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Lucent The room of Lucent Copper Haze was a shrine of beauty. It was an immense, palatial room, having been expanded quite a bit at requests to Zahara. It could be the room of a king in its sheer expanse, which he never filled enough and always felt cavernous, like one was within a cathedral... and with similar style. All walls painted, all the ceiling as well.

Lucent The clothes and sashes, the badges of seats long gone. The Zenith Seal of the Deliberative on the wall, scattered books all around, books on the Second Age's history and geography, religious texts to many gods, the bible of the Faith Ecliptic. Romances and stranger books besides.

Lucent The paintings, each more beautiful than the last. All of them focusing on that. Human beauty. Faces of smiling men and women, of great heroes bleeding on the battlefield in the peak of heroic effort. Beauty like it has vanished from the world, on men made of stars and flowers that were women. Beauty on landscapes now gone, great oceans with teeth, great canyons of light.

Lucent Busts and statues, those of dancing girls of particular aesthetics, of smiles and tears, amidst pirouettes or dancing with their unseen couples or showing themselves. Clothes for dancing, and musical instruments, harps and citaras and flutes all about. Some he loved, others he just wished to try for one time, although he would rather dance to their music instead.

Lucent Many papers scattered filled with terrible handwriting. And so many clothes. On the immense closets and scattered about the ground, close to the immense bed now an unholy mess.

Lucent He held her close, fingers caressing her hair, his breath coming contented and strong like a lion's. He never appeared strong until then, when he was in repose. Looking at the ceiling, at the elaborate painting of the cosmology of existence above him, and thinking... until he realised the movement over him. "... you are awake."

Varanim "'Course I am," Varanim mumbles. "I don't do sleepovers." But she doesn't move yet.

Lucent "So I have seen." The petting stops. "Pity. You are cute when you are sleeping."

Lucent "Particularly after fainting." He adds, smug.

Varanim "You, on the other hand, aren't being cute at all." She lifts her head to look down at him, smirks a bit, then relaxes again. "Well, maybe a little. But to use one of the old tired-but-trues, it's not you, it's me. I'll be on my way... any minute now."

Lucent "I failed!" He pouts... then looks into her face, admiring it, the hand on her hair sliding down to her back. He looks into her eyes, watches the way the moonlight plays with her green hair... and finally asks. "What is it with you, then? What are you afraid of...?"

Varanim looks away, frowning a bit. "What is it with you and the questions?" Too tired to fight, she shrugs and answers. "I have lousy dreams, and waking up is usually bad. Plus, I steal blankets like crazy."

Lucent "Ah, yes." She can feel a shiver from him. "The factory was processing fears."

Varanim "What?" Varanim pushes herself up on one arm to look down at him again, frowning.

Lucent brings his hand back, one finger sliding down her chin. "Your mind. It is like a factory. Everything was so... organized. Everything. Even the fears, sliding down so they could not touch the higher proccesses in the sky." He exhales, "If you are afraid of me seeing it... well, I saw that, already."

Varanim "A factory?" Varanim looks thoughtful, then a little troubled. "I don't know what you saw in there," she says slowly, "but I feel pretty safe in assuming it wasn't flattering. I appreciate you not..." She trails off, looking uncertain as to how to end that sentence, and dips her head to kiss him instead.

Lucent follows her lead on the kiss, then takes it. hands sliding low once again. Breaking the kiss, he whispered to her, in words that would not leave that close, warm space between them, "It was very flattering. And beautiful. I saw you with that flower on your hair. I am..." He stops, then, and his head fell down the pillow again. "... it was so confusing, too."

Varanim "I don't believe you," Varanim murmurs, half-laughing, half-serious. "I haven't worn flowers in my hair since--well, a long time ago." Then she smiles, not as sharp-edged as her usual smirk. "And do I ever not confuse you?"

Lucent answers that smirk with... tickling! Tickling her sides and rolling around so he's on top of her, part of the covers falling down from the bed. "Never." He smiles down at her, playful. "Everything I think I know who you are, what you are up to... you just change everything. Every time we talk, I get out thinking I learned nothing at all." Another tickle! "Witch!"

