What to say, what to say... Well, it's another oneshot! Mediaeval-ish this time. And possibly the smuttiest thing I've put on the site, yet. Jury's still out on that one. Anyway, I might change some things later, and I hate the ending, but there ya go. Hope you enjoy it!


The Other Side of Hate

"Presenting His Highness, Prince Sheva di Alvenia."

Cue fanfare and all that bloody stupidity. Welcome to my castle, you bastard.

My narrowed eyes watch as the herald is replaced with a brightly coloured group, their flowing clothes swirling around them like the broken wings of butterflies. Beautiful, I suppose is the only word to describe them. Beautiful like songbirds, jewels, and poisonous flowers. A beauty that leaves a foul taste in my mouth.

I hear small gasps around me as the focus of the group is revealed, tall and slender, skin the colour of almonds, and long, dark, silky hair tied back in a thick braid. He makes everyone around him look dull and lifeless—wilted flowers next to the freshly bloomed rose.

Of course, this is not what I care about; I'm too busy glaring at my oldest enemy, lip curled in derision. Stunning amber eyes tell me he feels the same as he drifts forward like a painted feather, feet seeming to never touch the cold marble floor.

"Sheva," I greet, nodding my head curtly.

A biting smile curls his full lips as he returns my nod, albeit more gracefully.

"Cyril. Wonderful to see you again."

Balderdash.

"You, as well."

The hall seems colder now. If looks could kill, we'd both be dead, I'm sure. My eyes flick to his entourage, lip curling subtly.

"Did you see fit to bring the entire staff of your palace?" I ask, mockingly.

Honey eyes narrow the slightest.

"I only brought the amount I deemed necessary."

"Well, I'm afraid they cannot stay. As you can see, this castle is rather small, and my own staff is more than enough for your needs."

Sheva stiffens, tone becoming icier. "You cannot possibly expect me to rely only on your people."

A careless shrug coupled with a razor-sharp grin.

"Of course I do. After all, while you are here, my home is your home…and my servants are your servants." My voice lowers slightly as I lean forward. "Unless you don't trust my people to take care of you?"

Laying traps is a fun game among royalty.

His eyes glint with annoyance. He can't agree with my question; not in the midst of delicate negotiations between our kingdoms. I have him in a corner.

A tight smile is sent my way, betrayed by the fire in his gaze.

"I have every faith in their abilities."

My grin widens. "Wonderful. Then I'll provide transportation for your servants and have you shown to your room."

He nods stiffly, hands subtly clenched into fists. He'll lose his temper later, I'm sure.

Within minutes I have everything arranged, and a servant is leading an unhappy prince to his bedchambers. Unfortunately, due to the small size of the minor castle, his rooms happen to be in the same wing as mine. I was not lying about the lack of room for his servants, but I rather relish the idea of inconveniencing him.

"Is there anything your Highness requires?"

My emerald eyes shift from my enemy's back to rest on the servant before me. I quickly shake my head, flicking a hand.

"Ensure that the Alvenia servants are provided transportation to my father's castle and the prince is taken care of."

Not that I give a damn about his wellbeing.

The woman nods, bobbing a curtsey, and swiftly leaves the front hall. Suddenly finding myself alone, I spin on my heel and head for the training grounds. Formality does not last long when I am in charge, and I see no point in putting excessive effort toward an unwelcome guest. If I am lucky, I will not see him often for the indefinite amount of time he is staying in this castle. I can only hope the negotiations over the trade routes between our countries goes swiftly; of course, my father has a habit of drawing out political matters, and I doubt Sheva's is any better.

I have a terrible feeling we'll be trapped together until at least December.

A sigh pours from my mouth as I finally reach the training grounds outside, itching to relieve my tension. For centuries our two countries have been at odds, never quite to the point of the war, but very close. Despite the animosity between us, the royal families were still forced to interact during various balls and events in surrounding countries, which is how I came to know Sheva so well. However, recently our fathers decided the feud was rather antique and that it was time to become allies through trade routes. During negotiations they thought it would be a good idea for their sons to become familiar with one another, hence my isolation in our most remote castle with the man I despise.

