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Story Time - A Reader x BNHA Multific

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You fell to your knees, wincing. This wasn’t how it was supposed to go. You were at your limits, and it was only a matter of time before your team mates collapsed from exhaustion. She was toying with you. She had the nerve to hide behind that damned book and unleash creatures from its pages to attack you. Not a single member of your team had landed a scratch on her. Not yet.

What had started as a routine house call, catching word of a domestic disturbance, had quickly spiralled out of control and landed you and your four-man team in a world of trouble. You had unknowingly wandered into the house of a very powerful and very dangerous villain known by the nickname Bookworm.

She was a relatively new villain and little was known about her, but she was strong. Her quirk specifications were obscure, but it had something to do with her books. She could create things, or unleash things from inside the pages. You weren’t sure which it was, but you sure as hell planned to find out once you had Bookworm in custody.

“____, stay down! We can handle this!” Kirishima bellowed towards you, fending off a phantom-like creature that seemed intent on clawing his chest open. You were bracing yourself, holding your arm out in front of you, aiming it at the woman, aiming it at her book.

“This isn’t enough to stop me,” you demanded, squinting with one eye closed to focus on your target. Before you could unleash your quirk, a rush of wind blew past you as your other teammates flew forwards, charging at Bookworm with a roar.

“You’re in the fucking way, ____.” Bakugou growled, drawing his arm back as he closed the gap between the villain and himself. At first, Bookworm looked startled. Her eyes flew wide, alarmed that anyone could breach the wall of her creatures, but at the last second her panicked expression slipped into a smirk.

“Kacchan, Denki! Stop!” You tried to stand, to get between them, but you stumbled from exhaustion. Bookworm’s gaze found you. Before Bakugou could unleash the explosion she vanished. For a split second, she was gone. Kaminari looked around, desperately searching for her amongst the shadow-like creatures.

“Where did she go?” He sounded alarmed. You searched the large, dimly lit room but before you spotted her, your three team mates did.

“____, behind you!”

You turned, but you had no chance to react. Her voice was sweet. Her hands were vice-like. Her book was open. “____, it’s time to sleep. Men tend to lose their fight when their damsels in distress disappear.”

If she thought that, she did not know your team mates.

All it took was one touch. She gripped your hand and forced it against the inside of the book, wishing you sweet dreams as the world of Heroes and Villains slipped away from you, into darkness. The last thing you heard was the sound of your name, called out by your friends.

oOo

You woke from a strange dream, comfortable in the many folds of your quaint cottage bed. You rolled over and stretched, your body aching from a night of deep sleep. As you woke yourself from your drowsy state, you tried to remember the dream. Something about super heroes and things called quirks. The more you thought about it, the more the dream slipped through your grasp. Not that it bothered you much. What a silly thing to dream about— superheroes. There were no need for superheroes here. Nothing ever happened. No one was in danger. The kingdom of Grimm was a very safe place.

You slipped out of bed and dressed yourself for the day in a white laced dress, brown hiking boots and your usual red riding cloak. Though you would much rather stay in bed, you had to deliver a package to your ill father who lived just on the other side of the woods. Honestly, he was a stubborn man. Why he refused to relocate into town where the shops and his friends and the pharmacy lived was beyond you.

Your body really did ache. You couldn’t understand it. It was as if someone had beaten you ragged. Entering the kitchen, you leaned over the counter, stretching your arms as far forwards as they would go, clicking and soothing your muscles.

You decided that once you were back from your father’s you would have a long, deep bubble bath. You deserved it. The round trip was two hours alone.

Scooping up a collection of treats, goodies and your father’s medication, you put them all in a large wicker basket and set off on your journey.

The town buzzed with the gentle hum of people going about their days, enjoying the warmth of the early sun. As you strode by, stallholders and shoppers waved and called out to you.

“Morning, Little Red!”

“You’re looking well, Little Red.”

“Is your father still not well? Send him my regards.”

You smiled and thanked them for their concerns. Passing by one particular blacksmith’s shop, the hulking owner appeared, wiping the dirt from his face with a white handkerchief far too small for his hands.

“Little Red,” he exclaimed in a booming voice, always happy to see you. You tried to greet him with a wave and a smile, but before you could stop him he had taken you in a bone crushing hug.

“H-Hello, All Might.” You wheezed as he squeezed the life out of you. “Good morning.”

Thankfully, he let you go and put you down. He was nearly double your height and built like a titan. He did not know his own strength.

“Are you off to see your father, again?” He asked with a loud laugh. “Honestly the man should take better care of himself. You should be spending your days enjoying yourself.”

You wanted to agree, but you were so used to doing it by now that it didn’t bother you too much. It was nice for All Might to say so, though. Honestly, he was more of a father figure to you than your father ever was.

You turned to leave, but All Might fixed you with a stare, smiling his impossibly bright smile. “Little Red, stay on the path. Understand? It’s easy to get lost in those woods.”

You nodded. You knew that. “Thank you for worrying, but I’ll be alright. I’ll be back before you know it.”

He nodded goodbye then returned to his shop, leaving you to set off.

Once you were out of town, the edge of the woods appeared on the horizon with a long beaten path scuffed into the ground. Stay on the path. Get there and back before nightfall. It was easy enough.

You entered the forest the same as you always did, humming a tune to yourself, swinging the basket at your side. The warm morning sun had heated the woods. Birds and bugs alike sang into the welcoming of a new day. It was a lovely sound. You felt content, stopping to lift your face towards the sun where it broke through the canopy.

Walking along the path, lost to the sounds of the animals of the forest, a feeling nagged at you. It was only gently, in the back of your mind, but it was there. It was something you had forgotten. You weren’t sure what. You knew in time, if it was important, it would come back to you so you tried not to let it bother you too much.

Suddenly, you heard a cry. At first you weren’t sure if it was merely an animal calling to its brethren but then you heard it again.

Thinking only of the person in trouble, you left the path and headed in the direction of the sound.

“Hello?” You called out, hiking your dress up to your knees so as not to trip. “Hello? Can you hear me? Are you okay?”

You did not know who you were calling to or if they could hear you. But you called, and hoped with a sudden sense of duty swelling inside you to help anyone in need.

You called out again, but had no reply. You ran for some time towards where you thought the noise had come from but after a while without seeing anyone, you slowed your pace. Finally, you stopped. You searched with your eyes, clutching the basket to your chest as you caught your breath. There was no one in sight.

You were in the thickest part of the trees now where the sunlight could barely reach. The trunks cast great shadows along the forest floor, casting areas in to total darkness. If someone was here, you had no way to see them.

“Hello?” You said quieter, feeling an eerie stillness in this part of the woods. The birds had flown and even the bugs lay still. “Are you hurt?”

You waited to hear something—anything—but the forest stayed silent. The longer you waited, the more you wondered what you had actually heard. At first you had been certain it was a human crying out, but now you weren’t so sure. Perhaps it had been the forest, playing tricks.

Relenting in your search, you headed back towards the path. Only, you could not find it. The trees looked the same and stretched on for miles. You followed the patches of light, hoping they would bring you back to the path, but the canopy was impossible to follow.

After wandering for some time you noticed, a way off in the distance, a clearing. Your heart felt giddy with the prospect of stepping back into the sunlight. You picked up your pace then started running, hitching your dress up once more.

Stop…” someone whispered in your ear, their voice carrying on the breeze. You halted, looking around for the owner of the voice. There was no one there. You wiggled your finger in your ear, wondering what on earth was getting into you today. You seemed to be hearing things.

You carried on towards the clearing. The closer you came, the louder the voice was in your head, telling you to stop, telling you to turn back. You shut your eyes, charging blindly on towards the clearing, hoping the forest would leave you alone once you were out from below the canopy.

Stop… stop… stop…

“Stop!”

You snapped your eyes open, twisting to look back when someone called urgently from behind you. You skidded to a halt but your foot caught in a protruding tree root. You looked forwards to catch your footing, and that’s when you realised you were at the edge of a very sheer drop. You stumbled forwards, over the edge, trying desperately to grab the earth to stop your fall.

Fortunately, hands grabbed you before the forest could claim you. Their nails dug painfully into the skin of your thigh as you fell head first into the gorge. In an effort to pull you back, a searing pain erupted across your leg as they tore their nails across the skin to keep hold of you.

You lurched once they had a grip on you and found their footing in the undergrowth, using it to pull you back to safety. You had no time to figure out what had just happened before the tall figure rounded on you.

“You stupid fucking human. Are you fucking blind? Did you want to drop to your fucking death?”

Crouched on the floor, coated in mud from being dragged to safety, clutching your now bleeding leg in one hand and the unscathed wicker basket in the other, you took in the appearance of your rescuer.

He looked to be the same age as you, with ashy blonde hair, shaggy from lack of attention. Wearing a large green coat, black pants and white vest, he was glaring at you with crimson eyes, panting as if he had charged to catch up to you. Most strikingly, though, was his tail and the second set of ears, fluffy ones, protruding up through his hair.

“You’re a werewolf!” You exclaimed, too shocked by your revelation to answer his questions. His glare intensified. Werewolves were practically unheard of. They were a myth and legend in the kingdom of Grimm. Long since believed extinct by your peaceful town, the last of their kind should have died out generations ago. Grimm was a peaceful land.

“And you’re a gullible, half-baked human with no sense of direction and a death wish. What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Are you sure you’re a werewolf?”

The way you ignored his questions and insults bothered him. He was not used to being ignored, not by humans. Not by prey. You continued to stare up at him from the floor, your irises large and doe-eyed. He stiffened, seeing the way you looked at him. You weren’t scared. You weren’t pleading for your life. You looked awed by him. The curious expression on your face made his heart thump loudly in his chest. What the fuck was that about?

“Yes, I’m a fucking werewolf you bimbo-brained—”

Ah-!” Your pained noise shut him up. His heart thumped heavily again. You clutched your leg, directing your attention away from him to the gashes in your skin. You could stand the blood, but the pain was another matter. It came in waves and right now it was killing you. You didn’t want to complain. It was the price for being rescued. But God it hurt.

He watched you, breathlessly. The blood seeping from the wounds he had inflicted on you and the soft sound of your whimpering was having a strange effect on him.

“Shut up,” he warned. You stifled your whimpers, worrying you were coming across as rude.

“I’m sorry,” you said, “Thank you for rescuing me. You really did save me. Can I do anything to repay you?”

He flared his nostrils, looking away from the soft skin of your thigh and the way your blood invited him to eat you, directing his attention to the wicker basket.

“What’s in there?” You pulled back the cover, showing him an assortment of sweets, drinks, and the medicine. He sniffed the air, smelling something delicious. “I smell chillies.”

“Chillies?” You brushed your hand across the top of the basket, then realised what he must mean. “Ah. There’s some spicy apple chutney. Is that what you can smell?”

You fumbled in the hamper until you pulled out a small jar of homemade chutney. You doubted he could smell it through the glass jar, but to your surprise he nodded.

“Give me that.” He demanded, holding his hand out. You clutched it tightly.

“It’s for my father.”

He clicked his tongue, frowning. Why wouldn’t you just obey him? He retorted testily, “And I just saved your fucking life. Give it to me.”

The fact you didn’t drop it straight into his hand infuriated him. You looked at the jar as if deciding what to do. He had told you what to do.

“I guess you can have it…” you said slowly, holding the jar out for him. “But my father loves spicy food.”

“Tough shit,” He swiped the jar from you, his talon like nails grazing the side of your hand. “I like spicy food too.”

He opened the lid and stuck his tongue in the chutney, guzzling it down with delight. You watched him eating then after a moment you tried to stand. It hurt, but you could move. As you wiped some of the mud from your clothes, the werewolf watched you. You were like a lamb; small, lost, and an easy target for anyone who wanted to take you. His ears twitched at the sound you made when you tried to walk. You mewled, his scratches stinging you. He revelled in the thought.

“I have to go, I’m sorry,” and you were. You were a long way from the path and needed to set off if you had any hope of finding it before nightfall. You picked up the basket and started to limp away, but the werewolf followed you.

“Where the fuck are you off to in such a rush?” He glanced down at your limp, his infliction, and the way the blood trickled from the wound, down your calve. He felt excited.

“I have to deliver medicine to my father.” You responded, unaware of the wolf’s attraction towards your sudden vulnerability. “He lives on the east side of the forest.”

“The east side?” He said in a sort of dazed reply, before catching himself, realising what the two of you had just said. “The east side? What do you mean, the east side? There’s only one house over there and-- How the hell did you end up here?”

He confirmed your suspicions that you were lost. You explained about the voice you thought you had heard, and the clearing, and the voice telling you to stop. The werewolf listened quietly, pondering what had happened as you limped beside him. You had to wonder if the cry and the clearing were the forest’s doing, but then what about the voice whispering for you to stop? The one that had tried to warn you about the cliff.

After a long while of walking, the werewolf brought you back to the path.

“There,” he said, eyeing you with a glare. “You’re on track. Now don’t act like a fucking idiot and go off by yourself in search of someone who may or may not be in trouble again. Fucking human.”

“I’m sorry,” you hung your head low, letting him chastise you. In a strange way, his telling off felt almost familiar to you, like he had done it a hundred times before.

“Look at me when you apologise.” The werewolf demanded. Your cheeks stained pink, aware of the piercing strength of his gaze. You looked up, trying to hold your stare, but the way his defined jaw clenched as he waited made your heart falter. You only managed to hold his gaze long enough to mutter a soft apology then had to look at the floor.

The werewolf bared his fangs as he smirked.

You were beautiful. An angelic lamb, full of innocence, naivety and forgiveness. Now that you were beginning to obey him, he wanted to destroy you. Looking into your large, glassy eyes, he wanted nothing more than to tear you, and violate you, and make you his. He wanted the marks on your leg to scar, to tell the world that he owned you.

He shook his head, trying not to let his fantasies run rampant. All in due time. You were worth the wait.

He flared his nostrils, trying to calm himself—with little effect. After a few moments of walking you along the track, he bowed out.

“I’m fucking off. I’ve got shit to do and I can’t babysit a clumsy human like you all day. Don’t. Leave. The path.”

He turned on his heel to get away from you, to do what he had to do, but you caught him by the sleeve of his jacket.

“Wait,” you asked in mild desperation. He looked over his shoulder at you, waiting for you to say what you needed to. “What’s your name?”

He flashed you a toothy smirk, pushing his thumb into his chest. “Katsuki. Don’t fucking forget.”

With that, he dashed off into the woods, leaving you to limp towards your father’s house. Little did you know he knew a shortcut to the house. Little did you know he knew that house all too well.

Katsuki had unsavoury plans for you. He couldn’t wait for you to arrive at daddy’s house.

Chapter Text

By the time you left the east side of the woods, your wound had coagulated and the dribbles of blood had dried. They rubbed off amongst the ferns and bracken tickling at your legs as you breached the clearing.

Stepping into the afternoon sun, you basked in the warmth as it danced over your skin, heating you in a way the forest canopy couldn’t. You gave a deep sigh of relief. That could have gone a lot worse. You were lucky it was only past noon. Had that werewolf not come to your aid, you would either be unconscious or dead at the bottom of a cliff, or still wandering blindly until midnight.

A small jar of spicy chutney didn’t feel like much of a thank you, especially after you had put up a fight to keep it. You hoped to see Katsuki again, someday.

Though you were clear of the woods, you still had a little while to go. Your father lived on the top of a very inconvenient hill, all by himself. Normally you could climb it with ease, but with your limp and the basket it might take a little longer.

The afternoon rolled by as you journeyed on but eventually, after long last, you reached the foot of the hill. Staring into the distance, you spotted smoke billowing from the chimney of a single cottage. Thankfully, he was in. Though he was ill, you wouldn’t have put it past your father to be out and about, wreaking havoc on his health smoking cigarettes as he fished somewhere.

The journey up the hill was more taxing than you had expected. Though you had revelled in the sun earlier in the day, now with no shade to protect you it beat like an unforgiving Titan, burning its brightest at the peak of the day. You hissed as beads of sweat stung your wound, stopping every so often to jump up and down on your good leg to shake away the pain.

By the time you reached your father’s front door, you were ready to drag him home with you so you never had to make this journey again. You rapped once on the wood out of politeness then let yourself in, using the key under the doormat.

“Father,” you said, hoping to sound as pleasant as possible, and not like you wanted to drag his selfish arse back to town. “Father? It’s me again. ____. I’ve brought some medicine for you.”

You stepped inside and closed the door. For some reason, your father did not respond. All the lights in the cottage were off, and only the log fire burned. It looked as though someone had placed fresh logs in the grate not too long ago, only showing the beginnings of charcoal.

“Father?” You asked a little more demandingly, placing the basket of food on the old wood counter in the kitchen. The kitchen and living room were one and the same, with only a bathroom and a bedroom running off different walls. You sighed agitatedly, wishing he would make your life easier for once in his life. “Father!”

You lowered the red hood from your face and marched through the living room towards his bedroom, only you stilled when you looked at the fireplace. Your blood ran cold. “Fa…ther…?”

Photographs lined the mantelpiece, a handful of pictures in frames of a family. Not your family. Not your father’s family. “Where…?”

Strong arms wrapped themselves around you from behind, a taloned hand reaching up to grip your throat. His breath tickled the back of your ear as you stood, petrified into place. “You can call me that, if you want?”

His voice was low and controlled, and you heard the spit in his mouth as he smirked. “____, was it? You never fucking said that before. I gave you my name.”

You felt his hand around your throat, deadly aware of his claws and how close they were to your fragile windpipe. “Ka-Katsuki.”

You heard him breathe a sigh of satisfaction.

“Say it again.” He whispered in your ear before licking the shell of it, sending cold chills down your spine. You felt embarrassed, but trapped in his grip and scared of what he might do, you said his name again. You cursed yourself when your voice cracked, but he delighted in it, nipping gently on your earlobe.

He didn’t let you go. He traced the pad of his thumb over your jawline, being careful not to graze you with his claws. You had nowhere to run. You knew that, and he knew that.

He was contented in feeling you tremble against him, savouring the fear that oozed from your pores like a drug. “You stupid fucking human.”

“Wh-where—” you forced, aware of his ragged breaths in the crook of your neck as he sniffed you. “Where’s my father?”

Katsuki gave a long sigh, like you were an annoying child who asked too many questions. A little louder, and sounding just slightly irritated, he said,

“See, you said the same fucking thing in the forest. I don’t fucking know but this is my fucking house.”

“N-no it’s not. This is my father’s house. It’s always been my father’s house. I was here just last week.”

Katsuki gripped your wrist, trapping it between the two of you before he let go of your throat. Then he used it to spin you around, trapping you in his arms again.

“I don’t know if you’re playing or if you’re genuinely deranged,” he hissed, his temper rising now that you were talking back to him, “But get it in your fucking head. This is my home. It has always been my home.

“Then how the hell did I know to come here?” You asked sharply, too preoccupied with your conflicting memories to remember that he was a werewolf. A werewolf whose pupils constricted at the audacity of your tone.

“Do you really want to talk to me like that?” He warned, gripping your shoulders. You stared into his eyes, unsure of yourself. You were certain this was your father’s home. You knew every nook and every cranny, every tiny detail of the cottage. Then why were those pictures on the mantelpiece of Katsuki’s family? Why were they covered in dust, like they had been sitting there for months? Why did you feel like you knew who they were?

“Katsuki,” you asked, looking unsurely up at him through your eyelashes. He stiffened, tightening his grip on your shoulders.

“What?” He did not like the way your expression made him feel. He liked to hurt things. He liked to kill things. Why the fuck, then, did he suddenly have the urge to protect you?

“Have we met before?” There was something about him. He was too familiar. He still felt threatening, but you knew deep down he was a good person. A good human.

Your leg began to sear with pain, giving Katsuki no time to answer you. You dropped in his clutches, and he braced himself to hold you up. He was so conflicted. In the forest he had loved seeing you this way, and truth be told he still did, but because he was not certain your agony was down to him, he could not revel in it.

“What’s wrong?” The concern slipped out more than he intended it to. He lowered you to the floor and dragged the hem of your dress up. He swore.  “It’s never done that before.”

Your wound had reopened, but instead of blood, deep purple miasma spilled out. As Katsuki tried to find the source of the new wound, you clutched your head, images flickering through your mind faster than you could register them. Katsuki without his tail. His mother. Katsuki stood beside you. The two of you in a park somewhere. Laughter.

You clutched your skull, hoping it would stop.

Help.

You meek, vulnerable voice gripped Katsuki. He wanted to damage you. He wanted to save you. Unsure of the mess spilling from your leg, unable to claim responsibility for it, he picked you up in his arms and took you into the bathroom. You whimpered in his arms and he scrunched his nose, disallowing the scent of your fear to get to him. He lowered you into the bath and switched on the tap hoping, if anything, to wash the dark purple mess down the drain.

The visions of a different timeline slowed. Not only Katsuki, but of others. You couldn’t make out their faces but they were there, like a warm glow in your heart. Finally, you saw the image of a man—your real father. He didn’t live in a cottage on the top of a hill. He was healthy, and had a job. Why had you forgotten that?

“This-this isn’t my father’s home.” With your revelation, the images disappeared and the tight grip left your skull. Only the searing pain of your miasma-filled wound remained.

“I already fucking told you that,” Katsuki grumbled, noting how you managed to let go of your head to sit up. As soon as you were up, you wailed, flopping against the side of the tub, clutching at the wound with shaking ferocity.

“What have you done to me?” You pleaded. He clicked his tongue, reaching across to take off your red cloak.

“This wasn’t fucking me.” He wanted it to be his doing. He really wanted it to be his doing. But it wasn’t, and that meant some other slimy fucker had a hold on you. And that made Katsuki angry. Really. Fucking. Angry.

You already belonged to him.

Katsuki managed to slip the cloak off you and toss it away from the filling tub before you noticed what he was doing, too caught up in pain. When you realised, you demanded in alarm, “What are you doing?”

You let go of your wound to cover your suddenly exposed shoulders. Katsuki clenched his jaw. “Just take off your fucking clothes.”

“What? No!” You gripped your dress, holding it against you. You worried what he was planning, and it only made your wound weep and burn. You hissed, clenching your eyes tight as the electric pain shot through you.

“I wasn’t asking.” Katsuki growled. Reaching into the tub, he took advantage of your pained state, removing your shoes and socks before you could regain control of your voice or limbs. He shrugged off his thick green coat then returned his attention to you. “Stop. Squirming.”

Actually, he loved the way you whimpered, staring into his eyes like a mouse caught in a trap, but squirming wouldn’t help.

“St-stop it.” You tried to back out of the tub, but Katsuki gripped your arm, holding you with an impossibly tight grip. The more frightened you became, the worse your wound opened up. The miasma oozed into the tub, swirling with the water around your ankles. You squirmed against Katsuki until finally, with a furious click of his tongue, he heaved himself up and over into the large tub, straddling you in the water. Pinned, you panicked, but he gripped the base of your white dress, starting to float in the rising water, then yanked it up and off you.

“Do you get a kick out of disobeying me?” He growled once you were left in your underwear. You tried to struggle but with a sudden tug on your good leg, he yanked you down so that your back slipped into the water then he pinned you with a knee. He removed his shirt, his shoes, his socks, then threateningly placed a clawed hand to your almost bare chest before shuffling out of his trousers.

“Please don’t do this.” You whimpered, clenching your eyes shut. He switched off the tap, leaving the two of you in water up to your calves, then shifted forwards. The pain was unbearable. The more you thought about what he was doing, and the more you thought of the other Katsuki, the one who wouldn’t do this, the more your leg seared, like the paradox was trying to split you in half.

He lifted your good leg up, hooking it over his shoulder. With your leg in the air, and the other pinned into the side of the tub by Katsuki’s knee, you lay on your back, the warm water lapping at your face and your sides. You lifted your hand to your mouth to stifle a sob. You felt Katsuki tense, one clawed hand gripping your ankle in the air to hold you steady. You wanted this to be over. You wanted him to stop. You wanted—

You yelped as Katsuki splashed your wound, drifting his hand back and forth to push fresh water into it. You yelped again when he leaned forwards to secure your leg over his shoulder so he could attend to the wound with both hands, splashing water into it with one, rubbing at the miasma with the other. The pain began to fade.

You creeped open an eye, unsure of what was happening. Katsuki was so close, towering over you with only your overextended leg in the way of him collapsing half naked on top of you. The ears in his hair flickered when you gasped, his nails grazing your wound when you tried to move.

“Stay still.” He splashed water into your face in punishment. You spluttered. He waited for you to stop before attending to your leg. His hands were surprisingly gentle. He cupped the water in his hand, dragging it along the length of his scratches, then rubbed away the mess. Already, your leg looked better. He repeated the process again and again, until you had relaxed and until the wounds stopped seeping miasma. They still stung in a constant sort of way, but no less bearable than a scratch.

You stared into Katsuki’s face, noting the calm aspect of his usually vexed expression. He was taking his time with you, being careful not to damage you as he cleaned your wound. He felt warm and familiar—not in the sense you had been in this predicament before, but in the sense that you knew this version of him. This one who helped you when you were hurt. You did not understand how you knew him, but you did.

You closed your eyes, enjoying the gentleness of his touch. Katsuki watched you. His carnal instincts were threatening to leap out of him. It was all he could do to clean your wound instead of tearing his nails into you like he wanted. It wasn’t your all-but-naked body giving him these urges—though that wasn’t helping his fucking problem in any fucking way—but that damned innocent look on your face, like you trusted him. Like you were grateful. Like you were happy. It swelled every sort of emotion in him. He wanted to devour you but, and he could hardly fucking admit it to himself, he wanted to be gentle with you. Your innocent eyes sent shivers through him. How beautiful it would be to break you and dominate you, to punish you if you didn’t do as you were told—the girl who had already disobeyed him plenty. If he did it how he wanted to, he would surely destroy you. You would never look at him with those damned innocent eyes again, or that careful, gentle smile. He couldn’t have that.

“Oi, ____.” His voice came out strained as he stroked your thigh. As you opened your eyes to look at him, he leaned into you, trapping your leg between your chests. His face came impossibly close, and you could see the black dilation of his eyes, the excitement as he tried to hold back. “Let me violate you.”

He pushed further against you, close enough for his boxers to brush against you. Your breath hitched, feeling the bulge of his excitement. All but for his eyes, his expression remained calm. He wanted you, and he was serious.

He waited for your response.

You couldn’t think straight, looking into his eyes. They were a world away from anything you knew, but so, so familiar. He was asking you. Did that mean he wouldn’t just take what he wanted, even though you knew he had the strength to? Even though he knew he had the strength to?

Your world was turning upside down, like everything you knew was wrong, but not him. Not Katsuki. Yes, he was frightening. But you couldn’t deny the bond you felt towards him. Whatever was going on, he seemed to be the key to unlocking it. The more time you spent with him, the more events unravelled. Whatever was going on, you had to find out.

“Y-yes…”

Chapter Text

For fear of losing his lamb to hypothermia if she stayed in water too long, Katsuki pulled you from the bath and wrapped you in a towel. The weight of your words hung in the air as he lifted you and took you into his bedroom. You weren’t sure what he was going to do to you, but you were willing to submit to him if it meant answers. You trusted him not to go too far.

 He dropped you onto the bed and rubbed you through the towel to dry you, his pupils as wide and as dangerous as ever. He moved the towel to your hair, ruffling it over your head. His hands were unforgiving but he took care not to catch you with a claw.

“A-ah, Katsuki,” you whined, your complaint muffled by the towel. “I-I can do it. Please don’t be so rough.”

You sounded unsure of yourself. The worry about his intentions had a tighter hold on you than you thought. In your attempts to quell him, your vulnerable voice caught his attention in a very predatory way. He flared his nostrils, trying to hold his composure. But you were too damn helpless. Too inviting.

Throwing the towel aside, he lunged at you, knocking you down onto the bed. You squeaked in surprise but his lips found yours in seconds. He let out a low growl in the back of his throat, loving the taste of your lips even though he wasn’t sure how he had gotten here. He was trying to be gentler with you, but his urges were getting the better of him. He leaned into you, pressing his chest against yours as he nibbled on your lower lip.

Your cheeks were the colour of your riding hood. He was unabashedly forward. The smell of oak and spices filled your nostrils in a tantalising sort of way as he pressed himself against you, biting harder on your lip to demand entrance. Willingly, you parted your lips to let him in, aware of how heated your face was. He cupped your cheeks, holding you to him as his tongue dominated your mouth. Barely giving you chance to breathe, he noticed the glassy look in your eyes, as if you couldn’t understand why this felt so good. Noticing the beginning of your corruption, he felt a twitch in his boxers and rubbed it against you. You gasped.

“You like that?” Katsuki smirked against your lips. His lewd tones made you shiver. You felt naughty, the way he spoke to you, like you were perverse for enjoying what he was doing.

Katsuki broke away from you entirely, sitting back on his haunches so he could watch your corruption. You caught your breath, already missing his warm presence on your body.

“Get rid of the bra.” He ordered. His lips curled into a smirk when your blush grew. Caught under the intensity of his gaze you froze, unable to think of anything but the tautness of his boxers, as he made little effort to hide his erection now.

Your unwillingness to do as he said made him stir. Not in an angry way. He crawled back on top of you, holding his weight up on his muscular arms, his eyes staring at you hungrily. “If you don’t do as daddy says, he’ll have to punish you.”

Your embarrassed response was cut off by your breath catching. You never thought that such a line would ever work on you, but the way he said it, like nothing but total control over you would be enough, like you had to do whatever he asked or he would punish you—and he would punish you—your core felt warm at the thought.

Caught in the possibilities of his words, you made no effort to move, to do as he had asked. Katsuki smirked. With ease, he rolled you over onto your front, pinning you with a strong hand pressed down on your back. Unable to move, your heart fluttered in anticipation. He brushed aside the fabric of your lace panties, then as a warning and an invitation to disobey him again, he bit down on the plump skin of your buttock.

You yelped and bucked, but no sooner had he bit you than he licked the tender patch of skin to sooth the pain. You squirmed, able to feel the sheer force of his bite despite his gentle licks. You couldn’t say you disliked it, though.

Satisfied with your punishment, and because you were still whimpering, he pulled you up from the mattress and pressed you against him, his lips crashing heavily to yours as his warm arms snaked around your waist. He loved the way you whimpered, but he could not deny the gratifying feeling of soothing you, of being the one to take away the pain like you, his little lamb, depended on him. Like you needed him. One hand gripped the back of your head, tugging lightly on your hair, as the other slipped down to your backside where he continued to massage his bite mark.

His alternation between rough handling and comforting you was slowly driving you crazy. You could feel the wetness of your arousal between your legs, and the hard jab of Katsuki’s erection against your hip. You wanted him to play with you. To tease you. To drive you mad with seduction. You were not Little Red Riding Hood. You didn’t know who you were, but it was enough to be here with Katsuki, whoever he was to you, in this moment. You knew you needed to find the answers to who you were but right here, right now, it was hard to think of anything more than his firm grip on you and the way his blonde hair tickled your cheek when he placed long, open mouthed kisses along your neck and shoulder. You shivered under his touch.

SMACK.

“A-ah! Katsuki!” The sting of his hand slapping your rear sent a jolt through your body. You lurched forwards into him, the soft mounds of your chests squashing against his hard pectorals.

The filthy noises you made were music to Katsuki’s ears. He spanked you again and again, filling his ears with the increasingly womanly moans as your innocent outer coating chipped away. He had to be careful not to break you too far, for fear of never seeing your innocent eyes again, but he couldn’t help indulging in the sounds of your pleasure. Each noise tore through him, enticing his instincts to ravage you. If he indulged entirely, he wasn’t sure how much of you would be left in the end. He had to keep hold of his restraint.

Pushing his nose into the side of your neck, he inhaled, licking the soft skin over your pulse. He wanted to bite down. Oh, how he wanted to bite you. But the scent of your arousal, the sweet scent of your pheromones, they were more delicious than your fear. The more he spanked you, and licked you, and gripped you in his clawed hands, the stronger the scent became. He revelled in your undoing, the blissful curvature of your neck as you threw your head back and moaned.

He slid his hand from your hair and undid the clasp of your bra, pushing it off your shoulders without removing his lips from your neck, gliding long, slow licks against your windpipe. Obediently you shrugged it off, throwing it off into the room somewhere. The sensation of his chest against yours, your soft, supple breasts cushioning into him caused him to growl, running his nails gently down the length of your back.

You shivered, surrendering to his touch. Unlike when he had clawed at your leg to save you, his scratches now did not break the skin. You could tell he was holding back, that he wanted to do so much more. His breaths were ragged. He spanked you again. You cooed in his ear and he gripped your buttocks, kneading them to suppress his ever growing urge to damage you.

He lowered you down to the bed, kissing and nibbling his way from your lips to your jaw to your collarbone. His drew back, tracing the curves of your waist then got up off the bed, his gaze wandering the length of you. With your breasts exposed, his gaze felt more heated. It brought a sudden shyness to you and you raised your hands to cover yourself instinctively.

“Don’t you dare.” His earthy tones rippled through you. You fisted your hands, for a moment debating whether to listen to him, but then you caught the look in his eyes, the want for an excuse to devour you, and thought better than to push him. For now.

He took in the sight of your near-naked form; the way you lay there patiently for him, the flush of your cheeks, the shaky rise and fall of your breasts as you succumbed to him. He could smell your arousal now from a distance. It made the hairs on his neck stand on edge.

He wanted you. He needed to hear you scream his name, begging him to send you in to ecstasy.

He had dragged you towards him and put his face between your legs in seconds. The heat shot from your face straight to your core, realising what he was about to do.

“K-Katsuki…” You managed to squeak, clutching the bedsheets as he gripped your thighs to push them apart. You felt a sharp pain on your inner thigh and yelped, but when you tried to sit up Katsuki reached out, splaying his hand along you stomach.

He licked the reddening bite mark, his tongue dangerously close to the hem of your panties. “What the fuck did I tell you to call me?”

Instead of being angry, he sounded aroused. He placed a light kiss on the bite mark then trailed slowly along your thigh, his wet tongue and his lips tickling your skin. He trailed his kisses back down, inching closer and closer to your throbbing core.

You wanted him to touch you. He was purposefully keeping his distance, riling you with a damned smirk on his face. You tried to buck your hips towards him but he kept you down with the arm on your stomach.

“Naughty bitch,” he growled amusedly, letting go of your stomach to brace your thigh, using the other to gently pull your panties to the side, brushing his fingers through your trail of wetness for his effort. He gave a low groan, feeling how much he had turned you on.

You moaned, grasping the bedsheets to stop yourself grabbing his hair as he licked along your inner thigh, through your wetness. If only he would turn his head slightly, to give you the relief of touching your warmth. You were burning with the pressure of your excitement and the more he teased you, the more his tongue trailed over your skin without giving you the release you needed, the more your fingers and your toes curled.

Katsuki was not blind to your frustration. He felt his erection rubbing against his boxers at the thought of you pining for him but he wouldn’t give you the pleasure, not before you had given him what he wanted.

“Say it,” he ordered, moving his hand from your thigh to rub his hard-on through his boxers, grunting when he began to pump himself, the taste and smell of your arousal taking over his senses as he licked the flesh close to your sensitive lips.

You could hear him jerking off to you. The low grunts as he worked on himself, refusing to give you the attention you desperately needed. You knew he wouldn’t give you satisfaction until you had surrendered to him, no matter how embarrassing it was for you.

Swallowing your pride, desperate for his tongue, you opened your mouth and uttered the words he wanted to hear, “…please, daddy.”

Your panties vanished. One second you were wearing them, the next they were on the floor, torn apart and completely unusable. Katsuki let go of his erection to wrap his arms around your thighs, holding them apart. Eagerly, he pushed his face into the wet folds of your cunt, savouring the taste of you as he dragged his tongue through your arousal.

Whatever you had expected it to feel like, this was infinitely better. As soon as his tongue ran over the bud of your clit you moaned in the most unstoppable, erotic way. Your hands found the back of his head, clenched into fists in his hair to pull him further into you, his tongue lapping at you with controlled precision.

If this had been any other time, Katsuki would have punished you the moment you grabbed onto his hair and urged his head forwards, but he could forgive you this once. He was too absorbed in the sounds you made when he dragged his flattened tongue the length of your cunt, before he swapped to gently lapping at your clit, his fingers digging possessively into your thighs.

“Kats—daddy.” you moaned, bucking your hips against his face as much as you were able, his strong arms holding you back. His erection throbbed, begging to nestle into the folds of your warmth.

Keeping his tongue working on your clit, he rewarded you by inserting a finger, steadily pumping in and out. The way you tensed around him, like a single one of his fingers was enough to send you over the edge, made a deep moan rattle in his throat.

“Good girl,” he breathed against you clit. You shivered at his words as he returned his tongue to lapping steadily at your warmth.

The more you panted, growing closer to the edge, the more Katsuki found it difficult to concentrate on what he was doing. The salaciousness of your voice and the taste of your arousal had him rocking back and forth against the side of the bed, hoping to ease the throbbing in his cock. If he took you now, in the way he was, you would stop calling him daddy and start calling him monster. Your naïve expressions and that innocent aura were everything to him but fuck, he wanted to mount you and make you scream his name.

With the unrelenting combination of his tongue and his finger, it wasn’t long before you felt the swell of heat in your core, telling you that you were close to coming. You wrapped your hands tighter in his hair, your back arching as the feeling built. Your eyelids fluttered and your breathing became sporadic.

“D-daddy. Daddy I’m going—I’m going to—” but before you could finish the sentence, Katsuki withdrew his finger from inside you and pulled away, escaping the clutches of your momentarily looser grip. Feeling your heat subsiding, you whimpered, trying to catch your breath as you protested his absence. You were so close, it almost seemed cruel.

You weren’t given time to lament your losses. Katsuki climbed on top of you, discarding his boxers as he went. You caught the look of hunger in his eyes. He straddled your chest, pressing the underside of the tip of his cock against your cheek, rocking back and forth to relieve his throbbing. For a second he lost himself, grunting at the relief the contact gave him, the overwhelming pleasure of his cock against your skin. It was such a primal action but in the height of your arousal you couldn’t think of anything hotter, the way he had you pinned with his legs, rubbing himself against your face as he got himself off. He had your arms pinned between his thighs so you were unable to touch yourself. He wouldn’t allow you to finish before him.

Desperate to be touched, you panted, opening your mouth to trail your tongue along the underside of his considerable length. It caught him off-guard. When he looked down and saw what you were doing he groaned in pleasure. He took hold of his cock, positioning it so you could lick the base of his shaft while he pumped himself, quickly letting the sensation of your delicate tongue doing lewd things to his erection overwhelm him.

“Fuck,” he said hoarsely, tilting his head as his thighs started to tremble. “Fuck. ____, fuck. Good girl. Just like that. Good gi—Fuck.” You had managed to wriggle an arm free and had it cupped around his balls, gently rubbing your thumb over the sensitive skin.

Katsuki grunted and bucked, his head lolling back as you played with his most delicate area, pumping his shaft harder as he felt himself close to finishing. “Fuck… Little fucking n-nymph.”

There was a hint of a laugh to his voice, like he couldn’t believe how good his innocent lamb could make him feel with her mouth an inexperienced fingers.

With a few more jerks, he suddenly sat back off your chest, detaching himself from your clutches. You whined. You had been enjoying the raunchy spectacle of Katsuki bearing down on you, his hand working tentatively on his erection as he watched you.

He had been enjoying the view of you, too.

“Open your mouth.”

You did as you were told. With the sight of you obediently waiting to take his load, Katsuki bucked his hips a final time. He gave in to his orgasm, unloading thick spurts of semen across your face as he growled your name, lurching forwards to grasp the bed so he did not collapse on top of you.

He stayed sprawled across you until the twitching subsided. You waited, licking away the semen near enough to your lips, hoping that your heavy breathing didn’t give away how impossibly turned on you were. If his twitching cock wasn’t enough to make you flustered, the view of his tensed abdominals and jutted out hipbones sure as hell were—not to mention the way he tail swished approvingly, tickling your bare chest.

“Katsuki,” you whined gently, hoping to allure him into finishing you off. He crawled backwards until his face was next to yours. He took in the sight of your face drenched with his cum.

“Fuck, that’s hot.” He muttered. He dragged his thumb across your cheek then held it towards your lips, wondering if you would take it. When you put his whole thumb into your mouth, suckling on it, he lost his breath.

“Shit. Are you that turned on?” He pulled his thumb out, rubbing it slowly over your bottom lip. He studied you for a moment, taking in your expression and the erratic rise-and-fall of your naked chest. He smirked devilishly, leaning down to whisper in your ear, “You’ve been a good girl. Do you want daddy’s tongue in your cunt?”

You gasped sharply, inexplicably flustered by his crude use of language and the way he said it, like you were his naughty little princess.

“Yes, daddy,” you breathed, hoping the use of his nickname would seal the deal. Your nether region was already throbbing and aching for his attention. Staying on the bed this time, he was quick to revert himself back between your legs. Seeing your wetness, he gloated to himself. You truly were a naughty fucking girl, getting so excited from having his cock in your face.

It didn’t take long to finish you off. Your erotic mewling turned to full on panting and moaning as soon as he slipped a second finger inside you, dragging his tongue up and down your throbbing slit. Unlike last time, this time when you arched your back, gripping the bedsheets to keep away from his hair, he gave you what wanted. With a deep, womanly moan of pleasure you climaxed, jutting your sweet wetness against his face.

It took some time for you to still with Katsuki unhelpfully lapping at the hyper-sensitive skin of your inner lips, cleaning up the mess he had made of you. Once he was done, he stood up off the bed and stretched and you had time to regain your senses.

You rolled away from Katsuki, muffling a groan as you stretched out your legs. They weren’t used to being forced apart for such a long time—they were stiff. Stretching the kinks out, your naked body rubbed over the bedsheets and you noticed just how soft they were. That’s when the exhaustion washed over you. Funny, how the smell of fresh—well, they had been fresh—sheets could lull you to sleep. It had been such an eventful day, after all. Making yourself comfortable, you were certain Katsuki wouldn’t mind if you closed your eyes for a little while. Just for a few minu—

“Oi.”

He didn’t sound pleased. You rolled over to face him, half expecting him to throw your clothes at you to get you to leave. The first thing that caught your attention, before you noticed his pissed off expression, was his semi hard-on. You sat up, unsure of what to expect.

“K-Katsuki?” You asked unsurely. If he asked you to call him daddy now, you weren’t sure your body could handle another round of him teasing and touching you, denying you release until you were sure your head would explode.

“Get your cum-covered face off my bedsheets.”

You sat bolt upright, your face turning the colour of a cherry. “Y-you put it there!”

Katsuki raised an angry eyebrow at you, picking the towel off his bedroom floor. He rubbed it against his face and you blushed harder, realising he was wiping the remnants of your juices away. Without the air of unabashed arousal surrounding you, you realised just how lost in lust you had become.

When he was done, Katsuki threw the towel at you. He noticed your blush as you caught it. The nervous look in your eyes told him he hadn’t made a dent in your deliciously innocent aura. Perhaps if he was lucky, he could watch you break down into a horny, corrupt mess again and again, but always have those naïve eyes to look at once he was done, to tempt him to break you again.

“—ew, it’s in my hair.”

Katsuki snapped out of his fantasy to hear you whining like an infant. You had the towel in one hand, patting at your hairline with the other. Having been complaining to yourself, it came as a shock to see Katsuki glaring at you.

“What the fuck do you think you’re saying ew too?” He resented the way you said it. You weren’t supposed to be disgusted by what he did to you. That wasn’t part of the idea. You were meant to take it, everything he wanted to do to you, and you were damn well meant to be happy if not thankful for it.

Never the less, as you continued to pull faces, patting at your hair, he sighed in agitation before scooping you up in his arms. The action surprised you and for a moment you lost your voice. His naked chest was so warm. The cottage as a whole was pretty cold with only the fire to heat it, and you couldn’t notice it more than now when your bare skin touched him. You tried to nestle your face into him, but he held you away.

“Don’t you fucking dare.” He sounded almost like he was pleading, in an angry sort of way. You laughed, half-heartedly trying to press your face against his chest.

Before you could cover him in anything, he took you through to the bathroom.

“You’re welcome,” he announced dryly before lowering you into the tub. As the bath filled, he scooped the water between his hands and trickled it over your forehead again and again, cleaning away his mess. You stayed quiet, silently enjoying the way he looked after you as he gently wiped at your face and your hair. There was something strangely alluring about being pampered by a dangerous creature, like you had slipped past the rage he showed to the world, into his comfort zone.

He caught you looking doe-eyed at him. “The fuck are you staring at?”

You looked away, smiling. “Nothing.”

He splashed water up into your face. It caught you off guard and you spluttered, laughing at his charmingly playful side. As you wiped the water from your eyes, turning your head away from his hand in case he fired a second shot, you caught sight of your leg. “Hey…”

Katsuki’s ears twitched, catching the surprise in your voice. He looked down, taking slightly longer to reach your leg when his gaze took a moment to appreciate your naked body. Then he looked at your wounds. He tried his best to hold down his smugness when he saw that the miasma was gone. Completely. Whoever had put that on you had clearly lost control of you. Katsuki didn’t like to share, so this was perfect.

Once you were clean, Katsuki fetched you a large woollen dressing-gown from his bedroom. He gloated that it was made from a flock of sheep he had once stolen. You held in your retort—there were so many things wrong with that statement—but accepted it none the less when he wrapped you in it as you got out of the bath.

The two of you wandered into the living room and Katsuki yanked you down to sit beside him by the fire so you could warm up and dry. It was a very appealing sound, the fire crackling. Once Katsuki had filled the grate with fresh logs, they crackled and popped as they began to burn, warming you through to your bones.

You stayed that way for an age, nestled together comfortably like a couple of wolves in a den. Your exhaustion was creeping in, settling on your shoulders the longer you stayed cuddled into Katsuki’s naked side. He didn’t say much, staring into the flames, but when you shifted, his arm wrapped loosely over your shoulders.

It was nearly dark when you finally noticed the time.

“Oh, hell,” you said, breaking the silence. Your sudden noise made Katsuki flinch, be he recomposed himself by fixing a disinterested scowl to his face. “I’ve got to get home.”

“What the fuck are you on about?” He sounded scarcely amused, wrapping his arm tighter around your shoulders. You looked out the window at the last of the setting sun.

“I won’t be able to find my way home in the dark.”

Unhelpfully, Katsuki leaned into you, feathering kisses along the side of your neck. If he thought that would be enough to distract you, he was damn right.

“You are fucking home.” He breathed against your skin, “I’m not letting you leave.”

He was wreaking havoc with your senses. You knew you had to get home. People would be worried if you didn’t come back. Not anyone in your house—you lived alone—but people in the town. They had practically raised you as their own.

Actually, the more you thought about it, the more you realised your father may never have existed. The townspeople had raised you. Your ill father was a collective idea, a presence that everyone knew but no one had seen. You began to ponder if you had actually ever seen him. Were your memories real? Had you spent your days up until this point bringing him medicine?

Katsuki nipped you lightly on the shoulder, pushing your dressing-gown down your arm. You seemed lost in thought and he would rather have you give him your full, undivided attention. “Whatever you’re fucking worrying about, I can make you forget it.”

He pushed the dressing-gown down your body until it was nestled in a heap around your hips. You wanted to fight him, knowing you really had to go, but you couldn’t. You didn’t want to. Not really. His lips were too gentle against your skin, drawing a line from the crook of your neck down past your collarbone as he eased himself on top of you, taking your hand in his as he lowered you to the floor and climbed on top of you.

It wasn’t long before he had you on your hands and knees, his cock sliding inside you as you moaned his name, trying to grip the rug as he pounded you for some sort of grounding. You could feel his tip deep inside you each time he thrusted, and you forgot the world, everything outside the cottage. It was only Katsuki, you, and the unquenchable thirst of your arousals.

Katsuki leaned over you, pressing his chest to your back as he pushed deeper inside, gripping your jaw between his fingers.

“You’ll stay?” He questioned, pushing the words out between his panting. You weren’t sure you had much choice in the matter. Not you minded the idea of sticking around. Katsuki made you feel special, like he only had eyes for you—no matter how ravenous they were—and besides, he was the only lead you had when it came to your messed up memories. Together, you were certain you could fit the broken pieces together.

You clenched around his cock, moaning as you felt your orgasm threatening to take over. Katsuki kissed the back of your head. “Fuck. Good girl. Come for me.”

Only, as seemed to be the running theme when it came to your climaxes, Katsuki denied you your happy ending. This time, however, it wasn’t on purpose. He had frozen suddenly.

Your lewd noises died away and your eyesight came swimming back as you were pulled away from the brink of your orgasm. Yet, you couldn’t help the quick gasp as he pulled out of you.

“Shit,” he grumbled agitatedly. You asked what was wrong, but instead of answering you he hurriedly threw the dressing-gown over you. Then the front door came bursting in, splintering across the room as it shattered under the intensity of an axe swing.

Then you heard the laughter. It was not malicious. In fact, it was cheerful. Charismatically so. Your heart clenched at the sound. Suddenly, you knew Katsuki was in danger. You heard his booming voice before you saw him.

“Everything is fine. Why? I AM HERE.”

The hulking frame of All Might the blacksmith appeared, having to hunch to cram himself through such a small doorway.

“All Might!” You uttered in horror, quickly wrapping yourself in Katsuki’s clothing.

You were glad Katsuki had thrown the dressing-gown over you. To have All Might see you dishevelled and dripping with the combined juices of you and your werewolf lover was a little too mortifying to think about.

Aware that his home, his lamb and his livelihood were suddenly under threat, any trace of Katsuki’s sweeter side vanished under a glare that could kill a man cold. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing here, giant?”

Though Katsuki had most definitely not stuttered, it seemed as though All Might was not ready to pay him any mind. The perpetually smiling man had his eyes fixed on you, clearly naked no matter how much you tried to hide your shame.

“____, what has this werewolf done to you?”

Your blood ran cold. He sounded curious, but he gripped his axe tighter, drumming his fingers over the hilt. You looked over to Katsuki, seemingly unperturbed by his lack of clothing, his tail rigid as he stared All Might down.

You tried to quell the sudden static in the air, aware it would not stay as a standoff for much longer. “A-All Might, please. I-it’s okay. Katsuki won’t hurt me.”

Katsuki’s gaze flickered in your direction for just a moment, then his lips curled back into a snarl, his body tensing. Who was All Might to you? Was he the man who had stung you with miasma? Even if he wasn’t, you clearly had some bond to him. You were his, and his alone.

All Might pointed his axe towards Katsuki and you yelped, staggering up from the floor to put yourself between his weapon and Katsuki.

“Don’t hurt him!” You brandished your arms wide like a shield. You knew All Might. He wouldn’t hurt Katsuki if you vouched for him. This was a misunderstanding.

Katsuki’s heart thumped, seeing you standing before him, carelessly throwing your fragile human body between a werewolf and a giant like you had any chance of blocking the axe’s swing. Why were you protecting him? You had to know that you were a lamb, surely? Then why? Why get in the fucking way when you had no chance of protecting him?

“____,” All Might said, holding his axe steady. “Where is your father?”

Why did everyone from your village believe in your father? Why did they act like they knew him?  “You thought he lived here, too?”

You wondered why no one knew your real father. The man who wore suits and went to business meetings somewhere far, far from this land. It was as if they all believed in the same, made-up story.

All Might did not answer you. He continued to stare, holding the axe towards Katsuki with you standing in his way. Finally, he addressed the werewolf.

“Did you eat the man who lives here?”

Katsuki clenched his fist, staring the giant down. You wanted to look back at him, to see his face, to tell him not to make any sudden movements, but you feared if you took your eyes off All Might and his axe, even for a second, the cottage would be dyed red.

“Why?” Katsuki asked with rattled breaths. “Why does everyone keep saying this is someone else’s house?” His voice broke as it grew in volume. You heard his claws scraping over the furniture. You pleaded softly for him to stop. You could tell he was readying to pounce.

“Kacchan…” You weren’t sure where the nickname had come from. It shocked you in its suddenness, but it felt right on your lips. It halted Katsuki, all the same. He was right behind you. His heavy breathing fanned over your cheek. He leaned forward, the side of his face spilling into your peripherals.

“I can take him.” You were confident only you could hear his whisper, hidden in the raggedness of his breaths. He sounded certain, but not in mockery. He saw strength in his foe. He was not taking him lightly.

“Please…” you begged gently, trying to hold his hand to keep him back.

All Might’s axe wobbled. His eyes pierced you and it struck fear into you like Katsuki never could.

“You!” He boomed in a demanding voice. His whole attention was on Katsuki, the grip on his axe turning his knuckles white. “You ate the man of this house…”

Katsuki gritted his teeth, ready to retort that it was his house.

“…then you violated his daughter beyond repair. For that you…” Katsuki did not hear the rest. His anger overtook him. Beyond repair. He made it sound as though you were worthless. You did not need repairing. How could anyone believe the beautiful dips and curves of your body were broken? How could anyone think you needed repairing when your moan sounded like an animal baying graciously to the moon? The hairs along his body stood on end. You were too good for all of them.

In a single flash, Katsuki threw you behind him as All Might swung his axe into the air. The werewolf lunged forward and All Might roared with the fury of an avenger.

“No!” You yelled, trying to hold on to Katsuki. He couldn’t win. He couldn’t beat All Might. No one could beat All Might. “Katsuki, stop!”

Hearing your terrified cry, Katsuki faltered for just a second. The last thing you saw was All Might swinging the blade of his axe into Katsuki's arm before the world clouded with grey. You shrieked. Red. So much red. As the world disappeared in endless grey fog, a single stain of red hindered for a moment before it vanished into the mist.

“Katsuki!” You wailed, staggering forwards to try and protect him. “Katsuki! Kacchan, please!” You shouted for him, waving your arms in front of you to feel him in the fog. You stumbled blindly on, the fear of your loss threatening to crush you. You wandered. You wandered. The world faded away.

oOo

“Mnnnhh…” you rolled over, rousing from a strange dream. For a moment, you could barely remember what it had been about. You rubbed the sleep from your eyes, waking from your grogginess. Then suddenly, it hit you.

You blushed impossibly red. You’d been having one of those dreams. With a possessive werewolf, no less. What a dream. The more you thought about it, the more you remembered Katsuki’s—you could remember his name—hands rubbing over your chest, your legs, your—nope. Dream time was over. It was time to start your day.

It was dark. You tried to sit up but something was hanging above you. Reaching up, you pushed your hand against it. Though the thing seemed pretty solid, it moved with just a light touch. As it moved, the darkness lifted away. The world came in to fruition.

“Wait…” you looked down at yourself, finally able to see yourself in the light. You felt your heart stop.

There was something in place of where your legs should have been. Instead of legs, you had a long, glistening tail fin.

Morning!”

You looked up and shrieked, spotting a small, green sea toad swimming—swimming—towards you. Terrified, you shut yourself back into your bed, hiding the grand landscape of the ocean from your eyes.

What in the hell was going on?

