I have another Patzagchilles AU!
(Yeah I know I have a problem but the hyperfixation has me, what more do you want?)
Achilles is a beautiful Aegean nereid that gets captured off the coast and, despite his vicious escape attempts, ends up dragged to land and traded off to a traveling menagerie. His awful, tiny tank is kept with their other “money maker” for convenience, a rare Underworld demon named Zagreus.
His cage seems just as cramped, miserable, and inhospitable as Achilles’ tank, and he seems just as restless in there, even though he must have spent far more time in it than Achilles has. Zagreus does seem more resigned to their occasional forced performances though, acting up with feigned aggression without the threat of a whip.
Achilles can see plenty of scars from before he decided to accept it. Now, he just paces and snarls and frightens the crowds with his fangs without prompting and then is the most polite person Achilles has ever talked to at all other times.
Achilles understands and sympathizes with why Zagreus complies with their orders, but has no intentions to do the same. They open the top of his tank and want him to perform with twirls and flips and other fanciful nonsense, but they’re fools.
He keeps his tail while in the tank, but a nereid can walk on legs when they so choose, whether they realize that or not. There’s already a crowd by the time they finally open it all the way up but Achilles doesn’t care.
He throws himself out and makes a break for it. The spectators flee but the workers scramble to try to drag him down. He’s unarmed and outnumbered but he almost makes it far enough before someone manages to spear him through the back of the heel and they drag him back.
The wound heals eventually but there’s a shackle on his wrist now and no room to try and escape again. Everything is still so restricted and unlivable and he loathes it but at least there’s Zagreus because, by now, Achilles has grown just as resigned.
Patroclus is getting desperate. He’s displaced from his home, in need of a job, and doing all he can to avoid getting involved in a brewing war. A job with this menagerie that will keep him on the move would work well for him.
It won’t be pretty but he’s always been good with animals and he can make it work. They take him on board readily enough but he finds more than just animals. There’s a nereid with his arms crossed over the edge of his tank chatting with a demon (dear gods, those are rare) in an uncomfortable metal cage as if they’re dearest friends talking over a nice lunch and not chained up and trapped in squalid conditions.
“I didn’t realize you kept people here,” Patroclus says testily. The man showing him around laughs and replies, “You won’t last long here if you can’t tell the difference between people and monsters.” The nereid and demon are both staring at him now and he has a very grim feeling about this at this point but he doesn’t have any other plan for himself.
Patroclus works where they tell him to, then tries to help where he can, keeping an eye on that strange pair in particular. They don’t belong here. The nereid, Achilles, is a beautiful creature covered with scales, almost transparent and ever so slightly iridescent above his waist, then rich blue green over his tail. Graceful frills line its edges that stir gently in the water. Pointed nails tip webbed fingers.
When he’s not talking to the demon, Achilles makes for a sad sight. Patroclus watches him drift at the bottom of his tank, still, staring off into the distance as if in the hope of catching sight of something more interesting. Pat has tried to offer some conversation, but goes unanswered.
Zagreus, the demon, is another story. He stares at Patroclus with his wide, red and green eyes. He constantly twitches the hooked tip of his long, thin tail. He has fire in the skin of his lower legs and a formidable set of claws on his hands and feet that make Achilles’ look dainty. There’s a pair of dark horns curling from his wild hair frame by fiery leaves that Pat can’t explain.
When he asks, Zagreus just says they grow there. He talks all the time. Even when Patroclus has to focus on some task and can’t converse, Zagreus will keep going on by himself, chattering away as he paces in endless circles in his tiny cage, over and over and over.
Pat does his best to keep up, offering conversation he hopes is at least somewhat engaging. Zagreus seems to think so. He smiles at him and laughs with him and he’s surprised to realize how well they’ve truly started getting along. He finds himself wanted to talk as far more than just a guilty courtesy to this locked up man.
It’s this kindness towards Zagreus and their genuine interaction that at length makes Achilles start to warm up to him. He lifts himself over the edge of the tank when it’s open or up to one of the holes in the glass when it’s not to join in their little chats. He’s more reserved than Zagreus but has a dry wit that he enjoys and the sound of his voice is lovely.
Achilles and Zagreus are not always together. Sometimes, when the group settles for the night, it’s just more convenient to set their tank and cage somewhere apart. Patroclus gets into the habit of keeping one or the other company on those nights.
His superiors don’t mind assigning him to take care of the two of them more and more since he’s willing to do it anyway and they don’t seem eager to rip his hands off. As long as he knows his place and stays in line, they don’t care if he wastes his time with them.
Patroclus has never cared about staying in line or in his place but he’s a good enough liar to pretend like he does.
