emily shake her head fervently.

"How do we know you'll cooperate?"

The girl glared at the man. "Fine, I'll summon one now." She tried to shrug out of his hold.

The man hmmphed, but didn't let go.

"Oh, you who control the elements, spirits who surround us..." the girl started chanting in a sweet, soft voice. It was all needless and senseless drivel. Still, Teagan could feel the fire of survainer magic warming up in her. It was a thing that he had always despised... and yet, he felt himself pulled towards her and her deceptive magic.

This girl... her magic was like nothing he had ever experienced. Its warmth cradling him just so. Its strength pulling him closer. Not forcefully, but coaxingly, and he wanted... Teagan could feel the answering heat in his own body, rushing to claim her—her mind and magic and body—as his own, because she was his.

And the man, the hyena of a man had his hand on her. Teagan felt his form waver, his impulse telling him to change into something savage and primal so he could use teeth and claws to tear the man into pieces small enough for rats to devour.

He heard the words that she was still chanting, but she had already finished weaving her magic.

Please, somebody, help me, she pleaded desperately to the elementals in general.

So she hadn't forced a binding, then, like he had expected her to, even though he could still feel her magic hugging him close, shifting its shape to fit his own.

The few remaining air elementals skittered and darted a bit, unsure whether they should help her or not.

Teagan scoffed at their cowardliness. And her. There was a reason that humans forced bindings onto elementals; otherwise, the elementals rarely obeyed. Still, hers was a fault of kindness while the man holding her...

With a whispered thought, Teagan banished the other elementals in the room.

They hesitated. What about Losana?

Losana... He'd take care of her.

As soon as the other elementals left, Teagan shook off his human shape, which had been invisible anyways, and unfurled over the room. The light dimmed until there was only darkness accompanied the incessant creaking of the single light bulb and soft, raspy breathing. When he knew that neither Losana nor Emily could see a thing, there was a loud pop, a bit of half-hearted screaming, and the sound of liquid splashing.

When Teagan let the light through again, the room was painted like one of those three-dimensional modern art pieces, dotted in red and decorated in bits of flesh, crushed bone, and torn sinews.

Teagan had already transported Losana and Emily to the outside of the building.

"Somebody killed humans." Seig sounded upset.

Teagan shrugged. Some humans deserved to die, especially if they meant to ruin magic so warm and sweet that he could still taste it in the air and feel it caressing his skin.

"An elemental," Seig clarified.

What did Teagan remember of Losana? Gold eyes... but all survainers had gold eyes when they worked magic. They were probably brown under sunlight. But would they be dark like coffee or soft like honey?

For once, Celia didn't say anything. Probably distracted by Dram. Teagan wished that Dram would come to more of these conferences, if he could always keep Celia's tongue so busy.

And he remembered a bit of her hair, wildly dancing about her, carried by those lesser air elementals. Did they know how soft or light her hair was? Did it tangle easily and delicately or stay beautifully ordered? He should have at least flowed through her hair before he had let her go.

He should have...

Teagan stopped himself. What he needed to do was to find the girl and fuck her senseless before somebody else stole her exquisite magic.

"So we should—"

"Talk it over with Fernanz," Teagan suggested as he stood up to leave the room. He savored Seig's stricken expression, but was more distracted by the thought of finding his little survainer.

Losana hugged Emily to her carefully. With a whisper of magic and help from the elementals, she healed Emily as best as she could. The bruises wouldn't be as bad, but they would still be visible.

"I'm sorry."

Emily hugged her back, a bit awkwardly. "They were bad men."

"But if I couldn't do this... magic... none of this would have happened."

Emily smiled a little. She looked like a well-played china doll ready to fall apart, complete with tangled hair and dirty smudges on her white dress.

"It's okay, Lo," Emily soothed, making Losana feel even guiltier. "If you hadn't had the magic, we wouldn't have been saved either."

Losana remembered the cool wind brushing past her like a lover's ghost and the sudden, stifling darkness. She shook her head. "That wasn't me."

"I know it's more powerful than anything else you've done before," Emily said as she tested out her legs. Her knees hurt, but she could walk, at least the length back their house. "But nobody else could have controlled the elemental."