Needless to say, I am less than thrilled with this arrangement.

Slipping off my plain shirt and dropping it on the bench beside me, I grab my archery equipment from the armoury and move across the yard to the archery range. A warm breeze tousles my sandy hair as I string my bow and sling my quiver across my back, long fingers sliding out an arrow. The first arrow hits the target in the centre, the second right next to it. Already, the tension is sliding away from me and I feel a deal happier.

As long Sheva stays away from the training yard, I think I'll be able to survive his visit.

.=_=.

Restless feet take me through the grounds, dirt crunching beneath my boots. A few days have passed, and no sign of Sheva. We each take our meals separately, hiding away in our rooms or opposite ends of the castle. The servants know to not ask if we will be using the dining room.

A few days of pretend solitude, but agitation still drums through me. I may not see the other prince, but just the knowledge that he's there infuriates me. He's a taint on my pleasant life.

Singing.

I freeze, confused. Singing? How can there be singing? A servant? But, no, they are all inside. Not a bird; birds are not equipped with human voices.

Then who?

Slipping through the garden gate, I find myself in a paradise of flowers and statues. Empty eyes gaze at me as I stride down the paths, following the ever louder voice. Sweet as honey, it pulls at me, until I believe it belongs to a lost nymph, longing for home.

Slipping around a flowered tree, I spot a shape nestled beneath an old willow, its leaves dangling into the water of the neighbouring pond. It casts the singer into obscurity, forcing me to move closer. Curiosity bordering on clawing desperation makes it necessary to identify the owner of such a beautiful voice.

A sudden, almost deafening crack abruptly kills the song, leaving a tense silence over us. I instantly feel the loss of the sweet music, my soul begging for more. Now I have to know who it is.

I take the few steps forward, moving aside the tangled strings of leaves, my bright eyes falling on the singer.

I freeze.

Shocked eyes stare back at me, then narrow into cutting slits.

"What are you doing here?" hisses the siren in disguise.

Forcing myself past the surprise, I give him a sneer of equal disgust.

"This is my garden, need I remind you. I can go where I like."

Eyes hardened like the stones they so much resemble, full mouth pulled thin.

"Fine. Then I will find peace somewhere else."

He rises with a fluid grace, amethyst robes hugging his slender form in delicate folds, grazing his bare feet. As he moves to leave the shaded sanctuary of the willow, a stab of disappointment shoots through me. I blink in confusion. Disappointment? No, that can't be right.

However, before I realise what I'm doing, I've stepped forward, calloused fingers snatching the silky sleeve of Sheva's garment.

"Wait."

He looks at me in surprise, eyebrows drawn down.

"Let go of me."

Venom spat at me through biting words.

My hand falls away sharply, as though burnt, and he quickly disappears into the garden, leaving me feeling strangely empty.

.=_=.

Avoiding Sheva is surprisingly easy, despite the small size of the castle. While I spend the majority of my time outside, he is always indoors, hidden away doing gods' know what. Not that I much care.

I manage to go nearly an entire week without seeing him since that incident in the garden. Sometimes I find myself straining to hear a string of music, but I spend most of my time trying to forget what happened. My hatred for him helps.

Of course, my luck eventually runs out.

It's raining this afternoon, so I remain indoors, wandering restlessly and trying to find something to keep me occupied. I guess the servants notice, because after my umpteenth time through the kitchen, I am informed that tea has been set out in the dining room. Taking the hint, I retreat to the other room, quickly spotting the small platters of food alongside a large pot of tea. A grumbling stomach informs me that I am indeed hungry. However, there is already someone sitting there, fingers carefully placing fruit on a small plate. His eyes flick up to meet mine when I approach the table, but quickly look down again.

"Why are you here?" flies out of my mouth, harsh and scornful.

Hands lightly break a tart into pieces, movements quick and graceful.

"I was informed there was tea," he replies, pointedly pulling a cup closer. "And I didn't realize you would be here."

