so bury me as it pleases you, lover - sierramadre (2024)

Chapter Text

There are some nights when sleep eludes you entirely. On those nights, you resort to going on moonlit walks to try and calm your ever-churning mind, but even so, you still do not tire. Your body was made to be restless, restless with anticipation for the next thing you might sink your blade into. And it seems that every night you wade through, barefoot in the mire of your mind, the dawn is upon you without warning.

The first saffron light filters through the canopy you stalk beneath, and glints into the corner of your eye, bringing your hunt to a halt as you admire the spots it sends across the ground: orange crescents that sway with the head of the trees, lulling you this way and that before you look upon the body of the dawn, rising altogether over the horizon. You hope a light such as this may one day burn away your half-revealed sins, but you know it will only ever expose them in full. Such revelation sends panic from your heart to your fingertips, but your eyes burn into the ground like the sunlight does, and the panic slowly dissipates.

The crescents disappear into the underbrush, and you are left studying the dew-wet ground. Your feet instinctively carry you to what your eyes quickly piece together: the tracks of a boar. You know you follow them as a distraction, but you follow them anyway, until they become fresher and fresher. You lower yourself, and lean into the security of early-morning shadows, surveying the slope beneath you. After a moment, you spot the boar, lying dead, tucked away underneath a bush. You realize now that a pulse has swelled in your ears, pushing your blood through you with the fervor of murder, even a murder as meager as an animal’s.

You try to shake away the blood-call and stomp down the slope, disappointed with yourself and with the state of the boar. You stoop down and pull the animal out by its legs from the shrubbery. It’s grey and stiff, with marks lining its sides, desperate, clawless fingers having dug into it in an attempt to hold it down. Most notably, there is no blood. You look closer, and find two little punctures in the fat of its neck. A fresh trail of humanoid boots, not your own, treks from the slaughter site, back to camp.

Your thoughts immediately fly to Astarion, whose barely-hidden fangs and pale-as-pearls complexion do him no favors in hiding his vampirism. If he had not taken the time to hunt an animal so far from camp, you would think that he wasn’t trying to hide it at all. He refrains from drinking from the others, you determine, so as to not expose himself to them, and invoke their collective wrath. His near-constant facade will only preserve him as long as he can convince the others that he’s no threat— revealing himself as a creature of the night will do quite the opposite.

You wonder how long Astarion can bear to resist drinking from someone, but as you stomp away tiredly through the forest, you consider that the vampire’s bite might just bring you the rest you’ve been so desperately seeking. Your skin prickles with a foreign sense of want, but you instinctively brush it away, and try to ignore the spring coiling in your shoulders. The barest touch from anyone will be the end of them, you’re sure, for your body is the tide, and night will always covet the waves.

You don’t manage to return with a doe until just a little after noon, after you’d found a field of deer resting in patches of scattered sunlight. The others are pleased, at least, in knowing they can trust you to find dinner every other day. You go to set down the beast within a makeshift skinning tent, and try not to eye Astarion along the way as you pass by him. Should he see your face, he will know right away that you’re aware of his secret, no matter how stoic you present yourself.

He is preoccupied with a book, to your relief. You duck underneath the tent’s entrance and slide the doe from your shoulders onto a stone table. It’s nasty business to most, but to you, the blood running over your hands as you set to work brings a familiar warmth through your veins. It pools under your fingernails, controlling your hands as you carefully dissect the poor animal, peeling away its coarse hide and submerging yourself in the allure of its innards.

An afternoon has suddenly gone by. The doe was cut and set hours ago, but somehow you still find yourself within the tent, smearing blood on your palms like a child with paint. You are only pulled away from your amazement when Gale’s voice is heard from outside.

“May I come in?”

You nod before realizing that the wizard cannot see you do so. You shake your head of the fog that obscures you from the hours unconsciously passed, and jump up from your seat as you bury your hands in the water basin and begin furiously scrubbing. “Yes.”