He’ll talk to Achilles or Zagreus or both of them late into the night, half the time just falling asleep beside them without returning to his bed. The other men look at him strangely sometimes but they’re not nearly as good a company anyway, and Achilles and Zagreus are smarter and funnier as well, and they both have such interesting stories to tell and listen so raptly to his own, and fine- gods damn it- he’s falling in love with both of them.
Patroclus has never really been one for false modesty, and he thinks his affection is at least somewhat reciprocated. Achilles’ eyes trail after him all the time, a sharp contrast to the absent depression he displayed before.
He smiles at him more, little things as if they’re sharing a secret just between the two of them. He starts to make these soft trills at him as well, lyrical noises that he doesn’t understand but send his heart swooping through his chest anyway. He’s only ever heard him make such sounds at Zagreus on occasion, otherwise.
It’s harder to tell with Zagreus since he’s been so affectionate from the get go, but Patroclus notices a blush accompanying most of his smiles nowadays and his gaze flickers over his form more frequently.
The demon nearly jumps out of his skin when Pat pushes a comforting hand through the bars of his cage one day. He shudders dramatically when he takes it in his own. Patroclus’s heart pangs when he realizes he likely hasn’t felt a kind touch in a very long time. He offers his own more frequently after that and Zagreus accepts his touch almost reverently, tracing his fingers over the lines in his palm.
It’s with Achilles that Patroclus first gets the chance to reveal what’s in his heart. He watches his eyes glow with awe and longing before tightening with hesitation and shame. Voice halting, he tells him, “You deserve more than me. I’m trapped and imprisoned and helpless to what these people demand of me.”
Patroclus sighs in response. “I happened to notice that. I love you anyway.” Achilles eyes go wide and his lips part as if he means to argue, but all that escapes him is a wounded, desperate sound and he reaches out to cup his face with shaking hands and kiss him. Patroclus strains to lean up to where Achilles hangs out of his tank as far as the chains will allow.
Zagreus ardently confesses in return when Patroclus tells him of his affection, though it’s harder to deliver the kiss that he also reaches for. The bars of his cage force an awkward angle and Zagreus sounds a bit choked when he apologizes for it as he pulls back.
Patroclus hushes him and says, “The love is more important than anything that might try to get in the way, dear Zagreus.” He pulls his hands out through the bars and kisses all over his claws and knuckles and palms as Zagreus’s lashes flutter rapidly. Patroclus wishes he could pull him from this cage completely, all cold unforgiving metal so that Zagreus has nothing to burn.
Pat is glad that neither Achilles nor Zagreus take issue with his shared love of them. He hid nothing, but still worried absently that they wouldn’t appreciate him coming between them. However, they both still eagerly enjoy his presence and neither one shies from the affection he shows to the other.
But still, he gets a strange sense in response to such displays, not angry or unwelcoming, but maybe something bitter, maybe something jealous. The explanation he stumbles upon catches him off guard.
One night, when Achilles’ tank is elsewhere, Zagreus asks him with a voice so low and shot through with longing, what Achilles feels like. What it’s like to hold his hand. Patroclus blinks in surprise. Zagreus tells him they’ve never touched. Ah.
Zagreus stares like he’s starving as he describes the strangely cool slip of his skin, the smooth stroke down the scales on the back of his hand and the rough drag up the other way. Zagreus tells him that he’s glad Pat can give him the love he deserves. Pat tries to reassure him that Achilles certainly appreciates the company of his lover, even when they’re physically separated.
Zagreus jolts and flushes and quickly tells him that he and Achilles aren’t lovers. Patroclus blinks hard once again. They are so familiar and affectionate with each other that he never questioned the assumption, such that he can’t think of any response other than “Why not?”
He looks so heart wrenchingly plaintive as he says, “How could we be? He deserves so much and I have nothing to offer him. I can’t even reach him. I want the best for him and I can’t give him any of that.” It aches deep in Patroclus’s heart but he can also barely stop from rolling his eyes at how blind he’s being.
“That’s ridiculous,” Pat tells him. “You’ve given Achilles so much more than you realize. I’m sure he loves you.” Zagreus frowns and disagrees. Patroclus sighs. “Well what about the company Achilles has given you, hmm? What does it mean to you?”
“Everything,” he says immediately. “It means the world to me, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Patroclus raises a brow. “Is it really such a stretch of the imagination that Achilles feels the same way about what you have already given him?” Zagreus looks unconvinced but he doesn’t argue either. Once again, he looks at Pat like he’s starving.