Instead of following instinct and leaving, I drop down in the chair across from him, grabbing a banana from the platter.

"Those are imported from my country," Sheva remarks idly, pushing a piece of tart through parted lips.

I rip away the yellow skin with my teeth, sneering at the other prince. His lip curls in disgust at the sight, but he doesn't say anything. Can't take the bait, after all.

Silence takes over for several minutes as we avoid each other's eyes, eating as we wait for the tea to steep. The banana's gone in a few bites, its sweet taste exploding in my mouth. The only good thing I can say about Alvenia is they have excellent fruit.

My eyes flick up when I see the teapot come into my field of vision, the dark liquid pouring from its spout into my cup. I glance up at Sheva, but he's not looking at me, even as he moves back to pour tea into his own cup. I raise an eyebrow, but don't say anything. I refuse to be the first to break the stony silence.

I vaguely notice that he leaves his black while I add a few cubes of sugar and a decent splash of milk to mine. As I'm stirring the liquid, I hear a surprised scoff.

"You can't possibly be planning to drink that."

I raise an eyebrow along with my eyes, bringing the cup to my lips. He looks sickened when I take a prolonged sip, my eyes fixed on his. He tears his gaze away, sipping carefully and his own tea, flinching when he burns his tongue. I smirk to myself. Serves the bastard right. He glares at me, but that expression melts into a small smile when he reaches for a strawberry from the plate. My eyes follow it as he slowly brings it to his mouth. His eyes hold mine as he presses the berry against his lips, parting them to let it inside with excruciating slowness. When his teeth sink into the soft flesh, bright juice dribbles down his chin, staining his skin. I have the sudden urge to reach over and—no.

His eyes are boring into mine.

A pink tongue slips out, catching a small amount of juice, sending a jolt through me.

Realizing I'm staring, I tear my gaze away from his, cheeks burning. What's wrong with me?

"Problem, Cyril?" he asks, innocently, eyes wide and sparkling.

"No," I growl, snatching a cake from the plate and viciously tearing into it.

Smile widening, Sheva brings up a finger to carefully wipe away the juice from his chin, dragging it up until it reaches his mouth, where it follows the same path as the strawberry. I fight not to watch as he sucks on it, eyes half-lidded and dark, scorching amber through a fan of lashes. I bring the tea to my mouth again, and drain the rest, instantly reaching for the teapot. However, a hand is already there, easily lifting the heavy object. My face falls into a frown as my green eyes reluctantly find his.

"I was trying to pour myself some more tea," I inform him through gritted teeth.

"I know," he replies, standing up and leaning across the table, free hand braced against the smooth wood.

He manages to lean rather close, robe gaping open to reveal a smooth chest, and thick braid sliding over his shoulder to dangle next to my hand. I don't blink as the hot liquid fills my cup, the steam curling into the air. He sets aside the pot, but still doesn't move back. Instead, he scoops up the sugar, dropping the cubes into the tea, followed by the milk. Still I don't blink, watching as he stirs the drink and places the spoon back on its saucer. With a smirk, he returns to his chair, turquoise robes settling around his long limbs.

I blink.

Still that twisted smile remains on his face.

I don't touch the cup, chewing on the inside of my lip. Suspicion keeps me alive.

"It's not poisoned," he murmurs, reaching for another tart.

"I'm supposed to trust your word?" I bite back, eyes narrowed.

"Are you accusing me of attempted assassination?" Smug, icy tone.

My back stiffens as I realize the trap. By not drinking it, I accuse the other prince of trying to kill me…but if I do drink it…I risk him actually killing me.

Shit.

Sheva's eyes remain on my face, level and cool. This is a test I'd rather not fail.

Finally, my hand slides across the table to grasp the possibly poisonous drink, slowly lifting it to my lips. With a last steadying breath, the hot liquid slips past my tongue and sears down my throat.

Sheva's grin widens.

The clock ticks.

My heart pounds.

Tick, tock…

Tick, tock…

Nothing.

