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all the rituals between you and me

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Rey has messed up exactly three summoning spells in her life.

The first time it happens she is six and starving and acting completely on instinct, barely even aware of her powers yet. All she knows is that sometimes, if she closes her eyes and wishes really hard for something, it will magically appear. (It never works when she wishes for her parents, and after a while she starts thinking maybe it’s her fault, maybe she isn’t wishing hard enough, maybe that’s why they gave her up.)

Young and scared and so hungry her vision is starting to go blurry at the edges, little Rey squeezes her eyes shut and wishes for someone to bring her food. There’s a yelp, and then the awful racket of someone stumbling into boxes of trash, and when she opens her eyes a terrified nineteen-year-old McDonald’s line cook is standing in the middle of the alley she’s taken refuge in for the day. He’s still holding the burger he’d been about to wrap up, and he gives it to her in exchange for a safe return.

The second time she is fourteen, with significantly more knowledge of and control over her powers, and it’s her first time performing an actual summoning spell. The entire coven gathers to watch their youngest draw her first binding circle, and they all wait with bated breath as her magic manifests into a cocoon of shimmering tendrils, slowly coalescing into–

The mailman, instead of the coven’s familiar. Luckily, Amilyn steps in and handles the situation with significantly more grace and expertise than Rey had eight years ago, wiping the man’s memory and sending him off on his merry way with a smile on his face.

The third time Rey messes up a summoning spell, she is twenty-four, one of the most powerful witches of her generation, and finally ready for answers.

She draws her circles – three of them, just in case – and reads the spell a dozen times in her mind beforehand so that she won’t stumble over any of the words. Her energy manifests – it’s taken on a distinctly vine-like appearance over the years – and curls into a thick, blooming pillar of greenery that unfurls to reveal someone who is most decidedly not Maz Kanata.

It is, although Rey doesn’t know it yet, the most significant mistake she will ever make in her entire life.

 


 

Rey blinks, opens her mouth to say something only to find that no words come to mind, and then blinks again.

The unexpected visitor – a man, human-looking though probably not human judging by his (lack of a) reaction – bats at the lingering remnants of her magic and grimaces at a particularly stubborn lily that leaves a smear of orange pollen on his black tunic before disappearing into thin air. He’s tall, almost too tall for her tiny apartment, and the leather cords braided into his hair swing about wildly as he waves away the last of her spell.

Finally, his eyes fall upon her, prompting her to speak. “You’re not Maz.”

“Maz Kanata?” the man asks, his voice low and smooth even as he quirks an eyebrow at her in disdain. “No, I am most definitely not that old… whatever she is.”

Rey bristles at that. Maz might be a little… esoteric, but she’s older than time and she deserves some goddamn respect. “Who are you, then?” she demands, glaring at the intruder as she crosses her arms over her chest.

His eyes flit down to the low neckline of her tank top for all of three seconds before he suddenly snaps his head back up to look at her incredulously. “Are you telling me you accidentally summoned me?”

“So what if I did?” she retorts defensively, giving him a critical once-over. So maybe he’s a higher-level warlock, possibly even a demon, but certainly no one of any real significance in the Underworld. The man could pass for a totally normal human – a quick prod at her circles confirms that there’s no glamour involved – and it would be extremely rare for someone that important to be free of the markings the higher-ups are usually cursed with. “Accidents happen. Now who the hell are you?”

The man’s lips twitch. “What’s so funny?” Rey snaps, making a conscious effort to remain calm as he moves closer to the edge of the innermost circle. Either he’s really stupid for underestimating her power, or he’s confident in the knowledge that no circle can hold him. She really, really hopes it’s the former.

“Nothing,” he shrugs, and her heart begins to pound as he easily smudges her salt circle with the toe of his shoe. Shit, it’s the latter, and this is it, this is how Rey Niima dies: a fucking summoning spell gone wrong. “Just… you asked who the hell I am,” the man says, smirking at her as he steps past the salt circle entirely.

“So what?” Rey distantly hears herself saying because Finn was right, she has no survival instincts whatsoever. A goddamn demon is about to break out of her binding circles and kill her, and she’s still glaring at him.

Breathe, Rey. Think. What would Amilyn do? What would any sane, competent witch do? She has to identify him if she wants even the tiniest shot at surviving this, and it shouldn’t be that hard to narrow it down because he’s moving again, confidently stepping towards the second circle of dried Angelica, and there can’t be more than a dozen demons powerful enough to bypass two circles and avoid the cursed markings of the Underworld–

“So… well, I lied,” he hops over the second circle, that cocky son of a– “I suppose something is funny, because it just so happens that I am the King of Hell.”

And with that, Kylo Ren confidently strides towards her third circle of black tourmaline, each jagged shard painstakingly smeared with a drop of her blood.

Rey watches, catatonic with shock, as he steps forward. She’s really done it this time; who the hell accidentally summons Kylo Ren into their home? The most powerful and stupid witch of her generation, that’s who. And she won’t even get a chance to rub this in anyone’s face, because she’s about to die.

