Author's Note: An old version of an old scene. The names aren't even the same anymore lol.


Nicholial's hand tightened around Assisium's. Nervousness stalked him more securely than it had Assisium since they'd woken up when the Earth's dawn touched the rim of their domain's outskirts. Early mornings this stringent usually stressed Assisium the most, but anticipation had reversed their roles.

Quisty tried to ignore Nicholial's half-anxiety the best he could. Keeping his eyes down, fixed on the top of the head he'd brought with him, aided that endeavor.

"Quistastin." Assisium bowed her head.

Quisty stepped forward. The boy in front of him moved to accommodate the shift; he seemed to bow in return to Assisium. Fair, limp tresses slid over his face and shoulders, served as a veil for his vacant countenance.

"Is . . ." Assisium tried to reach for the boy but Nicholial's hand tightened once more around hers. "Is he okay?"

"He's fine." Quisty insinuated a lithe hand under the boy's chin and lifted his head a fraction. "He seems in a bit of a stupor right now. Nothing you have to worry about."

Assisium whispered something discrete to Nicholial through their latent liaison, stronger through their tension, and waited for him to drop her hand. She knelt in front of the boy.

Nicholial asked, "What's his name?"

"He doesn't have a name yet." Quisty kept his protective hold around the listless form before him. "He's yours entirely—a blank slate you have to give an identity."

"It's almost like he really is ours." Assisium marveled at the boy.

"That was the point, yes."

"Are you sure he's okay?" Nicholial's voice tilted up to meet his question. "Case and the others said he wasn't sick or anything, his magic was just—" He made a gesture with his hand.

"No." Quisty lifted his head now that Nicholial's anxious ardor had subsided. "That was Rhomy Keagan's downfall."

"Rhomy Keagan . . . then, this is Rhomy Keagan?" Assisium looked up and, even though she was directly in front of him, still couldn't see Quisty's face clearly. "This is him, right? Eijeru and Florien said—"

Quisty waved his hand. "This is Rhomy Keagan's body but he's your son. This doesn't concern them."

Assisium took the boy's face between her hands, propped it up to give him some semblance of life. His eyes were closed. "And now? What do we do with him?"

Nicholial kept his distance.

Quisty let his fingers fall one by one from the boy's shoulders. "You raise him as your own. You will create him." The dominion's voice adopted a sort of lilt, a higher-pitched firmness, as if to attempt lightening the conversation mood. He thought Case might appreciate the effort. "Start by giving him a name."

Nicholial choked on the bad mirth. He'd known they'd be taking the kid in but the enormity of it hadn't hit him until he saw the vessel he was expected to accept as his son. He supposed he would have to take this all in stride now. "Lycoriast."

"Hm?" Assisium didn't look away from the boy's face.

"Didn't you want a boy named Lycoriast, Assisium?"

Quisty mustered a small, unnoticeable smile. "Your answer, Aravelo? Yes or no?"

"Yes," Assisium said without thinking. She eased the boy into her arms and hugged him around the waist. "Yeah, we're still on board. Nicholial, I'm so happy."

"Thank you for your cooperation." Quisty touched the back of the boy's head with the very tip of one finger. "Wake up, Lycoriast Aravelo."

The boy's eyes came open slowly, his head lifting in the same vapid half-minute, until he stood, still kept close to Assisium's form by binding arms, staring Nicholial down with the purest of gazes.

Nicholial swallowed his dissent as he bowed to Quisty, eyes still pinned by the boy's, and saved it for Assisium once the dominion Quisty had gone. "Uh, love?"

"Yes?" Assisium finally pulled back. She grasped the boy's shoulders and touched his chin again, examining his face, tucking his hair back to get a better view when it obscured her inspection of him. "Gah, he's gorgeous, Lial."

In response to her warmth, the boy attempted offering some of his own.

"He's smiling! Lial, look, he's smiling at me!" She pushed all of his hair out of the way, bound it with her fingers at the back of his skull. "Do you know who you are?"

He nodded.

"Can you say your name? Do you remember?"

He nodded.

"Go on."

"Lycoriast Aravelo."

Assisium grinned and hugged the boy's shoulders. "I love you," she whispered into his gilded platinum hair.

Sun-lit eyes, washed in swaths of vermeil lambency, regarded Nicholial's distance with marginal stolidity. Then he blinked and smiled and said, "I love you."