Tick, tock…

Tick, tock…

Eyes narrow.

The other prince placidly sips at his own tea, calmly watching, smug satisfaction fixed on his delicate features.

"You should trust me more," he remarks, raising an eyebrow.

I grit my teeth, lips curled back in a silent snarl. His subtle bid for control. I played right into his hands.

The chair skids backwards across the floor as I abruptly stand, tea spilling across the table. I feel those honey eyes piercing into me as I storm out of the dining room, but refuse to look back. I will not let some feminine prince get the upper-hand.

.=_=.

Avoidance becomes slightly more difficult in the next week. It seems that no matter where I go, Sheva is there, painting, sketching, singing, or playing some instrument or other. The garden has become a main haunt of his, indicating that he's recovered from our little run-in the other day. Apparently the tea incident has made him quite confident, for he no longer hides away from me, and he's constantly wearing a smirk.

I think I hate him even more.

The only place he doesn't go near is the training grounds. I doubt he knows how to use any sort of weapon, though, so I am not surprised by this.

Needless to say, this is where I spend most of my time.

My shirt lies crumpled to the side while I spar against an invisible partner. Daggers slice through the air, punctuated by sharp spins, ducks, and lunges. My feet kick up dirt with every movement, while sweat stains my skin. The heat's getting to me.

"Your left arm is too slow."

I skid to a halt, spinning to face the speaker. Sheva leans against the wall, navy robes clinging to him and showing more skin than usual. A sneer overrides my surprise.

"What the hell are you doing here? You realise these are the training grounds, don't you?"

He shrugs slender shoulders, tilting his head.

"Maybe I felt like training."

I snort, pushing the hair out of my face.

"You?"

He pushes away from the wall, striding over to me.

"You don't think I can fight?"

My lip curls.

"You'd probably be too afraid to hurt your pretty little face."

His eyes flash dangerously.

"I am the best fighter in my kingdom."

I scoff. "All you do is make music and paint your little pictures. You're no better than a woman."

His eyes narrow into slits, and he growls, "Let's duel, then, shall we?"

"You can't win against me," I reply, dismissively.

"You're afraid."

Offence stabs through me.

"I am not!"

"Then accept my challenge," he says, leaning closer.

I step back, glaring. "Fine. What weapons?"

He shrugs, gesturing idly to my daggers. "Those are fine."

"There's an extra pair in the armoury," slips through clenched teeth.

He nods, ironic smile on his face as he turns to the small room. Moments later, he returns, shining knives in hand. He grins, tilting his head.

"Shall we begin?"

Instead of replying, I slide into the beginning stance, watching as Sheva does that same. He's still wearing the robe.

Before I can even signal the start of the match, the other prince flies at me, daggers a mere glimmer. I jump backward, caught off-guard, but quickly regain my balance and return his attack. A sharp clang rents the air as our weapons connect. He springs back, moving straight into his next attack. I hardly have time to react, barely managing to fall into roll before a blade cuts through the spot I was a second ago. However, he follows, pouncing on me so my back hits the ground. My dagger catches his before he stabs me, and I throw him off, jumping to my feet. My breath is harsh, my heart pounding. My exhaustion from practising is catching up with me.

He's far better than I thought.

Minutes slide by as we continue fighting, becoming faster and deadlier. While Sheva remains light on his feet, each movement quick and precise, I'm feeling heavier and more sluggish. I desperately regret agreeing to this. His obvious skill belies his supposed fragility.

Sheva can sense the change, his attacks becoming almost taunting. Finally, I see an opening. Steadying myself, I brace myself…

Only to let out a cry as pain sears through my left thigh.

My leg collapses from under me and I fall to the dirt, hands grasping the wound. Blood slips through my fingers, and I look up to see Sheva standing above me, crimson dripping from his blades. He smiles, bending at the waist.

"Looks like I won," he purrs, eyes glinting.

I snarl in a mixture of pain and wounded pride, hands pressing harder to slow the blood. His face takes on an expression of feigned concern.

"You should take care of that. Wouldn't want to die of blood loss, now, would you?"