He kisses his lovely demon and tries to give him comfort and reassurance before he has to leave for the night. He spends the next night with Achilles, still apart from Zagreus. He also asks him why they aren’t lovers, and what do you know, Achilles gives basically the same reason Zagreus did. Patroclus does roll his eyes this time.
Achilles is more stubborn when Pat tries to tell him that that’s nonsense but he still sees the spark of longing and hope that creeps into his eye as they talk. Pat kisses him plenty as well, and eventually remembers Zagreus’s question that started all this.
Unprompted, Patroclus tells Achilles how incredibly warm Zagreus’s skin is to the touch, how careful and delicate he is with his claws when their hands connect and how hot his breath is when they kiss. Achilles doesn’t seem to know what to say to that, staring unblinkingly at him with pupils wide and dark.
Patroclus doesn’t talk to them the next night when Achilles’ tank is back next to Zagreus’s cage; he approaches to see them talking, voices disguised by low undertones, and decides to leave them undisturbed.
A few nights pass before Zagreus pulls him closer to his bars and looks at him with an edge of desperation before saying, “Take this to Achilles,” and kissing him firmly on the lips. Achilles is right there, he heard him say it, and his gaze drills a hole into Patroclus as he turns and crosses the distance. He says nothing but doesn’t hesitate in the slightest to lean in when Pat pulls himself up.
His breath hitches when Patroclus delivers the message, as accurate as he can be to the way Zagreus kissed him. He pulls back and the nereid needs a moment before his eyes reopen and he says, “Please bring this back to Zagreus,” and kisses so very tenderly.
A little part of Patroclus thinks this feels quite silly since they’re only about 3 yards apart and they’ve both been staring at him this whole time, but Zagreus is beaming at him when he turns back and he really doesn’t mind doing this for them.
Still, once he’s passed on the kiss to Zagreus, he informs them that this is quite the strange arrangement and that he’ll just have to find a way to unite them properly. Zagreus can’t hide his enthusiasm, looking at him nervously but with a smile that’s only grown wider. Achilles sighs shakily and murmurs, “Please be careful.”
Zagreus falls asleep that night pushed up right up to the cage bars, his right arm shoved through a gap up to the bicep, which can’t fit through, and extended right towards Achilles. He can’t reach out of his tank in the same way, but Achilles sleeps pressed against the side nearest Zagreus.
Even when the two of them can’t touch, every inch between them that they can close takes weight off their tender hearts.
Time passes before Patroclus feels comfortable enough about his chances of getting them out. For one, he wants to wait until they’re close enough to the coast before trying. Achilles tells him that he can survive without being in water for an extended time, a few weeks even, but it’s not indefinite. Fortunately, they’re nearing the coast at last.
The master of the menagerie keeps the keys to Achilles’ and Zagreus’s cages on his person at all times, but Patroclus feels confident he can get him drunk enough to swipe them. That just leaves the odds of them getting away fast enough before anyone notices what’s going on.
Achilles scowls and bitterly admits his fear that he won’t be able to keep up. It’s been a long time since his heel was wounded but he hasn’t had the chance to walk since then and he has no faith in his legs’ ability to run.
Patroclus just starts to wonder if they’ll need a new plan when Zagreus declares that demons are strong and near tireless creatures and that he can carry Achilles as far as they need to go for him to get the chance to regain his strength.
Achilles flushes and frets over his well being and Patroclus questions his truthfulness since he sees Zagreus sleeping all the time. He’s quick to reassure that he’ll be fine and that he’ll never leave Achilles behind and that “It’s just because there’s nothing to do around here, Pat, I don’t need to sleep much, but at least it helps with the boredom.”
Two nights later, they put the plan into motion. An amphora of wine gets Pat the keys and he waits patiently until the area around his lovers is as clear as it ever is then starts opening locks as quietly as he can. Zagreus first, then Achilles.
The nereid does land on his feet when he pulls himself out, strong enough to stand, but he looks shaky. Zagreus whispers a little, “May I?” and waits for Achilles minute nod. They both shudder when Zagreus gets an arm under his knees and gathers him up in his arms, pressed so very close as they touch for the first time.
They make a break for the river that they’ll follow to the sea and apparently Zagreus was being fully truthful because he carries Achilles without trouble, even when they keep going until dawn is fully broken to be sure they won’t be caught so easily.
Resting on the river bank, Patroclus admits that food won’t be great for the next few days, he has a town he’s aiming for that he thinks will take about two and a half days to reach, but until then, they’ll have to find things to eat around them.
Achilles quickly announces that if they stay by the river, he can fish up whatever they might need. Zagreus rubs the back of his neck and sheepishly offers his fiery legs to help cook them. Patroclus can’t help but laugh and kiss them both.
