I let her kiss down my throat towards my collar, then grinned as I suddenly snatched her shoulders and dragged her down to the training mat beneath us. She huffed out excitedly when I pinned her arms above her head, giving her a haughty grin. "Strong and feral is what you want, eh?" I cooed the words, wagging my tail lazily while looking down into her red eyes.

Alice bit her lower lip and nodded her head rapidly. "Yesss... hold me down and take me, my fox."

"You drive me crazy Alice, you, that cat, and my husband..." I growled the words into her ear, nibbling at it as I moved down to her throat. Now that I thought about it, most of my training sessions ended this way with all three of them.

& mdash; & hearts; & mdash;

"Sister! I've missed you dreadfully!" The incubus was on top of me in a flash and threw his arms around me, hugging me tightly as I yipped from the contact, feeling the cocktail of his energy churning through me.

"I have missed you as well, now unhand me you lecherous goat!" I snarled the words as he pulled from me with a playful grin. I shuddered and pushed a palm to my chest, willing my heart to slow and stop once more. "Really brother, can't you control that better?"

Val folded his arms and gave me a smile. "My apologies, I was simply excited to see you." He ran his fingers through his silver hair and hummed playfully, fingering one of his horns, "You are rife with the scent of our brother, and our sister... and our sister..."

I blushed and lowered my ears before growling at him, my tail thrashing. "Yes, you knew all this already!" I glowered at him for a few more moments before my ears lifted, seeing the smaller female finally slip out from behind him.

My brother gave me a proud grin and stepped to the side. "This is my lady of the house whom I told you about, my little imp."

The young-looking lemur gave me a polite bow, dressed in the same skin-tight black pants my brother was wearing, her upper body wrapped in a snug form-fitting t-shirt with an open black vest. She had hair similar in length to mine, down to the base of her tail but hers was of an earthy light brown compared to my raven-wing colored. I could see she had a natural almost mocha-colored skin and two small horns that protruded out of her bangs by just a few inches.

"Kiley, right?" I huffed the words, looking down at the smaller female. I had around a foot on her, but she still seemed to be taller than Alice and slightly more than Katrina.

"Yes, Lady Sarnai. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance. My lord speaks fondly of you and often." The lemur gave me a smile, then gave a soft gasp as Val slid up to her, pushing a palm over her hip to draw her up against him.

"I never thought I would see you settle down with a dedicated mate, brother." I gave him a toothy grin, watching the smaller imp settle against him, awkward at first in company, but then relaxing. They were a skittish sort, so I was actually impressed she was handling herself so well, though I could tell she was eager to be done with the exchange.

"Time's change, sister, but I don't need to tell you that, do I?" He hummed the words and then gave Kiley's hip a gentle pat. "Relax my love, Sarnai won't bite."

"Y-yes... I'm trying to get better about it." Kiley shivered at his touch then nodded, before shifting her gaze back towards me.

"It's alright, we've all got our trials to overcome, Kiley." I gave the imp a smile and then shifted my gaze to my brother, "So has anything interesting been going on in the decades since we last saw one another?"

Val tilted his head as he spoke, "Well, the most interesting thing is what you now call a lover. That rabbit has stitched our family together in ways I've never quite seen before."

"You mean like how you and my husband now regularly lay together?" I hummed the words, showing him a grin as to not seem upset by it. I saw Kiley flinch a little at the topic and my eyebrow lifted curiously.

The goat gave me a playful grin, "Elias has spread his wings in the last few years thanks to the rabbit."

"Amongst other things, I've no doubt," I grumbled the words, feeling irritation build in me over the thought of it. Usually, I didn't dwell but still, it did irk me from time to time. I focused on Kiley and showed her a glance of one of my sharp canines as I spoke, "How about you imp? When my husband comes to call, have you joined your lover with him?"

Kiley flinched and shifted behind Val, shivering slightly before speaking out. "Ah... it just sort of happened... I meant no harm, Lady Sarnai... You have my apolog-"

"No need to apologize, my lady." Val spoke out over her, then narrowed his eyes, giving me a calculating look as he continued, "My sister was estranged from my brother at the time, she is also not a petty fox that would succumb to jealousy. Especially when she herself counts two other lovers and is on her way to potentially establish relationships with a third... Isn't that right, sister?"