Emily leaned a bit on Losana. Losana found that she didn't need to slow her pace for Emily, because of her own exhaustion.

"I don't think that the elemental was... controlled."

The two sisters made their way slowly down the street. The streetlights were still on, but the first rays of sunshine were already peaking through between the buildings. People who worked early cut through the streets.

When they neared their parents' apartment, Losana said quietly, "I should tell them about magic."

Emily shook her head. "It's okay. I'll just tell them that I was clumsy."


"It's okay." Emily winced as they stepped over a curb. Her knees really did hurt. "You know mother would want to examine you, instead."

Losana nodded and then sighed. "I'm really sorry."

Emily just shook her head again. With a wry smile, she said, "I just wish that you'd show me your magic someday, without using it to save one or both of us."

Losana laughed. "Me, too."

Teagan slipped through the wall easily when he determined where Losana was. It hadn't been too difficult. Even though her magic had been dormant, it was too powerful—and too distinct—to be hidden from him once he knew its shape. And when he had brushed past her magic, it had flared to life, like a beacon guiding him to her room.

Losana was covered with blankets. He could see her face, fine features framed by soft brown hair, almost black in the darkness of the room. She was curled up under her blankets, and Teagan marveled at the smooth skin covering the fine bones of her hand that held onto the blanket so tightly. Awake, she had had that spitfire personality, warning strangers away, but asleep, there was nothing hiding her delicate beauty or her magic, which those men had wanted to use.


The thought came unbidden, but once it came to him, he agreed.

The air elementals in the room—and the one fire elemental—stirred. His magic must have flared when he had decided Losana was his. But they were all lesser elementals, and quailed when he drifted out a warning.

Teagan coalesced into his human shape, kneeling next to her bed. With a careful hand, he ran his fingers through her curls, satiny and long.

He stopped when Losana stirred, shifting slightly in her bed. When she didn't wake up, Teagan leaned forward. His lips barely brushed hers. It was a soft and sweet and careful kiss. And Teagan felt his craving for her sharpen until he bit on his tongue to fight for control.

He heated the room and slowly pulled the comforter off her. She slept in a long, white tank top, riding up her pale thighs. He could see her chest rise and fall gently from her breathing.

Teagan leaned in and kissed her again, firmer this time instead of that of a phantom lover. His hands found hers, small and yielding. He followed her arms up to her graceful shoulder and inhaled her smell, a pleasant scent that made him heady with desire.

Losana shifted again and Teagan stilled, but didn't take his lips off hers. He knew she would be upset if she woke up to find him, but as his hands skimmed down her body, he knew he could also wake her, wanting him mindlessly. She wouldn't think of denying him.

His hands slid under her long tank top and touched smooth skin. He saw her nipples harden through the tank top and he knew that he could make it good for her—perfect for her. So much so that she would compare all other men to him.

Mine, a part of him growled, the part of him that still cared about something. No other man would touch her. Ever.

Losana sighed in her sleep and smiled, as if dreaming of something pleasant.

Teagan wanted to know if she was dreaming of him. He was tempted to go into her thoughts to find out, but he knew that he would only steal her memory at best and possibly break her if he wasn't careful. He wondered if she had a lover and dreamed of him as Teagan touched her.

With a jerk, Teagan stood up and backed away from her. She had better not have a lover, or she had just doomed a man to his death.

Teagan realized that he didn't know anything about Losana besides that she belonged to him. With him. He needed to rectify this situation if he wanted her surrender, and he needed her surrender if he wanted to feel her magic cradled around his. Besides, since he had decided that she was his, she should acknowledge it, too.

Teagan straightened up and disintegrated into the morning light.

Blearily, Losana rubbed her eyes.

She had not slept enough, but she supposed that she should be grateful that she had had any sleep at all. She should have been prepared for the kidnapping last night, but somehow she hadn't thought that Charles' men would come so soon, or mistake Emily for herself.

