Fable - Ask An Escort to Vel Anir

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Colette

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Colette eyed the interior and saw the small clearing that Varo had constructed for them. It looked nice, almost cozy, even if it was temporary.

"Yeah, we all keep flint in our rucksacks. Never been without mine since I joined," she answered to his surprise. When he mentioned he was going to show her a trick she assumed it was that method she heard from another guardsman before. You could rub a stick against brush or something, she wasn't sure how it worked.

Instead they formed the firepit and mentioned magic. Magic was dangerous. Everyone in Vel Anir knew that magic could lead to wild and unexpected happenings.

She locked her joints and listened to his explanation, paying attention to the carvings he made at the end of the stick. "Runes?" Those sounded sinister.

Then, without warning, the stick he held exploded into a flurry of sparks that made Colette jump.

"Ah! Be caref-"

Instead of starting a gigantic inferno in the midst of the downed tree it was a small campfire. No different than had she started it herself with a bit of the flint. "Oh," her voice holding a hint of embarrassment. "I haven't seen much magic either. It's not allowed in Vel Anir."

Truthfully she wasn't certain if it was technically banned in the city but it was definitely frowned upon.

She held her hands towards the warmth of the licking flames and lowered her body into a crouch. "You aren't scared of doing that magic thing? Seems like it could be dangerous." There wasn't a need to protest its use or complain that he had done it, not while she was enjoying the fruits of his labor and warming herself. But the question did come from a place of genuine curiousity.
 
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Varo

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"Scared?" Varo echoed in confusion.

He wondered how Colette had been raised. It seemed that she had been denied much, told lies. A bit of potty sprang through him and he wondered what she would have been like had she been raised in Ivladrin. She was a kind soul, more so than many he had met.

It pained him to think she'd grown in such a rigid system. "No. I've grown up with magic all around me. My house was Grown with magic."

He told her with a smile.

"It's nothing to be afraid of." Slowly he sat himself down by the fire, moving close to the heat and then motioning for Colette to come closer. "I'll show you."

Varo offered softly. It was true he didn't know much about magic, not the runes or the more natural ethos that flowed through those that had been gifted with it's strengths. He could do enough though, enough to show Colette that there wasn't anything to be afraid of.

He smiled and waited for her to come close.
 
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Colette

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Pupils expanded as she repeated, "your house was grown with magic?"

Had Colette been in the presence of almost anyone else she likely would be lowering her head and briskly walking in the opposite direction of Varo as he insisted to show her more. Part of her even wanted to ask him to stop. She'd seen enough magic for lifetime.

But the sparkling stick hadn't been so bad. And now they had fire. If Varo was certain it was safe then that was good enough for her.

"Ok," she said nervously as she slid closer to the half-elf. Her arms tightly crossed so that the wild magic didn't cause her to lose a finger. "And you're sure it's safe?"

As much as she trusted him it was hard to comprehend that a lifetime about the dangers of elves and magic had all been so wrong. What else had Vel Anir lied to her about?

No, it wasn't good to think about that. She was still part of the guard, it was still her home, and there must have been a suitable explanation for why things were told to her the way they were. Even if Varo was breaking those lies down and piling them up one-by-one.
 
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Before she could object Varo suddenly reached up and pulled Colette into his lap.

The movement was so quick, so swift, that it was hard to say that it was anything but entirely planned. Even as her arms were wrapped around herself he looked at her with that broad grin. "I couldn't be more sure."

He told her with a smile.

"I grew up with this." He explained softly, his hand gently settling on her side. "It's why my mother came to Ivladrin."

Varo couldn't remember the last time he had told someone this story, the last time he had even tried to explain something so personal. It felt right though, letting Colette peek into the depths of his life. "We use magic to grow the city. We sing to the trees, and they in turn begin to grow and shape the way we want to."

He explained.

"I'm not a tree-singer, not really, but my father showed me some tricks." Varo said with a smile. "I can show you."

Varo wouldn't do it unless she said yes.
 
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Colette

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A quick burst of laughter shot from Colette’s lungs when the half-elf grabbed her and forced her on his lap. She wasn’t sure if there was anything in all of Arethil that could make her feel so happy as to see that smile he wore.

