[M] Restoration

Charity finds that hard work can repair even the most damaged things

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Charity Valentin
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:20 am

28th Ophus, 2718
PAINTED LADY| MID AFTERNOON
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Wiping her brow with the back of her hand, Charity stepped back from her handiwork, throwing the sand coated paper down in her box of tools and dusting her hands on a pale cream apron she’d tied around her waist. The skirts of her simple grey dress were tucked and pinned around her knees and her platinum locks were piled into a high bun on the top of her head. Since Rhys had come back to her, the young couple had taken to using the old house as a distraction from the ugliness of the world outside. It was almost therapeutic, focusing on wood and paint and wall paper instead of drugs and pain and hurt. There was so much to do, it was almost impossible to know where to start, but for the sake of starting somewhere Charity had chosen the parlor where the out of place renovated black piano sat. Peeling paint was scraped and stripped from the walls, before holes were filled and plaster sanded smooth. The windows were washed and the frames sanded back, varnished and sealed. Rotted curtains were pulled down and replaced with brand newly purchased, specifically tailored ones with a mauve and burnished gold jacquard, hung on cleaned and polished brass rungs. There would be paper for the walls, eventually, but before that the floor had to be sanded and sealed.

It took the better half of two days, down on hands and knees, with special roughly made paper in hand moving in circles to take off the old scuffed and patchy varnish. There had probably been easier ways with magic and hired help, but the galdor needed the physical labor. She needed something to occupy her hands and her mind, to burn off the tension that had built between herself and her husband. It wasn’t like before, like that ominous week between the attack on the Seventen where they had hurt each other with unspoken words. This was different, and neither of their fault.

Benjamin.

The vile hatcher had left only a few bruises and scrapes on the blonde, but mentally he had left something more. He’d broken into the home that she’d shared with Rhys, rendered her unconscious, and tried to rape her in their marital bed. The scars left behind were invisible, but deep. Charity couldn’t erase his hands tearing at her dress, his body holding her down, his knee between her thighs. She’d felt the digging pain of firm fingers in soft, supple flesh and a hard mouth against unwilling lips. Every time she closed her eyes, the pianist could see his sneering face hovering over hers. Sleep was a faint memory, her dreams simply nightmares that played over and over again. Any intimacy with the tall, healing man that she had been so terrified of loosing was marred by her trauma, and the blonde would end up in a tearful mess. To his credit, Rhys didn’t force the issue, didn’t hold her to any wifely duties.

Gods love the man.

Covered in wood dust, aching from actual labor, Charity stretched and blew a stray whiteblonde lock from her face.

Really? You’re proud of this?

“Oh shut up. You wouldn’t know the first thing about pride in hard work. You’ve never got your hands dirty a day in your life. Not like this.” The ex-D’Arthe said quietly, answering the voice in her head without hesitation, as though the owner were in the same room as herself. It was Damen, but she wasn’t frightened of it, not when she realized it wasn’t really him. It was clocking insane, she knew that, but it didn’t stop her conversations when no one else was listening.

Turning on barefeet, the woman moved to find Rhys for a well deserved afternoon break. Wandering through the house till she found him, the petite musician paused in the doorway, leaning on the frame and simply watching the man. Her husband, whilst he worked on his own activities. Silently with her field dampened tightly, she let her violet gaze drink in the tall blondes frame, letting her mind wander over their history. Over the good things that they had. He had her heart since she was thirteen, and it was almost like being back in Brunnhold again standing quietly in the background watching Rhys move. She’d pined over him from a distance, longed over him from afar, a child with a crush that only grew with her. They’d lost, they’d bloomed into adult hood and finally they had found each other and love again. She missed him, missed their closeness and their intimacy. Drawing a pale lip between her teeth, Charity felt a warmth growing as she let her gaze wander over the man's form, knowing each part of him in fine detail and fond memory. Her fingers toyed with the wood beneath them where she leaned, pulse fluttering as it sped up and cheeks flushing.

Benjamin.

Bright bursts of tight hands around her throat, and an unwelcome firmness against the thin lace of her underwear, like a flood the nauseating echoes spewed forth. Frowning at the flash of vivid images in her mind, her field released with a wince, and the blonde stepped into the room.

“Hey there Mister Valentin, how about we take a break? Maybe some tea, with a slice of that peach pie I bought yesterday?” She took a deep breath and exhaled with a smile, wishing desperately to find the person she was before all of this.

Before Benjamin.

word count: 967

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Rhys Valentin
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Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:25 pm

28th of Ophus, 2718
HOME in the Painted Ladies | AFTERNOON
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Healing was a far slower process than Rhys had the patience for. Twice now since leaving Drezda's home the doctor had made the effort to visit this old stack of rooms in the Painted Ladies, the older galdor's magical assistance gentle but time-consuming. Stitches removed and bones knit back into place, scars and aches remained, parts of his life and his body forever altered by the vicious events of Achtus, unable to be repaired by any phrase of Monite. No, not just his, but theirs—Charity not untouched by it all, just in ways that the young Valentin had no idea how to bring even a hint of restoration to.

Then again, it wasn't as though he knew how to fix a house, either.

Clocking hell, he really didn't.

It was as if the gods desired to add insult to all the injury, for once the not-galdor was able to spend time on his feet without drowning in pain, he put himself to work. He'd laid idle for too long, though his restlessness wasn't entirely fueled by pent up rage at their attackers or frustration at the pace he was forced to set in his physical recovery. More than just his body had hurt, and while they'd made efforts at forgiveness and restoring their relationship that had been just as wounded, the damage lingered in ways that the tall blond felt helpless against.

