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Can We Try Again?

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Egon finds himself holding onto his darling’s hands, to make sure they don’t fall off his back. He could hear them whimper as the howls of the wolves grew further away, their hands slightly singed from the magic they had used in the library. The naga curses, wishing he could have at least even touched the book that held the answers to his questions… But those would have to wait.

He DID have priorities. And the biggest one right now was his life, seconded only by the life of the human clinging to his back in fear.

“Why didn’t you tell me you use magic!?” He looks back for a second, their eyes meeting. Instinctually, they look away and with a sting he remembers them fighting in his coils to resist his gaze. The naga only wanted to help them relax, but… Now they seem a bit afraid to look him in the eye again.

“Isn’t this a bad time to ask that!?” They yelp, as the naga rounds a corner at breakneck speed, the wolves hot on his tail.

“I just figured-”

Another howl cuts off his train of thought, and Egon rushes himself and the human back to the cavern, hoping that by the time they both get back, the wolves would be far behind them.

- - - - - - - -

As the night winds into the late hours, the two finally catch their breath. The naga groans, slumping over for a second, heaving breaths filling his lungs after such a chase. The human groans as they slide off his back, shaking their limbs out just a bit. They had lost the wolves a while back, but the adrenaline remained. “That… was terrifying,” The human mumbles, pulling the pack of food and supplies they had brought with them from home off their back to sift through what would be eaten tonight.

And then the tip of a long yellow and pale pink tail grabs their ankle

“Now hold on, there… You sssstill haven’t answered my question.” Egon crosses his arms, slithering to their side. “You can use magic? And you didn’t tell me?” He gives them an incredulous look, raising an eyebrow.

They sigh, pinching their nose bridge as they feel a headache coming on. “It never… came up. So no, I didn’t say anything. I rarely use it anyways…”

“But why? Magic is a glorious talent to have!” He smiles a bit, trying to take it in a less harsh light. Unlike earlier… “ Why not use it to your heart’s content?”

They turn and give him a tired glare, as if they’ve asked themself that question. “Put two and two together, Egon. What came out of my hands?”

“... Fire?” He isn’t seeing the point, and lowers himself to their level. “So?”

“Fire magic is unpredictable. Lawless… I’ve hurt people before. And I don’t want to hurt anyone else, but I did.” They look… cold. Tired. Exhausted, even.

His heart pangs. “What do you mean, you did…? Talk to me, I’m willing to listen.” His tone is softer now, that same soft tone he used when they first woke up. In a way, they can feel themself drawn to that tone, pulled in by it’s tranquil purrs. It takes a moment of pleading, but they break when he asks, “Please…? I promise I won’t judge.”

“... I burned the library. Your book. I hurt you and myself, when I was just trying to help. That is why I don’t use magic. Mine only burns people...” They sound ashamed now, unable to look at him. To admit they actually cared about the things he wanted, or him in general. This is news to him, and his ears flick up in surprise.

“Me? I… I didn’t think y-”

“Can we just drop it?” Their tone is agitated and exhausted now. And for once, Egon knows not to push their buttons, nodding.

“Of course… I... I’m just confused.” They look up, eyes questioning him. “I thought you wanted to leave.”

Their eyes very quickly and a flustered look crosses their face, as if they don’t know what to say. They start to panic, briefly, and they try desperately to explain why they... couldn't leave. Not now. “I- I just-”

He sees them floundering for words, and a hand reaches up to caress their cheek. “Ssshhh… It’s alright. We don’t need to talk just now… You look positively exhausted… Poor thing.” That gentle tone reemerges and they find themselves leaning into his hand, eyes fluttering shut for a moment. There's a moment of blissful, peaceful calm, as he comforts them.

Then they suddenly snap open again, and they take a quick step back. “Ooooh, no! I see what you’re trying to do, knock it off...” They look slightly frightened again, though their body leans towards him as if being pulled. It was nice, but they’re nervous.

