Author’s email: email@example.com
Characters: Seel and Swift
Beta: Thevina/thrihyrne Special thanks! All remaining mistakes are mine.
Spoilers: Up to and including Wraiths of Will and Pleasure
Synopsis: Seel explores his feelings and events since his arranged pairing with Swift.
Disclaimer: All the characters, their world and all things Wraeththu belong to Storm Constantine, to whom I am very grateful.
There was a whispering, tranquil quiet pervading the evening as Seel looked upon his infant harling. Azriel slept soundly, making little noises and looking so peaceful and angelic that Seel’s heart overflowed with love and pride. He stared at this small, entrancing creature, thinking incredulously, This came out of me. All memories of pain and trauma faded as love and awe replaced them in his heart and mind.
He heard the door open and looked to see Swift enter; Swift, his chesnari. No longer did he think of him as Swift the Varr, as he’d done before. At first, Seel had so opposed Thiede’s plan for him to be Swift’s consort, outraged and believing it to be a personal insult. After all, he had founded Saltrock. He was a har to be reckoned with, not some pearl-bearing consort. He had imagined himself to belong in the Hegemony in Immanion, not in a nursery in Galhea. Knowing his undeniable, strong attraction to the young lord was contrived by Thiede, he’d felt completely manipulated, making him rebellious, obstinate and angry.
How things had changed. If left to his own devices, Seel felt he would have found Swift attractive, enchanting and totally desirable. He was pureborn and there was just… something… about that. In Swift he saw pure, perfected Wraeththu; a generation further removed from humanity’s frailties and failings. He appeared young and innocent, yet strangely wise and mature at once. The pureborn were living proof of Wraeththu’s future and potential. And Swift, himself, Seel found irresistible. But the fact that Thiede arranged their pairing made Seel resistant.
Seel’s thoughts inevitably then turned to Thiede. How ridiculous that the first of all Wraeththu would resort to the arcane, even by human standards, practice of arranged pairings. Even though he’d sweetened the experience by giving them a longing for each other, manipulation and force were still just that. In his conflicted mind, Seel had thought everything about his chesna bond with Swift a sham. Thiede had stated in no uncertain terms that Seel was to be Swift’s consort, and that Seel was to host Swift’s pearl. Thiede had told Seel that he’d put him into Swift’s mind and heart before they’d even met, so to Seel, nothing about their relationship was real. It was all a contrivance of Thiede’s.
Or was it? It started that way, but was it the same now? Seel really cared for Swift, at least he now truly believed he did. He really desired him and wanted him. Or did he? Was it still all a trick of Thiede’s? Seel rubbed his hands over his face, How will I ever know? he fretted, anguished.
“What’s wrong?” Swift asked, his young, lovely face full of concern.
“Nothing,” Seel answered feebly.
Swift came toward him and gathered him into his arms, closing his eyes and kissing Seel’s hair. “You’re tired, I know you must be,” he said, caressing and nuzzling him. Swift then sighed, gazing at Azriel. “Isn’t he beautiful?” he said in tones full of rapture and awe.
Swift turned Seel’s face to his. “You’ve given me everything. I would have been happy to have you, but you’ve given me Azriel, our son, and heir.” Swift paused, and then buried his face in Seel’s tawny hair. “I love you,” he whispered.
“I know. I love you, too.” He did; at least Seel felt he did.
Later that night as they lay in bed, Seel heard Swift’s and Azriel’s slow, peaceful breathing. The sleep of the innocent, Seel thought, Swift would never believe his love for me could all be an illusion.
Unbidden, all the relationships he’d had and had known of flashed across his mind. Seel thought first of Cal, then Flick, then Ashmael; then of Cal and Terzian, then Cal and Swift. Most of all, he wondered if Cal was as unforgettable to Swift as he was to himself. Did Calanthe still wander into Swift’s mind with haunting regularity as he did into his own? All these ponderings, pairings, suppositions and more swirled in his mind until it all seemed ludicrous to him. He swung his legs onto the floor, putting his head in his hands. What does it all mean?
He quietly got up and went to the cupboard for some liquor. He sighed deeply.
Sheh, the liquor first distilled by the Varrs. At least they got something right, he thought as he downed the strong drink. As he began to feel the desired effect, he looked over at Swift and Azriel. He almost let tears come to his eyes. Look at them. They’re beautiful, more than most hara ever dream of. He swallowed hard. I feel such love for them both, but how will I ever know if it’s real?
Suddenly, Seel heard Swift stir and looked over at him. He saw Swift roll over and reach for him, which warmed Seel’s heart. Swift sat up in bed and when he caught sight of Seel, he smiled, relieved and said, “There you are. What’s wrong? Can’t sleep?”
Seel gave him a tired smile, “Yeah, I thought this would help” he replied, holding out the bottle.
Swift got up and slowly approached him. Taking the bottle from Seel, he drank deeply, and then setting it on a dresser, he asked, “Are you okay?”
Seel sighed. “Yeah, of course I am.”
He looked into Swift’s large, expressive eyes, his youthful face illuminated by the dim moonlight filtering through the curtains of their room, and he couldn’t help himself. He pulled him close and kissed him. Swift melted into Seel’s embrace as they shared breath. Seel relished Swift’s unique taste and pureborn essence and beauty. He wanted him, purely, completely and of his own volition. Could Thiede really orchestrate this? he questioned. He decided to stop obsessing. It was just the two of them and their love and desire. They took aruna there in their room on the rug so as not to disturb their sleeping harling. They reveled in each other, taking and giving, wanting and needing, desiring and fulfilling.
When they lay together afterwards, Swift lay sated, his head resting on Seel’s chest, Seel thought, I don’t care if Thiede planned and forced this—it’s mine now. I love Swift. I love Azriel. Thiede can go to hell! Or maybe I should thank him, I still don’t know for sure. But I do know that I claim my love and happiness as my own.
Soon he got up and gently guided a very sleepy Swift back to their bed. As he watched Swift and Azriel sleeping, he knew in that moment that his happiness and the love he felt was truly no longer Thiede’s property, but his own. Seel fell asleep, the scent of his chesnari and the sound of his child’s peaceful breathing filling his senses and heart.
He had a last thought before a peaceful sleep claimed him: Mine.