Fandom: Trinity Blood
Title: Reward For Valor
Theme: Alpha #8, “Now, my love...”
Pairing: Seth + Ion
Disclaimer: If I owned Trinity Blood, I wouldn't have to write fanfiction about it.
Summary: In which Seth rewards Ion for his hard work, and it makes Ion's brain break.
Reward For Valor
It had been nearly a week since his return from the Outer and all that had followed. Esther and the priest had left yesterday, returning to the Vatican. Once they were gone, his grandmother had informed him that he had an audience with the Empress.
He'd reported to the Diwan room as he'd been told. All the members' seats were empty, which he hadn't quite been expecting. Then again, it made sense. Why should Her Majesty call a meeting of the Diwan for his sake? Still, it was unnerving. His footsteps sounded very, very loud, echoing through the chamber as they did.
And before he could compose himself properly, there she was, settling herself on her throne. No curtains or veils between them, and no way to tell if it was a gesture of trust, or if it was simply that she thought such measures unnecessary since he'd already seen her true face before.
Reflexively, he went down on one knee before her, eyes on the ground and hand over his heart. “Your Majesty.”
“Rise, Earl of Memphis, and come forward.” Her tone was calm, with almost no inflection. Impossible to tell what her intentions were from that. He dared to look up at her, and found the expression on her face to be the same. Serene, calm, and utterly unreadable.
He did as she asked, coming to stand a mere foot away from her. It was difficult to reconcile, even now, that the woman before him -his Empress, his Great Mother- and Seth -the impish young girl who'd managed to push all his buttons seemingly without even trying- were one and the same. She spoke, and he hastily pushed those thoughts out of his mind.
“It occurs to me that I never properly thanked you for all your hard work, Earl.” She smiled, and he thought he detected a trace of impishness (shades of Seth) in the expression. Not for the first time, he wondered which was Her Majesty's true face.
He was about to protest her words – not that he wanted to appear ungrateful, but she had already thanked him (him and the Duchess of Kiev both) in front of the Diwan a week ago. And having his good name restored and all charges against him cleared had been reward enough, really. But she was suddenly right in front of him, so close he could've counted her eyelashes if he chose.
He had enough time to observe that he was a few inches taller than her, that her eyes were actually a lighter green than they appeared from a distance, and then she was kissing him.
Kissing him. Kissing. The Empress was kissing him. It took a full minute for his brain to process that, and by then she'd already pulled away. It took another minute for him to regain his faculties enough to speak.
“E-Empress?!” He felt his face heat up, and imagined he must be blushing madly. It would've been embarrassing in front of anyone else. It was especially embarrassing here. She only smiled.
“I believe it's customary for the fair maiden to reward her champion's valor with a kiss.”
He felt his face heating up even further (something he'd been sure was impossible). “B-but... I... you... we... fair maiden? Champion?”
She smiled, looking for all the world like the cat that just caught the canary – a look he had come to despise from Seth, the tea seller/medical student. “Oh? Were you looking for a bigger reward than that? How greedy, Ion.”
Somehow, her saying his name in that teasing, almost sultry tone was worse than the rest, and he imagined his face must be bright red by this point. “N-no, I – that is – I mean that – it's not-” He realized it was futile to try and form full sentences and closed his mouth.
She laughed, soft and gentle, and threw her arms around his neck. She was so close now he could smell her perfume, something soft and floral and slightly bitter. “You really are too adorable for words, Ion.”
“A-adorable?” At this point, overwhelmed as he was by everything she'd said and done up to now, it was the only objection he could muster up.
“Of course. Cuter than an eight-week-old kitten.” He spluttered a bit, but it was nowhere near as long and sustained as some of his rants against being called cute had been, and when he was finished, she added, “You're allowed to hug me back, you know. I won't bite you.”
Slowly, gingerly, he wrapped his arms around her waist. Even if she said it was alright, this was still – he was her courtier, her subordinate, and this was far from proper. But she had started it!
She was very soft, and warmer than he'd expected her to be. Then again, he'd never really thought about what it might be like to hold the Empress. He'd thought about it -among other things- with Esther, and maybe a bit about Seth, because he was a teenage boy and she was pretty, even if it wasn't in the conventional way. But if he had known she was the Empress, he would never, never have even -
She pulled away just enough to kiss him again, and he tried to stop thinking about it. His head hurt less that way.