Chapter Text

“Sorry, Tsu. I don’t know what was up with me. That dream made me all kinds of disorientated.” You apologised to the small sea toad. You had opened your clam-bed again and were sitting on the edge of it, your long mermaid tail dangling over the edge. Tsu shook her body, barely thinking your panicked outburst needed an apology.

“Don’t worry,” she said. “But what was it about? You seemed surprised to see your tail.”

Thinking back on the dream, you looked up from your bed into the vast ocean above as hordes of fish swam through the water, paying no attention to the sunlight filtering in from way up above. You remembered being much closer to the sunlight, in the dream. Really, it felt more like a memory.

“I had legs,” you admitted, flipping your fin at the thought. Tsu chuckled, wiggling her back two fins as if she were paddling.

“Legs? Like mine?”

“No,” you chuckled in amusement. Sea toads had peculiar lower fins that really did resemble little feet, but you doubted having legs like Tsu’s would have felt quite as realistic as the ones from your dream. “Like a human’s.”

“A human?” Tsu swam towards you, pressing the side of her small body to your forehead. “Are you feeling alright? What would make you want to dream you were a human?”

Honestly, you weren’t sure. In fact, it made your head hurt a little, trying to figure it out. To your knowledge, you hadn’t actually seen a human before. Not in the flesh. You had only seen them in discarded picture frames along the ocean floor. You had not been to the surface world, yet.

You shook off the thought, realising there was no point worrying over a dream, no matter how dreadfully real it seemed.

You went about your day, talking with Tsu as you collected sea shells, unstuck aquatic creatures from discarded plastics and played in the currents further up, towards the surface.

Still. No matter how much you tried to forget your dream, it never truly left you. It couldn’t. You could remember the sensation of walking on human legs, the feeling of grass as it tickled you, the feeling of the sun against your skin as you broke away from the forest. It felt so real, and there was so much to do. You hadn’t minded spending your days gliding through the ocean until now, but all of a sudden it seemed dull. After seeing a few drop-offs and a handful of brightly coloured fish, you had seen them all. Suddenly, you felt dissatisfied. The ocean was the ocean, but out there you were sure there was so much to see, so much to do.

“Tsu,” you asked, gliding through the water on your back. You hoped your sudden anxiousness wasn’t slipping into your voice.

“Hm?” She swam frantically to keep up with you, though it didn’t seem to faze her. You turned over and stopped, holding out your hand to halt her.

“Hypothetically… if a mermaid wanted to stop being a mermaid and…maybe be a human—just for a little while.” You added, seeing the way Tsu’s face slanted in disapproval. She rolled her eyes and let you continue. “How would one go about doing it?”

“You’re aware you sound like a lunatic, right?” She had to say it. You were a mermaid. Mermaids stayed as mermaids from birth to death. It was the same for any and all creatures. Wanting to suddenly change species because of a dream was utter nonsense. Yet, she could see you seemed a little longing. “Do you really want to try being a human? I hear it’s no picnic.”

“There’s a way?” You asked excitedly, before stumbling to correct yourself. “I mean… yes. Yes, I do.”

“Well,” Tsu thought about it for a moment, then decided your life was yours to control. If you really wanted to know, the least she could do was tell you what she had heard. Whether or not the rumours were true would be your responsibility to find out. “There’s a seawitch who lives in the wreckage of an old sunken ship. It’s west of here, maybe five nautical miles. If anyone knows how to change you into a human, she will.”

“Thank you.” You started to swim off, but Tsu did not follow. You looked back at her, already knowing the answer to your question before you asked it. “Aren’t you coming?”

To her credit, she looked pained to give her reply. She did not want to send you off on your own. “I don’t know if the rumours are true, but the seawitch is dangerous. There’s no telling what she will do. They say she asks for something in exchange for her time, and I have nothing to give.” She wiggled her body for emphasis. “At worst, you could give her your hair, or those clams on your chest, but if she had to ask me, I couldn’t give her my scales.”

The idea of the seawitch ripping the scales from Tsu’s body made your skin crawl. You did not beg your small friend to accompany you. She was much safer here.

Bidding Tsu goodbye, you set off towards where the seawitch lived, unperturbed by Tsu’s warning that the witch was dangerous. The dream of walking on human legs—the dream that felt so real—urged you onwards. You couldn’t look back.

You swam for what seemed like an age, keeping your eyes peeled for the ship. At first, the surrounding waters were filled with fish and other merfolk. It was reassuring. But the further on you travelled, the fewer living creatures you saw. In the end, you found yourself all alone, swimming through waters with a much colder temperature. Your body tingled. It felt like it was telling you to stop. Something was. Something didn’t want you here.

That feeling is what kept you going. Somewhere close by, you knew the witch was hiding, hoping to stay undisturbed. You were willing to bet the unwelcoming chill in the water was her doing; a spell to stop wanderers from finding her. You carried on, knowing you were on the right track as the foreboding feeling grew inside you, as the water’s temperature fell and the light from above faded.

Eventually, you found the ship. It was so unassuming; rotted and covered in grime, like any other sunken boat, but this was definitely the one. The ominous aura was palpable.

You didn’t give yourself time to think over what Tsu said. You swam towards the ship, hardly able to see ahead of you. It was hidden in a long, deep shadow. A shadow with no distinguishable source.  All the alarms in your head told you to turn away but you couldn’t. As you approached, something small flickered to life in front of you.

A purple light. No bigger than your fist. As you approached, it grew a little brighter, flickering in the darkness. For some reason, it made you shiver. It was not the light of an angler fish, or anything explainable. Though you felt yourself turning hesitant, you pressed on. When you were only an arm’s length away, the light vanished into nothing. Your breath hitched in your throat. You hadn’t noticed the overbearing darkness around you until now. The light had pulled you in, into a void of total emptiness. But you didn’t stop swimming. You carried on, past where the light had been. For a moment you swam in total darkness. Then another purple light appeared, further away, more towards where the ship was.

In that moment, you relaxed. You sped up, towards the light. Like the first, it vanished when you were close, but you carried on in the same direction and another appeared, close to a hole in the base of the ship. Something was guiding you. The thought was both terrifying and exciting. She knew you were here.

With the lights’ assistance you made it to the hole. It was large and jutted, like something had torn the ship open with impatient force. Perhaps, you thought, running your hand along the edge of the splintered wood, it had been the witch. Maybe she had found the sunken ship and forced her way in to make her den. Maybe she had been the one to sink the ship in first place.

The only source of light was the purple ball beside you. The inside of the boat was indistinguishable. If there was anyone inside, they had the upper hand. It reminded you of the dream—stepping into what you thought had been your father’s home, only to be ambushed by the werewolf, Katsuki. Kacchan.

“Hello?” You called out, wondering if she was home. Surely the lights meant she had to be, but you didn’t know how magic worked. Maybe they were on a timer, or a sensor? You drifted a little further inside the boat, then the light went out. You flinched as something made a terribly loud noise behind you, then when you turned back you realised the hole had been sealed. You could have thought many things in that moment, but more than anything else you could only be happy Tsu had stayed away. It seemed the rumours were right. You might have to pay to escape. You really hoped your venture wasn’t about to turn sour.

“Hello, girl.” A voice spoke from somewhere within the darkness. It made your chest tighten. It was not a woman’s voice.

“Hello?” You replied. Suddenly, you felt a little out of your depths. “Are you… the seawitch?”

Purple lights flickered into life around the hull, revealing just how large the boat really was. In one corner, still shrouded in shadow, something was moving. It was slithering. “I am. What do you want?”

The seawitch had a low, smooth voice. You had expected some kind of cackling, but if anything it was alluring. It unnerved you.

“I…I want your help. I want to know if you can change me into a human.” You kept your eyes fixed on the thing slithering and folding over itself in the corner. You couldn’t tell what it was, but it was creepy, like a black writhing mass.

To your horror, the thing slowly started untangling itself. It grew and slithered closer, into the light. You waited, knowing you were trapped, hoping you were safe. When it came into contact with the purple glow, you saw it for what it really was-- a huge octopus… mostly. Too preoccupied with the giant, strong looking tentacles, you hardly took the time to see the man’s torso attached to the writhing limbs until he was almost on top of you. You backed up against the side of the ship, and his tentacles draped themselves along the wood surrounding you, fencing you in.

You tried to speak, but your voice was gone. All you could do was stare at him as he leaned towards you, gazing at you with sharp turquoise eyes. The tentacles near you sucked against the wood, smacking against it to hold themselves in place around you. One unstuck, draping forwards over the side of your face, rubbing slickly against your cheek, then down to your jaw. You felt the fear inside you, but tried your best to seem impervious to his actions.

“Will you help me?” You had to urge the question. You did not like his silence. You did not like the way he stared, or the obvious discoloured wounds along his face and torso, which made you feel even more conflicted about being here.

After a moment, the octopus pulled back, giving you plenty of space now that he was keeping his tentacles to himself.

“What a plucky girl. Asking for a miracle even before introducing herself.” he said, sounding bored. “If I didn’t admire your tenacity so much, I’d have killed you already.”

You felt the panic rise up inside you, but the octopus didn’t seem to have any ill intent towards you for the moment. He extended a hand towards you.

“My name is Dabi. I’m a seawitch. And yes, you were right in thinking I can turn you into a human.” You weren’t sure if he meant for you to shake his hand, so you merely looked at it for a moment, then extended your own hand. He took it, and lightly tugged you towards him through the water. “Everything comes at a price, though. And something like that is not cheap. What is your name?”

For all the scars over his body, his eyes were bewitching, and his face was actually rather handsome, in a very rugged sort of way. As he pulled you towards him, you found your voice after a moment of drawing blanks.

“I-I’m ____.”

He tugged you the last distance towards him, his two human arms wrapping around you to trap you against his chest. He stared into your eyes and you couldn’t look away, only coming back to your senses when you felt his tentacles curling their way up your back.

“What do you plan to give me in exchange, ____?” He murmured, tightening his grip on you as his other tentacles took hold of your tail in a python-like hold, slowly but surely applying pressure. You weren’t sure what would be enough. You tried to think, but no matter how much you debated it, your hair and your clam bra really didn’t seem like enough. Offering them might only insult Dabi, and you were hyper aware of his muscular tentacles wrapping around you in a too-slow-to-be-kind manner.

Dabi noticed your hesitance to speak. “Well then. How about this? In exchange for your voice, I’ll make you a human for a week.

“My voice?” Your alarm outweighed your worry over his uninvited tentacles, but as soon as you’d said it you gasped and bit your tongue, waiting for his grip to splinter you. He chuckled darkly.

“Don’t worry. I’m a generous seawitch. I’ll give you it back. All I ask is that you meet certain criteria.” He eyed you, as if waiting for you to protest, but you stayed quiet. Losing your voice for a week didn’t sound all that bad, if you could get it back at the end. And you really wanted to know why your dream had felt so real, and if walking on the land really felt like that. You wanted to know how your mind had concocted such a dream. There was no way you could have possibly thought up such a thing, having lived your entire life in the ocean.

“What do I need to do to get my voice back?”

“Well,” Dabi stroked your face with a tentacle, as if lost in contemplation while he took up too much of your personal space. “I like to make the criteria something that will make the most use of your wish. In which case,” and of all the things he could have said, the one thing you never expected him to say was, “fuck the first person you see once you get on land.”

Your gills expanded as you sucked in a sharp burst of breath, shocked by his statement. “Fuck?”

“Fucking someone means—”

“I know what it means.” You assured him. Though you only truly knew what it meant because of last night’s dream. Merfolk couldn’t do what humans could, so really you should have had no experience. Yet, you felt completely equipped for battle after your mind’s escapades last night. You tried not to think any more about how you knew things that were impossible to know, feeling a strange headache coming on the more you pondered it, and instead asked Dabi if there was any other way.

“No,” he stated flatly. “Those are my conditions. If you don’t succeed after your week is up, I’ll keep your voice. I’ll drag you back and you will belong to me. So I suggest you shake what I’m about to give you once you get to the surface, or I’ll have you shaking it for me once you’re back down here.”

His grip became a little tighter, with most of his tentacles touching you in a far more caressing manner. You could feel the slick, rubbery scales as he rubbed along your ribs. It felt wrong.

“Do we have a deal?” He asked, loosening his hold on you finally. He pulled back, untangling from you to give you room to breathe. With a click of his fingers, he produced a contract. You were so in shock of him suddenly letting go that you almost took the contract straight away. But then you hesitated.

“But what if I…--” You wanted to ask if it was too late to back out. You were desperate to know what the upper world was like, but the idea of having to have sex with someone as the best case scenario, worst case a voiceless slave to a seawitch, didn’t sound worth the risk. You were a mermaid, not a human. One dream, no matter how real, wasn’t enough to justify putting yourself in danger.

“No, it’s too late.” Dabi said, shaking his head with a smirk. You wondered what he meant, but then you realised he could tell what was on your mind.

“It’s…it’s too late?” You felt the way your stomach sank. Dabi held the contract towards you.

“You should have thought long and hard before you wandered into my home. I don’t care for timewasters. If you want, I can just skip all the hassle and kill you now? You don’t have to have the week on land.”

He sounded sympathetic, but his scarred face held a devious grin that only looked more hellish in the upward glow of the purple lights. You were trapped between a rock and a hard place. Suddenly, though, having sex with someone didn’t seem like too much of a problem. It was, after all, better than death.

“We have a deal, then.” You conceded. Dabi nodded, smirking almost smugly. As he passed you the contract, you glared in contempt towards him. His smirk only deepened.

“Now, now, kitten. You started this. I’m actually being very kind to you.” You didn’t believe him. A sharpened twig materialised next to your hand, dipped in—presumably—Dabi’s ink. You looked at it, then at Dabi one last time.

“Seven days, I sleep with someone and then I get to put this whole thing behind me?”

Dabi nodded, a glint in his eyes. “Of course. It’s as simple as that.” You signed your name. As you did, Dabi added, running his hands over his chest as he stretched out his arms, “Perhaps this will teach you to be thankful for what you have. Curiosity killed the catfish, after all.”

After you were done signing, you let go of the twig and the contract, and they floated back towards Dabi. He signed his own name, binding him to duty, then the two dematerialised.

“Now then,” he said. Catching the new look in his eye, you swam back a short distance. He seemed more predatory. “For your voice.”

Faster than you could react, Dabi closed the gap between you. You yelped in surprise. Two tentacles gripped your arms, pulling them up from your sides. His smile was enough to send shivers through you, all tooth and ill intent.

“What are you doing?” You asked in a panic, another large tentacle running up your chest. To your horror, it wriggled its way below the band of your clam bra. You tried to pull your arms free, but he held you tight in place, watching the spectacle as his appendages did all the work from a distance. It had been a long time since someone had asked him for such a steep request. He really was letting you off easy. The least you could do was submit to him while he worked his magic.

With a flick of the tentacle, he yanked your bra clean off, scooping the hair back behind your shoulders with another. You gasped and pulled with all your might, but Dabi was infinitely stronger. You tried to bring your tail up but he grabbed that too, although this time he had a much gentler hold. Instead of winding himself tighter and tighter around you, he rubbed the length of your tail up and down in slow motions. Feeling his actions, you stuttered, a blush jumping onto your cheeks.

“S-stop that.” It felt too nice. Dabi watched you for a moment, enjoying the flustered, innocent look in your eyes as he tried to lure a moan from you. You didn’t want to make that sound. He gripped the mounds of your chest between his tentacles, squeezing them gently. Your face heated up again and for the shortest second you fluttered your eyes closed. He knew it felt good for you. He wondered if this was the first time you had had your tail stroked. Mermen couldn’t compete with him when it came to pleasuring mermaids. He had eight writhing tentacles, and really one was enough to send a mermaid into bliss, but he liked the way you tried to hold in your moan, like you wanted to be sent over the edge. For you, he was willing to use a few more.

He stroked and fondled you, squeezing your breasts and your tail as he tried to pull the sounds from you. “Relax, kitten. Enjoy yourself. Give in to the pleasure and groan.”

The fact he wanted you to make noises made this all the creepier. Why in the hell was he doing this to you? You couldn’t bear it—especially because it felt so good. This wasn’t part of the deal. You were fairly certain, anyway. You hadn’t read the T&Cs of the contract.

“Be a good girl and moan.” His tentacles wrapped tighter around your breasts, the very tips of them flicking at your nipples. You felt so warm under his touch. The way he was stroking you, it had to be illegal. You had no idea doing that to your tail could feel like that. You bit your lip to hold in your noises.

Suddenly, he was in front of you, his hands cupping your cheeks as he hovered his face next to yours as his tentacles worked on you. You caught the excited look in his eyes. You felt the very tip of one of his tentacles against the corner of your mouth. “The sooner you moan, the sooner you’ll transform. Or are you holding off so you can enjoy this a little longer? Am I that good?”

He didn’t sound like he believed himself all that much. He wasn’t being smug, even though yes he definitely was making you feel good, but it did sound like he was goading you. Holding your face gently between his hands, he leaned in and pressed his lips to yours. You felt the cold metal of the staples either side of his mouth. They were a shock contrast to the warmth of his lips and they pulled you—however briefly—back to your senses. Now you understood why he was trying to make you moan. He wasn’t being lewd—actually, no, he was definitely being lewd, but at least some good was going to come of it—he was trying to make you moan to take your voice. What a strange, roundabout way to take it from you. Surely talking for a minute could have been enough?

Though it was embarrassing, you decided to give in to his advances, if that was what it took. You relaxed under his grip. He felt your submission. He had intended to caress your tongue with his to force a noise from you, but now that you were willing, he had much more effective ways. He pulled away, then gave you one small peck on the lips—surprisingly tender considering the rest of his molestation—then he left his tentacles to do the work. You wondered what he was doing, until you felt the tip against the corner of your mouth again. You looked towards it, and it took the invitation. Dabi drew tickling circles over your lips until you opened your mouth to lick the tingle away, only he pushed the tentacle into your mouth, flicking the tip of it against your tongue. The sensation made you whimper, your eyes fluttering as the black, flopping limb played inside your mouth.

A whimper wasn’t quite enough. Dabi took a moment to appreciate the sight of you giving in to your desire for him; the half lulled eyelids, the unsteady rise and fall of your chest, and the constant stain of excitement on your cheeks. Then he helped to push you over the edge. Unlatching one of his tentacles from your breasts, he cupped the mound in his hand, squeezing it tentatively. You whimpered again. He smirked. You were the best fun he had had in ages.

Knowing his entertainment would come to a close the moment he followed through with his plan, he took a final second to enjoy the feel of your body in his clutches, the way you writhed below him, then finally, finally he leaned down, circling his tongue over the sensitive flesh of your nipple. You shivered, so he very gently bit down and tugged. At the same time, he withdrew the tentacle from your mouth with a smacking sound. And you moaned.

He hadn’t expected you to sound quite so charming. The deep, womanly sound caught him a little off guard, but it only served to make him take a tighter hold on you when he realised the noise excited him.

Unfortunately, though, that meant his fun was over. He suckled on your nipple just long enough to pull another moan from you, then he felt the unmistakable clenching in you as his magic took hold. Though he knew the moans that followed weren’t technically his doing—they were automatic as your voice was pulled out of you—he continued to caress you as you groaned louder and louder. Then, suddenly, it stopped.

Dabi unlatched himself from you, looking up to see the small ball of floating blue light next to you. You looked alarmed. That was to be expected. He removed his tentacles, giving you a moment to compose yourself as he cupped the light between his hands.

“I’ll keep hold of this.” He said, closing his hands around it. When he opened them, the light was gone. You opened your mouth to ask what happened now, but your voice really was gone. You couldn’t even scream.

Which, really, was a good thing. Because you would have deafened Dabi in the next instant. Your tail tore in two. There was no blood, but the pain was almost unbearable. Strange blue flames engulfed your lower half, and they burned relentlessly, on top of the sensation of your tail ripping apart. You couldn’t scream. You couldn’t move. The flames took over you and suddenly it was hard to breathe. No. It was impossible.

You gripped at your throat as the flames and the pain suddenly disappeared, and found your gills had gone. You stared at Dabi, wide eyed. He had you trapped. You turned, banging against the ship where the hole was meant to be. Dabi laughed, pulling you back towards him. He was all too ready to try out the new section of your body. You felt your lungs burning as he snaked his tentacles up your legs, rubbing your thighs with the threat of going too high. You tried to swim away using only your arms, but you couldn’t. His grip was relentless.

You looked at him, your eyes pleading. You had no breath to hold. You clutched your throat, opening your mouth in a panic, only for it to fill with water. It was horrible, having the thing that normally kept you alive suddenly trying to kill you.

You realised, then, that this was it. You weren’t going to see the surface world. You weren’t going to see Tsu again. The last moments of your life were going to be spent being molested by a seawitch who was finding the whole situation far too amusing.

But then, Dabi pulled you in close to him. He kissed you on the lips, for self-gratification more than anything, as you couldn’t appreciate anything when your lungs were threatening to burst. Then he murmured,

“Don’t worry. I wouldn’t let you die here. You’d be of no use to me dead.”

You were too dizzy to really know what happened next. You felt a torrent of water pushing against you, but your consciousness wavered. You felt yourself being pushed up through the water. Up and up and up. Then suddenly, you were above the surface. Something squeezed you to push the water from your lungs, to make you breathe. And you did. For a little while. With the aid of the water, you managed to stagger all the way to shore. But you made it no further. You fell unconscious in the sand.

You weren’t sure how long you were unconscious, but when you woke up it was to the sound of someone calling to you frantically.

“Hello? Hello? Please wake up.” You were a little groggy, and yet to open your eyes, but the person sounded extremely close by. So it shocked you when the person pinched your nose and forced his lips against yours. He breathed air into you, puffing your lungs, then all of a sudden you felt the urge to be sick. You dragged yourself up, just in time to hack up a lung full of water. You coughed and spluttered, but felt a hand on your back, holding you steady. He patted you, drawing circles near your shoulder blades to force the last of the water up.

“Well done. You’re alright now.” You heard him say. He sounded genuinely relieved. You must have been out a long time. Lucky, then, that someone had come to your rescue. You took a moment to get over the coughing fit, and the weight of exhaustion dragging on your limbs, then you dared to peep open a watery, teary eye.

You saw his heterocrome irises, the shock of red in his otherwise white hair, then the scar over his left eye. He watched you with a careful expression, but you had little time to notice much else before the shock and exhaustion—not to mention the water pressure—of what had just happened made you fall from the conscious realm again. You managed to take one more look at the man beside you.

You wondered why he looked so worried.

 

Chapter Text

When you next woke up, you were no longer on the beach. You were no longer outside. Somehow you found yourself nestled in the folds of a gigantic bed in a room too huge to be considered normal. Blearily, you sat up. The first thing you noticed was how different it felt to move without a tail; without battling water pressure when you shifted. It felt right. The aches in your muscles, however, did not. You felt battered. Your transformation and subsequent launch up to the surface had taken a toll on you, leaving you feeling drained and all around beaten. You were all the happier to be in such a plush, comfortable bed.

The next thing you noticed, before suddenly being aware that there was someone else in the room with you, was that it was a room of very high quality. The walls were donned with tapestries and a giant oil portrait of a man so stern looking and imposing that he almost seemed to be on fire. Then a person cleared their throat.

For such a small action, you nearly leapt backwards against the headboard in fright, wondering if it was the imposing man himself sat next to the bed.

“I’m glad you’re finally awake.”

You looked towards the owner of the voice, surprisingly calm considering your jittery disposition. Thankfully it was not a hulking, glaring, on-fire man at all, but the young man who had saved you earlier. He was regarding you with interest, if not concern. You could understand why. It wasn’t every day you found a naked, unconscious but alive body abandoned on a beach.

Taking note on that, you looked down in alarm, quickly bunching the duvet up around your neck to hide your naked body. Only, you weren’t naked-- not any more.

“I hope you don’t mind,” the man said, shifting to sit on the end of your bed as you continued to stare at your new nightdress. “It’s my sister’s.”

You didn’t mind at all. Clothes weren’t a problem, or really even a thing, in the ocean. Up here, though, everyone wore clothes to hide their bodies. You knew that just by looking at his regal blue tunic, and from your dream of the werewolf. It made you self-conscious; not in the least because he had already seen you fully naked and had already kissed you—well, CPR, but it was practically the same thing.

You opened your mouth to say it was alright, only no words came out. Shit. You really had lost your voice. You tried not to look alarmed by that nugget of information, hoping not to give your rescuer even more reason to worry about you. Instead, you nodded with a smile, relinquishing your death grip on the duvet.

Really, you knew it was coming. There was no way to escape it, the way you had been found. Never the less, it sent the cogs in your head whirring as soon as the man asked, “What happened to you?”

There was no easy way to explain your story—or at least, no way that made you sounds sane. Perhaps having your voice stolen was a blessing in disguise. You tried to convey that you had lost your voice, tapping at your throat. He looked puzzled by your miming, but the gravity of your actions dawned on him when you continued to flap wordlessly.

“You’re mute?” Mute. Voice stolen by a sexually frustrated octopus. Tomayto, tomahto. You nodded, none the less. He waited a moment, staring at you as he took in your wordless confession. Though you were clothed, and had a duvet nestled around your middle, you couldn’t help but feel naked in front of him. His turquoise and grey eyes had a piercing quality to them, like by looking at you he could stare through you, into the intricate workings of your jumbled head and see the sham, the lie that was your human body. You wondered what he was thinking. It was hard to tell. His expression was stoic, but even then there was a certain warmth in his stare.

He got up off the bed without saying another word. You watched as he walked over to a desk and checked through the drawers. After a little bit of rummaging, he produced a notepad, a quill and a small pot of ink. Bringing them back to you, he offered them towards you.

“Can you write?” He asked. You tried not to glare. Of course you could write. You’d been writing since you were— oh. Actually. Two sets of memories overlapped in your mind. One was from when you were five, learning to write in a classroom. The other, from when you were five, learning about the dangers of straying into the dark depths of the ocean by your merfolk parents. You weren’t sure which was real.  You were certain you knew how to write. Yet, you couldn’t deny it had been a shock even to you when you had signed your name on Dabi’s contract. Merfolk had no need to write.

Against your better judgement, you nodded. You weren’t sure where you had learned to write, but as long as you didn’t think about it too much, you were sure you could do it now. You accepted the quill and the notebook, and the man set the pot of ink down on your bedside table. Then he waited.

As your rescuer, you knew you owed him at least some sort of an explanation. Not the whole truth, but definitely part of it. That being said, you had a few of your own questions first. You had grown legs to find answers. In the few minutes of being conscious you already had discrepancies in your memories. It was time to find some answers.

Taking the quill, you dibbed it in the ink then wrote down a message. The man waited patiently, watching as you carved letters onto the paper. The fact you could write was astounding. Not many women were learned enough to manage it. It only made the matter of abandonment on the beach more troubling.

Finally, you turned the notebook towards him. ‘Who are you?’

He looked alarmed. “You don’t know who I am? Does that mean you don’t know where you are, either?”

For him to say it like that, you had to wonder if he thought it was obvious. Which made you think he was important. Which made you question the large, ornate room you were in, and his regal clothes. Your heart gave a tiny jitter when he corrected himself, composing himself, then said,

“I’m Shouto Todoroki, crown prince of Hans.” Your face dropped in shock. You were more concerned about his princely status, but he thought you were wondering about the Hans bit. “You’re in Hans now.”

You weren’t sure you had conducted yourself in quite the right manner so far, not towards a prince. Hoping he wasn’t taking it offensively, you bowed at the waist, nearly pressing your nose into the duvet to show respect. Only, he said in an awkward sort of way,

“Please, don’t do that. It’s not necessary.”

Though he said you were alright, you kept hold of the bow for a moment more before pulling yourself up, straining your stomach muscles. You had been rescued by a prince. A goddamn prince. A goddamn beautiful prince with heterochromatic eyes who hadn’t hesitated to give you mouth-to-mouth. Stuck on that thought, you slunk down into the covers, hoping to hide your embarrassed blush. What a way to start your week on human legs.

“You really don’t know who I am?” He sounded mildly amazed. You shook your head, feeling even more embarrassed. Only, and you were sure you had mistaken it, you thought you saw Shouto smile. It looked, for a second, like he was relieved. When you looked again, though, he seemed as stoic as ever.

“So please, what were you doing on the beach? What happened? Where were your…” he hesitated, and you blushed darker. You really had no problem being naked. For the most part of your life you had even gone without a clam bra. But Shouto’s awkwardness on the subject, the whole damn human construct of clothing and hiding bodies made you suddenly nervous about him thinking of you naked. A nightgown and some bed sheets didn’t seem enough cover for your liking.

You took the notepad and quill and wrote down your reply. It wasn’t the whole truth, but as much as you were willing to divulge. You were a mute. You had been swimming when something dragged you under water. You were lost and needed to find somewhere to stay while you got your bearings. You only had a week to—

You stopped writing. The world grinded to a halt around you. You had a week. Amongst all the chaos of entering the surface world, you had totally forgotten your contract. Its terms. The consequences for failing. You looked at Shouto, suddenly wide eyed. Your throat felt dry. He saw your distress.

“Would you like a glass of water?” He hurried to stand, keep eye contact with you until he turned to disappear into a room attached to the bedroom. In that moment you had little time to think. It was Shouto. He was the first human you had laid eyes on. You had a week to have sex with Shouto, crown prince of Hans. CROWN PRINCE OF HANS. Suddenly, your shock changed to joy. Of all the goddamn people in the world. A prince. A kind-enough-to-rescue-you, handsome, next in line to the throne prince.

You had to try and pass your blush and grin off as a coughing fit when Shouto reappeared with a glass of water. You took it from him and gulped it down, letting your mind frazzle for just a moment longer before you recomposed yourself. You grabbed the notepad and quill, scrunched up what you had been writing and wrote something new. You couldn’t very well ask him then and there to fuck you, although you were up for it. Shouto seemed far too gentlemanly and proper to bang someone had had just met. There was the very real worry that if you asked him off the bat, he could refuse, ask you to leave and you would not see him again. You could still remember the feeling of Dabi’s tentacles gliding over you, and his threat should you breach your contract. You had to take this slow.

You turned the notepad towards Shouto.

Please help me

oOo

You were banking on Shouto’s kind nature when you asked for him to help you, and as luck would have it he was just as compassionate as you thought, despite his near-constant emotionless expression.

You hoped he could forgive you for lying – because there was no way you could have told him you were really a mermaid on a mission, and needed to jump on his junk to save you from becoming an octopus’s plaything. Instead, you had told him that you were suffering from amnesia after waking up on the beach.

Without prompting, Shouto had insisted you stay at the palace until your memory returned. You feigned a resistance, pretending to not want to impose on him, but again he was just as persuasive, telling you that he would personally take you around the kingdom to help jog your memory.

Feeling that things couldn’t have gone any better, you were surprised when Shouto added one final request himself. You weren’t going to turn him down. He had bought your amnesia tale and been more than accommodating. You were willing to hear him out.

By now, the two of you were sat above the sheets on your bed, facing one another with very little distance between the two of you. You were poised with your notepad and quill, and he was leaning towards you on his arms, staring at you as he steeled himself to ask his request. The pause gave you time to notice his expression. His face was as stoic as ever, but in his eyes, very slightly, you could see a hint of vulnerability. Whatever he wanted to ask, he seemed to have a lot riding on your response. For someone you had just met, it was strange how seeing such an expression in his eyes could give you that many butterflies.

“____,” he said, as you had given him your name sometime earlier. “I’ll help you regardless. You don’t have to agree because you think I’ll leave you stranded otherwise. But, in return, would you consider being my guest at the ball, this coming Friday?”

You tried to hold in your surprise. With no words to express your shock, your face tried its damned hardest to shout your feelings. A ball? You were a mermaid. This was perfect! There was nowhere better to find answers than a room full to bursting with people.

You dibbed the quill in the ink, ready to reply a capital ‘YES’, only Shouto pinched the feather of the quill between his fingers to halt your writing. You were eager until you caught his expression. He looked serious. Clearly, you had missed something.

“Sorry. When I say guest, I mean my fiancé.”

Chapter Text

You agreed to be Shouto’s fiancé. After you had gotten over the initial shock, he explained that he only meant for you to play the role as an act. He wanted you to act as his fiancé during the ball to ward off the advances of wealthy kings, politicians and diplomats with their daughters. It wasn’t that he was avoiding responsibility, he told you. In fact, he loved his kingdom very much. Marrying into someone else’s influence could jeopardise his people. He wanted the time to find someone who had the same mind as he when it came to running a kingdom, and that certainly would not come from a marriage of business.

You had to admire him for his commitment to his realm. He was as kind as you had thought, if not a little headstrong.

True to his word, Shouto cancelled his other plans to take you around the kingdom that afternoon. He gave you a fine dress, a small clutch bag, then fashioned a mobile ink-well from a watch, a tiny jam jar and a strong adhesive, and gave it to you so that you could talk to him along the trip.

His thoughtfulness was almost too much for you to bear. You had bagged yourself the best possible human to seduce. It almost made you feel guilty for taking advantage of him. Almost.

As you walked together through the main square, you felt nervous beside him. He had such a strong, confident aura; you felt intimidated, trying to think of something to say in your notebook. You weren’t sure how to get closer to him. As a gentleman, you couldn’t very well throw yourself on the ground and hitch your dress up to get his attention. Subtlety would have to be enough.

You grabbed his hand, using your excitement of seeing a dog as an excuse for physical contact. It was a big dog. A big, fluffy dog. You didn’t have those in the ocean. You clutched Shouto’s hand and dragged him over, letting go so you could crouch down when the dog spotted you. You didn’t think twice about sullying your dress in mud and dirt. It bounded over, ignoring its elderly owner, and pushed its shaggy face against your cheek and over your shoulder as you hugged it, rubbing your hands through its fur. It barked approvingly.

Shouto couldn’t help but smile a little, seeing you enamoured with the ball of fluff. “At least we know you’re a dog person now.”

Of course you were. You weren’t sure why you knew you were, but somewhere deep inside you knew you definitely were. It didn’t matter that you had never seen a dog before, as they could not live underwater, because you knew that somehow you had always loved them. It seemed your venture was already bearing fruit. Hopefully, with more interactions you would learn why you seemed to have a second set of memories.

“Is anything coming back to you?” Shouto asked after a while of silence. He sounded hopeful below that layer of stoicism but you had to shake your head. You loved that he was trying. You sort of hated that you had to lie to him. If he thought you had your memories back, he might discharge you from his care. You couldn’t have that.

“Oh,” the dog’s owner called, seeing her pooch causing a fuss. “I am sorry. He just loves new people. Loves the attention.”

She couldn’t summon up the strength to pull her dog away, apologising to you for being a bother. Without your voice, Shouto stepped in on your behalf.

“It’s no bother. Really, I think ____ would be just as happy to be flattened by your dog.” When the woman looked up and caught Shouto’s eye, realising who he was, she smiled in a warm, welcoming way.

“Shouto, how good to see you again. I hope they’re not keeping you too tied up at the castle, these days.”

He offered the old lady his hand. She took it and he raised it towards him. You watched the scene with your arms wrapped around the dog, and expected him to kiss her hand. But, like a true and unimposing gentleman he raised her hand and bowed, doing nothing more, oozing nothing but respect.

“A pleasure as always. And I’ll always find the time to say hello. I’d sneak out if needs be.”

 The lady tittered to herself. “Don’t you be bowing to an old woman like me. You’re too kind for your own good. Some princess is going to be lucky to have you, one day.” You caught the way she said it, like no woman would be good enough for Shouto in her eyes. Just who was she? As you wondered this, the woman looked down at you. Her otherwise playful gaze looked the slightest bit curious. “But my, my. Perhaps you’ve already found yourself a young lady?” she winked. “Does your father know?”

Shouto laughed softly but you noticed the way he had to clear his throat, like he had just choked on his own spit. He helped you up from the floor, much to the dog’s protest, then introduced you.

“This is ____. She’s agreed to be my warding talisman at the ball.”

The woman laughed. It was from deep in her belly, like it was the best news she had heard all day. “Your secret is safe with me, young prince.”

He gave her his deepest thanks, then after a few more moments of chatter he bid the woman farewell and carried on with the tour. Once you were far enough away you pulled your notepad out, flicked the cap off the mobile ink-well on your wrist and wrote:

‘Who was that?’

“She lives here in the kingdom.” The fact he thought that was enough of an answer astounded you. They had acted like relatives. She couldn’t just be a random old lady.

But, the more he showed you the kingdom, the more you realised that he had the same relationship with everyone. They spoke to him like he was a brother, a son, an uncle. The whole realm welcomed him with a smile and he never passed someone by who called to him. If anything, it made your chance to bond with him almost impossible. You felt second place to an entire kingdom. You understood why he wanted to take his time in choosing a bride, now, though. To him, his people were his family. He didn’t want to leave them in an unworthy person’s hands.

oOo

The night of the ball came soon enough. It was on the fourth day of being human. You spent a long time by yourself, refusing the help of the maids when they tried to wash and pamper you. You needed time to think.

As far as getting closer with Shouto was concerned, you had made very little progress. He was kind and thoughtful but not much of a talker, and it wasn’t very easy for you to know what he was thinking. Without a voice, trying to speak with him was a bother. You had tried acting flirty, or cute, or interested in him, but he was just as courteous with you as any other he passed by. You wanted him to notice you. You wanted him to see you differently than everyone else. It hurt your pride that, even with trying, you didn't seem special to him at all.

After tonight, you only had three days left to fulfil your part of the contract. You needed to do something big to grab his attention. Subtlety would have to go out the window. Not tonight, though. Tonight, you were going to be respectful enough to help him. Tonight, you would be the quiet, polite, happy fiancé that he needed you to be. You would not play games.  You only hoped you could be what he needed—a repellent to the other women. With the way he looked at you, though, you were unsure you could ward off elegant aristocracy like he wanted. If he thought you were plain, like any other, then the women with poise, beauty, and wealth sure as hell would think the same. Maybe you were better off posing as a guard with a lance to keep them away.

You regretted sending the maids off. If you had any chance of looking beautiful, it was a miracle only they could have accomplished.

You did what you could by yourself, and in the end you were actually pretty pleased with the results. For a mermaid who had never used makeup before, you somehow knew what you were doing.

When it was time, Shouto arrived at your door looking more handsome than should be legal and offered you his arm.

“Are you ready?”

You nodded, perhaps a bit too ‘going to war’ and not enough ‘elegant fiancé’ as you had intended. Your eager nerves made Shouto relax a little. It was nice going into this with someone just as uneasy but willing as he was.

You took his arm, ready to go, only he paused. “Aren’t you taking your notebook?”

The notebook was clunky, and there was a very real chance the lid from your inkwell would burst open and ruin someone’s dress. The worry had plagued you for days. So, no. You would have to do without your way of communication. You didn’t plan to leave Shouto’s side, and hoped—really hoped—that he would do the talking for you if the need arose.

oOo

What in the hell had you gotten yourself into? When Shouto had said it was a ball, you had assumed it would be a small cluster of maybe fifty to eighty people, with a few potential suitors thrown in the mix. What you had not expected, funnily enough, was it to be a ball of well over two hundred people pretty much only comprised of eligible women and their chaperones and/or wealthy, influential parents. What Shouto had failed to mention was that the ball was an unofficial bride hunt.

You felt the glares of scorned women as you descended the marble staircase attached to Shouto’s arm. It was only then that he offered you a very quiet apology, smiling for the audience. One tiny sorry was not nearly enough. Every which way you looked, you were being lynched in the eyes of the other women. It was horrible.

But it was nothing compared to the way Shouto went rigid, seeing someone at the foot of the staircase. You had seen that man before, in a painting. It had to be Shouto’s father, the king, and he looked just as on-fire and intimidating as the painting had pictured. Shouto muttered another small apology before entering his father’s hearing range. Then they both displayed a very well-acted scene of a father and a son hugging in a warm, family embrace. For a second, you thought it was real. But you saw the gleam of tenseness in Shouto’s eyes. You might not have caught the flash of anger in his father’s expression, but his eyes were so similar to Shouto’s that it was like looking at an older version of him. You had spent so much time with the heterochromatic prince over the past few days that, apparently, you could now read his father’s face too. And he was pissed. P-I-S-S-E-D.

You were glad the two of them had better sense than to cause a scene in front of many important guests. Instead, Shouto backed off, reclaiming your hand.

“Father,” he said, aware of the many eyes watching the exchange, “This is ____. She's my fiancé.”

As the gasps rang out from those who heard him, you had to take your hat off to the king. He kept his inferno of anger in check. Good for him. Good for you and Shouto, really. His gaze slid down onto you in a heartbeat. You were glad you couldn’t speak. Your mouth was dry and the ability to think left you under the heat of his aggressive, controlling stare. You could only think to courtesy and so you did, bowing your chin low so it was physically impossible to hold his gaze. And you stayed down.

After a moment, the king pulled Shouto in for a second hug. With your head down, you strained to hear the conversation.

“We’ll talk about this later.”  He said in a hushed, threatening whisper. He let go of Shouto, who wobbled from the crushing hug-grip. Then the older man let out a joyous laugh, announcing loudly, “At least she knows to be seen and not heard. Others would do well to learn from her.”

You stayed low and kept your head down even though your calves started burning from strain. Fortunately, the king took leave after that. He disappeared into the crowd but you stayed down until Shouto put a hand on your shoulder. You dared to look up. He was much more stoic now, perhaps for the benefit of those still watching him, but he still held an apologetic note to his gaze. He helped you up then gave you his arm to hold. Wordlessly, he looked to you. He didn’t need to speak for you to hear him asking if you were ready for this. Your rage about his father’s attitude, and your adoration for Shouto’s love for his kingdom were all the motivation you needed to get him through this. You were ready.

It seemed, though, that every time you thought you had a grasp on the situation it proved you didn’t. Perhaps because you were mute the other women thought you were also deaf, or maybe they didn’t care that you could hear them, but their tirade of bitchy comments behind your back were relentless.

“What does he see in her?”

“No one knows who she is. I heard she’s a street urchin.”

“She’s so plain.”

“She has no grace.”

“Even my brother would make a better bride than her.”

For a while it was easy to let their bickering wash off you. Shouto kept you with him, muttering small words of comfort and empathy—as he was also aware of their comments.

“You look beautiful, ____. They’re only saying that to make themselves feel better.” You wondered if he was only calling you pretty out of pity, but it really did boost your confidence. You clutched tighter to his arm and he smiled at you, caught in a rare moment. No one had called to him yet, striking up conversation. In that eternal second, the two of you looked at one another. You regarded each other for who you really were; two people who did not want to be here, companions in this gruelling quest, but also two people who were very lonely even though they were surrounded by people.

You had no one. No memories. No friends. No one you could talk to about the strange, overlapping paradox in your mind. He had a father who hated him and people who only wanted to use him for his power. You understood why he loved the townsfolk now. They knew they could never become part of his aristocratic world; it just wasn’t done. But they loved him and appreciated him all the same, and he loved them.

Why did it have to be Shouto? Why did you have to use him too?

When yet another man with a white beard and too many medals called to the heterochromatic prince, you managed to use the distraction to wiggle your arm free. Feeling you break away, Shouto looked back at you. His eyes pleaded with you to stay. All you could do was look apologetically at him then disappear into the crowd. You knew he couldn’t follow you. His royal duties bound him to mingle with the other nobles. You felt guilty for leaving him to fend them off alone, but you needed to get away for a while. Suddenly, this all seemed far too much.

You had borne the brunt of the visiting women’s bitchiness for the whole night. But, as you made it to an open door that led onto the veranda, somehow their comments finally snipped at you. With a deep, shaking sigh you fled outside to get some fresh air before you either cried or turned around and punched the closest gobby princess.

The castle grounds were fairly large. You ran a distance to make sure you were away from the prying eyes of the party goers. You didn’t know where you were going, really. You just wanted somewhere to think. You found that place in the castle’s garden. The windows of the ballroom were visible from here, but it was too dark outside for you to worry that they could see you.

The garden was a lovely place, with tall, trimmed hedges, bright flowers and the most spectacular white fountain. The sound of the water as it hit the pool in the basin reminded you of the ocean. It also reminded you of somewhere very distant, sitting at a desk, looking out at the rain against the window as you learned heroics a long, long time ago.

You weren’t sure what was real any more. Not here. Not being a mermaid. Not those hazy memories of another world. You looked down at your hands and clenched them, wanting to believe that you were real. You just didn’t know.

Sighing, you sat down on the wide edge of the fountain, unconcerned that the spray was spattering onto your dress. You leaned down and lifted your legs up so that you were sprawled on your back across the white stone, then lowered one hand into the water, drifting it lazily back and forth as you looked up into the night sky. There was the moon, completely round and as bright as snow. No matter which life you thought of, the moon was always there. You remember looking up at it through the water, along with the stars and the clouds. It was harder to see the stars from here—the light from the party shrouding them. Even in those hazy could-be-real memories, you remember the moon. You remember looking up at it, watching it with a close group of friends. You couldn’t remember their faces, but you knew they meant a lot to you. The more you thought about them, the more your heart warmed. Maybe you weren’t alone. Maybe you were just lost.

O

Shouto stepped out onto the veranda, ignoring the calls of the other partygoers to join them. No doubt, his father would have another reason to reprimand him later but for now he did not care. He needed to find you.

It was that look in your eyes as you had let go of his arm and backed away, like something was troubling you more than you could articulate in writing. He knew something was wrong. He had a suspicion that you amnesia might not have stuck around for long, if at all. Something was hurting you, and he wanted to help you if he could.

He set off around the grounds, treading lightly so he didn’t frighten you off. Some part of him wondered if you had run away because of him. He didn’t know why that would be true. He only wanted to find you and find out what was worrying you before you had chance to run off completely. He didn’t like that idea. He had never spent a few days with a woman and felt so alive. Normally, the only women he met were princesses. They were a haughty bunch with nothing on their minds but pleasing their fathers through marriage. You didn’t care about any of that. You didn’t care about looking perfect all the time or keeping up appearances. You wore your heart on your sleeve and didn’t mind getting dirty, or meeting the townsfolk. He really liked that about you.

He turned the hedge that led to the garden and spotted you lying on the edge of the fountain. Shuffling backwards, he hid with his back against the hedge, hoping you hadn’t seen him. The shock of you just lying there had caught him off guard, and he didn’t want you to see him discomposed. That only proved his point, though. You didn’t care for protocol. You were happy to let loose whenever, and wherever. It also proved that he was a victim of his upbringing. He was jealous that you could be so carefree when there he was, worrying you might see him flustered.

Steeling himself, he turned the corner again. You had not moved. You did not notice him this time, either. He took a step forwards but then he looked at you. No, he really looked at you. There was something about the way the moonlight shined upon your skin. You were enchanting. The way your hair tumbled in cascades over the side of the fountain and clung to your face as the fountain sprayed you, and the way it made your skin dewy in the moonlight. The way you stared longingly up at the stars, humbled by your own existence, looking lost where no one could reach you. He had never seen someone so beautiful.

He only let himself stare a little longer before he turned abruptly, striding away from the entrance to the garden when he heard the unmistakable rumble of his father’s footsteps. He was happy to take his father’s wrath, but he didn’t want the king finding you, only to subjugate you too.

“Shouto!” The man yelled, catching sight of his son—not far enough away from the garden for Shouto’s liking. He stood his ground, squaring off so the king could go no further.

“Father,” he said, keeping all traces of doubt or distaste from his tone.

“Don’t you father me, boy.” The burly man spat, brandishing his fist like a weapon. He stopped just short of Shouto, standing tall so he could look down at his son. Shouto was not intimidated. He had grown his entire life under the control of his father. But the man had no say when it came to Shouto’s marriage. The king needed to hurry up and die so he could take control and do what was right by his people.

The king did not like that Shouto was standing his ground. He gritted his teeth. “What was that? In there? Your fiancé? Don’t make me laugh. That girl is as much use to this kingdom as a fishing rod with no line. Get back inside, tell them she was some mental patient you felt sorry for and find a proper bride.

Many years of serving his father had taught him how to hold in retorts. He did not care what his father did to him, but that usually spurred the king to go after the people he cared for. And he definitely cared for you. It took all his strength not to snap back to defend your honour. You were not worthless. Actually, if he really were to take you as his bride you would be a damned sight better than most of the women at the ball. You couldn’t speak, but he saw the curiosity in your eyes, your enthusiasm for life, and the kind heart in your chest. Your compassion was what this kingdom needed. He knew one day he would need to take control of the defences, the military. He needed someone by his side who could love his people if he was unable. He was sure you could do it.

Swallowing his backlash of insults and hatred, Shouto glared up at his father instead. “I will not find my bride here. I was opposed to this ball from the very beginning. You need to trust me to make my own decisions.”

“Trust you? How can I trust you, when you announce to the world that you are marrying a nobody? I have brought a lot of important people here tonight. The least you can do is get back in there and at least look.”

The king looked close to bursting with rage. Shouto did not speak again. He let his father seethe.

Eventually, the king gave a growl of annoyance then turned and headed back to the party. Shouto stood his ground until his father was out of sight. He waited a short while longer. Then he said,

“Come out.” He twisted to look at the hedge that hid the garden. After a moment you appeared, looking very shy and meek. “You heard everything, then?”

You looked far guiltier than you needed to. It was his fault, not yours. You clutched at the side of the hedge, staring at him with your hair stuck to your face, your make up a little runny from the fountain and your dress wet. You were a mess, but you were beautiful.

Shouto felt like he had to explain. He didn’t often say what he was really thinking, and he must have sounded like a heartless bastard while talking with his father. He walked over and took you by the hand then guided you back towards the fountain, where the party could not see the two of you and ruin things with their overbearing judgement.

He sat you down on the edge of the fountain. You looked so crestfallen. He took the space beside you. All at once your expression changed from disappointment to worry. Shouto wondered what the matter was, but you reached up with both hands to block the fountain’s spray from hitting his hair.

“It’s okay,” he said, lowering your hands. “I’ll just get wet.”

You frowned like a henpecking mother, but he assured you he didn’t plan to return to the party anyway. He didn’t need to look pristine any longer. At which point, his composure shifted.

“I’m sorry,” he said, “about my father. And me. You aren’t worthless. You’re far from it.”

He looked at you, expecting you to look sad. But you took him by the hand and squeezed it tight. You knew he was sincere. It was so easy to talk to you. The castle wanted him to be strong and proper—to never show his weakness. But around you, he felt like he could.

“I want someone by my side who will strengthen my kingdom. My father rules with an air of fear, but I’ve spoken to my people—I know them. They are so much better when they are allowed to stand on their own. I don’t know what to do. I feel like I’m being pushed to choose someone simply because they’re in front of me.”

His confession felt like a lot, and he wasn’t sure how you would react. You hadn’t brought your writing equipment so all he could take from was your facial expressions. Or so he first thought. He caught the look of determination in your eyes.

In a series of manic hand gestures, you pointed at him, flexed your non-existent muscles, drew a round object in the air then held one finger up. Shouto had literally no idea what to make of it. You did it again, your eyes wide with excitement and determination. He felt like you were giving him an emotional motivation speech, but he really wasn’t sure. You did it again.

“I’m… strong?” he guessed at the first two gestures. You lit up and flapped your hands, telling him he was right. “I don’t know about that…” you pushed your finger to his lips to hush him, which shocked him enough to keep him quiet. You smelled deliciously like peppermint. You ran through the next gestures again, then pretended to put a crown on your head. After a while, it finally clicked. “I’m strong enough to run the country on my own, and don’t give up?”

You clapped. He needed to permanently fix that inkwell to your wrist. You looked so pleased with yourself though.

“Thank you,” he said honestly, “but I don’t know about that. We’ll just have to see, I guess.”

O

You didn’t like that he was acting so unsure of himself. His father must really have gotten to him. From what you had seen of him in the main square, he was the people’s prince. He had their best interests at heart. He was kind, had rescued you from drowning without knowing who you were, and he was very strong. The muscles under his shirt told you as much. He had the body, brains and compassion for the job. He didn’t need a bride!

“So,” Shouto started, looking you in the eyes. You felt your cheeks prickle. That look could melt ice caps. “Why were you all the way out here? What made you leave the party?”

Crap. More charades. It took him long enough the first time around. Well, he was being honest with you so perhaps it was alright to open up to him… just a little. Through an intricate display of gestures, you told him that you got sick of the women belittling you and wanted some fresh air. Once he finally understood, he nodded.

“I know what you mean. I’ve had the young dukes and princes glaring holes into my back all night. I’m sorry I put you through that.”

You shook your head to tell him it was fine. Really, the cattiness had only been part of the problem. You didn’t want to use him to save yourself. That was the problem.

“Is there something else you want to tell me?” Shouto asked, tipping your chin up so you had to look at him when you tried to glance at the ground. He sounded so concerned for you. It was almost painful. You wanted to tell him you were in trouble. You wanted to tell him he was the only way to guarantee your safety, for him to ravage you and then to never see you again. It was a real likelihood. Your contract bound you to return to the ocean one way or the other. Your only options were to return home free, or return as a sacrifice. There was no option to stay.

You felt the worry building inside you. It hurt. You wanted to tell him everything but you were worried he wouldn’t understand.

All of a sudden, he melted those worries away. He stood up, standing to attention, then turned and offered you his hand, bending low so his face was close to yours. “I know there’s something bothering you that you don’t want to tell me about. But I won’t pry. If you want to tell me one day, I’ll listen. But for now,” he stretched back to his full height but kept his hand extended towards you. “May I have this dance?”

You only noticed you could hear music when you moved away from the clamour of the fountain. Shouto held your hand, rubbing his thumb over the back of it as he guided you to a separate part of the garden, still just as hidden, with a bricked patio. He didn’t have to do this. You weren’t on show here. You expected there to be hidden cameras from the adoring way he was looking at you, but it was just the two of you, alone and in the music.

With the elegance of…well… a prince, Shouto guided your hand out to the side, then took you by the waist with his other. You were glad your voice was gone. He couldn’t hear you stuttering and stammering, but the blush didn’t hide much. Following suit, you put your hand on his shoulder, then he began to sway you in time to the music, your body so dangerously close to his. Your face so close to his. Your lips a breath away.

“You’re beautiful, ____.” His definitive tone made you swoon, like you had no room to argue. You didn’t feel all that pretty. You knew your hair was a mess from the way it was clinging, and your dress felt heavy and droopy from being damp, but for some reason you didn’t care. You believed his sincerity with every fibre of your being. He really thought you looked beautiful.

You swayed in time to the music, feeling at peace for the first time since being human—since waking up from that strange dream, actually. In his arms, you forgot everything that had happened and everything that was to come. You loved his warmth, and his scent. He seemed emotionless at first glance, but he was far from it. Rescuing you on the beach had been enough proof. You weren’t sure what had made you worry that he didn’t think of you as special. You felt like the most important woman in his world right now. Nothing could wake you up from this dream.

Or so you had hoped.

But reality had a horrible way of slipping back into your senses. As you dared to lean your head against his chest, hearing his heart beating like a bee’s wing, the horrible truth of the situation set in on you.

