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This is Fantasy Boys XXX flash fiction entry for the 19th Drabble Cascade.
I had a request to carry on the story I started in the Drabble Cascade, called, No More. So, this is what happened :).
Jakob lay in the rancid dark, his mind reeling. Deep down, when he had held out his hand to Aelan, he had known this would happen. He had cured his lover, Aelan’s mother falling at his feet in gratitude, and inevitably word had spread of the miracle. After that, he had touched and cleansed all who needed him until his magic was aching and he could barely stand up.
Then the soldiers had come.
He had been too exhausted to give them any resistance and no-one had come to his aid, gratitude in no way outweighing fear of the witchfinders. Thus he curled around himself in the tiny cell, silver binding him at wrist, neck and ankle and waited for burning in the dawn light. His only regret was that he had not had a chance to say goodbye to Aelan before his arrest, since his partner had not yet woken up from the healing.
The night had been silent, Jakob’s ears ringing with it as the uncomfortable bindings held him from sleep, but gradually, he realised a low rumbling was coming from outside the thick, cold walls. He ignored it at first, but as the sound of human voices began to take shape, Jakob took more notice and struggled to sit up to try and make out what was being said. His heart leapt into his throat as he recognised one voice: Aelan’s. He strained to hear words, but the walls were too thick and terror rose as he guessed his lover was facing down soldiers.
Jakob could feel the magic, which he had hidden for so long, coiling under his skin in response to his anxiety, but it was held fast by the bonds, leaving his flesh itching with unfocused power.
The noise went on for what felt to Jakob like hours of uncertainty, shouts rising and falling, and he listened urgently, desperate not to hear the clash of steel. He was so intent on what was going on outside, that he jumped and flattened his back against the wall when the bolt to his door suddenly slid back with a loud clunk. Nervously, he froze and blinked into bright light as the door was flung open. A shadow quickly filled the light space, and, chained, Jakob could only flinch as it flew at him. However, the strike he was expecting did not come, instead, arms came round him, dragging him into a harsh embrace and a shuddering sob escaped Jakob’s mouth as he finally recognised Aelan.
Aelan held him so tight, Jakob could barely breathe, but it felt so good to be in such support that he collapsed shivering into his lover’s strong arms, his magic coursing with his confusion.
“What...?” he tried to make sense of the hundred questions that flooded his tired mind, but Aelan hauled him up from the bench he had been sitting on.
“We’re leaving,” Aelan announced loudly, his voice hoarse and breaking, but tone determined, and then an edge entered his words as he spoke to whoever was outside in the brightness, “Get these abominations off him!”
Jakob tensed as another shadow approached him, the bruises on his body too fresh for him not to react. However, Aelan held him firmly and he heard the tinkle of the tiny keys that held his bonds closed. He could not relax as first the collar and then the wrist manacles and finally his ankle manacles were removed, but, as the last one came undone, the tension in his magic let go, and, with a sigh, Jakob collapsed against Aelan.
“Get out of my way,” Aelan demanded of the shadow Jakob could now see only through mostly closed eyes.
The light grew as the shadow moved, but then it began to dim again and Jakob only realised it was him passing out when he felt Aelan begin to pick him up. He did not pass out completely, but he had no strength at all and he could barely believe it when he felt Aelan haul him all the way into his arms. He had no idea how his lover did it, since they were nearly the same size, but almost immediately Jakob found himself being carried out into the light of the hallway as if he were a child at the breast.
Jakob felt safe for the first time since he had begun considering using his magic and he relaxed into Aelan’s hold, his head nodding against his lover’s chest. Thus, as he was taken out into the slim light of early morning, it was his ears, not his eyes, that recognised many people close by. The rumbling of lots of voices made him nervous again, and he forced his head to turn. Looking down from the steps of the court house, what he saw was every face he knew, every family his magic had touched in the last day, standing in a crowd, their faces set into hard stares. For a second, paranoia made him think they were glaring at him, but then one pair of eyes and another and then many looked to the space behind his head and Jakob dropped his head backwards over Aelan’s arm to see an upside down version of the officer who had arrested him.
He thought the man was frowning, but everything was shifting in and out of focus and he was so tired, so he closed his eyes and relied on Aelan.
“This is treason,” their enemy warned, but there were tremors in that tone.
“No, this is right,” Aelan replied firmly, his words being followed with a low rumble from the crowd. “No more burnings, ever again.”
“It is the law,” the soldier pressed, but without conviction.
“The law murders the innocent,” Aelan retorted and began down the courthouse steps.
Aelan lurched, huffing with effort as he made the second step and Jakob tensed. However, as the third descent threatened to take Aelan’s balance, bodies came round them and Jakob found many hands lifting him. He mewed as they threatened to raise him away from the comfort of Aelan’s arms, but then there was a hand in his and he knew the clasp of fingers was Aelan’s. People were mumbling quietly to each other, but their touches were gentle. Jakob had no energy to resist them and the world began to fade as he was lifted through the quietly respectful crowd.