Dismissing himself as selfish, denying the tangible need for intimate reconnection that hummed in his veins in their renewed closeness because he was surely a better man than beast, Rhys attempted to settle into the understanding that like his broken bones, the unspoken wounds Benjamin had left in his wife would heal over time. He just had to wait, quick to comfort the delicate pianist when nightmares woke her, perhaps still out of a guilt he had no idea how to entirely shed, and he was quicker still to assure her of his patience when proximity had warmed into kisses and kisses had been tempted into touches, only to dissolve into terror and disgust.

He couldn't smash through such things with a hammer. He couldn't peel it all away like old wallpaper. He couldn't tug at stitches. He couldn't scrub the grime left behind by some other ersehole's unwelcome advances. He didn't know how to return what had been stolen from his delicate pianist any more than he knew how to restore what time had worn away in this damn house.

But, clock the Circle, how he wanted to. Nothing felt quite the same, their renewed trust so lovely that Rhys felt like a monster for harboring such otherwise natural desires for his wife, desires he had no idea what to do with or where to hide them. Despite the pain that hadn't entirely left his left arm or his ribs, even if the bruises had faded, even if the stitches had left their pink scars behind, the Sergeant distracted himself with the newness of home repair. Instead of picking a single room to focus on, unlike Charity, he picked a task—the walls. The act of stretching and scraping were both uncomfortable, but the discomfort was far more welcome than he was willing to admit.

Rhys peeled wallpaper from every room. He scraped paint. He filled holes and smoothed over cracks. He scrubbed years of neglect from each vertical surface he faced, one room at a time. It was something he could see, a victory that was visible, an accomplishment that satisfied where nothing else seemed able to reach him where he needed touched the most.

Today, he was wrapping up the dining room, not only because it was downstairs from where his wife had chosen to work, but also because it possessed some of the most stubborn paper in the whole clocking house. The tall blond had been able to curse quietly and growl alone, ripping and peeling in ways that were both maddening and therapeutic, ignoring the way his arm twinged at certain angles or his body objected to the angle of his reach. The physical labor was perhaps made more intense by his wanting to push the limits of his endurance, to expend all of himself after his injuries had stolen his strength for nearly a month and a half.

The Sergeant felt Charity's eyes on him without needing to feel her field, scraping away at stubborn glue, sweaty from the warmth of the kitchen's hearth and his overcompensating efforts at repair. Pausing, he dropped his tools onto the crumpled pile of deteriorated paper that proved his progress, turning in time to catch a brief, fleeting glimpse of that look and the color that had rose to her face.

Oh—

He'd almost smiled back, a warmth tingling along the back of his neck, dribbling down his spine and between his shoulder blades like so much sweat, but just as quickly as it came, her expression of desire was overshadowed, strangled by a frown and a wince. He felt the fear in her field and his own returned expression of wanting was never given the opportunity to blossom, blue eyes darting away to the walls he'd conquered before searching her face with unconcealed concern,

"Yes, please, Mrs. Valentin. I could use a break." Rhys returned softly, stretching with a groan while palms rubbed roughly over his unshaven face, fingers of his left hand lingering over the pink line etched into his left eyebrow that almost reached into his hairline. He licked his lips just to feel the puckered, tight knot of a scar there, too, swallowing the eddies of regret that swirled around in the cavity of his narrow chest. He tugged on the wrinkled, unkempt collar of his half-buttoned shirt, sleeves rolled up, wiping dust from his face before crossing the room, his glamour far less capable of hiding his apprehension than his face was.

He couldn't escape a single reminder, could he?

Could they? Would they ever?

The taller blond finally managed a smile, genuinely enthused, the offer of a sweet snack at least an honestly very acceptable consolation. He brushed fingers against her hand in his passing, resisting the urge to plant a kiss on her forehead even if he leaned a little as if he'd wanted to,

"Pie, eh? Gods, yes—" He chuckled, catching himself in an almost chagrined fashion before he made any comments that may have almost been an innuendo, "Even if they're imported from Mugroba, those peaches are a much-needed hint of summer. It's been so damn cold."

Good job, ersehole. Talking about the weather. Rhys smirked, fingers trailing away from Charity as he made his way to the kitchen hearth in order to put the kettle on for tea, purposefully choosing to use his right arm because his left was still weak and tired,

"Just the upstairs left to peel and scrape and fill and smooth—then we can agonize over colors and patterns." He spoke to the fire at first before turning to lean heavily against the kitchen table, watching his delicate pianist instead of sitting.
word count: 1249
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Charity Valentin
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Fri Mar 29, 2019 9:42 am

28th Ophus, 2718
PAINTED LADY| MID AFTERNOON
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The hesitation in Rhys’ glamour was subtle, but to Charity it felt thick and heavy, as she knew that it was because of her. Good Lady, she didn’t want the wick to feel like this, not around her for the Circles sake! As he approached her, she took in the smile he offered, adoration swelling in her chest at the gentle acceptance in his face. The taller Seventen knew she loved him, wanted him, it was just…it was all…it was…

Benjamin.