A purple haze seeps in from the corner of your vision, and you find yourself blurry with delirium as you twist your hands through the water, blood squelching between your palms as you lock your fingers together in a soft panic. You do not cease your grisly idling even as the wizard watches you closely, with equal parts curiosity and mild alarm.

“You’ve been at it for quite some time. Are you alright?”

You don’t care to explain what you don’t understand; you continue washing up as you stare blankly at the back of the tent, rather than at Gale. “I lost track of time. You can take it for dinner now.”

Gale eyes you for a moment, you can tell even as he’s standing behind you, but he apparently decides that your deflection is not enough of an issue for him. “Well, then, find the fire by dark, and I’ll have a bowl set out for you.”

“It’s chilled in the river, I think.” You unintentionally ignore his thoughtfulness as you pull your hands from the basin and flick the red water away. You don’t remember leaving the tent, but the bucket is not here, and you are not one to waste food by leaving it out somewhere you cannot find it.

Gale patiently awaits another comment as his eyes flit around the tent, but relents when he finds the conversation empty. He moves to leave with a quiet, “Thank you,” and exits in a hurry.

You turn and watch the tent flaps swing closed. You have half a mind to go after him, to assure him that you are not some kind of demented hemophiliac, but anyone in this camp, especially him, would see through such a lie.

You set out for the river, intending to wash yourself, but find Gale grabbing the bucket from its shallows, wading in with his trousers pulled up to his knees.

It’s only when a chill wind whips against you do you realize that you’re bare-chested and bloodied beyond just your hands— no wonder the wizard had felt awkward. Gale’s eyes drop to the jagged scars that underline your pectorals, and rake over them with curiosity tenfold than what he’d shown you a moment ago. He drops them further, sinking his vision to the river at his feet. You are close enough that he doesn’t have to talk very loudly over the bubbling of the shallows to be heard.

“I didn’t mean to, ah…” His voice fades into the rush of the river. You shake your head gently, and shrug.

“It’s no bother to me.” You do not mind that he has seen your scars, but the blood that cakes your hands and forearms you know concerns him.

He gives you a shrug back as he takes a step toward you, despite his furrowed face. He goes to step around you, but stops beside your shoulder. You almost think you feel his breath on your ear, but the whistling that tunnels into your mind tells you it’s the wind instead. “We’re all in the same situation, you know.” He says. “If you need to talk, I’ve been told I’m a good listener.”

You eye him up and down for a moment, letting the wind roll his words around in your skull. “Do you offer me consolation because of my scars, or because you found me so covered in blood?”

Yours is a serious question, but his reluctance is apparent, and you allow a grin to tug at the corners of your mouth in attempt to look as if you’re only joking.

The wizard sighs and chuckles in relief at your smile. “You had me worried for a moment.”

“A small jest.” You want to let your grin widen, but instead your lips tighten together, and you find a lump in your throat. You remember how you almost tore the wizard’s hand from his wrist just a few days ago. You push the memory down. “I didn’t realize that I was…”

“Like I said, we’re all in the same boat here. Same nautiloid, more like.” Gale waves away his attempt at humor, and then continues, “Find me come dinner, and you’ll be fed.”

“Thank you, Gale.” You say as you watch him depart.

You turn and sink your boots into the shallows, and wade around the bend until you are sure no one can see you anymore. You strip yourself, and set your clothes on the damp rocks that line the waterlogged bank. The river is ice-cold against your waist, and after you realize its chill is not something to become accustomed to, you set to cleaning the stains from your body.

It feels like the thousandth time you’ve scrubbed yourself so raw you can nearly see the pink beneath the green of your palms. Your skin adorns itself with unworthiness, with a renewed need to rid itself of the sins brewing at your fingertips. Your knife-hand twitches with the want to twist into the gut of something— someone— but it turns over in the water, empty, and then turns numb in the cold. All you do is distract yourself from your burdens— with hunting, fighting, skinning— but even distraction comes at a cost.