Achilles walks on his own for a while before Zagreus helps again; he limps a bit but it’s not as bad as any of them feared. Patroclus examines the old wound when he gets the chance and doesn’t doubt that he’ll get his strength back in time.
He dives in the river when they stop for the night and comes back with three fat trout. Pat elect to build a standard wood fire for the cooking but Zagreus’s feet are useful for getting the kindling to catch anyway.
As Patroclus sets about cooking the two fish (Achilles says he’ll eat his raw but wants to wait to eat with them) he sees Zagreus shuffle up to Achilles out of the corner of his eye. They intertwine their fingers, holding to each other tightly, and although Patroclus isn’t rude enough to stare, he might watch peripherally that lovely first kiss they share.
They’re very clingy with each other and with Patroclus as well, if perhaps not quite as much. They all sleep together that night, Patroclus clamped close in between them, their linked hands resting on his side, and all is not yet right with the world but damn if it doesn’t feel that way.
They end up settling in the little coastal town where the inhabitants are smart enough not to rat out the three strongest people around. Best not to cause trouble with a dangerous nereid, a fierce demon, and their strange mortal who’s more than capable of handling any trouble in his own right.
Besides, they quickly realize that they don’t want to. Achilles brings fresh fish on every market day, even more when Patroclus convinces him that nets are in fact a valid form of fishing and he starts setting them up underwater in ideal spots only he can reach. He’s always proud of his haul but sells and trades them very generously.
Zagreus (who knew a demon could be such a sweetheart?) takes up all sorts of odd jobs around town. He helps most often with the shepherds tending the herds on the outskirts, patrolling the border every few nights and keeping any predators well away from the sheep and cattle.
Patroclus starts helping out the elderly town healer. He admits that he knows quite a bit already about treating wounds and illnesses and helps the old man with tasks he can’t manage on his own anymore. He helps when things are too busy for him to handle alone and takes his place when he passes away a few years later.
The town doesn’t pay much mind to how they sometimes find Achilles snoozing in the surf or to how Zagreus sometimes burns footprints into wood floors when he gets too excited or to how all three of them are so obviously in love because they’re kind and why make trouble where there isn’t any?
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Tell me why I get This Feeling, That you Really Wanna Make me Yours
hmm once again on my bullshit (title!). This is all self indulgent lmao, just fluff and setting the stage
Maeve x Lucas. Playing fairies and catching magic. 4k (lol WHOOPS)
She sighed, leaning against the counter. “This isn’t working,” she sighed. “You guys feel it too?”
She was teaching a small group today. Will, Andrew, Amanda, Lilith and little Emmie. None of which were paying attention to their spelling lessons.
Granted, neither was she.
“What say we stop the lessons here and go out to do something?” She stretched her arms above her head, adjusting her handkerchief. A lone butterfly fluttered in her stomach as she brushed the embroidered flowers.
“Do what?” Amanda asked, getting to her feet. Amanda liked to pretend to be hesitant but she was the one abandoning her studies the fastest.
Even so, Amanda was a bright young lady and Maeve was honoured to teach her.
“Yeah! What are we gonna do?” Lilith chimed in, shoving the papers away from her.
“Hmmm what if we go on a picnic? We can spend the afternoon in the fields.”
Emmie held her hands up, giggling. “Can we have a tea party?” she asked, her voice a high pitched squeak filled with laughter.
Maeve grinned, pushing herself off the counter. “Why of course milady! All the tea parties you want,” she said with a curtsy. It made the little girl clap her hands together.
Emmie was only five but her imagination was vivid and her excitement infectious.
“Can we play princess?”
“Well, aren’t you already a princess?” Maeve asked with a wink making the little girl giggle.
Lilith smiled. “We could put flowers in our hair,” she said to Emmie.
“Flowers?” The five year old’s eyes lit up. “Like what Ms. Maeve has! Will we get flowers like Ms. Maeve’s?”
Maeve chuckled, squatting down to ruffle the girl’s hair. “We’ll find even prettier flowers for you.”
Lilith smirked from where she stood with Amanda, picking at dirt under her nails. “Yeah but Maeve yours are better since they’re gifts from a certain someone~”
Maeve felt the tips of her ears go red. “Lucas is only a friend.”
Lilith’s smirk grew more catlike as she looked from her nails back to Maeve. “Mmhmm. But I never said his name.”
…shit she wasn’t wrong. Was she that easy to read?
“Lil Lil, don’t be mean,” Amanda said, bumping her shoulders against Lilith’s. “We all know it’s true, but you shouldn’t say it.”
Lilith’s cheeks were pink as she sulked. “Yeah yeah whatever. She makes it too easy.”