This was it. If there was going to be a time to seduce Shouto, it was tonight. It was now. He had already told you he did not intend to return to the ball. You were both in wet clothes and needing to change, and romance was swirling through the air like a drug. You had to do it tonight. You needed to seize this moment, stop thinking, seduce Shouto and take advantage of him.

You lowered your head to hide your saddened eyes.  Unintentionally, you squeezed his hand tighter. When you realised that you had done it, you went slightly rigid, hoping he hadn’t noticed your sudden inner turmoil.

He had, and his response gave you butterflies, “Whatever’s wrong, I’ll help you. Don’t let it worry you.”

He squeezed your hand tighter.

You couldn’t do it. You couldn’t bring yourself to seduce him. It wasn’t right. Not after all of his kindness, and his confession to you that most people only bonded with him to use him. You couldn’t do it, even if it cost you your life.

You let go of his hand and his shoulder, bounding forward to throw your arms around his chest in a terrified but affectionate hug. Somewhere along the line, feelings had bloomed inside you for the heterochromatic prince. They were impossible to deny.

Shouto hugged you back in an instant, pressing his cheek to the top of your damp hair as he held you close. You committed every detail, every second of it to your memory. After tonight, you had three days left.

If the two of you only had three days together, they were going to be the best three days of your life.

Chapter Text

You didn't leave Shouto’s side. He didn’t want you to. Throwing caution to the wind, he rushed his royal duties so that he had the rest of the week free to spend with you. You didn’t have the heart to tell him you would be gone in three days.

You tried not to let the fear of your future get in the way of your time with him. In fact, being with him almost made you forget what waited for you. On the first day after the ball, Shouto took you horseback riding along the beach where he had found you, then around the countryside. You shared a horse, of course. He asked if you knew how to ride, but the thought of your would-be fish-tail trying to navigate a horse on open terrain sounded a terrible idea to you.

So Shouto had you sit behind him on his gleaming white horse, telling you to wrap your arms tightly around his middle to hold on. Then, for the first few minutes he had his horse canter as fast as it could through the sands, and should you have had your voice, you would have shrieked with delight at the feeling of the wind whipping through your hair, or the way Shouto touched his hand to yours as he slowed the horse down, asking if you were alright.

You nodded your head eagerly, thrilled by the experience. You squeezed him tight to let him know you wanted to do it again, and so he did, thundering through the countryside, keeping one arm held over yours against his waist to make sure you were safe.

On the second day, he took you to a local café set against the water’s edge, overlooking the vast ocean. The owner gave him the best spot on the veranda—a perfect place to view the landscape. Hanging flowering vines fell from the canopy, and you could see giant boulders just below in the water, breaking up the waves.

Shouto spoiled you that day, ordering you anything and everything you wanted off the menu. The owner was happy to oblige, passing not-as-subtle-as-he-thought winks to Shouto, raising his eyebrows towards you as he delivered the dishes. Shouto noticed that you could see what was going on-- that the owner was hoping Shouto had found himself a wonderful woman-- so he could only smile apologetically, telling you the townsfolk just wanted the best for him. You thought it was sweet.

You ate together, enjoying each other’s company as the sea breeze brought you memories of your home in the ocean. You doubted you would ever get the chance to see it again, your home. Or Tsu. You weren’t sure what awaited you, but the seawitch had mentioned killing you twice in the space of one short conversation.

You shook your head, pulling yourself away from the thought of your death, tucking into a large chocolate blancmange. But Shouto had seen it. He saw the look in your eyes—the longing, the fear, the uncertainty. He saw the way you stared at the ocean. It wasn’t the first time. He caught you looking out to sea from time to time, as if lost in a thought or a memory. He didn’t want to pry, so did his best to distract you.

On the third day, the final day, though, the air of unease never left you. There was something about you that Shouto couldn’t place. It was as if something was eating at you from the inside. That day, he took you through the park, walking with your hand placed tentatively on top of his, and he tried to breech the topic, to ask what was bothering you.

You had become very important to him in such a short space of time. No other woman was quite like you. You didn’t need a voice for him to know you were a good, honest person. He didn’t like to see you hurting.

When he asked if everything was alright, you suddenly smiled so brightly he knew it was forced, then you let go of him to dash off towards a cluster of ducklings by the park’s pond.

He sighed to himself. Perhaps his feelings weren’t reciprocated. Perhaps you didn’t believe he could help you. The feeling weighed on him. Somewhere inside he knew. You were going to leave.

oOo

That night, the two of you had dinner in the palace. It was a spectacular meal with almost no expenses paid. Even though you had eaten plenty for lunch, you ate just as much now. It was your last meal. You savoured every bite.

You knew Shouto had his eye on you. You hadn’t hidden your fear very well, all day. The last few days, it had been easy to forget what waited for you, so swept up in Shouto’s overflowing kindness, thoughtfulness and charm, but it was hard to forget about death when you were nearly on its doorstep. You wondered how long you had left. Maybe you had until midnight. Maybe it was sunrise. The only solace in your last hours was the knowledge that you had not betrayed Shouto’s trust. You would be lying if you said you hadn’t thought about one last desperate attempt to seduce him, to throw yourself on him to save your life, but you just couldn’t bring yourself to do it. Not to Shouto.

You tried to look at him, to take in his face and his mannerisms, the handsomeness of his jaw and the way he still looked good slurping soup, but the longer you looked, the more you felt a well of tears prickling your eyes. These were your last moments with him. These were your last moments as a human. They were possibly your last moments alive. You wanted Shouto to hold you, to whisper kind words into your ear to reassure you that maybe it would be alright. Maybe it would be quick. Maybe it would be painless.

You couldn’t tell him, though. You had to wait for your death alone.

When you were done with the meal, you felt empty. Things began to slow around you, like the sounds of the maids, the clattering cutlery, your chair scraping back across the floor as you rose to your feet. Shouto rose, dabbing his lips with a napkin.

“____, I—” he looked towards you, ready to wish you a goodnight, only you were in front of him before he realised it. He caught the look in your eyes again. That fear. Then, shockingly, you threw your arms around him and hugged him tight.

You tried to take in the moment. You held him just for an instant, but you held him as tightly as you could, trying to say goodbye, trying to say thank you. Somewhere along your journey, you had forgotten all about your separate memories, and your quest of discovery. Shouto had brought you nothing but joy in your final week. You couldn’t tell him how sorry you were. There were no words to express how awful you felt, knowing you were about to abandon him with no warning, for him never to see you again.

Somehow, though, you knew it would be easier for him to believe you had fled. His heart was too kind. You didn’t know what it would do to him, knowing that you had perished instead.

You pulled away, keeping your head low so he could not see the tears in the corners of your eyes. This was awful. You hated it. You wished you had never cared what lied beyond the ocean, because this was too much.

Refusing to look at him, knowing it might break you, you turned and left the dinner hall, heading towards your bedroom. But Shouto saw your eyes. He couldn’t watch you cry.

Inside your room you finally, finally broke down. You barely made it through the door before the tears rolled down your cheeks, crying silently because you had no voice to wail with. You pressed the door shut with your crumpling body, then managed to make it to your bed. You wanted to sleep. You hoped you could. You wanted just a few hours to forget, to live inside a dream before reality came crashing down on top of you.

You started to untie the lace on your dress, wanting to change into your nightgown, only there was a knock at your door. You knew it was Shouto. He had made it his policy not to enter unless you let him in, because you couldn’t shout to tell him you were indecent or busy. You knew that, so you left him at the door. You had said your goodbyes—you couldn’t do it a second time.

However, this time, Shouto was not willing to let you ignore him. He opened the door and let himself in. Shocked that he had done so, you scrambled up from the bed, wiping at your eyes desperately. You didn’t want to talk. It was too painful. Instead, you went into the ensuite. Or, you would have done, but Shouto blocked your path.

“Please,” he said earnestly, “Tell me what’s wrong. I want to help you.” You shook your head but he held your shoulders, refusing to let you go. “Are you hurt? Are you in trouble? Please, tell me.”

Even with your tear-blurred eyes you could see his concern. He wasn’t being stoic now. In fact, it felt like he was laying his heart down on the line to get you to trust in him.

You made a gesture towards the bed, where you had thrown your notepad when you collapsed. Trusting that you wouldn’t lurch towards the ensuite—which had a lock on the inside of the door—Shouto let go of you. You drifted towards the bed, picking up your notepad, then sat down on the window seat that overlooked the ocean. The moon was out, and not a cloud in the sky to hide it. Just like always, it was beautiful.

Shouto joined you, perching on the other half of the window seat. Now that you were willing to talk to him he didn’t want to push you into confessing every tiny detail. He gathered this would be hard for you. You could go at your own pace.

Slowly, and it almost hurt your hand to do so, you wrote your message to him.

I won’t be here when you wake tomorrow.’

Shouto couldn’t hide his saddened frown. He had suspected as much. “But why?”

He needed to know. You were reluctant to tell him. Instead, you wrote:

You won’t believe me.’

“You don’t know that for sure. Trust me enough to let me decide.”

You bit your lip. His gaze was so sincere; it was hard to imagine him rebutting you even if you told him the tallest tale you knew. But you feared the truth would hurt him. You worried he might think your time together had been a sham. You didn’t want him to hate you. Shouto touched your hand, sensing your unease.

“It’s alright,” he said. “Please.”

His encouragement was enough. You wrote a lengthy story, using many pages. He waited patiently, letting you pour your heart into your words, then finally you stopped. You handed him the notepad, fear evident on your face.

“It’s alright,” he said soothingly, accepting the notebook.

You waited restlessly. Shouto was slow, reading every word with care. Each time he turned the page, you looked at him, waiting for him to look back at you to give you some indication of how he was taking it, but his face was completely unreadable. It was unbearable.

You had confessed everything: that you were a mermaid; that a seawitch had transformed you; that he had stolen your voice; that you were going to be dragged back to the ocean; that your life was in danger and the only way that could have saved you would have taken advantage of Shouto and, although you had considered it at first, you couldn’t, wouldn’t do that to him because he had a special place in your heart.

Amongst your raw confession, you hadn’t had the strength to tell him you were supposed to seduce him. He didn’t need to know that detail. It was enough to tell him you were supposed to use him, and that you had been shameful enough to nearly go through with it.

Finally, Shouto rested your notepad on the seat between you. You looked at his face, but he was looking at the ground. He wouldn’t meet your gaze.** Shakily, you picked up the notebook again and started to write that you were sorry, forget you said anything, just know that tomorrow you would be gone; only he put his hand over yours, holding the quill. Then, after what felt like an eternity, he met your gaze. It made your heart skip a beat. His eyes were determined.

“What do I need to do to save you? If you have to take advantage of me, so be it but I won’t let you die.”

Your shaking hands lasted long enough to write a reply before you broke, collapsing into his arms as relieved tears streamed down your face. Maybe, just maybe, Shouto could protect you.

He took the note from your quivering hands, an arm loosely circling your shoulders.

How can you believe me?’

He closed his eyes, sighing, then pulled you against his chest in the tightest hug he dared give you.

“I have no reason not to believe you. You said so yourself. You didn’t want to use me. You weren’t going to tell me about this either.” He said, stroking your hair to comfort you as you tried to compose yourself, “Besides, I saw you, the night of the ball by the fountain. I saw you looking at the ocean. I knew you weren’t like other women. You were more ethereal than any human could ever be.”

You lifted your head to look at him, and he cupped your chin. When you looked at his eyes, you saw the care in them. He wanted to protect you.

“You won’t use me,” he reassured you softly, “I want to help you.” With you nestled against his body, he reached down to retrieve your notepad. “Please, tell me what you need.”

You took a moment to appreciate his expression. He was regarding you with total devotion, like no request was too much. You took the notebook, picking up your quill, then gave yourself room to write. A small part of you still felt like you were using him, but his reassurance told you it was okay. You wrote your reply then closed your eyes and turned the paper towards him. You couldn’t force yourself to see his reaction to:

I have to sleep with you.’ There was no way in hell you were writing we have to fuck/bonk/get jiggy during such a tender moment.

The problem with having your eyes closed, though, was that Shouto had a very monotone voice, so when he said,

“Wait… what?” You had absolutely no idea whether he was shocked, laughing, horrified or otherwise. You mustered up your courage and opened your eyes, preparing for the worst. He was staring at you with wide, heterochromatic eyes, his mouth slightly ajar. The fact he wasn’t frowning was something, at least. You could rule out horrification.

“By sleeping together... do you mean—” the only indication that he was feeling anything, was the way he stuttered the final word, like he was gasping on air, “S-sex?”

He wasn’t phased by saying sex, so you had to believe his stutter was from something else. Perhaps, then, his stutter had come from the idea of having sex with you. You nodded your head ashamedly. Maybe he thought the idea was repulsive. It made you feel awful, inside. The idea of him forcing himself to have sex with you to save you hurt just as bad as the idea of letting yourself die.

You scribbled onto the notebook again, then turned it to face him.

I’m sorry. You don’t have to. It was a lot to ask. Thank you for believing me anyway.’

Shouto got half way through the message then forced the notebook onto the seat, knocking it out of the way.

“Of course I want to.” His earnest response made you turn pink. “It just shocked me. I wasn’t expecting you to say something like that.” He took the book from you entirely, placing it on the windowsill. “I was expecting extortion, actually.”

You wanted to tell him that you had literally no use for money whatsoever but he had your notebook. The grandeur of his words settled on you. He wanted to fuck you and sounded rather eager. You wondered had you had asked him days ago if he would have said yes back then. Still, you were glad you waited. You had so many wonderful memories with Shouto now.

“Do we have to do anything specific while we have sex?”

Shouto’s near-innocent question knocked the wind out of you. He was talking about it like he was going to the market and wondered if you wanted anything while he was there. Your head was heavily loaded with lecherous acts and spicy scenarios. Instead of lying, forcing him into an unspeakable, perverted act, you shook your head to tell him it was pretty freeform.

It was a lot for him to take in, you knew, and he was taking it surprisingly well. You could dream of returning to the sea unharmed, able to believe in Shouto’s kindness. You wondered how your week would have played out if you had met someone else before Shouto.

He took your hand.

“And you…” he said. You? What about you? He didn’t finish his sentence straight away, filling you with unnecessary panic. “… are you okay with this?” You nodded but he asked again to be absolutely certain, “you want to have sex with me?”

When he put it so straightforwardly like that, you felt ashamed for nodding. You stood up to walk away, feeling dizzy with embarrassment only Shouto pulled you back by the hand. He sat you down, taking both your hands to reassure you.

“Please don’t be shy.” He rubbed his thumbs over your knuckles, giving you a rare, genuine smile, “I want this too. You’re kind, fun. You’re beautiful. It would be my honour.”

If he meant to calm you down, his plan backfired. You felt hot and flustered and embarrassed and absolutely smitten. Ten minutes ago you had worried about using him. Now it was his honour to take you. Time spent with him told you he was the kindest man you knew—he was no pickup artist. His words were genuine. You couldn’t even break your hands free from him to fan your face. You were flustered beyond belief.

Quiet relief washed over you. You were going to fulfil your contract. You felt lighter, able to think of a future. Then a more pressing matter weighed on you. When were you doing it? Where were you doing it? How did you initiate it? Would it be a quick 1-2-3, then he’d leave you be? You didn’t really want that. Did you have to get undressed and then meet in the middle? Were you doing it here? The bed? His bed? Did princes have any laws or regulations to follow regarding this sort of thing? Did you need to—

Shouto leaned forward, pressing his lips gently against yours. The worries melted away in one kiss. He drew back and smiled. He was so handsome. He spoke, each syllable reassuringly gentle.

“If tonight is all we have, I don't want to waste a second.”

You found yourself nodding, bewitched by him. That same, soft smile stayed on his lips as he reached forwards, scooping you into his arms. He lifted you with ease then lay you on the bed before crawling in beside you. You gulped shyly. This was a far cry from the seduction you had planned. This was different. This had feelings. His feelings. Everything about it was tender, and caring. He stroked your cheek with the back of his hand, leaning in to feather a kiss against your lips. You were glad your voice was gone, certain you would have mewled otherwise.

Shouto sat up, turning his attention briefly towards his tunic and undershirt. It was a wonderful sight, watching him undress above you, and one hell of a nice surprise when he shrugged off his shirt to reveal contoured stomach muscles— all-over muscles, actually.

After discarding his clothes, he crawled on top of you. You were ready to take your clothes off, too but Shouto stopped you. He kissed your cheek, then the crook of your neck.

“You don’t need to rush,” he breathed against your skin, sending shivers through you. He pressed a kiss against your collarbone, then another, feathering his hands along your waist as he caressed you. He was careful with his movements, taking his time as he eased the collar of your dress down past your shoulder so he could claim more of you.

Your body was tense, worrying that he might change his mind and leave you to your fate, but with each new area he kissed, you felt yourself relaxing, clearing your mind enough to enjoy his touches. He could sense your nerves. He caressed you, telling you he did not do this out of duty alone. You had a special place in his heart that he doubted any other woman could ever fill. His heart hurt, knowing that you could not stay. There was a great sense of loss within him, even though you were in his arms.

But he was glad. Glad to have met you. Glad you had trusted him enough to tell him your worries. Glad that he could save your life in the most caring, intimate way. He only had a few hours left with you, and if that was all he had, he planned to make you feel like the queen he had wanted you to become.

You felt yourself waking the more his kissed you. It was a longing sensation, beginning deep within, that made your legs ache and your lips tingle. You cursed not having a voice. You wanted to tell him how you felt, to thank him and to give him all the appreciation he deserved. All you could do was coax his face towards yours, your hands gripping gently in his hair, and kiss him. His lips against yours was a feeling you doubted you would ever forget. They were both hot and cold, and aflame with his tender touch. It felt right, like you had been destined to meet him long before you knew about seawitches and human forms.

Slowly, he ran his hand up your waist. It tickled you in the most delightful way, rubbing the fabric of your dress against your skin, then his fingers ghosted over your chest. You pushed your face closer to his, feeling giddy from the contact as a smile broke out across your lips. Taking this as a good sign Shouto took a firmer hold, massaged you through your clothes, noticing the way you shivered under his bolder touch.

You laced your arms around him to gently drag your nails over his bare skin. You felt him smile into the kiss. That was a wonderful feeling. He had such a handsome smile. You loved there was a way to make him do it. He shivered and pulled back slightly, so that he could look at you, and you saw the longing in his eyes.

The fact he wanted you so obviously made a heat grow inside you. His touches were like sparks, igniting the warmth in your core. In return, when he shifted his hand from your chest to your cheek to caress you, leaning in for another kiss, you felt his arousal brush against your inner thigh. It was both a sobering and exciting sensation. This was it. You were so ready, and come what may after this was over, you knew you would never forget this night.

When you reached for your clothes again, Shouto did not stop you this time. He let go of you just long enough to help you out of your dress then reclaimed your lips as you remove your bra. He rolled you both onto your sides, then found your breasts in seconds. Your toes curled approvingly as he rubbed his thumbs over your nipples. It was distracting in a brilliant way—the only problem was that it felt too nice for you to remember to remove your panties. Your head rolled back and you ran your hands into his hair, massaging his scalp as he shuffled closer to you, finally bringing his face close enough to your chest so that he could push you into bliss with his tongue between your breasts. He licked the sensitive skin between your mounds, and your fingers accidentally clenched in his hair. And he groaned. It was a beautiful sound; low and aroused. He flicked his tongue over one of your nipples, tweaking the other between his fingers.

You would have moaned, if you were able. Instead, you tensed and arched your back, pushing your chest against his face, loving the sensation of his tongue and his warm breath against your skin. You could feel the effects of his undivided attention becoming sticky between your legs. Experimentally, you pushed your thigh forwards into him. He let out another low groan, and you felt his erection twitch against your leg.

“____,” he sounded strained, like he was trying his hardest to compose himself. “You don't have to force yourself.”

Even now, with his erection pressing into your thigh his consideration astounded you; how concerned he was that you might not be ready for this. You could only smile, pulling his face towards yours so you could press a long, heartfelt kiss against his lips. You were ready.

Taking him by surprise with the kiss, you used the moment to roll him and you, so that he was on his back with you on top of him. If he was surprised, he didn’t show it, resting his hands on the curve of your buttocks as you straddled him. Then, with a little bit of manoeuvring, you unbuckled his trousers. Shouto pulled them down as you continued to straddle him, until you were both left in nothing but your pants.

You looked down at him, lying comfortably with his head on the pillows, and he looked up at you, hardly able to believe this was happening. Catching the awestruck but tender expression on his face, you reached down and pulled his erection from his boxers, wanting to make him feel just as good as he was making you feel. Even before you had exposed his cock, you could feel he was big. Your breath knotted in your throat, wondering if he would fit.

Shouto saw your expression. He chuckled, asking, “Are you okay?”

He was aware how big he was, and his laughter was more from mild anxiety than amusement. He hoped it hadn't put you off. You nodded, letting him know you were fine, then you did something that made Shouto’s heart leap. In a few quick moves you had flipped yourself around, pulling his boxers down, and nestled your face at the base of his erection. At the same time, you shimmied your legs backwards so that your arse and panty-covered wetness was mere inches from his face.

Shouto needed no invitation. He put his hands on your hips and pressed you down against his face, then slipped the material of your underwear to the side so he could have full access to your dripping cunt. You bucked your hips, feeling his tongue drag the length of your slit in slow, savouring movements. It made you dizzy with excitement. You had gotten in this position to work on him, but his tongue was too dominating. You felt every rub, every quiver as he buried himself against you. It was only his pulsing cock in your hand that reminded you where you were.

Wasting no more time, you lowered your mouth to the base of his erection and took it in your mouth, lapping your tongue across him as your hand pumped slowly around the head, rubbing your palm back and forth over the hyper sensitive skin of his tip. Shouto groaned into your cunt approvingly, his cock twitching against your lips. You loved it. If this was how sex felt, you wished you had done it sooner. Shouto was paying you his full attention, pressing you against him with strong hands holding you down, his fingers tugging scratches along your buttocks as your arousal ran down his chin.

You could feel yourself moaning even though no sounds came out. You ran your tongue from the base of his cock to the tip, then did your best to take him into your mouth. His whole body tensed, feeling the new sensation of your tongue swirling over his head, lapping up his precum as your hands simultaneously worked on his shaft and balls. It wasn’t long before his legs started tensing and his cock started twitching, feeling his inevitable release. Only, he wasn’t ready to finish. You weren’t finished, and you were his top priority.

“____,” he said, his lips vibrating against your cunt in a sinfully pleasant way, “Wait.”

You stopped. You could feel his cock twitching between your lips and knew he was close. You let go of him with a wet pop, but carried on pumping him ever so slowly. Shouto returned his attention to your arousal, drinking you in, but you found it impossible to keep your hands off him. Pressed against his body, you could feel his abs tensing solidly beneath you as he worked on you, and it made you uncontrollably horny. You reattached your mouth to the base of his cock, lapping at him fervently.

Shouto’s eyes rolled, momentarily paralysed by the sensation of your lips on him, but too soon he felt himself near the edge of his release again.

“____.” He pleaded softly, wanting you to stop so he could give you his undivided attention, though the longer you licked him, stroked him, the less willpower he had. He gripped your buttocks, digging his fingers into the plump skin as he fought to keep hold of his senses, refusing to halt his tongue.

He groaned once more, knowing it was too much for him to fight, before letting go of you so that he could push his arms under your chest and force you up, off his throbbing cock until you were sat upright, your legs clamped either side of his head with no physical way to keep your mouth around him.

He kept hold of your waist, forcing you to stay upright, and found it gave him a much better angle to pleasure you from. Your head tipped back, feeling his tongue dart inside you as his fingers clamped down on your hips. You bucked against his face, and saw the way his cock twitched approvingly. It was so lewd, riding his face as his tongue pleasured you, but watching the way it turned Shouto on, the way his cock pulsed every time you shivered or clenched, it built your arousal to the point of breaking before you had chance to slow it down.

Instead, feeling your core ready to take over, you reached forwards and tapped Shouto’s chest, though it was more of a gentle pawing now that your muscles were starting to clench. He understood your meaning, all the same. Reaching a hand under your thigh, he found your clit and circled it in slow motions, taking you up and over the edge as his tongue lapped at you to bring you to release.

You clamped your thighs around his head when you finally reached orgasm, your body locking as the heat from your core exploded, pulsing in hot, electric waves that shot through you, tingling every sensitive receptor in your cunt, your legs and your head. Shouto held onto you, keeping you from falling as you rode through the intensity of it, then when you were finally done he eased you down so that you could enjoy the afterglow, sprawled along his body as your legs twitched.

After a while, he asked, “Enjoy that?”

It wasn’t a question. He sounded proud of himself. You nodded, giving the side of his cock an experimental lick. It twitched, and he sighed shakily.

“____,” and it came out more of a coo, strained like he was trying to hold himself back.

You waited just long enough into the afterglow so that your legs settled and your core stopped pulsing, then you sat up. You swivelled around, removing your panties as you went then shuffled until you were straddling his hips, his erection standing to attention between your legs as your arousal dripped down onto him. You looked at his face, but his pupils were dilated, his gaze fixed at the erotic scene between his legs.

“Tell me when you’re ready,” he said, his voice hoarse from longing. He dragged his gaze up to look at you, and you fixed him with a stare that sent a shiver through him. He thought you might have been spent from that last assault, but you were far from over. Your eyes flickered with arousal; it was evident you needed no rest before the main event. Still, he waited for a sign. Every muscle in him was tense, poised ready and aching with want. You ran your tongue along your top lip in a slow, teasing movement, then leaned down to press your mouth against his neck. You grazed your teeth against his skin, then pressed a single, gentle kiss to the underside of his jaw. You were telling him you were ready.

He gripped your waist, turning his gaze back towards you hovering over his erection. With a control too precise for a man teetering on the brink of euphoria, he eased you down onto him, at the same time raising his hips. When his cock entered you, you gasped-- not that it made a sound—feeling the way he stretched you to accommodate himself. He was slow, aware he might be uncomfortable at first, particularly now when you were still tight after your release. You loved the feeling, the way he filled you even though he had so much more to give. You tried to push yourself down on him, eager to feel him inside but he held you steady, forcing you to go down slow.

He caught your insistent, eager expression, like he was holding you back and you weren’t happy with it. He laughed once in spite of it, hardly able to believe you wanted him this readily. He had wondered all week whether you felt the same as he did, but it seemed he had nothing at all to worry about. The two of you were panting, hot, and aching with the need to take each other. The further onto him he eased you, the tighter you clenched, and the more he realised he might not last long now that he knew you were enjoying yourself. Part of him had worried you were only doing this to fulfil your contract. Though that was still true, he could see how aroused you were, and that was enough for him.

His grip turned vice like and he thrust upwards, pushing the final inch or so inside you. You threw your head back, your back arching as he hit a spot that made your toes curl. You didn’t let the pleasure take control, though. This was your turn to make Shouto crumple in bliss. He was deep inside you, and so you leaned forwards, bracing yourself with your hands against his chest then you started grinding against him, moving him inside you without lifting off him. With each stroke, you felt him hitting that same spot inside you that made your eyes lull as a heat grew. Shouto gripped your hips. He didn’t try to stop you; it was more like he was grounding himself, panting as you worked on top of him.

He groaned your name, trying to push his hips up to go deeper, to take back control, but you were having none of it. You pushed down, forcing your weight onto him so he couldn’t buck or thrust or move. Then you grinded on him again, loving the way his groans turned deeper and louder, and his hands started to roam over you, trying to find something to grip so he could hold onto his senses. You didn’t want that, though. When his hands reached your breasts, you took his wrists and pinned them at his sides, using the new leverage to push yourself deeper onto him, moving yourself back and forth as his cock pulsed inside you, burying him in your heat.

Shouto tried to hold his composure, but the feeling of you taking control of him, rubbing yourself against him as you engulfed him in his entirety made his eyes close and his face contort as he rose to his climax.

“____,” he managed to pant before his body went rigid. You felt him tense. The way his cock turned stiff inside you made you inaudibly moan his name, then he released into you. You let go of his hands so he could grip you, holding you by the hips as he came, his hips jutting up uncontrollably until his senses left him and his mind went blank with a white light, the warmth of his release rushing through him.

You let your head loll as you enjoyed the feeling of him spilling inside you. Only, when you did your body started feeling hot in a way it hadn’t so far. It wasn’t in your core, but all over. For a second, it was the most searing hot sensation you had ever felt and your vision went purple—or at least, you thought it was your vision. Suddenly, bright purple light fell around you, grabbing both yours and Shouto’s attention as you rode through his orgasm. You clenched in shock, and he bucked, sensitive to your grip, but the lights came towards you, encompassing you, then all of a sudden they were gone.

“What was that?” Shouto asked, trying to catch his breath as he came down from his high. You shook your head, unsure. You looked down at yourself, but you still had your human legs. It couldn’t have been the contract undoing.

You stayed on top of Shouto, letting him settle until he had stopped twitching. Then, once he was relaxed, stroking the sides of your hips affectionately, you attempted to dismount him.

Bracing your shaky arms on either side of him, you lifted your hips to slide off him. It was a nice sensation, particularly because there was so much of him. Your insides clenched around him and Shouto lurched, still very sensitive. Being quick, to save him the strain, you pulled yourself off him—the feeling of you climbing off was just as pleasurable as having him nestled inside you. As his tip left you, stretching you just a little before it was gone, you let out a soft,

Ah-!”

You stopped. Shouto stopped. You looked at one another, your eyes wide. Shouto reached up, touching your cheek, his eyes affectionate but puzzled.

“____?”

You touched your throat, unable to believe you had made a sound. Then you held his hand against your face, leaning into it. Experimentally, you said his name, wondering how it sounded on your lips for the first time,

“Shouto,” you breathed, noticing the way his eyes lit up. Wasting no time, he pushed himself up from the bed, taking your cheeks in his hands so he could kiss you. When he pulled away, he whispered against your lips,

“I never thought I’d love hearing my name so much as now.” You blushed, adoring his affection. You were amazed you had your voice back, amazed Shouto had the chance to hear you talk. It could only mean one thing. Relief and joy overtook you. Your eyes fluttered closed as you leaned to embrace him, wrapping your arms below his shoulders,

“You saved me,” you said in disbelief, but sounded so grateful. “Thank you, Shouto. Thank you. For believing me. For trusting me. For protecting me.”

Shouto guided you back onto the bed, pulling the duvet back so the two of you could climb under the covers and rest against the headboard, your head tucked against Shouto’s collar. His arms circled you, holding you to him in the afterglow, smiling as he took in all that had happened.

“Thank you for believing in me, too, ____.” He stroked your hair, trying to remember this moment of you cuddling him in the aftermath of making love. “I feel like I can protect my people, standing alone as king.” You smiled, reaching up to touch his hand supportively. “You said you believed I was strong enough to do it alone, and I will… because no woman will ever be as fit to be queen as you.”

It was a bittersweet thing. You sat up, looking into his eyes. There was sadness in them, but happiness that came from looking at the one you hold dearest. Your time together was coming to a close, you could feel it, and he knew it.

You touched his face. “Shouto…” you said, feeling the tug in your heart, “I’ll come back. I’ll come back, even if I have to wait on the beach where you found me, even if it’s only for a few minutes. I’ll come back.”

Shouto leaned in to your touch, holding you. “I’d like that.”

He was genuine, but there was an undertone to his voice, like he thought it wouldn’t be possible.

You felt it, then. The pull. The call that would take you away from here, away from Shouto.

“Oh, no…” you said, barely able to believe it. Shouto looked at you, as if to ask what was wrong, but when your eyes met he knew. You saw the longing in his eyes. You felt the way his grip tightened around you, but he knew no matter how hard he held onto you, he could not keep you.

The world around you slowly turned hazy. You wondered if it was Dabi’s magic, pulling you back to the ocean, but this was different. It was familiar. A grey haze that you had met before, sinking the world into nothing. Only, it did not have hold of you yet.

“Shouto,” you whispered, feeling your heart ache. He held you, claiming your lips one final time. It was tender, and kind, and everything that Shouto was. He pulled away, pressing a single kiss to your forehead. You didn’t want to go.

“You’ll be here forever,” Shouto pressed his hand to his chest, the only one willing to accept this was your final encounter. The haze swam in further, turning thicker. You managed to place a final, quivering kiss to his cheek before he vanished in the fog, and suddenly you were alone.

You knew he was gone. You had no way to reach him, no way to return to the ocean. You knew, somehow, that when you woke—when you escaped this familiar fog—nothing would be the same. Not your ocean home. Not your friends. Not your memories.

Until then, you let your heart hurt for the love you lost, your tears no longer silent.

Chapter Text

You woke with your eyes heavy and sore but weren’t entirely sure why. Stretching, you rolled around in your double-bed until the kinks were gone, then you stilled. The sounds of the birds outside were lulling, filtering in through your bedroom window. You fought the urge to fall back to sleep. You had found something very comforting within your dreams, even if you felt a type of heartache, remembering them.

After adjusting yourself, you finally got up. You headed to your wardrobe, thinking back on your night of dreams. They had been as vivid as the world was now. You remembered the heterochromatic prince, loving and caressing you. Then you thought again and remembered the werewolf who wanted to hurt you and heal you. They were two entirely different dreams, and yet try as you may, you couldn’t differentiate them from reality. You were ready to swear that they were more than dreams, that you had spent those intimate moments with them for real.

You picked up a hair brush then looked in the mirror, hoping to work the knots in your hair out, then caught sight of your eyes. They were bloodshot and trails of tears streaked your cheeks. You touched a finger to your eye then the truth dawned on you.

There was a reason your dreams felt like reality. They were reality. Seeing your tears you could just in so remember crying for Shouto, crying for Katsuki as the axe swung into his shoulder. They were not dreams, fabricated from your imagination. Somehow you knew—you knew they were real.

You looked down at your legs. You were human, but you could distinctly remember swimming through the ocean depths, wishing to be on land. The longer you thought about it, the more your head began to hurt, but you knew that feeling too. It felt as though something, or someone, was preventing you from remembering. You could, though. You remembered your life in the village, taking medicine through the forest to your father, and you remembered your life, swimming in the ocean as your grew. You also remembered another life, though it was far, far hazier, sitting with friends by the riverside, sitting through exams with them, fighting with them, fighting alongside them.

One of those memories was your true reality, you just didn’t know which one it was.

Somehow, though, you didn’t think it was the life you were living now. You were here, and you had your memories; your birth, your childhood, everything, but with so many memories trying to take precedence inside your head, this one seemed to sit on the backburner.

Caught up in the thoughts of your dreams, you had to think hard to remember what had happened yesterday. You felt like something hadn’t gone quite to plan… and then it hit you.

You could barely pay the rent for your tiny, quaint cottage, so yesterday you had been tasked with taking your cow to market to make up the funds. Only you hadn’t done that. You had swapped them for magic beans instead. What was worse, your housemate hadn’t appreciated your trade. She had yelled at you for hours on end, eventually tossing your magic beans out the window.

After finally remembering the reality of your situation, when your housemate knocked urgently on your door you jumped, hardly ready for another round of lecturing. She did not wait to be let in. Charging the door down, she burst through and, seeing that you were awake, exclaimed,

“Look outside!”

You blinked, regarding Momo with confusion. “Uhmm…”

She seemed pretty adamant, so you took to your bed, leaning over it to glance out the window. You didn’t know what to expect, but what you definitely didn’t expect to see was a gigantic beanstalk in the middle of your garden. You burst open the window, forcing yourself out over the sill so you could look up into the sky, trying to see where the beanstalk ended. Only, you couldn’t see the end. The stalk wound all the way up to the clouds.

“What’s going on?” You asked. You looked back at Momo, who had her hands on her hips.

“You tell me! Where did you get those beans?”

Your expression fell into shock. The beanstalk was your doing. Momo didn’t seem all that pleased, but as the reality dawned on you, your shock turned to smugness.

“See!” you said, pulling yourself back inside the house. “I told you they were magic.”

Momo tutted, striding forward so she could flick you in the forehead. “So what? Brilliant, you made a giant beanstalk. A fat lot of good it does us. We still need money for rent. Your beanstalk doesn’t happen to make gold, does it?”

You glanced out the window hopefully but it didn’t seem likely you could best Momo twice. You were just happy you could prove her wrong by finding out the beans had indeed been magical. She accused them of being soy beans yesterday.

“Could be something at the top?” you mused. Momo groaned.

“Why isn’t anything plain and simple with you?”

You shrugged. She had you there. Nothing—nothing—was simple, where you were involved, and that’s how the two of you ended up climbing the beanstalk together. At first, Momo told you to go alone, but try as she might to forget, you were still her friend and should—heaven forbid—something other than gold be at the top of the beanstalk, she wanted to make sure it didn’t eat you.

The trip took half a day. You began in the morning, but it was mid-afternoon before you finally breached the clouds, reaching the tip most top of the beanstalk. Momo was close behind you, and really you appreciated her company. The majority of the journey was spent asking Momo why she liked you, why you had a house together, and if she had any weird dreams involving men she didn’t know. Her responses were colourful, imaginative, and there was one comment about sectioning you once you were back on the ground, but all in all it was nice to hear that Momo still had your back. She hadn’t needed to join you, but you loved her all the same for tagging along. It would have been a wholeheartedly boring venture without her.

When you reached the top, you pulled yourself up onto a surprisingly firm cloud, then reached down to pull Momo up. She thanked you, then once she was on her feet she dusted herself off.

“I don’t see any gold, ____. Your beanstalk is as bad as I—….” But the words disappeared from her lips. Looking at the world in front of you, you couldn’t find the words to respond either.

“Momo,” you managed, but nothing else came to mind.

You were standing on the edge of an unimaginable world. It was like a cornucopia of life. Grass and tall flora filled the landscape as far as the eye could see, but amongst it stood a metropolis of magical wonder. Birds, fish and dazzling lights swam through the sky. Buildings of all shapes and sizes peppered the ground, with long, twisting brick walkways lining the floor to reach them. You could see cottages, caves, mountains and even castles. It was a fantasy come to life.

“I don’t believe it,” Momo said in awed wonder. Neither could you. You tried to take in the scenery but it was so impossibly different, yet so very there. It eclipsed the worries about your conflicting memories entirely. All you could think about was how yesterday you had gone to market to sell a cow because you couldn’t afford rent. And now this.

“Think we can find any gold here?” You asked, nudging Momo. “Or something worth even more? Let’s go on an adventure.”

You headed off into the vast land without sparing a thought for preparation or what could be lurking in the darkest shadows. Momo tried to call you back, to say you were probably in way over your head but when you didn’t listen, too engrossed in finding something to pay your rent, she sighed and chased after you. You’d end up in all sorts of trouble alone.

You didn’t make it very far before you noticed something strange. You could see creatures that looked very out of place. The world was colourful, as were the animals, the birds and the fish, but these creatures were different. They had almost no form. They were great, hulking shadows with bright red eyes. They stooped because of their height, but it was near impossible to pick out their actual shape. As you explored, you noticed them time and again. They were sporadic and always stood alone, watching.

It sent a chill up your spine to see them. For some reason, they felt familiar.

“Momo,” you whispered, catching sight of another one in the distance. It was stood still in the middle of an empty field. “Stay away from them.”

“You don’t need to tell me twice,” she agreed, keeping her eyes on the creature. She knew it was watching you. It was eerie. She wondered how long it had been standing in that field, waiting. Perhaps it had been there all its life. She shivered, pushing the thoughts from her mind. “Where are we going?”

You shrugged. “I’m not sure. I’m going on instinct. If we walk long enough, we’ll find a pirate ship or a cave of wonders. Something like that.”

“A pirate ship?” Momo asked incredulously. She looked around. As far as her eyes could see the land was dry.

“What?” you asked, finally stopping to look back at her. She nearly bumped into you. It was the first time you had stopped since starting, and that was a few hours ago. “I don’t fancy going home empty handed. We’ve got nothing else to sell and I don’t fancy being homeless.”

She knew your intentions were good, but you were charging in head first without a plan. You had passed many caves, forest and farms up to this point, and had not looked inside any of them. Neither of you knew a thing about this world, so she wanted to know what your idea of a treasure trove looked like.

“____,” She sounded exasperated. “Where are we…”

Her words faded, seeing the expression on your face. You had paled suddenly, your eyes rattling in their sockets like you couldn’t comprehend what you were seeing. You weren’t looking at Momo. You were looking behind her.

Momo span around but you launched a solid arm into her side, shoving her out of the way when miasmic black talons came down to strike her. She stumbled and you lurched to the side, hoping to put distance between you, Momo, and the phantom-like creature that had been stood alone in the field only moments ago. The creature was fast, but you didn’t realise just how fast until Momo was beside you and then the next second she was in the air, dangling in the creature’s grip.

“Momo!” You shrieked, watching her struggle to pry the talons away from her neck. Thinking of nothing but your friend, you charged at the creature, hoping sheer luck and determination were enough to set her free. You barely got within a metre of it before the creature moved. It was too fast for your eyes to track. It was there, then it wasn’t, then it was behind you and Momo was gone.

“Where is she?” You demanded, your voice cracking in a furious screech. Your animosity did not reach the creature. It was still, quiet, its red eyes staring down at you from a great height. It did not see you as a threat, and that infuriated you. You wanted to charge at it, to beat it until it told you where Momo was and what it had done to her. Try as you might though, you knew you couldn’t land a hit. “Give her back.”

The creature gazed at you for the longest time. Its eyes were impossibly small for such a giant creature, like red marbles peering through a black mist. Then finally, it spoke. Its voice was deep like a rumble set on shattering the earth, so low it was barely distinguishable to the human ear.

“Three items I require to set your partner free. You will find them in a castle not far beyond these hills. Bring me each and every one, and your partner will see no harm.”

You glared. It had the nerve to give you a quest. “Quests are supposed to reward you with treasures and riches! They’re not for ransoming people!”

“Your partner’s life is your reward.” The fact you could not see her to know she was still breathing made your commitment to the task somewhat dubious. Yet, if there was still some chance she was alive, you had to try.

“What do I have to get?”

The creature held out a miasmic, smoke-like hand, showing you three fingers, then lowered the first. “A silver coloured goose that lays golden eggs.”

Money. The creature was after money. Of course. Even in a magical realm above the clouds, money ran and ruined everything.

“Fine,” you agreed dejectedly. “What else?”

The creature lowered its hand. “Once you return with the goose, you will know the second item.”

“Why don’t you tell me all at once so I can get them all at once?” The way it was acting like this was some game made you start to believe that perhaps it was not after money. If it truly was, it would have told you everything at once so you could return as quickly as possible with all the goods. What was it up to, then?

The creature did not answer your question, staring down on you until goosebumps prickled out over your skin.

“What’s wrong with the castle?” You expected some sort of a curse. If the creature was threatening Momo’s life just to get at what was inside, you knew there had to be a danger that it could not face. It raised a thin arm to point beyond the hills.

“The castle holds a fierce giant of stone and steel. He cannot break beyond the walls of his prisonous home, and sits atop a treasury of wealth no man has ever known.”

“A giant?” You asked in horrified disbelief. “I can’t take on a giant!”

Your worries fell to deaf ears. You were on this quest alone.

“In a special chamber the goose lies, preparing the giant's meals until it dies. Bring that goose here to me. After two more ventures your partner will be free.”

With Momo’s life at stake, you had no room to refuse. You turned to leave on your quest but then, at the last second, you turned and looked at the terrifying, towering creature. You were scared. You did not know what waited for you. You had no weapons, no defensive magic. You didn’t know if you would come back alive.

The creature stared at you, offering no solace, no comfort. You drew in breath, steeling yourself. Then you set off towards the castle.

The creature watched you go, its beady eyes following you until you were over the hill and out of sight. Then it spoke to no one in particular, talking into the earth to cast a spell.

“May you die in this world at last, between the hands of your beloved Kirishima...”

Chapter Text

You found the castle easily enough. This side of the hill, there was only a small village with the gargantuan castle looming behind it. Beyond was a sizable forest, with more hills and mountains behind that.

Entering the castle was also a cinch. Though the door was too large for you to open, with a little bit of wiggling you were able to crawl through the gap underneath.

You feared the giant would be waiting for you, but as far as you could see the castle was empty. The inside of the castle was as huge as you had anticipated. Everything was five-times their usual size from the rooms to the carpets to the furniture.

You explored with the highest form of caution. Though the giant was nowhere in sight, he could probably catch up to you in a few strides if he appeared.

You scurried from room to room, desperately searching for the goose. You weren’t sure if it was going to be regular sized, or the size of a house. You hoped it was small. A small goose would have trouble trying to eat you.

After a long while of searching, finding pantries, a kitchen, a study, an abandoned store room and a bathroom, you went back into the kitchen to examine a staircase you had noticed earlier. Presumably it led to a cellar... or a dungeon. That thought worried you. Dungeons tended to have torture devices like thumb-screws and racks. Your gut instinct told you to try another staircase. You had passed a few during your travels, and the others all led upstairs. You had never heard of an upstairs dungeon.

You turned on your heel, deciding to try your luck elsewhere. Only, when you took a step someone whispered in your ear.

Down there…

You jerked your head to look behind you but nobody was there. The hairs on your neck prickled. You knew you hadn’t imagined it. In the back of your memories, you remembered this happening once before in a forest, where a voice from nowhere warned you to stop. You had ignored it and nearly fell off a cliff in consequence.

You didn’t know where the voices were coming from, and at first you wondered if it had something to do with the large, looming creature that was holding Momo ransom. That monster was creepy, and had such a haunting voice. It wouldn’t surprise you if it could creep inside your head and whisper to you.

The voice in your ear was different, though. You weren’t afraid to hear it. It felt almost familiar, somehow.

Learning from your past mistakes, you chose to listen to the voice. You took the staircase slowly, hopping down from step to step with a five-foot drop each time. This whole quest would be a lot easier if the height difference wasn’t a factor. The only saving grace it had was keeping you small enough to sneak around.

Before you reached the bottom you knew you were in the right room. You could hear the goose flapping and honking in distress. You worried the giant was near, scaring the goose, but when you saw the bird you realised its problem.

The goose was, thankfully, normal sized. The egg it was laying, on the other hand, was disproportionately huge, golden, and painfully solid-looking. You’d squawk and flap like that too if you laid eggs that size.

With a pop and a disgruntled quack, the goose finished its task as you hopped from the bottom step, then the egg rolled away down a shoot, rolling through twists and turns until it rolled off into a different room entirely.

Wasting no time, you ran over to where the goose was beginning to settle into its uncaged nest. After double checking the giant was absent, you snatched the goose then made for the exit. It did not resist – merely honking occasionally to ask why it was no longer in bed. Even when you threw it onto each step of the staircase, it flapped to right itself then waited patiently for you to pull yourself up and pick it up again.

“Good goose,” you muttered, approaching the top step with it tucked under your arm. You were shocked how well this was going. Everything went smoothly, moving from the stairs, through the kitchen and into the main entranceway. Then the goose’s behaviour changed. Suddenly realising it might have to leave the castle, it flapped and wriggling in your arms, enough that you struggled to hold of it.

“Calm down,” you whispered, rocking the goose as you picked up the pace, hoping to appease it like a baby. It hissed then started honking—loudly.

You wanted to shut it up but if you let go to clamp a hand over its beak, you knew it would wriggle free and run off. Unable to hush it, you walked as quickly as possible through the unfortunately large entrance hall, keeping as tight a grip on the goose as you could. Then a sound too close for comfort made your stomach knot. Footsteps. Loud, large footsteps.

The door was so close. This wasn’t fair. You gripped the goose, forgetting to be gentle for the sake of your own safety, and ran. Your breathing was in a tizzy; you were too frightened to relax-- to match your breathing with your running. The steps got louder and louder, then you heard his voice. It was so loud it rattled painfully through your eardrums.

WHERE IS IT?” You whimpered, closing your eyes as you dashed for the door as fast as you could. You heard him running through the kitchen, advancing after you. “WHO HAS MY GOOSE?

Just as he reached the entrance hall, you reached the door at the other end. With no time to spare, you shuffled into the crack, keeping a tight hold on the flapping bird which was currently trying to peck at you. You heard the giant yell as he flung himself towards the door.

You made it outside, only for him to fling himself against the wood, hammering at it with terrifying force. You yelped, expecting him to break through at any second but no matter how hard he hit the wood, it did not break.

BRING IT BACK.” He yelled furiously. You took a second to rest against the castle’s wall, surmising if the giant had the ability to venture outside, he would have done so already. The goose continued to honk but you petted it, calming it somewhat now that you were outside and didn’t need to hold onto it in a deathly-tight grip to run.

So much for an easy task. What was worse, now the giant was on alert for your return.

On your way back over the hill, you thought about the giant’s voice, and the voice that had whispered in your ear. Oddly, they sounded similar. The only difference was the edge to them. The giant’s voice had been mercilessly angry and cold, and then the voice in your ear had been far, far softer and friendlier. Though the two voices sounded near-identical, only the voice in your ear felt familiar.

Your quest was starting to feel beneficial, not only in rescuing Momo, but also in helping you unlock what you knew was locked away somewhere in your memories. The real life you knew you had, whichever one of your fragmented lives that was.

When you returned to the smoke-like creature, standing exactly where you had left it, you handed over the goose. The creature told you what the second item was without so much as a thank you.

“The invisible girl.”

“The invisible girl?” You asked, baffled. “What do you mean, invisible? How am I meant to find someone that I can’t see?”

The creature merely looked down on you, its beady red eyes staring through you. It did little to help your patience. Never the less, you set off towards the castle once more.

oOo

On your second venture, you took much more caution. While passing through the abandoned village, you collected a pickaxe, a long length of semi-charred-but-still-usable rope, and a small empty pouch that you filled with dirt.

Inside the castle, you went back to the cellar. The goose had laid an egg, and that egg had rolled away to somewhere different. You were willing to bet, having explored all the ground-floor levels, that any other living humans or creatures, giant excluded, would be down there somewhere as prisoners.

You ran for the closest cover and hid there for a few minutes, listening out for the giant’s movements. Even when you strained your ears you could not hear him. Taking your chance, you dashed from your cover and into the room where the egg had vanished earlier. Then you saw them. Bird cages as big as prison cells hanging from the rafters and scattered over table-tops. You couldn’t see if they were empty, but you supposed that wouldn’t help you anyway—even if the invisible girl was in a cage, you wouldn’t see her.

Unable to climb as high as the dangling cages, you dared to call out instead, hoping to grab her attention if she was there.

“Invisible girl,” you called in a loud sort of whisper. “Invisible girl, I’ve come to get you out of here. Are you there?”

“What do you want with Tooru?”

You looked up, hearing a girl’s voice close by.

“Who’s there?” You asked, aware the voice did not belong to the giant. It sounded far too friendly to be a guard or minion either. You heard someone banging on a set of bars on the closest table to you.

“I’m Mina.” The voice called, “Are you coming up? I haven’t seen another person’s face in ages. Kirishima doesn’t get many guests.”

“Kirishima?” The girl sounded awfully chatty for someone in a cage. You tried to climb the table to see her, but couldn’t find any grooves to use as foot holds.

“Kirishima. You know, the giant? You don’t know his name? What are you doing in his castle, then?” His name or not, you didn’t plan on seeing him so knowing his name was irrelevant.

“I’m trying to find the invisible girl.”

“Tooru,” the girl corrected.

“Tooru,” you repeated. It was very peculiar to have a conversation with someone you couldn’t see, especially one as chatty as Mina. “You don’t know where I’ll find her, do you?”

“Well…” Mina sounded hesitant but you couldn’t really tell without seeing her. Then, finally, she chirped, “If you’re on a rescue mission, I suppose I can help you out. Tooru isn’t easy to find, as you probably gathered.”

You wanted to get up on the table to see if Mina was being genuine. You had a nagging feeling that she might be tricking you, but you had no way to tell from just a voice. “Why should I believe you?”

“How rude,” she sounded offended. “You don’t have to believe me. I’m saying you’ll find her in the kitchen. She sneaks in there a lot to eat more than what Kirishima rations her.”

You turned to leave, using Mina’s words as a lead, only you stopped suddenly when you thought them over in your head. Something didn’t add up.

“If she can sneak out, why is she still here? Why hasn’t she fled the castle?”

Mina didn’t speak. You waited, but she stayed quiet. Then, finally, she spoke just loud enough for you to hear her, and the bubbly tone to her voice was gone.

“She won’t leave me.”

It was hard to ignore the ominous implications of her words. “Can’t you escape too?”

Mina did not speak again. You waited as long as you dared, hoping to hear what she had to say—why she could not sneak out like this Tooru girl could—but she remained silent. You felt sorry for her, clearly trapped and alone in this giant’s castle, but you had to think about your own troubles, and your own in-danger friend. You had no time to lose.

You bid Mina a silent farewell, then headed back to the kitchen. Once there, you quickly realised there was someone else there with you. Using the knobs on the cupboards to climb onto the worktop, you spotted a set of footprints trodden through spilt flour.

“Tooru,” you hissed, trying to be as quiet as possible. You heard something move, like a cup rattling in a saucer. “I know you’re there!”

You wondered if Tooru even wanted to be rescued, given that she didn’t want to abandon Mina. Unfortunately, you didn’t have the room to let her choose.

If she was going to be resistant, you were prepared. You unhooked the pouch of sawdust and dirt from your bundle, opening it so you could grab a handful. The easiest way to catch an invisible girl was to make her not-so-invisible.

Armed with a dirty trick or two, you decided to trap her. “Tooru,” you called towards where you had heard the noise. “Please come out. Come here. I have something to tell you from Mina.”

If the two were friends, you knew you were terrible for using that friendship against Tooru but right now, your friend was much more important than hers. She took the bait.

“Mina? Is she okay? What did she say?”

You heard the excitement in her voice. She wasn’t trying to be quiet. You urged her with an angry hiss,

“Come here. I can’t tell you if Kirishima finds me.” And you’d thought you didn’t need to know the giant’s name. Funny how those little bits of information were helping you. Your lie sounded much more believable.

You heard more rattling and clanging as the invisible girl made her way towards you. She really, really wasn’t trying to be quiet. It was like she didn’t care if the giant found her.

“Keep it down,” you urged, losing her position momentarily until you spotted new footprints in the flour.

“What does Mina want? How did you get out of the cages? Ah, is she alright? Tell me that first.”

You used the flour on the bottoms of her feet to track her, waiting until she was in front of you before you spoke, keeping your hand clenched in case you needed to coat her in dust to make her visible.

“She’s fine,” you lied. You had no idea if she was fine. You had no idea if she was anything more than a spectral voice, but you weren’t about to tell Tooru that. “But she said she wants you to escape.”

You heard the girl sigh. “Not this again. I’m not leaving without her.”

“Why?” you couldn’t help the exasperation that slipped into your voice. You bit your lip, hoping she wouldn’t notice. “Will he kill her?”

You don’t know why you asked. You didn’t truthfully want to know the answer. You wanted to keep as emotionally distant from the whole ordeal as possible.