I showed my teeth in a snarl at the goat, but folded my arms at his points made and gave a quick nod of my head. "Naturally, he may do as he pleases, so long as I am his only wife."

"Likewise, you may do as you please, sister... you are not limited to those of the female persuasion." Val showed me a playful smile as Kiley slowly slipped out from behind him, returning to his side.

"Brother, was that a flirtatious line? Our time apart hasn't sent you into madness as well has it?" I growled the words and folded my arms. Sure I found him stunning and his supernatural incubus status didn't hurt matters. Even when he didn't mean to, he could make my body react in ways that left me frankly, uncomfortable. He was still in my eyes simply a brother, I had never wanted to explore that avenue, with or without my husband.

The goat gave me an intent look and I could imagine his tail flicking behind him as he spoke, "It's crossed my mind lots of times over the centuries, but delving into your dreams that one night, I could plainly see you do not desire that. So no my sister, it was not a nod towards me, however, it was me saying this; If you happen to find a fetching male I would not feel guilt towards pursuing them."

I frowned and thought back to some of the conversations I had with 'myself' occasionally in my sleep. They or more accurately, I had been craving more. I was still coming to grips with all of this though, I was no succubus and it served me little to pursue it outside of personal fulfillment.

I snarled and put a hand to my head as I thought about it. Was it wrong to enjoy myself and feel personally fulfilled after so many centuries with one partner? A partner I nearly killed and was lucky to have back in any capacity? I knew Elias would have remained absolute to me had I not ruined things. I knew I was lucky to have him and even if he had leveled a restriction of no lovers but him and the rabbit, he would have been justified given I nearly murdered him in my madness. He had not though, he just gave me that same loving gaze I had seen for centuries, the understanding eyes of my husband that despite the odd change of rules, still would stand by me through it all.

"Sister... Lady Sarnai... are you unwell?" Kiley called out with concern, not having the ability to pick up on the sensations I was feeling like my brother would, just seeing me stand there growling and holding my head.

I snapped my eyes open and met her own, they were nearly the same brown as mine, only a bit softer in color. I growled to myself and focused as I spoke, "Yes, my sister, I'm fine. I thank you for your concern. I just have much on my mind these days."

"Perhaps you should think less and just go with the flow, my sister," Val hummed the words, his hand moving to pat Kiley's rear, making her gasp out gently.

"I am not so aloof as you brother, but, Yes this is all new for me." I gathered myself and moved my hands back to my sides. "More to the point, I will be spending the evening here at Lakestone before I fly out to Ceuta."

"Ah, that brings back fond memories... I still recall our adventures at sea from time to time." The incubus rubbed his chin, a smile on his face.

"At sea? Why has this never come up, my lord?" Kiley looked interested, her fluffy tail starting to wag as a dogs would.

"Mm? It just never seemed to..." Val cooed the words towards the little imp, seeing her excitement.

"Yes, Kiley. He was a member of my crew." I put my hands on my hips and puffed my chest out, showing her a prideful grin. "I was Captain Silverpaw, the scourge of the straits of Gibraltar. All ships of the church, regardless of their nationality, feared me and my crew. We came in the night, descending upon them like a heavy mist of fog. Afterward, their boat and crew were never heard from again."

"Wow!" The lemur looked at me with bright eyes that shone with admiration. "That sounds so cool! I had no idea you and my lord were pirates!"

"Elias too, even the head of the council, Lorelai was with us." I spoke the words proudly and the imp's excitement seemed to simply magnify.

"Lady Lorelai?! Ah! When did this happen? What ship did you sail? What did your flag look-"

"Oh dear, I think you've struck upon a nerve, sister. I will leave you with my lady, I think I may need to commission a new outfit to appease her in the bedroom after this, perhaps something like I wore on the deck." The goat gave me a knowing grin as he quickly disengaged and left me with the curious lemur.

I gave Kiley a smile and wagged my tail. "I'm happy to regale you with all the details, sister. Come, let us go inside and speak over a drink."

I spoke until the morning with the little imp, learning of her relationship with Val. The incubus still hunted while keeping his relationships intact with my husband and the rabbit. I was a little shocked to hear of him and Val together with her, but I never tried to draw such intimate details from my husband, so I know he did not hide them from me purposefully.