Azure eyes lit up in glee and she grinned back at him, loosening her arms and brushing a piece of his hair behind one of his pointed ears. This wasn’t the first flirtatious endeavor the woman had ever been a part of but it was certainly the first one she felt serious about. Even if it had only been two days.

Part of her wished that they could gloss over this whole magic thing and she could sit with him like this by the flames until dawn.

”Your mother studied magic,” she said, the gears finally clicking into place. Varo had mentioned his mother was a scholar but she hadn’t known the subject. ”I’m sure you’re a great singer even if it’s not the tree-song kind.” Her lips curled upwards and she leaned more of her body against the elven man.

Slowly her hand drifted towards his, gently rubbing along the inside of his palm. She bit at her lip before she intently stared into the fire.

”You can show me.”

He wouldn’t do it unless he had complete control. She knew that. She could get over whatever lingering doubt she still had. This was clearly important to him, it mattered to him. She needed to see it with her own two eyes.
 
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Varo

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Varo smiled, giving her a nod as his fingers slowly intertwined with hers. "Then watch."

His eyes closed for a few seconds as he tried to recall every lessons his father had ever taught him. The song splayed through his head, slow, steady. He focused for a moment more, one hand gently snaking around Colette to pull her just a little bit closer.

A deep breath filled his lungs.

His other hand reached out to grab a small twig that had been meant for the fire, and then he opened his mouth.

A song crossed over his tongue, though it was like no music that man could make. It seemed to echo serenely through the forest, reverberating through the trees and rushing over the leaves nearby. The fire whirled a bit stronger, the forest itself seemed to move and shift.

It was as though everything around them took a breath, all of it drawing in.

Then the twig in his palm began to grow. First it shifted into a branch, then into another, then into another. It swirled in slow swooping arch, eventually twisting until flowers began to sprout from it's reaches. Before long it turned into a bloom of a dozen different blossoms.

An impossible collection of florets that presented themselves proudly.

The song continued, echoing from his lips until finally he stopped. A sudden silence falling over the forest.
 
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Colette

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Colette held her breath as he pulled her in closer. She gave him a side eyed glance as he began to sing. Varo’s voice was different, like a sound she had never before been exposed to.

It was both beautiful and unsettling in the way all unknowns can be. She gripped his hand tightly while gingerly placing her other hand upon his chest to brace herself. Blue eyes focused, unblinkingly, on the twig he held.

There was growth in every direction as a vibrant bouquet of colors emerged from it. When Varo’s voice ceased it was only then that she realized the birds and bugs of the wood had gone silent.

Colette was the first being to break the silence. ”It’s beautiful. I’ve never seen something so perfect.” She rested her head against the half-elf’s shoulder, her mind in a tumultuous state.

”Why did my teachers and my parents and everyone back home,” her lips hung mid-sentence. A single tear welled up and she buried that side of her face into him in a desperate attempt to hide her grief.

In a ragged voice she finished her statement, ”why did they insist magic was dangerous?”

Or that non-humans were bloodthirsty beasts or any of the other dozen doubts she now contended with.
 
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Varo

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Varo didn't have an answer for that. He couldn't know what Vel Anir was like, couldn't even fathom why they would want to hide magic from their people.

The very idea seemed foreign to him, wrong, but in that moment he felt Colette's pain. His hand came up to gently stroke through her hair, a soft and comforting touch as he took a breath and shook his head. "I don't know."

He said softly.

"Maybe it's different for humans." He had no idea if it was trues Wren could do magic, and Itch could talk to rats, but he didn't know if either of their abilities were natural or taught. There was a college of magic in Alliria, but...even there it was not common in the streets.

"People sometimes just..." Varo frowned. "Are just afraid of what they don't understand."

His thoughts flickered to his own secret. The thing he knew would drive her away.
 
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Colette

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Colette practically cooed when Varo ran a hand through her hair. Having him there to comfort her as she questioned her entire upbringing was the only positive of this new revelation around magic. As he continued talking she calmed herself. His explanation made sense.

Maybe it really was different for humans or maybe Vel Anir just didn't understand magic. That would be an easy thing to remedy. Colette was certain she could just report this to the guard when she returned. They'd understand, make it all simpler for her. "I think you're right. Once people see it for themselves there's no way they could still be so afraid of magic."

Seeing was believing afterall. Surely no one in Vel Anir could meet Varo, get to know him, see the magic that Colette had seen, and still think elves were any different than humans. Think that magic was still a danger. The nobles likely just had never met an elf, that would explain it.