To waste hours of your day playing with your food, only to let yourself be caught with its blood bound to you— to let Gale witness you in such a state is surely a mistake. You cannot hide it forever, but telling your companions these half-truths will only isolate you, you’re sure. They’re an understanding bunch, but even so, you cannot envision them accepting a torturer— a murderer— within their company, not for overlong. If anyone is to piece you together, it will likely be Gale, or Astarion. The former will reveal your depravity to the others to keep them all safe; the latter will reveal you to save his own skin.

Unless you reveal yourself to them all first.

Your mind wanders back to the bard in the grove, and you know deep in your belly that she will be your downfall.

It’s dark by the time you dry off and return to camp. The fire beckons your soaked-cold bones, your damp clothes clinging to you in all the wrong places. Your despondent expression exposes you to the others. Shadowheart first reaches out to you on the fringes of your occupied mind, but you barely notice her presence lingering at the border before you open up and let her trickle in.

‘Are you alright? Tadpole getting to you?’

You huff in her direction without meeting her eyes, and sit down on an empty piece of driftwood between her and the druid Travenya, the latter of which who nods to you as you do.

You don’t care to entertain Shadowheart with a response; you close your mind to her. She raises a brow at you, but doesn’t say anything before she returns her focus to the various conversations around the fire.

Gale comes up from behind you with a hot bowl of stew. You’re suddenly struck with the impulse to knock it from his hands, tear apart his robe from the collar-down, and rip a blade through his stomach. Your knife-hand twitches in your lap, but this is the only obvious sign of your wickedness, and no one seems to notice as you hold it still between your knees.

You force the glaze in your eyes to dissolve as you take the bowl with your free hand. It’s hotter than the hells in your nearly-raw palm. You glance at Gale as you set the bowl in your lap. “Thank you.”

“You did the hard part, catching dinner.” Gale humbles himself. “I just put it together.”

“And it has yet to disappoint.” Chimes in Caelwin, another wizard, a diviner of sorts. Gale gives him a creased smile from across the fire.

“Well, I’m glad my cooking suffices.”

“More than,” Karlach says with a mouthful. “Do you know what the food’s like in Avernus? Not. Good.”

Travenya shakes away a shudder. “Gods, can I only imagine.”

“Unless I tell you about it in full detail! But maybe after dinner.”

“I would appreciate that.” Gale says as he walks around the fire to find his seat again, next to Caelwin.

You sip your soup in amusem*nt at the chain of conversation, and try to ignore the burning in your hands. Casualty like this is unfamiliar, but welcome. You could sit and listen to them for hours, so long as they kept your mind from spilling over and dousing the fire. Yet as you glance around the circle, you notice that someone is not among the rest of your companions. You find Astarion sitting near his tent, still reading his book. Perhaps the elf has already eaten, but you doubt it. You have not once seen him partake in the animals you’ve hunted the past few nights— aside from the sanguined boar.

Your eyes linger on him for too long, for now you’re staring at each other, and neither one of you drops your gaze. You’re bold enough to call him over with a subtle wave of your hand, but he rolls his eyes at the offer, closes his book, and heads into the privacy of his tent.

You set down your half-empty bowl in your lap as your eyes fall to the fire. Conversation is blurred to you now, as you stew in the reminder that your connection to others is folly at best— and murder, at worst. How useless it is to get to know the people you might soon kill, should this thing finally overtake you.

Boredom overtakes you first. The others depart for their tents soon after dinner is cleaned up, and you’re left with a buzzing in your head that even inebriation cannot replicate. Sleep has eluded you now for the past few nights, and tomorrow you’re meant to search for the goblin camp, with you leading the hunt. Even with a fight brewing, even with an expedition planned, you cannot force your eyes to stay closed, or your mind to stay quiet. You can’t determine if you’re kept awake by the shame your sharp, fleeting memories foist upon you, or if it’s because you can’t trust yourself to fall asleep without waking soaked in the blood of your companions.

You will stay awake regardless then, you decide, and keep watch over your own creeping shadow.