Now it’s his turn to stammer. “Wha- Wait a moment! I just… was making an observation.” He pulls his hand back, and for a moment, the naga and the human stand there in stunned silence. The tense energy between them was almost too much to bear, too many unanswered questions hanging in the air as if they're balloons about to burst.

Then, they speak up. “... So. Dinner?”

-------- -

The night grows long, and soon enough, Egon finds himself passed out against his throne, exhausted from the day’s trip. He had watched them prepare their food, keeping it over the fire diligently, and just the knowledge that they were okay was enough to soothe him to sleep.

His companion, however, is still very much awake, pacing back and forth as they try to work through their tangled thoughts.

They can’t stop thinking about it. Those eyes, that voice, the colors they had seen… The warm coils surrounding them, their thoughts melting into warm nothingness, the blissful sleep unlike any they had ever gotten. Something in them longed for that again, and the other part of them resented it. It had been so sudden! So uncalled for, and yet…

And yet…

Thoroughly invested in their thoughts, they aren't paying attention and trip over Egon’s tail, almost going flying into the cavern's walls. “Aah-!” They yelp, holding out their arms to shield their head from being grazed by the wall of stone.

Their midsection is caught by one of his large coils, and he stirs, looking over. “What’s with all the yelling…? I’m trying to sleep, you know...” He pouts tiredly, bringing them over to him, in a single coiled loop. They squirm, and look embarrassed.

“S… Sorry, I… I was just walking and I tripped.”

He chuckles, smirking. “Clumsy little thing…~” They bristle up at that, about to retort but he cuts them off, the smirk only fading halfway. “What are you doing up ssssso late, hmmm…? It’s nowhere near morning...” His eyes ask for honesty, and so they grant him a sliver of it.

 

“Just… can’t sleep.” They look away, blushing and fidgeting adorably. He hums, giving a sympathetic look to them as he pulls them just a little bit closer.

“After all we went through, you still can’t find sleep…? Aww… That’s a shame.” His voice drips with sweetness like honey, and they squirm again, until he speaks up once more. “If you needed help, well… you could have just asked! I would be happy to hel-”

“I’m fine.” Their answer comes far too quickly, as they keep their eyes on the ground.

“No…? Why not? I’m sure I could help, it’s really no effort at all. It’s no bother. Unless…” He leans in as they look up, trying to look them in the eyes to test his theory.

“Unless what?” They look up again, to find him rising from his throne. Their eyes dart away again, and he sighs.

“That’s what I was afraid of… I ssscared you, didn’t I…?” The timber of his voice almost rumbles so sweetly, and they squirm again, feeling warm shivers down their spine that they can’t help but writhe at. He loosens his grip and puts them down. “I promise, it’s not as scary as it first seemed! It can be very pleasant… Under the right circumstances. I would feel awful if I didn’t at least try to help you rest…” He sounds gentler now, trying his best to convince them that he meant no harm.

“I… I dunno. It was scary the first time and then it… then it wasn’t, it’s confusing. After it started, I… It wasn’t… That bad.” They fidget with their hands, as he gets closer. He doesn’t get up in their face, but is close enough that they can see his expression much better. He looks sincere, frowning.

“I’m sorry… I was only worried about you running off and getting yourssself hurt before I could explain anything. I don’t doubt your ability to take care of yourself, but you were practically hyperventilating, dear! I couldn’t stand to watch you panic like that… It broke my heart.” Egon pouts once again, trying to show he's TRULY sorry for his actions.

They scoff, shooting him an incredulous look. They don't buy that for a second. “Oh, yes, of course it did, after you say you’re tired of my games. I was just trying to figure out where I was, and..!”

He sighs, owning up to his bad decision. He can see if he wants to get anywhere with this human, including basic trust, he would have to be trustworthy in the first place. “I… I know. I sprung it on you the first time, and that was a mistake, but now, I am giving you a choice, like I have been trying to do from then on. Go, or ssssstay, it is your choice… as is this. Let me prove to you that I want to help, and give me a chance! If you really can’t sleep…” A coil gently rests on the ground in front of them, as if inviting them to step in on their own.