If there’s one thing to be said about Rey’s life, it’s that at least it has been consistently awful. Oh sure, there were bright spots like bumping into Finn after just a week of living on the streets, and being adopted by Amilyn’s coven, and scoring this really nice apartment in the city for a reasonable price, but her life started with one colossal, life-ruining mistake and now it’s going to end with one.

How’s that for poetic symmetry, Finn? she finds herself thinking just as she closes her eyes and braces herself for the worst. It’s not like she’s going down without a fight or anything, she just needs a moment to choke down this all-consuming hysteria building up within her. Just a little mini freak-out, and then she’ll fight to keep her miserable life from Kylo Ren’s clutches.

But she never gets the chance to fight, because one second the King of Hell himself is confidently advancing upon her and the next he’s blown straight off his feet and back to the center of the circles.

What,” Kylo Ren snarls, leaping up to his feet as if he hadn’t just landed on his ass, “is in that circle?”

Like an idiot, Rey actually answers his question instead of getting the hell out of there and calling for help. “Um, black tourmaline? I’m just as surprised as you, truth be told. I mean, everyone always says it’s the most powerful of stones but I really wasn’t expecting–” Goddess, near-death makes her babbly as fuck.

“It’s not the stone,” Kylo Ren cuts her off with a scoff. “I could wear a fucking crown of black tourmaline and still be fine. What did you do with it, witch?”

“First of all,” Rey glares at him. “I have a name. It’s Rey. Stop being a rude asshole.” If Finn were here to witness this, he’d be torn between tears of laughter at her being her usual self and tears of frustration at her total lack of self-preservation.

“Answer the question, Rey.”

“Fine,” she rolls her eyes – more at herself than him, really, because why the fuck is she still talking to him? “I, um, I may have smeared my blood on each and every piece.” It’s stupid for her to sound so sheepish, so ashamed of it, but she still remembers the looks the rest of the coven had given her when they’d stumbled upon her doing so, the cautionary tales about blood magic they’d all taken turns sharing with her.

There’s a reason she doesn’t live with the coven anymore.

But it’s not like the devil himself has any room to judge her for using blood magic, so fuck it. If anything, he seems… impressed, actually. “Well. That’s a surprise,” Kylo Ren murmurs, seemingly to himself. He eyes the shards of tourmaline before his gaze moves back to her, and this time there’s an obvious glint of appreciation in his dark eyes as he studies her anew.

It’s uncomfortable, the way he lingers on every part of her, but not entirely in a bad way. Somewhere, Finn is throwing his hands up in the air and stomping away from her. Zero sense of self-preservation, this one. Zero, I tell you. Maybe even somewhere in the negatives, because what kind of idiot takes the time to note how attractive the devil is?!

Here’s the thing, though: he’s tall, and broad, and the way he looks at her is just…

“In that case… I think the better question would be, who are you, Rey?” he asks, his head tilted to the side in a questioning manner and his voice somehow lower than before. “It’s not every day that a little witch’s blood is enough to keep me bound, let alone send me flying.”

“And landing on your ass, let’s not forget that,” Rey snorts, much to her horror.

Kylo bristles at the reminder. “What did you want with old Maz, anyway?”

Right. Maz. And the spell – the one she’d fucked up like some kind of amateur. “Information,” Rey says curtly, unwilling to give away too much.

“What kind of information?” he asks, a sudden look of intrigue gleaming in his eyes, and Rey knows exactly what’s going on in that head of his. If the devil thinks she’s stupid enough to make a deal with him, he’s in for some major disappointment.

“The kind that’s none of your business,” she snaps, finally moving to consult her grimoire. There has to be something in here about banishing the devil, right? A text to Amilyn would probably prove more helpful, but she’s going to exhaust every other possible avenue before she admits to accidentally summoning Kylo Ren.

Speaking of whom, the idiot is actually moving closer. He confidently strides past her first two circles, but has the good sense to keep a wide berth from the third. “I can give you anything Maz can, and more. You know I can give you everything.” He’s all lowered lashes and challenging smirk and seductive voice, as if any witch would be stupid enough to fall for it. Sure, it probably helps that he’s got a voice made for sin, and his hair looks softer than any demon’s has a right to be, and–

Damn it, Rey, Finn’s voice sighs in her head. You were doing so well.

“Yeah,” Rey scoffs, keeping her side angled towards him as she consults her book. “For a price.”

Undeterred, Kylo shrugs. “Maz would have charged you too,” he points out. “Nothing is free, not in this or any other world.”

Rey looks up momentarily to find him watching her. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather pay whatever ridiculous price Maz comes up with than yours.”

“You don’t even know what I’m asking for,” Kylo huffs, his careful mask slowly cracking at the edges as he grows frustrated with her.

“Let me guess,” Rey quips, rapidly flicking through increasingly irrelevant entries in the book. “My immortal soul? An innocent sacrifice? The blood of a baby?”

“All very tempting,” he says almost approvingly, and it hits her all over again that this is the devil she’s talking to. “But no. I think a kiss would suffice.”

“What, like the kiss of death?”