Just a few more minutes and Jakob knew he’d have to give up the comfortable, safe feeling of sleeping in Aelan’s arms and get up to feed the chickens. The wild birds were already announcing the new morning loudly through the window, but he ignored them and snuggled down closer to the warm and naked body beside his, smiling to himself as his skin brushed Aelan’s. However, when the grip around his shoulders tightened, he knew sleeping was over and he opened his eyes, blinking into the bright sunlight streaming in through the window. As the light cut into his retinas, the door opening on his cell came back and, as Aelan’s concerned face came into focus, Jakob tensed and drew in a hasty breath.
“Easy, Love,” Aelan spoke gently and stroked his hair, but the horror of his arrest wouldn’t settle now his memory was returning and Jakob rolled away from his supporter, needing to see more of his surroundings, to make sure it was not those stinking walls around him.
He sagged as he saw walls and roof of bark, and he realised the light was not coming through any window, but through holes in the trunk of a great tree. Aelan’s arms came round him from behind and he sank back against his lover’s chest with a sob of shock that exhaustion had previously kept away.
“You’re safe, Jakob,” Aelan told him quietly, but surely and then kissed his hair, rocking him gently.
Still, the fear of the burnings had been so deeply instilled in him, that Jakob checked his wrists - no silver, his ankles were also clear and he felt his throat.
“Gone,” Aelan reassured and kissed him on the side of his neck just below his ear.
That was a very sensitive place for Jakob and he shivered, almost relaxing, but he resisted still and whined instead. Aelan persisted, stroking his tongue where his lips has just been and Jakob shuddered more strongly.
“We are safe,” Aelan whispered right into his ear and then added, “and alone.”
Jakob pressed back against Aelan’s chest, distracted just a little and enjoying the attention. It didn’t usually take much encouragement from Aelan to get him to forget the chickens for a while, but that morning was different: his emerging magic was flowering under his skin and it kept him focused on the reason they were lying on a makeshift bed inside a tree.
“Where are we?” he managed to string a thought together.
“Old Man Garett’s smuggling drop,” Aelan replied, nipping lightly at Jakob’s earlobe immediately afterwards.
“Hiding?” he checked and Aelan paused in amour.
Part of Jakob was disappointed, but mostly he needed to know what trouble he had caused for Aelan. Their quiet rural life was over, that much he could surmise, but he wanted to understand how bad it was.
“The soldiers tried to follow us after we left the courthouse, so Garett brought us here just to be safe,” Aelan explained eventually.
He did not sound overly bothered.
“I’m sorry,” Jakob let out some of his guilt.
“Don’t be,” Aelan replied immediately, but the dismissal found some of the anger Jakob had not been able to muster for his arresters.
He forced himself out of his lover’s hold and turned round. He glared at the stupid little smile on Aelan’s face and challenged, “They will burn you now as well if they catch us.”
Aelan’s smile just widened though and Jakob huffed, struggling to get his message across. He needed to make Aelan understand. Yet, when his companion’s hand came to rest on his shoulder, he did not shrug it off, he was too anxious.
“You have been sleeping for three days,” Aelan began again and Jakob had no idea why his lover was still smiling. “And a lot has happened. Word spread to Layham, Gripsford and Jenkmouth and others followed your lead: they began to heal plague victims.”
Jakob felt his jaw go slack and he barely dared to believe it. Still, his pessimism would not be beaten so easily and he asked, “And the soldiers?”
“Tried to take them, but just like us, the people protected their wiseones too,” Aelan replied and laughed as he carried on, “and then it just escalated from there. Last night there were fifteen towns and even Sherfon City where wiseones were coming out of hiding and curing the plague. No burnings, the army hasn’t dared.”
Jakob choked a laugh, not quite ready to celebrate, but unable to stop relief bubbling up out of his chest. He reached up to rest his hands on Aelan’s shoulders and looked right into his lover’s blue eyes, checking for any deception.
“Then why are we here?” he had to check one more time.
Aelan didn’t laugh this time, but his eyes sparkled and the corners of his mouth twitched.
“Well, Mother Hay dug out her old books from her garden and she said that you were drained and the best way to help you get better was skin to skin human contact,” he explained with a little too much relish to sound innocent.
“Oh yes?” Jakob teased, rather liking the glint in Aelan’s eyes.
He leant forward, leaning his forehead against his lover’s and his magic jumped in response. He gasped.
“You feel me then?” Aelan responded and it was his turn to tremble.
“Hmm,” Jakob forgot what he was going to say.
“Mother Hay also said you’d probably be sensitive when you woke up,” Aelan continued, his voice smiling even though Jakob could no longer see his lover’s face.
Jakob took in a deep breath, drawing in the scent of his partner and with it something else, a part of another human that he’d denied himself all his life and his magic embraced that new sense. He murmured his approval as passion and power rose in tandem. Aelan shifted and drew in a hasty breath.
“Ah,” Aelan let out in a breathy chuckle, “that old witch knows a thing or two...”
“Shut up,” Jakob interrupted and then pressed his lips hard against Aelan’s.
Aelan flopped easily backwards under Jakob’s direction and they came to rest with him lying up his lover’s body. Arms came round him again and held him close and this time Jakob did not resist. Magic and desire rippled through him and, at last, he let himself be free.