It’s hot out that night. You lie with your tent flaps open, on your side and with your shirt off. Your fingers trace the scar that lines your neck as you imagine who might have tried to kill you. You dance your way down to the scars that scatter across your chest, carved by a dagger wielded by your own hand— or so you assume. You pretend to hold the hilt of one now, and the way it rakes through your flesh confirms this much— that you are the artist who painted these erratic streaks of fireworks across your skin. You wonder who had healed you from such ghastly wounds, but the flicker of shadow catches your eye, and draws in a new memory.

The fire casts light against you, its source far enough away so that its heat does not add another layer to this already miserable weather. It displays your shadow on the back wall of the tent, shadow-puppets dancing along it. Hands upon hands bundle together, the hands of a family, a family that must have once been yours— for you find your green fists among them, casting depictions of dogs and crows and rabbits across that same blood-stained wall you had glimpsed with Astarion.

You wonder if you were the one to have killed them, but your face hardens in shame, already knowing the answer as it climbs up your back. The shadows grow darker, but you grow no less tired.

The hands fall away around you as you hear the slightest, faintest shuffling behind you. If you had not already been awake, you would not have heard it. You remain still and breathe steady, as if you’re asleep, and this thing inside you sharpens to a point.

It’s only when Astarion is on his hands and knees by your side does he finally notice your watchful eye, yellow as the moon. You sit up and turn around as quick as lightning, sending him reeling in shock. The elf lands flat on his ass, and his facade fully crumbles, if just for a moment. You delight in how much you scare him.

sh*t.” He says with a practiced, steady voice that his panicked face betrays. He quickly recollects himself and gets back on his feet, crouched and ready to run if need be. You’re hardly as shaken. Instead, you sit wondering whose bloodlust is stronger, and try to keep yourself from springing to your feet.

“I— I wasn’t going to hurt you, I swear.”

You wave in dismissal, and imagine what the vampire’s bite might feel like, how it might still your body and your mind and finally put you to sleep. Astarion can drain your blood and suck the marrow from your bones like he had the boar— so long as your knife-hand is kept from twitching in your sleep, you don’t think you’d mind.

The vampire awaits a response, and forces his expression to relax. You tilt your head to one side, and try to find any truth in the swimming vermillion of his eyes; his vulnerability is masked, but ample.

“You’ve never done this before.” You determine.

His eyes widen just by a hair, just for a moment, before returning to an unfazed, sour droop. He allows himself a contradictory smirk in an attempt to look like he knows what he’s doing. “I’ve not crept up on someone feigning sleep, if that’s what you mean.”

Being nonchalant is a security to him, and you do not wish to pull the rug out from under his feet— not anymore than you already have— so you let him smirk and play his centuries-long game, but you will not reciprocate. You want to see his eyes wide again.

He asks you, “When did you… piece it all together?”

“I found your boar this morning while I was hunting.” You eye his throat. “You don’t hide the marks on your neck very well, besides.”

You can tell that he resists the impulse to pull his shirt collar higher. He tuts at himself. “I should have concealed it better. So is that why you’re awake tonight? To make sure I don’t come calling?”

If only you could turn your distrust for yourself onto others so easily; he does not worry you. You shake your head. “No. I’ve not slept for some nights now. Something else keeps me awake.”

“The little wriggler, I’m sure.”

You don’t intend to correct him. He kicks his feet out from under him, and leans into his fallen position now, resting an elbow on his knee and moving his hand as he talks. “Am I going to find myself with a stake through my heart, or is this something I can walk away from?”

“You would give up so easily after having been caught?”

His quiet laugh is shameless. “No, I intend to ask the favor of you, despite it.”

“Then ask.”

Astarion looks you up and down before leaning forward; his face changes into something deceptively soft. “Will you… let me drink from you, Mazeiah? I need only enough to get me through our adventure tomorrow. I’ll suffer the rest from goblins, if you’ll only give me a drop.”

You like your name on his tongue, and you think he knows it. His eyes must be as heavy as his hunger, with the way they hang at your throat. You ask him, “What will it feel like?”

His eyes flick back up to you, and all the softness in him dispels. “Like ice in your veins. You won’t have much of a will, if any.”