“No!” Tooru sounded horrified at the thought. “But she’ll be alone. I thought she was alone anyway, but here you are. Is it just the two of you? How did you escape your cage?”

You didn’t like all these questions, particularly when you had to lie about the answers and be convincing with it too. You could just grab her and run, but you worried she would put up even more of a fuss than the goose and grab the giant’s attention even faster.

“Mina helped me escape,” you lied. You heard Tooru gasp.

“What about Mina? Does that mean she’s out too?”

“Yes!” You were in too deep to start telling the truth now.

“Where is she?”

“On her way. She said she’d meet us outside.” You were going to hell. Your only solace was knowing Mina wouldn’t die from Tooru escaping. Tooru, on the other hand, you weren’t so sure about. You hadn’t had the nerve to ask what the black creature planned to do to the goose. Tooru was certain to share a similar fate.

You pushed the whole sordid affair to the back of your mind, trying to focus on the task in front of you. You reached your empty hand forward, hoping Tooru would take hold. But she didn’t.

“And you’re...sure Mina’s on her way?” You didn’t like the hesitance in her voice.

“Yes,” you heard the desperation seeping back into your own voice. The longer you stood around talking, the more likely it was that Kirishima would show. “She said she’d meet us outside. Let’s go.”

“Alright,” she finally slipped her hand into yours. “Let’s go.”

You thanked every star you knew the name of and tugged Tooru towards freedom, trying to disguise the death grip you had on her as a way to steady yourself as you climbed to the floor. Only, when you hit the ground, you heard his voice. He was loud enough to rattle the dishes dotted around the kitchen.

WHERE IS SHE?”

His voice came from downstairs, somewhere just below you. If you had to guess you would say he was in the room with all the cages. Tooru gripped your hand tightly, urging you to run. “Looks like he can’t find Mina. We need to go. We need to GO.”

Unlike Tooru, you knew Mina was still in her cage. The she he was referring to was Tooru. Fate seemed to be on your side this time. You held the invisible girl’s hand and charged her towards the exit.

“I can’t wait to see Mina,” she exclaimed gleefully. “We’ve been apart for so long. Kirishima keeps me locked in the treasury, and you saw that horrible pen he had her trapped in. She told me not to visit her when I snuck out so I didn’t have to see her like that. God it must have been so painful. I’m going to give her the biggest hug when we’re out of here—if it doesn’t hurt her too much.”

You cursed. And cursed. And swore and cursed.

“Keep going,” you urged Tooru, pushing her forwards before you let go. “Get outside. I’m doubling back to make sure Mina’s nearly here. Can’t have her falling at the last hurdle.”

“Oh!” You heard the invisible girl gasp. “I’ll come with you!”

“No!” You hissed, “Get outside. I promise we’ll both be out in a few minutes. Just wait outside. Please.”

You heard her footsteps across the tiles, headed for the exit. “Stay safe!”

Wasting no more time, you turned on your heel and headed back towards the kitchen and the cellar staircase. You cursed Tooru for what she said. You cursed Mina for sounding so happy and friendly even though she was in pain. You cursed your soft heart for wanting to save them both.

On your way down, you discarded the pile of dirt—no longer needing such a dirty tactic to trick Tooru into leaving—and fashioned yourself a grappling hook from the pick axe and length of rope. You weren’t sure what you were going to do with it, whether use it to climb to Mina, or to fight Kirishima, but one way or the other you were leaving here with Mina, or not at all.

You were glad Tooru was already outside the next time you heard Kirishima speak. He sounded pissed, and it was definitely aimed at Mina.

FIND HER.”

You hid behind the door to the room with the cages, too nervous to look at the giant. You didn’t know what he looked like but you feared seeing him would root you to the spot. This was no time for your cowardice.

You could hear Mina. She sounded as light-hearted as before. “I can’t find her. Not like this. You put me in this so I couldn’t use my magic. Remember?”

Your heart clenched. This was no time for her to act cheeky, although finding out she could use magic was something to remember later.

I’LL UNHOOK YOU FOR FIVE MINUTES, SO FIND HER.” The giant sounded agitated by Mina’s lip. It amazed you how she could hold her own against the giant. You wondered why he hadn’t killed her, but you supposed he needed her magic from time to time. He had to endure her lip.

“Take me out of this thing if you want, but I refuse to find her.”

WHAT?” His tone slipped from agitation to rage.

“I won’t help you look for her.”

DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE POSITION YOU’RE IN?”

“You can find her on your own.”

YOU’VE FOUND HER EVERY TIME UNTIL NOW.”

“And now you’re on your own.”

You pressed your lips together, your eyes wide and your heartbeat racing. She was poking a beast, you knew she was. You could hear it in the giant’s next words; the way he no longer sounded angry. His voice was much calmer but much, much more threatening.

IF SHE’S ESCAPED FOR REAL, MINA, I’LL SKIN YOU ALIVE AND EAT YOU. FIND. HER.”

You took that as your cue to slip into the room. No wonder the giant sounded so loud. He was right on the other side of the door. Fortunately, his attention was fully fixed on the table top where Mina was, otherwise he would have seen the way you collapsed on seeing him, quaking beside his boot. He was huge. Even for a giant, you barely reached above his calves. You looked up, but he went on and on. His body was hard and jagged, like the sharp edges of a rockface, even up into his hair. His entire body was just… solid.

DO YOUR JOB OR I’LL KILL YOU HERE AND NOW.”

You saw him move. It was fast, and you heard metal shatter as Mina shrieked.

“Stop it!” She wailed, “Let Tooru go! You don’t need her for anything.”

SHE BELONGS TO ME. THAT’S ENOUGH OF A REASON.

You felt your blood boiling. He was the shittiest creature you could imagine, thinking he could own anyone like property. Worrying for Mina’s safety, the adrenaline from your anger and your fear gave you the strength to move. Unlike the table leg, Kirishima had plenty of footholds you could use to climb. He was also solid enough not to feel you climbing him, so long as you were careful. You also had your grappling hook, which you were prepared to use to lop chunks out of him if needed.

Using his boot to hoist yourself up, you scrambled up the back of his trouser leg, thankful for his jutted skin. It felt warm, but so very like slates that it was creepy. You climbed until you were at the base of his neck, clinging to the back of his shirt. Now that you were up here, so very, horrifically high off the ground, you weren’t sure what to do. You were below Kirishima’s hardened hair, but you didn’t know if he would feel it if you touched it.

Mina said, “Well then I hope you like boiled monster girl, because this time you’ve lost Tooru for good. A girl helped her escape, as you’ll never see her ever again.”

You had to grip Kirishima’s clothes for dear life as he suddenly lunged at the table, grabbing Mina between both hands. “WHAT GIRL?

“Probably the same one that took your damn goose.”

You knew you had to act. Mina didn’t seem bothered about losing her life, thinking that Tooru was free, but you couldn’t let it happen. The adrenaline forced you forwards. You climbed higher onto Kirishima’s shoulder before jumping onto the stiff points of his hair. He shook his head as if wafting away a fly, but did not seem to realise there was someone climbing his head. Mina saw you though. She gasped on reflex, thinking you’d escaped, thinking she was the only one here to take the giant’s wrath.

Kirishima caught her reaction.

WHAT?” He bellowed with no hands free to swat around at his head. He preferred to keep hold of Mina so instead he shook his head back and forth, demanding to know what was on his head. Mina could not move to use her magic, or she would have done to rescue you.

“Nothing,” she demanded. “It’s nothing.” She wanted you to look at her, to let her know what you were doing. But you paid her no mind for the moment. You climbed higher and higher until you were on top of him, steadying yourself above his forehead. You looked down and caught sight of Mina for the very first time. She was totally pink—or would have been if not for the red of the blood covering her face. Her wounds didn’t seem to bother her; she had a fire in her eyes, a rebellion.

Your eyes locked with hers. It was only for an instance, but she bulged her eyes wide, wiggling her pupils back and forth to try and communicate. You wondered what she meant until she yelled,

“The soft spots!”

WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?” The giant grumbled with his booming voice. But you understood. You saw Mina wiggling her eyes back and forth and knew she meant for you to blind him.

You took a deep breath to steady yourself, knowing you only had one shot, then dropped down onto the bridge of his nose. You saw his eyes for the first time.

You had seen them a million times before.

Somewhere in the back of your mind you watched a scene play out as time stood still. The two of you were the same size, but his irises were just as wide and surprised as now. Not because you were ready to drive a pickaxe through his eyes, but because you beat him in a game at the fairground. You could see yourself gloating and grinning before handing him the prize you’d won—a fabric red luck-charm—telling him he’d need it if he ever wanted to beat you.

The world began to move again. The memory made you falter; he was your friend. You couldn’t blind him. Unfortunately, this Kirishima did not think the same. Your sudden appearance startled him all the same and in his shock he let go of Mina to swat at you.

She wasted no time. She had waited months for this. The spells were ready. The timing was right. She chanted, using you as a distraction, then she aimed her hand towards the giant’s face and shouted to release the spell. Flames shot up from her fingers, soaring up into the air. They weren’t strong enough to hurt him, but enough to distract him for the split second she needed.

“Jump!” She shrieked up at you, refusing to abandon you after you had come back to get her. You lunged from the giant’s face just as the fires hit him. She watched you fall, preparing a second spell to teleport herself. You screamed, free falling with your life entirely in her hands. Just as Kirishima recovered, she jumped up and touched you, connecting you to her magical circuit, then with a final word she teleported the two of you front door. She couldn’t teleport you outside, but it was close enough for your liking.

Kirishima barely made it to the staircase before you escaped, taking Mina with you. Tooru was waiting on the outside and the two embraced, breaking down into tears after finally reuniting.

“Thank you,” they both said. “Thank you so much.”

“It’s not over yet,” you admitted. You explained the ordeal with Momo and the strange, hulking creature holding her captive. Tooru agreed to offer herself as payment, and Mina reassured you she would make sure Momo was alright, wherever he warped them away to.

You thanked them repeatedly, having expected plenty of resistance, but the two of them agreed they owed you a debt. The three of you went to the creature, still waiting over the hill, but before you handed Tooru over, Mina asked to know what the third item was. The black thing regarded her for a moment then, surprisingly, it spoke.

“The giant’s most prized possession, or a thousand gold pieces from his treasury.”

The three of you gasped collectively. The two girls were concerned over Kirishima’s treasure.

“She’ll never get that off him!” Tooru exclaimed, “He keeps that with him. It’s not in the treasury!”

“That’s totally unfair!” Mina agreed, staring the creature down. Predictably, it was unfazed by her intimidation. You tried to calm the pair of girls, having no intention to go after Kirishima’s best treasure. You were more concerned that you had no way to carry a thousand gold coins.

“Where’s the treasury?” You asked Tooru, remembering she had been locked in there.

“Upstairs,” she offered helpfully. “There’s a loose brick just as you reach the top step. That’s how I kept getting in and out.”

“Thank you,” and you really were thankful. The creature seemed to grow impatient, knowing the invisible girl still wasn’t in its grasp.

“The second item…” it hissed, extending a long hand towards Tooru. She whimpered, but Mina took her hand, squaring off to the creature.

“Fine, fine. We’re coming—and yes, you have to take me too. We’re a set.”

Before Mina and Tooru gave themselves up to their fate, Mina turned to you a final time. You saw a faint hint of fear in her eyes, hidden well within a mask of certainty.

“Looks like you’re on your own from here. Good luck. We’ll be waiting.” She embraced you, squeezing you tight. Only, you felt her shuffle, dropping something into your back pocket in secret. When she pulled away, she winked. “A few drops on the tongue. It’s all the help I can give you.”

You didn’t dare reach into your pocket to check what it was, waiting to be out of the black creature’s sight. Tooru and Mina walked towards the monster, their hands clasped tightly together, then all at once they were gone.

oOo

You waited until you were at the giant’s castle before you checked your pocket. Mina had given you two vials; one with blue liquid and one with red. Knowing you were safe this side of the door, you took the time to test them out. A few drops on the tongue. Experimentally you popped the lid off the blue vial and pressed your finger over the hole, tipping the vial up so it coated your fingertip with the tiniest traces of liquid. After securing the lid back in place, you dabbed the liquid on your tongue. At once, you shot up in height. The shock of it made you yelp. You weren’t much bigger, but definitely too big to fit under the gap at the base of the door. You uncorked the second bottle, repeating the same process and shrunk back to normal size—thank god.

You thanked Mina, praying she was alright. She had given you a way to fight Kirishima if he found you. You were going to be alright. You were going to rescue Momo, and Tooru and Mina too.

With a determined sigh, you crawled back under the door, entering the castle for the final time.

But Kirishima was waiting. He’d been waiting since you left. You barely got your arms through the gap before his hardened hand gripped you, yanking you up from the floor. You could not speak. You felt your plan slipping through your fingers as you stared into his eyes. They weren’t the eyes you remembered. They weren’t the eyes of a friend.

“So,” Kirishima spoke softly for the first time, gracing you with a terrifyingly toothy grin when he dangled you just in front of his face, “How do you plan to repay me for all the things you stole?”

Chapter Text

You were going to die. You were suspended in a birdcage in the kitchen, hovering precariously above a pot on the stove as Kirishima diced vegetables beside you, his eyes in-line with the cage.

“You stole my eggs,” he growled, speed-chopping an onion as he referred to the goose, “You stole my treasure,” he said, referring to Tooru, “and you stole my magic,” he said, referring to Mina. You glowered at him.

“It’s not exactly your magic if you’re syphoning it from another person.”

“Shut it,” he warned, tapping the hilt of his chopping knife against the cage. Such a small action made the whole structure rock and you wobbled, gripping a bar to hold yourself steady. You were actually small enough to slip between the bars but that didn’t help you. Kirishima had purposefully suspended you above the pot so if you tried to jump you’d fall in.

He finished dicing the onion and added it to the pot, already filled with simmering mincemeat. When he wandered off across the room to fetch a carrot, you slipped one of the vials out of your pocket. It was the shrinking potion.

You could make yourself bigger, but if Kirishima stayed the size he was he had access to all manner of weapons and hidden contraptions around the house that he could kill you with, and with his hardened skin it would be impossible for you to make a counterstrike. Your only chance of survival was to shrink him smaller than you. The problem was getting him to drink the potion before he cooked you.

When his back was turned, you uncorked the vial and splashed nearly half the contents over the side of the cage, watching it fall into his food. It made a hissing sound on impact, then the whole thing turned suddenly redder. You weren’t expecting that. It looks suspicious as hell now. You wouldn’t eat it, let alone him.

Kirishima returned to the chopping board, peeling the carrots without looking in the pot.

“You’re next,” he grumbled, his jaunted eyes glaring at you for a second. You gulped, feeling a fear rising in you.

“U-umm… your food doesn’t look right. Is it meant to be that colour?” You needed him to try his food. One taste and he’d shrink—he’d be too small to hold that chopping knife or reach the countertop, then you could figure out what to do about escaping your suspended cage.

“Whatcha talking about?” He growled, “Think I can’t cook?” He looked at the pot, and you saw his eyes widen just a fraction, like he hadn’t expected to see the red tint to it. You worried he might throw the whole thing out, but he shrugged. “Looks fine to me.”

What a stubborn giant. You both knew it didn’t look right, but he wasn’t ready to admit it could be because of his cooking skills. It definitely wasn’t, but you weren’t going to correct him.

“Try it.” You hoped the urgency hadn’t spilled into your voice. Kirishima ignored you. He reiterated,

“It’s fine.”

You flopped down against the bottom of the cage. You didn’t know what to do. Looking at the terrifying giant with hardened limbs and jagged edges, you couldn’t help but think on the memory of the fairground. In the memory Kirishima was softer, for a start, with normal human skin, and his eyes held no contempt towards you. It really made you wonder whether the vision was true, or if the fragmented lives you remembered were really nothing but dreams you had dreamt on a lonely night in your cottage with Momo.

Despairing over your fate, you watched the giant a little while longer. You knew him. You knew you did. You had memories together and maybe a whole other life that was just out of reach in the back of your mind.

Softly, you muttered, “You don’t have to kill me…”

It was a weak statement, a pathetic plea that you expected to fall on deaf ears. You didn’t want to die. Kirishima tutted, hearing you. He sounded calmer, but he shook his head all the same.

“Don’t beg for your life now. You did this to yourself.”

You turned your head away. If only you could get him to taste the pot. You didn’t know what to do. You could feel your time slipping away, one peeled carrot at a time.

Then you felt lips on the shell of your ear. You froze, knowing the sensation. No one was behind you but you waited for the words, sure they would help you get out of this mess like they had done before.

He’s lonely…

Then the voice was gone. You looked at Kirishima, wondering if the words were true. With nothing else to lose, you shuffled as close to him as you could, placing both hands on the bars then leaned out so you were right beside his face.

“Are you lonely?” You sounded wistful, wondering if you truly had a way to save yourself. Maybe getting close to him would save you, maybe getting close to him would help you figure out if your memories were real or just dreams, and bring the Kirishima you remembered back to you.

Only, Kirishima didn’t like the question. He really didn’t like the question.

NO,” he bellowed, slamming the peeler into the side of the cage so hard you lost your balance, but Kirishima was too angered by your question to notice how you slipped through the bars as he stormed away from the counter, his entire presence ridged with irritation. “WHAT SORT OF QUESTION IS THAT?”

You dangled from the side of the cage, holding on for dear life. You tried to grab Kirishima’s attention, but he was too caught up in denying his loneliness to notice your precarious position. It took a lot of upper body strength to hold yourself there, but unfortunately your energy was spent. You had been through so much today you had nothing left to give.

You were naïve to think Kirishima was the man you remembered somewhere deep inside. He did not care. He wanted you to die. No matter which life truly belonged to you, this was the one you were living now, and this was the one that was going to end with so many questions unanswered, and your friends’ lives lost to the black creature beyond the hills.

You whimpered. You didn’t want everyone to die because of you.

“Kirishima,” you muttered before gasping when your grip gave out. “Please help me!”

You didn’t know if he heard you, but you knew your plea was in vain. You weren’t screaming for the giant to save you. You were screaming for your Kirishima to save you. The one who knew you, who smiled so brightly with you at the fair.

But you fell, and the searing pain that erupted through you when you landed in the hot contents of the pot stopped you from speaking again. Trapped from the waist down in cooking mincemeat, you choked on your spit as the heat overtook you. The fumes swallowed your breath, and the searing heat consumed your legs. You screamed, but didn’t dare open your mouth in case you swallowed something and shrank.

Kirishima turned, hearing a strangled cry. He noticed you weren’t in the cage, then realised what was happening. He heard you screaming, your voice twisting in anguish, and it made something very strange happen within him. A fear he had never felt before took him over. He was suddenly so scared to lose you that he couldn’t breathe. You were his friend, and you were dying. He needed to save you and nothing else mattered.

____!” He was by the stove in seconds, scooping you out with his bare hand, ignoring the heat for the sake of getting you out safely. You whimpered against him as he took you over to the sink then lowered you into the basin, fixing the plug in place before turning the cold water on. He kept you in his hand, dipping you into the water as it slowly filled the sink, washing the food off your legs as it cooled you down.

For a while, you couldn’t see more than a solid white light in front of your eyes, too in shock and in pain for your senses to take in what was happening. Slowly, though, things started to come back to you. You felt the water lapping at your skin, soothing you from the toes up. Your legs were in so much pain but the longer you stayed submerged, the more you went numb.

Kirishima held you, switching off the tap once you were up to your waist in water, then as the pain drifted off your face a switch flicked inside him and he let you go, backing away as he banged a palm to his forehead.

“What the hell?” He grumbled, unsure what had gotten into him. He was going to eat you. You were meant to be in the pot so why had he fished you out? What disturbed him more was what he had said. It was information he should never have known. Warily, he repeated himself, watching you for a reaction. “____...?”

You opened your eyes and looked blearily at him, and it was all the confirmation he needed. He knew your name. You had not told it to him, but he knew it, and in that moment when he had realised you were in danger he had called out to you and feared for your life like you were the most precious thing in the world to him.

He didn’t know who you were, but in that moment he had.

“Who… are you?” He mumbled uncertainly, wiping his jagged hand down his face to calm himself. He could still feel his heart racing at the thought of losing you, but slowly, slowly, it went away. He was a giant. You were his dinner. That’s all there was to it.

You were fully conscious now, letting yourself cool in the water. You moved your legs but they were stiff, caught somewhere between scorched and frozen. They were so tender, but at least you could still move. You couldn’t believe Kirishima had rescued you, or that he knew your name.

You glanced at him from the sink but he looked just as apathetic as before, his eyes wandering between you and the pot like he couldn’t quite figure something out. Perhaps you had imagined the fear in his voice, projecting your own worries onto him in what you thought were your last moments.

“What?” You asked quietly, catching Kirishima’s gaze on you for the umpteenth time. You felt very tired and hadn’t the strength to keep up a defensive attitude. He gazed at you for a moment longer, then turned and picked up the peeler, returning to his carrots. You couldn't believe it. After all that, he still planned on eating you.

“You might want to throw that out,” you said, referring to the pot.

“Don’t be stupid. It’s fine.” Kirishima came back to the sink with a frown on his face and plucked you out of the water. He made his way back to the stove, hoisting you up as if to put you back in the cage.

“No, seriously,” you urged. For a second you had thought you were safe, but if Kirishima was still intent on eating you, you were still intent on shrinking him. “You should have washed me first. I’ve been everywhere.”

“Nice try,” he glowered at you, bringing you close to his face so he could fix you with a particularly prominent stare. “I’m eating you, and I’m not wasting good ingredients.”

To prove his point, he picked up a large wooden spoon, dipped it into the pot and brought it to his lips. You tried to hold in your gasp. He blew on it, popped the whole lot in his mouth and swallowed. Then he fixed you with a triumphant look.

“It’s fine,” he demanded. But it wasn’t fine—not for him. No sooner had he put the spoon back in the pot than he felt his insides turn. He looked at you, giving you a wary stare to tell you something was wrong. You only prayed he kept hold of you, because falling from this height, particularly on your damaged legs, was going to hurt.

Then he shrank. The speed at which he did it sent you whooshing down through the air as he kept hold of you until he finally let go just close to the ground. You landed with a wobbly clatter but kept your balance as you watched Kirishima’s dramatic downscaling.

You waited for him to shrink past your height…. but he didn’t. He stopped abruptly when he was about 10ft tall. He was nearly double your size and done shrinking. You started backing off as soon as you realised he was still bigger than you. He couldn’t pick up one of his knives at this height, but he could sure as hell take you out with his fists. Your only saving grace was that in the process of shrinking, he had lost his jagged, rock-like skin and seemed far more human. But that human was still double your height with hands the size of your forearms.

You limped away, trying to reach the front door before Kirishima found his bearings. He might never have realised you had something to do with his shrinking had you stayed still, but in your panic you could only think about getting away, getting outside where he could not reach you.

But he saw you.

And he chased you.

You barely made it out of the kitchen before he caught up, tackling you to the ground with his hands gripping your shoulders. You yelped in pain as your back hit the concrete floor, and even more so when Kirishima’s much larger body pressed down on your weak legs to hold you still.

“Please don’t,” you begged, looking up into his furious eyes. You feared he might still try to eat you, maybe he’d kill you now just to be done with you. He gritted his teeth, drawing his fist back. You saw the way the skin there melded back into its hardened form before you shut your eyes, whimpered as you waited for the impact. The first punch landed like a boulder against your arm with near-crushing force, winding you. You cried out as the jutted edges of his knuckles tore gashes into your skin, the pain forcing you to open your eyes as they watered.

“Kirishima,” you cried, feeling the cuts in your arm turning hot as they started to fester. Kirishima drew his fist back to land a second hit, but he locked gazes with you for an instant and seemed to catch himself.

He pushed himself off you, staggering backwards to put distance between the two of you as he gripped his head, shaking it from side to side.

“No, no, no,” he groaned. “I can’t. Man, what am I doing?” He looked at you from between his fingers, squinting as he tried to make sense of the conflicting thoughts in his head, “____, who the hell are you to me? Why can’t I let myself hurt you?”

You couldn’t answer him. You didn’t know who you were to each other. You looked at your arm, damaged and bleeding, then at him, warily holding his head. Your friend might be in there somewhere, but you weren’t safe just yet.

oOo

“Please,” you begged, a white hot pain burning from the cuts in your arm, “please, there’s a way to stop this. Just listen. Please, Kirishima.”

“Stop saying my name. You don’t know me.” He growled, pacing back and forth in his treasury while you lay on your side in the ornate, golden cage that had belonged to Tooru. It was fixed to the ground with fairly wide gaps between the bars, but your hands and ankles were bound with rope.

“Please,” you begged, wincing from the pain. “This has happened before. You can stop it. I know you’re a good guy really. Please, just help.”

Sometime between the kitchen and the upstairs treasury the wounds Kirishima had inflicted on you had become more than just wounds. They had festered and turned a deep, dark purple colour, seeping down your arms and onto the floor like a thick goop.

The same thing had happened to you before, if your hazy memories were in fact memories and not dreams. The werewolf, Katsuki, had hurt you while pulling you up from the cliff face, but the wound had turned putrid in the cottage when you started remembering another reality—the one in which Katsuki would never, ever hurt you.

You knew something similar was happening now. The more you tried to think of the Kirishima from the broken memory, the more the wounds opened and spilled out deep purple miasma, and the more your head hurt as it fogged over, trying to block you from remembering.

“Please,” you begged. Last time, washing the wound had stopped the pain. It was one quick trip to an over-sized sink or bath tub and it would stop. “Look, one way or the other you’ll have to clean it. You’ll have to, even if you still plan to eat me.”

It was a very real fear you had. You didn’t know what Kirishima planned to do with you. He stopped pacing when he was next to your cage and looked down on you, sizing you up. There was a small pool of purple gloop beneath you where the contents of your wound had spilled onto the floor. He caught the look in your eyes—the desperate, pleading stare. Something in him hurt, seeing it.

He ran his hands through his soft, spiky hair then sighed as he unlocked the door.

“Fine.” He grabbed you by the rope around your wrists and dragged you off to the bathroom. “Fine.”

Once there, he found a saucer the size of a large rug, set it on the floor then put you next to it. You wondered what he was up to but no sooner had he set you down than he hardened his arms and used them to climb all the way up to the sink basin. He was surprisingly quick to adjust to his height, not letting it get in the way of what he wanted to do.

You strained to look up, flopping onto your back so you could watch as he disappeared into the sink. Then you heard a tap running. Moments later, a giant face cloth came hurtling towards the ground, hitting the floor beside you with a wet smack. It was big enough to fit as a carpet in your living room.

Your arm pulsed with pain as Kirishima scaled his way back to the floor, then he set about wringing the face cloth out into the saucer, creating a makeshift bath. You were a little awed by his quick thinking. Once he was done, he plucked you up like a small animal and sat you down in the water before cutting the rope on your arms with his hardened, jagged fingertips.

“There,” he said, “I did what you asked. Knock yourself out.”

Kirishima backed away then sat himself down with his arms draped loosely over his knees. He watched you, and you could tell by the look in his eyes that he still wasn’t certain what to make of you. His gaze was still harsh, like he was looking at a stranger, but the malice had ebbed away.

Lamely, you washed the purple mess from your arm, letting it mix in with the water surrounding you. You repeated the action again and again, but no matter how many times you washed the miasma away it did not lessen the flow or make the pain fade at all.

“It’s not… working…” you muttered disbelievingly. There was something different than last time, but you didn’t know what.

Kirishima watched you douse your arm over and over, seeing the panic set into your eyes as you realised your plan had failed. It served you right. You were a liar, a thief and you had shrunken him to a point where his home was barely habitable—not that he had the choice to leave. Ultimately, you had ruined his life.

Why then—why—did he have the compulsion to keep you alive? To keep you safe? Some part of him, buried very deep down, felt like he knew you even though there was no comprehensible way that he could. You reminded him of someone from long ago, or maybe a different life entirely.

A horrible thought suddenly dawned on him. In all the commotion of being shrunk he had not checked to see if that was alright.

Unable to stem the pain of the miasma, you looked to Kirishima when he started rummaging through his pockets, an unfamiliar look of fear on his face.

“What’s wrong?” You asked, wincing slightly as you tried to ignore your wounds. Kirishima ignored you, dipping a hand into his front trouser pocket. His face noticeably relaxed then he pulled something out and looked it over with meticulous care. From your position in the saucer you couldn’t see what it was, but you definitely saw the way his eyes softened. It made your heart flutter with longing. In that moment, he looked exactly like the Kirishima from your broken memories—the one you swore you knew and loved.

“What’s that?” You asked, trying to see what he was holding. He did not look at you or speak, too besotted with the item in his hands. Now that he was smaller—although you couldn’t call him small—you could really appreciate his face for the first time. There was something so genuine in his expression, something so calming in the way he looked without the hatred or his jagged, hardened skin. There was also something sad, something you wanted to comfort, and it only grew the longer he looked at whatever he was holding. You realised what his expression meant, and finally the words that had been whispered in your ear earlier made sense.

“You… are lonely, aren’t you?” You spoke softly, addressing Kirishima like an old friend. You half expected him to flare up like he did last time, but he simply sighed and stroked whatever it was between his fingers.

“You got me.” He sounded defeated, no longer willing to put up a front when he had lost so much to you already. “I can’t leave this castle. The doors and windows were sealed by a curse. I can’t go outside to see anyone. It’s just me.” You waded to the edge of the saucer and hooked your elbows over it so you could look at him properly. He seemed like an entirely different person, and your heart hurt to look at him, holding something that was clearly so very precious to him.

You had to wonder… was that the prised possession the black creature wanted you to fetch in exchange for Momo?

“Is that,” you asked, choosing your words carefully, “from someone dear to you?”

The way he looked at it made your heart bleed for him. If he really was alone, and the thing meant that much to him, it must have come from someone very precious.

“It was a gift,” he admitted, cracking a weak but fond smile, “I think.” You wondered what he meant. “I’ve always had it, and the thought of losing it hurts, ya know? I just can’t remember the girl that gave it me. I’ve tried and tried, but I can’t remember her face.”

He tilted his hands towards you, finally showing you what it was that he was holding. And your breath caught. You stared but you couldn’t believe what you were looking at. It was the red luck-charm from your dream, the one you had given him at the fair after beating him at one of the stalls.

You did know each other. Your dreams weren’t dreams at all. This was the first piece of solid proof that something was amiss. In which case, you needed to figure out what was going on. Though, the more you tried to think about it, the more your head ached and your wounds hurt. You weren't ready to give up over a little pain, though. You had to persevere for Momo’s sake, for yours and for the friendship you knew you shared with Kirishima-- even if it was a different lifetime ago.

If your memories told you anything, it was that your bonds with the men you’d met so far were strong enough to overcome your struggles. You were wary given this Kirishima’s past hostility, though. That was, until a gentle voice spoke in your ear to guide you, urging you to trust in what your heart was telling you.

He won’t reject you…” it said, and for the first time you recognised the voice. The voice that had spoken to you, protecting you through your journey up the beanstalk… it was Kirishima. It was the Kirishima you knew, with the kindest voice and the best intentions. Somewhere, somehow, he was guiding you.

Your heart swelled. You didn’t know who you really were, or where you were really from, but you were willing to trust in your friend. Maybe this time you would find the answers you were looking for.

“What if,” you asked slowly, catching Kirishima’s gaze as he put the luck-charm back into his pocket. “What if… I stay with you? So you aren’t lonely anymore?”

For the first time, he looked at you with eyes you recognised. The warmth in his stare was so familiar it hurt—no, it actually made you hurt less. You touched your arm and for the first time since it began seeping miasma, the pain lessened.

“You’d… want to stay with me?”

He might be twice the height and twice as thick, and had been ready to eat you until recently, but you wanted to find out who you were, especially to each other. Somewhere within that giant’s mind was a man who knew you, and you wanted to find him.

“I do.” You said certainly. “But I have one condition.”

“What’s that?” You could see he was trying to hold down his eagerness. You took a deep breath, preparing yourself for the worst.

“I need your good luck charm.”

Chapter Text

On the other side of the hills, the black miasmic creature waited for your return. It never moved, and never spoke. Nothing interested it, and nothing made it glance away. It had no other goal but to wait for you. If you never returned, it would never move, and it would stay that way until the world crumbled and nothing was left but its beady red eyes, and then they too would disappear forever.

But you did return. So it did move. It watched you come over the hills in the distance, a tiny speck on the horizon that did not stop limping until you were stood in front of the creature, gasping and panting for breath.

You had long, oozing cuts along your arm and two semi-blistered legs beneath your shorts but were otherwise unscathed. After catching your breath, you looked at the creature with determination, putting your hand in your pocket.

“I have it,” you said, “I’ve got the giant’s treasured item.”

The creature did not move for some time. You almost thought it was asleep, but its eyes were focused on you in an eerie, unblinking way. Then, finally, the creature extended a bony, smoke-like arm. You shook your head.

“I want to see Momo first. Show me she’s alive.”

Again, the creature contemplated you without moving its hand. You kept your gaze firm but inwardly you could not help but worry. The last thing you wanted to hear was that Momo was already dead. Thankfully, with a small pop she materialised behind the creature.

“Momo,” you squeaked, so happy to see her alive and unharmed that you forgot your place. You hobbled forward but the creature shifted, stopping you with its hand outstretched. Unable to get past it you simply looked at Momo, and she looked at you, and her eyes filled with tears of relief.

“I thought I’d never see you again, you idiot,” she muttered, pressing her hand to her mouth to stifle a sob. You didn’t know what had happened to her while she was elsewhere, and you didn’t want to, but she wasn’t one to normally break down.

Then your thoughts turned to the other two girls.

“What about Mina and Tooru?” You questioned the creature, but it did not answer you.

“Give me the item,” it said in a deep voice. It moved its fingers, trying to tempt you into handing the charm over. “You cannot have your friend if the item is incorrect,” it paused, “or fake.”

“Fake?” You glared. “Why would it be a fake?”

You reached into your pocket, retrieving the excessively large fabric charm then handed it over to the creature. As the creature raised it up to its face, you put your hand back into your pocket, waiting for the monster’s verdict. Momo noticed your guarded stance. She tried to mouth if something was wrong but you didn’t take your eyes off the creature. It turned the item over and over, flipping it this way and that, until its gaze fell on you.

“How?” It asked, showing a hint of emotion for the first time-- anger. It stepped towards you and you took a step back. “How did you defeat the giant?”

“That doesn’t matter,” you fumbled in your pocket, searching for the growth potion then gripped it in case the situation went south. “You have your third item, so give Momo back.”

The creature suddenly contorted, dropping the charm as its limbs flailed and the reds of its eyes turned fiery. You felt the fear in you swell, aware the miasmic creature could zap people away in a blink. You weren’t sure what it was doing but Momo looked scared and you didn’t need a second opinion to know you were in trouble.

Its earth-rattling voice rang out loud enough to send the birds flying on the far side of the hill.

“You CHEATED.” It screeched. “You broke the book. You tricked the tale. You weren’t supposed to succeed. You were doomed to die. Killed by Kirishima. Melted by miasma. WHY DO YOU STILL BREATHE?

It rambled such nonsense that you didn’t know what to make of it. You gathered the creature had sent you to the castle in hopes that Kirishima would kill you, but what did it mean by tricked the tale? If you didn’t know any better it sounded like you had defied some sort of fate, a predetermined ending in a story where you weren’t meant to survive.

But you were alive, and if this really was a story then you planned to live and find out who the author was; who was it that wanted you dead.

“____!” Momo yelled, dragging you from your contemplative trace just in time to see the black creature’s claws fly towards you. You lunged back, stumbling as you moved to get out of its way. In your haste, the growth potion fell from your pocket and rolled a short distance away. The creature charged you, screaming,

CHEAT. ROGUE. TRICKSTER.”

It was slower than you remembered. You could track its movement and see it coming, although that did little to help you.

“____,” a small voice called from beside you. “The potion. Get the potion!”

You reached into your pocket but realised it wasn’t there. You searched the ground frantically but it was all you could do to dodge the creature’s lunges. Momo caught what you were doing. She had noticed something fall from your pocket just now.

“Over there,” she shouted, unable to get close thanks to the creature’s frantically struggling limbs. You looked at where she was pointing and dived, wrapping your fingers around the vial. With a hard yank you pulled the stopper out.

Momo couldn’t see what you were doing but she tried to distract the black monster long enough to give you time to work.

“Hey,” she yelled, picking up a stone before lobbing it at the creature’s back. It turned, regarding Momo like a pet that has disobeyed its owner for the last time. It lunged towards her, talons raised, but before it could get close it was knocked aside by a powerful shockwave that came from Kirishima growing from the size of a mouse to the size of a house beside you. The shockwave sent everyone flying. You landed safely, albeit dizzily, far enough away from Kirishima that he didn’t have to worry about you getting in the way.

Upon the sudden appearance of a jagged-edged 60ft giant, Momo shrieked and tried to run, only the giant bumped his hardened fists together and grinned.

“Don’t worry. It wouldn’t be very manly to attack a maiden in distress. My fight’s with the monster, not you.”

Momo didn’t seem convinced but you signalled to her that everything was alright.

“So,” Kirishima bellowed, advancing on the small-by-comparison miasmic monster. “Tell me. Why did you send someone to steal from me?”

Although the monster was wobbly from the fall, as soon as it was back on its feet it started screeching that Kirishima was breaking the rules and that he had to kill you—that you were meant to die a painful, horrific death by his hands.

The knowledge that you were supposed to die gruesomely didn’t sit too well with you. You were going to die of natural causes as an old lady in a cottage, or as an old mermaid in the ocean, or a… superhero… was that right? Had you been a superhero in one of your fragmented dreams? It sounded preposterous, but the thought resonated with you as much as walking through the forest with a werewolf or dancing with a prince did. Either way, you weren’t going to die here.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Kirishima stated. He stopped in front of the monster, staring down at it.

Kill the girl.” It hissed.

“No.”

With that, Kirishima shocked both you and Momo by raising his jagged, hardened fist, then sent it hurtling down on top of the creature, pulverising it into the earth. The subsequent earthquake knocked the pair of you off your feet. Only Kirishima seemed unfazed, his eyes determined as he kept his fist to the ground. The bottoms of his knuckles were coated in dark purple mess.

You weren’t sure if the creature was dead even after looking at Kirishima’s fist. You didn’t think a creature like that would go down in one hit. Then again, perhaps that was a testimony to Kirishima’s strength.

You picked up the dirtied luck charm and slipped it into your pocket. As the dust clouds cleared Kirishima rose to his full height and flicked the slime from his fist.

“Gross…” he examined the mess, rubbing the goop between his fingers. With a chuckle he said, “Hey ____, this kinda looks like the stuff coming out your—”

“--THANK YOU FOR KEEPING YOUR END OF THE BARGAIN, GIANT.” You interrupted him with a bit too much force. You knew he was referring to the gentle trickle of miasma from the cuts on your arm, but this was not the time to discuss that. You ran to Momo who was picking herself up from the ground. Kirishima caught himself and nodded, remembering he had a role to play.

“Momo,” you dived on her, knocking her straight back to the floor in a crushing hug. “I’m so glad you’re alright. You’re alright, right? Please tell me you’re alright.”

Momo couldn’t get a word in edgeways. You rambled apology after apology, persistently asking if she was okay as you squeezed her tighter until she bopped you on the head and told you to shut up.

“I’m fine,” she said exasperatedly. “Honestly. You look in worse shape than I do.”

She touched the cuts on your arm but you brushed her comment off.

“If you’re fine then I’m fine.” You reassured her.

With a smile on her face, her gaze wandered past you, up to the giant.

“And is he…?”

Kirishima grinned toothily, pointing a thumb at himself. “Your knight in shining armour.”

You had to hide your eye roll from Momo. Kirishima was not sticking to the script. He seemed the furthest bit from menacing and that was even with his contorted, jutted out skin and the monster blood on his knuckles.

Fortunately, he caught himself again before you had to steer the conversation in the right direction. Fishing in his pocket he pulled out a length of rope.  In his giant hands it looked more like string, but it was definitely thick enough for purpose.

You pretended to be oblivious, telling Momo that everything was going to be fine. Only, she saw what was happening and gripped onto you, trying to throw herself in the way.

“What do you think you’re doing?” She insisted, glaring as Kirishima knelt down, rope in hand. He raised a cocky eyebrow.

“Look, damsel-in-distress. You’re free to go now you’ve been rescued. But this one,” he plucked you out from behind Momo. “She’s staying with me.”

“What…?” Momo’s eyebrows creased, watching in disbelief as Kirishima set you down on the ground, only to bind your hands behind your back before wrapping the rest of the rope around your body. You smiled sympathetically. Your heart hurt, knowing this was good bye. She was safe, though, and that was all that mattered.

“It’s alright.” You tried your best to console her. “I swapped your life for mine. I couldn’t rescue you on my own. I needed the giant’s help. And this is how I’ll repay him.”

“But you’ll be killed!” Momo demanded. Kirishima reached into his pocket and pulled out a shimmering blue stone. He put it on the ground beside Momo. It was the size of her fist. She looked at it, unsure what to make of it. You said,

“You don’t have to pay the rent with that. You can buy your own place. You could buy a mansion. You can have a great life.”

“Wait,” she muttered, realising what you were implying. Kirishima said,

“On the condition you chop down the beanstalk when you get to the bottom.”

“No, I don’t…” she couldn’t find the words, trailing off as she looked between the gem and your bound body. “I can’t…”

“You have to.” Kirishima told her flatly. She glared at him.

“I’m not leaving ____.”

You loved that Momo didn’t want to leave you in the hands of a powerful and quite frankly terrifying looking giant, but there was no choice. She couldn’t stay here. There was no life for her up the beanstalk. She had enough treasure to set herself up for life and you had to stay here.  You knew Kirishima could help you regain your memories but what you needed was time.

You squirmed in his grip. It was a signal you had planned before this venture to tell him your love for Momo was draining your willpower to leave her. In that instant, his demeanour switched. He gripped the end of the rope and hoisted you into the air. The force of it made you queasy.

“Look,” Kirishima growled. “I’ve played nice. You’re safe, and you have money. But if you don’t leave now,” he warned, glaring so intensely it left no room to argue, “then I’ll kill ____ now. It’s your choice.”

Momo looked horrified but you weren’t worried. She just needed a push to make her comply. Threatening your very existence was just that push.

Momo shouted and swore and cursed Kirishima to the stars and back but she did not stay long after that. She did not want you to die. She did not know what your fate was, but she would not let you die now, and not because of her. With teary eyes she hugged you—Kirishima permitting that final request—kissed you on the cheek then left on her quest back to the beanstalk, taking the blue gem with her.

Kirishima hoisted you back into the air, staying long enough so you could watch your friend disappear into the distance, then set off towards the castle.

On the walk back his aggressive demeanour faded and a brighter, bubblier smile broke onto his face. You sighed, a little crestfallen about saying good bye to Momo, but that didn’t stop you jabbing at the giant.

“Alright, Eijirou. Calm it with the creepy grin.” There was something grotesque about the way he smiled when he had hardened skin. He chuckled.

“Get lost.”

“Why are you so happy?” You asked. He was awfully upbeat for someone who had just murdered a monster. He hoisted you onto his shoulder and cut the ropes binding you. They had served their purpose of warding Momo away. You untangled yourself then sat down, enjoying the spectacle of the view from up so high. He shook his head.

“I don’t know. I feel… lighter. I haven’t felt like myself in a long time, but all of sudden I feel better. Happier.” To prove his point his skin morphed, something he had not been able to do as a fully grown giant in a while. The hard skin melted away, becoming soft as his hair turned fluffy. “That, and I didn’t think you meant it when you said you’d come back with me.”

You tutted, stroking his shoulder.

“I said I would, didn’t I?”

oOo

 “You ARE going to leave!” Kirishima accused, hearing that you wanted to run off with his luck-charm. You shook your head desperately, pulling yourself out of the saucer to hobble over to him.

“No, I‘m not. I swear.” His distrust made your wounds hurt even more. “Please trust me.”

It felt like two steps forward, one step back. Kirishima’s attitude was certainly softer towards you now, but he seemed hurt after getting his hopes up that you genuinely wanted to stay with him in the castle.

“Listen,” you urged, standing before him. You had to crane your neck to look at his face from here, but he was willing to hear your plea. “Something has my friend held hostage. That’s the whole reason I’m here. It said I needed to steal your goose, Tooru, and your treasured item before it lets her go. I only need an hour or two to go back and release her, then I’ll come—”

At his current height, Kirishima was too small to pick you up between his fingers to bring you to eye height. He could lift you like a parent would with a toddler, but he opted for crouching down to be closer to your level, then placed a large finger to your lips.

“Stop.” He said calmly. His eyebrows were furrowed. “Describe the creature. The one that has your friend.”

It was hard to describe the creature in physical terms but you tried your best. Kirishima stiffened, hearing your description.

“With red eyes?” He asked. You nodded. His body hardened instantaneously. It was strange to see him this small but with skin like that.

“What’s the matter?” You asked. Kirishima was up on his feet and storming for the staircase in seconds.

“That bastard cursed my castle. It locked me in here.”

“Wait, what?” You struggled to chase after him. He strides were double your own, and that wasn’t considering you had to walk with a limp from your damaged legs. “Kirishima, where are you going?”

He opened his mouth to reply, but then he stopped. Completely. You figured he wanted to get out there and clobber the creature. But the doors were sealed and he couldn’t escape.

You sucked your breath through your teeth. In a tiny voice you said,

“Promise not to get mad?” He looked over his shoulder at you, an eyebrow raised. You urged, “Promise?”

“I… promise?” He wasn’t exactly sure what he was promising, but it was clear that he wouldn’t let himself hurt you in any way, so there was no harm. Gingerly, you put your hands in your pockets and pulled out two vials—one of which was partially empty. You said,

“I think I can help.”

Kirishima’s eyes widened.

“What are they?”

From what Kirishima said, it was the castle that was cursed, not him.

“Potions. I got them from Mina.” You swiftly moved past the alarmed expression on his face, explaining your plan. “If you drink a bit more of this one,” you shook the half empty bottle. “You’ll be small enough to escape the same way I got in.”

You worried he wouldn’t take too kindly to the confirmation that you had shrunk him. However, his response delighted you. At ten feet tall, he collapsed to his knees, shifting out of his hardened state as he pulled you against him in as tight a hug as he dared. You felt him trembling.

“Are you okay?” You asked shyly, shocked by the sudden one-eighty.

He couldn’t speak. He stayed still, holding you. You sighed sympathetically, feeling the worry melt away as you reached up and laced your arms around his neck, pressing the side of your face against his cheek. This was a feeling you remembered. Once upon a time, you had held him like this before. Amongst all the chaos and uncertainty, it was a comforting feeling. You wondered if he felt it too.

More than anything, you noticed that your arm, although still weeping slightly, had stopped hurting altogether.

You stroked the back of his head, hoping to sooth him. It must be a lot to take in, knowing he could leave his cage after so long.

“Once Momo is free, no matter where you go I’ll stay with you, Kirishima.”

His arms tightened around you. You finally had someone to hold on to. Someone that recognised you, no matter how vaguely. You wanted to brave this crazy story together.

After some time, Kirishima whispered,

“Thank you.” He loosened his grip but did not let you go, drawing back so he could look at your face. Though it was a little watery, he grinned at you. “And my name’s Eijirou, ____.”

oOo

Eijirou walked through the abandoned village, and you could see his castle perfectly from atop his shoulder. Having drank so much of the growth potion he was the right height for his home, but you wondered now that he was free if he would return there.

“What now?” You asked, holding his hair for balance. He grinned, bumping his fists together.

“I’m gonna check the front door.”

“Wait, what?”

Eijirou strode at a brisk pace until he was outside the castle. You couldn’t believe it. He finally had the freedom to go where he wanted, yet he was going back to his prison. Taking a deep breath, he gripped both door handles firmly before pulling at them. The wood groaned, unused to moving, but after a little tug they swung wide.

“Yes!” Eijirou bellowed. He sounded surprised. “I knew killing that creature would lift the curse.”

You found some peace in knowing the curse was lifted. It meant that maybe--just maybe--Mina and Tooru had been released when the creature died too. You weren't sure where to look for them but maybe after the dust was settled here, you could set out to find them, if they had escaped.

You had to hold on for dear life when Eijirou suddenly ran inside the castle, promptly rushing to any and all of the windows, flinging them open one after the next.

“Do you really want to stay here, after being stuck in here for that long?” You questioned. Once every window was open and even the back door set ajar, Kirishima went upstairs to his room then set you down on the bedside table before collapsing onto his bed. He breathed a deep, contented sigh.

“This is still my home. I just wanted the freedom to come and go.” Rolling onto his front, he swivelled round to look at you, so tiny on your perch. “What about you? You said you’d stay with me because I was trapped and alone. What about now?”

He could not have asked a more loaded question. You could not tell if he was testing you, whether he did not mind what you did, or was genuinely curious. It did not matter. You knew what your answer was.

You reached into your pocket, pulled out a vial and drank what little was left of its contents. You jumped off the bedside table. Eijirou panicked, lunging to catch you before you hurtled to the floor, only he ended up grasping your bare thigh when you grew to stand 40ft tall.

“Shit,” you mumbled, realising you were still a long way’s off Eijirou’s height.

“Shit,” Eijirou said, letting go of your thigh as his face turned red. “Shit. Sorry.”

You looked at one another, both amazed and alarmed then for the first time in this reality you laughed together. Eijirou clambered back on the bed, freeing up a space for you. Only, you were too busy looking at yourself.

“Damn it, there wasn’t enough potion left.” You got on the bed then held your arm out, palm facing Eijirou. He looked at it, wondering what you were doing, then he realised you were trying to do a comparison. He was still pink from accidentally groping you and partly concerned that only he was bothered by it, but pressed his palm flat against yours. He was a third bigger than you, if you had to hazard a guess.

“Damn,” Kirishima commented, “so tiny.”

“I’m not that much smaller.” You counter. “At least I can walk around the castle with no trouble.”

He grinned, rolling onto his back. There was something very charming about his smile when he wasn’t wearing his hardened skin. He had such a warmth to him. He felt like an entirely different person to the giant that had chased you, threatened you and nearly eaten you. It was like his whole personality had flipped after killing the miasma creature.

You checked your arm but your cuts were still deep purple, not red. Killing the creature had not solved all the problems, then. Still, life was pretty damn good right now and you and Eijirou could solve the case of your miasma wounds in time. You had all the time in the world now.

“Oh,” you said suddenly, rummaging in your back pocket. “I want to give you this back, before I forget.”

You pulled out the red fabric luck-charm which over the past few hours had shrunk, shrunk again and thanks to being in your pocket when you drank the potion was almost back to the size it had started. Eijirou sat up, bending one knee, and held his hands out. You passed it to him, smiling apologetically.

“I’m sorry it’s a little dirty. It got dropped in the fight.”

A funny thing happened when you handed it over. Eijirou laughed, telling you it didn’t matter--he was just happy to have it back—then when both your hands were on the fabric, he froze. Every part of him went rigid, but not in the sense that his skin hardened. He didn’t even blink.

“Eijirou?” You asked, concerned. You let go of the charm and touched his shoulder, shaking him. “Eijirou.”

He snapped out of it. And he looked at you. Then the charm. Then back at you. Only, he looked lost for words. He kept looking back and forth between you and the pouch until you felt obliged to ask,

“What’s wrong?”

“You.” He said through a breath. He put the piece of fabric down then leaned forwards before clumsily embracing you, his hand pressing to the back of your head to hold you against his shoulder. “It was you.”

You didn’t know what to say. The two of you pulled apart, staring at each other. He touched his hand to your cheek. “You gave me the charm. I don’t know how, I don’t know where. But it was you. You’ve got to believe me.”

You were shocked but so incredibly relieved that he, too, was starting to piece memories back together.

“I believe you,” you said happily, “God, I believe you. I had a vision, and you were there and I gave you the charm. But it wasn’t here.”

Eijirou nodded, his thumb rubbing over your cheek.

“What’s going on?” He asked.

“I don’t know.” You said honestly, “but we can figure this out together.” You felt a weight lifting off your chest. Then you poked him, smiling to lift away the heavy tension. “But no more eating people, please.”

He chuckled in spite of himself.

“Deal.”

He looked at the charm again, and although he was elated that he could finally remember the person dear to him who had given him the charm, he couldn’t help but frown. You asked if something was wrong, but he shook his head then turned his gaze to you. Suddenly he looked serious.

“____,” he said without a hint of uncertainty. “Let me kiss you.”

You felt your cheeks prickle but you didn’t want to make light of his request by giggling in awkwardness. By now, if memory served you, you knew being close to Eijirou would help. Whether they were old memories or dreams, you always learned something during your intimacies with the men in those moments. This time, though, you knew you were close to the truth. Unlike the other times, you had a clear image of Eijirou in your memories.

“Okay.” It came out as a strained whisper. Your heart was warm with the knowledge you were with a friend. Taking your word as your submission, he leaned in, stroking his hand through your hair, and pressed his lips to yours. His face was larger than yours, but he kissed you so delicately that only the middles of your lips touched. His were so warm.

He pulled back, staring at your eyes.

“I have this feeling.” He admitted. “I honestly don’t know who you are, but I remember something -- feels like it’s from a life time ago.”

“What’s that?” You asked, feeling your heart flutter under his warm, caring gaze. His cheeks stained pink and suddenly he looked a little nervous.

“I remember… having the urge to be close to you. To be with you.”

“With me?”

With you.” He repeated, his face much redder now. He stroked your arm, signalling what he meant. You blushed, catching his drift. Then he stammered, his eyes going wide.

“We don’t have to, obviously.” He seemed awkward. You could tell he was out of practice on the wooing front. You smiled fondly, looking down at his hand on your arm to avoid his blush-inducing, unsure gaze. And then you noticed your cuts. They were red, and small, and dry.

“They’ve stopped.” You said in disbelief. Eijirou pulled his hand away, staring at your arm in amazement. He thought nothing was going to stop the gentle seep of miasma.

“How?”

You didn’t know. Nothing much had changed in the five minutes since looking at them last. Your heart skipped a beat. Wait, no. Something had happened. The kiss.

“It was you,” you breathed. You looked back into the past, into those fragmented memories. “It wasn’t washing my wounds that helped.” You met his gaze, your lips trembling as you realised just how important these men were to you. “It was you. In the bathroom, it wasn’t the water that helped the pain. My wounds only stopped hurting once you started caring for me.”

You could tell Kirishima was lost by this point, but for now that didn’t matter. More pieces of the puzzle were slotting together. It was enough for you. You were ready to see where Kirishima would take you.

You dived on him, wrapping your arms around his neck as you threw your lips against his, so happy to finally understand something about your situation. He responded immediately, curling his arms around your back to hold you against him as he tumbled backwards onto the bed. You opened your mouth first and he followed suit, his larger tongue playing with yours as the two of you fell into the moment. You tumbled over the bedsheets, hands roaming over skin as you kissed each other fervently.