More than that, we spoke of my life at sea as I regaled the imp with all of the stories of piracy and adventure. For us, it was a dull sort of time with little spices of excitement zested in. We would go months, sometimes a year without a proper prize or adventure, but since I could summarize, the imp saw it in the light of non-stop exploits.

"What an amazing life you've led, sister. All that while struggling with your dreams. Ah, you are such an inspiration." Kiley wagged her tail, staring upon me with a look of adoration I had rarely seen.

"Told you of those, did he?" I gave her a sad smile.

She frowned and nodded. "Yes... only recently after you officially joined Blackpaw. He said he couldn't speak of it previously, that he had given his word."

I gave that some thought, he had kept his word this whole time. Speaking not of my torment to even his closest mate. He was an aloof goat and made light of things all too often, but he was a noble male. "Val is a wonderful guy, I'm glad he's found such a nice lemur."

Kiley blushed and averted her eyes. "It's been nearly a decade... I count my blessings every day that they brought him into my life. I owe Alice and Lorelai an immeasurable debt, even to this day I sometimes feel pangs of guilt that I spurred the Marquess's advances all those years ago."

I barked out a laugh and grinned at the imp. "Do not, that rabbit gets around far more than is fair. She is also an understanding sort, she would never hold that against you. She most likely has not even dwelled upon it a single day since it happened."

"You think so?" Kiley blinked up at me, a slight smile playing on her lips.

"I know so, my rabbit isn't like that," I barked the words with pride in my voice.

The imp showed me a small smile and tilted her head. "I can plainly smell her upon you, it's wonderful to see you think so highly of her, she is a marvelous boon to all our families."

I pushed my hand to my chest, feeling my heart racing at the thought of her, it rattled me as I delved deeper into my thoughts. Such a short time and here I was, speaking of her with pride and thoroughly smitten. I wanted to blame it upon her being a succubus, but I knew it had nothing to do with that.

Even now, a part of me wanted to still hate her. She had my husband, my brother, my lady, and I could go on. Even Katrina who first had eyes for me, she had her. I wanted to feel intense jealousy, I wanted to be bitter and resentful. I could not, all I could feel was happiness as I thought about her. Perhaps I struggled because I was still coming to grips with happiness that was not laced with daily terror.

"You have grown lost in your mind once more, sister. Are you well?" Kiley reached out, grasping my hand across the table we sat at, jarring me out of my own head.

"Ah! Yes... I apologize... when you get on in years like me, sometimes your mind will wander." I spoke the words softly then felt the small imp's fingers curl around mine in a gentle grip.

"You are not just the dear sister of my lord, you are my sister as well. You should know, though I am young... I am always here to lend an ear if you need it." The imp showed me a surprisingly cocky smirk that reminded me of my brother, showing his influence in their relationship. "An ear to bend that isn't someone sleeping with you, sometimes having a friend without benefits can have its perks."

I gave the imp a grin and gripped her hand, appreciating the effort she was making to appear confident and strong, despite feeling the faint tremors in her grip from the whole situation obviously making her nervous. "Thank you sister, that means a lot... I am blessed to have such wonderful family members such as you."

& mdash; & hearts; & mdash;

Standing on the dock, it was surreal to see how much had changed, yet how much remained the same. The weathered old timber had been replaced by concrete and rebar. The wooden ships were now massive cruise ships or monolithic cargo vessels that could have fit my old ship into them ten times over. Still, the familiar scent of the ocean was the same, albeit mixed with the odor of oil and exhaust.

I took a seat on the edge of the dock, letting my left leg hang over the side, my right bent at the knee while I rested my arm upon it. "Can't believe how much it's changed..."

"It's something you never get used to. The march of time ever ravages the landscape..." The sheep spoke the words out while taking a seat next to me.

We sat there, staring at the seemingly black sea in the night, the moon reflecting in the waters. I frowned in thought, looking over at her, she seemed to take notice and shifted her own gaze back to mine. Our brown eyes met as we hung there in a long protracted silence, finally, she looked back towards the waves that were slapping up against the dock.

"Have you seen recent pictures of Ceuta's shoreline in the daytime?" Lorelai spoke out conversationally.

"I have... what of it?"