Good, you think to yourself, keeping your mind staunchly closed from him, as he does to you. Perhaps you hide your impulses better than you think, otherwise the vampire would have never chosen you to creep up on. You want to tell him how foolish this is of him, but refrain, hoping that a good night’s rest will come to you if you let it. You tilt your neck a little more and gesture him forward, but he stays perfectly still, even as his eyes take hold where you want them to.

“What do you gain from it? You seem a sympathetic sort when you’re not killing things, but even so…”

“I want to sleep.”

Astarion gives you a dumbfounded look before he recovers himself with a smile and a laugh too hearty to be real. You delight again and again in his subtle, quickly-changing expressions.

“You’re going to let me drink your very lifeblood, and all you want in return is a good night’s rest. Ha!”

“If you can manage it.”

“And you’re not going to stab me when you change your mind? When you realize halfway-through that all of your willpower is taken from you?”

You’ve little control of yourself even now; it will feel no different, you imagine. “Take all of it, then, lest I change my mind after all.”

“Hm,” He murmurs, his smirk all-encompassing now, his eyes heavy as they fall and rise along with your breathing body. “I knew you would be interesting.”

You’re grateful that he asks for no further explanation. He rebounds cheerfully with, “I’ll give you what you want, then.”

You hold up a hand. “Careful, Astarion.” You warn him quietly. You pick up your belt from your pile of belongings, with your daggers attached to it, and toss it outside of the tent before offering the vampire your hand. “You’re not the only one who’s sharp.”

Astarion chuckles at you, and takes your hand anyway. You pull him suddenly forward, and he doesn’t resist the momentum as he tumbles into your lap with a gasp. You resist the desire to kiss him then, to split his lip with your teeth. Instead, you lean your head to the side and brush away the hair at your neck. He takes his careful, cold fingers and pushes it further behind your ear. You shiver, and quell the urge to twist his fingers backwards, to hear him yelp in pain and see his eyes bulge.

You need him alive, you remind yourself in an attempt to resist your darker whims. You need to sleep.

The vampire is not keen to squander such an opportunity. He draws in close, closer than he’s ever been, and smiles against your neck. You await the sting of his bite, and barely stifle a groan when he finally sinks his pearlescent fangs into you. His venom storms through your veins like a blizzard, until you are as rigid as a corpse against him.

He pushes you to the ground, gently at first, then harder as he pries your frozen hands from the back of his shirt. He straddles himself across your middle, and presses deeper. You can feel the embers falling from your wound, flushed out by the ice lining your insides, giving way to the blood that bridges your bodies together— blood, you realize, that is never meant to be spilled. Such overwhelming dread is a warning, only recognizable now as you give away your ichor with abandon. You know not from where it stems.

The edge of your vision begins to fade away, and with each blink you can feel yourself slipping into unconsciousness. Your limbs are as heavy as lead, even as they twitch involuntarily against Astarion’s grasp, but you can move nothing. The vampire’s bite will grant you sleep, after all, even if it is to be a permanent one. You hardly resist, for if death-sleep is as lovely and as sharp as this, you’ll rest comfortably for all time, and never spill your blood again— nor anyone else’s.

The hands of your family reach up from the dirt now, and claw away at your bare skin, raking against your sides and taking hold of you so that you might join them. Astarion’s white hair turns dark as you face the all-encompassing oblivion of death, and you don’t notice when it’s pitch-blackness overtakes you entirely, and your mind finally, finally quiets from the chorus of insects and the thrumming of blood.

Nothing awaits you.

Yet come the morn, you find that even death-sleep does not last long for you.

You jerk awake to a blinding light and an unbearable itch in your chest, as your heart begins to beat again and the modicum of blood left in you trickles through it. You turn onto your side and hack out a violent, churning cough that rattles you thoroughly. You look up to the light, and see clearly the cornflower-blue bard standing before you. You go rigid, too exhausted to react, whether it be to reach out for her or to recoil.