When you were on your back, Eijirou towering over you as he straddled you, he hardened one hand and used the sharp tips of his fingers to slice away your shirt. You gasped, surprised at his boldness. Your noise startled him, making him catch himself.

“Shit,” he muttered. “Sorry. I got swept up in the moment.”

You laughed as he pulled back and helped you up to a sitting position, the front of your shirt torn beyond repair with your bra in-tact.

“Am I rushing things?” He asked. You shook your head, shrugging the shirt off. Maybe you were, but you weren’t nervous.

“It’s okay,” you murmured, undoing the clasps of your bra. He didn’t know where to look, and you thought it was so cute. He was such a tough guy but a little bit of nudity had him blushing like a schoolboy. He licked his lips, watching as the piece of clothing slipped down your arms, revealing your chest to him in unashamed glory.

“____,” he said in a strained voice, watching as you lay back down against the sheets. He crawled on top of you. He kissed you once, gently, then asked. “Are you sure?”

“I am,” you reassured him. “I leave everything in your hands.”

You expected him to move in, but he didn’t. You words had triggered something in him. He was frozen stiff, just like when he touched the charm.

“Hey,” you purred, knowing he would snap out of it in a second. “What did you remember?”

You leaned up and kissed his lips, brushing a hand through his hair as you waited for him to come back to you. When he did, he blinked as if trying to figure out where he was then he saw you beneath him. Wasting no time, he pressed down on you, pushing his lips against yours with fierce passion. You weren’t sure where it had come from. He scooped one arm behind your head, tangling his fingers amongst your hair and it knocked the breath clean out of you.

After a moment he pulled away, his eyes looking decidedly alarmed.

“____.” He said your name, but said it with such familiarity and desperation that you realised something was wrong.

You were so engrossed by him that you didn’t see something slip into the room. Eijirou looked down at you, taking in your half naked form, and his blush reappeared and it was all he could do to keep your gaze.

“What’s the matter?” You urged. A few moments ago he had been all but ready to pounce on you.

“I remembered.” He said, sounding like he didn’t believe himself. “Everything.”

You stared up at him, your heart drumming a million miles an hour.

“Everything?” you repeated. He nodded.

“I know who you are. Where you’re from. Where I’m from, I think. You’re not from here. You’re—”

An ominous shadow appeared above Eijirou. You gasped, seeing the beady red eyes. You tried to dive up, to knock Eijirou aside. But you were too slow. The creature was faster than anything you could imagine. Helplessly you watched the miasmic creature’s hand tear straight through Eijirou’s throat, spraying you in his blood before you had chance to say his name or warn him to run.

He rolled off you, gagging and gasping as he tried to breathe. He was choking on his blood. The miasmic creature stepped aside, leaving you to scramble up and clutch Eijirou. No. You couldn’t let this happen. Not to him. Not now.

“Eijirou,” you wailed, frantically searching for something to stop the bleeding. You reached for a pillow, hoping to compress the wounds but they were too deep to stop. “No. Please. Not now. No. Don’t die. You’re all I have. Please, Eijirou. Please.”

He couldn’t see you. He stared up at the ceiling as the world disappeared around him, a white noise rumbling through his ears as the blood spilled out of his neck.

EIJIROU!

So caught up in trying to keep him alive, you did not see the miasmic creature crawl towards you, or the way its hand reached out, its blood-slicked talons pointed towards you. You held the pillow in place, desperately, desperately trying to save him. You only noticed the monster above you when it threw its arm into the air.

“Die, you abomination of the book!”

You looked up, tears spilling from your eyes. You raised your hand over your head, trying lamely to block its attack.

But the blow never came. The horrific, familiar grey mist folded around you instead. You saw the creature’s talons come within inches of your face before the entire scene rippled away, dissolving into nothingness.

oOo

“Hey, ____. Lazy-head. Oi. What’s wrong?”

You jerked into the new reality, hearing someone call to you. You looked around, aware for the very first time that you had just come from somewhere entirely different. You were standing in a vast wheat field, holding a gardening hoe. You raised your hand to your eyes, wiping at the gentle trickle of tears as the image of Eijirou’s dying body played over and over in your head. But that was a lifetime ago now. No one remembered that place, or him, or any of the memories you made.

You were tired. You were so tired.

You wanted to go home.

You wanted to get close to someone and know you wouldn’t be ripped away from them again.

“Hey, are you listening?”

You looked to the side, spotting Kyouka Jirou. She seemed annoyed until she saw your watery eyes. She threw her equipment down and wrapped her arms around you just in time to catch you when you crumpled, breaking down into tears.

Chapter Text

You didn’t tell Kyouka what was going on. She was your friend but you couldn’t tell her the messed up place your head was in right now. It was too confusing for you, let alone anyone else. Instead, you told her that you remembered a particularly horrible nightmare. She didn’t look like she believed you but she let it slide all the same.

It was such a strange feeling, knowing you had come from somewhere else even though you had an entire lifetime of memories here. You were desperate to know what was happening to you but you wouldn’t get anywhere unless a guy walked into your life and you started getting feelings for them. You really, really didn’t want to endure anything like what happened with Eijirou, or Shouto, or even Katsuki. You were happy to carry on—or begin—your peaceful life with Kyouka-- and your other friend Ochako. She was off building a house somewhere, as the three of you had only just moved to the kingdom of Halliwell, if your new memories served you well.

Feeling awkward for having broken down in Kyouka’s arms, you decided it was best to head off to where your half-built home was so you could finish the job before nightfall.

“Sorry,” you said, handing the gardening hoe back to Kyouka after a while longer of helping her harvest. She was in a bread making mood and her house was already built so she was collecting ingredients. “I’ve got to get off.”

She took the hoe, smiling. It was an all-knowing grin like she knew you had slacked on your duties.

“How far off are you being done?” She asked. You looked up at the sky, noting the sun hadn’t reached its peak yet.

“I’ll be done by midday if I head off now.”

“If you rush it.”

“If I rush it—hey. No. It’ll be perfect and I’ll be sleeping comfortably in my bed by tonight. You’ll see.”

Kyouka waved good bye. You knew she didn’t believe you. You were known as the lazy one of the three of you, cutting corners and rushing jobs to get there quickest. But this was your new home you were talking about. You couldn’t rush it. It had to be perfect.

And it was perfect. Until you started losing motivation. Careful precision slipped into haphazardly bashing nails into wood as the day dragged on. Fortunately your enthusiasm for the task lasted long enough for the outer walls and the roof to be finished to a high standard. It was the interior that took a beating. Bookshelves were wonky, kitchen counters were squiffy, and really you were going to be lucky if your bed frame survived the whole night. Even still, it was home. Your home. You built it yourself and for the first time in a long time you felt like you had a footing in the chaos that was your life.

Once you were done, feeling much better after a hard morning of manual labour, you set off towards Kyouka’s house. You hadn’t seen it yet, as the wheat field was half way between your house and hers. You were excited to see how she had built it. Kyouka had rather… out there tastes. You couldn’t imagine her living in a quaint wooden cottage like your place.

You were right.

“Kyouka!” you yelled, waving your hand vigorously in greeting when you spotted her chilling outside her home on a sun lounger. “I’m impressed.”

Her house was larger than yours and you could tell how much care she had put into it. When she took you inside for a tour you noticed the fine details and careful craftsmanship of the furniture and the interior walls, but strangely enough—or not strangely at all considering it was Kyouka—almost everything that was not made to be comfortable was made of metal. Apart from the couch cushions, the bed and the rug of her favourite band, everything else was shiny silver and strong.

“It’s very you,” you admitted, rubbing one of the cold doorframes as you passed through it. She nodded, happy that you approved of her design.

“Right? And it practically flew up.” She rapped her knuckles against a wall and it made a deep clanging sound. “It’s absolutely solid. No amount of wind will knock it down this time.”

“That storm was terrible.”

“Tell me about it. At least Ochako’s house survived.”

“And yet she moved with us and made a new house.”

“I don’t think she wanted to be left out.”

The pair of you laughed, thinking of your round-faced friend’s expression when you told her you were moving. She had been mortified and had not thought twice about dropping her comfortable, stable life to get on the road with you two.

Ochako was the sensible one of the group. She had a good head on her shoulders and always put in hard work when it came to tasks. Her only downfall was how her heart overtook all reason and logic where her friends were involved. She should have stayed back in her old home. It was a beautiful thing with two storeys and a log fire. No other house would ever be as good. Even so, you were so happy she came.

Once Kyouka was ready the two of you set off towards Ochako’s house. Your home and Kyouka’s home were roughly ten minutes apart, which suited you wonderfully if Kyouka wanted to stay up into the early morning blasting music through her house. Ochako, on the other hand, lived another twenty minutes away from that. She chose a spot surrounded by gentle hills and a natural river where she could fish or paddle on lazy days. It suited her to a tee, but to find such a space she had to live a while away from you two. Incidentally, you had chosen a spot close to a forest. You liked to have an outdoor space that was still shaded on hot days.

Arriving at Ochako’s house, you and Kyouka had very similar reactions to seeing her finished product. You glanced at one another, lost for words. Ochako must have spotted you coming, as she suddenly dashed out the front door towards you. You had to hold in your opinion of Ochako’s home, embracing her when she threw herself at the pair of you in delight. She had up staked her entire life to be closer to you. You couldn’t tell her how horrible her house looked.

“It’s rubber.” You stated, taking the most diplomatic approach. Ochako hugged you, nodding her head so her brown hair tickled your cheeks. Kyouka pulled back, taking a second look at the house. It was certainly grand but not for all the right reasons.

“It’s pink.” She said flatly.

“I know it’s not your style,” Ochako admitted when she finally separated from you. She was a hugger. She was a long hugger. She always hugged until it got uncomfortable for everyone but her. She grinned. She was covered in dirt from head to toe and her hands had blisters from her hard work. “And before you say anything, I know it’s a weird material to make a house from.”

You and Kyouka shared another glance. You gave a collective sigh of relief. At least she knew it was an odd choice. Now that the elephant in the room had been addressed, you felt more comfortable asking about it.

Why did you build your house out of rubber?”

Ochako pressed her fingers together, looking nervous about telling you her answer. Before answering, she took the two of you indoors, hoping to redeem some of her credibility. Thankfully the furniture inside was made from wood, plastic and normal house materials. Ochako popped the kettle on as you and Kyouka made yourselves comfortable on the couch and an armchair respectively.

“I heard a rumour,” she admitted finally.

“A rumour made you build your house out of pink rubber?” You asked incredulously. Admittedly her pastel furniture fitted well with the pink walls, but surely if she was going for aesthetic then painted wallpaper would have sufficed.

Ochako poured three cups of tea, flapping her free hand with a strained expression.

“But I heard there’s a weird creature in the area. It uses electricity to kill its victims then eats them.”

You got up to get the drinks when Ochako seemed too caught up on her thoughts to remember them. Kyouka accepted the cup from you, addressing Ochako-- who steadied herself long enough to sit down on the couch.

“You have to be kidding? You didn’t believe that, did you?”

“You didn’t?” She sounded surprised. You and Kyouka shared another look.

“No,” you admitted. “That’s crazy. What kind of creatures use electricity for anything? Let alone killing people.”

Ochako’s face dropped. Her gaze landed on her bright pink walls. She sipped her tea nervously.

“Don’t say that,” she pleaded. “I spent all my money on rubber. I don’t have anything left to rebuild with.”

Kyouka patted her shoulder, hoping to give her a little comfort.

“Don’t worry too much. It’s certainly you. I can’t think of anyone else who would suit this house more.”

You nodded in solidarity, trying to reassure your round faced friend. Kyouka added, “If you can’t afford food you should think about getting a vegetable patch. I’ll bring you some bread once I’ve made it, too.”

Ochako wailed suddenly. You had to bite your lip to hold in a chuckle. Clearly she regretted her brash decision to electricity-proof her house. Rubber was not cheap. Hoping to lighten the tension you laughed as you sipped your drink.

“At least you’re all set if there really is a monster like that.”

Kyouka raised her cup in agreement. Ochako wearily followed suit, despairing a little too much to celebrate.

Later that evening as the sun began to set you set off home, hugging Ochako goodbye – who by now had cheered up considerably and was merrily waving you off. You and Kyouka chatted on the way, laughing at Ochako’s absurdity. Once you arrived at Kyouka’s house you promised to help her bake bread tomorrow, said goodbye then carried on alone to your own home.

After seeing the grandeur of your friends’ places, you kicked yourself for cutting corners with your own place. You could forgive the wobbly tables but wobbly chairs, bed and slanted counters would have to be rebuilt. That was tomorrow's problem, though. You were tired from a hard day’s work and an afternoon with the girls. All you really wanted now was to get in, cook yourself some dinner and get to sleep.

It was a shame, then, that you had forgotten to get any food. You had such a busy day that it had slipped your mind. The market was a while away, and this late in the evening it was closed anyway. You had limited options. You could go beg Kyouka for food. She wouldn’t let you live it down. You could start a vegetable patch. That would take time. You decided to venture into the forest before it got too dark. Berries and weird mushrooms it was.

Taking a small tub with you to carry food back, you wandered into the forest with little idea where you were going. You couldn’t get too lost as the sun was setting in the direction of your house. As long as you didn’t stay out past dark, you were fine.

You wandered about, plucking blackberries, gooseberries and morel mushrooms from the ground. The forest was so peaceful this late in the evening. No creatures were around but you could hear birds chirping as they settled down to roost. It was a pleasant sound, reassuring you nothing dangerous was charging through the woods.

You ate a wild strawberry as you wandered, enjoying the chance to relax and shop for food. Everything tasted better when you were hungry. Humming approvingly, you walked a few paces more before noticing something that distracted you from your food. You squinted between two tree trunks and noticed a tall shadow. It was partially shrouded from the glare of the sunset but you were certain it moved. It was too big to be a critter and too small to be a bear.

“Hello?” You called gingerly, clutching your half-full tub of forest food in case you needed to scarper. The thing stilled. It waited, so you called out again. Surprisingly it trotted towards you. Coming out of the shadows and into the orange glow of sunset, you spotted the black streak in its—his—blonde hair. A wave of relief washed over you, realising it was a man.

“What’s a pretty thing like you wandering through the forest alone?” He asked as he approached. You felt a small pinch of butterflies, caught off-guard by the sultry tone of his voice, like he wanted to lick every inch of your body as soon as he saw you. You tried to speak but found yourself lost for words. He stopped in front of you. You wanted him to lick every inch of your body. You weren’t prepared for him to look so handsome. His suggestive smirk made your heart tremble all on its own but his eyes were something else. They were mischievous. They were playful. They drank you in and made you feel attractive in a way that made you forget you were wearing a day of hard work on your features.

“F-food.” You managed to say amongst turning into a gooey, doe-eyed mess. You inwardly kicked yourself for acting like a fool. On the other hand, he seemed to approve of your reaction. He reached out, rubbing his thumb from the corner of your mouth, over your lower lip.

“I can see that.” He pulled his hand away and you noticed the small blob of red on the pad of his thumb—a remnants of the strawberry you had eaten. The blonde held your gaze as he lifted his hand to his mouth and darted his tongue out, lapping it up.

You couldn’t hold his gaze for more than a second. You felt your face prickle with embarrassed- but semi-excited heat and looked away. When you looked back you caught him smiling, his thumb still close to his mouth.

“Well aren’t you cute?” He asked in a sinful way. You dropped your gaze, unable to keep yourself steady. You noticed something swishing back and forth behind his leather-covered legs and bit your lip in surprise. He had a tail. “Isn’t it late to be out looking for food?”

You dared to steal another glance at his face—or more specifically, his hair. One peep confirmed your suspicions. He had two furry, spiked ears poking through the tops of his hair instead of on the sides of his head like a human’s. He was a werewolf. It put you on edge at first, your memories from this world warning you that werewolves were dangerous. But another set of memories contradicted those warnings. You knew another werewolf, somewhere deep inside, who was affectionate if not a little sadistic. Maybe it was that sadism that gave werewolves a bad reputation. As far as you could tell, this werewolf was friendly, pleasant and downright charming.

You decided to talk with him, forgetting the sunset. With any luck he could take you home if it got too dark.

“I’m picking some food for dinner.” You showed him the tub of berries and mushrooms. He didn’t seem all that impressed, much preferring to keep his gaze on you.

“Are you hungry?” He asked with a grin as he stepped forward. It only occurred to you then that suddenly, again, a man had appeared in your life. If this really was following a pattern then you had to walk away before you got in too deep and your peaceful life with Kyouka and Ochako was interrupted. Yet, you found yourself too charmed by the playful werewolf to leave.

“Mhmm,” you admitted, watching the way his eyes sparked with delight at your answer. “Me and my friends were building houses today. I’m starving.”

“I bet. It’s hungry work. But they left you to get the food alone?” He sounded amused. “How selfish.”

“Oh, no,” you corrected, hoping he didn’t have a bad image of your friends. “We don’t live together. It’s just me who needs to find food—I’m sure they ate already.”

The werewolf tilted his head, his furry ears twitching as he thought for a while. You told yourself again and again to turn around and leave him alone but something about him put you at ease. It might be alright to let him in to your life, even just for a little while.

He asked,

“If you don’t mind me asking, what are your friends’ names?”

“Why?”

He shrugged, giving you a toothy grin. His pointed canines glinted in the sunlight. They were sharp. One bite from them and you would lose an arm. That didn’t bother you though. His entire aura was too relaxed to think of as hostile.

“I don’t recognise you from around here. Everyone knows everyone in this area. I think I’d like to get to know you all, too.”

He reached forwards, lightly holding your shoulders to run his thumbs in circles over your skin. His touch was so warm. It made you notice how cool the evening was, and goosebumps prickled out along your arms. You told yourself it was the cold and not because of the werewolf’s lingering gaze.

“Kyouka and Ochako.”

He nodded, committing the information to memory. Then he tilted his head again, giving you another flashy grin.

“And what’s your name, cutie?”

You knew you looked like an idiot the way the blush broke out on your face but you had to admit it was nice to have his attention. The girls were your best friends but it didn’t hurt your confidence to have a guy fawning you. You were definitely gloating about this later.

“_-___.” You said, failing to keep the flustered stammer out of your voice. Thankfully he didn’t tease you for it—in fact he seemed to love the effect he had on you.

“I’m Denki. Pleased to meet you. I’ve never seen anyone quite as appetising looking as you before.”

You were as flustered as ever by his forwardness but his choice of words seemed peculiar to you. There were a thousand better things to call someone than appetising.

“So, ____. Tell me. Couldn’t you have eaten with your friends? Wandering alone through a forest can be dangerous. You should keep out of it, if possible.”

Denki closed the gap between you as effortlessly as if he were your dance partner. He bumped chests with you, holding your shoulders tighter so you didn’t stumble backwards. There was no mistaking his good looks from this close. And his eyes. They were so bright, so electrifyingly yellow. But, oddly, now that you were so close, you couldn’t see the playfulness in them from before.

“I only realised I was out of food when I got in, and they’re too far to walk back to in the dark.”

“So… you really live alone?” His breath fanned your face as he spoke. His canines glinted again and you couldn’t help but look at them.

“I… do.”

“And the others?”

Something was settling over you. As the sunlight faded you felt a shiver run up your back that had nothing to do with the shift into night. Something felt different. Your ease was slipping. Trying to break the tension creeping in on you, you forced out a choked laugh, thinking of your two friends.

“We’d kill each other if we lived under the same roof."

“Oh really?” He sounded genuinely intrigued. By now he had tight hold of you and barely gave you room to move. You weren’t sure when you had got into this position. Denki’s charm was too much for you to notice much else.

Then his demeanour slipped. His lips curled back but not into a playful grin. It looked more like a sneer. “That’s a shame. I guess that means more leg work for me, but thank you for telling me you all live alone.”

It was easy for you to believe that werewolves weren’t bad. It was only mild sadism that made them appear that way. At least, that was what Katsuki made you believe. But Denki was not like Katsuki. Denki’s relaxed, flirtatious attitude was enough to sway you into ease. But Denki was not like Katsuki. He was worse.

A killer disguised as a lamb.

You felt the air crackle with static as he ran his tongue over his teeth. “I’m sure the other girls won’t taste as good as you. But food is food, after all.”

A small spark jumped from the ends of his fingertips into your arms and you winced, twitching as the electric shock hit you. Your blood went cold. Ochako was right. You were an idiot for ignoring her. Back at her house, you and Kyouka had chided her for believing the rumours that a creature was prowling the area, using electricity to kill and eat its victims. The static in the air around you was palpable. The hairs along your skin were ridged, lifted up by the electrical charge. Denki’s electrical charge.

He leaned forwards and you tried to back off but his grip was too tight. You closed an eye as his tongue made contact with your cheek below it. He dragged it over your skin in a possessive manner, feeling you shiver against him as he left a wet, cold trail on your skin.

You took sharp, shallow breaths, too afraid to speak. He pulled back and stared at you, your eyes wide and your pupils like pinpricks as you realised you were trapped.

His lips curled into an amused snarl.

“Wheyy.”

Chapter Text

“D-Denki?” your voice broke as you failed to keep the fear from taking over. He smirked but it was far from friendly.

“Now, ____. Don’t go saying my name like that. You’ll give me second thoughts. I’ll mount you, not eat you.”

His comment made your heart hammer against your ribcage. Denki leaned into you, claiming your lips before you could stop him. He was rough, taking dominance over you entirely, but it was not painful. Static crackled over your skin but it was only in warning, not strong enough to make you twitch.

Until his fang sank into your lower lip.

You felt him puncture straight through the skin, and it wasn’t seconds before the metallic taste of blood filled your throat. You squirmed against him, a cry muffled into his mouth. He loosened his grip. You couldn’t pull back for fear he would tear your lip clean open. The pain was excruciating but adrenaline and the fear of being trapped stopped you from passing out.

You couldn’t let it end here; not after you finally decided to live a peaceful life with Kyouka and Ochako. Memories of a human Denki swirled through your head, warning you that you knew him somehow but you didn’t want to think about that. You were done with it all.

You needed a plan. Your many strange and weird adventures up until now had taught you one thing. Your fear could take you far. You had to get him to let go of your mouth before he took more serious bites. You let the fear take you, your body filing with a surge of adrenaline as you checked your grip on the small box full of berries.

Sacrificing your lip, you used every ounce of strength to drive the tub into the side of his head. Thankfully he opened his jaw in shock, detaching from your face with minimal tearing. So unprepared for your attack was he that he let you go and fell backwards, clutching his cheek.

You didn’t wait to fuss over your lip. You bolted, spitting a gob full of blood onto the ground, using the very last of the sunlight to guide you home. You ran as fast as your legs would carry you, ignoring the burning in your chest and calves in favour of getting away. You had to spit blood over and over, so deep was the hole at the side of your mouth.

You broke through the trees, happy to see your house in the far distance. If you could only get inside, the outer structure was sound enough to stop Denki getting in if he chased you there.

Sure enough, once you reached your front door some long minutes later you heard an angry howl. It was too dark to see but you had to guess he had just breeched the edge of the forest by how clear the noise was. You bolted inside and locked the door with three separate mechanisms. Then you pressed your back against the wood and slid down it, panting. You spat another mouthful of blood onto the floor but were too relieved to care about the mess.

If that wasn’t a sign to stop getting involved with guys, you didn’t know what was.

You picked yourself up and took yourself into the bedroom, finally allowing the pain of your wound to reach you. You needed to stop the bleeding. After finding the sewing kit in your nightstand you went into the bathroom to use the mirror.

“Oh, shit.”

Catching your reflection, a wave of nausea washed over you. You could cope with blood getting in your mouth but the whole lower half of your face was covered—it was in your nostrils and down your neck. You looked in the sink after hearing a dripping sound and saw a small puddle after no time at all. It wasn’t blood. It was purple miasma.

You cursed Denki. You cursed yourself for getting drawn in by him. You cursed the searing pain that almost made your eyes water. You weren’t going near him again. You weren’t going to beg him to show you acts of kindness to stop the pain. You could find another way.

As you threaded the needle, you wondered if you actually had that choice. They always found a way to reach you, the men from your broken memories. Was it possible to avoid them? And your wound, would it get worse if Denki didn’t fix it?

Poised with a needle and thread, you looked at yourself in the mirror. You took deep, steadying breaths to calm yourself. You were going to fix it yourself. You pushed the needle through your skin, through the hole and up through your lip, strangling a cry while you winced, pulling the three parts together. You pushed the needle round again, and again, slowly but surely stitching the wound closed.

If you saw Denki again you were going to kill him, whether he was a nice guy in another reality or not.

You slammed the needle down triumphantly, turning the tap on to wash away the gloopy miasma. You washed the lingering stains from your face then cupped some water and drank it to wash out your mouth. The pain was no less, but you had stopped the seeping. You admired the stitching. It wasn’t bad for a first attempt.

To make sure Denki absolutely could not get in, knowing he must be close by, you barred your windows with an assortment of wobbly-built furniture and left over building materials. Hopefully it would hold until morning, then you could run to Ochako’s house where you would all be safe.

No. Wait.

Kyouka.

“Woman!” You cursed loudly, kicking the side of your couch. The leg fell off and it collapsed. Broken furniture aside, you panicked, having no way to contact Kyouka to tell her she wasn’t safe. With her entire house built from metal, she was in danger if Denki found her. One zap on the outer wall and she was toast. You didn’t have a phone and it was too far to run to her place. Denki would catch up before you got there, then he would go straight on and kill Kyouka too.

“Think, think, think,” you muttered aloud, clamping your hands to your head as you paced back and forth. You couldn’t just leave Kyouka to her fate, it was your fault Denki found out about her in the first place, and Ochako. He could very well lie in wait until she went fishing or swimming and zap her too. You had no way to warn either of them.

You stopped pacing, frowning with a sudden determination. You needed to fight him head on. Losing was not an option.

You dashed around the cottage, searching for anything to defend yourself against both physical and electrical attacks but came up short. The best you could find was a pair of rubber gloves, a length of sturdy rope a kitchen knife. If Denki was anything like Katsuki, he was strong and a seasoned fighter. You were heavily disadvantaged. You took a few testing jabs into one of the couch cushions but you had no strength in your swing.

You groaned, dropping the knife. It clattered on the floorboards with a sharp zing. You ran your hands over your face, thinking. This is what you got for choosing to live an average friend-filled life. At least the other three men had been kind, even Eijirou who rescued you from a boiling pot of food well before he realised he knew you.

You gasped, hope flickering in your eyes as a thought dawned on you. You had a way to stop him… possibly. You dashed to your room, flinging open your wardrobe once you were inside. Both doors came off. You sighed, lamenting your lazy builder’s attitude. You tossed them to the side and rummaged through your pyjama drawer.

You pulled out a skin-tight chemise, just long enough to cover everything, then changed into it and looked yourself over in your floor length mirror. You tugged at the lower hem, trying to force it down further over your rear. It was deep red with a plunge neckline and left almost nothing to the imagination, but that was how you needed it.

One thing connected your male encounters thus far: sex. Denki had taunted you in the forest but you wondered if you really could seduce him. As long as you could get him inside your house and get his guard down, you had a chance to incapacitate him. On the other hand, if this really was a fateful encounter then getting intimate with him could only help. Patterns were patterns, and had yet to be broken.

You were nervous and felt like a fool in your outfit but if it meant protecting your friends, you could suck it up for now. You ran a brush through your hair, winged your eyeliner, brushed on mascara and glossed your lips then slipped into a thin cardigan and made for the front door. You were scared. You didn’t know if this would work. Your lip seared from the stitches and you weren’t all together sure if Denki was close by or if he had bypassed your house already.

Slipping into the cool night air, you wrapped the cardigan around yourself and stepped bare foot through the grass, squinting into the dark. It was hard to see through the glare of your living room lights but you needed to let him know where you were.

You rubbed your fingers together, feeling them clammy with sweat. The night was silent. It was empty. You were scared.

Calming yourself as best you could, you sucked in your breath and puffed out your chest, then in the loudest voice you could manage, you yelled,

Denki!

You must have startled the birds in the forest, as the air suddenly filled with the sounds of chirps and flapping wings. You gave them a quiet apology but if your voice could reach the forest from so far away, you were sure Denki’s sensitive ears could pick you up.

You waited. The time and uncertainty grew heavy on your chest. You played out scenario after scenario, line after line, but felt totally unprepared to seduce him. That’s if he did not attack you first. All you could do was wait and see.

Finally, something moved in the darkness. Your pulse quickened. You loosened the grip on your cardigan, letting it fall back and slip down one shoulder.

“Denki?” You tried to purr his name but it was hard to be seductive over being scared. Never the less, you heard a low growl.

“Imagine my surprise, hearing you scream my name.” He appeared next to you suddenly, making you jump. He took a gentle hold of your chin, tilting you to look at him. “It sounded rather sweet. Have you given up? Do you want me to kill you that badly?”

He leaned in, barely keeping his lips away from yours, loving the way they quivered.

“I’ll do it if you want me to. Do you want me to? I’ll do it either way, but it will be that much more…” He flicked his tongue across your gloss covered lips, “satisfying if you ask me to kill you.”

Werewolves as a whole were sadistic, that was your conclusion. It was only a matter of to what degree. Denki’s level of charm was off the ratings and that’s what made him dangerous. Still, you couldn’t let him sway you. Your death meant Kyouka and Ochako’s too.

The importance of your success pushed down your fear, locking it away where you did not have to worry about it. You needed to seduce him, and nothing was off the cards tonight.

“How about,” you said, batting your eyelashes, “I make you an offer you can’t resist?”

You leaned into him, daring to tiptoe your fingers down his chest. You hoped you didn’t look as ridiculous as you felt. Denki raised an amused eyebrow. He let go of your chin and backed off, out of your reach.

“I’m listening.”

“Well…” It was hard to deny how handsome Denki was. It made it that much easier for you to say, “I’ve been thinking about what you said earlier. About mounting me, not eating me.” The werewolf’s ears pricked up. You took it as a good sign, especially when his eyes softened. “If you promise not to eat me or my friends,” you counted 1-2-3 on your fingers, “Then I’ll show you how grateful I am.”

Though Denki looked much less aggressive you couldn’t be sure he was considering your offer. You had been duped by him today already. He tapped a finger to his lip slowly then looked you up and down. His gaze lingered on your silk nightdress and the exposed curve of your shoulder.

“It’s tempting.” He said, keeping his distance even though his tail swished in approval. “But to lose three meals, you’d really have to make it worth my while. Cutie, I don’t think you’ve got it in you.”

As far as your life in Halliwell was concerned you were an unplucked flower; a maiden; an innocent. If you only had those memories to go off, Denki would probably be right. You wouldn’t be equipped for this kind of battle. Luckily you weren’t just from Halliwell. You were from Grimm and Hans, with Katsuki and Shouto to thank for an arsenal of weapons to use on Denki. You had this.

“Oh, I don’t know.” You slinked towards Denki, lacing one arm over his shoulder so you could tickle the ends of his hair with your fingers. “I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”

His tail thumped against the back of his legs, betraying his relaxed, casually flirty expression.

“Oh really?” His arms snaked around you, pulling you into him so the soft mounds of your chest squished against him. “Show me what you’ve got, and we’ll see.”

Though this was the same position you had found yourself in earlier, you did not feel afraid. His tail was enough to instil you with confidence even if he was acting the playboy. You ran your hand further into his hair, tugging it ever so slightly. Then you leaned in close to his ear and whispered,

Good boy.”

He clenched, a shiver running through him that even halted his wagging tail. It sent a tiny, unpainful jolt of electricity through you but before you had a chance to figure out whether that was a good or bad sign, Denki let out a shaky breath and his tail began swishing in a more primal manner.

His clawed fingers traced from the small of your back to your hips, then he pushed you away ever so slightly. His voice sounded husky and his pupils were dilated, brimming with mischief and a new kind of hunger.

“Okay, _____. You’ve got my undivided attention.”

Chapter Text

You expected to feel nervous, bringing a proven-violent werewolf into your cottage. You expected to be scared. Your lip still hurt but the funny thing was, you were giddy. You were nervous, but from butterflies rather than fear. The fact Denki had agreed to sleep with you instead of eat you was enough of a confidence boost to put you at ease. You no longer felt silly in your slinky red chemise. You felt sexy. You felt attractive. You felt ready to make good on your end of the bargain.

Denki followed you inside, taking a moment to appreciate the interior of the cottage as he glanced around.

“You made this yourself, Cutie?”

It was strange to hear him making small talk. You expected him to walk straight through to the bedroom, strip and tell you to start, but it seemed that he liked your company. Maybe he wanted an experience, not just a quickie.

“Mhmm,” you hummed flirtatiously, trying to figure out his motive. His aura was totally relaxed and it was difficult to tell whether or not he was acting. Unlike in the forest, though, he was wagging his tail and he was willing to look around instead of solely on you.

Wiggling your hips as you walked, you took him through to your bedroom then shut and locked the door behind you. You rested your back against the wood, watching him, waiting for him to get on the bed. But he didn’t. He glanced around then turned towards you, smiling mischievously.

“Why so nervous, ____?”

It was only for the briefest moment but the reality of the situation had clubbed you over the head after seeing your bed. You pursed your lips together, daring to drop your flirty façade to speak to him properly.

“You promise me you won’t eat me or my friends if we do this?”

You kept your back pressed against the door. You could hear your heartbeat all of a sudden and it was unsteady, wondering what to do if Denki said no.

He stepped forwards, closing the gap between you, and slipped his hands under the fabric of your cardigan so he could rest them on your hips. He was so close and you could still see the playful sparkle in his eyes. It was a reassuring sign.

“Don’t worry. I stopped trying to eat you the moment I saw you in—” He looked down at your outfit, grinning like the cat that killed the canary. It was such an intense gaze that you couldn’t help but blush. There was something very genuine about Denki’s compliments. You had noticed it back in the forest too, and that was what had drawn you to him originally. He looked at you like you were the best damn thing he had ever seen.

“Really?” You asked. He cocked his head to the side, giving you a playful wink.

“Hey, I might be a monster but I make a much better lover.” You were so flustered that you almost missed the way his ears drooped. He brushed a finger over the stitches at the corner of your mouth. “Speaking of… I don’t want any tension spoiling our night. Ruins the mood. So, I know I said show me what you’ve got. But let me show you you’re in good hands.”

You could sense the apology below his flirty attitude. Your lip still throbbed and it was hard to forget the way he had tried to kill you but if he meant it, you supposed you could forgive him somewhat. All creatures had to eat, after all.

Hoping to instil some confidence in you for the night ahead, Denki took it upon himself to take the lead. He was curious to see what you could do but knew he needed to make amends. He really, really hated the idea of you sleeping with him purely to save your friends—that it was an obligation you had to endure. He wanted you to enjoy it. He wanted you to relax and get lost in the moment with him. That was the best kind of sex. He was a lover more than a fighter and really wanted to prove it to you.

He stepped into you, lifting one hand from your hip, up into your hair. His fingers tickled the back of your scalp as he braced you, then leaned in and pressed his lips to yours in a surprisingly tender kiss. You expected it to hurt your stitches but when he pulled away you realised they actually hurt less.

“…a-again.” You asked, fixing your gaze to the floor. Denki’s expression softened.

“Yes, ma’am.” He leaned in a second time, reclaiming your lips. He was slow at first, teasing your lips apart with his so he could deepened the kiss until your body relaxed. You could put up as confident a front as you liked but Denki knew you were nervous. Truth be told, he enjoyed your nerves. He wanted to be the one to calm you, to turn you from an anxious girl to a woman high on lust the longer he played with you. For him, it was all about the build-up. The climax was great too but nothing beat the journey getting there.

The longer he kissed you the less your stitches throbbed. You knew affection was key to stopping the miasma. You weren’t sure why it was key but your wounds only ever festered after remembering versions of Katsuki, Eijirou and Denki who would never hurt you. Their cruelty, inconsistent with the memories you had of them, were a paradox that birthed the miasmic curse. If their violence and cruelty caused the miasma then kindness and affection were the logical antidotes.

The pain stopped altogether but you couldn’t say for sure how long it took. By the time it was gone Denki had been kissing you enough to stir a longing within you that ached the more he pulled you against him, one hand in your hair and the other tugging on your hip. His kisses changed from languid and coaxing to heated and hungry. You wrapped your arms around his neck but they didn’t stay there for long. As he continued kissing you, Denki lost his trousers and his shirt, pausing just long enough to get it over his head before returning his attention to you. He left a trail of warm kisses from your jaw to the base of your neck then licked over them with a wet tongue. The prolonged kiss left you sensitive. The ache inside you built as you shivered, feeling goosebumps prickle beneath his touch.

You tried to take control, still certain you needed to impress him. Breaking from Denki’s touch, you shimmied down the door, taking advantage of the passion swirling in the air to combat your shyness, then gripped the waistband of his boxers. Even before you pulled them down you could see how taut the material was, doing very little to hide his erection. You kept your hands slow, dragging his last remaining piece of clothing down, exposing the defined ridges of his torso and his hipbones.

The sight of you on your knees undressing him made Denki speechless. His cock twitched close to your face. Only the material of his underwear prevented him from pushing it against your lips. You were being such a good girl; his carnal urges were in a tizzy. He had to grip your hair to stop himself getting rough with you, aware how much he had screwed it up earlier. He could see the ugly stitches at the corner of your mouth. He had to make up for them.

You let his boxers drop to his ankles once you had them past his erection, then took a moment to appreciate his girth. He wasn’t as big as Katsuki and certainly not Shouto, but his girth was more than enough. If you had to pick a word to describe him it was filling.

You rested your hands on the backs of his thighs for balance, ready to drag your tongue up his cock, only Denki suddenly chuckled.

“Nope.” He grabbed you by the shoulders, pulling you up to full height. You were confused but he planted another kiss on your lips. It was gentle and friendly, and he rubbed affectionate circles over your arms with his thumbs. When he broke away he gave you a playful grin. “I thought I said it was my turn.”

You felt a little embarrassed after he stopped the blowjob but he startled your worries away when he entwined his fingers with yours and guided you across the room. It was a surprisingly sweet gesture. You expected to get on the bed but he stopped just short, standing in front of your floor length mirror. He turned you to face it then brushed the hair away from your neck and kissed you there from behind.

You watched your reflections. You turned pink, noticing the gentleness on Denki’s face as he pressed butterfly soft kisses to your skin, and the way he snaked his toned arms around your waist in an embrace. You closed your eyes, melting into him until he helped you down to the floor. He sat on his knees, nestling you between his open legs with your back against him.

“Open your eyes,” he whispered on the shell of your ear before kissing it once. You complied, feeling his erection pressing into the small of your back. You saw your reflection—how you were caught so lovingly in Denki’s hold, the naked edges of his broad shoulders and his muscular thighs peeping out from behind your clothed body. It was a lot to take in. You thought you had the drop on Denki but it seemed you underestimated his sexual prowess. You wanted to take control but found yourself melting under his touch.

“Aren’t you pretty?” He whispered in your ear before his hands began to search your body. He traced over your curves, shifting to nestle himself closer around you, bringing one hand up to cup your chin when you tried to avoid looking in the mirror. He turned you back towards it but only so he could place a kiss on your cheek.

“Sshhh, don’t worry,” he murmured, “I’ll make you forget the mirror. That’s just for my benefit.”

He wanted to watch you. You weren’t sure if he realised how attractive that made you feel but it eased your embarrassment a lot. It was still strange to look your reflection dead in the eyes so you opted to watch Denki’s roaming hand while the other held your face. He noticed you watching him.

He licked his lips and let go of your chin, then gently dragged his fingers down your neck. When he reached the top of your chemise he gripped it, using the other hand to slice the fabric in two down the middle. Your breath hitched so he kissed your cheek and your jaw, keeping an eye on your reflection. His cock twitched against your back, loving the flustered expression in your eyes.

When it was totally in two, you shrugged off the torn nightdress and your cardigan, leaving you just as naked as he was. You wanted to look away, especially when Denki eased your legs apart to expose yourself to him. You knew how wet you were but it was embarrassing for him to see it so readily. You were aching to be touched and even in your shyness the fact he was taking the time to drink you in, to examine every inch of your body turned you on.

“You’re perfect,” he cooed, letting his hands roam over your newly exposed skin. One hand cupped your breast, tickling the sensitive skin around your nipple while the other hand travelled south. He stroked your stomach, your hip, the curve of your pelvic bone. Then he bucked himself against your back, forcing your hips to roll to expose yourself further. He kissed your ear then forced two fingers inside you. It was so sudden that you gasped, bucking into his hand instinctively, but it felt good. They were a lot to take at once but you were wet enough to stop it being uncomfortable.

Denki kept his gaze on your reflection, watching the rapid rise and fall of your chest as you tried to accommodate his intrusion. He abandoned your chest, using the hand to hold your thigh wide so he could watch while he pumped his fingers in you, satisfied by the sounds of your panting and the lewd squelching as he worked on your arousal. He had to rub himself against your back again and again to ease his erection. He wanted to be inside you, the tension was almost painful, and you were emitting such powerful pheromones it was hard to keep hold of his senses. It was good to know you were just as turned on as he was, though.

He pumped in and out of you until his fingers were soaked then withdrew them. He took a moment to enjoy your excitement, nuzzling his face against the side of your neck so he could feel your over-zealous pulse then rubbed his wet fingers against your clit. You whimpered, enjoying the release of tension now that he was touching such a sensitive area.

“Denki…” you breathed, relaxing into him again. He loved it. Everything about you was perfect from the way you said his name to your curves to your intoxicating scent. He never would have experienced such a beauty had he eaten you in the forest. The smell of your fear had been one thing but your pheromones were on another level. He couldn’t get enough. He nuzzled your skin, breathing in your scent, becoming more aroused the longer he stayed with you.

He wanted to make you feel this good. He wanted you to experience the closest thing to being in heat that a human could be. Making sure your clit in particular was slicked with arousal, he stopped rubbing you and waited until you looked at him in the mirror, silently asking why he paused. He saw the longing in your eyes and his cock twitched against your back. He rubbed himself against you to ease the tension and you mewled softly, turned on by his momentary disregard for your boundaries.

When you caught his eye he pressed one finger to the top of your cunt then after a pause, a spark of electricity shot through every nerve in your clit. You lurched backwards and Denki had to wrap an arm around your middle to hold you still. It was painful but felt so damn good. It felt like fire and ice, a sharp pain that spread from your clit through your entire lower body, warming your thighs and making your core ache for another shock. As soon as it came, it went, leaving your body to melt in the afterglow of the pain.

“Feels good, right?” Denki grinned mischievously, revelling in the way you were coming undone in his arms. You couldn’t look at yourself in the mirror as you nodded. You knew you were a mess. You closed your eyes and tipped your head back against his shoulder as he dipped his fingers through your arousal, making sure your clit was lubricated enough to take another static shock. He didn’t want to hurt you for real. He did it again and you lurched, rubbing against his erection as you let out a loud moan.

Denki had to change tactics after that. He was too turned on. He couldn’t explain it. Having you writhing in his lap, moaning in pleasure while he shocked you—a trait that usually had others running from him in fear—had him ready to pound you into the floor, to mate with you. It was a new feeling for him but he loved it. He wanted to fuck you senseless and bury himself so deep inside you that his come would still be dribbling out of you days later.

He pumped his fingers inside you, snuggling into you as you tried to buck and moan then put his arousal soaked hand against one of your breasts. He rubbed your nipple, wetting it, then shocked you again. The pain wasn’t quite as strong this time but it still made you moan, particularly when Denki let go of your waist so he could push three fingers inside you. You doubled forwards, catching the way your tongue slipped out when you moaned through your reflection. Denki adored it. He loved the way you reacted to him. You couldn’t hold back even if you tried. He shocked your nipple, sending a wave of warmth through your entire body as his fingers stretched your insides, coaxing you to a release.

“De—De—De—” you tried to say his name but couldn’t get the word out. Your body was hot, overstimulated by the electricity and his unforgiving fingers. He switched from your nipple, back to your clit, shocking you in sharp, pleasurable bursts. Your toes curled and you moaned, aware Denki had both eyes on your reflection. You felt filthy but you loved it, enjoying his lust filled gaze as he broke you. The pleasure built and built, spurred on by his shocks, until finally your moans turned silent and your eyes rolled as you released onto his fingers, convulsing between his legs. He pulled out of you to hold you up, but shocked you once more to spur you through your orgasm.

When you stilled you fell forwards, but Denki wrapped both arms around you to keep you upright against him. He peppered kisses over your shoulder.

“You okay?”

You nodded, taking deep breaths to steady yourself.

“Just… give me a minute…”

Denki gave you a breather. He held onto you, tilting your tired face towards him so he could kiss you. You surprised him by opening your mouth, lewdly offering him your tongue to play with. He responded eagerly. If he wasn’t careful he was going to come of his own volition before you had chance to do anything, so turned on was he from your display and the rising scent of your release. It was all he could do to play with your tongue, trying to calm himself.

Aware that Denki was pining for you, you kissed him over and over until you were sure the sensitive aftershock of your orgasm had passed. You could feel his cock against your back though he was trying not to jut it against you now. You were ready to make good on your end of the deal. You were ready to find out just how far his good boy kink went. You let the heat of the kiss build inside you, sparking you ready for a second round.

You took Denki by surprise, swinging round to tackle him to the floor. You got him onto his front, pinning him by pressing your naked body down on his, licking a wet trail between his shoulder blades. He shivered.

Suddenly an image flashed through your head of a world where you knew how to tackle people and did it on a daily basis. You saw a human version of Denki, squirming beneath you on a sparring mat, telling you to knock it off while you pinned him in smug triumph. You were strong, there. Crazy strong. Tackles and fighting moves came naturally to you there.

They came to you naturally here, too, but you had not realised until now. You were a lazy girl from Halliwell who always cut corners but you had a fighter mentality ingrained so deep under your skin that you knew you had to be from somewhere different. Halliwell was not your home, you knew that from the moment you woke in the wheat field, but it was nice to know you weren’t a pushover wherever you were from.

Maybe if you had realised sooner, you would have been able to take Denki on in the woods. You could have avoided this whole mess. Then again, aside from the bust lip, things had turned out rather fun.

“Excuse me,” Denki said with a chuckle. “If you’re going to space out, I won’t hand the reins over that easily.”

He jerked upwards, knocking you off him, which pulled you back to your senses. Too late, though. Denki span, forced you down and pinned you by the shoulders, straddling your hips. It was fast and rough, but then he leaned in and pecked your lips. He pulled back, grinning like an idiot, and it was then that you realised how different he was from back in the forest.

A second image swam through your mind. It was Denki again, as a human. You were in a dessert parlour together with the largest mound of ice cream in a bowl between the two of you. You were sad. Sad for some reason. Denki was comforting you, telling you how you were too good for him anyway. He had that same idiotic grin on his face. He was trying to cheer you up.

When you came round again, Denki’s smile had slipped. He looked worried, staring down at you with his shaggy mop of blonde hair dangling around his face.

“____?” he asked unsurely. If your experience with Eijirou had taught you anything—aside from traumatising you—it was that somewhere deep inside these men in front of you, they shared the same memories as you and had the same personalities from those disjointed images, even if they were locked away. That was never more obvious than now, looking up into the eyes of a werewolf who had tried to kill you but looked ready to move heaven and earth to make sure you were okay now.

Your bonds were stronger than this curse. They could save you from the pain of miasma. They could keep you sane while you figured out how to unlock your memories and find out who you really were.

You reached up suddenly, gripping Denki by the back of the head, then pulled him down on top of you so you could crash your lips to his. It left him stunned but he enjoyed it all the same, his tail wagging approvingly behind him. You brushed your hands through his hair, tugging him closer. He responded by stroking a gentle finger along your cheek, telling you he liked what you were up to.

In a bid to put yourself more in control you rocked Denki backwards, bringing yourself up at the same time so he was sat straight legged on the floor with you straddling his lap. You continued the kiss while he laced his arms around your back, pressing you into him. You smirked, aware he still wanted to be in control. You sat down, rubbing yourself up against his cock so that he groaned, trying to hold your hips to stop you.

“Nuh-uh-uh,” you sang, riding in his lap. He broke the kiss, panting while he tried to halt you.

“Please, ____.”

Well. That just sounded like an invitation. You couldn’t resist. His begging made you want to tease him more.

“Hey, Denki?” You waited until he looked at you, his eyes hazy with desire. It was time for him to relinquish control now. You kissed him on the bridge of his nose, sitting up off his cock to give him a second of respite. You fluttered your eyelashes, lifting his chin to look up at you. “Do you want me to make you feel good?”

A rabbit caught in a headlight. That was the expression on Denki’s face as he went rigid. Still, underneath him his tail started beating ten-to-the-dozen. You smiled, taking that as your answer. You kissed his lips again.

“My turn.”

Chapter Text

It was easy enough if you wanted to finish Denki off. He was so hard and so ready to take you that a couple more grinds against his cock would have him coming up your stomach. You didn’t want that. You were having far too much fun. Instead, you rocked backwards off him then stood up and pointed towards the mirror.

“On your elbows and knees, handsome.”

Denki looked himself over in the mirror, then at you with intrigue. He cocked an eyebrow but did as he was told, positioning himself so that his face was close to the mirror, supporting himself on his elbows with his back end raised slightly higher.

He shivered as soon as you put your hands on him. You kneeled behind him, glided your fingers along his back, tracing the curve of his spine, over his shoulder blades and down his sides. He watched you in the mirror, watching the careful consideration on your face as you touched him, tickling your fingers over the majority of his sensitive spots. He tensed, feeling tingles of pleasure all over the more you touched him. You leaned over him, bending forward to massage him with the soft mounds of your breasts squashing against his back. His cock twitched just from the sight of you.

“Hey, ____.” He murmured, trying to commit every one of your touches to memory. You pulled back from him, dropping onto your haunches so you could rub his thighs with languid strokes. Sometimes you ran your hands higher, skirting over his toned arse cheeks, or inwards so they nearly touched his cock. It was near-torture for him. He wanted you to touch him—to relieve him. He was aching from fingering you, from running his hands all over you. He didn’t know how much more he could take. Precum was dripping from the tip of his cock onto the floor. “____.”

You heard the begging in his voice. You liked the way he had given you control, switching to submission for you.

“You’re such a good boy,” you purred, watching the way his tail swished the more you paid attention to his thighs. You could see how swollen his cock was. You wanted to relieve him but you thought it was too easy just to jerk him off. In the state he was in, he might only last a minute. Instead you abandoned his thighs, smiling at the way his cock twitched in protest, then grabbed near to the base of his tail. He went rigid and sucked in his breath. A devilish smile broke out across your face.

“Do you want me to touch you, Denki? Would this feel nicer on your cock?”

You stroked his bushy tail, tugging it occasionally to make him gasp. He didn’t respond but when you looked in the mirror you saw how good he was feeling. His mouth was open, his eyes closed with a flush to his cheeks that had not been there before.

“Tell me,” you said softly, leaning in closer as your hands worked his tail. You placed an open mouthed kiss on the patch of skin between the base of his tail and the top of his arse, and his tail went rigid. He gave a low, earthy groan, unable to hold it in.

“Shit, ____. Shit. Good girl.”

As much as you loved hearing him say that, feeling your body hot up in response, you were determined to put him in his place. You pinned his tail down against his back, pressing your lips to that same sensitive patch of skin again.

“Hey now, Denki. I’m in charge.” You purred. You opened your mouth and drew long, wet lines around the base of his tail. He grunted, attempting to hold himself still when his whole body turned hot.

Fuck.”

A charge of electricity jolted from his body to yours. It was light but stung and you pulled back. Realising what had happened, Denki opened his eyes and tried to sit up.

“Crap. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. My body does that if I get too exci—”

You shut him up by kissing the sensitive patch below his tail. It was okay, you were telling him, don’t worry. To get the mood back in place, you leaned into him and attached your mouth to that same spot, then started sucking on the skin.

His panting and the way he shifted beneath you, powerless against your touch, made you feel sexy and in control. It was a weird kind of high but you loved it all the same.

Reaching backwards, you slipped your hand between your legs and played with yourself enough to slick your fingers, enough to ease your heat, then returned your attention to Denki. Still working his tail and licking the sensitive flesh to the base of it, you slipped a finger between his arsecheeks, teasing his back entrance. He grunted again and both his tail and cock twitched.

Shit. Shit. SHIT. What the hell were you doing to him? He could hardly think straight. Denki had his eyes closed, pressing his cheek to the cold floor to ground himself while you turned him into a groaning, bucking mess. You still hadn’t touched his cock and yet he was so turned on and so overstimulated that he did not care. He could feel your finger against his entrance, prodding it experimentally, and god he wanted you to do it. It was a new feeling, he had to admit, but your fingers hadn’t gone wrong so far.

It burned when you finally entered him. His toes went rigid and his cock strained, but it wasn’t a bad sensation. You kissed him in the same spot you had just been terrorising him with licks.

“Good boy. You’re taking this so well. Such a good boy.”

Holy shit. His cock was throbbing and he wanted to switch and mount you until you screamed, but he wanted you to dominate him and tell him how good he was and when it was all over he was going to bury himself inside you up to the hilt.

You pushed your finger further inside him, being sure to tease the rest of his body to help him grow accustomed to the feeling. He could hardly hold himself on his elbows. One arm was stretched out ahead of him, curled round the back of the mirror while the other struggled to keep him up. As you worked on him, you felt something wet drip against your knee beneath him. You pulled back and saw the string of precum dripping from the tip of his cock. Then you noticed more of it on the floor. The sight of it turned you on. You kissed the toned curve of his buttock then let go of his tail.

“You’ve been such a good boy. Want me to give you your reward? You just have to say so.”

Denki opened his mouth, trying to get the words out while you continued to move your finger around inside him. You kept hitting a spot that made his insides hot that was driving him wild.

“Pl-please,” he managed to croak, cracking an eye open so he could look back at you. That was all you needed. Finally, you traced your finger down the length of his hung cock, already imagining what it felt like in your hand, then when another pearl of precum dripped from the tip, you grasped him and pumped him while you continued in his arse.

This time he moaned. It was low, sharp and unintentional. A second jolt of electricity zapped you. It stung but you chose to ignore it. All the same, Denki panted an apology with his face stuck to the floor. Your hands felt too good. He couldn’t control his powers. Every stroke felt like fire. He rutted into your hand, groaning with each thrust. His sight clouded over, feeling the rise to a release.

You didn’t think it was right to let him finish like this—having him release all over your floor. It was degrading enough, but you had stared at his throbbing cock long enough and now you wanted to bury him inside you.

You pulled out of him without warning. He swore, shocking you again, but you rolled him straight onto his back and climbed on him in a matter of moments. He barely had time to take in the glorious sight of you straddling him before you plunged down onto him, burying him as deeply inside you as you could. He was so big that you could feel him stretching your insides. You were so turned on you could hardly bare it, and that’s why when Denki accidentally shocked you harder all it did was make you worse.