Fingers brushed her hand, and the galdor forced herself not to draw away, letting her own reach out gently to sweep across his own like testing cold waters with a toe. Her eyes looked down, face turning away slightly as the blonde leaned slightly towards her, cheeks still flushed with her pent up urges and now shame. She was ashamed to be so afraid of what had always been so perfect. Tears stung, and the petite pianist blinked them away furiously as Rhys walked away to get the kettle started for tea. Rubbing her hands on the apron before balling the hem into them tightly, Charity sighed and moved towards the cloth covered sweet treat that sat on the bench. Drawing a knife from the draw and two small plates from the cupboard, she withdrew the plaid cover, cutting into the soft golden pastry and summery peaches to make two small triangles. Shifting the pieces to the dinnerware, she could almost feel Rhys moving just behind her, glancing over her shoulder as he drifted from the hearth to lean heavily on the table.

“Yes, yes has been.” She said softly, turning back to the pie and covering the remainder of it with the cloth. Searching the drawer for two forks and placing them gently on the plates, Charity picked up the servings of the rather quaint treat and turned, moving towards the table and putting them down on the hardwood surface. One on one side, and one on the other, leaving Rhys standing at the head of the table.

“Winter has been particularly cruel this year.” The blonde musician said with a tone that was clearly not at all invested in discussion about the clocking weather. Still, she tried, sitting at the table and lifting her fork.

“The Arova froze, did you know? I’ve not seen it freeze in such a long time. It was…it was pretty.” Charity said conversationally, poised with fork in hand, violet eyes looking down at the pastry before her. The taller man hovered in her peripheral, his deceptively strong arms stiff as they leaned on the surface of the table, crystalline eyes watching his wife as she tried so hard to engage in small talk. Her field spoke what her words couldn’t, reaching to entangle within his own like settling into a good pair of shoes, comfortable among his glamour.

“The uh…the walls are coming along. You’ve been hard…hard at it. Working hard at it then. At this rate, we’ll probably be done by Intas.” Throwing a quick smile, the blonde sliced off the tip of the wedge on her plate, impaling it with the tines of the utensil and lifting the small morsel to her lips. Halting half way, she swallowed hard, lowering the fork slowly and glancing at the man’s hand beside her. Hesitantly, the galdor moved her free hand, shifting it to hover above his own for a moment, before she placed it down over the top.

“Rhys I—”

I what? I’m sorry? What exactly did you have to say to him?

Her brow drew together as the snarky voice sounded off in her head, standing from her seat as a brush of defiance simmered in her field. Defiance at the voice, defiance at Benjamin’s scars on her mentally and emotionally. There was a nervousness that she couldn’t hide, nipping at the edges and planting seeds of doubt and memories of the break in. Charity’s eyes lifted from his hand, following his arm upwards and meeting the startling blue of his gaze, before glancing at the fork in her other hand.

Lifting the still captured piece of pie, the pale galdor brought it to Rhys’ lips instead of her own, waiting for him to take a bite before drawing the silverware away and slipping the rest into her mouth. Chewing silently, she looked down at the table, placing the cutlery on it carefully with a slightly trembling hand. The whispers of unwelcome ghostly fingers brushed against her throat, but she ignored them, lacing her fingers in the hand she held and lifting it from the table.

A step. Another step. She came close to the tall wick and wove his arm around her waist, resting his hand on the small of her back. Looking up to meet his gaze again, Charity reached up with her one hand to stroke stray fragments of decayed paper and dust from his hair, the other moving to rest on his hip gently.

“You need a bath.” The delicate blonde said quietly, letting her thumb graze across an unshaven cheek and tenderly brush the scar that marred his lip, before leaning closer to place a gentle kiss on the offending reminder of everything her father had wrought on her husband. Pausing, Charity waited for the jittering fearfulness in her stomach to subside, before lifting to press another kiss against his warm mouth, refusing to let herself be ruled by the vile actions of the chroves-erse auburn haired golly any longer.

She was stronger than him, and she would take her gods-be-damned life back.

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Rhys Valentin
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Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:32 pm

28th of Ophus, 2718
HOME in the Painted Ladies | AFTERNOON
Cruel was an understatement. It barely scratched the icy surface of the truth and Rhys winced, visibly, blue eyes growing distant for a moment as he stared at his hands, dirty, grime-coated fingers splayed out over the wooden surface. He didn't watch her sit, but his expression shifted quickly into a smirk,

"I haven't left this house in a month and a half." The words were spoken in a tone that was too biting, too quick, and the tall blond inhaled sharply as if he realized his mistake, shaking his head and shifting toward his plate, one hand still on the table while the other moved to reach for the chair. Charity's field was far too warm, too comfortable, too inviting and he muttered an apology, feeling the burn of chagrin writhe into the cavity of his chest, aware that he wasn't even concerned about the weather, "I didn't mean—I just—it has been cold. I didn't realize it was cold enough to freeze the Arova. I—yeah."

He sighed, beginning to move the chair back just so when she spoke again, smiling at him and stumbling over her words. The not-galdor smiled back, beginning to make excuses for himself in his mind, against the back of his tongue, toward his lips, "I need something to do, you know? I can't just—"

Just what?

Sit still? Do nothing?

Wait patiently? Please himself?

Go back to work? Read more books?

Rhys stopped himself at the press of her hand, at the sound of something important in her tone. They'd really said enough, though. He didn't need to dredge things up all over again: all he wanted to do was move on. He'd been still for so long already, in bed in pain or carefully beginning to move again, and since that day in Achtus, it'd been easier to just let some things sit quietly, to hope that time would heal what hurt if he was patient enough. He stopped moving the chair and hovered awkwardly, waiting for his delicate wife to have something to say.

Only Charity offered him pie instead.