The guardswoman recoiled slightly when she felt a minor shift in Varo. It was subtle but she picked up on it.

"Is something wrong?" Had he thought of something she hadn't? Maybe he was disappointed that she was fearful of his magic. And of the Falwood. "I'm not scared anymore, I promise."
 
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Varo

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His head shook. "No, It's alright."

The young Elf said as he tried to draw his mind away from the truth of what he was. The curse sat heavily on his shoulders, but it would be weeks yet before the moons shifted and he would once again be turned. Hopefully by then he would get Colette somewhere safe.

That thought brought another frown, but he quickly shifted the expression to another easy smile.

"I was just thinking about home." He said quietly, not directly lying to her. "It's been more than a year since I've been there."

Almost two now.

He wondered if his father even knew that he was alive.
 
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Colette

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"I'm sure your dad and your friends miss you," she offered in an equally quiet voice. "It's been nearly a year that I've been away from home too."

Flames waved around as she stared into the fire again. Not sure what to say to the man whose body currently engulfed her. Whatever might've been bothering him he clearly didn't want to discuss. At least not for right now.

Maybe a simple question about his home could loosen up his tongue. "What do you miss the most about home?"

Colette rubbed her thumb up and down the side of Varo's hand and closed her eyes to shield them from the brightness of their campfire. Just for a few seconds at least. If he pushed back again she'd drop it. He was allowed to have his secrets, they'd only just met.

Though she wondered if maybe it had to do with his criminal history. Was he not welcomed home because he stole? Or committed a worse crime? Maybe it was just a misunderstanding, she couldn't imagine he would steal if he didn't need to. He was a good person, she was sure of it.
 
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Varo

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A brief smile flickered over this lips at the thought of his father, his friends.

How did they think of him now? Were their memories fond or disdainful? He hoped that they would be the former, especially for his friends. Varo had always thought that he had brought a certain richness to their lives. A wealth that went unspoken.

Perhaps the same could be said for his father, after all he was his only son, his only child. "I miss my house."

Varo said with a quiet chuckle.

"I know it's strange, and It's not because...not because I have privilege there." As her thumb stroked over his hand, Varo his grip around her, drawing her even closer to him. "I just miss the...feel of it."

His lips nearly brushed against her cheek now. "It's different than the buildings made of stone."

Varo's voice was so soft, his tone made of honey.

"It's like..." He mused as he leaned against her. "It's like every little nook is for you. To make sure you're comfortable. That you're where you're supposed to be there."

A life supporting a life.

His chest rose, his lips softly brushing against hers.
 
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Colette

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Listening to him describe his home was an entrancing experience. Feeling his words up against her cheek, the syllables lazily drifting into her ears. The way he described the home itself as a living thing, which she supposed it was a living thing, that wanted to ensure the comfort of its occupants.

It sounded perfect. She missed her home too but his sounded like a far more personal connection.

Colette was ready to speak but the words didn’t come. They were interrupted by the soft touch of his lips against hers. He was always so gentle with her, so kind. Her heart raced and she pressed her lips back against his, gripping his hand tightly in hers.

She wondered if maybe one day they’d have a home. After she was done serving in the guard, after he took up a trade or decided to work with her at her cafe. Somehow she’d convince her parents that half-elves weren’t so bad.

No. Colette didn’t want to think of those things, not now. For right now she just wanted to be with him.
 
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Varo

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His lips softly drifted against hers, parting from her for just a brief moment.

A breath filled him as he held her, his head swimming with her scent. He felt an unbelievable calm, the days before completely lost in his mind. Varo did not remember being in a cage, did not remember losing himself to the Wolf just a week before.

He did not even remember how they had gotten into this little flight. He only smiled, his thumb softly drawing over her cheek as he took a breath. "Not so bad for a night in the woods."

Varo said quietly as he softly kissed her again.

Her lips were like an addiction, a delicious and perfect distraction from the world around them. His arm tightened around her, keeping her close so the warmth she brought was more than the fire before them.

In that moment he needed nothing else.
 
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Colette

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A smile broke across Colette's features whilst her eyes lit up with excitement. A soft kiss followed again before she could speak.

Their mouths separated yet their bodies remained interlocked. "Not a bad night in the woods at all," she said with a sultry tone.