Denki gripped your hips, moving you back and forth so you rode his cock like a rodeo bull. You were so tight, every tiny movement electrified him with desire.

Now that you were on top of him and your hands were busy holding yourself up on his chest while he moved you, Denki took the chance to retake dominance. With a buck of his hips he managed to knock you backwards, following you until it was your back on the floor while he ploughed into you.

“Sorry,” he said with a half-lidded smirk. “My turn.”

He loved fighting for dominance with you. He loved that you didn’t roll over and just take it. Still, if he was going to finish he wanted to make sure he could bury himself deep enough in you to make you moan his name.

He rested an elbow either side of your head, then leaned in and kissed you while he thrusted into you. You could feel how deep he was. Every thrust was a wave of pleasure. He broke the kiss to concentrate on his movements.

You waited until his breath turned ragged. You felt him trembling as he came close to release. Then you reached up, wrapping your arms around his neck. You pulled yourself up so you were close to his ear then whispered a final,

“Be a good boy and cum for me.”

Then you latched your mouth to the curve of his neck, biting down against his skin. He gave a guttural moan as his arms began to give way.

“Let… go…” he panted, trying to hold on to the last of his senses. “Please.”

You planned to keep hold of him but the begging of his plead made you think twice. You took your mouth off him and slipped your arms free of his neck. He nodded with a smile then bucked into you as hard as he could. He hit a spot that made you moan and made your toes curl, then all of a sudden he pulled out.

You weren’t sure what was happening until he started to shoot thick spurts of come over your stomach. He braced himself above you on strong arms, then all of a sudden his body twitched. The hairs along your body stood on end and then finally a giant surge of electricity jumped out of his body in every direction. Every direction but yours. He short circuited your alarm clock, and the jewellery on your nightstand zinged on contact. You yelped, watching the sparks fly from the lightbulb overhead before the whole room plunged into darkness.

“…you…okay…?”

Denki’s voice sounded higher than normal, and there was a vagueness to it that seemed out of place.

“I’m okay,” you reassured him. “Are you?”

He hiccupped and a final spark of electricity bounced off him. After that, you couldn’t get a word of sense of out him.

Wheeyyy~…”

“Denki?”

It was no use. It seemed like he had short circuited his own brain alongside everything else. You worried that he might have done permanent damage but then you realised that he had pleaded for you to let go, probably because he knew this would happen. So it had happened before. And he hadn’t wanted to hurt you.

It was hard to believe his soft heart belonged to the same werewolf that had tried to kill you. As a lover, he really was a whole other being.

You waited a while to see if Denki would come round to his senses but for now he seemed stuck in dumb-mode. You took the break to clean yourself up, put your clothes on then out of respect you helped him onto your bed and tucked him in.

“If you were telling the truth then you won’t mind if I pop out for a little bit. I’ll be back.”

You kissed him on the forehead then you grabbed your house keys.

oOo

Kyouka woke to someone hammering on her front door. She tried to ignore them but the knocking carried on. She knew only two people who were that persistent. She tutted, groaned, pulled herself out of bed then grumbled her whole way to the front door.

What?” she growled, flinging the metal door open. You waved gingerly, saying hello. She sighed as if to ask what you were thinking coming round this late, then she spotted the messed up stitches at the side of your mouth. “What the hell have you done?”

You waved her concern off. You didn’t have much time and there definitely wasn’t enough of it to explain the full Denki situation. You summarised it to:

“Ochako was right.”

Kyouka stood in silence for some time. She wished she had waited until she was fully awake to answer the door. She should have known you were going to spout nonsense from the first syllable.

“What are you on about?”

“There’s a creature out there that uses electricity to kill people.”

Suddenly, she was more concerned about the stitches at the side of your mouth.

“How do you know that? What happened to your lip?”

She felt a pang of dread in her gut that built the longer she looked at the crude, messed up stitching. But then she saw what your lips were doing—how they lifted up at the sides while you grinned, your eyes beaming.

“Okay… and why are you so happy? You look like you’re glowing.”

You urged her back inside, closing the door behind the two of you. Failing to answer any of her questions, you searched through her cupboards, finding an overnight bag, then stuffed it full of toiletries and clothes. Kyouka waited long enough for you to stuff her toothbrush in there then asked,

“What are you doing?”

“You’re going to Ochako’s—at least for tonight. If you stay here there’s a semi real chance you’ll get fried.” You didn’t think Denki would actually do it but it didn’t hurt to play safe. You passed the bag to Kyouka.

It was a bittersweet feeling, knowing you had the chance to keep your friends safe at the price of disappearing, yourself. You had done what you said you wouldn’t do. You got involved with a guy. You had sex. Unless you were wrong, that meant it was a matter of time before the mist took hold. Tomorrow you would wake up somewhere new and never see the girls again.

You hated it. You wanted to live here forever. You had memories of growing up with Ochako and Kyouka. You knew deep down the memories were not real, but they felt so incredibly real to you. You wrapped your arms around Kyouka, squeezing her in a hug.

“I love you,” you wailed dramatically, hiding your actual sadness below a veil of humour. Kyouka was ready to go back to bed by this point. You were making no sense. You carried on,

 “You’re amazing and your take-no-shit attitude is what I aspire to have, but maybe cut Ochako some slack.” You let go then made for the front door. “Just go to Ochako’s house for tonight. To humour me. Pretty please?”

Kyouka looked at the overnight bag then at your pleading face. She was too tired for this.

“If I do, will you tell me what the hell is going on tomorrow?”

“I will,” you agreed. And you would, if you were around tomorrow. “But also promise me that you’ll install lightning protection too.”

“What?”

You laughed nervously, opening the front door.

“Promise me?”

“I promise.” She noticed your sigh of relief. “Okay, are you good? All better? Got the crazy out of your system?” You nodded. “You’re not about to walk into danger, are you?”

You shook your head.

“Don’t worry about me. Honestly.”

You hugged Kyouka good bye then set off back towards your cottage as she headed for Ochako’s. Everything would be fine. You knew that now. No matter what happened, you knew your friends would be okay. You wanted to wake up tomorrow and visit them and tell them everything.

But as you walked home, you felt the familiar tug on your body to tell you this world was coming to a close. You pressed on. The cottage was in your sights, all the lights on but for the one in your bedroom.

Was Denki still there? Was he still braindead? Would he want to eat you now that he had got what he wanted?

You supposed it didn’t matter anymore. The closer you walked, the more you felt the mist setting in. It stayed at the edges of your sight, slowly sinking the world away.

Still.

You made it home. You managed to open the front door and let yourself in. And there was Denki to greet you, wearing nothing but a towel around his waist. He was back to normal, and his expression lit up when he saw you, his tail wagging happily behind him.

“____! You’re back!” He ran to you and wrapped his arms around you, nuzzling his face against yours in greeting. “I thought you ran away.”

“I’m home,” you said softly, wishing that the mist would stay away. You wanted to stay here. You loved your friends, and Denki’s embrace felt so warm and gentle. You wrapped your arms around him, taking a moment to remember this feeling.

“Good boy,” you muttered, but this time you really meant it. His ears drooped and his tail slowed, hearing the sad tone of your voice. He wasn’t sure what was happening but held you tighter all the same.

You closed your eyes. You leaned into him. When you opened your eyes again, he was gone.

You were in the purple-grey void. You felt sad but at the same time you finally had a solid lead when it came to shifting realities. If sex was the trigger, then as long as you kept your legs closed you could live a peaceful life and settle down for good. It was that simple.

...right?

Chapter Text

“No. Absolutely not, Midnight. I’m not going. You can’t make me.”

Your entrance into the new reality came at quite an inconvenient time. You were right in the middle of being forced out the door of your cottage by your lady-in-waiting. In this reality you were a princess. Which was brilliant. Of all the lives you had led so far, this one definitely had the most perks. However, you had some duties to attend to and you really didn’t want to do them. Not at all.

“Whether you like it or not, ____, it’s your birthday and you have to go back to the castle. That was always the plan. Now put your cloak on and say bye to the cottage. You won’t be coming back.”

“No. no!” You wailed, starfishing in the doorway as you gripped the wooden doorframe for dear life. You didn’t want to go back to the castle. You didn’t want to celebrate your birthday. You didn’t particularly care for life in the cottage but it was preferable to what awaited you.

“But ____! If you survive today then you can finally meet your betrothed and be married. Think how wonderful that will be.”

If Midnight was meant to be encouraging you she was failing rather spectacularly. In this reality, you were engaged to a prince who you had only met once when you were a baby. Honestly, marrying a prince sounded pretty sweet but you knew you couldn’t do it. In two weeks’ time you were going to marry your prince. In two weeks’ time you were then supposed to consummate the marriage. In two weeks’ time that meant you would lose your cushy princess life and your castle and your servants and jump realities again because mandatory wedding-night sex was a bastard like that.

You wanted to stay in this reality so a romp was off the cards. Which meant so was the wedding. But apparently you weren’t allowed a say in the matter.

Then again. All of that was irrelevant if you didn’t survive until tomorrow.

“Don’t you think it’ll be safer in the cottage, Midnight? We know there’s nothing pointy in there. It’s way less risky. This whole trip is counterproductive!”

“The king and queen want to spend your birthday with you, and so they should. They haven’t seen you since you were a baby! Stop getting cold feet and LET GO OF THE DOOR, SO HELP ME ____!

When you were born an evil creature had cursed you. You were meant to prick your finger before this year’s birthday and fall down dead. That’s why your parents, the king and queen, had sent you away as a baby with Midnight to live on the outskirts of the kingdom where you would be safe until the day came and passed. It seemed they were too excited to see you, though, and wanted you back a day early to celebrate.

You didn’t want to go.

Midnight was having none of it.

It took threatening you with rope to get you out the door and onto the awaiting horse. Midnight took the reins and you wrapped your arms around her middle to hold yourself still. As the two of you ventured on, you snuggled against her back. She had raised you by herself and yes, she had a sharp tongue and an iron fist, but she was your family. You supposed the other reason you didn’t want to go home to your real family was because you didn’t want to admit that someone else was your mother.

Midnight could always sense when you were uneasy. Never more so than when your arms tightened around her middle. At first she sighed, but then she touched her hand to yours on her stomach.

“It’ll be okay, ____. The life you lead from now on will be a thousand times better than what you lived so far. It might seem scary now, but you’ll look back and laugh.”

“But what about you?” you mumbled with your face pressed into the fabric of her riding cloak.

Midnight looked up to the sky and the sun peeping through the leaves of the forest. She couldn’t help but smile, so very glad you had turned out so kind.

“It’s inevitable that we’ll go our separate ways… but I’ll still be here should you ever need me.”

You didn’t want to leave Midnight, no matter how much of a headache she gave you at times. If possible, you wanted to bring her as your personal handmaid when you moved in with the prince. If you married him. If you stayed celibate. If you survived today.

Perhaps it was only because you were on edge, but you couldn’t help but think something was watching you as you made your way through the forest. It made the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. The sensation stayed with you long after you left the forest. It followed you all the way to the castle and only stopped once you were inside its walls. The relief of being in a guarded fortress didn’t last long, though.

As soon as you were through the doors a flurry of maids greeted you and Midnight and urged you up through the castle to your bedroom, fretting that you were already running late for the celebrations. If this was how life in the castle was going to be, you needed to sneak back to the cottage or get married off quick. It was stifling.

Fortunately, Midnight took charge almost as soon as your entourage made it to the bedroom.

“Right,” she barked at the maids. “We need the princess bathed, shaved, put in her best makeup and hair, and in her dress before the hour’s up.”

The cluster of younger maids cowered at Midnight’s imposing aura. You had to chuckle. It was nice to have other people subjected to Midnight’s wrath after you had suffered it for years. Your amusement died as soon as the maids got over their shock and started working, though. You were stripped and dipped in the ornate bathtub before you could shriek that the water was cold. Midnight kept her hands clean and dry but oversaw the process, still taking her surrogate mother’s duties seriously until the time that you were presented to your real mother, the queen.

After the bath, having eyebrows plucked and legs shaved in the process, you were rubbed down to within an inch of your life then the maids sat you in front of the vanity mirror, stripped naked and without a towel. It was only you who seemed awkward about that. Everyone else carried on like you were fully clothed and didn’t have your bare breasts squashed against the vanity as they started to comb the knots through your hair and moisturize your face. Even looking at your reflection while Denki fingered you had felt less embarrassing than this.

As they worked away at you, you noticed something in your reflection. The stitches at the corner of your mouth were gone. No mark, no scarring. It was like it had never happened.

Lucky, actually. You didn't fancy meeting a prince with a chunk of your face mangled. You were in another reality. You supposed scars didn't come with you, then.

While you submitted to your torture, Midnight came up alongside you. She saw your dejected expression and smiled.

“Now, now. Today’s a happy day, ____. Try and cheer up.”

You side-eyed her, aware she was teasing you. It made Midnight chuckle, then she placed a gentle hand on your shoulder.

“I’m leaving you in capable hands. I have to speak with the king and queen about tonight’s celebrations. Your groom should be attending so we want extra security and for everything to be absolutely perfect.”

“Wait, is that why I’m getting dressed up like a doll?”

Your reflection was hardly recognisable. Your groom-to-be was going to have a shock the first time he saw you without this makeup on.

“Exactly!” Midnight beamed, knowing fine well you were against absolutely everything happening today. “And you’re trying on your wedding dress too.”

You choked on your spit. Before you could regain your composure, Midnight barked a couple of commands at the maids then scarpered. That woman. She knew you only had the nerve to talk back to her and not a bunch of rough-handed maids you had only just met. Your chance to complain and escape had just run out the bedroom door.

You groaned pathetically, waiting for the torture of your beauty routine to be over. No one seemed to remember you still had a day left of the curse. Being shaved in the bath had been hellish enough. You had sat on your hands just to keep the blades away from your fingers. After years of avoiding the curse, no one could believe it might still come true on the very last day.

No one, except you. It was eating at you.

After your makeup and hair were both done you were shuffled onto a stool in the middle of the room, helped onto it by two maids while the others fetched two dresses. One was green and gold, elegant and heavy looking, while the other was completely white and even more elegant than the first.

“That’s my wedding dress?” you questioned in disbelief. It most definitely wasn’t your style but it still looked ridiculously expensive.

“It’ll be yours once we’ve made the adjustments. We had to guess your measurements.” One of the maids explained, producing a tub of safety pins. You eyed them cautiously.

“I’m sure it’ll fit,” you urged, hoping to keep the tub of curse-granting pointy things as far away from you as possible.

“Nonsense,” a slightly older, more stern-looking maid said with a tut. “You have to look your best for the wedding day.”

Before you had any more chance to protest, the maids had thrown the garment over your naked body and shuffled you into it—all while you wriggled in resistance. The same stern-looking maid grumbled.

“Keep still or you’ll get stabbed with a pin.” You froze. You watched the first maid hand pins to all the assisting maids, unable to keep your eyes on all of them at once. Before they began, the first maid gave you a smile then asked you to raise your hands slightly.

“We wouldn’t want to catch your fingers on the very last day, my lady.”

Her words were a great sigh of relief for you. For a while you had thought you were the only person who cared, or even remembered, that you were under a curse. You raised your hands up and let the maids do their duty. As they worked, a second cluster of maids worked on your green dress, mirroring the measurements. They were very efficient. It didn’t take long for both dresses to be pinned and once they were done the maids took the green dress away, promising they would have it taken in and ready for you to wear before tonight’s celebrations. Two maids stayed behind to help you out of your wedding dress but you shooed them away. You were perfectly capable of getting out of it yourself—and in all honesty you couldn’t bear to strip fully naked in front of them again. It was too embarrassing.

Once you were alone you shuffled over to the mirror on the vanity in your dress then gave it a long, hard stare. Yesterday you had been a peasant, building your own house and making your own furniture. Today you were a princess, the kingdom was preparing to celebrate your birthday and you were ready to marry a prince.

It was a lot to take in. You felt giddy. You felt nervous. The thought of marrying a prince felt like a surreal dream. You only hoped he was a prince worth marrying. You couldn’t help but think back to Shouto, determined to wait for the right queen to help guide his kingdom. You hoped your betrothed was just as caring—for both his people and you.

The wedding was a while away, still. There were many things you had to do before then. Firstly and foremost, you needed to peel yourself out of your dress. It was a painstakingly slow process. With pins poking out in various directions, you were careful not to catch them with your fingers. It might have been easier with your maids but you trusted them even less than you trusted yourself, with their unforgiving hands and their rushed tugging. You wouldn’t have been able to keep track of which pins were where.

As you took off the dress, you managed to get the whole thing up off your body but just as you pulled it over your head you heard the unmistakable sound of a rip. Which had to be impossible. You were being gentle. You were taking care. There was no conceivable way you could have damaged your dress. All the same, when you finally had the garment off you saw a long tear in the skirt. You swore. Screw the curse, Midnight was going to kill you. You could hear her chiding you already, telling you off for sending your maids away, for not being careful—even though you most definitely were.

At least, you thought as you threw on a nightdress for the sake of speed, it hadn’t been your dress for tonight. At least there might still be time to fix your wedding dress. Looking at the tear, though, it did seem rather long and in a very inconvenient and conspicuous place to just fix. It had to be fixable though—it just had to. Your stomach churned at the thought of how much a new dress would cost. Midnight might very well force you to pay for it yourself if the king and queen didn’t.

Once you were dressed—or as dressed as one can be in their pyjamas in the middle of the day—you fetched a towel from the bathroom. Wrapping it around the dress to hide the lethal pins, you then bundled everything into your arms and fled from your room in search of your maids, or something to use to fix the dress yourself, before Midnight caught whiff of your blunder.

There was no woman on earth who was more frightening than Midnight when she was cross.

As was your luck today, you couldn’t find your maids. You couldn’t find anyone at all, actually. The castle was so very large and all things considered this was only your first day back at home from when you were a baby. You had no idea where you were going. One tapestried wall looked just like the next, and most of the windows were too high up to see out of to catch your bearings. You wandered blindly for some time, never managing to find a staircase down.

Finally, though, as if something had been guiding you there the whole time, you turned a corner to find a corridor with a spiral staircase at the end of it. The steps led up, not down, but it was better than nothing. What was more, the corridor had a tall window running along it, much like the one in your room but seemingly nowhere else on this floor.

You peered outside and saw the castle’s drawbridge. A number of horse-drawn carriages were making their way across, and there were plenty more as you looked out into the distance. Your heart sank. You supposed they were all here for you. The thought of all those royal guards with their swords and lances and even the pointy bits on the tops of their hats made you swoon uneasily. You really, really wanted to live past today. After everything, being a princess was the reward you deserved for such madness, and if you died you wondered if that really would be it. Would you wake up in one of the lives you could remember, one you couldn’t, or would you die for real?

You didn’t like that thought. No matter which life you lived, death wasn’t an option. As soon as you had this dress mended, you were going to wrap your fingers in cotton and leave them that way until tomorrow. Then your magical, fairy tale princess life could begin.

You set off towards the stairs, then paused. Fairy tales… what a strange thing to think. The words sent a shiver up your spine but you couldn’t think why. You knew what fairy tales were, but none came to mind. Even when you thought hard, you couldn’t recount a single story. It hurt your head to try.

Suddenly, there came a crash from the stairwell. It made you jump and snapped you from your thoughts. You dashed over, expecting to see someone tumbling down the stairs for all the ruckus, but no one did. You poked your head up the stairs but there was nothing to see. Spiral staircases weren’t very good for snooping.

You followed it up, expecting to find some poor soul in a heap somewhere along the line. Instead, you found spools of yarn, clusters of spilled threading needles, a woven tape measure and after all that, a heavy wicker basket. If you had to guess, someone kicked the whole lot down the stairs. You weren’t sure why anyone would do that but you didn’t stop to ponder it. If the mess on the staircase was anything to go by, you were headed in the right direction for a sewing room and someone who could fix your dress.

At the very top of the stairs was a solid wooden door. It was shut. You looked over your shoulder, wondering just how on earth that basket of things had ended up strewn down the staircase if no one was there to kick it. You knocked on the door. There was no answer. You knocked again.

“Hello?”

You tried the handle and the door opened. The lamps were lit when you stepped inside but you couldn’t see anyone around at first. You noticed a large bed below another long window but the rest of the room was bare. It was not a sewing room, at all. It was barely a room.

Then you spotted a spinning wheel in the far corner, and a dark figure hunched over it, spinning thread as they perched on a stool. Having missed them at first, you were shocked to see them and stammered, shuffling into the room and closing the door so as not to be rude.

“I’m sorry,” you apologised, clutching the wedding dress close to you. “I didn’t see you there.”

The hunched figure made no attempt to acknowledge you. They did not move at all; merely continued to spin thread through the old, rickety wooden wheel. You moved closer but as you did, the hairs along your neck and arms prickled. Something was off. You didn’t know if it was the room or the hunched figure, but this didn’t feel right. Your gaze instinctively fell on the needle used to hold the raw wool. It was long, thin, and as sharp as a tack. You flexed your fingers nervously but cleared your throat. As long as you kept your distance, you had nothing to fear.

“I’m sorry. I was wondering if you could fix my dress for me? I tore it by accident.” You unfolded the dress and held it outward towards the figure but they kept their back to you. “…Hello?”

If it weren’t for the noise of the spinning wheel, you might have thought the figure was asleep. Feeling that it was a lost cause, you asked instead,

“Then maybe you could tell me how to get to the main entrance? I’m new here and I’m not sure where I’m going.”

You were once again met by silence. This time you weren’t as understanding. You chewed your lip as your eyebrows drew down into a frown.

“Fine. Thank you so much for your help.”

You turned, ready to storm out the door, but it slammed of its own accord. Or so you might have believed, had it not been for the gust of wind that accompanied the lightning-fast movement of the hunched over figure. You swivelled back around in shock, falling against the door. The figure was still at the wheel, as if nothing had happened, but the wheel had stopped spinning.

The hairs all along your skin prickled as a warning, telling you to get away. You felt a lump build in your throat.

You weren’t safe.

You had come across only one thing that could move faster than the eye could track, and never in this lifetime. You had to get away but you knew it was no use. You would never get away. Even as the hunched figure stood up, rising to a height no human could hope to grow to, you felt your body root in fear. You dropped the dress, trying to back further into the wood of the door as you saw the creature tower above you, its body both formless and black but also very real, grotesque and dangerous.

“What do you want?” Your voice broke, looking into the red, beady eyes of the creature. You fumbled for the door handle but only so that you could hold something solid. The more you looked at the creature, the more vividly you remembered Eijirou bleeding to death in your arms, the more you remembered the terrified look on Momo’s face.

The creature did not answer you. It stepped forwards, never taking its unblinking eyes from you. Then it raised a thin arm, pointing its clawed hand outward. You stayed alert, fearing what it might do. But then, like someone putting a veil over your face, the world turned hazy. It wasn’t the same grey mist you knew. Everything stayed where it was but your eyesight dulled and turned blurred.

“What’s going on?” You asked, or at least you tried to ask. You thought it but the words did not reach your lips. You tried to move but your limbs did not listen to you. You tried to panic, as was your natural response, but found yourself unable to.

Just when you were at a total loss for what to do, the creature finally spoke.

“Do as the tale dictates, wretched girl. Come closer. Seal your fate.”

The creature pointed to the spinning wheel. You wanted to know what it meant by tale, a word that sounded more loaded each new time you heard it, but before you could try to do anything your body moved on its own. You headed for the wheel. You tried to stop yourself but couldn’t, having been completely auto-piloted. You watched in horror as you extended your arm, holding one finger out. The needle stood rigidly, its point sharper than any spinning needle ought to be.

You felt the creature stalking behind you, its great body hulking over you as it danced invisible strings above your head—ones that were impossible to break from. Your finger touched the tip of the needle but you continued to press down, harder and harder, breaking the skin. You wondered if the creature planned to impale your finger completely.

However, once the blood trickled down your hand you gained a moment of clarity. The puppet strings vanished. The world came back into focus. You had chance to spin on your heel, to face the creature in all its terrifying splendour.

You crumpled to the floor.

For a moment, you thought you were dead. Then you realised you could think so you knew you weren’t dead. Your body was paralysed, though. You could not open your eyes. To anyone looking at you, you might very well be dead, or asleep to say the least.

You felt the creature lift you in its arms. They were like that of a skeletons, now that you could feel them. Bony and fleshless, they dug into your back as the creature carried you. You were frightened. You didn’t know what was happening, and the fact you couldn’t move was utterly terrifying. You were at the creature’s mercy and you knew by now that it wanted you dead. Why, then, weren’t you dead yet?

You felt the creature’s bony arms slip away from under you, landing you onto something plush. The bed. You didn’t like where this was going. Especially when the creature touched you, straightening your legs out, folding your hands over your stomach. Your skin crawled, feeling the skeletal hands in your hair, on your nightdress. It was preparing you.

Preparing you for what?

As you lay unmoving in the tower, Midnight stood before the king and queens’ thrones, addressing them in a much more formal manner than she had ever addressed you. She was requesting that, although tonight was a buffet, that you only be given foods that could be eaten with a spoon. Nothing that needed a knife. Even the prongs of a fork could be too sharp.

She never made it to the end of her request. Your curse engulfed the castle. Midnight, the king and the queen all collapsed as one, followed by the guards, the maids, the cooks, the animals and everyone else in the grounds. Then it took to the streets, sending the arriving carriages with important visitors to sleep, then the townsfolk and those in the villages that surrounded the capital. Only those on the very outskirts of Grimm remained conscious.

O

Two weeks later, a lonesome prince and his horse padded through the forests of Grimm, heading for the castle. He couldn’t help but think that the woods were quiet. At first he thought it was his imagination but then he happened upon a sleeping bird on the path, then another. A short while later he found a fox asleep with a squirrel caught in its jaws, and the smaller creature was also unconscious. He couldn’t understand it.

When he reached the capital, he saw very much the same situation. As he made his way through the quiet streets, he couldn’t help but feel something watching him. He looked behind him every once in a while but the feeling never left him, yet he always found himself alone.

“I hope the princess is alright,” he said, patting his horse gently to reassure the spooked animal. He took a deep breath, ran a hand through his red and white hair then gripped the reins with force. “HE-YAH!

The horse broke into a canter. Shouto could only hope that his betrothed was safe.

O

On the very outskirts of Grimm, business was very much same as usual. It was a few weeks before anyone would need to go further in-land to do trade with the capital, a few weeks before they would realise what a sorry state the kingdom was in.

A single flyer for the royal wedding floated across the ground, picked up by the breeze. It tumbled, getting caught on rocks and the occasional tree but always managed to keep on moving. That was, until it ran into the side of someone’s leg.

With a grunt, Katsuki picked up the flyer, giving it a half-hearted glance. He took in what it said at first. A royal wedding, blah blah, like he fucking cared. The royals didn’t give two fucks about anyone on the outskirts so why should he care about them. But then he noticed the photo.

“So that’s where you went, you little bitch.” His lips curled back, revealing strong and sharp canines. He crumpled the flyer as his clawed fingers balled into a fist then threw it on the ground.

Leaving everything he owned behind, Katsuki set off towards the capital at a sprint. He couldn’t help but grin.

No fucking way was he letting anyone else marry you. You were his—his Little Red.

Chapter Text

You couldn’t cry out for help. You couldn’t beg for someone to save you. You couldn’t fight the curse from the inside. You tried, at first. You willed your body to move. Even just wiggling a finger would be enough, but nothing happened. You fought as hard as you could, for the longest time, but even after hours and days of struggling eventually something new took over you -- fear. You were not hungry and did not need to eat, nor did you tire and need to sleep. You realised that unless someone found you all the way up in this hidden tower, you were trapped in cage with no way to escape and no way to die.

Those thoughts worked their way deep inside you. They brought fear and anger and dread. Sometimes you managed to zone out, to think of nothing at all, but all too soon you remembered what was happening and screamed and sobbed, trapped inside your head.

All you could do was hope that someone would find you and break you from your curse.

oOo

Leaving his horse at the main entrance, a different Shouto stepped inside the castle. This prince did not remember mermaids or dancing in a secluded garden with a beautiful, mute woman. This Shouto was part of Grimm, worlds away from Hans, the place where you once knew him. This Shouto had a different fate - a different story. A path you thought he could never take.

Shouto searched the castle, finding nothing but sleeping people. He kept one hand on the hilt of his sword, aware of the ominous presence somewhere within the grounds. He couldn’t think what was going on. He kept himself quiet, listening out for any noise at all. It was only the wind howling through the cracks in the walls that broke the silence.

When he came to the throne room he pushed the door open and peered inside. All at once he unsheathed his sword, flinging the door wide.

“What have you done to the king and queen?” He bellowed, using an authoritative voice that he saved only for the direst of circumstances. At the other end of the room, standing between two ornate golden thrones was the shadow-like monster, its beady red eyes fixed on Shouto. At its feet, the king and queen had been torn from their seats and left in a heap. To the right of them, Midnight was collapsed but untouched.

The monster did not move. It was just as hulking as ever, towering over the tops of the thrones as it stooped. Shouto approached, gripping his sword with a stance ready to strike.

“Answer me.” He stopped just short of the creature, unafraid of its otherworldly presence. “Are you the reason everyone is asleep? Can they wake up again or have you killed them?”

Shouto clutched tighter to his sword when the creature shifted. It stepped forward, over the crown rulers of Grimm, staring at the prince the entire time.

“Well done.” Its low voice rattled around the room, causing suits of armour to shake in their standings. Shouto glared.

“What for?”

“For following your role. For advancing this story.”

Shouto’s stance faltered for a moment. He stared at the creature but it gave no extra explanation.

“Story? Is this a game for you? This entire kingdom is asleep. Calling it a—”

The creature ignored Shouto’s anger and spoke over him,

“There is a princess in the tower. The cause of this country’s curse. You must go to her and take what is yours to take.”

Though the creature spoke in riddles, Shouto paid it great attention. If the princess it spoke of was you, his betrothed, then that meant the curse really had come true. For years Shouto had waited to meet you. As any growing boy would, he had gotten impatient and demanded to see you time and time again, to get to know you before he had to marry you. But his father and your parents had always rejected his request, saying it was not time. He had heard rumours that you were cursed and that was why he could not meet you until now.

If the curse was real, though, now it was too late to ever meet you.

“What do you mean, take what’s mine to take?” Shouto found it hard to gauge the creature’s intent but from the way it loomed over the unconscious king without an air of regard for the crown, Shouto knew the creature wasn’t a kind Samaritan.

The monster’s next words made Shouto’s jaw fall.

“The princess has escaped her fate for too long. Over and over she has been set on the path to die but her memories, those of you, her friends, have tampered with the stories and aided her escape.”

Shouto tried to take in what was being said but the creature sounded ludicrous. Still, it continued, distracting Shouto with its words so that he did not notice it gliding towards him.

“We, the Book Keepers, cannot kill her but she must die in the pages of this book, as is my master’s wish. Only the characters of the stories may do so. This time you must not let her live.”

It was too late. By the time Shouto noticed how close the creature was, he was already within range of its control. The miasmic creature raised a taloned hand, pointing it at Shouto.

“Her memories shall not hinder her demise this time. This time, they will kill her -- you will kill her.”

Shouto raised his sword, stepping forwards to strike the monster down.

“I would never.” He swore as he charged. Then he froze. It was too late. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t fight. He felt his mind clouding over and all he could think as the veil descended on him was that he couldn’t hurt the princess. He wouldn’t let her die.

oOo

[WARNING: This last half of the chapter involves scenes of unwanted sexual violence that may be triggering for some readers, or is otherwise just unpleasant. If you do not wish to read it in detail, press Ctrl+F and type in 0.0.1 to jump ahead to a summary of the important plot you missed. If you do not wish to read any of it, press Ctrl+F and type in 0.0.2 or stop reading here. In which case thank you for reading and I’ll see you next chapter]

oOo

Your mind was slipping. Time was no longer relevant. You existed in a void of total darkness inside your head, wondering if anyone would ever come to the rescue. Had it been days or weeks, you didn’t know. There were no birds singing outside the window or people down below – although perhaps if there were you couldn’t hear them, too high up in the tower.

As you waited in the darkness there was plenty of time to think. You wondered about your prince, about the life you might have lived together. How you may have been treated like actual royalty. It would have been a wonderful life, as long as you kept your legs shut and didn’t jump again. You thought of all the lives you could have led. You could have settled down in Halliwell with your charming werewolf lover, Denki. You might have found a way to return to Prince Shouto in Hans. Maybe, had you kept your clothes on, Eijirou and Katsuki would both still be alive. You supposed that didn’t really matter anymore. They were lifetimes ago. You had no way to return there. All you could do was head forward if you ever got the chance to move again.

Suddenly, a noise brought you back to your senses. It sounded like the door creaking open but after imagining the sound so many times, imagining that someone had come to rescue you, it was hard for you to trust what you were hearing.  Then you heard footsteps. The door swinging wider then closing behind someone.

All at once you were happy and excited. You wanted to cry out, to tell someone you were here. Though, really, you knew they could see you. You had spotted the bed first when coming in the room, and this time there was an unconscious body on it so you had no need to worry.

Until you heard its voice. The low rumble that had haunted your thoughts. You knew its beady eyes were on you, even though you could not see it. But you had heard footsteps. The creature didn’t make noises when it moved. Had you imagined the footsteps?

“Gaze on her, prince. Isn’t she beautiful?”

Wait. The prince? Your prince? What was he doing with that hellbound creature? Why was the creature talking like you were prized livestock at a fair? The joy of being found ebbed away inside you. Panic replaced it, tightening your chest the longer you waited.

“She cannot move. She cannot reject your advances. You can do what you like to her. Your fiancé, your future queen. Her purpose is to please and satisfy you, so take what is yours.”

The panic in you built tenfold. It was so great, and so sudden that for an instant you forgot how to breathe. When you caught it again, your breathing was rapid and shallow. It was the only external sign of your fear, one that you knew they could see. This couldn’t be happening. You tried to move, tried to force yourself up with a surge of adrenaline. You couldn’t let this happen. Was it really the prince in the room with you—the man you were meant to marry? You felt a cold sweat on your skin, a clamminess that built the more the dread grew inside you. You were trapped in your body, totally unable to move. You couldn’t have been cursed and forced to wait alone in a tower for such a purpose. Surely the prince couldn’t—wouldn’t… hurt you?

You felt his hand on your thigh. It was so warm it almost burned. You wanted to flinch away, to shuffle out of range so he couldn’t touch you. But the hand stayed in place, drawing smooth circles over your thigh. You didn’t like it. It was too intimate. You asked over and over for him to stop, but the words never reached your lips. The prince’s hands were both on you in that second. You wanted to scream. You wanted to lash out. You cursed your body for its paralysis, begging to be let go.

He was quick, tearing the nightdress off you in moments. You were left almost naked beneath him with nothing but two thins bits of material to act as underwear. You whimpered, desperately wanting to cover yourself. You could not see him but you knew his eyes were leering into you. You could feel how hot they were on your skin.

Then the creature spoke. With such a deep voice, it was usually hard to pick an emotion but this time you knew that it was taunting you.

“You evaded your demise for too long, wretched girl. This time you will not escape. Your body and mind will be torn apart, unable to cope with being violated by a friend.”

Though the prince’s hands never stopped roaming, for just a moment you couldn’t feel them on you. The creature’s words echoed in your ears. Then you sensed the person on top of you, groping you, running his hands up and down your sides in all too needy a manner.

A… friend? Fear wrapped its painful fingers around you, digging into your skin, making your throat run dry and your heart speed faster than it ever had at the thought of violation by a stranger.  Suddenly, you couldn’t bear to know. If this had to happen, you didn’t want to know who was on top of you, stripping you naked, slipping his fingers between your legs as you tried to protest.

“Tell her who you are,” commanded the miasmic creature, finding a twisted kind of glee in knowing you had no will of your own. The prince climbed on top of you on the bed, strong legs straddling your waist. You felt him stroke the hairs away from your face then he leaned in close, pressing his chest down on top of you in a suffocating hold. You tried to catch your breath but it burned. He placed his lips next to your ear and spoke.

“Prince Todoroki.”

Shouto? With all your strength you tried to make your body move. You tried to throw him off. He had to be lying. It couldn’t be him. It couldn’t be the sweet, gentle prince who claimed to love you. Please God, it couldn’t be him.

When he touched you next, rubbing his hands over your skin, you felt what you wished you couldn’t. One hand really had burned you; it felt on fire to the touch. Then the other, in total contrast, was so cold it numbed any part of your flesh that it touched.

Why? Why did it have to be him? Why was Shouto here, why was he trying to hurt you? Did he know you were awake? Did he think he was getting away with this, that you would never know? Was he really like that? Had your time with him been a total lie?

You felt your heart break. You felt something wet trickle down your face and you realised it was a tear. You were so heartbroken that even the curse could not stop you crying.

The creature spoke again, then evaporated from the room.

“Get on with it.”

There wasn’t enough time to ponder what that meant. Shouto’s demeanour slipped instantly. His grip tightened, holding each of your arms with a painfully hot or cold hand. You felt a pain like no other just above your shoulder as his hair tickled your face. His teeth had closed on the side of your neck. You wanted to scream. God, it hurt. God, he wouldn’t let go. His nails scraped down your arms, tearing a searing hot pain through you.

It was sudden and it was instant.

You knew this pain. The pain that never faded. You could feel it taking hold the more you tried to plead with Shouto, begging him to stop. He was merciless. With hands that had once held you, he clawed at you, biting every delicate piece of skin you had. He wanted to cause you harm. He tugged your bra down and closed his jaw around your nipple and, had you been capable, you would have wretched from the pain.

This wasn’t the Shouto you knew. It couldn’t be him. Please, please make it stop. Please, just let you pretend that he loved you, that this wasn’t him. You could smell the unmistakable scent of his cologne – the same one that had soothed you as you danced at the ball, feeling like the most important woman in the world to the heterochromatic prince. You couldn’t bear this. You needed him to stop. You wanted to believe that your memories together weren’t a lie.

You didn’t want him to hurt you.

All of a sudden, Shouto drew back. You were so in pain and so upset that it took you a second to realise he was gone. The pain never left you. It never would, now.

Had you thought that you had taken the worst of it already, when you heard a single noise you knew your pain, your suffering was far, far from over. It was the sound of a metallic zipper sliding open.

Please, you whimpered inside your head, you didn’t want this.

oOo

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[0.0.1]

Keeping this as non-descript as I can:

Under the influence of the creature’s control, Shouto goes up to the tower and attacks ____. When ____ realises it’s Shouto attacking her, the injuries he inflicts on her fester with miasma, as she can’t believe he’s doing this to her after all the time they spent together in Hans. She doesn’t realise that this is a different version of Shouto, or that he is under someone else's control.

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oOo

[0.0.2]

Chapter Text

As Katsuki jogged through the streets of Grimm’s capital, passing by any number of unconscious beings, one thought made him smirk from ear to ear. He had no idea what was going on but shit had most definitely hit the fan here, big style. He loved it. It served all these stuck up city dwellers right. Did they give two flying fucks about the people living on the boarder, living in pauper conditions? Did they fuck.

If Katsuki had time to spare he would have pilfered the largest, most expensive joint of meat from every butchers in the area. Unfortunately, he didn’t have that luxury. The royal wedding was meant to be today. If, for some reason, everyone in the castle was still awake and the ceremony was taking place then he had to break the damn thing up.

The longer he walked, the more he got the feeling that no one was awake in a twenty mile radius, except for himself. The cause was unknown, but he was ready to bet it was either your doing, or you were in trouble because of it. Probably both, actually. He ran a hand over his shoulder instinctively, feeling the grooves of the scar left by your friendly giant’s axe. Yeah, trouble had a funny way of finding you.

By the time he reached the castle, he was sure you were involved. He could smell your scent all over the building. It shocked him how much it excited him. It had been so long, he had almost forgotten how intoxicating your scent was; how it made him both predatory and protective.

He followed the trail, using his highly sensitive nose to follow your path. He could smell how anxious you had been while you were here, surrounded by five… no, six other women. Perhaps you had not wanted to be here. Perhaps the women had been kidnappers.

Your scent was strongest when he entered your regal bedroom. He could taste your fear, it was that strong. He wondered what had gone on. He saw the stool in the middle of the room, a few pins scattered below it, the open wardrobe, the untouched bed, then found stagnant water in the tub when he glanced in the bathroom. How long had that been there?

He clicked his tongue. You weren’t here. He couldn’t understand why your scent was so strong if you weren’t in the castle. It was like you were right next to him. He could smell your fear like you were crumpled at his feet, begging him not to eat you.

He shook his head, throwing that deliciously tempting idea from his mind. As much as he wanted to punish you for running away, he couldn’t let you die. Like he had told you, you were his. You were his to break and his to mend. There was no fun in killing you.

As he searched around your room for clues, he slowly began to notice a new scent. He wasn’t sure what it was. It wasn’t you, that was for sure, but for some reason he recognised it. He picked up the trail. It took him out of your room, along the corridor and on a wild labyrinth of twists and turns. He would have gotten lost had it not been for the ever strengthening smell that pulled him all the way to the bottom of a spiral staircase.

oOo

[WARNING: The next part of the chapter involves scenes of unwanted sexual violence that may be triggering for some readers, or is otherwise just unpleasant. If you do not wish to read it in detail, press Ctrl+F and type in 0.0.1 to jump ahead. If you do not wish to read any of it, press Ctrl+F and type in 0.0.2 to jump to a very brief chapter summary or stop reading here. In which case thank you for reading and I’ll see you next chapter]

oOo

He had to throw his arm over his nose to dampen the smell. It was violent. It was putrid. It made the hairs all over his body stand on end, and his tail went rigid in disgust. He could hardly bear it. Whatever was at the top of the staircase was evil. He had never smelled anything like it before. He thought he had, but this was on a whole other level. The only time he had smelled anything similar was when he had cut your leg. The wound had festered and—

Katsuki cut his thoughts short, a sudden dread taking over him. He lurched forwards, taking the stairs two at a time. In all his effort to keep from smelling the rotting evil, he had been blind to the other scent below it. Now that he knew the evil smell was that of miasma—the same festering, purple curse that had caused you so much pain in his bathroom— he was hyper aware of its undertone. It was you. You were scared. More than scared. You were in agony.

Katsuki burst through the door at the top of the staircase, taking it off one of its hinges as he did so. His eyes were crazed. The first things he saw were the tendrils of purple smoke rising from the bed, and the thick globules of black, sticky miasma that had dripped from the sheets onto the floor. Then he saw a man dressed like royalty, kneeling on the bed. Then finally, below the red-and-white haired, soon-to-be-in-two-halves man, he saw you. You were semi-naked, and lifeless, and bleeding. Your limp legs were hooked over his shoulders while the man thrust himself inside you.

Katsuki couldn’t stop himself. He had no reason to. He did not want to. The sight of someone defiling your unconscious, defenceless body flicked a switch in him that turned off all sense and reason. Only one thought ran through his mind: Kill him.

“Oi,” Katsuki’s voice came out strained and low. With every thrust from the bastard on the mattress, Katsuki felt his hackles rise and his breath quicken. He was going to kill him, that was for sure, but Katsuki wanted him off you first. “If you don’t pull your dick out of ____ right this fucking second, I’m going tear it off, shove it down your throat and make you choke on it before I rip you limb from limb.”

All things considered, Katsuki sounded surprisingly calm. It was, in fact, a guise for the maelstrom of rage that was just about to burst out of him.

Shouto stopped. He looked over his shoulder at the intruder and then down at you. He could see the savagery in Katsuki’s eyes, and could feel the blood-lust in the air.

“What is my fiancé to you, werewolf?”

He should have chosen his words more wisely. The moment he referred to you as his fiancé, the restraints on Katsuki snapped.

“Is she fuck.”

He flew at Shouto, his clawed hands poised to grab the prince. If he had wanted to, Katsuki could have chosen to dismember Shouto then and there on the bed, only he didn’t want to cover you in a filthy human’s blood. Instead, he grabbed the prince with both hands by the scruff of his tunic and dragged him off you, off the bed. When the prince was upright, Katsuki didn’t let himself be bothered that Shouto was taller or that his disgusting erection was pressed into Katsuki’s pelvis. He was too overcome with fury to think about snapping it.

“Any last words?” Katsuki seethed through gritted teeth, holding onto Shouto’s collar without an inch of wiggle-room. “And it better be a fucking apology.”

“Apology?” Shouto asked with a voice devoid of emotion as he put himself back in his trousers, which only served to tick Katsuki off more. The werewolf pointed at your unconscious body.

“To her.

Shouto didn’t give you a second glance. Katsuki pushed his claws into a point. He was going for the throat. It was only as he drove his hand forward that he realised something horrific – something he didn’t want to think about but couldn’t ignore. Not now. Not when he might accidentally snuff out your one chance of recovering.

“Shit, shit, shit—” He could only curse at his luck. His claws stopped so close to puncturing Shouto’s throat that he drew a trickle of blood from the prince’s windpipe. With a gruff sigh he threw Shouto sideways, knocking him off his feet and onto the floor with a crash. The prince’s sword slid from its holster.

[0.0.1]

The only thing that had saved Shouto’s life thus far was Katsuki’s perceptive and continuously calculating brain. He wanted to kill Shouto. He really, really did. The idea of torturing him was all too sweet a concept, but you, Katsuki hated to admit, probably needed the prince alive. Looking past the fact the half-and-half bastard was your fiancé – something you were coerced into, Katsuki was sure – the last time you had been inflicted with miasma, it had been Katsuki’s tenderness that had cured you.

He wanted to believe he had the all-healing touch – it would do wonders for his ego if he did – but just in case he didn’t, he needed the piece of shit who hurt you alive. For now.

Katsuki kicked the sword away before Shouto could recover.

“Don’t fucking try it.”

The werewolf couldn’t tell if his words had gotten through. Shouto sat up and looked at his weapon. He looked at Katsuki. He looked at you.

A short pause.

Shouto lunged for the sword.

“You little—” Katsuki lurched forward but for some reason when Shouto grabbed the sword, Katsuki found himself blocking you on the bed instead of grappling the weapon away. Fuck, you weren’t even conscious and you still had him making bad decisions. He knew he needed to be on the offensive. But if there was a chance Shouto wanted to hurt you further, it seemed like Katsuki wasn’t going to give him the opportunity.

Being so close to you, he wrinkled his nose. The smell of the miasma was eye-wateringly bitter. He stole at glance at you for just a second. It was all he needed to swell the rage in him to new heights. You were bleeding miasma from cuts and bruises, and places that shouldn’t have been able to bleed. He knew he had shown up too late. He knew you were in pain, unconscious or not. He knew it was all Shouto’s fault.

Katsuki lunged before Shouto could parry with his sword.

ENOUGH.

There was just enough time for Katsuki to halt himself before a spectral claw came down on the place where he would have landed. Shouto relaxed his stance. Katsuki didn’t like that. The deep voice groaned throughout the room and because it rattled every loose standing object in the room, it took the werewolf a moment to locate the owner.

“Katsuki Bakugou, be gone. You are not part of this tale. You do not belong.”

The hulking shadow-like creature was standing in the open doorway, its red eyes locked on Katsuki’s heavily breathing form. It was Katsuki’s first time seeing the creature, and all things considered he didn’t give two shits where it had come from or what it was up to. If the thing was trying to intimidate him, it clearly had no idea who he was.

“I’m in the middle of something here, Smoke-For-Brains.”

He readied himself to attack Shouto once more but when he looked, he realised Shouto had gone stock still, like a robot that had powered down for the night.

“The…?”

He gazed between his now non-threatening opponent and the hulking creature in the doorway, quickly piecing things together while he tried not to let the smell of the miasma dull his senses. With Shouto momentarily incapacitated, Katsuki decided it was safe to round on the creature. He hadn’t forgotten that it had just tried to wipe him out with a taloned hand.

“What did you do to ____?”

Miasma coming from inflicted pains was explainable – to some extent. Katsuki had seen it first-hand so he knew it was possible. However, yours and the kingdom’s perpetual sleep was unnatural. He had an inkling that the half-and-half, still-soon-to-be-very-dead prince could not use magic or curses, so Katsuki had to assume it was someone else’s doing. Something else’s doing.

“How do I wake her up?”

Katsuki didn’t expect the creature to give him the information willingly but what he didn’t expect was to be ignored. Completely.

“Prince Shouto,” the creature commanded. “Finish your story. Do not stop until she belongs to you and only you. Do not let anyone else have her. Break her until she is gone. Send her to a place where no one else may reach her again.”

Shouto made for the bed but Katsuki blocked his path in seconds. He didn’t understand every detail but he knew if Shouto got to you, you would never open your eyes again.

“Touch her,” he snarled, a rare flash of possessiveness taking over his features, “And I’ll make you wish you were dead.”

Shouto faltered, his body just short of colliding with Katsuki’s. It took a moment of studying his face – his eyes, specifically – for Katsuki to understand that the prince, although stood before him, was not entirely there. It was there, in his eyes. They were dull. There was nothing but an emptiness about them that urged no will of their own.

“Do it, Shouto,” the creature cried with a sudden, impatient rage. But before Shouto made another step forwards, Katsuki struck him hard across the face with all the strength he could muster. The prince staggered sideways, dropping his sword, then he fell to the floor unconscious. Good, Katsuki thought, that was one less idiot to deal with for now. The creature had an imposing aura and Katsuki wasn’t sure how well he could take both him and the prince on whilst also protecting your unconscious body.

With any luck, that strike to the face might have struck some control back in the prince when he woke up. Then all Katsuki had to do was hope prince Shouto wasn’t just as much of a dick when he wasn’t being controlled.

“Now that I have your fucking attention,” Katsuki said, addressing the creature darkly. “You’re going to tell me how to wake ____ the fuck up. You’re going to tell me, then you’re going to run the fuck away or I won’t give you a second chance.”

But if Katsuki thought he was in control, he was mistaken.

The creature did not move. It did not blink. Katsuki didn’t expect it to speak so he raised a clawed hand in retaliation, but then the monster chose to address him, to explain how futile his actions truly were.

“This is not your story, wolf.” There was a bite to that last word. “You failed within your own story to kill her. She is no longer your concern.”

Katsuki snarled. “You think I want her awake so I can take the credibility for killing her?”

The monster stayed silent. Katsuki took a breath. How he handled this might determine how your fate played out. He relaxed.

“Alright,” he said, “say that’s my plan. The prince is out of action. Tell me how to wake her up, indulge me, and I’ll kill her for you.”

The creature remained silent.

“Who else is gonna do it if—”

“Prince Shouto must be the one. It is his tale. We, the Bookkeepers, must keep the story true.”

Everything that came out the creature’s mouth pissed Katsuki off. It was putting too much importance on the prince’s shoulders. He had to wonder if he could stop the creature’s plans entirely by killing Shouto. No prince, no ending for the story. If the creature’s themselves had been able to kill you, surely they would have already fucking done it, Katsuki reasoned with himself. Then again, maybe the creature would send you off to another ‘tale’ if you couldn’t complete this one, like last time. Katsuki had already laid claim to you, and he would hunt you down to the ends of the earth if he had to, but it seemed far more sensible to take the quickest route to solve the predicament.

He redirected his fury over someone else hurting you onto the creature. There was plenty built up inside him and he hadn’t had chance to let it out yet. So he unscrewed the cap. And the rage spilled out.

For all of its menace and its height, the creature turned out to be a rather disappointing adversary. Katsuki found, as he drove his claws into the flesh of the creature’s neck, that it had a body like any other below the veil of smoke. It was perhaps thicker, and more animalistic, but very much there and very easy to tear apart. Katsuki tore and he tore, never relenting until the shock of his attack died in the creature’s eyes and its body turned limp below him. Thick, glooping miasma spilled from its wounds and the smell would have caused Katsuki to wretch had he not be so intent on seeking revenge for your defilement.

At last, once the creature had fallen to the floor and been still for a long few minutes, Katsuki finally let his arms sag. He had straddled the monster, having trapped it between his thighs to hold it still in its final few moments. He seethed with his eyes blown wide from the frenzy. The smell of its blood finally caught up to his nose, particularly now that it was splattered across him, not least on his face, and he rolled sideways off it and gagged.

It took him a second but he managed to regain himself, the urge to vomit having calmed him down from his lupine high.

Caring less about the unconscious prince, Katsuki turned his attention to you the moment he could stand. He came to you on the bed, ignoring boundaries by immediately climbing in next to you with a hand either side of your head on the pillow. He ignored the unearthly smoke billowing up out of you and the miasma coming from your wounds. He came in close, pressing his ear against your lips so he could check your breathe, pulse and warmth at the same time. Check, check, check. You were still alive. What was more, he felt your heartbeat quicken while he kept himself pressed on top of you. He felt his own heart drum in response. Were you… was your mind… conscious?

He drew back then pulled one of your lids open with a careful finger. Your eye had that same dead vacancy to it as Shouto had. If Katsuki hadn’t just checked your vitals, he would have sworn you were already gone.

“One fucking fine mess you got yourself into, Little Red.” Katsuki had to chuckle in spite of it all. If you were in there, he had to reprimand you just a little for leaving his side. “You can thank me later for saving you. I killed the creature and your fiancé,” he sneered the word, “is out cold. Hang tight and I’ll wake you up.”

Despite how relaxed he was when talking to you, he was really only trying to keep you calm. He knew how much pain you had to be in, judging from your wounds. He needed you awake, and healed, fast. Then he could steal you away and make sure no one had the chance to hurt you ever again. You were his to break, after all.

Katsuki left you and searched the room for a clue to waking you up. He searched high and low, and even rummaged through Shouto’s pockets but found absolutely nothing, other than an expensive looking pocket watch that he slipped into his own green coat pocket.

Coming up short, he returned to the bed with very little idea of what to do. There were two layers to his problem: the festering wounds, and the sleeping curse. He only had an inkling about one of them, but it was all he had to go on. Making up his mind, he reached down and scooped your unconscious body into his arms. He backed off the bed, happy to get you away from the place that wreaked strongest of death and evil, and made for the door back downstairs. He paid one final glance to the prince lying unconscious on the floor then clicked his tongue. The worthless human could rot up here, for all he cared.

Katsuki took your body to the other place in the castle he had found your scent the strongest. He presumed – correctly – that it was your bedroom. Hoping to keep your belongings as unsullied as possible, knowing you would probably cause him some kind of earache later if he didn’t, he set you down in an upright position on the small wooden stool where you had stood to have your dresses taken in, then he went into the bathroom. He emptied the stagnant water from the tub then refilled it, planning to re-enact what he had done at his cottage to stop the miasmic seeping. When the tub was half full he brought you through and eased you into the water, stepping in after you once he had removed most of his clothes. He shut the faucet off and held your head above the water, rubbing gentle circles across your skin with his free hand.

He didn’t know if you could hear him or if you were even there, but he murmured curses and vengeance on the next person who tried to hurt you. He didn’t like the calm expression on your face when he knew how badly you had to be hurting inside from the miasma’s attack. He rubbed at your wounds, or the ones he could see above your clothes. He hadn’t dared look at what was below them, knowing fine well it would send him into a rage and have him hot-headedly storming back up the tower to finish Shouto off instead of trying to heal you. No one was meant to touch you. Not there. Not like that. Not like this.