He had his own but the fork was there at his lips and he blinked, searching her face with undisguised curiosity while he took a bite, smile slow but genuine. Confusion bloomed across his well-carved but newly scarred features when she stood, the hand she held resistant for a heartbeat before it bent and curled around her petit form. It was literally all the tall blond had within himself to not flinch at her touch, smile faltering, so not expecting the motions she was making, the implications of her closeness after just long enough feeling the sting of her invisible, seemingly unreachable injuries,

"I do—"

Rhys couldn't disagree, suddenly flustered by the brush of her fingers and brought to silence by the soft press of lips. A hesitance rippled through his glamour, entangled in their proximity as it was, and the young Valentin was unable to hide his apprehension, his anticipation of something falling apart from her, so thick did his Perceptive aura and so close their connection weave them together,

"—I was going to—"

He added in a quipped whisper during her pause, her own far weightier field only making him more worried, fingers curling into the fabric against the small of her back while his other hand didn't move from the table. Perhaps his returned kiss could only have been accused of being weak, almost disinterested—lame, really—the caution that hummed in his veins so thick that he was left unsure on how to proceed. It was more surprise than passion, more contained than encouraged. Not for lack of wanting, of course. Warmth tickled the back of his skull and he felt warm where they were touching, their bodies against each other. But, still, he hesitated to lean in for more. Terrified to take any lead lest it either be perceived as threatening or simply lead nowhere, Rhys could only hold Charity there with a sigh,

"—after I was finished in the dining room. And the pie—"

Blue eyes flicked to the table, to the slices on plates, tilting his head toward the kettle, making a brief circuit of the kitchen before meeting her violet gaze. Tongue against his scar again, he licked his lips as if he missed where she'd just been, as if she'd made him remember he was thirsty, "—but I can be done for now—if that's—if you wanted a break. Or something. I mean, I've probably done too much already and will regret it all tomorrow, anyway. Did you want to—were you—I can go wash if I'm too offensive to eat with."

It wasn't as though he was unaware of what was implied in this moment—it was no longer about the pie on the table—but it was obvious that even if he wanted to see just how sturdy the hardwood surface was with their bodies against it, rediscovering a level of closeness they'd let waste away, he wasn't about to say anything. He certainly wasn't about to make those moves lest there be tears and apologies and reminders. All of him tensed as if he was about to slip away, but it was clear he didn't want to because he hovered, conflicted, finally blurting more than he intended,

"Did you want to come with me?"

The tall blond could almost feel the way this would fall apart, but he smiled anyway, shy and nervous when he shouldn't have been any of those things around his wife.
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Charity Valentin
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Mon Apr 01, 2019 8:33 am

28th Ophus, 2718
PAINTED LADY| MID AFTERNOON
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She felt the sharpness in his tone, the frustrated hesitation in his field, and took them in her stride. It wasn’t just the wick that had these thoughts and feelings, the problem was that he didn’t have the trauma ever present in the back of his mind, crushing all attempts with a cruel and bastardly fist.

There was resistance in his hand, a fear of repercussion if he were to follow her silent request, but it lasted only momentarily before the taller blonde let it curled to rest against her form. His faltering smile too easily shared that which Rhys wouldn’t say out loud; the hurt of being rebuked, the worry of all this being a brief tantalizing tease before dissolving into nothingness, the wanting that was tempered by impatient patience.

Her husband returned her kiss, a lackluster and unsure thing that didn’t stoke fires or write erotic novellas, but Charity understood. She couldn’t blame him, not in the slightest. He needed time, and encouragement. He needed to know that she wasn’t going to disappear again in a haze of tears and panic. Frozen between wanting and wanting to be careful, Rhys didn’t make any further moves, sighing in a way that tugged at her heart. His crystalline gaze darted like a field hingle, before meeting the depths of her heated violet hues, and his tongue wet his lips with an unconscious temptation.

The blonde galdor couldn’t help the gentle, sympathetic chuckle that escaped her as Rhys all but rambled in his discomfort and desire, biting her lip and stroking her hand over an unshaved cheek to curl around a strong jaw.

"Did you want to come with me?"

Charity sighed a soft sound at the simple question, taking from it far too much innuendo that the taller blonde probably hadn’t intended. She shifted both hands, reaching for the buttons that remained done up on his loose shirt, taking her time to release them from their catches.

“I do.” The pianist said softly, making absolutely no moves to head away from the kitchen to the bathroom upstairs, slipping cool pale fingers under soft fabric to run carefully over still somewhat bruise-stained ribs and torso. Leaning in to kiss him again, the violet eyed creature nibbled her way along his jaw, sucking lightly on the tender skin at his neck and running light fingernails along the hem of his pants. Drawing back, the young woman looked over her husband, pausing for a moment.

“You aren’t offensive Rhys, you’ve never been offensive. I just needed time, but I need something more than that now. I need…I need to…I need you. I need my husband.” Charity said firmly, taking his face in her hands and looking intently into his inviting blue eyes, dropping to his mouth before looking back again. Her field was jittery, but it wasn’t scared. It didn’t draw away from him, searching to intertwine with his glamour like old friends finally reunited.

As if trying to show the injured man that he had permission, Charity shifted to find his hand around her waist and uncurled it, moving with an uncharacteristic directness to reach under the tucked skirts of her dress and place it over the warmth found just beyond a layer of fabric.

“I’m not afraid of you.” She whispered with a quiet gasp, reaching for the fastening of his pants with a small smile and more inviting presses of soft lips against the warmth of his mouth.