The loathing in my eyes says everything I need, and he laughs, dropping his knives next to me.

"Like I said before, you should trust me more. Then maybe you wouldn't get hurt."

I'm too focussed on my leg to notice his departure.

.=_=.

Hours after my fight with Sheva, I carefully lie down on my bed, stretching my bandaged leg out with a wince. My thigh is throbbing painfully, and I grit my teeth, my eyes sliding shut. That bastard must have cut deeper than I thought.

A haphazard bandage is around the wound, but it was the best I could do at the time. After the match, I returned to my quarters for a bath, limping painfully the entire way. I didn't see Sheva again, which bothered me not in the least.

I sigh, dropping my arm across my eyes, shifting slightly to get more comfortable. Since I can't really move around right now, I might as well sleep. I have no appetite right now.

It doesn't take long to start drifting off, since that fight wore me out. I'm distantly aware of the door opening and closing, and the lock clicking, but I don't pay attention since I'm nearly asleep and it's probably just a servant.

Light footsteps pad across the floor, coming closer, and I dimly wonder who it is. The bed dips suddenly, but before I can fully wake up, my wrists have been grabbed and pinned above my head, and there's a body straddling my waist. My eyes finally fly open and focus on the face above mine, and I gasp.

Sheva?!

"What the hell are you doing here?!" I demand hoarsely, brain struggling to process the situation. He's wearing a different robe.

A smirk adorns his full lips, made evil by his narrowed eyes.

"I thought I should see how you were doing. That cut looked rather nasty." The smirk deepens.

I sneer, lips curling. "Bastard." My eyes narrow at our position. "Get off me."

Amber eyes glimmer, while a simple reply is given: "No."

I stare at him, disbelieving. "What do you mean, 'no'?"

"Exactly what it sounds like," he purrs, a hand sliding away from my locked wrists to pull his raven braid over his shoulder. It curls against my chest, and my eyes strain to watch as he unravels the surprisingly long rope from the end, releasing the silky hair from its constant restraint. My confusion mounts as he trails the rope up towards my hands, which are now pinned to the headboard.

"What are you doing?!" I demand, belatedly beginning to struggle.

He expels no effort deftly wrapping the rope around my wrists and the headboard, effectively restraining me. No matter how I pull, I cannot loosen the knots.

Sheva sits back, gazing at me with satisfaction.

"Not too tight, I hope."

I yank at the rope, heart pounding. "What the hell is wrong with you?! Untie me at once!"

He ignores me, slender fingers moving to slowly undo the buttons of my shirts, baring my chest. My eyes widen in alarm, mouth gaping open.

"What are you doing?!"

The last of the buttons is undone, and his warm hands push aside the fabric before sliding up my sides. Amber eyes bore into mine, amused and dark.

"You're rather slow, aren't you?"

Finished with the shirt, his restless fingers move to my loose pants, quickly releasing the knots. I try to kick, but pain explodes in my leg, making me cry out.

"You probably shouldn't do that," remarks Sheva, sliding down my legs and dragging the pants along with him.

"It's your fault," I growl through clenched teeth.

Fabric hits the floor and goosebumps cover my bared flesh. A hand glides down to the bandage, pressing against it.

"You provoked me."

My breath hisses out between my teeth and I flinch away from his hand.

"Don't touch that!"

"You did a terrible job of bandaging your cut," he remarks, ignoring me and yanking at the fabric until it unravels.

The bandage tears away the newly formed scab, making the wound bleed all over again. I wince, wishing my hands were free to punch him. I don't even care that I'm naked now, I just want him off!

A sharp, surprised scream rips from my throat as my thigh suddenly erupts in blinding pain. The scream ends in hoarse panting and whimpers.

"Hurts, doesn't it?"

I look down through watering eyes, horrified to see he's plunged his fingers into the bloody wound. I try to say something, yell at him, anything, but the pain's too great for words to form. Instead I lay gasping, mind blank and numb.