Kylo laughs, and she can’t resist the urge to look up and watch him do so. He’s grinning at her when she meets his eyes, a lazy thing that looks more like a smirk. “You’re a little dramatic, aren’t you?”

“And you’re a bit of an asshole, aren’t you?” Rey retorts almost instantly. “Coming into my house to proposition and then insult me. Besides,” she mutters, returning her eyes to the book. “I thought all those tales about the devil trying to seduce young witches are supposed to be rumors.” Tempt, yes, but she’s never heard of him actually trying to seduce someone. Even the devil sounds more bearable than my last Tinder date, her fellow witch-in-training Rose had murmured to her the day Amilyn taught them about him.

“They were,” Kylo shrugs. “I take professionalism very seriously. But I’d be willing to make an exception for you, sweetheart.”

Rey scoffs. “Am I supposed to be flattered by that?” she asks, suppressing a groan of frustration as she reaches the end of the book. If she figures this out, she’ll add a page to the damn thing herself. No witch should have to put up with accidentally inflicting the devil’s presence upon themselves.

Kylo hums distractedly, his eyes slowly exploring her apartment. “If you’d like,” he murmurs, turning towards her heaving bookshelf with interest.

“No thanks,” Rey pretends to grimace at the thought and pushes down the tiny bit of glee that spikes through her system when she realizes he’s flirting with her. This is in no way a good development, and she should not be in any way pleased by it. “Can you please just… go back to hell?” She turns to Kylo with an almost hopeful look on her face. “Literally. Go back to hell. Please.”

They lock gazes, and Kylo stares at her for the longest time, almost as if committing her to memory or weighing the possible pros of staying or something. Finally, he says, “All right.”

Rey thinks she might sob in relief, and she’s definitely going to do a little happy jig once she’s sure she’s gotten herself out of this bind.

But then–

“For now,” Kylo warns her, and with one final smirk he disappears.

There were many things she did not see coming about the devil – seriously, his hair is unreal – but she should’ve known he’d be a pain in her ass.

 


 

From then on, every single summoning spell Rey tries ends with Kylo Ren in her home.

Summoning Maz? Kylo Ren. Summoning Finn? Kylo Ren. Summoning a random sewer rat? Kylo fucking Ren.

And every time, every single time, he tries to talk her into making a deal.

“You’re looking a little low on demon’s blood there, sweetheart. You know I would happily bleed a dozen demons dry for you.”

“That book doesn’t look particularly helpful. I’ve got an entire roomful of the most powerful grimoires in existence just lying around. You could have your pick of them.”

“Lifetime supply of pizza, all for a single kiss,” he says one day, and when she finally stops laughing Rey looks over at him and realizes he wanted her to laugh. It wasn’t a desperate, last-ditch attempt to get her attention; it was some much needed comic relief after a really shitty day. And goddess, the way he lights up when he manages to make her laugh…

After that day, she simply leaves her tourmaline circle in place at all times, essentially offering him a standing invitation to pop into her living room whenever he feels like it. It’s not like she ever has company over anyway, and they’ve established that he can’t overpower her blood no matter how hard he tries.

It does mean that she occasionally comes home to find the devil himself sitting cross-legged in her living room, poring over a stack of vellum with a quill in hand.

“You know, I never realized just how much paperwork the King of Hell has to deal with,” Rey says in lieu of a greeting one day, kicking the door shut behind her as she juggles two bags of groceries.

“Some would say it’s by choice,” Kylo tells her, looking up from his work to give her a smile. “My predecessor never dealt with any of this himself, but I like to think I learned from his mistakes.”

Rey pauses in her task of putting away groceries. “What happened to him?” She knows he was murdered, knows Kylo was the one to do it, but she’s never thought to wonder how one goes from being the devil to the pathetic, miserable excuse of a creature who was killed by his most trusted right-hand man.

Kylo shrugs. “He was blinded by arrogance, I suppose. All he did was sit around and issue threats, really. He thought fear was all a man needed to stay in power, and he assumed everyone around him feared him so much they’d never even think to wonder if there was real cause for that fear. And then one day he slipped up, and I realized I’d been tricked into serving a manipulative weakling for decades.”

Storing away the last of her purchases, Rey grabs two apples and heads over to Kylo. She tosses one into the circle and he catches it easily, nodding in thanks as she leans against the back of her couch mere feet away from him. “If he was so weak, how did he become King in the first place?”

He’s been visiting her for four months now, long enough for her to have learned that there are no such things as lines of succession in Hell. You kill for the throne, and eventually you get killed for the throne. That’s just the way it’s always been down in the Underworld, apparently.

“Snoke wasn’t always weak,” he tells her now, biting into the apple the way any normal person would. Rey knows that she should stop cataloging all the little things about him that make him seem normal, knows that she’s tricking herself and that this pointless exercise can only end in disappointment and maybe even heartache, but sometimes he makes it so hard to remember that he’s not just some guy who occasionally pops by and sits on her floor to keep her company.