Varanim yelps, swatting ineffectively at the tickling and then trying to scowl up at him without the normal success. "That's because you--ack!--you don't pay attention." She lifts a hand to poke his forehead gently. "You can't see things because you're blinded by your own light."

Lucent lowers himself down to his elbows, watching her over her chest "Maybe... but you have to give me more than vague hints! Piercing Ivory was there with Kelen and Adar, but he looked nothing like you, so there is no way he is your brother... and I still have no idea who Black Mastodon even is. And I tried to find out!"

Varanim Varanim's hand, tracing the side of his face, goes still. "Piercing Ivory is officially not my problem anymore," she says after a moment with a slightly strained attempt at a smirk. "But you saw...?"

Lucent "I saw Varanim the Younger. I told you. She had Marigold on her hair, and she did not like me much... or maybe she did. She was even more confusing than you are, and that is saying something."

Varanim "How do you know she didn't like you?" Varanim tugs at a lock of his hair. "Maybe I can translate for you."

Lucent "She said I had dug them up. Two graves... Adar and Kelen, I think. She seemed angry with it. We went through your house, where they... died?" He stops. "I am digging them up again right now. Sorry. She... she also said that if I was wrong, she would never forgive me. She said I did not know how to read, she was angry I had not figured out about Kelen, Adar, Ivory and Mastodon yet. And that it was all my fault."

Lucent "And she also said..." He stops, and almost... blushes.

Varanim looks away when he mentions the graves, then looks back and opens her mouth to interrupt when he says 'all my fault.' Then she sees the look on his face and pauses, tilting her head. "What?"

Lucent "'Thoughtful AND Clever. You are lucky I'm married.'" He says, with the voice and tenor of someone who spent entirely too many moments contemplating those words again and again.

Varanim laughs, a little awkwardly. "I haven't been married for a long time, either, so you're saying my brain is stuck in the past. That's... disappointing, I suppose." Her attempted smile fades and she turns her face away, kissing his hand that lies by her head. "I don't... I avoid blaming people for things. So whatever she said was all your fault, don't worry about it."

Lucent felt a shiver from the kiss, a good shiver. Caressing her face, brushing his body against hers', sharing warmth. "She guided me foward. But I think it is... beautiful, that some part of you is still like that. She knows of the present, she just..." He stops. One hand comes to his chest, over his heart. "I saw it. My sun going out. I felt what you did then..."

Varanim catches her breath, then looks away again. "I said don't worry about it. I needed to know anyway what happens when that spell... oh, damn it." She closes her eyes with a wince. "Look, I'm no good at this. I never was."

Varanim "Just--" she reaches up her hand without looking, to touch the place over his heart. "Forget about it."

Lucent turns his face to him, pulling himself higher over her and kissing her lips once again. Under her hand, his heart is beating so fast. So fast. The kiss seems to last forever... and when his lips leave hers', she feels something in her hair. "I am not, either."

Varanim reaches one hand up, feels the flower in her hair, and then lifts her other hand--the soulsteel one--to touch his cheek. "I haven't called myself Varanim the Younger since I climbed out of the Labyrinth the first time, and flowers aren't going to make me that girl again. You know that, right?"

Lucent feels the touch of Soulsteel... and he shivers. His eyes close, as if he was about to... cry? Strange shivers, considering he did not mind its touches in the hours before, in all of their other meetings. "... but it still fits you. You look beautiful in it, still..." His eyes open, a little shaken... and his arm slides down, resting over her belly. "You coud be Varanim the First."

Varanim Varanim's eyes fly open and she pushes on his shoulder, rolling him off her as she sits up abruptly. "You're not funny, Lucent."

Lucent rolls to the side, sliding up the bed to the pillows at the head, sitting behind her. "How long are you going to carry on believing your life is over? I... we..." He stopped, looking up at the diagrams on the ceiling again. "You can always start over."

Varanim "I did." Her voice is tightly controlled, and she doesn't look back as she starts to gather her clothes. "This is what it looks like."

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