"Guess the knives went deeper than I thought," Sheva remarks, slipping his fingers from the crimson gash.

Panting, I watch in horror as he raises the bloody digits to his mouth, sliding them inside, and slowly, seductively sucking on them. I gape, eyes wide in horror and something I'd rather not identify.

His amber gaze never leaves my face, even when his fingers leave his mouth and he bends down to carefully and slowly lick at the aching gash. A surprised gasp escapes me, and I have to bite my lip to keep from making anymore sounds. I don't know what the hell he's doing, and I can't seem to control myself long enough to ask.

When he pulls back, his lips are stained crimson, and his tongue flicks out to clean them tauntingly, a morbid mirror of the strawberry.

"You taste surprisingly good," he murmurs, eyes dark.

Trying to suppress my less-than-desired reactions to him, I squeeze my eyes shut, clenching my teeth.

"You're sick," I hiss, forcing myself to ignore what's going on below my waist.

"You're enjoying it," he purrs, hand curling around the part of me that definitely isn't paying heed to my attempts at denial. "So what does that make you?"

I groan, back arching slightly. "Sh-shut up." A few shallow breaths, then, "What are you trying to accomplish?"

The hand slides around my hip, gliding down the small of my back until a finger slips somewhere that makes me gasp.

"This," he replies, other hand gripping my hip possessively.

I hiss, squinting at him with difficulty.

"I…am not a…woman," I growl, body twitching with each movement of his hands.

Cat eyes stare into mine, a swirl of emotions, lips curled. "In my country, catamites fill just as many harems as concubines." He bends over me, lips touching my ear. "And you would make a wonderful catamite."

My words come out in a furious snarl.

"I'm a prince, not a bloody sex slave."

Sheva pulls back, grinning.

"We'll see about that, won't we?"

A deft flick of the wrist causes his robe to become undone and slide from his shoulders, pooling around his waist in a cloud of vermillion. His chest is smooth, muscles moving under the skin. He's stronger than he looks, I know.

A slender hand reaches into some unseen pocket, pulling out a delicate glass vial. The stopper is pulled, and I watch as oil spills over his fingers, shining in the soft candlelight. The vial disappears just as easily as it was brought forth, and Sheva's eyes return to mine. He doesn't say anything, but his next actions tell me everything I need to know. My uninjured leg is grabbed and bent, my hip lifting off the bed as he forces the limb out to the side, leaving me open to his probing finger. The oil makes things easier, but Sheva isn't taking it slowly. Soon another finger joins the first, twisting and bending, and making me force back whimpers and cries. Still no words are exchanged, although at this point none are needed.

The sounds I'm trying to hold back finally escape in a scream when the fingers are replaced. He isn't gentle, not letting me adjust. I'm filled with pain, sharp and strange, but even that soon turns to something else. A moan slices through my agonized sounds, my eyes widening in shock. Suddenly, I'm trying to press closer, anything to make that feeling stronger. Sheva senses the shift in me and obliges, sending me into a writhing mass of whimpers, moans, and broken sentences.

My mind is a mania of thoughts and feelings, screaming questions. Why is he doing this, why am I enjoying it, what the hell is going on? Every part of me is on fire, begging to be touched and bitten, longing for those soft lips. Our bodies rock together, rough and wonderful, our passion built from lifelong enmity. I don't care that it's him, I just want more.

Finally, my muscles tighten, and I nearly scream again as the orgasm pounds through me, catching Sheva on the way and dragging him over the edge with me. When I finally come mostly to my senses, the other man's slouched over me, panting, eyes glowing in satisfaction. It's only now that I realize what has happened. My mouth gapes open in horror, and I find myself at a loss for words.

Sheva finally moves back, making me hiss as he pulls out of me. The robe finds its way around his lithe body once more, disguising any signs of his previous activity save for a slight sheen to his skin, and the glowing cheeks and eyes. I can only stare up at him, fighting to catch my breath and senses, as he leans over, satisfaction radiating from him.