“Or of a little dust.” The galdor murmured between kisses, hoping that he would see that this wasn’t like before. That this wasn’t a momentary lapse that would suddenly change direction like the winter winds. She hoped, prayed, that they weren’t too far gone to come back to what had been so achingly missing. Hesitating, one hand leaving his half undone pants to stroke his face again, Charity blushed as she looked into the face of her long time soul-mate.

"I understand if you don't feel comfortable, that's okay. We can just bathe, and have tea and pie. I just want you to know that I'm okay." The small smile grew, and she nodded as though making a personal revelation.

"I am okay." The pale, dusty blonde said with conviction and something akin to relief, unable to resist giving him another kiss. Expressive, passionate and longing, the pianist poured her everything into the press of their lips, giving one final proof to the taller Anaxi that she was ready before drawing back to allow him time to either accept or decline her advances.

And whatever it was, she was okay with it.

Oh musics
word count: 826
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Rhys Valentin
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Mon Apr 01, 2019 11:24 pm

28th of Ophus, 2718
HOME in the Painted Ladies | AFTERNOON
Charity's delicate hands moved to his shirt and his confusion melted, concern and caution still unavoidably tangible in his glamour. She didn't move, however, there in the kitchen next to the table, fingers light and teasing over his skin surprising enough to elicit a totally unfiltered sort of gasp from him. How he'd longed for her unsolicited touch for weeks, and these gentle touches were almost too much. Rhys' breath hitched as if he was still waiting for something, for anything, to get in the way of these very unexpected advances from the lovely galdor he'd made his wife, from the woman he'd been so very careful not to travel this direction with for quite some time because it was all something he felt painfully inadequate to bring healing to despite being aware that he was, in fact, the only man who could in his own way.

It was when her hands drifted downwards that his eyes fluttered shut, the sensation of her lips still tingling his own while she kissed her way lower still. He felt the sting of tears, jaw clenching in anticipation as he almost instinctually tilted his head. Oh Good Lady, don't end in a mess.

He didn't want more tears. He couldn't keep fighting what had been when he longed to focus on all that could be ahead of them instead.

I need my husband.

"Charity, I—" The taller blond felt the warmth of a blush burn its way over his face and down the back of his neck, felt an inescapable heat crawl through his veins, fighting a writhing sense of panic even while his pulse picked up its tempo without his conscious consent. Her hands moved again, carefully tugging one of his from its tight grip on her clothes to pull it away, guiding him lower, lungs burning with the breath he held. It was without thinking that fingers moved as if to touch her, curling toward familiar warmth before he caught himself with a hiss of surprise, apologies against the back of his teeth. Just like that, the tall blond slid his hand away, palm pausing nervously on her thigh beneath the layers of her skirts,

"I'm sorry—I know that's not it. I know it's not me you're—"

Rhys whined again, her smile persistent, her lips seeking with gentle determination to assure him that she meant her words. He began to gather her skirts, unthinking of the potential for some memory to stir within her, lifting them all to hold the layers, unsure of what to do once he had everything gripped tightly in his hands. Uselessly, he stood there and all of her touches were like fire. He couldn't help but smirk when she attempted to give him a way out, when she teased him with a tamer option than where she was otherwise attempting to lead him,

"—no. I'm okay. This is okay." He breathed, voice wavering while he moved his hands with the kind of confidence only familiarity and depth of intimacy allowed, the caution in his glamour scattering like ashes in the wind as he let his palms come to a gentle rest on her hips beneath all the fabric that cascaded over his arms, holding his suddenly dizzy self steady against her, unsure if he was more intoxicated by the weight of everything he could feel in her field or simply drunk on long-withheld promises, "I want this—I want you—I need you—I need all of you. I just don't want to—"

To what?

Do something wrong?

End up back where they'd already been?

This should not have been so complicated. This should not have been filled with so much apprehension. And yet Rhys swam in it, guilt still haunting him, inadequacy still gnawing at his reknit bones.

Charity was smiling at him and he couldn't help but smile back. It was an expression full of both desire and empathy, full of caution and barely-contained enthusiasm. It was ice melting in the warmth of spring, his glamour entangled with her belike aura in ways that were surely academically unfathomable. She stole any chance for his smile to grow into a grin with a more insistent kiss than her first and some words were lost in the depths of his sore chest, sounding more like a sob as he leaned to keep her from drawing away too quickly, if at all, lips yearning for more. Still, he held back a little, unsure of what to do with his hands while they clung to her (but not too tightly, less the curl of his fingers in pale skin become some other trigger and she slip away one more time).

"—here?" He managed to whisper, aware that his heart was racing and denying the part of him that wanted to tell her no, that wanted to insist that things were fine, that wanted to just eat pie and take a bath. The rest of him didn't want to be stuck there in that place where those thoughts came from, and from the way his delicate pianist of a wife didn't pull away from the lingering of his deeper, less cautious kisses, the way one of her other hand still hovered enticingly at the fastenings of his pants, perhaps she meant it when she said she needed to move her whole self somewhere new, too.

Not that this was new, not any more, but after nearly a month and a half, it felt like something distant, something exciting that set his pulse racing in his ears and his blood singing in his veins. Rhys took the moment lean toward her again, hungry for more of their lips together, content to travel slowly though somewhere in the back of his mind even he was aware he also didn't want to take his time. When he finally needed a breath, breath ragged, blue eyes sought to hold her violet hues, barely able to speak above the thrum of his own heartbeat, "Tell me, Charity—"

Here was fine. Anywhere was fine.