You squeeze your eyes shut hard, burning from the severity of the sunlight, your head spinning, chest aching— but despite it all, the words of others begin to leak in, and eventually you open your eyes again, and find the blurry image of Shadowheart crouching beside you. She is dark-haired and glowering— and surely not blue.

“Awake, you,” She says sourly, crossing her arms. “Tell us what happened.”

“Give him time, Shadowheart. Look at him.” Fayeth is somewhere, barely audible.

You glance around with a blur surrounding the edges of your senses, and find the shapes of everyone else— the burning scarlet of Karlach, the amethyst of Gale— staring you down. The blur dissolves away slowly, but the savagery you’ve so peacefully slept through comes barreling down on you tenfold now, crashing against your skull like a tidal wave, like a bolt of lightning against the impenetrable depths of the ocean.

You mourn your fleeting respite with a crying heave from the very gallows of your stomach, and retch. The others back away from you in a hurry. Your arms are hardly strong enough to hold yourself up on your side as you dry-heave from the stench of viscera piling around you, torn from the stomachs of strangers and family and lovers alike. When you heave your last, and still nothing emerges, you fall onto your back and catch your dry, ragged breath.

You try not to think of the bard, lest your throat constrict again, and send you into another bout of it. You feel the wind on your bare shoulders then, and realize that all the others have now seen your jagged chest— but your brief embarrassment is easily overtaken by the urge that burns up your spine.

They are lucky your limbs are too heavy to move.

“Up now, easy.” Shadowheart tries to coax you into sitting up, but you don’t make the attempt. You stare up blankly at the early-morning sky; streaks of peach and apricot criss-cross like leylines through thin clouds. You wallow in your stupor, and ignore their ceaseless, pitying observation of you.

“We’re supposed to scout for the war camp today,” Shadowheart reminds you. “I suppose it must wait until tomorrow.”

You don’t know how long you’ll feel like this, heavy-limbed and slow-minded. How long have you been asleep, how deeply?

You realize suddenly that you haven’t been sleeping at all.

“The vampire has inconvenienced us by stealing our day,” Lae’zel says from somewhere to your right. “And he has inconvenienced you by stealing your life. You should be the one to decide what to do with his.”

It’s then that you find the strength to finally sit up. Wyll puts a hand on your back to help steady you. You’re too weak to take his arm under your own and break it with your weight, but the burning feeling that compels such thoughts doesn’t dissipate as steadily as it usually does.

You redirect yourself by scanning the camp’s perimeter with blurry, eager eyes, and find Astarion on the edge of your vision, bound to a tree. Even though he is distorted enough to mistake for a white sheep, you can tell that he’s watching you; and you swear that you can feel your shared lifeblood beating between the two of you now.

You think back to last night, to his leering, carmine eyes, heavy and willing to bend under the weight of his centuries-long hunger. You find yourself incapable of placing blame on him, when you’re sure that your own hunger far outweighs his.

He bled you dry, but even still, you don’t find yourself caring. Your blood may boil at the act of giving itself away from the wineskin that is your body, but you’ll do it again, you know, and you’ll do it cold and breathless.

You force the words hoarsely from your dry throat. “Bring him here.”

You command no one in particular. They all send confused glances to one another before Wyll decides to stand up from behind you and make his way to Astarion. The monster hunter goes to untie the monster, and then makes him walk over to confront you, rather than slink away.

Wyll holds Astarion’s arms behind his back and pushes him forward. The vampire drags his feet through the dirt, likely believing that today will be his last. You look between the two of them, and try to shun the thought of cutting your blood from Astarion’s pretty neck; and as much as you try to resist it, the urge does not let go of you so easily this time.

Your arm springs up like broken clockwork, and your fist collides with his jaw. You fall down to your knees and pant, with what little breath you’ve held released in one go. Astarion stumbles back into Wyll, who stands unmoving, and unsympathetic toward the vampire. The latter groans, and snaps his eyes to you as you catch your decrepit breath.

“I—” Astarion rubs his jaw with his thumb. “I can’t say I blame you.”