"You wanted to know what I hoped to accomplish?" he whispers, teeth bared in a wolfish grin. My pulse quickens. "I have just proven that you are no better than a lowly slave, and I—" His grin deepens, voice like venomous honey. "—am your master."

The words bite into me like poisoned knives, and I can do no more than stare, mouth open. Giving a short, yet bitter laugh, he reaches above me and tugs on the rope before turning on his heel and slipping through the door, so quickly my mind cannot process. Here I am, lying naked, filthy, and humiliated after having been taken by my most despised enemy.

My eyes squeeze shut against the angry tears forming, while my body releases a frustrated, mangled scream.

I hate him so fucking much.

.=_=.

Things are much worse than before. For the next week, I barely leave my room, not wanting to see any sign of the other prince. He's done so much to me since getting here, I can't stand the thought of seeing him.

What began as simple dislike has grown to some twisted struggle for dominance and control. I don't know why, but Sheva seems determined to make me his. No matter how much I try to forget that night, I simply can't. Every time I close my eyes, I see him above me, lips parted, eyes hooded, cheeks flushed as he—

No. I refuse to think about this.

I refuse to think about how much I liked it.

I refuse to think about how much I want it to happen again.

With a frustrated growl, I let my head fall back against the back of the chair, mind desperately grasping for the shred of hate for the Almenian prince. He's everything I despise. He's nothing like me. Hell, the bastard attacked me. He humiliated me.

So why can I not stop thinking about him?

Irritated, I rise to my feet, only slightly favouring my left leg as I move over to the window. Starlight casts a gentle glow across the floor as my green eyes gaze across the gardens below. I spot a figure moving through the paths, barely visible in the dark.

But I know who it is.

The curtain falls back into place as I slump against the wall.

I'm losing my control.

And I want it back.

.=_=.

"I want a rematch."

Sheva looks up abruptly from his painting, expression startled. His cool mask slips back into place, however, and he raises a sardonic eyebrow.

"Oh?"

"Now."

I don't wait for a reply before turning to stride over to the training grounds. My left thigh still twinges, but it's not enough to keep me from fighting.

This time, I am going to control him.

Footsteps behind me inform me that he is following, falling easily into my plan. This time, we are using swords. Let's see how well he does with that.

Once again, he wears an ornate robe, not seeming concerned about possible damage. His expression remains guarded when he eyes the weapon handed to him, and I smile to myself. I know I'm going to win this time.

The fight begins as a mimic as the other, except my movements are as quick as his, despite my healing wound. I notice, however, that he is not as agile today, and I quickly have him on the defensive. The fight becomes more and more one-sided as Sheva quickly loses his stance, expression becoming increasingly strained as he tries desperately to find an opening.

It's a futile effort.

A single quick flick, and the sword flies out of his hand, landing in the dirt. My blade is against his throat, and his wide eyes are on mine, chest rising and falling with his quick breaths. My lips twist into a smug grin as I step forward, forcing him back until he's pressed against the wall.

"Are you planning to kill me?" he whispers, expression carefully neutral.

"Of course not," I reply, grin taking on a dark edge. "I'm just regaining control."

He blinks, confused. "What?"

My eyes narrow. "Take off your clothes."

Honey eyes are round and shocked, boring into mine.

"Wh-what?" he repeats, words a surprised stutter.

"Take them off," I growl, pressing the blade closer to his throat.

He flinches, hands flying to his sash. My gaze stays focussed on his face as the fabric falls to the ground, soon followed by the mauve robes, sliding down his body to pool at his feet. He stares at me defiantly, mouth thin.

"You're regaining control by having me strip?" he hisses, tone mocking.

My grin darkens even further. "Not quite. Turn around."

His mask slips, revealing a shocked face. But there's something else in his eyes, urging me on. Slowly, so slowly, he turns to face the wall, careful of the sword still pressed to his throat.

"What are you doing?" he asks, although he already knows the answer.

"I'm doing exactly what you did to me," I murmur, lips brushing his ear.

A shiver runs down his spine, before he replies, "You loved it."

My teeth clench as I refuse to reply. There's no truth to his words. None.