Featherlight, jittery fingers traced with a tangible impatience over her hips, restless over pale skin, unwilling to be as bold as he would have once been, aware that her definitive, heartfelt statement was more than enough permission. Gods, he felt almost feral, wild, and like a frightened animal caught in the soft glow of a phosphor light, he might have stared for a moment, tongue toying again with the line of scar tissue that marred his lower lip out of habit, unable to not feel its invasive new presence as an unwanted tightness when he pushed, especially after the alluring crush of their mouths.

"—tell me what to do, because I—I don't want to make the wrong move."
word count: 1194
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Charity Valentin
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Wed Apr 03, 2019 9:07 am

28th Ophus, 2718
PAINTED LADY| MID AFTERNOON
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Feeling the slight curl of tentative fingers remembering motions that had fallen to the way side, Charity bit her lip to fight the disappointment that welled in her chest as the man slipped his hand to rest on her thigh instead, knowing now that Benjamin’s damage had run too long and too deep. Pressing gentle kisses, she felt the flicker in his glamour, the frustration in his aura at what he seemed to want so desperately to run from.

“Rhys and Charity Valentin. Forever and always. No one, nothing is going to take that away from us again. Nothing.”

It wasn’t his voice this time, the snarky baritone of Damen D’Arthe. It was instead her own voice, echoing words spoken so, so many weeks ago. The memory taunted her, coming back to bite her as her husband now stood almost frozen and afraid of her. The taller wick’s hands moved slowly, unsure, pushing her already bunched skirts up further to roam familiar curves briefly and rest warm hands on cooler hips just beneath. There was no denying the traumatic events that gnashed viciously in the back of her mind, searching for a weak spot in her resolve, but Charity refused to let them over take her. Instead, she smiled at him.

And finally, he smiled back. A genuine smile that brought with it the familiar entwining of his glamour in her field, that fascinating shared level of connection that the couple had found right from the beginning. There were so many things they could have studied in that, especially with their current knowledge, but as far as Charity was concerned it was just a sign from the Circle that they belonged together. It just validated every fight and every scar, every bruised and battered piece of flesh. They were meant for each other and by hell or highwater Damen fucking D’Arthe would not come between that.

Stealing more words from the man with an insistent press of her lips, savoring as much as she could of this moment should it be their last, the pianist let a soft sound of passionate surprise escape her as when she went to draw away, Rhys leaned to keep her there with his own intoxicating kisses. His hands were frozen on the curve of her hips, tight against pale supple skin as the wick breathed a single word in a tone that all but begged her to be sure. To be truly sure.

Here?

Pressing into the insistent movement of his lips, Charity felt light headed as she drowned in the devouring hungry pressure of his mouth, her hand slipping into strawberry locks and curling against his scalp as the other continued to finish the unfastening of infernal buttons. Just on the cusp of the kiss becoming deeper and more intense, the tall disgraced Seventen drew back and sought her eyes with a desperately wild crystalline gaze. He pleaded with her for help, begging for guidance in the vast wild unknown.

Tell me what to do.

The platinum crowned creature finally loosened the last button, shifting to sit on the very edge of the table slightly and pushing his chair out with a loud screech of wood on wood.

“Yes. Here. Sit.” She said with a needfully forceful tone, field laced heavily with the sultry warmth of her much wanted desire. The words had been said before, twice, both with different scenarios. Once, on his birthday to surprise with baked delights. Twice, when he’d come back home to her after the vicious beating that he’d barely survived. And now thrice, to stoke the hearth that threatened to go cold.

Once the taller wick moved to comply, Charity moved closer, standing comfortably between his knees, her hands helping to remove the shirt that now so uselessly hung open on his person. Throwing the garment to the floor, she cupped his face again, stealing more expressive kisses and exploring his mouth with a seeking tongue.

“Get this clocking dress off.” The petite pianist breathed, aware that the simpler work garment was blessedly not a fasten up item and without a corset. If he untied the apron, Rhys only had to slip the warm fabric up and over her arms that she would readily shift to assist with. Once free hands moved back to pale skin, the galdor guided them to the lace undergarments that held back the final dregs of modesty that she had left. The parts of her that Benjamin fucking Tolsby hadn’t got to see. Helping to curl fingers into delicate fabric, Charity pressed trembling hands against his chest.

“Keep going, take them. Please. I need you to do this, Rhys.” She said shakily, wanting to push past the roadblock that the beast had left behind, desperately needing to find the sunrise over the horizon of the mountains that blocked her path. It wasn't rushing, nor was it forcing herself to do what she didn't really want to. For the Valentin, it was reclaiming her body back from the bastard. Reclaiming herself. The blonde didn't want to take her time, but she wanted to know her husband, to have him rediscover her after the fog had cleared.

word count: 904
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Rhys Valentin
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: It's Inspector to you, thanks.
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Tue Apr 16, 2019 10:44 am

28th of Ophus, 2718
HOME in the Painted Ladies | AFTERNOON
Rhys certainly would have smiled at her noise of surprise, but his mouth was too busy, his mind too scattered, and his body too focused on the motion of her fingers drifting over every fastening of his trousers. Oh, gods. Just the warmth of her palm behind layers of fabric felt like too much, and there was an almost embarrassing level of relief to the last button being freed, the tall blond unable to hold back the gruff sound of wanting before a wave of worry rushed in to smother that heat of desire that had begun to race up his spine.