“Drawing on the darkness comes with a price, and he paid it,” Kylo says. “You’ve seen how disfigured most Underworlders are, right? It’s a brand, the darkness’ way of marking you as its own. By the end, Snoke was nothing but a shriveled-up walking, talking advertisement for the darkness. They say he was actually decent-looking once, but I’ve never met anyone who remembers that.”

She looks at Kylo, tries to imagine his admittedly handsome form all twisted and mangled by the darkness. It makes her sick to her stomach and tugs at something in her heart, something she’s not quite ready to acknowledge yet. “So how come you look normal?” Rey asks, impressed by how casual her own voice sounds.

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about me,” Kylo grins knowingly, and she resists the urge to throw her apple core at him, settling for an eye roll instead. “I don’t really use the darkness.”

“Why not?”

“I just… rarely ever need to, I guess. I do have some powers of my own, you know,” he reminds her with a smirk. “Usually those are more than enough for me to get by.”

“Well, good,” Rey says, masking her relief behind their usual friendly ribbing. “Because I wouldn’t want some scaly, dozen-horned creature in my living room. You’d scare my plants to death.” She walks off to dispose of the apple core, which means her face is – thank the goddess – hidden from him when he tosses out a retort.

“Sweetheart,” Kylo drawls, and she really should ask him to stop calling her that. “We both know you wouldn’t kick me out even if I turned into the ugliest monster in existence.”

He’s right, but there’s no way she’ll ever let him know that.

 


 

A month later she’s soaked through with rain and her lungs won’t stop shaking long enough for her to catch a breath and she’s so, so scared.

Kylo appears the second time she calls for him, and he instinctively tries to reach for her when he sees her tear-stained face. “Rey, what is it?” he asks, eyes wide and wild as he searches for the cause of her distress. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

She sobs his name and his face twists in pain. “It’s Finn, he’s lycan and they shot him, oh goddess, Kylo, they shot him and I can’t take him to the hospital because they’ll know he’s not human but I’m not powerful enough to heal him on my own, they shot him so many times, please, Kylo, he’s the only family I’ve got, I’ll do anything, I’ll give you anything, please, just–” She’s crying too hard to speak, to breathe, to see.

“Let me out, Rey,” Kylo orders quietly, and she doesn’t even think, doesn’t even try to set a price before she kicks aside the tourmaline and breaks the circle. He lunges forward, wraps her in his arms and touches her for the very first time. It shouldn’t be this comforting to be held by a stranger, it shouldn’t be this comforting to be held by the devil, but with his hand rubbing soothing circles into her back she can finally breathe again.

Kylo wipes her tears away. “Come on, let’s save your friend,” he says gently, taking her hand and prompting her to lead the way to Finn.

Her sheets are soaked through with blood and Rey wants to cry all over again because no one can survive that much blood loss, no one can survive seventeen fucking silver bullets to their chest and neck and goddess, she thinks there’s one in his head too.

For all his constant nagging about her supposed lack of self-preservation skills, Finn ended up being the idiot who unknowingly chose a hunting forest to transform in for the night.

“It’s going to be okay,” Kylo tells her, pulling the chair from her vanity to her bedside and guiding her into it. “I’m here, Rey. Whatever you need, it’s yours. You’re not going to lose him, okay?”

She tugs on his hand, and Kylo immediately gets down on his knees to bring himself closer. The stool is low, and even like this he comes up to her shoulders.

The devil is on his knees, offering her everything, and Rey doesn’t even care what happens after this as long as Finn makes it through the night. Even if the price is her soul, she’ll gladly pay it for what she’s about to ask of him.

“Your blood,” Rey manages to croak, her voice hoarse from all the screaming and crying. “I need your blood to help me.”

Blood magic may be frowned upon, but the use of a demon’s blood to augment her own powers? Amilyn would never speak to her again. She’d be cast out, exiled, shunned by her entire community. In this moment, Rey doesn’t fucking care.

She waits, her heart hammering in her chest. Kylo looks up at her, wars with himself for all of five seconds before he nods and draws a dagger from thin air. This is the most vulnerable he can possibly make himself, this is the most reckless thing he can do, to give a witch – to give anyone – his blood.

But Rey isn’t just anyone, and he doesn’t hesitate before he cuts a thin line across his palm and hands her the dagger to do the same. They clasp their bleeding hands together – the most intimate of ceremonies, in another world, in another life – and he holds her all through the night as she draws strength from him to murmur spell after spell, directing their life force into her dying friend.

Even with his blood it’s slow going; demon blood is potent, his most of all, but to heal rather than harm, to give life rather than take it, is unnatural. Rey bends the magic to her will, fights against every last bit of it, harnesses more power than any witch should be able to, and the beauty of it all is that he can’t tell if she’s naturally that powerful or if it’s by sheer virtue of stubbornness and love for her friend that she breaks every rule in the book.

By the time she lets go of his hand, the first rays of dawn are seeping into her room. He supports her as she staggers to the kitchen, putting together a potion to help Finn handle the blood loss. After she’s forced it down his throat, after his breathing evens out and his fever breaks and his pulse stops wavering, Rey leads Kylo out of her room, closes the door behind them and falls into him.