Colette was positive that nothing could get better than this. Chirping of crickets had formed a little chorus, the cedar smell of a campfire, and the warmth not just from Varo but also from the butterflies exploding in her stomach.

She pecked at his lips once more and then quickly moved back, staring deeply into his cobalt eyes. "What will happen after we get to this elvish city?" She realized she still didn't know the name of the place. Or the customs they had.

"I mostly meant," the Anirian pouted slightly. She cared less for what would happen once they arrived and much more about what his intentions were days after they did so. Colette wasn't able to bring herself to finish the thought out loud.
 
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Varo

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Varo took in a breath, his thumb slipping beneath the hem of her tunic to gently stroke across her skin in a soothing touch.

The question had occurred to him too, more than once as they had walked. They would be safe in the city, he knew that beyond a shadow of a doubt. Velem was a border town, an Elven fortress really designed to defend the Falwood.

Even an army of bandits would stand little chance, even if they could reach it.

Of course, when she added her next point he smiled at her. His thumb continued it's slow, soft stroke. "That depends."

He told her softly.

"What do you want to happen?" Varo asked. He had three weeks until he turned again, three weeks until he had to worry. It would take them another day or two to reach Velem, and once there they would have time.

Varo knew that they would be welcomed, once he mentioned who he was, who his father was. Briefly he wondered if Colette had figured that out yet.
 
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Colette

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"That isn't fair!" Colette protested. "I asked you first"

She smiled back at Varo and leaned in closer, nestling her the top of her head against his cheek. Enjoying his hand brushing against the surface near the top of her Anirian fatigues. What did she want?

"I," she started before stopping and thinking deeper on the subject. She had known him for nearly two days and she knew what he didn't. If she said yes to him she was saying no to her family. Her city. Her people.

"I don't want to lose you."

Her words were truthful, sincere. A deep rush of oxygen entered her lungs. "But I also don't want to be unwelcomed in Vel Anir. If I go AWOL... well, I can never go back. I'll never see my parents agian." She bit at her lower lip, contemplating her emotions and trying to figure out how to explain it properly to him.

Eventually she exhaled, feeling some of the pressure release off her shoulders. "I can't lose my parents. But I feel like I can't lose you either. I know it's silly, we just met. You can tell me if I'm being silly."
 

Varo

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His thumb continued to slowly drift over her skin as he thought about what she said. "No, you're not."

Varo said as his free hand gently curled underneath her chin. He softly tilted her head up so that he could look her in the eye, his lips brushing over hers.

They were from two different worlds, almost literally, and he knew how that could be. He leaned in and kissed her once more, this time letting himself linger there before he drew back and took a breath. There wasn't an easy solution, nothing that would solve everything.

He did have an idea though.

"You don't have to go AWOL." Varo offered softly. "But..."

A soft smile touched his lips. "The Bandits had you for two weeks...and it takes time to get back to Vel Anir."

It wasn't forever, but it was time.

Time they wouldn't spend running. Time they wouldn't be in the woods.

Time to explore.
 
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Colette

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Two weeks? ”But it was only around half a,” oh, right. He was suggesting she lie the them. That wasn’t normally something that Colette would’ve thought of doing but it made sense in this situation.

Briefly she considered the opportunity. It made sense and she probably deserved a break. Those bandits could’ve killed her or worse… maybe she did need a bit of time off. A bit of time with him. Sure, a part of her felt guilty about it but it was only going to be a couple of weeks. The guard wouldn’t miss her all that much.

”Okay, so it’s two weeks,” she said as she returned a gentle kiss that lasted longer than she had intended. ”What shall we do during our little holiday?”

This was Varo’s land. She didn’t know what was worth doing. Worth seeing.

Colette was willing to be though that part of their vacation would involved sleeping well into the afternoon and finding some excuse to curl up tightly at night. While the former was a mild annoyance she was fairly ok with the latter.
 
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Varo

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He smiled against her lips. "I have a few ideas."

Varo said, his thumb softly stroking just a bit lower through the hem of her fatigues, though only traveling there for a few seconds before he continued to whisper.

"There's a whole different world that I can show you." One that was set apart from Vel Anir. One that was far away from what she had learned all her life. Velem might not have been the best example of an Elven City, but it was enough. "My world."

He told her softly.

Two weeks was enough.