Katsuki kept you in the tub until there was more miasma than water. He checked the cuts but they had not stopped. He wondered if it was because you were unconscious. Perhaps you needed to know he was being tender with you to heal you. Fuck, he had no idea. He felt like he was grasping at straws.

At least, that’s what he tried to tell himself.

He knew, really, what needed to be done. He just didn’t want to admit it to himself.

He let the water run from the tub while he got out and dried himself off. By the time he was back in his clothes, or at least his tank and baggy trousers, the bath was drained so he found a second towel and gently dried you off. The cotton stained with sickly purple miasma, but he could live with soiling a towel if it meant you weren’t going to catch a cold and add even more problems to his list.

He left you propped up in the tub once you were dried then left you on your own. He bit the inside of his cheek as he strode through the castle, angrily mulling over what had to happen next.

He hated to admit it, but it was time to wake your fiancé up.

[0.0.2]

For those of you who chose not to read this chapter:

Katsuki Bakugou finds you in the tower and, in a fit of rage, tries to kill Shouto. The miasmic creature intervenes, telling Katsuki this isn't his story and needs to leave. Katsuki realises Shouto is being controlled and knocks him out then kills the monster in redirected rage. He takes you back through the castle to your bedroom and tries to wash away your wounds like last time, but it doesn't work. He realises he isn't the one who can heal your miasmic wounds. He needs Shouto.

Chapter Text

You were hurting. It was almost too painful to bear. Your body felt like it was on fire, with the miasma working its way deep inside you as you tried to scream for help. You couldn’t move. You couldn’t pass out. You had to suffer in the endless darkness behind your eyelids, unable to change your fate.

Mingled in with the pain, you could still feel how Shouto had touched you. You could feel his unforgiving hands and the angry marks he had left on your skin as he used you as a vessel for his lust. It was agony. More so than the physical pain, his betrayal was twisting your insides, hurting you in a way that made it impossible to go numb. The thought of your kind prince with his compassionate soul abusing you, defiling you while you were defenceless and, to his knowledge, unaware of his actions. It felt raw like a knife to the heart.

You weren’t sure where you were any more. There was a ringing in your ears, both deafening and painful, and had come about sometime during Shouto’s attack, stopping you from hearing any external sounds. You were aware you had been moved, and dare say rescued, but by who and to where was a mystery. The only clue you had was the gentleness of how they had washed your wounds. It led you to a memory of a time long, long ago with a werewolf in cottage who lived on his own. But he was dead. Killed by a giant who had tried to protect you. It couldn’t be him. Yet, the longer you thought about the hands rubbing over your skin, twisting and reeling inside yourself as you fought your pain, the harder it was to deny that your rescuer reminded you of Katsuki.

Well, whoever they were, all you could do was hope they knew a way to save you. The pain was becoming too much.

oOo

WHACK.

Katsuki found immense pleasure in bringing Shouto round. For precaution he had tied the prince’s hands behind his back, being only semi-sure that killing the Bookkeeper had lifted Shouto’s hypnosis. Katsuki did not forgive Shouto for what he had put you through but since he could not kill him outright, the best revenge the werewolf could hope for was beating the prince half to death. Hitting Shouto to wake him up was just a pretence. He could feign innocence later if you had a problem with it. You shouldn’t have a problem after all Shouto had done but Katsuki also knew you had a soft heart.

WHACK.

Katsuki landed a sweet-sounding punch to the side of Shouto’s jaw. It didn’t crack a bone like he had hoped but the punch managed to rouse Shouto from unconsciousness all the same. Katsuki debated carrying on his assault, feeling his palms itching, but he had bigger problems to solve. Depending on Shouto’s willingness to assist him, Katsuki might still have the chance to bludgeon the prince later.

“Oi,” Katsuki kicked Shouto in the foot, bringing him out of his dazed stupor faster. “Who is ____ to you?”

Katsuki wasn’t sure what Shouto knew, what he could remember or who he really was as a person. For all he knew, Shouto might not have been brainwashed at all and just generally looked dead behind the eyes on any given day. Katsuki needed Shouto’s help reversing the miasma but he wasn’t going to let him within twenty yards of you if he thought Shouto had any intention of finishing what he had started.

When Shouto failed to answer, Katsuki kicked him in the foot again. “Answer the fucking question.”

The first thing Katsuki noticed when Shouto chose to look at him was that his eyes were different. They had more life in them… more fight. In fact, the look in Shouto’s eyes when he caught Katsuki’s gaze made Katsuki glad he had had the foresight to tie the prince up. A silence dragged on as they both weighed the other up.

Finally, after struggling against his bindings but failing to break free, Shouto said,

“If you mean princess ____, then she’s my fiancé. Who are you?”

Katsuki skipped the question. Shouto didn’t need to know his name.

“What’s the last thing you remember?”

“Remember?” Shouto asked, and for a second his expression faltered. He almost looked alarmed. “I—” He twisted his head to the sides, searching the room for something. “Where is that demon?”

Katsuki bared his canines. “What? Your friend, you mean? It’s dead.”

“Friend?” Shouto looked genuinely alarmed by Katsuki’s insinuation. He furrowed his brows, eventually closing his eyes to try to remember what had gotten him into this mess. Then, sharply, his eyes shot open and he shared a look with Katsuki that begged the werewolf to tell him his memories with fake.

“Where is princess ____? I didn’t—… a dream—… I never—”

Katsuki cut his scattered thoughts off with a snarl.

“There’s no fucking way I’d let you off the hook for thinking it was all some fucked up dream.” He clenched his fist. “Now you’re gonna come with me and you’re gonna heal her, and then I might think about letting you leave here alive.”

It was a lot for Shouto to take in but he could see the promise of death in the werewolf’s eyes if he refused. Shouto tried to piece his memories back together. The last thing he was fully aware of was the monster standing over the king and queen of Grimm in the throne room. Until that moment he had never laid eyes on the princess.

Why then, why, as he struggled against his bindings, could he see you below him in his memories, bleeding and unconscious? It would be easier to try and fool himself, to say that it really was a dream and you were just some woman’s image he had concocted for a sick fantasy. If that were the case he still needed psychological help, for no rightful prince should ever dream about defiling someone like that. But even that was easier to stomach than the idea he had actually, physically done those terrible things to another person – his bride-to-be, no less.

He needed to see your face. He needed to know for certain whether the face from his memories really was you.

“Take me to her,” Shouto said after a long while of staying silent. There was a knot in his stomach that wouldn’t unclench until he knew the truth.

“No shit,” Katsuki grumbled, dragging Shouto up by his bindings.

O

Katsuki felt his hackles going up well before he made it back to your room with the prince in tow. It was a quiet walk. He had a lot of time to think about what had to happen next. Before he let Shouto near you he was going to make one more try at waking you up. If he couldn’t stop the wounds he could at least be the one to break the curse. The monster had said this wasn’t his story – whatever that meant. He was going to prove that this was his story; his and your story, and your prince charming only had a very limited number of scenes.

Once they were inside your room but before Shouto could find you in the bathroom, Katsuki grabbed him and in a show of dominance pinned him by the throat against the wall. It wasn’t a fair fight. Shouto’s hands were still tied. Katsuki didn’t care.

“We’re going to see ____, right? When we do—” Katsuki banged Shouto’s head against the wall. “When we do, you need to undo what the fuck you did to her. Be sweet. Be—” Katsuki felt the rage rising inside him. His tail thrashed dangerously, “—gentle. If you make her worse I’ll rip you limb from limb. And you are not fucking marrying her.”

Point, set and match, when this was over Katsuki was going to whisk you away to his cottage on the boarder of Grimm and Shouto would be thankful to leave with his life.

“Let me see her.”

Shouto’s voice was absolute. It pissed Katsuki off that he didn’t seem intimidated.

“You’re not going anywhere fucking near her until—“

“You have my word. I will not harm ____. Let me see her.”

Until Shouto knew that you, his fiancé, were the woman he had seen in those hazy dream-like memories he could not believe what had happened. He did not want to believe he had hurt you.

Katsuki considered his words then begrudgingly pulled his weight off Shouto’s neck.

“This way.”

Katsuki steered Shouto into the bathroom, then when the prince saw your unconscious body, his blood ran cold. Katsuki watched it happen. Shouto’s face turned pale and his stoic expression slipped.

“What did I…? Princess ____, I’m sorry.”

Despite the sincerity in his voice, Katsuki was having none of it.

“Yeah, yeah.” The werewolf barged past him to come to your side. “Save it. Just do your damn job and help her.”

“What do I have to do?” Shouto’s voice held a distinct note of panic. He could no longer deny what had happened – what he had done.

“Touch her.” It pained Katsuki to say the words. He didn’t want anyone touching his fucking property.

“What?”

“Nicely. Reverse what you did.”

A silence washed over the pair as Katsuki’s words sank in. Shouto looked at you lying semi-naked in the bath with bruises and otherworldly gloop seeping from your wounds. Touch you nicely. Reverse what he had done to you. To do that, if he had to do the opposite of what he had just done then… alarm flashed across Shouto’s face.

“I can’t. She’s unconscious.”

“Didn’t stop you the first time.” Katsuki spat. “It’s too late for you to have morals.”

“I can’t,” Shouto demanded. “It’s wrong.”

Katsuki made an agitated noise in the back of his throat. He switched the faucet back on then began removing his clothes, figuring the least he could do was try to clean your wounds again. Only, Shouto seemed equally distressed by his actions.

“What are you doing?”

Ignoring Shouto, Katsuki crouched down beside the tub where your head was lolled to the side. Resting on his haunches, he leaned close to you and brushed a loose strand of hair away from your face. He wished Shouto wasn’t here. He cupped your cheeks between his hands. He hated that Shouto was around to see this but he had no other choice.

“Wake up you dumb fuck,” he breathed against your lips. “I’m here.”

In possibly the most gentle and tender moment of Katsuki’s entire life, he pressed his lips to yours. He wanted you to get better. He wanted you to open your eyes.

But you didn’t.

This wasn’t Katsuki’s story. He couldn’t be the one to save you.

“Kiss her.”

He spoke the words as soon as he broke contact with you. There was an edge to his voice. It was anger but it was also desperation.

Shouto shook his head. Katsuki had very little patience left. Clad only in his boxers, he marched over to Shouto and grabbed him by the scruff of his hair.

“I’m not asking you to put your hand down her pants. Get in the fucking tub, kiss her and wash the wounds you gave her. Or she won’t get better. She’s in a lot of fucking pain and it’s all your fucking fault.”

Katsuki threw Shouto to the ground beside the bath. Shouto glared back at him but when he looked at you, his eyes softened. Despite the werewolf’s hostility, he was right. Shouto knew that. He had to take responsibility for what he had done to you. It was just that for all he had done to you, now that he was in his right mind he couldn’t do anything to you without your consent.

But if it was the only way to save you then he had no other choice.

When Shouto agreed, Katsuki freed him from his ties. The air was hostile for a split second as Katsuki waited for Shouto to make a run for it, but instead the prince began to disrobe.

“Try anything funny…” Katsuki’s threat was heavy in the air.

“I won’t.” Shouto assured him. “Gentle hands and apologetic kisses. I understand.”

Hearing him say it like that made Katsuki want to punch him. He sounded so noble. So righteous. It was a good thing for the prince that you needed him alive.

When Shouto was down to his boxers he shut off the faucet then got in the bath beside you. Katsuki sat outside the tub, as close to you as he could, keeping his line of sight locked on Shouto’s movements. For someone who had seemed so against this, there was a confidence in the way he moved towards you and embraced your face in his hand.

“I’m so sorry, ____.”

He leaned in and touched his lips to yours. There was no other way to apologise. There was nothing he could do to take back what he had done. It was a kiss with his whole heart behind it.

Shouto didn’t notice Katsuki holding his breath as he watched the exchange. Although the kiss bothered him, it wasn’t that that had him anxious. Katsuki realised he had no control over your future. It was all down to the prince. So he had to hope Shouto could find a way to save you. He hated being helpless. He hated not having control.

Shouto did not expect much to come from the kiss. Katsuki had already kissed you and nothing had happened. Which is why, when he drew back and your eyes magically fluttered open he was completely and utterly shocked. It was a good kind of shocked. An elated kind of shocked.

Until you saw him and your eyes brimmed with tears.

HOW COULD YOU?

Shouto didn’t expect you to slap him so it stung hard when you drove your palm across his cheek. Then he felt your foot kick him in the gut to push him away. As the dread set in from realising you knew what had happened; that you were conscious during the attack, Shouto chose to kneel before you so you could unleash whatever hell you wanted on him.

AFTER EVERYTHING WE WENT THROUGH! I thought I’d never see you again! After that night together—how could you—HOW COULD YOU?”

You tried to kick him again to get him to back off even though it hurt your body so much you wanted to black out. He was too close. But suddenly you found a pair of strong arms tight across your shoulders from behind, holding you against the side of the tub.

“____, calm the fuck down. Don’t hurt yourself more. If you want him dead, I’ll kill him. Stop moving.”

You wriggled to try and break free, only you caught a scent you knew from long ago and stopped. You turned and caught sight of a mop of ash-blonde hair pressed into your cheek.

“K-Katsuki?”

As you stilled, your eyes brimming with confusion at the sight of the werewolf from your hazed memories, Shouto frowned as he thought over what you had said to him. It sounded like you knew him – that you had met somewhere before. He knew that wasn’t true. He had met you as a baby and not again until today. He knew that for sure. Then… were you perhaps confusing him for someone else?

“Princess ____,” he tried, only it came at a bad time. Unlike your reaction to seeing Shouto, your reaction to seeing Katsuki had you flinging your arms around him despite how much it hurt you.

“You’re alive! Katsuki, you’re alive. I thought All Might killed you.”

Katsuki took every bit of enjoyment from it, his tail wafting from side to side, then glared when Shouto interrupted. Katsuki braced an arm around you to hold you against him.

“What?” He spat on your behalf. You were shivering against him in pain. This wasn’t going to go smoothly, he realised. It seemed you had a history with Shouto. Now that you were awake, Katsuki didn’t want to force you into any wound-healing touching with the bastard prince if you didn’t want to.

Shouto tried his best to stay neutral. On the one hand, he knew he had hurt you, but on the other he didn’t like the way Katsuki was keeping tight hold of you. He wanted to marry you. That had not changed. It would take time to make this up to you but Katsuki was a threat if he wasn’t just a friend.

“You said we had a night together. When was that?”

Katsuki’s body went rigid. Shouto saw the hostility in him but ignored it. You shook your head. More than anger, there was hurt in your eyes.

“That’s not fair. I trusted you. I told you I was going to die. You said you would never hurt me.”

As hurt as you were, Shouto couldn’t understand what you were talking about. He sighed as he thought over what was going on.

“Princess ____, please indulge me. Why were you going to die?”

You looked at him like he was the scum on the earth for trampling on your heart. But then, looking again, you saw the genuine confusion in his eyes.

“You don’t… remember?” Your voice was softer. It was watery, and you winced, but curiosity had the better of you. Shouto shook his head. You frowned slightly, then turned to Katsuki still with your arms around him.

“Do you remember, Katsuki?”

“Too right I fucking do.” He flashed you a smug grin. His grip tightened around you. “My Little Red.”

The joy of knowing Katsuki knew you was eclipsed for just a moment when something flashed through your head. It wasn’t painful. Little Red Riding Hood. It felt familiar in a way no other thing did. It made you think back to what the monster had told you – about this being your story. You didn’t know how the two things were connected, but when Katsuki said it you felt something slot into place inside your mind.

“Then,” you said slowly, breathing deep to ward off the pain riddling your body, “You have to remember, right? You found me on the beach. I didn’t have a voice. We spent a whole week together.”

You felt a stab to your gut when Shouto didn’t react. What you didn’t realise was that your pain was literal. You were hurting more and more the more your heart ached over him.

“Dancing in the palace gardens? Sleeping with me to save my life? That I told you I was a mermaid?”

For the first time, Katsuki and Shouto shared a glance. Neither of them wanted to admit it, but you sounded crazy. Katsuki put it down to being in agony. Pain was clearly messing up your head. But both of them could see that you truly believed your own words.

“That wasn’t me.” Shouto said softly, hoping to calm you. He had done more damage than he thought – perhaps he had even broken your psyche.

“Yes it was!” You demanded, frustration painting your features as the pains swelled across your body. “You’re Shouto Todoroki, crown prince of Hans. I know it’s you. Why won’t you—”

“Hans?” His question cut you off. “I’m sorry. I don’t know where that is. You’re right about it all, but I’m crown prince of Wilhelm. We share a boarder with Grimm.”

“Shut up,” Katsuki warned, now having to wrinkle his nose from the strength of the miasma. “You’re making this so much fucking worse.”

Being only human, Shouto could not smell what Katsuki could. In an attempt to calm things he shifted in the water so he could come closer to you.

“Please, princess. I don’t understand what’s happening but you must trust me. I can help you. Let me help you.”

Katsuki tensed when Shouto rested his hand on your shoulder but you did not move away. Your head was dizzy from the pain.

“Are you really… really not my Shouto?”

It still hurt, what happened to you, but if this Shouto really wasn’t the Shouto you had met in Hans then it eased your hurt just slightly. That Shouto had loved you. He would never hurt you.

The pain in your head faded a little as you came to terms with the strange situation you were in. You knew Katsuki – he was your Katsuki. But this Shouto was not yours. You were back in Grimm, so did that mean Shouto had another version here? Did that mean there was another version of Katsuki in Hans? What about Halliwell? What about everyone you had met so far? Did you have the potential to meet them all, wherever you ended up?

The thought of finding familiar faces in foreign lands was a nice one. But then, if like Shouto they had no memories of the time you spent with them then perhaps it would hurt more to see them – to be reminded of what you had, and what they had never experienced.

Katsuki growled from beside you.

“He won’t be your anybody soon, don’t fucking worry. Once we’re done here you’ll never have to see him again. I’ll make fucking sure of it.”

To see him glare like that frightened you. It only hurt your insides more. The pain was so strong you winced. You dug your nails into Katsuki’s skin.

“What do you mean?” You whimpered, “Once we’re done here? Aren’t we done here?”

You wanted to get away from here. Right from the start you had told Midnight you didn’t want to come to the castle; that bad things would happen to you. And here you were with an ache between your legs, bruises over your skin and blood that came out purple.

“Take me home,” you begged. You didn’t know where home was any more. You just didn’t want to be here. Screw becoming a queen, you wanted to go home to your cottage in the woods where no one could find you.

“Sorry,” Katsuki’s voice was gritty with guilt. He looked at Shouto and the heterochromatic prince looked just the same. “I can’t.”

Shouto eased towards you, waiting for you to kick him again.

“You won’t get better until we reverse what’s been done. I promise I won’t hurt you.” Shouto managed to take you from Katsuki, with the werewolf’s help, then felt even worse when you wrapped your arms around his shoulders for support. You were in too much pain. You didn’t care who you clung to, not even when it was the one who raped you.

“Make it stop.” You whimpered. “Please.”

Slowly, Shouto wrapped his arms around your waist to hold you against him, bring a hand to stroke through your hair. He looked at Katsuki, unsure what to do, but the werewolf only glared. Shouto could tell he hated relying on him to heal you.

“I’m sorry,” Shouto said again. “I’m so sorry. It was my fault for being weak. I let the monster control me. I didn’t want to do those things to you. I don’t expect you to forgive me but please let me help.”

It was difficult for you. Through your dizziness, Shouto’s words were muffled. They were hard to understand. Your head pounded and your body ached, but you found a surprising comfort in Shouto’s arms. They were just like you remembered, and he smelled just the same. It was easy to forget that this was another version of him. You knew deep down that Shouto would never hurt you, no matter which version you found. It was in his very essence to be kind.

“The monster got me too,” you muttered, inhaling his pepperminty scent to ground you in the room. “Once it has hold I don’t think anyone can stop it.”

“I could.” Katsuki interjected, disapproving the way you and Shouto looked, cuddled in to each other. He’d have broken the two of you apart had it not been for the fact he could smell the miasma weakening.

Though it was not total forgiveness, a silent agreement fell between you and Shouto. Something horrific had happened between the two of you but for now, at least, it needed to be forgotten. If it wasn’t, it might very well tear you apart completely.

“Help me, then.” You whispered before lifting your chin towards him.

“I’m sorry, ____,” he breathed against your lips. Then he kissed you. It was a feeling you could never forget. Those lips, both icy and warm, and his tender hold as he embraced you. This was Shouto. It would always be Shouto. There was no other man like him.

He deepened the kiss, tricking his fingers down your spine until they rested snuggly on your hips. Then, slowly, he eased you down into the water. He broke the kiss so you could rest against the side of the tub with your head next to Katsuki’s then rubbed gentle circles through the water and over your legs to treat your wounds. You whimpered. It stung. But Shouto carried on. He was careful with you, smoothing over the cuts with his thumbs. To his surprise, the cuts began to seal. You were whimpering but your body was healing. He looked to Katsuki for reassurance, but Katsuki would not meet his gaze. The werewolf’s eyes were focused solely on you, his ears drooped from your pained sobbing.

He hated being helpless. He hated it, especially when it came to you. Your crying rattled through him and drove every one of his instincts into a frenzy. He was supposed to want to kill and eat you, like any normal werewolf, but right now he wanted, goddamnit, to soothe you. To stop your tears. He fucking hated it. He hated himself. But he didn't.

He breathed a great sigh through his nose, hearing you whimper again. All he could do was lean closer to you, resting his cheek on the tub beside you. He saw the way your face twisted in pain. It strangled his insides. Finally, he placed a comforting kiss to your lips.

"You'll be okay." 

The three of you stayed like that for some time. It was quiet except for the noises you made, and the splashing of the water as Shouto cleaned you. After a long while, it was apparent to both males that washing your wounds was not enough.

“When this happened last time,” Shouto asked, breaking the silence. Katsuki’s ears pricked up, knowing it was addressed to him. “What else did you do to stop it?”

The werewolf’s eyes dilated dangerously. Beside him, you shivered. Yup, you understood too. It was only Shouto who was in the dark.

“I-I—” you tried to speak but the pain was too much. You tried to sit up but your body ached. Even your head hurt to lift.

For the first time since Shouto got in the bath with you, Katsuki stood up. He rose to his full height and stretched, cracking the muscles in his arms and across his shoulders. Then he looked down on Shouto. He looked at you, and the never ceasing tendrils of smoke billowing up from your body. He clicked his tongue then kicked the side of the tub.

“Katsuki…” you tried to chastise him but didn’t have the energy.

“Right,” Katsuki fixed Shouto with a stare. It was a stare that told the prince not to move. Not to speak. He had to listen and hope he came out unscathed. “Ground rules.”

Chapter Text

Katsuki had known all along that this was how it would go. He had been kidding himself, thinking you would get better from minimal displays of affection. It had been okay for Shouto to kiss and touch you when Katsuki had thought it wouldn’t go further.

But here he was, watching Shouto lay you down on the bed. He couldn’t stand it. He wanted to pretend he was watching an erotic play with actors he would never see again. But he wasn’t, damn it. He couldn’t jack off to this – he couldn’t even escape. Well, he could. He could walk out your bedroom door and never look back. But it didn’t sit well with him, leaving you with Shouto.

On the one hand, if Shouto was left alone with you he might kill you. On the other hand, the far worse hand in Katsuki’s opinion, he might heal you, have you fall in love with him then marry you. Then you would never think of Katsuki again. Katsuki wouldn’t think of you, either, but he didn’t want your memories of him to be overwritten by some upper-class rich boy who might have already snuffed out your innocence.

As you and Shouto settled awkwardly onto the bed, Katsuki distracted himself by locking the door that led into the castle. If you were awake, chances were that all the sleeping people he had seen on his way through the kingdom were waking up too. It wouldn’t be long before the maids came checking to see if you were alright. Oh, how he wanted them to interrupt your intimacies with the crown prince of Wilhelm. But…not yet. Not until the miasma was gone.

“Katsuki, don’t go.”

He heard the panic in your voice. From the bed it must have looked like he was about to leave.

“I’m not going anywhere, idiot.”

There was a distinctly softer tone in his voice. You relaxed, hearing that he planned to stay. You had figured out it was Katsuki who had rescued you from the tower. He had a habit of saving you from perilous situations and you wanted to keep him close. He made you feel safe. He was like an angry, foul-mouthed guardian angel with only a mildly sadistic steak.

It was obvious that Shouto had no intention of hurting you, though. He was doing his best to make you comfortable. He was so gentle with you, cradling you against him until he could nestle you amongst the pillows.

The time spent with him in the tub had already eased your pain enough to stop the dizziness. You weren’t about to black out, even though you still felt like your body was on fire.

“Shouto…”

You lifted a hand towards his face in pleading. He took it and held it against his cheek as remorse dampened his otherwise handsome features. The way you were looking at him filled him with regret over his actions. You looked at him like you’d known him all your life, like you forgave him just like that for what he had done. He was truly starting to believe that the two of you had met somewhere before, lifetimes ago.

“I’m sorry.” He cradled your hand against his face then kissed your palm. The betrayal he had seen in your eyes – he had never seen emotion like it. In the moment you had believed him to be the Shouto from Hans, he had seen the strength of your bond to him and the anguish you felt thinking it was he who had betrayed you.

Shouto couldn’t return you to that life, as much as he wanted to. It sounded dreamlike and he only wished he could have been the one to experience it with you. It was selfish of him to imagine how it felt to dance with you and have you hold him with such affection.

If that Shouto was who you needed him to be now, in this moment, then he would forget who he was; forget his own standings; forget his wrongdoings, and be the man who loved you unconditionally.

He swallowed his apologies like a lump in his throat then leaned down and kissed you. His hands ran into your hair, massaging over your temples with his thumbs. Then he paused, breaking the kiss to whisper against your mouth,

“I won’t hurt you again.”

When he drew back to study your face, he noticed tears welling in the corners of your eyes.

“I know,” you murmured, gulping to soften a sob. He would always be your Shouto – your wonderful Prince Charming, no matter when or how you met. You gave him a watery smile. He gave one in return then kissed the tip of your nose as he wiped the tears when they fell.

“Please don’t cry.”

He kissed you again, gently peppering your lips, cheeks and nose with affection. He did it until your tears dried. He did it until your nervous breathing ebbed. As he felt you relax he scooped you into his arms, easing himself down onto you until you were nearly lost in the pillows from his extra weight.

He kept his kisses light until he was certain you were okay. It was probably longer than he needed to but the last thing he wanted was for you to push him away, being too traumatised to let him help you. When he was sure, he gradually got bolder. He kissed you more deeply, returning his hands to your hair. As he tentatively dragged his tongue over your lower lip, he tugged on your hair to massage your scalp. You shivered in response, humming just once to let him know it felt good. What a beautiful sound you made. He hadn’t expected it. He eased his weight off you, knowing his growing arousal would grab your attention otherwise. He would have to act on his impulses eventually, but just for now he wanted to take things slowly.

Shouto wasn’t the only one appreciating your noises. Katsuki sighed through his nose, watching the scene unfold before him. He had told himself he wouldn’t watch. He didn’t want to, or so he had thought. But the sound of you mewling had him remembering what it was like to have you beneath him – your innocent eyes staring up at him as you dragged your tongue the length of his cock.

Despite his insistence that he wouldn’t, Katsuki found himself stroking his growing erection through his boxers. He couldn’t take his eyes off your expression. The way your eyes fluttered closed as you relaxed and gave away your control. The rise and fall of your chest as Shouto pulled back, kissing along your neck. Katsuki grunted, turning away to cool his forehead against the wall. What the fuck was he doing? Why was he getting turned on from watching someone else touch you? You were his. Why did he want to watch Shouto drive you into a frenzy instead of just making you feel better?

Well, you were feeling better. Katsuki could tell from the look on your face and the smell in the air. The putrid stench from your injuries was fading – replaced by the growing scent of pheromones. He dragged his hand down his face. For the first time in a while, he cursed his heightened sense of smell.

He felt his erection straining against his boxers, knowing you were metres away from him and slowly being corrupted. He had no way to relieve his growing urge to mount you. He tapped his forehead over and over against the wall, cursing the whole fucking world. He wanted to watch you slip into submission; watch your eyes glaze over and your tongue hang out as your innocence fell away, piece by piece.

He gave a throaty growl, feeling his cock twitching. He noticed the unmistakable leak of precum through his underwear. Fuck. Why did you have to be so… tempting?

Shouto’s lips latched to your neck, sucking on a tender patch of skin already bruised from earlier. He was gentle but it elicited a moan from your lips. It hurt but not in a way you couldn’t handle. In fact, the more he touched you, the more you were able to respond to him because the real pain faded. Shouto’s fingers were soothing, taking away the ache, taking away the sting. He was just as you remembered – attentive in the most caring way. He seemed solely focused on pleasing you, searching for spots that made you shiver before abusing them until he pulled noises out of you.

“Shouto…” you purred, dragging your hands through his hair. It was easy to forget today and drift back through time to that night in Hans. He was doing everything in his power to make you feel better – to make you feel good.

Despite his best efforts though, you could feel pain in your most intimate areas. He had yet to touch you in those places, still hidden below your bra and panties, but you were worried to see the real extent of the attack once your clothes were off. You had been blinded during the ordeal so you didn’t know the real extent of the damage. You feared it was unsightly. You feared that one look at your naked body would send Shouto running; too repulsed to touch you. What was worse, you felt his hesitation. His fingers brushed the hem of your underwear but he paused then moved away, stroking your sides. You weren’t sure what to think.

“Shouto,” you whined softly, pushing past the onset of insecurities. “Would you still… want to sleep with me… under different circumstances?”

He lifted his head, ceasing his wandering hands so he could pay close attention to your expression. To his surprise, you looked serious about the question and worried about his answer. He smiled.

“____, you are the most attractive woman I have ever laid eyes on.”

And you were. He wished he could have met you in a different situation. If he had met you how it had been intended, on the day of his wedding, he might well have thought he was dreaming to have a bride as breath-taking as you.

He kissed you once to dispel your worry, then placed his lips on a particularly painful looking bruise across your collarbones. After drawing another mewl from you, he found the hem of your panties and pulled them down. You shivered as they slipped past your knees. As he turned his attention to your bra, you shimmied them the whole way down your leg then kicked them off to the side. Once he discarded your bra as well, he quickly latched his mouth to your nipple. Feeling him trace the nub with his tongue, you lurched, feeling a surge of pain from the contact. It was so sudden that it knocked Shouto back.

“Are you okay?” He lifted himself up on his arms, giving you room to move beneath him. You blinked, surprised. You hadn’t expected him to stop.

“I’m fine.” It was painful but that didn’t mean it was bad. You smiled and tried to pull him back to you, but he wouldn’t budge. His gaze was focused on your chest.

Shouto’s memories of the attack were hazy. He knew he had done something awful but the details had been vague until now. Now that he had a clear view of your body, it gave him a painful reminder of his actions. Angry purple bite marks scarred your chest and inner thighs. The skin on your breasts had split in places, and he could only stare horrified at the bruising and swelling of your vagina. Why were you allowing him to be anywhere near you?

“It’s… ruined.” He said weakly.

You looked down, getting the first real look at your body. Shouto saw the shock in your eyes, and the way you tried to cover yourself suddenly. He didn’t mean it like that. It wasn’t you that was ruined, but the hope he had for having a relationship with you. He didn’t know if the damage could be undone, no matter how loving or affectionate he was. It looked so painful. He realised how strong you were for having lasted this long. But he didn’t think he could save you from what he had done.

“What the fuck are you talking about?”

The outburst came from Katsuki. He was done standing in the corner. He had heard just about enough.

“Ruined?” The werewolf repeated, mocking the word as he strode over to the bed. You tried to cover yourself more, feeling ashamed for having such ugly scars across your body, only Katsuki grabbed one of your hands and held it up. He was not subtle in the way that he ogled you, a devilish smirk slipping onto his features as you blushed despite your worry. “The fuck are you talking about? She’s beautiful.”

Shouto cleared his throat, realising he had been misinterpreted. On the other hand, Katsuki’s words sunk deep into you, gliding through and destroying that well of insecurity you had about your body. You couldn’t stop the soft smile that broke onto your lips. The way Katsuki looked at you made you forget that you had damaged skin. He didn’t care about such things. He only saw you.

“You’re right.”

Shouto agreed with such assurance that you blushed harder. The pain in your body was eclipsed by the heat in your cheeks. It wasn’t every day that a woman could say two attractive men were agreeing on her hotness. Ignoring the circumstances of why the three of you were together, you enjoyed the moment.

“I just…” Shouto continued, glancing back and forth between you and Katsuki, keeping his attention towards the werewolf, “…I don’t want to touch her.”

Well, that joy was short-lived. Of course there was a catch. There was no way two hot guys could be attracted to you. Your heart twanged, letting your insecurities take a gentle hold of you again. You felt Katsuki’s grip tighten around your wrist as he tensed. He didn’t like Shouto’s answer either. He was surprisingly protective of you – both of your person and your honour.

“I’ve already hurt her too much.”

The room was silent for a moment. Then, finally, his words sunk in and things clicked into place in your worried mind. Shouto… wasn’t repulsed by you. He just... didn’t want to hurt you. You lowered your hand away from your chest. You knew the marks on your skin were unsightly. You hated them now that you knew they were there, and you would be lying to say you didn’t care, but it helped a little to know that Shouto only had your best interests at heart.

“That’s so fucking fantastic and all,” Katsuki replied drolly after a moment. His long tail swished back and forth behind him. It was this movement that drew your attention to the bulge in his taut boxers, almost in-line with your face. As soon as your eyes were on it, he let go of your wrist, tilting your chin to gaze up at him. His smirk grew even wider, catching the timid look in your eyes from being so close to his erection. “But you like a little pain, don’t you?”

Before Shouto could intervene, Katsuki knocked you back onto the bed, crawling on top of you in the process. He clutched both your hands, pinning them above your head to stop you resisting. Not that you did. Katsuki knew from the look in your eyes that you were still his. Unlike with Shouto, you knew you were totally safe with Katsuki. Well… as long as you did as you were told.

He leaned in and grinded himself against you. The relief was instant. He dropped his head against your shoulder and let out a guttural groan, enjoying the relief that came from touching you. True to his word, he bit down on your shoulder to wash you with pain. You bucked against him, gasping as you felt the heat of excitement pulse through your body. Katsuki couldn’t heal you or stop you hurting but he could certainly distract you with a different, better kind of pain.

When Katsuki pulled away, he passed Shouto a fleeting glance – one that you swore looked like gloating – then he leaned in and brushed his lips dangerously close to yours.

“Be a good girl and help daddy show Shouto how you like it.”

There was no physical way for you to contain your blush. For a split second every nerve ending in your body responded to Katsuki in a needy, desperate way. You had no time to speak before Katsuki crashed his lips to yours, taking your lower lip between his teeth to pull you into submission. He had every intention of pushing you over the edge to where you wouldn’t have time to worry.

He was sloppy and rough with kisses, tracing circles around your mouth with his tongue before darting between your lips, coaxing your mouth open so he could make the kiss deeper; pressing down on you until you squirmed for air. He broke away, leaving a string of saliva to dangle from his tongue, giving you just a second to gulp and breathe before he swooped back down on top of you, claiming your lips a second time. He did this over and over, feeling you writhing beneath him as he gripped your wrists in one hand, stroking your side with the other; working to make you ache to be touched until your lungs burned, until you whimpered and tried to buck beneath him.

When you were a suitable mess, he released you. He pulled back and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then slapped your stomach appreciatively and raised an eyebrow to Shouto.

“What part of her is ruined?”

Shouto was too stunned to talk. He looked at Katsuki and saw the smugness in his eyes – the grin on his face from having just near devoured you. Then he looked at you. You were almost dazed. You stayed sprawled on your back, your arms loose above your head with a sinfully inviting look on your face as you licked your lips, tasting the remnants of Katsuki’s saliva on your tongue.

Shouto didn’t know whether to be jealous or excited. The more he looked at you, the more he saw the lust in your eyes and your need to be touched. He wanted to indulge you. He could see the begging in your eyes as you looked at him, trying to persuade him to fondle you even though it was Katsuki who had brought you to heat.

But he couldn’t ignore your wounds. Even just a light tap looked like it would make you cry. Katsuki seemed convinced you were a masochist but even masochists had limits.

As you glanced with large eyes between Katsuki and Shouto, Katsuki noticed the prince’s hesitation. He clicked his tongue. You were waiting for him like a steak on a silver platter; what the fuck was he pausing for? If Katsuki hadn’t needed Shouto to heal you, he would have mounted you already. He would have flipped you over, gripped a fistful of your hair and slammed into you up to his hilt.

“____,” Katsuki growled, trying not to indulge in his fantasies in case he lost control and took you for real. He licked his lips with a grin. If Shouto was going to be stubborn then he had no choice but to force the prince’s hand.

When you glanced up at him, he pointed a clawed finger towards Shouto.

“Tell Shouto what you want him to do to you.” You opened your mouth to speak but Katsuki stopped you. “No, lamb. Get up and tell him.”

Katsuki’s eyes had blown wide. You could see him resisting his urges with everything he had. Your whole body was hot with pain and lust, and you just wanted to be touched so you did as you were told. You knew better than to disobey Katsuki, especially when he looked ready to eat you.

You got onto your hands and knees and crawled towards Shouto. A voice in the back of your head worried about how you looked, completely naked and bruised, but the most part of you was too impressed by the bulge in Shouto’s dark coloured boxers and how clearly turned on he was to care.

When you were practically straddling his lap you reached forwards and placed a hand on his shoulder, pushing him down onto the bed. He didn’t speak but he couldn’t stop the smile from breaking onto his lips, even though he tried to.

“____, you don’t have to—”

“Shut up.” Katsuki growled, watching the scene with roused interest. From his angle, he had a perfect shot of your plump arsecheeks and the oddly attractive curve of your spine. When you leaned down to whisper in Shouto’s ear, jutting one knee forward for balance, Katsuki got a wonderful view of your swollen cunt. You were glistening with arousal. He groaned, pumping himself once to relieve the pressure in his cock. He wasn’t going to be able to hold back much longer if you kept teasing him like that. He watched you lean in, pressing your tits against Shouto’s chest as you stroked his jaw with a finger. You really were a naughty fucking tease. You were his innocent little lamb so where had you learned to do that?

Rather than jealousy and suspicion, Katsuki found himself filled with an even stronger sense of desire. He wanted to put you in your place. He wanted to show you that no matter how much of a cocktease you tried to be, he would always take exactly what he wanted from you, when he wanted.

When you started licking the shell of Shouto’s ear, the prince finally gave in to you. He had kept his control all while you had whispered what you wanted him to do to you, all while you had grinded your naked body against him and moaned in his ear, but he couldn’t hold out any longer. The wet sound of your tongue and the warmth of your breath as you devoted your attention to him was too much. He gripped hold of your arse and pushed you down against his clothed cock just once for relief. What he didn’t expect was the noticeable wetness of your arousal when he grinded you against him. He lurched his head back into the mattress, muffling a groan.

It was a bit of a power high, you had to admit. You had Shouto quivering beneath you, holding in noises. You understood why he had been hesitant now. Neither of you had wanted to revisit what had happened in the tower. But you weren’t going to let that define you. You had faced so many challenges and this was not the one that would break you. Your strong sexual prowess gave you an edge and had turned the tides for you over and over again. No one could strip that away from you.

You grinded yourself down on Shouto’s cock, grinning like an imp when he sighed shakily to try to calm himself. You did it again. You were in control. But you loved the way Shouto looked at you with an increasingly longing stare. You wanted him to take control – you knew he had it in him to do it; he was a gentleman but with the right push you knew you could tempt him.

You didn’t expect that push to come from someone other than you, though. Before you had time to protest, Katsuki snaked his arms around your middle and pulled you off Shouto. The prince sat up onto his elbows, watching curiously.

“How the fuck,” Katsuki asked Shouto, dragging you backwards until your naked butt landed in his lap, “can you stop yourself?”

It was then that you noticed Katsuki had ditched his boxers. He wrapped one hand in the top of your hair, planted the other one firmly on your hip then jutted against you. You felt his cock slide up between your thighs, massaging the out lips of your cunt.

Mnghh—” You moaned, your eyes rolling backwards as both pain and pleasure hit you at once. Katsuki did it again, forcing your head backwards by tugging on your hair. He was playing a cruel game. Your cunt was swollen so every slight sensation felt multiplied. By the way he let go of your hip to tweak your bruised nipple, you knew he knew exactly what he was doing, too.

“Ah- Katsuki—” you whined, wincing as he pinched you. He tugged your hair harder, exposing your neck to him. He leaned down and sucked lightly on a bruise, making you shiver and whimper in protest.

“The fuck did you just call me?” He mused, smirking once he unlatched from your neck only to hear you moan approvingly.

Shouto couldn’t take his eyes off you. Katsuki nearly had you bent over backwards. The whole front of your body was stretched out before him, naked and bruised but arousing and beautiful. Your breathing came heavily, with deep rises and falls of your chest as Katsuki massaged over your damaged nipple. You kept flinching and whimpering, and Katsuki kept tugging your head further, shushing you like a parent soothing an infant.

“Daddy,” you begged softly, “daddy…”

It was completely erotic and should have repulsed him; seeing his fiancé dominated by someone else; but he could feel his excitement getting the better of him. The way you purred and the way Katsuki slowly glided his cock between your thighs in a show of dominance made Shouto’s self-control waver.

Katsuki noticed what was going on. He smirked as he massaged your breast, taking the soft mound in his hand while he wondered how long it would take the bastard to finally give in and fuck you. He had about ten seconds before Katsuki gave in to his own urges, and Shouto would have to settle for sloppy seconds. Or thirds. Fuck it, if you could hold out long enough without your wounds getting worse then Shouto could to fuck you tomorrow.

Katsuki nuzzled his nose against your neck, his cock twitching against your cunt as the scent of your pheromones filled his nostrils and heightened his carnal instincts.

“If Shouto doesn’t fill you up soon then daddy’s gonna do it.” Katsuki placed an open-mouthed kiss on your windpipe, then locked eyes with Shouto in challenge. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you, lamb? To be daddy’s little whore?”

You felt close to snapping, the way Katsuki had you bent. You could hear the possessiveness in his voice as he glided between your arousal-soaked thighs. You loved his dominance. He made you want to be submissive. Calling you names and degrading you turned you on because you knew once it was over he would cuddle and take care of you.

Katsuki let go of your hair, then, only for him to rock the two of you backwards, your back against his chest.

“Mn--nhh?” You tried to ask what he was doing but as soon as you were comfortable against him, he gripped your thighs and spread them apart, lifting you until his cock sprung out below you. He had you on full display to Shouto, gripping your legs to hold them wide.

“What are you doing?” You whined, hoping to wriggle free of Katsuki’s vice-like grip to close your thighs. You didn’t want anyone to have that much of a view of your injuries.

You expected Katsuki to throw a smug retort your way but instead, suddenly, you felt Shouto’s tongue flick against your cunt. You lurched in surprise but Katsuki held you steady on top of him.

“Fucking finally.” He let go of your thighs, only for Shouto’s hands to replace his. Katsuki stroked the hair away from your neck then gently bit down on your bruised skin. Shouto could try all he fucking wanted to send you over the edge but it was going to be Katsuki’s name you moaned – he would make sure of it.

You were completely trapped between the two of them. While Katsuki worked on your neck, rippling your body with pleasurable shivers, Shouto licked slow, precise lines along your cunt until you were squirming. His hands were strong, rendering you unable to twitch as he teased you; his warm mouth both electrifying your pleasure receptors and soothing the ache deep inside you. You tried to roll your head back but Katsuki gripped your throat to hold you still. It only got worse when Shouto started paying attention to your clit. He switched to sucking on it, flicking his tongue in rapid motion until your toes curled and you grunted, trying to buck.

Ah—” You whimpered, almost begging him to push you into release. You felt him start to stroke gentle circles on your thighs with his thumbs, pacifying you. He circled your clit again, flicking the sensitive nub until you started to pant then suddenly pushed his whole tongue inside you. You whined to begin with – it was a large intrusion but his tongue moulded to fit you snuggly, then he began massaging you from the inside.

Katsuki pressed his face into your neck. While Shouto attended to you, he kept inadvertently rubbing Katsuki’s throbbing cock, lolling just next to your cunt. Shouto didn’t seem to mind at all but given Katsuki’s ever rising urges, especially now that he had your shivering body pressed down on top of him, he was finding it hard to ignore the sensation. With Shouto tonguing your cunt into oblivion, Katsuki could feel the mixture of his saliva and your arousal trickling down onto his cock. He tried to forget about it, but when you whimpered again and then Shouto decided to groan, Katsuki had to let go of your neck to relieve himself, using slow, teasing strokes.

No sooner had Katsuki started than Shouto released you. You whined, wanting him to carry on, but then you noticed that he was removing his boxers. Katsuki tilted your face to place a chaste kiss to your lips, still pumping himself, then Shouto pulled you up and off the werewolf. You liked all this manhandling, you had to admit. Now fully naked, Shouto gripped you by the hips and pulled you into a deep kiss. You could taste yourself on his lips but it only served to strengthen your arousal. He stroked your hair, tenderly gliding circles over your skin to tell you everything was alright, then when he broke it off he pushed you down onto your hands and knees in a show of domination that could have rivalled Katsuki. He gripped you by the hips, dragging you across the bed until your arse was pressed up against his erection.

He rubbed himself against you, teasing your entrance, then leaned forwards and pressed a single kiss to the space between your shoulder blades. Even when he was rough, you liked that he still reminded you that he was a big softie at heart.

Katsuki liked what he was seeing. You looked like a lewd sex kitten. He could see the longing in your eyes for Shouto to mount you. He stroked himself, watching Shouto ease his tip against your swollen cunt. But then Shouto paused again. Of course he fucking did. Katsuki rolled his eyes. In a way, Katsuki could understand it. Shouto was hung like a horse and it was probably going to fucking hurt you, but surely Shouto knew it would only hurt you more if he didn’t.

Sick of waiting, Katsuki crawled across the bed and sat himself in front of your face, knocking you off your arms so you landed face first into his lap, leaving your arse in the air as Shouto held onto it.

Katsuki decided that Shouto could pussyfoot around the situation all he wanted, but if you stopped having things to entertain you then you’d surely realise how in pain you still were. And Katsuki had seen enough of your tears for today.

“Suck it.” He commanded, lifting your chin to make you pay attention to his swollen cock. It boosted his ego to see you looking so excited at the thought. As you shuffled into place, he wrapped a hand in your hair then let you engulf the tip of his shaft. “Suck,” he ordered.

When your lips hollowed he grunted and his grip in your hair tightened. Fuck. You were too good at that. You took him into your mouth, swallowing him to the balls. He grunted and bucked, and the tip of his cock slammed the back of your throat. You almost choked but Katsuki warned you to relax and breathe through the nose. He didn’t let go of your hair. He wouldn’t let you pull up. You had to sort that cute gag reflex out on your own.

Shouto slipped a finger inside you, choosing to work you up to taking his cock. You moaned happily, rolling your hips to ride his hand as Katsuki kept your mouth busy. He slowly pumped in and out of you, waiting until you were adjusted then added another finger. He added another and this time you shivered and gyrated your hips down, pushing him inside you as far as his knuckles would allow. He swallowed thickly, enjoying your lewd performance and the way you greedily engulfed his fingers. He pumped in and out, stroking himself in time to your movements, then when his cock twitched in pleading he withdrew his fingers from you entirely. Katsuki appreciated the gesture. The sound you made in protest reverberated around his cock like a personal vibrator. He tugged your hair to make you do it again.

Shouto gripped your hips and this time he pushed himself inside you. He was slow but you still whimpered at the pain, your voice muffled around Katsuki’s cock. In a small show of mercy he released your head and let you pull up, only you nestled your face into his lap and licked the base of his shaft instead. He tangled his hand into your hair but this time he was gentle, tugging your scalp to soothe you.

Shouto grunted as he entered you. You were so tight – it didn’t feel like his fingers had made a difference. He leaned forwards, pressing his forehead between into your side to steady himself. You were being so good. Every inch he pushed deeper, he felt you tighten around him. He realised it wasn’t from pain, but that you were being just as needy as before. You were taking him in so well. He was stretching you and filling you, but you welcomed his cock eagerly, nursing on Katsuki’s balls to hide any of the discomfort you felt.

Once he was inside you as deep as he was willing to go, he stopped and pulled out.

Ah--!” You unlatched from Katsuki’s cock to moan. Shouto saw the expression on your face. He gave a small sigh of relief -- having worried you would be in agony. Knowing you were far from it, he thrust back into you and you moaned a second time, your fingers curling into the bedsheets around Katsuki’s legs. He thrust again, and again, pushing deeper inside you until your toes curled and your back arched.

Katsuki sat up onto his knees, dragging you up with him. Your tongue was lolling from your mouth as Shouto buried himself inside you and Katsuki wanted part of the action. Your pretty little mouth needed filling and Katsuki had a very real urge to see your face drenched in his cum.

He gripped his erection with one hand and pinched the hollows of your cheeks with the other to force your mouth wide.

“You’re such a fucking tease,” He growled before plunging himself into your mouth. He locked his hands in your hair, forcing you to swallow him until his cock hit the back of your throat. You gurgled around him, letting him know how much you loved the way he played with you, and that was all the go-ahead he needed to fuck your face until the drool spilled from your mouth onto the bedsheets.

Ngh,” he groaned, loving the extra motion of Shouto slamming you from behind, helping his cock slip even further down your throat. “Fuck.”

There was very little you could do. Katsuki had control of your face and Shouto had control of your hips, and both men thrusted into you until your legs shook with pleading. You had never been totally and utterly dominated like this before and the fact that it was Katsuki and Shouto holding you rigid and fucking you senseless had you moaning as your eyes rolled back and your core tightened to tell you how close you were to release. You could feel your thighs drenched in your arousal, and the sound of skin slapping skin as they slammed themselves into you made you weak.

You were his lamb.

You were his fiancé.

You were their shared toy.

With a particularly hard thrust and a strained grunt, Katsuki pulled you off him by the hair. You let go with a wet pop then he pinched the hollows of your cheeks again to force your mouth wide. At the same time, Shouto circled his arms around your waist, pushing his forehead between your shoulder blades as his thrusts turned deeper and erratic. Katsuki groaned and his tail went rigid as he pumped himself once, losing it over your eager and expectant expression, then shook violently as he came. You flinched but he held you by the chin to keep you still, covering your face in spurts of his cum.

You moaned again, completely and utterly turned on by Katsuki’s domination. He still had hold of your cheeks so you couldn’t talk but your body responded dutifully. Your cunt tightened around Shouto as your orgasm reached its peak. You gasped, letting Shouto’s thrusts take you up and over the edge until you couldn’t hear, see, or even think. Shouto was close behind you, driven to climax by your release and the sound that escaped your mouth as you succumbed to the pleasure. He grunted and bucked, then released inside you as he strained to keep himself from collapsing.

Katsuki didn’t let go for a while after. He kept hold of your face as his body shook through the high of his orgasm and he didn’t take his gaze off you once. You looked perfect. You were soaked in his cum, shaking from your own release as Shouto straddled you to stop himself collapsing.

Finally, after the high subsided, Katsuki glided his thumb over your lips to clean his cum away then bent down and kissed you once.

“Good girl.”

You whimpered lamely, tired now that you were past your orgasm, and collapsed onto the bed, taking Shouto with you. He pulled out of you, making you gasp from oversensitivity, then he scooped the hair away from your neck and kissed the side of your jaw.

“How are you feeling?”

Neither male needed you to answer the question to know that you were okay now. All your wounds had sealed. There was still a little blood but it was red, not purple, and the ominous smoke had dissipated completely.

“I—I’m—hnghh.” You tried to speak but it was far too much effort. Instead, you smiled and pulled Shouto’s arm over you so he could be your big spoon. It surprised Shouto, actually. He had expected you to throw him off and ask never to see him again.

Katsuki had expected you to do that too. He laughed in spite of himself. You really did have a soft heart. Leaving you and Shouto to cuddle, he got off the bed and went into the bathroom for a towel. When he returned he lay down next to you and carefully wiped the mess he had made off your face. Your eyes fluttered open and you smiled sleepily.

“Thank you, Katsuki. You saved me again.”

He rolled his eyes but his wagging tail betrayed him, showing how happy he really was.

“Shuddup,” he grumbled, closing his eyes as he lightly batted your face to get you to be quiet. You chuckled softly then rolled over. Katsuki took the opportunity to shuffle in to you, merging his larger body into yours, then slipped his arm over your waist, leaving it below Shouto’s.

You looked at the prince’s face and saw that he was still concerned. You sighed softly then laced your legs with his.

“I don’t blame you,” you gently reassured him. It had been out of both of your controls. And he had stepped up to save you when he could have left you to die. “I’ll be okay.”

He lifted his arm from your waist, drawing closer as he cupped your cheek with his hand. “I don’t deserve your forgiveness.”

With a soft smile, his lips melded with yours. They were warm and cold, and felt right against yours. You sighed contentedly, stroking his arm with your fingers.

In the back of your mind you knew this couldn’t last. You wanted it to – how you desperately wanted it to. But you knew it wouldn’t be long before you slipped away again. You had broken your rule and sex. You wouldn’t be allowed to stay.

It gave you hope, though. You had come back to a world where Katsuki remembered you. Maybe not Shouto, but someone else you held dear. Maybe this time when you jumped, you would find another person who remembered you. Maybe when you woke up in another land you wouldn’t feel alone.

“I don’t want to close my eyes,” you admitted quietly, knowing when you opened them, your two caring lovers might be gone. Shouto and Katsuki shared a look, calling a truce on what would otherwise be a fight over who you would end up with, and cuddled into you on both sides.

“We won’t leave your side,” Shouto reassured you, kissing the tip of your nose.

“And if you vanish again then I’ll come running after you.” Katsuki added, kissing the back of your head as he squeezed your side affectionately. “Now get some sleep, beautiful.”

With an overwhelming sense of comfort, you did as you were told. It didn’t take long to succumb to your exhaustion. You felt so safe and warm, and cared for and comfortable. You wanted them to be there when you woke up.

It was a blessing in disguise, having the mist take you away once you were asleep. There were no tears, no sad goodbyes – just the promise that they would see you again. It was enough.

O

When you woke, you expected to be in another vibrant land. But for now you were still trapped in the grey mist. Though you had wanted to stay, you didn’t mind that you had moved on. You were determined. No matter where you ended up, you knew that with enough jumps, with enough sleeping around, you would eventually end up finding someone who knew you. Then you could explain all that had happened and settle down in that lifetime, staying celibate but happy with someone you loved.

As you waited to move on, something Katsuki had said drifted back to mind.

Get some sleep, beautiful.