Maeve paused. Did she...make it too easy? They were only friends. Nothing else, but every time his name was mentioned she was…
Up like a dog.
Her cheeks burned. Okay so maybe the dog comparison wasn’t as off as she would’ve wanted it to be.
“Well, why don’t we invite him to come with us anyways? Lucas usually brings us something to eat as well when we go on lunch break.”
See? Maeve wasn’t so special. She needed to stop getting in a twist about the little gifts he brought her.
Especially the flowers.
“I don’t know...he has work you know. Not all of us can drop everything to go play.”
“Well I’m sure he’d like to go if you’re there,” Lilith muttered. Amanda elbowed her in the side, making her let out a small yelp.
“I can go see if he can,” Amanda offered. “Lil Lil and I could go.”
“Lucas is coming?” Will asked, his eyes lighting up. “I wanna go with! I wanna go with!” He looked at Lilith, tugging on the skirt of her dress. “Can I go with you guys? Pleeeeease?”
Lilith and Amanda shared a look before nodding.
Maeve rubbed her temples, smiling. Oh this was going to be a mess. “Okay. You three go see if he wants to come along. I’ll take Emmie and Andrew to find a spot and get something sweet along the way. Don’t get your hopes up, he might not come.”
Lilith snorted, but it was Amanda who spoke. “Oh I’m sure he’ll come.”
Maeve pursed her lips, smiling a little. “Tell him...if he does...from me.” They nodded. She leaned in closer, mischief shining in her eyes. “Race ya.”
They ran into the field, tripping and falling. They rolled through the tall grass, laughing.
She made it there first, she noted with a hint of pride. She had made a stop to get something sweet to bring along, so she bought chocolate covered strawberries and little flakey pastries.
She kept walking, and stopped at the flatter part of the field, fluffing the blanket out. There was a small patch of trees and brush a little ways to their left, a patch of wildflowers in front of them.
Emmie rolled into the blanket, laughing loudly as she stared up at the sky.
Maeve put down the basket, sitting beside the giggling girl as she soaked up the sun.
“Ms. Maeve! Can I do your hair?” Emmie asked. Andrew was eating one of the pastries she brought, picking at the wheat.
Maeve blinked her eyes open. “Well I mean, of course.”
Emmie grinned, getting up and behind her. She knew her hair was going to be a mess. But it would be a cute mess.
A few moments later she could hear the chatter of Lilith and Amanda. Will’s laughter was loud above it all.
She looked over her shoulder to see Lilith running at her, telling Emmie about something or other.
And there was Lucas. He had Will up on his shoulders and a small basket with him.
She smiled. When he was close enough, she hummed a victory tune. “I win.”
He pretended to pout, but he was smiling. “I did make lunch.”
“I stopped to get something else to eat as well,” she hummed, her hair being tugged into a braid. “And yet I still won.”
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever,” Lucas said, setting Will down.
“Emmie! Go get some flowers! We can pin them in the braids!” Lilith called, now taking over the mess that was Maeve’s hair.
“I thought I was only getting my hair braided!”
Lilith peeked over her shoulder, smiling. “Yeah. But now we’re putting flowers in it!”
Maeve laughed, looking over at Lucas. He chuckled. “Flowers huh?”
She looked at his hair, it was a mess of soft looking curls. If she was getting all done up, so was he.
“Why don’t I do your hair?” she asked. “I brought some aloe just in case, and I can use it…” she reached out to touch a stray curl by his cheek. She brought her hand back quickly, like she’d been burned. “I-If you want to of course!”
“Sure!” he blurted out. “You can. I don’t mind. Just as long as the aloe comes out.”
“It will! I assure you.” She moved to get the basket, ignoring Lilith’s protests. She grabbed one of the aloe leaves, sitting back. She cracked the leaf open, ignoring the gel for a moment.
She looked up at Lucas, lips twisting as she thought for a moment. She ran her hands through his hair, untangling some of the knots she found and letting it rest in a more slicked back style. One curl was stubborn and kept falling into his eyes.
She leaned up onto her knees, Lilith moving with her to keep fixing the braids in her hair as Emmie brought back an armful of flowers.
Lucas watched her work, scooping a little bit of aloe onto her fingers and working it into his curls. It slowly started to slick back, that one stubborn curl still not working with her. She sulked, twisting it around one of her fingers and trying to pull it back.
She combed her fingers back through his hair, watching it slick back into place. She gave up on the one curl falling between his eyes.
Lilith poked her with a flower stem. She let out a low hiss, sitting back down onto her legs. “There,” Maeve said with a smile. “All done.”