Losana pulled out a t-shirt. She considered wearing a skirt, but she decided that she was going to be cranky and irritable the whole day anyways, so she might as well just wear jeans. Besides, it wasn't as if she was going to meet a guy around here.

She sighed. Her last date had been with David, ten months ago at the end of last summer, right before they started college and he broke it off with her. Her mother said that it was natural, a textbook case, to not want to date after a bad break-up. Emily just said that of course, Losana would have to wait a bit until a man nearly as good looking as David came along. Sara, her roommate from last year, said once, when she had popped in to change into a thong for boyfriend of three weeks, that good boyfriends were hard to find.

Specifically, David had told her, "Girls just aren't my thing." Losana had wondered if he had referred to her reluctance to sleep him—because not all girls were like that—or if he had meant that he missed his boyfriend, who flew back to the west coast for the summer. Losana hadn't known that David had had a boyfriend, but apparently, the two were in an open relationship.

David had been too good to be true, anyways. He was good-looking, with sand colored hair and eyes like the ocean. He looked like he walked off a surfing poster and sometimes, when he had kissed her, Losana swore that she could smell the Pacific ocean on him. He dressed well—which should have given her a clue. He talked intelligently and acted considerately. He was there when she wanted a listener, and left her space when she needed it. He gave her a rose a day, but allowed her to pay for half of their dates. And he never pushed for sex.

Contrary to what her mother thought, it hadn't been a particularly bad break-up... just a bit shocking. Losana hadn't be sure whether she should feel better or worse that David preferred a man over her, but she finally decided that David had just been lonely and confused in the summer, without Gary. Besides, there had never been that spark between them. They had been good friends, though, and remained good friends.

Her mobile bleeped at her. "David," the display said.

"What's up?" she asked him as she struggled to brush her hair with one hand.

"Um-hm," Gary answered at the other end. "I'm in your lobby."

"Okay." Losana winced a bit as she tugged the brush through her hair. "David knows my floor."

There was a moment of silence before she heard Gary say, "No, no. We're quite happy to wait in the lobby."

The she heard David's muffled voice. "Really hot man, waiting for the elevator."

Losana rolled her eyes even if they couldn't see it. "You're interested in gay men. I'm not."

"Unfortunately," Gary answered with a sincere hint of regret. "He doesn't look gay. Oh, wait, we're going on the elevator now. He's getting in it."

Then, a click signified the end of the call. David was a fine listener by himself, and so was Gary, but together, they were very easily distracted. Losana checked her phone again. It said twenty past eleven, so Emily was probably just finishing her dance class. Mother and father were both at work.

Losana made her way into the kitchen and pulled out two pieces of bread and stuck them in the toaster when someone used the knocker.

"It's unlocked," she yelled as she rummaged through the refrigerator for butter. She wasn't going to have toast without butter.

She heard the door open and shut. "Well," she said, still with her face in the fridge. "Would you believe it if I said Emily was kidnapped last night? And that I saved her?"

"Yes, I would," the man answered, his voice a smooth bass, and shocking Losana into standing up so quickly that she bumped her head on the fridge.

Then she stared.

And she stared.

If David had been sunshine and boyish charm, this man was shadows and sensuality. Looking at David made you think about water skiing and canon-balling into the pool; looking at this man made you think of nothing beyond tangled silk sheets and foggy windows. Losana could feel her whole body warming just looking at him, standing there, leaning against the wall.

Then, she remembered that she had been expecting Gary and David. And this man—very unfortunately—had no place in her apartment. "What are you doing here?" she asked.

The man smiled, lifting up a corner of his sensual mouth. "I'm here for you."

When Losana remembered to breathe again, she backed up into the kitchen counter. The man had unfolded himself from the wall, and crowded the kitchen. Losana wanted to turn around and grab a knife, but that would mean taking her eyes off this man in front of her and possibly warning him of her intentions. Instead, she called her magic.

The man stood inches in front of her. She could see the muscles rippling underneath his black t-shirt and smell him, a mix of musk and cedar wood and man. He trapped her with one hand on the counter on each side of her and his height towering over hers. Losana felt small and stayed still as he leaned down to her neck and dragged in a deep breath.