He leaned away, heart beating swiftly against the doubt that attempted to squeeze it so tightly in sharp claws. Swallowing thickly as Charity slipped away from him, moving to perch on the table just so while one delicate foot made the most indelicate noise out of shoving his chair in his direction. He was dizzy, feeling and thinking far too many things all at once, and she held his confused gaze with her violet hues while the most unexpected of authoritative tones answered his fearful question.

Here. Sit. Rhys inhaled sharply, blue eyes dilating in involuntary response to his surprise, her words crawling under his skin in a way he wasn't sure he'd ever experienced before. There was some flicker of defiance in the flutter of his pulse, but it was short-lived, burned away by the rushing flames of arousal at her needful willingness to take such firm control. He liked the tone. He needed the assurance, but not more than he simply needed her,

"Yes." He sat.

The petite blond poured herself off the kitchen table to stand between his legs and for a moment, he could only sit there and stare, watching her fingers brush over his skin to slide his shirt from his shoulders and onto the floor, watching her palms trace over his chest to reach up and hold his face, and watching her lips before they pressed so passionately against his. He groaned, fingers curling for a moment around the edges of his chair's seat, still so hesitant to touch what was his even though he was quite sure the lingering depths of their kissing was certainly permission.

Dress. Off. He heard a few words above the loud rhythm of his heart, "Yes." Rhys repeated, blinking, eager fingers untying her apron, quick hands gathering fabric to lift while her whole body moved to be free of her outer layers. Anticipation tingled the edges of his nerves and pulsed through his field, afraid to go too far in his enthusiasm. The pale landscape of skin and delicate lace he knew so well nearly blinded him, breath hitching, mind racing through scenarios as if guessing when this moment would be ground to a halt while a yearning sang sweetly through his veins.

Charity did not demand for him to stop with tears, however, and instead she demanded more from him than he was at all prepared for. Her hands led his and her fingers bent his own.

Keep going—she ordered again, but this time he heard the waver in her voice and felt the nervousness in her touch. It was fear but also need. It was concern but also a definitive movement to reestablish, to reclaim. The Sergeant would have breathed one more yes but only a whine escaped him, caught somewhere in his chest, bright blue eyes roaming the body he knew before meeting her gold-flecked violet stare. He held her gaze and bit his lip, teeth against the thin line of scar tissue that split the lower curve in half, moving in obedience to her request.

It was maddening, excruciating to take his time but he did. Rhys slowly began with her brazier, letting the lace garment join his shirt on the floor while his hands roamed with obvious tentativeness over soft curves. He watched her face, her expression, palms moving with familiarity, cupping her breasts and letting his fingers tease with a lingering caution tangible in his touch over sensitive peaks of skin. His jaw clenched and he breathed slowly, glancing downward, just the act of looking enough to cause him to shift in his seat with a ragged sigh, restless and uncomfortable despite the room his delicate pianist had so generously given him with the unfastening of his trousers. They were still on, after all.

Leaning slowly forward, he looked up again, cautiously pressing lips to a clavicle, to her sternum, moving to brush gentle kisses over exposed skin, to let his tongue explore. There was a tension in his glamour, an anxiousness that he simply couldn't seem to banish despite her authoritative assurances, but even as he nibbled just so, Rhys finally willed his hands drag lower, obediently letting his fingers drift over the last of her clothing. Sliding lace from her hips with a whine, he pressed a cheek against her sternum, her heartbeat loud against his ear, blue eyes wandering downward while he watched himself add to the discarded clothing at his feet.

He hesitated, eyes fluttering shut in obvious pause, before he leaned away slowly, but not to escape her, not to refuse this moment. Reaching to entwine one of his hands with hers, tangling their fingers together, his other hand teased lightly over a hip bone and trailed fingers lightly lower, inviting with a featherlight trace along her inner thigh for her to raise a leg to rest a knee against him while he sought to bring his touch back to where she'd led him before, wordlessly asking permission with the breathless hint of a smile.
word count: 990
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Charity Valentin
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Fri Apr 19, 2019 2:42 am

28th Ophus, 2718
PAINTED LADY| MID AFTERNOON
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Charity held back a shiver, nervous excitement and an undercurrent of fear rippling through her field as the wick moved to oblige her request, his slightly cool hands brushing the soft pale skin of her torso as he shifted to release her from the first half of her lace undergarment. The air of the kitchen was cool without the warmth of the fireplace, and it brought goosebumps to the surface of her alabaster torso as the thin material was removed, bodies already heated from the physical activity of sanding and peeling and working in the confines of the rundown home.

The pianist met his gaze when it finally came back to hers, swallowing hard and letting delicate hands rest on his shoulders as those same warm hands moved to explore exposed flesh, inhaling shakily as the familiar and greatly missed sensations raced down her spine and curled within her core. She couldn’t help it, violet eyes closing with a sigh and breathing shallow through parted lips. Fine loose strands of platinum hair tickled her shoulders and neck where they had come loose from her bun, brushing against bared shoulders as she let her head tilt back at the brush of tentative lips across the curve of her clavicle. A soft sound escaped the blonde, and her fingers curled into the slightly tanned skin of his shoulders, unconsciously arching into the tortuously explorations of his tongue. Every nerve ending seemed to be intensified, on edge in eager anticipation at any contact from the tall Seventen.

Lifting her head as Rhys slipped fingertips into the waist band of her lower garment, Charity slipped her hands down his arms and curled her nails into his hair, holding the man close as he leaned against her chest and listened to her heart racing wildly as the last dreg of her modesty slipped to the scuffed floor. Her field was drawn close, jittering and wrought with more emotions than she could explain. Undressed, standing before her husband, the Valentin knew she trembled slightly and yet she didn’t draw back. There was an urgent need to hold on, it hung heavily in her aura like molasses. A fierce self-forced requirement to push past the memories now clawing with cruel abandon at her mind.