He blinked out of his shock, touching his hair with a hand. “That easy?”
“Well I’m sure you’ll mess up all my hard work later, but yes.”
He snorted, bumping their shoulders together. “So little faith in me.”
“You tend to roughhouse with Will. And get people bitten by eels.”
“Low blow, Thumbelina. Very low blow.”
She giggled, turning away from him as they settled into a comfortable silence.
Will and Andrew were sword fighting with sticks, tackling one another off to the side. Amanda was looking through the food Lucas had brought.
“All done!” Lilith said, pride seeping into her voice. Maeve touched the back of her head, her hair gathered into one long braid snaking down her back. Now with flowers tucked into it.
Lilith moved in front of her, tugging a few strands of Maeve’s bangs out of the braid to hand around her cheeks. “Perfect!”
Emmie clapped, tugging on Lilith’s hand pleading her to do her hair next. Maeve watched them, amused, as they moved towards Amanda.
Maeve watched Amanda kneel before Lilith, both of them laughing. Amanda’s cheeks were pink as she kissed Lilith’s knuckles.
Oh oh ho.
“Looks like we have a case of first love on our hands,” Maeve whispered to Lucas.
She pointed at the two teenagers, who were laughing and blushing. Definitely first love.
He watched them. “I...what?”
...he could not be serious.
“Can’t you see it? The way they look at one another. How red their faces are. The sweetness in their expressions!” Maeve said with a smile. She knew Lilith liked Amanda due to an off hand remark followed by threats to keep it a secret.
“Oh, I see it now,” he whispered as Lilith helped Amanda to her feet. They started chasing Emmie around, both of them laughing and looking at one another when the other wasn’t.
“I remember my first love,” Maeve said with a soft smile. “He was my first kiss as well, it’s a riveting experience. Do you remember yours?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a first love before. Well, at least not in a person.”
“Didn’t have the time to.”
“Not all first loves are romantic, you know. But the ones most people have are.”
“I don’t think I’ve been in love romantically before then.”
“I was...I couldn’t be.” He looked over at her. His shirt looked like a tunic, with laces down the front. She fought the urge to pull on the drawstrings. “What’s it like?”
She looked up at the sky, pursing her lips. “Well it’s different for everyone. To me it’s about the passion you feel when you think of them. The swell in your heart when you see them. The comfort you feel in their presence. How they make you want to be better, do better. The way they can make you smile with just a look. The inside jokes, the little gifts. Being able to wake up in their arms every single day and never tire of it.”
“Of course love is a fucking bitch.” He blinked in surprise at the low snarl in her voice. Ah experience.
“It’s a double edged sword. One loving and sweet, the other dark and biting. Love can easily be sweet and kind, but just as cruel. Broken hearts are no joke,” she said with a smile. “But that’s life I guess.”
He shuddered. “That side of love seems awful.”
“Two sides to the same coin I suppose.”
“It shouldn’t be cruel though.”
“What...do you mean?”
“Well from what I gather broken hearts are normal, but love shouldn’t turn cruel and sharp, you know?”
“I’ve...never thought of it that way.”
He prodded her side. “What kind of love have you been feeling then?”
She paused. She hadn’t thought about it much since she left… “The cruel one I suppose.”
His eyes softened. “Well I hope you feel the sweet kind again.”
“I hope so too.”
They smiled at one another, being interrupted by Will jumping into their laps, trying to escape Lilith’s threats to tickle him.
Lucas grinned wickedly. “You just jumped into a pit of vipers little man,” he said, prodding at Will’s sides. Will let out a squeal, trying to get away.
“Lucas!” Will screamed, Lucas prodding his sides as he squirmed.
Maeve laughed. “Magic word and I help you,” she whispered to Will.
His eyes were pleading. “P-P-P-Please,” he begged.
She smiled, turning to Lucas who was none the wiser. Her smile grew wicked.
She poked him in the side once and he let out a wheeze, shifting away from her. Then she poked him again.
He turned to look at her with a huff. She motioned Will away before turning back to Lucas who was slowly catching on to her plan.
She tackled him, laughing. He let out a small ‘oof’, falling flat on his back as she straddled his hips and prodded at his sides.
He squirmed underneath her, arms flailing as he tried to get her off. But she was relentless.
“M-M-Maeve!” he wheezed, reaching out to get her off of him. And to possibly turn the tides. “Thumbelina!”
Oh no that wouldn’t do.
She leaned forward, taking his hands in hers and pinning them to the ground above his head as she leaned over him victorious.
“Pinned ya!” she said with a large grin. Soft laughter snuck into her tone.