“He almost died,” she cries, her tears warm as they seep through the fabric of his tunic. Kylo holds her close and runs a hand through her hair, letting her cling to him and cry herself out. “I don’t know what I’d do without him– I don’t know what I would have done without you–”

At this she pulls back to look at him, eyes full of awe and gratitude and wonder. “Kylo, what you did for him… what you did for me…” Rey takes his hand, determination flashing in her eyes. “Name your price. I said anything, and I meant it. I’ll give you anything you ask for.”

Everything, he wants to say, I want everything with you, but this was never about striking a deal with her. Not this time, not like this. Kylo shakes his head. “Nothing,” he tells Rey, watching her eyes grow wide and her lips part in surprise.

“I don’t understand–”

“This was never about making a deal, Rey,” Kylo says patiently, gently, raising their joined hands to kiss her blood-crusted knuckles. “You were in pain, and I had the power to take that pain away. I did this because I couldn’t stand to see you hurting, not because I wanted something from you. I won’t do that to you, I promise you I’ll never take advantage of you like that–”

Rey wrenches her hand out of his, throws both arms around his neck and kisses him through a fresh wave of tears. It’s tired and desperate and everything he’s ever wanted, everything he’s dreamed of since the day he found his equal in a little witch from nowhere.

But– “Rey,” he gasps against her lips, “Rey, I told you, you don’t owe me anything–”

“I know,” she murmurs, hushing him with a feather-light brush of her lips. “I wanted to.”

She leads him over to her tiny couch and climbs into his lap, kisses him a few more times until her movements turn sluggish and her eyelids grow heavy. Finally Rey settles her head on his shoulder, her eyelashes fluttering butterfly kisses against his neck as she drowsily clings to him and asks him to stay.

Kylo holds her until the sun is long gone, until she wakes up in his arms like something out of a dream, until Finn starts stirring in the next room and she runs off to tend to her friend without so much as a goodbye.

 


 

After that day, the circle is always broken within seconds of him showing up.

They don’t talk about it – about the fact that he gave her his blood, about the fact that she kissed him – but they start spending a lot of time squished together on her tiny couch.

Why she doesn’t just move to the armchair and let Kylo have the couch to himself, she’ll never know. (Well, he’s warm, and winter is slowly settling in, and why waste money heating the apartment when she can just sit next to a living, breathing furnace?)

Today Kylo arrives while she’s in the middle of brewing her upstairs neighbor’s monthly order, and Rey quickly returns to her task after breaking the circle. Rather than head for the couch with his stack of paperwork, he follows her into the kitchen and simply watches her.

“Poe used to play football throughout high school and college,” she explains as Kylo leans against her kitchen counter, arms loosely crossed as he observes her potion-brewing process. “Had his hopes and dreams prematurely crushed when he suffered a bad injury to his knee, and even though it’s been ten years it still hurts every once in a while. I whip up a batch of this for him every month, and in return he’s renting this place to me below market value.”

“Do a lot of people know, then? About you being a witch, I mean,” Kylo asks, a small crease forming between his brows. “I thought most light witches live by a strict code of secrecy.”

“Well, I never claimed to be a light witch, did I?” Rey points out, returning jars and vials to their rightful places while she waits for the potion to cool down. “Besides, Poe’s been in the know for most of his life. His parents were friends with Leia Organa, one of our Councilwomen, and when they died she arranged for the community to watch over Poe. That’s how I met him, actually – he lived with a lycan family for a few years, the same one that took Finn in after his birth parents gave him up. Finn introduced me to Poe after he realized I’m a witch, and Poe introduced me to Leia, who found a coven for me.”

Kylo stares at her, his shoulders suddenly tense. “You know m– Leia Organa?”

Rey frowns. “I’m a practicing witch within her district, of course I know her. Why, do you two have history or something?”

“Or something,” he mutters, looking out her window at the dreary afternoon sky. It’s late November in Alderaan, and winter is taking its own sweet time getting here. The days are short and dark while the nights are long and cold, but experience tells Rey they won’t be blessed with snow for at least another two weeks. In the meantime, there’s only an excess of rain and an absence of sunlight.

“Can you go outside?” Rey finds herself asking, watching Kylo watch the rain. “I mean,” she clarifies when he turns to her. “If I wanted to go for a walk or something, could you leave the apartment with me?”

“The devil can go anywhere he wants,” Kylo tells her with a smug little smile, shaking off his odd behavior. “You didn’t think I spend most of my time trapped in the Underworld, did you?”

Rey scoffs, turning her back to him to hide her slight flush. “Of course not,” she claims, berating herself for the fact that she constantly forgets who she’s talking to. This is Kylo Ren, not some lower-level demon. Of course he has the power to surface whenever and wherever he wants. Hell, he doesn’t even actually need her to let him out of the circle; it’s only out of sheer courtesy that he hasn’t just materialized down the street and come knocking on her door.

So the devil is polite, on top of everything else. It’s no wonder she finds herself enjoying his presence, really. And even Finn had grudgingly admitted that anyone willing to help her save his life at no cost can’t be that bad.