"I hear mundane talk about how the seas are darker now, how they missed the crystal blue of them before they started wrecking their planet on such a massive scale. It makes me lament not being able to see our home in the daylight all those years ago." Lorelai spat the words out bitterly, her ears folded as she sneered at the black waters.

"Did you never steal a peek out of the portholes of our ship when we would sail?" I asked her curiously, tilting my head.

"It wasn't the same I would imagine." She climbed to her feet and kicked a random bolt into the water that was laying on the dock, having rattled loose from who knows what.

"Very strange seeing you introspective, Lorelai." I looked back at her, still sitting, my teeth showing in a grin.

She frowned at me and thrust her hand out, the gesture obvious on what she wanted. I grasped her palm and she helped me stand. I tried to retract the grip but the sheep held it firmly, I didn't understand, but then she jerked hard and pulled me forward. I huffed out, taking a step and then feeling her embracing me. "Take a knee..."

My body did as she commanded before my mind even processed the words, her will absolute and crushing. Then my head was against her chest, I felt her cradle me against her, hands stroking my hair and rubbing at my ears. "I have... so many mixed feelings about all of this..."

"Do you... want to talk about it, my la-"

"Do not be formal with me, Sarnai!" Lorelai spat the words out sharply in my ears, I yipped at her power of will and simply nodded my head before she resumed petting me.

We stayed like that for a time, eventually my hands finding her hips and hugging against her while she continued to pet me. "I wouldn't have let him... gods be damned I was terrified... I didn't want to lose you, but I wouldn't have let him. I was there, my fox... waiting in the wings, tears in my eyes, praying to the gods that I did not have to fulfill my word to you..."

I swallowed hard and simply nodded, feeling her fingertips tangle into my hair before raking through it. She leaned closer and drew in a heavy breath as if she had longed to smell my scent again. "I am bitter... bitter and resentful towards her..."

"Whom, Lorelai?" I lifted my ears, gently pulling from her chest. I stole just a brief glimpse of teary eyes and wet cheeks before she snarled and jerked my gaze back down, forcing my face into her breasts once more.

"My lover, your lover... Alice. I love her, but a part of me, it hates her... an irrational feeling that twists my stomach and wrenches at my heart." She shuddered as she shook her head. "I should have been the one... it should have been me. I searched for centuries, I sought out the knowledge of scholars and prophets... I had no hobbies or motivations outside of council affairs. Every free moment was in pursuit of a means to heal you..."

I shivered at her words, shaking my head. I started to speak but she simply cut me off and continued, "Yet a chimera... a young fledgling, she was able to do what I sought for nearly half a millennia in a paltry decade. It is unfair... she easily won my love and even reinforced my vow to you. I was terrified... had I lost her that night, I would have struck you down and then myself. Had I saved her that night, but still had to strike you down, I would have followed the same course and joined you in the abyss. I could not fathom this world without my darling foxes and goat, but especially not without you in it." She hissed the words bitterly and I felt my ears growing wet as she nuzzled the top of my head.

I took a breath, feeling air fill my lungs before I moved my hands to her face, wiping the tears away, lifting my head and meeting her eyes. I snarled and had to summon my black flames simply to speak against her will. "You were there for me... you tried and that is enough. It was-"

"It was not enough! My best was not good enough for you! I was useless to you, and that rends my soul, Sarnai!" Lorelai shouted the words out bitterly, tears flowing over my fingertips as she huffed out a sob.

My teeth clenched and my eyes focused as my flames turned to red. I shook off the shackles of her will and barked out sharply into her face, "Do not belittle what you are to me! Do not make a mockery of my love for you, Lorelai! Knowing is enough, okay?"

She clenched her own teeth and I saw a look cross her eyes I had rarely seen in the centuries I had known her. Uncertainty and unrestrained sorrow, a look I recall that night in Istanbul when we learned our whole family had been slaughtered. I didn't give her time to speak, I did the only thing I could think to do, the thing I felt Alice would do in this situation.

My mouth pushed to her own and the sheep's eyes grew wide from the sensation, then she closed them as I felt her will splinter. She tangled her fingers into my hair and pushed her smaller body closer, returning the kiss with a fierceness I had only felt a few times in my existence. Her small tongue demanded entry to my mouth and I gave it, my own meeting it as we deepened our kiss.

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