Lucas rolled his eyes, wiggling his arms. “Alright alright, you win. Lemme up.” She giggled, letting go of his hands. He sat up, making her slide down into his lap.
Then he grinned, tackling her into the wheat. She let out a shriek as one of his hands darted along her sides and the other held down her wrists.
She squirmed, kicking at open air.
Fighting a huff, she kneed him softly in the thigh. Surprise flicked over his features and she took the opportunity to shove him off of her, the two of them rolling down the small slope and into the grass and patch of wildflowers.
Emmie let out a whine of protest as they rolled over some flowers. They were laughing the entire time and when they stopped she had him pinned again.
She smirked, tossing her now messy braid over her shoulder. Flowers dangled out of the strands, falling onto his chest.
“Pinned ya again.”
She sat up, letting go of her hold on his shoulders. He just stared at her as she moved off of him and ran up the slope again.
Her heart was fluttering too much.
“Well you two looked like you were having fun,” Lilith said, a tease clear in her voice.
Maeve glowered at her. “Mmmhm. And you and Amanda?”
Lilith’s face went red. “Well! She...we- um…”
“I thought so,” she teased.
Lilith pouted. “Not like you can say anything.”
“Like I’ve said, we’re only friends.” Her tone was firm but even she almost didn’t believe what she was saying.
Lilith only rolled her eyes, the other running back to join them. Emmie was waving flower crowns in the air, Amanda following close behind.
Will glared at Lucas, who was now climbing back up the slope.
The boy looked back at Maeve. “What are you supposed to be? I’m a knight!”
“A knight! How chivalrous,” she said with a sweet smile. “I’m just a handmaiden.”
“No!” Emmie pouted, stomping her foot. “Princess!”
“Well a Princess then I guess.”
“Wait…” Amanda said, holding up a flower crown she and Emmie had made. “You’re too old to be a Princess.”
Lilith caught on. “A queen!”
Maeve paused. Okay that stung less. “But-”
Lilith and Amanda ran over, dropping the flower crown onto her head, singing a song and laughing. “A queen! A queen!” Emmie cheered.
“And what am I the queen of?” Maeve asked, adjusting her new crown. Fine she could roll with this.
“Fairies,” Lucas said, an affectionate smile growing across his face. “Queen Thumbelina Maeve of the fairies.”
“Ugh you suck,” she said, shoving him to the side as he laughed.
“And what am I?” Lucas asked with a grin. “A knight or a prince?”
“The evil villain!” Will said, sticking his tongue out. “You tickled me!”
Lucas stopped. “The villain?”
He was slow to look at her. A wicked grin crept across his face, replacing the excited one.
Oh. Gods. No.
He scooped her up, protests rising to her lips in a high pitched scream as she was tossed over his shoulder. “If you want me to play the villain I will! Muahaha! I have kidnapped your beloved Fairy Queen!” Lucas said, his voice filled with such...cheesy fake acting.
The kind you could only find in make believe.
She kicked her legs, he held a hand to her thigh. “Let me go you ruffian!” she yelled, tipping down farther against his back. She was laughing too hard. “Oh my fair knights!” She pretended to swoon as Lucas spun them around avoiding Will’s stick.
He started jogging off with her over his shoulder. She gripped the fabric of his shirt, laughing so hard her hands shook. He adjusted her so she wasn’t falling off of his shoulder.
He was holding her like a sack of flour.
Amanda and Lilith were bent next to one another, their laughter sweet. Will chased after Lucas with a yell, Andrew following close behind.
“I’m going to take all the Fairy Queen’s magic and use it for my own evil plan!” Lucas called after them.
“Oh help me my knights, we mustn’t let our magic be stolen!” she said, trying to fight her smile.
Lucas stopped by the brush, setting her down on the ground and grabbing a stick. “I challenge you to a duel!” he said, holding the stick up to Will.
“I accept!” Will boasted, smacking Lucas’ stick. Andrew started hitting Lucas on the back of the legs.
“Ow hey that’s not fair,” Lucas whined, making her laugh.
“You kidnapped me, all's fair in rescuing your queen!” She clapped her hands, her skirt fluffing out around her seated form. “Get him!” she cheered.
“You’re mean,” Lucas said, his smile lighting up his eyes.
“Mmm you like it,” she replied with a wink.
Will smacked his stick out of his hand, jabbing at Lucas’ chest. “Ooh!” Lucas moaned in fake pain, grabbing the stick and sticking it under his arm. “You got me! I’m dying.” He swooned, falling to the ground.
Will poked him. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?”
Lucas cracked an eye open. “This is the part where you take your Queen into the woods for safety.”