You hold your fist against your lap with your other hand, and try to keep yourself from pouncing again like a tiger crouched in a field. You grit your teeth and command, “Let him go.”

Perhaps it was the wrong thing to say. Shadowheart gives you an incredulous look for it, with an eyebrow raised in confusion, her eyes narrowed by something just a shade darker than annoyance.

“You’re saying you’re okay with this? I used my only revivification scroll on you, you know. If you had been unwilling to come back, you wouldn’t be alive right now.”

Alive. You breathe in the word and find that your gaze has not once lifted from Astarion’s bemused face, his cheek already bruising with your ichor. The soft bliss of death is the only thing that has ever made you feel alive, the only thing aside from the rush of murder to make your heart race, even as it’s drained of any beat it might drum to. If Astarion can make you feel as such every night, you will hold nothing against him, you decide.

He watches you now with barely-obscured fear behind his eyes, the corners of his mouth twisted only slightly in a smile, all of it an act to conceal the panic building in him. You ignore Shadowheart’s inquiry and nod at Wyll, who nods back to you with apparent hesitation.

Astarion is amused, nearly laughing— perhaps in disbelief— as Wyll begrudgingly unties him. He rubs his sore wrists and shoots you a nervous, fanged grin. “You have a penchant for surprises, you know.”

You keep your wolf-eyes trained on him. Your mouth is welded shut, and your mind draws a blank. You should be angry. Anyone in their right mind would be. The light on the river-beach you’d awoken on had blinded you, but warmed you. The anticipation for maiming and flaying makes you feel alive, yes, but perhaps that feeling on the beach had come close. Perhaps that feeling would outshine your urges, one day.

You should be angry that he’d almost taken that chance away, but you know it’s not anger that sullies you. The only thing that rises is the urge, tempting you to sweep the legs out from the elf and pin him to the dirt. Not out of vengeance, or recompense, but out of an intrusive, morbid caprice.

You suppose it’s too much to ask of death, to remove this curse from you.

“Now,” Astarion lets go of his wrist, and pushes his sleeves up to his elbows. “I admit, I got quite… carried away last night. I didn’t mean to go so far. I want to… apologize.”

He even bows his head slightly for show, but you know he is not the least sorry.

“Don’t lie.” Something in your voice wipes the smirk off his face. “If you hadn’t, I would have killed you first.”

All precautions you’ve taken so far in concealing your nature have been too hastily spent, for now there is little barring the truth of your compulsions from spilling in front of everyone— just as their insides would spill across the ground if you were not so encumbered by the weight of revival.

Astarion’s smile creeps back steadily, but it doesn’t reach his dark eyes. “Then I’m glad to have made the right choice.”

“Gods, are you both mad.” Karlach interrupts. She stands behind Shadowheart, and leans over the both of you with her hands on her hips. “But if you two promise not to kill each other— not again, anyway— then maybe we can all finally eat some breakfast.”

Travenya laughs at Karlach from behind you, but Shadowheart scowls at Astarion.

“Someone’s already had their fill, it seems.” She says tartly. He rolls his eyes at her. “Don’t let it happen again.”

“Whether or not it happens again is none of your concern.” You retort. Your heart and its shallow blood are racing, the truth of the matter rising too quickly to the surface. Your shaky hands overturn in your lap. Shadowheart is infuriated.

“Maybe you should be a little more thankful to the person who just revived you!” She stands up and backs away a few feet, too angry to be close to you. You shudder in an attempt to ignore the thrashing in your skull. They all seem to notice, and a new line of worry adds to their faces.

“I’m— I’m sorry, Shadowheart.” You repent quietly to her. You should be more than grateful for the second chance she has given you.

“Thank you for bringing life into me.” You tell her. “And Astarion,” You tear your shaking eyes away from the half-elf and look upon him again. “Thank you for taking it.”

He is bewildered. He considers you for a moment, looking over you as if you’re someone new, someone shaking with the misfortune of rebirth. “Like I said, you’ve a penchant for it.”

so bury me as it pleases you, lover - sierramadre (2024)
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