"Your magic is lovely," he whispered to her. Then, he kissed her neck gently, his lips unexpectedly soft for his chiseled features. "But useless against me."

Losana didn't want to be scared, but she swallowed anyways. In all the years she had used magic, nobody had ever been able to detect it, especially when she had barely called it. Sylvia, she called, hoping that the air elemental was near.

"I've forbidden Sylvia from doing anything." The man put his hands on her shoulders—large hands on slender shoulders—and kissed her temple. "Don't worry; I'll take care of you now."

Losana looked up and met his eyes—colorless, swirling gray eyes. "Who are you?"


Somebody knocked, breaking Losana out of her stupor.

"Open up," David's voice carried through the door, slightly muffled. "Since when have you started locking your door on me?"

She looked back up at the man named Teagan. He gave her a chiding glance, but glided away from her. Losana took a deep breath and refrained herself from straightening her clothes; she hadn't been doing anything unseemly, even if she must have thought of a million different scenarios of what could have happened if David and Gary had not interrupted.

David crushed her in a hug when she opened the door for him—which hadn't been locked—and she stiffened when she felt a flare... of something... dark and unsettling. Involuntarily, she looked over to where Teagan stood, and though his face remained impassive, she could sense the alertness in his hooded eyes.

When David let go, Gary stepped through the door and gave her a goofy smile and a loud kiss on the cheek. "And how is our favorite girl today?" he asked.

Tell them to back off.

For a moment, Losana couldn’t figure out who said that, because usually only Sylvia talked to her mentally. Then, she looked at Teagan. They're my friends, she told him.

Tell them to back off, Teagan repeated, and Losana could hear the slight snarl in his voice. Or I won't be responsible for what happens to them.

Losana turned to glare at Teagan. Why was this happening to her anyways?

Last night, her sister had been kidnapped, and she had managed to find Emily—with Sylvia and a few other elementals' help—and yes, last night, she had been scared out her wits, because it had been dark and damp and her sister had been taken hostage. But that was last night.

Today, the sun was shining, and she was in her own apartment, with two of her best friends. If Teagan was attractive—though it's not really an "if" as much as a "though"—so was David. Besides, attractiveness was no reason for intimidation, or his overbearing attitude. So Losana had left her door unlocked... big deal! He had no call to walk in here, as if... as if...

Losana ground her teeth at his nonchalant attitude. It was not his apartment.

She stalked up to Teagan, and glared for all she was worth—but it was difficult to glare at someone so much taller. "Do you have a last name, Teagan?"

He shrugged, and Losana admired his shoulders. "Nusquamesse."

Losana blinked. "Okay, Mr. N," she decided. "I am afraid that you have walked through the wrong door."

"No, I have not." He ran his hand through her hair casually, and Losana was too startled to object. "You're here."

Before Losana could think of something to say, Gary asked, carefully, "Losana, who are you talking to?"

"Pshha," David waved away Gary's question. "Our favorite girl here is a very special girl. She can do voodoo séances."

"It's not voodoo or a séance," Losana corrected David. No matter how many times she had explained, he never seemed to remember. "I don't talk to the dead."

"Then who are you talking to?" David repeated Gary's question. "Only ghosts are invisible. Besides, what do you call yourself anyways?"

Losana took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I don't know what I'm called because I haven't met anybody else like me. And I'm not crazy." She said the last part in response to David's blatant signing to Gary that she was cuckoo.

"That's what they all say," David replied easily. "But we love you anyways, Lo."

David stepped forward to give Losana a I'm-sorry-and-let's-make-up hug, but stopped mid step. Gary suddenly turned into a fire alarm gone wrong, and continuously made high-pitched beeping noises. Losana stared, "What is wrong with you guys?"

Finally, Gary stopped and David whistled. "Dang, did you make him?"

Gary added, "We want one... actually, can we each have one?" Then, he went back to beeping.

"Gary," Losana asked slowly. "Why are you... beeping?"

Gary gave Losana a droll look, which Losana did not appreciate. "It's the hot guy alert."

Losana looked at Teagan. He didn't seem any different. She asked David and Gary. "You can see him now?"