“Oh!” Will looked at Maeve, she got to her feet. He grabbed her hand, tugging her into the brush. She picked up her skirts, giggling.
“Oh Sir Will, you are so brave,” she said, ducking into the bushes.
Will curled up, looking around. “So what now?” he asked.
“Well, this is the part where your fair lady thanks you,” she said with a smile.
He blinked. “You’re welcome?”
She snorted. “How would you like a kiss?”
“A kiss from the fairy queen?”
“Why yes! A magic kiss. It’ll grant you protection and safety from any threat!”
His face twisted as he thought about it. “A magic kiss?” She nodded. He smiled at her, tilting his face closer to hers.
Laughing, she pulled him closer to her, hugging him and planting a scrunched up kiss on his cheek. “You were very brave.”
He squealed out a giggle, wiggling out of her arms. They could hear Amanda and Lilith’s laughter, and Lucas yelp as little Andrew hit him with a stick again.
They walked out of the brush, Andrew dropping the stick to follow Will back to the blanket.
Maeve laughed, squatting down the “dead” Lucas. “You okay there?”
“Sticks are no joke,” he groaned, sitting up. “Andrew got me pretty good.”
She giggled, pressing the back of her hand to her lips. “Now you’ll have more bruises for me to treat.”
“Oh don’t be so dramatic,” she giggled, helping him to his feet. They walked back to the kids who were eating the sandwiches he brought. His shirt now had grass and dirt stains.
“We can split the lunch you brought me,” she said, swaying her hips a little.
“What? You don’t have to do that.”
She bumped their hips together, grinning up at him. She felt light around him. Like a cloud. “Well I want to!”
He smiled, brushing a leaf from her hair. “...okay.”
Humming, she ran ahead, spinning around and laughing. “Catch me if you can, vile villain!” She stuck her tongue out at him as she ran backwards.
He grinned, chasing after her. She let out a squeal, turning and bolting.
Of course he caught up to her, wrapping her up in a hug and spinning her around. She let out a squeal, throwing her head back as she laughed and they spun.
He set her down after a moment, letting her right herself.
They just stared at one another for a moment, heat flooding her cheeks as her heart fluttered violently.
The two of them looked away from one another as they blushed. Oh no indeed. When she turned to look at him she was hit with a wave of...a desire to kiss him.
Going straight as a rod her cheeks warmed. She was sure she was glowing now too. “I’mgoingtogetsomethingtoeat,” she blurted out, rushing over to the blanket, trying to ignore her red face.
She did not want to kiss her friend. No sir.
She was not wanting to kiss Lucas at all. She had already been through this! It never ended well. Friendship was better anyways. He wouldn’t want her that way anyways.
He stayed behind for a moment, only watching her go.
She turned around, trying to stamp down the butterflies in her stomach. Just friends.
“Come on!” she said, holding out her hand.
He blinked, before smiling and jogging over to her to take her hand. He squeezed her hand once, making her heart skip a beat. Just friends.
His smile was affectionate and his voice was soft. “Okay.”
They started walking back when the sun started to set. She swung her arms, baskets in hand.
“That was fun, thank you for letting me tag along,” Lucas said.
“Of course! I’m glad we got out today, it really was fun,” she replied, spinning around to look at him, walking backwards now as she swayed. “Thank you for coming.”
“I’m...glad I did.”
They smiled at one another.
“I can take the kids back,” he said.
She nodded. “You know where they hang out better than I do. I should...clean up. We kinda left a mess behind.”
He chuckled, dropping her off at the stoop of her clinic. There was an awkward silence for a heart beat.
He broke it with a dorky smile. “Well...see you later then,” he started, sweeping into a bow with an invisible hat. She pressed her fingers to her mouth as she laughed. “Queen Thumbelina.” He took her hand, gently kissing her knuckles before letting her hand drop.
He moved to leave. “Wait!” she said, pulling the flower crown off of her head. He stopped, turning around from the lower step. She stretched onto her tiptoes, placing the crown (very crookedly) on his head with a light kiss brushed against his cheek. “Thank you. The kids really like having you around,” she whispered.
She turned to go inside, trying to ignore the heat in her face.
He stood there, watching her go inside. She waved, closing the door softly.
Through the window she watched him touch the crown and tap his cheek once. His smile never faded, but it looked uncertain.
She watched him walk down the street, the kids running around him as they were bathed in the sunset.
Her heart raced in her chest.
She sank to the floor, heart racing and cheeks warming. Lilith was right. Maeve was easy to read.
She liked him.
She liked him...a lot, didn’t she?
She buried her face in her hands. She knew the answer, she didn’t like the answer. It was still her answer nonetheless.
And she didn’t know what she was going to do.
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