As Rhys pulled back, the blonde musician looked down at him, holding his crystalline gaze as the tall man entwined one hand with hers. Light, tickling fingers trailed down the soft supple skin of her thigh, a stark contrast to the hard biting ones that had marred her so many weeks prior. Moving to bend her leg slightly, the short galdor shifted to rest it against the tender hollow between the wicks thigh and hip, free hand still curled lightly in strawberry blonde tresses. He silently questioned her, a ghost of a smile on his lips, face expressing what he so desperately wanted. What they both wanted, and had been unable to find. Charity nodded, a quick short movement, her field betraying her bravado as it all but jumped with conflicted desire and irrational fear.

There was a gasp, audible and almost relieved when the man brushed against the warmth of her core, the broken pianist feeling her fear slip away like sand through her fingers as remembered feelings swelled within her. She leaned forward to capture his mouth, groaning against scarred lips as her body recalled all the lovely and good things that came from the intimacy between them both, fingers curling tighter into his hair. Letting her tongue sweep across his lips, seeking entrance, Charity whimpered and her brow furrowed as the man explored everything that had been so brutishly taken away by Benjamin’s vile invasion.

“Pants.” She demanded in a heavy breathless huff as she broke away from his lips, eyes closing and voice breaking with a ragged sound, craving everything they had been missing for far too long. Her body trembled, only this time not from fear, but with pent up need and wanting. Letting her hand slip from his hair Charity reached down between them, so close to Rhys’ own ministrations, to grasp at the firm arousal that she found there. She groaned, capturing his mouth again and moving her hand slowly, frustrated by the way fabric still remained to hamper freedom of movement.

“Rhys…” The delicate creature whined desperately, rocking gently into the warmth of his hand slightly with another moan.

word count: 768
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Rhys Valentin
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Location: Vienda
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: It's Inspector to you, thanks.
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Wed May 01, 2019 4:16 pm

28th of Ophus, 2718
HOME in the Painted Ladies | AFTERNOON
Gods, he was quite sure he'd hardly touched this much of his wife in weeks, months, and the sheer delight of letting his hands wander over flushed skin was more than enough to make him feel dizzy despite having been ordered into a seat. Vita was surely spinning on a different axis at this moment and that was clocking fine with Rhys Valentin. Charity didn't cringe away from the tender exploration of his lips or the brush of his tongue, but he might have wavered for the most imperceptible of moments at the tight grip of fingers in his hair while he moved to slip tastefully alluring laced undergarments to the floor.

He leaned away from the staccato sensation of her heartbeat against his cheek, blue eyes seeking her violet hues even while her hand refused to slide away from against his scalp, he chose to entangle his fingers with her free ones instead, tugging her closer. Far too afraid to shatter the moment with his voice, with unnecessary questions, he invited a shift in her body to lean against his and while there was a flicker of doubt that rippled through their mingled fields, his delicate pianist didn't refuse.

Rhys' touch was tentative at first, but what caution kept his boldness at bay melted against her lips with the muffled comforts of her sounds of enjoyment. Fingers moved with confidence as he welcomed deeper, more passionate kisses, eagerly seeking to drag her away from any opportunity to object to the direction they were headed.

He heard her word, but it took a moment for the sound to register, eyes closed while he found a gentle rhythm between slick folds of warm flesh. The tall blond smiled, panting a laugh as he released the hand of her's he'd been holding, the rebellious tone of his voice thick and husky with need, defiant in his taunting even though he would have so willingly admitted just how arousing her authoritative expressions had been had she asked (as if it wasn't at all obvious now),

"You had your chance, you know. My pants can wait—I can wai—oh gods, please."

He'd really had all intentions of promising patience, but Charity trailed her hand from his hair and downward over tanned skin and he was nearly quite sure he was just going to lose every bit of his self-proclaimed endurance in the briefest of touches. His exclamation was a helpless whine, Rhys' eyes widening and a shudder coiling through his body. The challenge his pants presented was perhaps not such a bad thing in this moment, the tall blond aware that he was far too full of pent-up, denied desire to pretend he'd be anything but a disappointment and a mess in his own lap should the delicate pianist actually be able to let her hand move the way she clearly wanted.

Clock the Circle, he still might just—

Rhys hissed in barely contained enthusiasm through grit teeth, determined now to stay the course even as every nerve beneath her palm sang a very different tune, no less frustrated by the uncomfortable confines of the clothing left on his person, he shifted only slightly, now-free hand curling fingers into the hem of his trousers as if he had every intention of attempting to remove them one-handed and sitting even as his other hand slid fingers where the rest of himself would rather be, thumb remaining against that sensitive center, coaxing her toward that long-denied, lovingly necessary unraveling, that freedom in a moment of release.

She whined his name and he faltered, inhaling a ragged breath sharply in obvious fear that here of all places was where Charity would cry for this to all cease. Rhys was unwilling to still his movements even as his delicate pianist shifted her hips, the trembling of her body and tension in her field his own familiar insight into the pleasure he was building within her even as panic threatened to sear its way through his singing nerves,

"—don't stop us now—please—" The tall blond whispered against her lips, practically pleading her toward that anticipated edge, "—it's just me—and you—let it all go—"
word count: 755
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