To Sleep, To Dream
Flayn joined Dimitri in his bed that night, and all the nights that followed. At first, he tried to resist holding her, but each morning, she would be in his arms anyway. He finally admitted defeat and cradled her against him as they fell asleep.
His headaches weren’t permanently gone, but Flayn was able to make short work of them when they returned. As his sense of taste improved, so did Flayn’s cooking. Dedue gradually handed breakfast off to her entirely. Fortunately, Dimitri liked fish. His lack of ability to taste for so long also made him the opposite of picky.
Flayn was of great help during audiences. Where she got her experience from, Dimitri didn’t know, but he appreciated her counsel nonetheless. He particularly enjoyed it when others assumed she was as naïve as she appeared and she put them in their place.
That said, he still had no idea what to do with her. Offers of marriage arrived daily. There was no further word from the church. He could imagine taking Flayn as his queen, but despite the way they spent their nights, he had a hard time imagining sharing a true marriage bed with her. Or rather, he could imagine it, but the thoughts filled him with shame and guilt. A part of him was glad she seemed to have abandoned her scheme to seduce him.
“I received a letter from Claude today,” Dimitri said as he slid into bed beside Flayn. “He proposes he pay us a visit. I admit, I was surprised when I learned he was Almyran royalty, but all the better to improve relations between our people. I support his vision for our countries.”
“Things have been moving along well with Sreng also. Sylvain reports they’ve nearly signed the peace treaty and proposed opening the border.”
Dimitri put his arm around Flayn. After a few weeks, it felt natural. “Is something the matter?”
“I was thinking how easily we have fallen into the patterns of a married couple.” Flayn sighed. “And yet we are not married, nor does a betrothal appear forthcoming.”
Something cold twisted in Dimitri’s middle. “I did not mean to make it seem I was toying with you.”
“You have not. Neither have you seemed to notice I am a woman grown, with a woman’s needs.”
Dimitri clenched his jaw. Being with Flayn had grown comfortable, and he cared for her, but she deserved better. She deserved love.
“At my core,” he said softly, “I am little more than a beast. I have murdered untold people in cold blood. You could find a far better man than I.”
“I adamantly disagree.” Flayn’s tone turned fierce. “Remember, I saw the way you were when you returned to the monastery after five years. I watched you come back from that place. Only a good man could change the course of his life the way you have.”
Dimitri sighed and shook his head. “The beast will always be a part of me. There is no telling when it will resurface.”
“I could help you keep it at bay.”
Her fingers ghosted along his chest, sending a shiver through his body. They plucked at the ties of his nightshirt, opening his collar, and slipped beneath the fabric. She hooked her leg over his and pulled her body against him.
“Flayn,” he said, a warning in his voice.
Dimitri hardly dared breathe as her mouth grazed his jaw and moved down his throat. He swore he would lie still, but his hand found her slender calf beneath her nightgown. She shuddered a little against him. His responding exhalation was almost a moan.
Flayn returned her attention to his face, drawing a line of kisses across his cheek before brushing his lips with hers. She kissed his mouth slowly, as if she was savoring it. A tremor ran through him. Before he knew it, he was leaning into her kisses, kissing her back. It didn’t feel like he was corrupting or sullying her. Instead, it felt light and beautiful. It felt good.
“I am not skilled at this,” Dimitri whispered when she pulled away.
“I am glad of it, for neither am I.”
That was enough talking. He found her mouth again, kissing slowly, tasting. She gasped when he pulled her bottom lip into his mouth before releasing it. His hand drifted down her back to her waist, careful not to grip her too tightly.
Flayn made a sound, shifted her leg up over his hip, and opened her mouth to him. A blaze traveled through him, sweeping all thought away. His tongue slid along hers. She shivered against him. He pulled up the fabric of her nightgown until his palm met the soft, smooth flesh of her thigh. Everything about her encouraged and welcomed him, from the way she pressed her body to his to the sounds she made as he explored the inside of her mouth.
Nor was she passive. Her small, strong hands plunged inside his nightshirt and traced his chest and collarbones. She tangled her fingers in his hair, pulling him in for an even deeper kiss. Her hips ground against his hardness. Even the lily scent of her drove him mad.