"Yes," David answered. "I know I'm looking. Now I know why you haven't had any boyfriends for a whole year; you can make your very own lovers."

Losana opened her mouth a couple of times, trying to say something, but what David imagined was so preposterous that she hadn't the faintest idea of how to persuade him that Teagan was not made by her or under the control of her magic in any way, shape, or form. "David, Gary, meet Teagan," she finally introduced warily. "I did not make him, and he is very welcomed to leave this apartment anytime he wants."

She hadn't been sure if she should offend Teagan, since she didn't know him very well—and he was a bit intimidating, if only from sheer size. Still, he had waltzed into her apartment, which was under her jurisdiction. If he chose to stay, he stayed at his own peril.

But he surprised her by putting a hand around her waist. It looked casual, but Losana could feel his muscles and knew that if she tried to shrug him off, she would only embarrass herself. She glared at him instead, and noticed that he was showing his teeth in the semblance of a smile.

Gary didn't seem to notice Losana's careful rigidity or the sharp-toothed gleam in Teagan'st smile. Instead, he stuck out a hand. "Very pleased to see you."

The moment hung in the air as Losana waited. She almost wished that Teagan would refuse Gary's friendship, but she realized that Teagan wore the veneer of civility too well. "I'm always glad to be introduced to Losana's friends," Teagan answered as he shook Gary's hand.

Grudgingly, David held out a hand, too, which Teagan shook with a nod. Suddenly, Losana felt cramped in the kitchen with these three men and stifled in the handshakes that made it all very official, even though she wasn't quite sure what "it" was.

"Well," Gary said, guiding David back out of the door, and winked. "I think we are going to tell Sara about your previously-hidden boyfriend, right now."

Losana was so startled by the word that started with "boy" and ended with "friend" that she didn't quite process the rest of the sentence before Gary and David were already out the door. She saw that Gary walked with a bounce in his step, and David took long strides to keep up with Gary. Then, the door swung shut.

"Some friends," Losana muttered, looking morosely at the white, wooden door. It was reinforced with some sort of metal underneath, but that was useless unless the door was actually locked.

Then, she heard Teagan say, "I don't think I mind them much."

Losana stared, utterly speechless, at Teagan's audacious high-handedness, but he didn't even seem to notice.

Or maybe he did, and he added with a dark, smooth chuckle, "It means that I will allow you to see them from time to time, little one."

Losana fumed; Teagan had the gall to settle himself on her sofa. She tried to read a book, but she knew that his pale eyes were fixed on her. She watered the plants, instead. Nobody had been on the internet—too busy vacationing in Europe or Australia, probably. The air elementals seemed to have vanished. And Teagan N. still sat in her room.

"I'm going to call the police," she informed him.

His gray eyes dared her from under the dark lashes.

Losana hadn't quite expected him to just accept it, but satisfied that she had given fair warning, she reached for the telephone. She kept her eyes on him, as she used her fingers to find the numbers. Nine... one...

And then somehow Teagan was behind her, his arms caging her. Somehow, he had slipped the phone out of her hand. Losana could feel her heart picking up speed, as if in answer to the heat emanating from the man behind her. She could feel the solidity of his chest, hear the steady beating of his chest, and smell him, a smell that she wanted to bottle and spray on her pillow every night. She felt lightheaded in his hold—must be how tight his arms are around me, Losana thought.

"Don't," he whispered in her ear, his breath tickling her.

For a second, Losana couldn't remember what he was talking about. When she remembered, she stiffened and tried to twist out of his arms, but it felt like pushing against marble, just as smooth and unmovable. Then, his arms tightened even more. It wasn't painful, but Losana couldn't struggle at all now. Incredibly, she felt tears of frustration in the corner of her eyes.

"Shh... I won't let anybody endanger you."

Losana could almost believe him, with his beautiful bass promise and his chest rumbling as he spoke, but she knew she shouldn't. She gathered her resolve and spat, "It's not other people I don't trust; it's you."

A breeze chilled Losana's back, and though sunlight still lit the room, she only noticed the sharp edges of the shadows.