“Perhapssss we can try again….? A much easier, better way?” He gives them a softer smile, a sweet gaze, and extends a hand. “Please...?"

They think about it for a long minute, looking down at the coil in front of them, contemplating the pros and cons. But eventually… They step forward, much more timid than usual. He grins hopefully, and his long tail moves behind them to usher them forward, closer to him. “Isss that a yes…?”

They nod, unable to really put it into words. All they knew is that they wanted some rest, and getting it on their own was hard. Too hard right now to justify staying awake to show mere pride. He chuckles, a hand gently tipping their chin upwards. They still look away, out of instinct, but they don’t yank their face away, letting him hold them in such a small, and yet intimate way.

He hums with amusement. They’re so cute… “Come now… for this to work, you need to look into my eyes. Trust me, I promise… I’ll take good care of you.”

It takes a moment of apprehension and nerves, but eventually, they look up at the naga, and find his warm smile on them. It puts them more at ease to see that, instead of a frustrated grimace. Another loop of his tail winds around their legs, holding them steady. “Just… don’t squeeze me as hard this time, okay? That hurt last time," They add, still a tad bit nervous.

He nods in agreement, and then… The naga’s eyes start to change colors. Rings of red, black and gold, that same array that ensnared them the first time, spiralling out in a glowing pattern that seems to overwhelm their vision. But this time, there was no fear or desire to run. This time, they let it happen, body starting to relax as the world becomes bathed in the colors of his eyes. A warm, tingling sensation of peace filters over them, and they lean forward just a bit to get more of it, to stare deeper.

Egon smiles, seeing them relax, and soon they’re being wrapped in his coils as they travel up their body, embraced and coddled. “There we are… That’s it. Everything’s okay, I promissse… Allow me to show you what this is really like~” The naga pulls them closer, leading them back to his throne. He settles, keeping eye contact with them, as their expressions shift from nervous to relaxed.

“There we go, sssee? That’s not so bad, is it…? No fear, no terror… Just peace. Warmth~” His voice slips into that soft, alluring tone, watching his darling stare headlong into the changing colors.

Their body felt so warm and heavy, and all they could answer with was a soft, half-said yes. The coils around them didn’t hurt now, just cradled and held close. They could feel everything just falling into place, this deep sense of bliss they didn’t know they could feel, so far away from worry. They can’t stop looking at him, eyelids starting to get a bit heavier. They try to speak, to answer, but the words come out half formed and quiet. “I… Th… Y…”

“Sssshhh…” He leans in, a hand cupping their cheek so sweetly, as his voice drones on. “You don’t need to speak if it’s too difficult… You don’t need to do anything right now except listen to my voice and rest…” A few words stick out to them, resonating in their mind and they nod, as the world around them melts and fades into various hues of crimson and black, while Egon remains gold, the center of their rapt attention.

“That’s it, just relax… I’ll take care of everything~” Their body feels weak and warm, and the only thing they can really focus on is him. The rest is almost unimportant, as they wane in and out of consciousness. “Aww.. Look at you, so exhausssted. It’s alright… It’s okay. You can rest now… Just you and me. No one else and nothing else… The world outside doesn’t matter right now, does it…?”

They shake their head, eyes only half open as they fall deeper under his spell. They can’t think of much else. “That’s okay… It will all be waiting for us when you wake up. But right now... “ He pulls them close, coils adjusting to fit around the both of them and his throne, and his arms embrace them. They give a soft, sweet noise of approval, nuzzling into him as if it’s the millionth time they’ve done it as they stare up at him almost adoringly. He cuddles them close, feeling a bit warm and relaxed himself at the contact after so long without it. He adores seeing them go from so wary of him and his abilities, to leaning in for more and snuggling up to him like it's the most natural thing in the world.