“So, are you and Councilwoman Organa close?” Kylo suddenly asks, his feigned nonchalance painfully transparent. Or something, he’d said earlier. Leia Organa is one of the most influential figures in the magical community, so it wouldn’t be completely out of the ordinary for her and the devil to have crossed paths at some point, but this seems… heavier, somehow. It’s unlike Kylo to try digging for information this way; this is the man who once asked her point blank what her relationship with Finn is, after all.

“I’ve known her since I was a child,” Rey answers as she bottles up Poe’s potion. “I think she’s one of my favorite people. What about you two?” she asks, sneaking a quick glance at Kylo from the corner of her eye. “How do you know each other?”

“She’s…” Kylo straightens up and starts pacing the length of her kitchen, tugging at his hair as he does so. “She’s my… I mean, she was–”

Rey’s seen pictures of a young Leia, of how beautiful she was when she looked to be around Kylo’s permanent age. That must’ve been a hundred years ago, but she supposes even the devil can get hung up on an old flame. “Your ex-girlfriend?” she supplies helpfully, watching him stutter on potential explanations. Maybe more, she thinks, recalling something about the Councilwoman having been married once – or is she still married? Goddess, if she kissed a married man, and one married to Leia at that–

Kylo comes to an abrupt halt, turning to her with an utterly stricken expression. “No! Fuck no. That is the most… fuck, Rey, that’s the most disturbing thing I’ve ever heard. Why would you even–”

Stunned by his outburst, Rey steps towards him. “Hey, calm down. I just… I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it. Sure, it’s unorthodox, and it’s okay if you don’t personally agree with it–” though that would really, really suck, given how she’s starting to feel about him, “– but demons and witches get together all the time. It’s not entirely unheard of.”

“Sweetheart,” Kylo shakes his head, his lips twitching as he gives her a pointed look, “trust me, I have absolutely no problem with witches and demons being together.”

“Um, okay,” Rey says faintly. “Good,” she adds, her eyes darting away from him for a second as she tries to hide her relief. “But then why–”

Kylo sighs, and then he reluctantly offers her an explanation: “It’s disgusting because Leia Organa is my mother.”

She must be sleep-deprived. Or maybe she’s been cooped up indoors for too long. Plus it’s almost winter, and all the plants are dead, that definitely messes with a nature witch’s sanity, right? Because there’s no way Kylo Ren, the devil, just admitted to being Councilwoman Leia Organa’s son.

“Would you mind repeating that? I think I must have misheard you.”

“No, you didn’t,” Kylo tells her, almost as if he wishes that were the case. “It’s just… a really, really long story. And it’s one I’d rather not talk about right now. Or ever, really, but if you want to know then I’ll tell you someday. Just… not now.”

In the little time that they’ve known each other, Rey has seen a variety of emotions on the devil’s face – anger, when he rants about his incompetent subordinates; happiness, when he makes her smile; concern, when she pricks herself on a thorn; tenderness, the night he stayed by Finn’s bedside with her; awe and reverence and wonder, when she kissed him; even peace, when she woke up the next day to find him watching her.

Up until today she’d never seen sorrow on him, never seen the way his eyes grow dark with ancient grief.

“Okay,” Rey says as she steps forward and wraps her arms around his waist, resting her head against his chest as his hands hesitantly come to rest on the small of her back. “We don’t have to talk about it.”

They hold each other the way they had the night she kissed him, a whole month ago. And because it feels right, because muscle memory is an odd thing, because she’s missed it, Rey moves her hands up to his chest, braces her weight against him as she balances herself on her toes to reach his lips.

It’s soft, and slow, and everything she wishes their first kiss could have been.

And now that she knows how it feels to kiss Kylo just because she wants to, now that she knows how it feels when he smiles into a kiss and whispers her name tenderly and ghosts his lips along her neck, Rey doesn’t know how she’ll ever stop.

 


 

“You know,” Kylo says one day after she kisses him hello, “at this point I probably owe you a hundred deals.”

“That’s not what this is,” Rey shakes her head, taking him by the hand as she leads him out of the circle. “I don’t want these to be kisses traded between a witch and the devil. I don’t want what we are individually to define who we are to each other.”

It keeps her awake sometimes, the thought that maybe she’s just another silly little witch to him, that maybe it’s stupid of her to think they could ever be anything more than two people randomly brought together by the universe.

(“So ask him,” Finn suggested with a shrug when she confided in him two nights ago. “Sure,” Rey rolled her eyes, “I’ll just go up to him and be all, Mister King of Hell, sir, Your Devilness, am I your girlfriend or what?”)

Kylo smiles, one hand reaching up to tuck a lock of hair behind her ear. Sometimes he’s so gentle, so affectionate, that Rey thinks bringing it up might not actually end with her heart shattered into a million pieces. “Okay,” he agrees simply, and she loses what little courage she’d managed to gather in the last minute or so.

She’s never been one to push her luck.

