Thalia woke up to a half-familiar feeling. She'd thought Colt had stopped now that she knew about him, but she couldn't mistake the feel of his lips against hers or the weight of him, pushing her bed down as he used one hand to hold himself up. While part of her rejoiced that she wasn't hallucinating, the greater bit of her concentrated on moving now that he was pulling away.

"Colt," she said quietly.

She thought she felt him freeze half-over her. Thalia sighed. "There's no point in pretending you're not there. I know you are."

He drew the rest of the way away from her. "I didn't know you were awake."

"I wasn't until the end. We need to talk."

He winced, and went silent for several moments. Then she felt his weight drop down onto the foot of her bed. Thalia sat up herself, drawing her knees to her chest and dropping her chin on top of them, staring at where she guessed Colt was. Not that it mattered. Even if he hadn't been invisible, her room was so dark she'd be lucky to see more than his outline. "We've never talked about this. In the beginning, trying to get my mind around the fact you're real drove any thought of it from my head and since you seemed to have stopped, I never really thought about it."

"I didn't know you'd ever been awake."

"I knew for a couple of months. I thought I was hallucinating."


She shrugged. "I don't really mind now that I know I'm not going crazy. Or I won't, depending on what you tell me."

"It's not something I ever planned on doing or ever consciously made a decision to do. By the time I'd realize it, I'd already be in your room. I…I've been thinking about it over the last few days. Especially since…since your encounter with the violent, blond boy."


"I…I'm not sure. You're the first woman I've spent any amount of time around since Annaliese. Not that I would be doing such a thing to any woman! Well, the first time maybe. I wasn't exactly thinking then."

"What happened?"

He winced again. "It…it will sound bad. I can only offer my sincerest apologies and beg your forgiveness."


She felt him jerk slightly, the bed shifting with his movement. "Several months back, your parents had a party. Your house was filled with people in a way I haven't seen since."

Thalia nodded. "My mom's fortieth birthday party."

"Ah. I hadn't realized. Regardless, there were many people, a veritable feast, and an extensive range of spirits. It'd been so long since I'd had a taste of them, that I waited until everyone had left or gone to sleep, and appropriated one of the half-full bottles of brandy. It was far more potent than I had expected and I'm afraid I overindulged.

Inebriated, I decided to rest. But all of my usual places had been claimed by guests unable to return home. That's when I went to your room, knowing you wouldn't notice if I took the far corner of your room.

But when I got there, you said something in your sleep. I don't know what it was, but it drew my attention to you. I think that was the first moment I truly looked at you. Even sleeping, you are quite fetching, you know."

Thalia felt her cheeks heat up and was grateful the darkness hid them from Colt. She wasn't certain if it was the fact no one ever said things like that to her, or whether it was just the way he said them. Either way, her face was burning.

"I don't know why the thought occurred to me, but I wondered if your lips felt as silken as the flower petals they so resemble. With the brandy still hot in my veins, I decided to investigate. I managed two weeks before I came again. Since then, I've done my best to leave you be, but invariably, I find myself here at least once a week. I will understand if you want me to leave. My behaviour has been ungentlemanly."

She blinked for a moment then smiled. "I don't want you to leave."

His jerking shifted the bed again. A moment later, Thalia felt him lean towards her. "Truly? It's alright if I stay?"

Chuckling, she nodded. "Yes. I like having you around."

A moment later she gasped as Colt pulled her into a tight hug. She struggled, trying to puller her arms off her legs. Feeling her movements, he released her, letting her uncurl herself. But before she could do more than support herself with her arms, his hands were on her face. Tipping her head back, he kissed her again. The rational part of her brain, and a part that she couldn't ever turn off, noted that this was quite different than earlier. The rest of her couldn't do anything but feel, as he kissed her quite thoroughly.

When he finally stopped, her lips felt puffy, an entirely new sensation for her. Thalia shook her head, putting her knees against Colt's chest to keep him where he was. "I…I think we're doing this in the wrong order."

"Wrong order?"

She nodded vigorously, trying to apply logic even as her mind whirled. "I may not have much experience with this kind of female-male interaction, but I'm pretty sure this isn't how it goes."

He was quiet for a moment. "You're quite correct. This is behaviour that should be the exclusive domain of a proper pair or at least a couple who are courting. And since that's the case, I'll just have to court you properly."

Thalia's lips had barely formed the word "what" when Colt leaned forward and kissed her again, this time quickly. Before she could move, she felt his weight leave her bed, followed a moment later by her bedroom door closing with a click.

Several heartbeats went by before she unfroze herself. Thalia glanced around, eyes wide as her mind slowly caught up with things. "What just happened?" she asked the air.