Egon is very satisfied with the results, grinning from ear to ear as he whispers in theirs. “Right now, you can just melt into my arms… and finally be able to sleep. Your eyes are so heavy, my dear…” He watches as they try, only a little bit, to stay awake. “You don’t need to fight it… You’re sssafe here… No need to worry. I’ve got you...”

He hums as his hand gently caresses their cheek. “Such a sweet sight… to see you wrapped up, all snug and safe, trusting me to care for you… Wouldn’t it be easier to just shut your eyes…? Let yourself rest in my coils...? You don't need to worry, I will protect you all night... Rest.”

They only give a slight nod as their eyes finally flutter closed, and their body relaxes entirely. “There we go… Just ssssink into me… No more resistance, no more stress… No more trying to hide the fact that you enjoy this~ You don’t need to hide anything from me, you know… But we will address that later.”

He curls up with them nestled happily in his arms, completely hypnotized and sleeping so peacefully. “For now… Sleep, my precious pet. Sleep…” His eyes stop changing colors, and he smiles fondly at the sleeping figure in his arms. A hand rubs their back, and he watches them for a little while, making sure things are alright before he tries to go back to sleep himself. He considers finally falling back asleep after half an hour...

And that’s when he sees them start to frown, whimpering. Fear. A bad dream. This must be why sleep doesn’t come easy. “Hm…?” He looks at them, and quickly realizes what’s happening when their face twists in an expression of pain. A mumbled, "No..." As their hands ball into fists, and start to heat up. Flames begin to sprout from their fingers, as if to protect themself from the percieved danger in their nightmares.

Egon’s smile fades fast, and he gently pulls them closer, whispering in their ear. “Shh, sh shhh..” A less seductive, more comforting tone greets their ears and the whimpering stops. “I’m here, it’s alright… It’s okay.”

The writhing slows, and he curls around them securely. “You’re safe here… Relax… I’m here, pet. I’m right here… You’re safe. Nothing can get you... Not while I'm here...”

Their expression smooths over, and he gently pulls them back down, back to peace. At the mere sound of his voice, their nightmares seemed to fade and be replaced with soft images he spoke of to them. "Everything is okay... I've got you, my darling..." They give one last whimper of worry before he gives them a soft, comforting squeeze, and then they fully relax again.

To see them melt a second time, not in submission but sheer relief and safety… It made his heart sing with joy. Being relieved by his mere voice… that was a treat.

“I had no idea you placed such trusssst in me... And so soon! It’s such a wonderful thing, to see you like this, all relaxed and adorable...~“ He muses, knowing that they can’t hear his words in detail. They would simply be a soft, warm buzz running across their ears, keeping them from feeling worried or afraid. “Calm and protected… It makes me want to keep you forever~” That slightly possessive tone creeps back into his voice, but he stops when he catches himself. It would be so easy to convince them never to leave right now, and the thought is incredibly tempting, but...

The memory of his royal lost love flashes in his mind again and the smile fades. “... I could never keep you here against your will… But I can dream that you might be as infatuated with me as I am with you, right…?”

As he stares at their peacefully sleeping face, his worries grow. “Perhapssss your trust is only temporary…” He sounds a bit concerned about that, but one look at them, curled up against his chest, sleeping peacefully… It sets his heart at ease. Whether or not they stay or go… He has this moment to remember them by.

“But I will certainly not refuse being needed, my precious one… You are more enamoring than you could ever know.” It’s the last thing he remembers saying before kissing their forehead sweetly, tightening his grip one more time to make sure they're nice and snug, and then drifting off to sleep while his hand rubs their back. The two seem to sleep together as if made for each other, fitting perfectly in one another's arms, bodies warming each other through the cold night as it passes by.

For once, Egon felt that blissful sense of peace he gave to others.

For once, in a very long time, he felt like everything was going to be okay.