"There's a tree the size of a fortress." Varo smiled. "A lake with fish every color of the rainbow. A Waterfall that shimmers with the sun and moon."

He kissed her again. "I'll show you every little thing I can."
 
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Colette

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”A whole different world,” she purred while his thumb rubbed against her skin. Her ears buzzed with a mixture of excitement and curiosity.

A fortress tree was all well and good but the shimmering waterfall, ”sounds romantic.” Her face lit up red at the outburst but a coy smile tried to hide her embarrassment away.

She kissed him again, taking in the wonder of it all. ”Rainbow fish sound beautiful,” if only they could swim up a shimmering waterfall. That’d be a real sight to see.

Colette sat her chin atop Varo’s shoulder and stared at him.

This night was perfect. A roaring little flame, his perfect features, enraptured up in the moment. She’d be keen to never fall asleep. Just stay here and let the night last.

A yawn came involuntarily.

”Sooorry,” Colette started before the yawn had even finished, ”I’m not tired.” She leaned in to peck a kiss on his cheek before returning her chin to its resting place.
 
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Varo

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Varo smiled, his thumb continuing it's slow, soft trace. "Maybe we should get some rest."

They had been walking for nearly two days now, and then ordeal before that hadn't been easy to endure either. A breath filled his lungs for a moment, taking in a bit of her scent. For a few seconds he simply rested against her, holding Colette tight against his chest.

"I made a bed." He told her quietly. "The least we could do is use it."

As uncomfortable as it would be.

He wondered how things might have changed had he not stolen those coins. If he would have simply stayed in the village a few more days and then just gone home.

His mother had always spoken of fate, how certain things were simply not within the breath of human control. He had always believed in it, but only for the bad. Now at least, fate had delivered something good.
 
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Colette

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The moons were relatively dim tonight although the lack of cloud coverage meant the stars provided significant illumination. When combined with the fire it was easily enough light to see Varo’s defined features, take in his beaming smile whilst pressed against his chest.

Sleep was probably a good idea. She marched a lot in the Guard but usually it was accompanied by a full day's rations. ”A bed sounds nice,” even if it was one he hobbled together with whatever the forest had provided.

A weak tug of her arm gripped the half-elf tighter for a brief second before she split away. Standing and making her way towards the back of the sunken husk of the fallen tree.

”This looks nice,” her statement was accompanied by a smirk pointed in Varo’s direction. Colette made herself comfortable on one side of the makeshift bed he had fashion and settled in. ”It’s actually rather comfortable,” she lied.

That would certainly be the third nice thing about arriving in this elven city she looked forward to. A proper bed. It was followed only by the opportunity to clean herself up and to eat a proper meal. But, if she was going to wear bloodstained, ragged, fatigues whilst hungry and sleeping on the ground at least it was with good company. In fact, the company was so good she dared never to complain about the conditions of their trek.

Besides, they had something of a vacation in store for them.
 
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Varo smiled as he put a few more logs on the fire. "Yeah, sure it is."

The Half-Elf shook his head and turned towards her, smiling as he already saw Colette half curled up on the ground. The accomadation was clearly not one of luxury, but...it was the best that they could hope for under the circumstances.

A sigh escaped him as he lowered himself down onto the ground, hesitating for just one brief moment before he reached out and let his hand slip onto her hip.

It lingered there for just a moment, and then slowly slid over her belly and around her lithe form. With the gentlest tug Varo pulled Colette against himself, his nose burying itself in her hair as his other hand gently stroked against the small of her back.

"For warmth." He said in quiet excuse, telling his own obvious lie.
 
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Colette

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Colette laid on the soil and foliage the half-elf assembled, nestling her head against some of the leaves in a hope to avoid as much dirt as possible. A smile crested her lips as she saw Varo lay additional kindling onto the fire.

A giggle escaped her lungs when a tug pulled their gap and forced her close. "Warmth, right, we wouldn't want to freeze." Her words were playful and soft. While neither had been entirely truthful it was actually true that Colette was both warmer and more comfortable now.

She nuzzled her head into his chest for a second before her muscles relaxed entirely and prepared for sleep. One day she might look back on this night with fondness or sorrow but in the moment she thought of no such things. Focusing solely on how simply and purely happy she was. "Thanks for saving me."

She curled into him and let herself drift into slumber.
 
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