“So I’ve been thinking,” Kylo says after a moment, leading her towards the little work corner where she keeps all her spells and books and plants. “It really doesn’t make any sense that you could have messed up a summoning spell so much that you ended up with me instead of Maz. As happy as I am to have met you, this never should have happened.”

It’s been months since she last found herself thinking about the spell, longer still since she gave up on ever contacting Maz again. “What are you suggesting?”

Kylo lets go of her hand so that she can look for the spell, stashed away in a drawer somewhere with all the foreign incantations she’s obtained from outsiders throughout the years. “Maz has always been a bit of a meddler. It wouldn’t surprise me if she had a hand in us meeting each other.”

“But why would she–”

“Well,” Kylo ducks his head, prompting Rey to pause in her search and turn her attention to him instead. “I may have forgotten to mention that Maz is close to my family. And that we were pretty close when I was growing up.”

“Really?” Rey asks, smiling at this unexpected bit of information.

“I used to actually have fun hanging around her cantina,” he nods, his face twisting into a scowl just seconds later. “But then I grew up, and it was always Ben Solo, when are you going to find a nice girl and introduce her to me, hmm?”

His impression of Maz is spot-on, and Rey can’t help the surprised laughter that bubbles past her lips. “Oh goddess, Kylo, that was–” She gasps between laughs, tears pricking at her eyes as she leans against the wall for support.

“Like I said,” Kylo shrugs, and the motion of it jostles his hair just enough for her to see the flushed tip of his right ear. She feels a swell of affection at the endearing sight. “We were close. What’s the point of spending all that time with someone if you can’t get an accurate impression out of it, right?”

He attempts a grin, but Rey can tell he’s painfully embarrassed and takes pity on him. “So, Ben Solo? Is that your real name?” she asks gently, stepping forward to lace their fingers together.

“You realize you can never, ever tell anyone that,” Kylo tells her, dead serious as a hint of fear flickers in his eyes at the realization that he’s shared his name with her. “Leia did her best to bury that name when I turned, and so far no one has figured it out. No one can ever figure it out, Rey.”

“I promise,” she assures him, squeezing his hand. “I swear I’ll never tell anyone your true name.”

Kylo nods, the tension seeping out of his shoulders. “I believe you.”

Rey leans forward for a chaste peck before she returns to her drawer of loose papers; she really does need a better system for these. She turns to Kylo when a thought occurs to her, silly and girlish but irresistible all the same. “Can I call you Ben, though? Only when we’re alone, of course.”

He stares at her for the longest time, long enough for her to regret saying anything. “I’m sorry, that was too much, you don’t have to–”

“I think I’d like that,” Kylo interrupts quietly, smiling at her almost… shyly.

This man will be the death of her, with his shy smiles and his red ears and the way he looks at her when he thinks she’s distracted. “Okay... Ben,” Rey says just as her fingers brush across a familiar piece of parchment, the chalky texture of the ink instantly alerting her to her find.

“Got it,” she tells him before he can react to her first use of his name, and Rey triumphantly pulls the spell out of her drawer as Kyl… Ben steps closer to read over her shoulder.

“Why did Maz give this to you, again?” Ben asks as Rey re-familiarizes herself with the spell.

“I asked her if she knew anything about my parents or where I came from or who I am. She gave me this and told me to use it when I was ready to find the belonging I seek. I always assumed it meant she would give me the answers when I was ready to hear them but…” Rey frowns, scanning the text for the fourth time. Now that she’s really paying attention to the wording, she doesn’t know where she got that idea from. The spell doesn’t say anything about summoning Maz, or even answers. Just as the old woman had told her, it’s all about belonging.

Ben reaches for the parchment, and she hands it to him in a daze. “This isn’t about getting answers,” he frowns, easily translating the long-dead language the spell is written in. Of course Leia’s son wouldn’t have any trouble with dead languages; his uncle is a mage who’s dedicated the better half of his life to learning and preserving such things. “This is a spell to find–”

“Belonging. Home. Destiny,” Rey rattles off the only three possible translations, her voice distant even to her own ears.

“Rey…” Ben takes her gently by the shoulders, turns her around and tries his best to hide his alarm at the closed-off expression she knows she’s wearing.

So it was never a mistake – and somewhere in her mind she notes that this means she’s only ever messed up two spells, not three – and Kylo, Ben, the devil was meant to crash into her life all along.

She’s not ready for this, she isn’t prepared for the inevitable demons don’t do love talk they’re going to have to sit down for if Ben thinks she’s going to get ideas from this spell.

“Are you hungry?” Rey asks, taking the spell from his hand and stuffing it back into the drawer, which she slams shut for good measure. “I haven’t eaten all day. We should have lunch, I’ve been meaning to try out this new recipe–” she babbles, taking Ben by the hand and leading him away from the spell.

Later that night, after he’s gone, Rey takes the spell out and sits with it under the light of a waning moon. “Is this a gift or a curse?” she asks the stars, barely daring to hope that maybe–

 


 

Hope, Rey should have learned by now, only ever ends with her getting her heart crushed.