Dimitri rolled her onto her back and attacked her neck with kisses. Flayn moaned and writhed beneath him, head tilted back. Her hands groped blindly at his shoulders and nightshirt until she gathered a good fistful of fabric. She yanked it up until it interfered with his kissing, and he helped her pull it over his head. He knelt above her and tossed the garment aside, blankets forgotten.
Flayn propped herself up on her elbows. Her lips were impossibly red in the light of the single bedside candle, her green eyes dark. Her gaze traveled down his torso and came to rest on his groin with no sign of embarrassment. She reached out and traced one of the larger scars on his side.
Dimitri clamped his hand over hers. “They no longer pain me.”
“As long as I am with you, no injury will pain you ever again.”
Dimitri stared as Flayn pulled off her own nightgown. She wore panties beneath, and his disappointment surprised him. Even so, the sight of her slender, petite figure aroused him further. Her breasts were small but full, perfectly round, with pert rosy nipples. She lay back down and lifted her hips, and off came her panties. The triangle of hair at the apex of her thighs was slightly darker than that on her head. His fingers itched to touch it.
Flayn opened her thighs, and the blood roared in Dimitri’s ears. It seemed impossible he would fit inside her. But he desperately wanted to try.
“I love you,” Flayn said. “I want to be yours.”
“I do not want to hurt you.”
“Then ask me to marry you.”
Dimitri chuckled. “That is not quite what I meant.”
“I understand if you wish to save penetration for our wedding night, but please know I have no such concerns.”
Dimitri’s body didn’t want to wait, but his heart did not wish to dishonor her.
Flayn cocked her head. “It is almost as if I can hear you thinking about my honor. Yes, my father would murder you and lock me up for a thousand years if he knew what I was doing. Yet it is mine to offer, no one else’s.”
Dimitri’s courage and his willpower failed simultaneously. He fell upon her like a starving animal. The sounds she made drove him even more mad with desire, and the way she pressed her hips against him made him want to pin her to the mattress and pound into her. Somehow, he refrained.
“If you will not enter me, touch me,” Flayn said between panting breaths.
Dimitri pulled back and stared at her. He’d heard men tell coarse tales around campfires about such things, but he’d never imagined doing it himself. “What? Are you sure?”
Flayn flushed crimson but nodded.
Dimitri’s heart thundered as he lowered his hand between her legs. Now he was confronted with her vulva, he had no idea what to do. He parted her with his fingers and began to explore. It didn’t take him long to find the place that made her moan. He kissed her as he fondled, and her body tightened until it felt ready to snap.
Flayn pulled away so suddenly he was momentarily confused. She lunged, knocked him onto his back, and clambered on top of him before he had time to blink. He cried out as her hands closed around his shaft. The pleasure built inside him too quickly—only a few strokes and he was ready to come.
“Flayn,” he choked in warning.
Flayn released him, but instead of withdrawing, she gripped him with her hand and guided him between her legs. He cried out again as she slid down his length and ground against him. His mind went fuzzy as his hands clamped down on her hips. She moaned as he thrust, breasts bouncing with each movement.
It was all too much. Dimitri grunted as he broke, holding her to him as he emptied with a shudder. His limbs went limp, and he released her.
Flayn didn’t stop. She continued to ride him, eyes closed and lips parted, until she moaned and collapsed into spasms on his chest. She gasped as she clenched and twitched, fingers digging into his muscles, her forehead pressed against his chest.
When she quieted, Dimitri put his arm around her. “My apologies. I did not intend for things to go so far.”
“I do not accept your apology.” Her words were distant, as if she were half asleep. “Some might call me reckless, but I received precisely what I wanted. Now you have no excuse not to make love to me tomorrow night, and the night after that.”
“With such a commanding air, you deserve to be queen.”
“I am pleased you are finally facing facts.”
Flayn slid off him and scooted back up the bed to the pillows. Dimitri joined her, curling around her and pulling the covers over both of them. Her skin was warm and silky against his, something he hadn’t had time to enjoy in the frenzy of their passion.
“No matter if you do not yet love me,” Flayn said with a yawn. “It does not change the fact I love you.”
She dropped off to sleep almost immediately. Flayn had said he was facing facts, but was he? These were the facts, as he saw them: They were no longer virgins, Flayn would get pregnant if they kept this up, and he didn’t want her to leave his side.
It seemed he had decided upon his queen after all.