I copy his gestures from that night, and soon he's bracing himself against the wall against my movements, moans and harsh sounds pouring from his mouth. The sword lies abandoned next to us, my arm wrapped around his bare torso. All of my frustration and anger is pounded into him, but he doesn't care. And soon, too soon, it's over, and I'm stepping back, greedy eyes taking in the sight before me. Legs weakened, Sheva's on his knees, hands still splayed against the stone in front of him, flushed face turned to me. A small smile adorns his lips, eyes hazy.

Smugness shooting through me, I bend forward, grasping his braid.

"Who's the master now?"

I can feel his eyes on me as I leave.

I don't care what's happened between us; I am once again the one in control.

.=_=.

A thick, crackling tension has fallen over the castle. Sheva and I have gone back to avoiding each other, but it feels different than before. I thought I had fixed things, returned everything to the way they'd been when he first arrived. But I was wrong. I've just made things worse.

I shuffle down the hall, limping slightly, but not slowing down. I don't know where I'm going. Not the training yard. Every time I go there, my mind instantly goes back to what happened. I can feel him beneath me, hot and moaning, our skin sliding against each other…

I think I may have made a mistake.

Sheva's still the one in control, no matter what I do. But why?

I rub my face, grimacing. I feel like I'm losing my mind. I just can't stop thinkingabout him.

God, what's wrong with me?!

I shouldn't care about this. I shouldn't. I hate him. He hates me. That's the only reason for what we did to each other.

Then why is he the only thing I can think about?

And why does my heart race every time my mind turns to him?

I feel sick.

.=_=.

Time seems to be passing more slowly. Rain comes and goes. The sun shines down on the garden. The servants go about their business.

But I think I might be losing my mind.

Sheva.

The name sets my heart pounding.

The mere thought of him fills me with desire.

I must be losing my mind.

It's been several days since I last saw him. But I sometimes hear music, trying to lure me to the siren prince. These times are the worse. These are when I most want to see him.

I'm going crazy.

.=_=.

My boots clack against the floor as I storm through the castle, face set in a scowl. Anger strums through me, setting me on edge. I've had enough. Something inside of me has snapped and my mind is buzzing. My only clear thought is finding Sheva.

Now.

Doors flies open under my harsh hand, revealing room after empty room. He's not in his bedroom. He's not in the garden. He's not anywhere I expect him to be.

Finally, there's only one room left.

I stop outside the door, grasping the doorknob. I can hear singing inside, and a hard smile curls my lips.

Found him.

The door swings open, crashing against the wall. The song cuts off abruptly, and Sheva stares at me with wide eyes. I stride across the room, slamming the door behind me, stormy gaze fixed on him. He's half-risen from his chair, gaping in shock.

"Wha—?"

My mouth smashes against his, cutting him off. I wrap my hand around his braid, tugging his head back to completely dominate him, free arm wrapping tightly around his waist. He gives a small sound of pain, but his hands grip my shirt, anyway, yanking me closer.

I finally pull away, panting, eyes locked with his. We stare at each other, flushed and tense, waiting.

The anger fades as I gaze at him, heart pounding.

"I don't hate you," I whisper, fingers tight around his braid.

Blood dribbles down his chin from a cut on his lip. His warm honey eyes are fixed to mine.

"I know."

I gulp, shaking slightly.

"I don't think I've ever hated you."

A small smile tilts his lips, his arms sliding to wrap around my waist.

"I know."

I rest my forehead against his, eyes sliding closed.

"Do you hate me?"

"No."

Green eyes slide open again to peer into his.

"Do you love me?"

His lips brush against mine, pressing to the corner, before sliding to my ear.

"Yes," he whispers.

The tension leaves my body, thoughts finally calming as a smile tugs at my mouth.

"That's good. Because I think I love you, too."

A soft laugh leaves him, and he presses his hips against mine, sliding a hand behind my head.

"Kiss me," he murmurs, cool mask gone from his beautiful face.

No longer caring about control, I eagerly oblige.