Ben returns just two days later, and as he helps her trim her plants in preparation for spring and their return to the balcony, he goes off on a tangent about how the Underworld isn’t all that bad, really.

A month later he starts talking about the amount of power there is to be found in the old ways, and she drags him to bed just to shut him up.

He tells her all about everyday life in the Underworld, about the many similarities between grey witches and dark ones, about the empty castle he lives in. It gets worse when the bribery starts, when he tries to tempt her with all the rarest ingredients and herbs that can only be procured using Underworld connections. He calls them gifts, even comes up with a particularly painful line about how you’re supposed to bring presents to those you care about.

A year passes like this, passes with him constantly trying to remind her that theirs is a purely professional and convenient arrangement, that this was never anything more than the devil trying to seduce a witch to the darkness after all.

Sometimes, on days when he’s being particularly clear about his true goal, Rey thinks of retrieving that thrice-damned spell and setting it on fire for the pure satisfaction of watching it crumble into ashes the way her heart has.

Through it all Rey returns his kisses, holds him painfully close when he sleeps, calls him Ben as if it still means something. But the day after Finn and Poe confront her and make her realize just how hopelessly in love she is with the devil, Rey breaks.

“Please,” she cuts Ben off in the middle of his latest pitch about how the use of blood magic might help her find her family. “Please, just stop. I can’t take this anymore.”

A perfect mask of concern greets her when Ben gently places two fingers under her chin and tilts her face up to meet his. “What’s wrong, sweetheart?”

She backs away from his touch. “Look, I get it: the Underworld is great and the old ways are mighty and you really, really think I should turn. But I’m not going to let you trick or seduce or charm me into turning, Kylo Ren, so you can stop now.”

The flash of hurt in his eyes when she calls him by his other name for the first time in a year is almost enough to stop Rey, but now that she’s finally gotten the courage to do this she has to see it through. Clean break, Rey, Finn had advised, and that’s exactly what she needs. “I’m sorry I wasted almost two years of your time, but it’s not going to happen. So, you know, you can move on to the next witch now. I’m sure it won’t be hard to find another one to charm–”

“The next–” Ben scowls, his concern giving way to a thunderous expression reminiscent of their very first meeting. “Rey, what the fuck are you talking about?”

Does he really have to drag it out? “Look, I’m not an idiot, okay?” she sighs. “We find out the universe thinks we’re fated for each other and suddenly two days later you’re doing everything you can to make it clear that this isn’t a real relationship, that all you’re interested in is getting me to turn and move to the Underworld.”

Ben stares at her in stunned silence, eyes wide at being caught in his act.

“I thought I could just go along with it and pretend everything’s okay, or I don’t know, lie to myself about this. It was stupid,” Rey mutters. “I was stupid to think this was ever about anything other than you recruiting me–”

“This was never about recruiting you,” Ben growls, hands moving forward to curve around her neck, to force her to look him in the eye. “Rey, you are the most amazing person I’ve met in all my centuries of life. How the fuck can you be this oblivious?”

She reaches up and slaps his hands away, glaring at him as she puts some distance between them on the small couch. “What the hell are you talking about?”

Ben runs a hand through his hair and pulls at the ends in frustration, his entire form shaking with nervous energy. “I never said anything about wanting you to turn, Rey. I’ve never even thought of recruiting you.”

“Then why the hell do you keep talking about how great the Underworld is?” Rey demands, her heart in her throat. She asked the stars once if the spell was a blessing or a curse, if her heart was right to hope, and ever since she’s paid the price for it. If Ben isn’t trying to turn her then there’s only one explanation, but it can’t possibly be–

“Because as my wife you’d be Queen of the damn place, and I thought maybe if you realized it’s not that bad you’d say yes when I ask you to marry me!”

The past year slams into Rey with all the force of a backfired hex. “When you what?” she chokes on a sob, her vision swimming with tears.

Ben softens at the sight of her tears, hesitantly reaches out for her and swipes them away when Rey doesn’t flinch from him. “I love you, you know that? I probably should’ve said it earlier, and more often, but after the way you reacted when we found out about the spell–”

Rey throws herself into his arms, kisses him with tears and relief and desperation the way she did the very first time. “I love you too,” she admits between kisses, curling her fingers into his hair. “I love you so much, and I thought you didn’t feel the same way and that finding out about the spell would scare you off, and Ben, you idiot, you don’t need to convince me to marry you–”

“Can I at least ask you first?” Ben asks teasingly, his face lighting up with a smile. “I had this whole speech prepared, and all these plans about how we’d make it work with two homes.”

You’re my home,” Rey murmurs, marveling at the truth of the words, at the sense of belonging that settles into her very bones at the realization. “That’s all that matters to me.”

Ben smiles and gently cups her face, brushing their noses together in an Eskimo kiss. “You’re my home too, sweetheart.”

.

.

Somewhere in the depths of Rey’s closet, a piece of parchment flutters in a non-existent breeze – once, twice, and then it returns to its master, its purpose served.

“Leia!” A wizened old woman calls across her cantina, waving the spell at the Councilwoman. “You won’t believe who finally found a nice girl!”