It caught your attention the same way as when he said Little Red. You pondered it and pondered it. You pondered until your head hurt, and that was always a good sign. You were trying to remember something you had forgotten.

Think. Think. Think.

You searched back through your memories, revisiting everything that stood out in your mind. Your red riding cloak. Your dazzling mermaid tail. The beanstalk that had sprouted from unassuming beans. A wolf threatening to eat you and your two friends. Katsuki telling you to sleep, beautiful.

Sleep, beautiful.

A sleeping beauty.

Sleeping Beauty.

Every cog slotted in to place one after the next. Every image and every moment from the past few months replayed through your mind as the very real truth hit you. Back in the castle you had wondered why, no matter how hard you tried, you couldn’t think of a single fairy tale. One after the next, they came shooting back to you. Little Red Riding Hood – the tale of a girl off to visit her grandmother. The Little Mermaid – a mermaid who dreams of living on the land. You realised that you had lived them one by one, filling the role of the heroine, taking part in the stories themselves.

You fell to your knees, your eyes wide with shock under the weight of your realisation. The lives you had been living weren’t real. Of course they weren’t. They were stories and you were the main character.

But why? Why were these fairy tales your reality? You still didn’t know who you were but one thing was for certain, in the next story you were going to be in charge of your own fate.

Chapter Text

You no longer liked this jumping realities fiasco. Each time you moved on you seemed to find yourself in more danger. Currently, you had your dress hiked up to your knees as you fled through the woods. You had no idea where you were going. The canopy overhead blocked most of the sunlight, and even then you were useless at directions. Your only foresight was to get away from the royal guard chasing you with a sword.

When you had first come into this reality you had found yourself in a castle courtyard. You were a princess again, it seemed. The reigning queen – your stepmother – had sent you off to pick herbs for ointments and had sent a royal guard to protect you.

Low and behold, he was now chasing you, telling you to stop and that he wasn’t going to hurt you. It was hard to believe that his first swing at you had been to swat a fly.

You weren’t certain which fairy tale you were in yet. In this reality your mother had died when you were young. That told you nothing. Not many mothers survived when it came to fairy tales. Your father had remarried but now he too was dead. So far, as memory served, you lived with your stepmother in the castle but you kept yourselves to yourselves. You very rarely saw her, busying yourself with cleaning or hobbies. It was almost odd that she had sent you to get herbs instead of sending her guards like she usually did. Now that you thought about it, it was suspicious. If she was an evil stepmother then that narrowed your search somewhat, but you really couldn’t put your finger on the fairy tale.

You lost one of your shoes as you ran. That was fine. It was harder to run in heels on soft earth anyway. You pulled the other one off and threw it behind you, hoping it would hit the guard. Not that you knew how far behind he was. You didn’t want to look back. You ran, tearing your dress on brambles and low tree branches, hissing when one particularly sharp thorn scratched a cut up your arm.

He called after you. He didn’t sound too close but there wasn’t enough distance between the two of you to stop. You needed a break. Your lungs burned. It wasn’t so much the running, but the dress you had on weighed an absolute tonne. Moving was so much harder. It would have helped if you had somewhere to run to. Just running away felt endless. You probably couldn’t go back to the castle, and the woods stretched on for miles. If the guard had the order to kill you then he would chase you until you collapsed.

You ran and ran. You couldn’t take this. You needed to ditch the dress. Not that it would help much – you had been running long enough that your legs felt like lead. You twisted and turned, becoming more and more lost the longer you fled, until finally you scrambled through an entanglement of thorns and brambles then threw yourself into the base of a hollowed-out tree to hide.

Oh no, were you in Little Brother and Little Sister? They spent their first night after running away from home in a tree hollow. No, no, no, you didn’t want anyone turning into a deer and you definitely didn’t want to be killed in your sleep after marrying a king.

You closed your eyes and caught your breath. The hollow was too low to stand in so you had to crouch awkwardly. You shuffled further back, sacrificing an easy shot at bolting if he found you in order to conceal yourself.

Then you waited. You made it to the count of twelve. Then, suddenly, you saw a stranger’s face peering at you from outside the hollow. He had a mop of green hair and freckles that gave him the appearance of an innocent boy, but his eyes were focused and his brows were knitted tightly together.

He turned and hissed to someone outside your view. ““I’ve found her. Tokoyami, over here.”

You gasped and tried to lunge forwards, fearing he was working with the guard. But as you made a move he jumped into the hollow with you. You unintentionally went to scream but he wrapped a gloved hand across your mouth and pushed you as far to the back of the hollow as he could get you.

Sshhh,” he begged, his expression slipping from focused to panicked, “He’ll hear you.”

Just as you tried to ask what was going on, a second figure entered the hollow, forcing the first to wrap his arms around you and pull you close to give everyone chance to fit.

“Tokoyami,” he said to the newcomer, “We’ve got to get her out of here. This is bad.”

Unlike the one holding you, the other man sounded calm as he spoke.

“He will not find us, Midoriya. Trust me.”

You caught a quick glance at his face before he raised his arms and plunged the hollow into complete darkness. He was a bird. Or… his face was, at least. It definitely should have shocked you more than it did. It was almost as if you had seen him somewhere before.

The one hugging you kept his hand over your mouth but cared enough to explain what was going on in very hushed whispers.

“We saw the guard chasing you. Looked like you were in trouble so we followed. I hope you don’t mind.”

You did not. He added,

“Once Tokoyami gives the signal, follow him and he’ll take you someplace safe. I’ll follow the guard to make sure he leaves. Don’t worry, we’ll protect you.”

He was oddly reassuring for someone who looked like a freckled broccoli. You were glad he was swearing allegiance to you, too. You didn’t have a plan once this was over and his safe-place sounded as good a place as any for you to map your quest. You needed to know for certain which story you were in so then you could avoid following its plot and hopefully find one of your lovers. If not, perhaps Midoriya or Tokoyami wouldn’t mind a quick ride with you to send you pinging off to a different story. Midoriya had some impressive muscles. You could tell just from the grip he had on your mouth. He was definitely older than you and his face was cute so you could be down for that.

The three of you waited in silence for some time. Despite having gained a pair of bodyguards, you didn’t feel concealed enough to relax. Sure it was dark, but was that enough? If the royal guard checked the hollow wouldn’t he see Tokoyami? You didn’t know what the birdman was doing to shroud you in darkness, but if he was only holding up a black sheet then surely the guard would find you?

You supposed it didn’t matter. There was no Plan B. You chose to trust that Tokoyami and Midoriya knew what they were doing. They had gone out of their way to help you. The least you could do was believe in them.

When the time came for you to bolt, Tokoyami’s voice rattled through the hollow.

“Be ready.”

Midoriya let go of you, untangling from you as best he could.

“I’ll meet you back at the house. She’s your top priority.”

“Naturally,” came the birdman’s deep voice from within the darkness. Then with the flapping of a cloak the hollow filled with light and Midoriya pushed you towards Tokoyami’s outstretched hand.

“Go!”

oOo

It was an hour later and you were sat with Tokoyami in the kitchen of an adorable thatch cottage. Being all dark and moody-looking, he stood out like a sore thumb and you had to wonder if he had been coerced into living here with Midoriya.

That aside, he seemed nice. After getting you to the cottage safely he had fetched you a blanket and dressed the cut on your arm, then sat you down in the kitchen and got you a warm drink.

“But why was he chasing you?” He asked, sipping his tea through a straw to navigate the difficulties of his beak.

The two of you had gotten to talking pretty quickly. At first, you had tried breaking the ice by asking questions that might help you figure out which fairy tale you were in but nothing had stood out. All you had learned was that they were handymen of sorts. They took on odd jobs and requests to earn a living. Then the conversation had diverted on to you: who you were, where you came from. You kept your answers in-keeping with this reality’s narrative; that you lived in a castle with your stepmother, and so on.

You shook your head.

“I really don’t know. I haven’t done anything to anger him personally so...”

Tokoyami cocked an eyebrow.

“You think someone else told him to attack you?”

“Most likely.” You said, matter-of-factly. As fairy tales went, death by third-party was pretty common. While you looked unfazed by the thought, Tokoyami only grew more concerned.

“If he’s one of the guards at your castle then it’s not safe for you to go back there.”

You took a sip of tea.

“I know.”

Tokoyami stayed quiet for a while – long enough that you finished your drink. When you were done, you looked up at the clock above the kitchen doorframe.

“Midoriya’s been gone a long time. Do you think he’s okay?” You hoped he hadn’t gotten himself into trouble because of you.

Your words broke Tokoyami from his contemplation. He blinked, as if coming out of a daze, then glanced up at the clock too.

“He’ll be fine. He’s stronger than he looks.”

After taking your mug and putting it in the sink to soak, Tokoyami invited you into the lounge where you would be more comfortable. Once you were sat in a worn but cosy armchair he asked seriously,

“Where can you go from here? Do you have a place to stay?”

His question was met by silence. No, then.

“You may stay here, if you wish. I can’t promise for how long but perhaps we could keep you here until it’s safe for you to return home.”

You didn’t have the heart to tell him that chances were it would never be safe to go back to the castle. But this was too perfect. If you had somewhere as hidden and secure as the cottage to stay then you wouldn’t need to take part in the fairy tale at all – at least, not for now. You could spend your free time figuring out who you really were. Ideally you needed someone you remembered from a past life to help jog your memories but Tokoyami felt kind of familiar. On that note, so did Midoriya. You could learn something from them, you were sure. No over the top fairy tale fantasies for you this time around!

“I wouldn’t want to impose,” you blagged. “But if you didn’t mind, it would really help me out.”

Tokoyami nodded knowingly.

“Of course. You’re welcome to stay. There’s just one thing I should warn you about, though.”

You should have known by now that anything too good to be true came with a catch.

“What’s that?”

That they turned into slimes at the stroke of midnight? That feral creatures targeted the cottage every Monday? That they were haunted by the ghost of an evil witch? WHAT WAS IT?

Whatever Tokoyami planned to say was interrupted as two figures entered the cottage, making you look to the door. You recognised Midoriya. He looked considerably more beaten up than when you had seen him last, and walked with a slight limp. The other, giving his shoulder to Midoriya to lean on as he hobbled inside looked tired. He had deep bags under his eyes and a vexed expression on his face, with unruly purple hair that needed a good brush.

He looked at you as Midoriya threw on a smile and announced,

“We’re back!”

You glanced away shyly, fixing your attention to Midoriya who didn’t seem to care how scraped up he was.

“What happened to you?” asked Tokoyami, sounding more exasperated than concerned. You got the impression that Midoriya came home with war-wounds more often than not. The tired-looking man helped him to the couch then replied for him, as Midoriya was suddenly too stuttery and ashamed-looking to respond.

“I found him scrapping with a knight near the west side. Managed to smooth things over but not before Midoriya took a beating.”

Tokoyami sighed, pinching the skin between his eyes.

“What on earth made you engage him?”

Midoriya squeaked, realising the question was for him. He stuttered, glancing back and forth between Tokoyami and you as his whole face gradually turned red.

“I-- I um…-- well I—I was…you see—” he took a giant breath to pull himself together. “I… got spotted.”

Tokoyami tipped his head back, groaning.

As Midoriya tried to explain himself, you took the moment to zone out and revisit what Tokoyami had been about to say. Maybe that was it. Maybe if you stayed here, you had to be warned that Midoriya came home every other day in a state of dishevelment. If that was it, you were fine. You were used to being the one covered in cuts, scrapes, bruises and blood. If anything, it gave you something to bond over.

Or maybe he had been about to warn you that you would be sharing with three guys, not two. The newcomer was a surprise but not a bad one. He looked reserved and by the sounds of it, he was a mediator. It didn’t hurt to have a peacekeeper around. Not to mention, he wasn’t a bad looking guy. Living with three lads couldn’t be all that bad, especially when two of the three had already committed to protecting you from outside forces.

“And who are you?”

The question broke you from your daydreaming. It came from the tired-looking man but Midoriya looked to you too, intrigued to know the answer. He had just saved your life. The least you could do was give him your name.

“I’m ____.” You said, smiling brightly.

“Shinsou.” He offered, nodding to acknowledge you.

Now that they were looking at you, you realised how much of a mess you were. Though a blanket was draped across your shoulders, your tattered and torn dress was still visible and you could only assume you looked like you had been dragged backwards through a hedge. “Midoriya and Tokoyami saved me. That guard tried to take my head off with a sword.”

“Ah.” He said, as if putting the rest of the puzzle together in his head. “That explains a lot.”

He threw a shady glance at Midoriya, as if to tell him off for playing the hero.

You smiled. They really seemed like a nice trio. You could certainly get used to living here.

…that was, until the cottage door burst open and three more males waltzed in.

“Why must you nearly take the door off its hinges every time you come home, Mineta? Honestly, you pint-sized bull-in-a-china-shop!” One of them complained. His bright blue eyes caught your attention first, and the way he held himself more confidently than the rest. He was blonde, and his clothes, unlike everyone else’s that looked peasant-like, was tailored to fit his lean body shape, and honestly you weren’t complaining. He definitely gave off those pretty-boy vibes.

“Stop being so anal, Monoma. Jeez, you’ll never get laid acting like that.”

On the opposite end of the scale, the one called Mineta was short and gremlin-like, although still human. You almost mistook him for a child when he first walked in but his voice, although nasal and weaselly, was too deep to belong to a child. His hair was dark but strikingly it looked more like a latex swimming cap with three balls stuffed inside.

“How do you two still have the energy to fight? I’m pooped.”

The third newcomer, who laughed as the other two bickered, had straight black hair and a smile that could rival a Cheshire cat. He was the tallest of the trio and from a glance looked pretty laid back. He had a broad chest and fun loving eyes, but that still didn’t change one very real fact.

There were six of them.

While you quickly weighed up the pros and cons of having so many men around the house – or, well, men and a gremlin, the three noticed you sat in the armchair. It didn’t help that you looked absolutely shell-shocked and trampled on.

They stopped dead.

“Wait, what?” Monoma’s eyes widened the moment he saw you. Seeming to ignore that there were others in the cottage he took a step forwards, his eyes filling with concern. “You’re hurt. What happened? Are you alright?”

His genuine sympathy took you by surprise.

“It’s a girl!” The weasel-boy, Mineta, exclaimed. He pointed a finger at you like he couldn’t believe what he was seeing. You didn’t noticed the five sets of eyes turn on him in alarm. You did, however, notice the moment the boy sprang towards you with outstretched arms. There was a deranged look in his eyes.

Before you had chance to scramble out of the chair to avoid him, two of the other five males lunged at him, grabbing him with absolute determination to stop him getting near you.

“Not on your life, you little pervert.”

“Let go, Sero!”

The man with the Cheshire-cat grin had him by the ankle, holding on to the couch to stop him pulling. He flashed you an apologetic smile then attempted to reel the midget in. Assisting him was Tokoyami from the front, who had stepped between you and Mineta in a flash.

Well, you truly believed they could protect you now. But Mineta was a concern. You were sure you would be fine, as long as you weren’t left alone with him. No doubt he was the one Tokoyami had wanted to warn you about.

Six men under one roof, though. It didn’t seem like a coincidence any more. Three, you could just about forgive. But there was no way six guys happened to be living together without them being part of a narrative.

The only story you could think of that had six men in it was How Six Made Their Way in the World. It was a tale of one ordinary man and five extraordinary men, each with a unique ability that was used by the ordinary man to gain wealth and power.

You eyed the gremlin-boy again as he was escorted into another room. Was he the ordinary man? So then, did the others have unnatural powers?

Suddenly, your head flashed with searing hot light. You cried out, clutching your head in your hands. It alarmed the others but you didn’t notice them, too concerned with the images flickering through your mind at a million-miles an hour.

Powers.

You saw Katsuki grinning as he discharged a grenade-shaped weapon attached to his arm. He didn’t have a tail and pointed ears. He was human. He was training somewhere and you were watching him with enthusiasm.

Extraordinary humans.

Ejirou jumped in front of you like a shield, his entire body hardening into stone. He looked over his shoulder and grinned down at you to tell you everything would be alright. He wasn’t a giant. He was regular sized, just like everyone else.

Familiar faces.

Denki dragged you round a roller-rink, grinning and wobbling as he made sure you didn’t fall over. He was cheering you up for scoring badly on a test.

A test? What test? You didn’t take tests.

Living together.

You saw Shouto picking out a movie in the living room as you sprinkled chocolate buttons onto microwaved popcorn. You were both in comfy clothes and his blue jumpsuit was hung up on the doorframe above his bedroom door.

Blue… jumpsuit? What did he wear that for? Wasn’t he a prince? You couldn’t… you couldn’t remember.

You clutched your head until the images stopped flashing. It took longer than you wanted. Your skull throbbed with the pressure and you had no idea where it had come from. You knew you were trying to remember something important. You were so close. But it hurt too much to force it.

Finally, when you managed to pull your fingers away from your face you saw five pairs of eyes in your immediate vision. The guys had crowded in front of you, and Midoriya was crouched down, a gentle hand on your knee.

“____, what’s wrong?”

For someone who had been stuttery and flustered just before, he was like an entirely different person. Put him in front of someone in trouble and his personality flipped.

You shook your head. You didn’t want to explain. You would be fine, you just needed time to process. If you were in How Six Made Their Way in the World, then you didn’t need to rush. It wasn’t your story – it was theirs. You could take a backseat and mull things over.

You managed to sit up. You took a deep breath, smiling softly at the five handsome men before you.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to worry you. I’m okay.”

“Are you sure?” Midoriya asked, sounding unconvinced.

“Want a bath?” Asked Sero with a warm smile. “I can put some bubbles in if you want to have a soak?”

“Or are you hungry?” Asked Monoma. “We don’t have much but I’ll make you something, if you like?”

“I’ll kick Mineta out the bedroom if you need to sleep.” Added Shinsou who looked rather more awake than a few minutes ago. You shook your head.

“No, really. I’m okay. But thank you, everyone.”

“Guys, what’s going on?”

The boys turned at once. Stood in the cottage doorway was a man with a tail as thick as his torso. He looked worried for you, like being surrounded by his housemates wasn’t the best place for you to be no matter what the circumstances were.

“Oh, O-Ojiro,” Midoriya stood to greet him. “Welcome home.” He laughed off the tension you had set over the room. “You’re not usually last back. Did everything go okay at market?”

Ojiro looked at you, and you looked at him. He clearly wanted to know what was going on but you silently asked him not to ask.

“Yeah,” he said, running his hand up through the back of his blonde hair as he turned his attention to Midoriya. “There was a bit of a ruckus in town though. Apparently the queen’s stepdaughter has gone missing. There’s a reward for bringing her home safe.” You felt eyes slyly glancing at you. “A lot of people shut up shop to look for her so I could only sell a few bits and bobs.”

Fishing in his pocket, he produced a hand full of brightly coloured gems.

“Good job, Ojiro! We can eat this week.” Sero congratulated. But everyone else was quiet. You sank into the chair, hoping they wouldn’t ask – hoping they wouldn’t care.

“____?” Monoma looked at you. “You aren’t... by any chance…”

As the others returned their attention to you and Ojiro closed the front door, bolting it shut with a heavy-duty lock, you bit your lip as worry washed over you.

“Please… please don’t make me go back there.”

You knew what waited for you if you returned to the castle because now you knew which fairy tale you were in. Ojiro’s arrival had told you everything.

“She’ll kill me.”

A queen and evil stepmother who wanted you dead. Getting lost in the woods. Seven men sharing a cottage together. You weren’t a bystander in someone else’s fairy tale, having time to relax and sort your life out. You were the unwitting main character.

This time, you somehow had to survive the story of Snow White.

Chapter Text

While you soaked your stresses away in a deep and very warm bubble bath, the seven occupants of the cottage sat in the lounge, discussing what to do with you. Monoma was sat at the table in the window, sewing up the tears in your dress while Mineta gave an impassioned speech to the rest of the group.

“We won’t get an opportunity like this again. We can claim the reward money if we take her back to the castle.”

Shinsou, who was lounging across a couch meant for three people, nodded.

“Weirdly, Mineta’s right. There’s no harm in taking her back to her family, and we can get something out of it.”

“Yeah,” Sero agreed as he dried his hands; still wet from drawing your bath. “I’m sure the queen’s just worried about her.”

“I don’t think so,” Midoriya said with a grimace. He looked at Tokoyami for support when Sero and Shinsou gave him puzzled glances.

“No, Midoriya is right.” He said, folding his arms as he sat comfortably in one of the worn armchairs. “____ was running from one of the royal guards when we found her. This isn’t just some child running away from her home in a tantrum.”

“She needs our help.” Midoriya finished. He was glad Tokoyami had been with him in the forest. He had a bad feeling in his gut about sending you back to the castle. Some of the others weren’t against the idea, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that it would end badly for you if you were sent packing.

Ojiro frowned contemplatively. Being a relative new-comer to the situation, he could only say so much, but he had seen the fear in your eyes at the thought of going back to the castle.

“I don’t think we should make her leave. Whatever her reasons, she doesn’t want to go home.”

“But guys,” Mineta whined, aware he was losing his hold on the others. “Just imagine what we could do with the reward money. You can’t tell me we don’t need it.”

The others looked at each other with guilt in their eyes. They knew the money would help them immeasurably. Seven men under one roof was, unsurprisingly, expensive. The amount of food they went through alone was problematic.

“We can’t sell her out to save ourselves.” Monoma chided, then winced when he stabbed his finger with his sewing needle. Mineta frowned, rounding on his housemate.

“This is a dog-eat-dog world. If we had that reward money then we could have it easy. Ojiro wouldn’t have to trek back and forth to market every other day. Hell, you could buy all the ingredients you wanted to; you could make all the fancy meals you wanted. We wouldn’t have to slave away over odd-jobs to make ends meet.”

Monoma stayed quiet. He didn’t want to admit to wanting that kind of relaxed life style. Of course he wanted it. Who wouldn’t? But he wasn’t about to sell someone out to get it. Mineta might be that kind of person but neither he, nor any of the others, were.

“I suggest,” Shinsou said, raising his hand to garner everyone’s attention, “that we put it to a vote. That way the decision is fair.”

Though everyone agreed to the vote, Midoriya’s insides churned at the thought that he might have to go back on his promise to protect you. He was certain he and Tokoyami would vote to let you stay here because they had seen your dire situation first hand, but he could not predict what the others would do.

“A vote, then,” Mineta announced, holding his thumb out to the side like a roman emperor deciding on a gladiator’s fate. “Should we send ____ back to the castle? On the count of three.”

Everyone held their thumbs sideways, then Mineta counted to three.

It was three for, and three against.

“Ojiro,” Mineta hissed, “pick a side.”

Ojiro still had his thumb in neutral. He shook his head, lowering his hand entirely.

“I want Shinsou to talk to her first. We should find out what’s really going on before we make any snap decisions.”

The room fell quiet. Then Sero grinned.

“Hey, that’s not a bad idea. I retract my vote until we figure out if she’s in danger or not. I’m not going to send her off to the queen if she’s really in trouble.”

Midoriya didn’t need Shinsou to speak with you to know how he would vote. He believed you completely. But having Shinsou confirm your predicament to the others would most likely sway them in to letting you stay. Midoriya didn’t usually approve of Shinsou’s hypnosis techniques, but in this one instance he could forgive them.

Hng.” Shinsou stretched out like a cat, waking himself up now that he was being called to duty. “Alright,” he said, and then picked himself up off the couch. “Give me ten minutes with her.”

O

You were warm and cosy. It almost made you forget that a nutcase, beauty-obsessed evil queen wanted you dead. You had your head and elbows resting over the sides of the tub, soaking in all kinds of salts, extracts and oils that Sero had mixed into the water for you earlier. As long as the water didn’t go cold, you were willing to stay where you were until you shrivelled like a prune. You didn’t know what would happen once you got out. You knew the guys were talking about you, and figured they were deciding your fate.

Money was a good reason to turn you over to the crown. If not that, then security. Sooner or later someone else would come along and find you. It would be easier for the guys to get rid of you quickly so they wouldn’t get their front door kicked in.

You breathed a deep sigh, hoping to enjoy the quiet for as long as possible. This wasn’t going to end well, you could just feel it.

Sometime later there was a knock on the bathroom door. Or, more specifically, the door that led into the bedroom. On the opposite wall was a second door that led into the lounge with a heavy-duty lock on it. You knew it wasn’t there to keep Mineta out specifically, but in your case that’s what you were using it for. You were well past the point of being shy if someone accidentally saw you naked, but Mineta was something else entirely and his leers were certain to make you feel unclean.

“Hello?” you called, wondering who it could be. It was Monoma who replied from the other side of the door.

“Can we talk?” He asked. You didn’t get the impression he was about to oust you from the cottage. Alright, you thought, it probably wouldn’t hurt. Not wanting to leave the warmth of the bath, you rolled over and pressed your naked breasts into the side of the tub to keep them hidden, relying on the layer of bubbles to hide the rest of your body. Like you said, you didn’t mind being naked around guys now. You weren’t about to outright flash them, but you had enough confidence about it to not have to get out, grab a towel and end your much-needed bath time.

“You can come in.”

That, and it didn’t hurt to let their imaginations run a little wild if you needed to sleep with one of them later on. If things went south and you thought your life was in danger then you needed one of them to fall back on for sex, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be the midget pervert, Mineta.

Monoma shuffled into the bathroom holding a dressing gown, then took one look at you in the bath and raised an amused eyebrow.

“Hello to you, too.” He said. With his eyes on you, you were aware of how little the bubbles protected your modesty. You thought you wouldn’t mind, and to an extent you still didn’t, but it was hard not to get even slightly flustered when someone as attractive as Monoma was so very clearly taking the time to glance over your exposed skin.

Hiding your bout of nerves, you pursed your lips together and raised an eyebrow as if to ask him what he wanted. He caught the hint and slinked his gaze back to your face, and the amused smirk didn’t escape his lips until he started talking.

“I hate to ruin your bath but we’d like you to answer a few questions.”

“Oh?” You weren’t surprised. In fact, you were happy they wanted to talk with you instead of just handing you over for reward money. “Sure. That’s okay. I’ll get out now.”

You moved to pull yourself up out of the water but Monoma didn’t look away. You chuckled at his audacity and he smiled when you did, daring you to carry on your exhibition in front of him. Both of you knew you were acting more confident than you felt, and Monoma thought it highly amusing. He wondered how far you would get before you chickened out. You cupped your hand below the water then flicked your arm at him, sending a spray of water over both he and the dressing gown he had brought you.

He didn’t get annoyed. He found you even more amusing. He dried his face on your dressing gown then hung it up on the back of the door for you.

“We’ll be just outside.” He said, then left and shut the door to give you privacy. You smiled and sunk into the water down to your nose, blowing amused bubbles through your lips. Then you got out.

You dried off and slipped into the dressing gown, only marginally damp from splashing Monoma, then emptied the bath and went into the bedroom where Monoma, Ojiro and Shinsou were waiting for you. As the cottage was small, all seven men shared one bedroom. There were seven beds laid out in a circle, their footboards pointed at one another to save space, and there was a long wardrobe across the back wall that fit all of their clothes combined.

When you entered, the three men stood up in greeting.

“No need to look so nervous.” Shinsou cooed in his deep voice, offering you his hand. You hadn’t realised your feelings had slipped onto your face.

“Sorry,” you said lamely, taking his hand. Now that you were out of the warm bath, the air was bitterly cold and Shinsou’s touch felt like the only source of heat in the whole house. He helped you onto one of the beds then sat on the one adjacent, leaving Monoma and Ojiro standing for the time being.

“Don’t mind Monoma,” Shinsou insisted. “He’s here as a witness. I didn’t think having everyone watch this was fair to you, so I’ve kept onlookers to a minimum.”

You pursed your lips, glancing at Shinsou and Monoma, then at Ojiro. The way he was wording it, you felt like you were about to be interrogated. But if only Monoma was a spectator, then who was Ojiro in this scenario?

“That’s fine,” you said with uncertainty. The only thing you had to do was convince them not to send you back to the castle. You didn’t mind the methods as long as it got you what you wanted. You would cooperate regardless.

“Have you ever been hypnotised?” Shinsou asked, and at that moment Ojiro moved to sit next to you on the bed.

“No…” you answered, glancing back and forth between Shinsou and Ojiro. Shinsou nodded.

“Good. This will be easier then.”

Ojiro shuffled until he was behind you then said in a far more trustworthy voice than Shinsou’s, “I’m here to stop you falling over. You can depend on me.”

You glanced back at him and he smiled. It was warm and calming, and eased your nerves enough to let you ask,

“Why do you need to hypnotise me? I’ll tell you what you want to know.”

“It’s for peace of mind,” Shinsou told you, making himself comfortable by lying down on the bed, propping his head up on his elbow.

“It’s impossible to lie under Shinsou’s hypnosis,” Ojiro added, noticing that you still weren’t sold on the idea. You frowned. You were aware how shady you must seem to them all, but it hurt that they wouldn’t take your word about the queen and why you were in trouble. You had no reason to lie to them.

“Alright,” you said, admitting defeat. “Have at me.”

“Thanks for cooperating,” Monoma chimed in, comfortably sitting with his back against the headboard of his own bed. You chuckled at his gratitude. It wasn’t like you had a choice.

“Well then,” Shinsou licked his lips. “____?”

“Yes?”

“Good girl.”

Your whole body relaxed. His words rippled under your skin like a mantra, calming and stilling you until, just as predicted, your muscles gave way under the weight of you and you fell backwards against Ojiro’s chest. He lifted you into his lap then circled his tail across your chest to hold you upright, being careful not to hurt you or touch you anywhere inappropriate.

This sensation was completely different to when the Bookkeeper had hypnotised you. Instead of feeling trapped in your own body, you gave it up willingly, feeling too comfortable to care that you could no longer move.

“Don’t worry, ____. You’re completely safe. You’ll remember everything we talk about. This isn’t to trick you. Once we’re done, I’ll release you and there’ll be no lasting effects. Do you understand?”

“I do.”

Your response came from deep within your subconscious. The conscious level of your brain was too focused on Ojiro’s warmth and how comfortable he was to cuddle up to. It left your brain feeling static, leaving room for your inner most truths and secrets to creep forward under Shinsou’s stimulation.

“Alright, ____.” He spoke in a slow, easy manner. His voice was so nice to listen to. It was deep and soothing and his voice, combined with Ojiro’s embrace, made you willing to stay under their control forever. “I’ll start easy. Let’s do Yes or No. Tell me, is your life in danger?”

“Yes.” You said, your voice devoid of emotion under his hypnotism.

“Tell me, if we take you back to the castle will the queen harm you?”

“Yes.”

Shinsou had to focus solely on you, but Ojiro and Monoma shared a look of uneasiness. They both knew it was impossible to lie to Shinsou under hypnosis – he had dragged many a secret from them in the same manner. Monoma stood up to leave, to tell the others that they could not – would not – send you back, but Shinsou held his arm out to grab his attention.

“Wait.”

“What?” Monoma asked, keeping his voice low so as not to distract you. It was case open and closed as far as he could tell. But he sat down again, willing to hear Shinsou out.

“No more Yes and No. ____, tell me. How do you know the queen will harm you?”

Had you been able to speak freely, you never would have replied how you did. But Shinsou was deep inside your head and you couldn’t stop the words from coming out.

“Because I am trapped in the story of Snow White. The queen wants Snow White dead for being the fairest in the land.”

“Tell me, if you're Snow White then why do you call yourself ____?” Asked Shinsou, keeping his voice controlled. You could see Monoma’s expression. You could see his confusion and it made you reluctant to respond. But the words tumbled from your mouth without as much as a stutter.

“My name is ____. I am playing the role of Snow White in a story designed to kill me.”

Shit. No. You didn’t want to talk about this. Nothing good would come from talking about your misadventures over the last few months.

“And tell me, why do you say you are in a story? Why is it designed to kill you?”

Unlike the other two, Shinsou stayed calm as he listened to your responses and asked questions in return. No one could lie to him once they were under his control. No matter how weird or whacky your answers, he knew you were not fabricating them or trying to trick him.

Ojiro noticed a vein standing prominent on the back of your neck. It was a tell-tale sign of someone under Shinsou’s control who was trying to hold back an answer. He didn’t want to interrupt Shinsou’s questioning because they all wanted to know why you were here and what was going on, but he couldn’t help but feel sorry for you. Your answers made little sense but, by the looks of the vein, you knew that too. You didn’t want to tell them about the weird life you were living. Maybe you were scared they wouldn’t believe you because your answers were so extreme.

“It’s okay,” Ojiro muttered close to your ear, cuddling you tighter in his lap. “We know you’re telling the truth. Please don’t panic.”

It did help that they believed you. But that didn’t mean what you had to say was any easier to digest.

“This isn’t my reality. I’m lost. This is a fairy tale and I know how it will play out. I have been trapped in different fairy tales over the past few months and they have all nearly killed me. I don’t know who they are, but someone wants me dead. In Snow White, if the evil queen finds me then I have no doubt this time I will die.”

Shinsou stopped talking. He pursed his lips together, eyeing you with contemplation. Monoma and Ojiro kept quiet and you could only focus on the rhythm of Ojiro’s pulse, so tightly were you pressed against his chest that you could feel it beating against your back through the fabric of your thin dressing gown.

Shinsou opened his mouth then closed it again. His eyebrows pulled into a frown while he thought of his next question. Then, finally, he said,

“Tell me, are you suffering from amnesia at all?”

“Yes.” You felt yourself relax, finally able to admit the problem that had riddled you since waking up as Little Red Riding Hood. “I can’t remember my life outside of these fairy tales. The only clues I’m given are when I…” Shinsou raised an eyebrow. You were hesitating. Even under his influence, there was something you wanted to resist saying so strongly that you actually managed to pause. “…when I get intimate with certain men. They give me flashbacks to another life outside the fairy tales, but the memories are broken, disjointed and don’t make sense.”

Monoma slunk onto Shinsou’s bed to ask a question.

“By intimate, does she mean…?”

“Tell me, do you mean having sex jogs your memory?”

You managed to hesitate again.

“Yes. But also acts of kindness or closeness have triggered them.”

Ojiro cleared his throat nervously, suddenly very aware that you were a woman who would be otherwise naked if not for a thin dressing-gown, in his lap. Monoma had much the same revelation, his mind drifting back to seeing you naked and unfazed by him seeing you that way in the bathtub.

“Tell me, do you believe staying here will help you? Will you be safe, and will it help you remember what you can’t?”

“I think so.”

Shinsou nodded. That settled it then. He wasn’t sure what you were talking about for the most part but if you truly believed from the depths of yourself that it was best for you to stay here, with them, then they could not turn you away. The queen was trying to kill you and you were suffering from memory loss, possibly even psychosis, so it would be wrong of them to throw you out.

Shinsou went to lift you from the hypnosis, only Monoma put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

“One more thing,” the bright eyed blonde interjected. He whispered into Shinsou’s ear. The tired-eyed man frowned but asked on Monoma’s behalf,

“Finally, if you aren’t from this reality and this truly is a story you know of, tell me what happens next.” He felt compelled to add, “It’s not that we don’t believe you. But if we have to protect you then it would be better to know what we’re up against.”

Actually, they wanted to know what you thought would happen next in order to determine whether or not you were sane. If your prediction came true then they had to believe your story. It was a cruel way to go about it, but your story was so farfetched that they had no other choice. They wanted to believe you. They knew you believed what you were saying because you could not lie to Shinsou, but that did not mean what you believed was in fact reality.

Only time would tell.

Once you were done explaining the tale of Snow White, Shinsou finally released you. He and Monoma left you to tell the others what had been said, but Ojiro waited a while longer to make sure you got full control of your body back before he released you from his lap.

“Sorry,” he said, helping you slip from his lap until your feet touched the solid floor. “I hope we didn’t pry too much.”

“Um, well…” you laughed off your nerves, well aware Shinsou was probably about to tell the others you had basically said you wanted sex to bring your memories back. “I mean, I think some things could have been left unsaid, but if it’s enough to convince you guys to let me stay then I don’t mind… too much.”

You noticed that Ojiro was reluctant to meet your gaze, but he smiled all the same. “Don’t worry. You’ll be safe here. There’s always one or two of us around at any given time so if the queen really does come then we can protect you.”

You could tell Ojiro wasn’t totally convinced by your story. That was fine. It was understandable. You just hoped this played out how you expected it to so the guys had no choice but to believe you. And when they did, they could help you defy your fate.

Until the queen found you, you were relatively safe. You could fill your time with getting to know the guys. It wasn't just coincidence that they felt vaguely familiar. You were sure if you got close enough to them they would unlock your memories.

The only problem was getting close without having sex. You didn't want to jump. Not yet. Now now you were so close to unlocking the truth.

Chapter Text

 “Okay, so if Midoriya is Bashful, Sero is Happy and Shinsou is Sleepy, then which one am I?” Monoma was sat at the kitchen counter, sewing you a new set of clothes as you flittered about to make a pie. Your claim that you were from another reality intrigued him more than he cared to admit.

After hearing your confession under Shinsou’s control, Monoma had spent time with you over the next couple of days, asking you what you could remember and listening to you talk about your adventures. He found it particularly amusing that you thought he and the others were meant to be seven hard-working dwarfs. Mineta was the only dwarf and he was the only hard worker. Monoma was the cottage’s unofficial tailor and cook. But the others spent most of their time away from the cottage by mucking about instead of earning their keeps, he was sure of it.

As you peeled and cored a cluster of apples from the garden, you bit your lip and thought about which dwarf Monoma resembled best. He liked when you did that. It was a habit you only did when you were lost in thought.

“Handy!” You chose after a moment, brandishing a small chopping knife at him like a queen dubbing him with an official title.

“Handy?” He repeated, cocking an eyebrow. “I don’t remember you mentioning him before.”

“No,” you agreed as you sliced one of the apples into thin segments, “but I didn’t think you suited the official names. Handy is much better. You get stuff done.”

You nudged your head towards the work-in-progress clothes to prove your point. Monoma chuckled.

“I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Once you were done chopping the apples, keeping them separate to each other, you fished a fork from the cutlery drawer then pierced one of the segments.

“Open.” You commanded, leaning forwards over the countertop to where Monoma perched on his stool. He put his needle and thread down, rolled his eyes then dutifully opened his mouth.

After feeding him the slice, he smirked and asked,

“Are you going to make me check every apple?”

“Yes.”

Another part of your story that Monoma liked in particular was the fiasco with poisoned apples. He thought, all things considered, that an apple pie would be the last thing you wanted to make if that was how you were going to die. But here you were, guns blazing to defy your fate. If you were that adamant to prove the heavens wrong then he was more than happy to safety check any and all apple products before you put them to your lips.

It wasn’t that he doubted your story and thought he was safe to eat them, but rather that he thought you were being a bit too dramatic. It hadn’t been three days since you were reported missing from the castle. Even a legion of sniffer dogs wouldn’t have found you this quickly in a wood as large as this. The queen couldn’t have possibly found your hiding place, gone back to the castle, transformed into an old pedlar, made a poison, come back and then spiked the apple trees surrounding cottage in such a short space of time. He was sure you had at least a couple more days. That’s when he would stop offering to taste stuff for you.

“I’m not dead,” he commented, opening his mouth wide to show the apple was gone. “Put it in the pie.”

You nodded with a giggle, tossing the associated chopped fruit into a crockery pot, then stabbed a segment from the next apple.

“Open.”

Once you had fed him a piece of each whole apple to check for poison, you added spices, flour and sugar then put the crockery pot to one side while you started on the pastry.

As you worked, Monoma watched you with amused interest. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone else had been so busy in the kitchen but for him. It was nice to see someone else giving it a go. You had told him you were going to bake a pie for everyone to say thank you for letting you stay here. It wasn’t necessary at all but he couldn’t say no to the determination in your eyes.

He returned his attention to your clothes, being careful with the stitching as he embroidered the words Little Miss Snow White onto the blouse pocket, until he noticed that you had stopped moving. He looked up and caught you gazing off into space, suddenly looking rather sombre. You had a faraway look in your eyes, and he had to wonder if you were trying to remember something. Though some of the others found it hard to believe your story, he had spent enough time with you and heard enough of your tale to know no one could make up such a convoluted mess of narrative and still be able to recount it identically time and time again. He knew you were lost. He knew you didn’t know where you were from. There were maybe whole entire parts of you that you couldn’t remember. He wondered if it was frustrating for you. He wondered if you secretly got upset below your bright demeanour, trying desperately to recollect what you could not.

“____,” he said softly, thinking it was best to snap you out of such a sad-looking daze. The sound of his voice pulled you back and you blinked, remembering where you were.

“Hm?” You tried to pull yourself together, busying yourself by mixing the half-made pie dough. Monoma set your new garments down on the countertop, placed his needle and thread beside them, then curled his finger towards himself.

“Come here.”

He watched you pause and reckoned you were weighing him up, figuring out the likelihood of him doing something diabolical if you got close. When he saw your hesitation, he chuckled with a warm grin. “Come on. Just come here.”

Feeling that the positive possibilities outweighed the negative, you put down your mixing bowl. You went to walk around the counter but he said,

“No. Just come here.”

He motioned for you to lean over the countertop. So you did. In turn, he leaned forwards. When he was close enough, he brushed the hair back behind your ear then pressed a kiss against your cheek. It was sweet and gentle and so out of the blue that you had to giggle.

“What was that for?” You asked with a smile, touching your cheek as you pulled yourself back over the counter. He nodded, glad to see the happy glint in your eyes, then picked up your clothes.

“Did you remember anything?” He asked, looking mischievous. You pursed your lips in puzzlement, then gave a small gasp when you realised what he had been trying to do. Relief and happiness filled your heart all at once. It had been bothering you the past couple of days, thinking that none of the guys could possibly believe your absurd story about fairy tales and missing memories. But Monoma’s cheeky smile told you that you had at least gotten through to him. He was taking the time to get to know you, to talk to you and get close with you. Honestly, you already felt comfortable having him around and it made you warm knowing he was at least humouring the notion of getting your memories back.

“No,” you admitted, “But thank you.”

He nodded and smiled, and you could tell he was pleased with himself. What you didn’t realise was that he was happy for pulling you out of your glum mood, and not simply for earning your praise.

You spent the next while with a merry spring in your step. It didn’t go unnoticed by Monoma but he didn’t point it out, hoping to watch you glow for a while longer. He was rather enjoying your energetic and bubbly personality.

When you were done prepping the pie crust, you filled it with apple pieces, cinnamon and a whole assortment of other spices and ingredients, then slipped the whole thing into the oven.

“There.” You said, sassily bumping the door shut with your hip. “Now we wait.”

“May the odds be ever in your favour.” He gave the oven a sly nod. You frowned.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“The oven sets its own cooking times. I’d keep an eye on it, if I were you.”

“Duly noted.” You side-eyed the oven, half-expecting it to burst in to flames. It looked old and worn. You couldn’t blame it for being temperamental. Like the rest of the cottage, it needed an update. Everything seemed to be at least a century old. Then again, you thought, if the guys barely had enough money to get by then they didn’t have the money to splash out on new appliances.

While you waited for the pie to bake, you rested your arms on the windowsill and stared into the forest. Sero was in the garden. He was chopping and sanding long pieces of wood into slats, and had worked up quite a sweat. You had to wonder what he was up to.

After watching him for so long, Sero finally noticed you. He looked startled to see you at first, but grinned and waved, then grinned even wider when you waved back.

“So, ____.” Monoma drew your attention back towards him after he successfully finished your blouse and began with your skirt. “Go on. What are everyone else’s dwarf names?”

“Hmm…” you paid him a glance then stared out the window as you thought. “Maybe… well. I’ll call Tokoyami Moody, Mineta Pervy—”

“—appropriate—“

“—and Ojiro… hmm. I’d call him Fit.”

You heard how it sounded the moment it left your mouth. Your cheeks stained pink and you turned to see Monoma’s reaction, hearing him chuckle. His eyebrows were raised and he had a wide smirk on his face.

“I’ll be sure to tell him that.”

“No, not like that,” you stammered, trying to salvage yourself, “I’d call him Fit because he’s fit –- physically fit. He walks to and from market all the time. That kind of fit.”

He was also the other kind of fit but you weren’t going to admit that to Monoma, who looked like he had a juicy bit of gossip to tell the others.

“I changed my mind,” you said defiantly. “You’re not Handy. You’re Pot-Stirrer.”

Monoma snorted.

“Good one.”

His sarcasm made you suck your teeth and you chose to ignore him, diverting your attention back outside to Sero. Unlike Monoma, Sero didn’t bully you. He was very sweet, and although you knew he wasn’t totally convinced about your tall tale, he had done his best to make you feel welcomed and at home here in the cottage. He had offered you his bed on the first night, saying he would sleep on the couch instead. Even though you had turned his offer down he had asked again last night, saying he didn’t think you sleeping on the couch would do your joints any good. It wouldn’t do his joints any good either, and it was his house so you were happy to sleep on the couch.

As you watched him working away in the garden, heaving the slats into some sort of formation, you tried to think where you knew him from. He, like all the other ‘dwarfs’, reminded you of somewhere distant that you couldn’t quite remember. All seven of them felt like puzzle pieces but no matter how hard you thought, they never seemed to fit the gaps in the puzzle. They didn’t feel as familiar as Katsuki, Shouto, Eijirou or Denki had, but there was still something about them that drew you in.

“What is it…” you breathed, unaware you were speaking out loud. It made your insides ache, knowing you were close to unravelling the truth. You had no way of knowing if you would ever remember. Maybe this was as far as you went; troubled by your lost memories until the Bookkeepers had their way and finally killed you.

When you let out a saddened sigh, Monoma put your clothes down once and for all. He could see you working yourself into a state and he didn’t like it. He didn’t know if there was a way to help you but he wanted to try.

You were so busy staring into the garden that you didn’t notice him coming up behind you until you felt his breath close to the back of your ear. He reached around your front and squeeze your breasts, chuckling in a friendly manner.

“You know,” he quipped, smiling as you put your hands over his, “I seem to remember you saying sex jogged your memory in the past too. Should we try?”

He squeezed you again and you giggled, swatting his hands away. You couldn’t entertain the notion, no matter how handsome he was. Sex meant jumping, and that meant losing your lead. At most, you were only meant to be dating to spark your memories. Granted, aside from spending alone time with Monoma because you were house-bound, you hadn’t managed to do anything that classed as a date yet, but you didn’t think rushing would help.

“I knew you were ogling me in the bath.” You joked, spinning so your back pressed against the counter. “Couldn’t resist my bubble-covered body, huh?”

“Absolutely,” Monoma teased, resting one arm on the counter so he could lean into you, “But you chickened out and splashed me.”

You crawled your fingers up his chest, flicking him in the nose with a giggle when he looked down to see what you were doing.

Pfft. You would have chickened out all by yourself, I’m sure. Too righteous to watch a naked girl getting out of the tub.”

“Am I now?” Monoma asked with a grin. He dropped his voice lower. “Wanna bet?”

You heard the challenge in his voice and he looked positively endearing, leaning himself so close to you that you could smell his musky cologne; the look in his eyes flickering between their playful friendliness and something more carnal.

Damn it. How could you say no to that? As long as you didn’t go all the way, you were sure you wouldn’t jump… probably.

“Oh, you’re serious.” You said with a sly grin. “Alright. I’ll bet on you.” You leaned into him, resting your hand against his chest in a flirtatious gesture to tell him that, although this had started as a joke, you were willing to let him take it further.

“Good. So if I can make you remember everything then you have to cook the meals for a week. Deal?”

The two of you were caught somewhere between being sensual and joking, and honestly you were loving it. You could see the mischievous look in his eyes, like he cared more about getting you to agree to cooking than having sex. Knocking off your attempts at flirting for a split second, you grinned and shook his hand.

“Deal.”

He let his flirtatious façade slip long enough so you could see his happy, determined grin.

“You’re on.”

Once you shook on it the two of you got back into character. This wasn’t some romantic moment between star-crossed lovers. You were friends, and this was definitely another attempt by Monoma to cheer you up. You knew exactly what he was up to and it made it easier that he was being just as playful about it as you were.

“Don’t blame me if you fall in love with me.” He jested, cupping your face between his hands. It was enough for him that you didn’t seem offended by the notion. You had told him all about the other men in your adventures and how, somehow, you had caught feelings for them like wildfire. He didn’t expect the same to happen for him but he couldn’t deny how nice it would be to have you beside him, baking together or cuddling by the fire when the nights got colder.

He planned to have your memories return so you would realise how much better off you were here. Friend or lover, he didn’t mind. He just wanted you to stay. You were the breath of life both the cottage and he needed.

The one thing your stories of adventures always featured was a handsome prince-type. Granted, Monoma and the others weren’t princes but there wasn’t a single thing a prince could do that seven normal men couldn’t.

“Mono-ah!” You bit your lip to silence the noise when Monoma latched his mouth to the side of your throat, holding you by the arms to pin you against the counter. He sucked on the patch of skin until you were shivering against him then pulled away, smiling like he hadn’t just bruised a love-bite onto your neck.

“There’s no one home, you know? You’re allowed to make noises.”

He wanted you to make noises. You glanced out the window, aware that Sero was still close by. You didn’t know how sound-proof the cottage was but you didn’t want to subject him to your lewdness if you could help it.

You weren’t given a choice when Monoma got down on his knees and hiked your dress up. He shuffled under the skirt. You felt him move the fabric of your underwear to the side then before you knew it, his tongue had run the length of your cunt as he made sure to bury his face against you.

“Monoma,” you squeaked, gripping his shoulders through the skirt of your dress. You were by no means a prude but you hadn’t expected him to go in gung-ho. “Monoma, stop. Not here. We can’t—ah. Ah.”

You tried to hold him off for the sake of your embarrassment should someone walk in, but he was rather more enthusiastic than you had anticipated. Before long you were gripping the countertop to hold yourself up as your legs shook and your core ached while he hungrily ate his fill of you, hidden under the length of your dress.

You moaned in short, sharp bursts; arching your back as he slipped his index finger inside you.

“Mo-no-ma,” you managed between breaths, “Not-here—”

He pushed a second finger inside you. You couldn’t get the words out, strangled in your throat by a deep, womanly groan. Your legs threatened to buckle beneath you. You tried to grip the counter but as your arousal grew you lost the ability to hold on.

Failing to keep your balance, your legs finally gave way. With a particularly strong wave of pleasure you collapsed to your knees, pushing Monoma onto his back beneath you. He chuckled and his warm breath fanned against your cunt. Now that he was pinned, he showed mercy and released you, then wriggled out from under your skirt.

“That didn’t take long.” He commented with obvious amusement.

“I didn’t—” you stammered, trying to catch your breath. You definitely had not finished. You were in that dangerous stage no woman should ever enter into. You had been so close to finishing that you felt robbed, and so horny that you felt like a bitch in heat.

After pulling himself up to a sitting position, Monoma had a few seconds to wipe his mouth as he teased you, saying he knew you hadn’t finished, before he had to help you get out of your dress because you had yanked it up over your head. It was heavy, and getting out of it was more than a one-person job with no grace about it, but thankfully neither you nor Monoma cared much for sensuality. As soon as you were in your underwear, he tried to pretend he had somewhere else to be, shuffling back across the stone floor to escape, but you laughed and told him to sit still.

When you lunged, he was ready to catch you. He gripped you by the waist, easing you on top of him as you knocked him onto his back, then your lips crashed together in a messy and passionate kiss.

“Has anyone told you how gorgeous you are?” Monoma asked, breaking away long enough to watch you blush at his words. He grinned impishly and kissed you again, tangling his hands in your hair as your bodies intertwined, banishing the cold from the stone floor beneath you.

The next time he gave you pause for breath, he asked with a much more mischievous grin, “Remembered anything yet?”

“Not yet,” you murmured against his lips, hearing him undo the zipper of his trousers. “Are you going to try harder?”

You stroked the length of his cock the second he had it free. Even as you touched him, he didn’t give you any hint that he had handed the power over to you. He grinned, gently running a hand through the length of your hair.

“Pun intended?”

You couldn’t help but snort in laughter, despite your overflowing arousal.

“Yes, but you’re not meant to point it out.” You swatted Monoma playfully on the shoulder and he laughed as hard as you. Even now, you could still see his intentions. He was your friend. He was here to help you more than seduce you.

Monoma knew about the last story – what had happened in Sleeping Beauty. You had assured him that you were okay now. It felt like nothing more than a bad dream. But Monoma still seemed to be taking the utmost care to make sure you were alright. He didn’t mind knocking off his aroused attitude in favour of cracking a joke to put you at ease. Honestly, it made you want to mount him more. By the looks of things, he was ready to bury himself inside you just as much, but he was holding back.

“Are you sure?” He asked, even while he stood to full attention between your legs. His self-control was a blessing. You realised your mistake at the last moment, just before you lowered yourself down onto him.

No sex. This was no time to jump. The only thing you had kept secret from Monoma was the consequence of having sex. You were sure if you told him, he wouldn’t be willing to stick it in you, or even near you. And you weren’t wanting to ruin the mood. Instead, you reached down and began stroking him, gripping him tight enough so that he grunted.

Ngh, ____.”

You praised your own self-control. You were aching and you could feel your arousal slicking your thighs. It was all you could do to jerk Monoma off and imagine what it would feel like to have his cock buried inside you, pumping into you until you moaned his name like a banshee.

Just then, the door opened. Sero walked in from outside. Monoma panted and laughed, then swore when your hand clenched tightly around him as you registered the newcomer. Rather than let the mood dip, he batted your hand away then pulled you in to a deep kiss.

Sero spotted the pair of you. You were down to your underwear and Monoma’s dick was out. He didn’t know what he had expected to find when he came into the kitchen, but there were worse sights he could have seen.

“Don’t mind me, guys.” He said nonchalantly, grinning like the Cheshire cat he was. “I wanted to borrow ____ for five minutes but carry on. I’ll grab a glass of water.”

Monoma let go of you, peering up at Sero from the floor. “You could join us?”

You gasped and coughed at the same time. Sero could do what now?

“I dunno,” Sero said, frowning with one eyebrow. “Don’t think I should intrude.” He nodded at you, flashing a mischievous grin. “Monoma’s pretty good with his hands. He’ll probably be enough, right?”

Was he… was he asking, or was he being rhetorical? You couldn’t tell. Your poor, giddy heart was too excited. Was this going where you thought it was? And just like that? Is this how they all were? You felt your brain frying as you tried to fathom living with seven guys who could join in on having sex with each other at the drop of a hat.

Wait.

Were they… did they all… had you unwittingly become the eighth member of an already established polygamous relationship here in the cottage?

You squeaked the moment your brain short circuited. Both Monoma and Sero noticed. There was no way they could tell you were imagining the guys locked in some hot mess of a male-only orgy, but they had a pretty good idea it wasn’t anything savoury.

Monoma realised you needed a moment, so he looked back towards Sero.

“We’re trying to jog ____’s memories. More bodies can’t hurt. Are you in?”

Sero bit his lip. Sure, the offer was inviting as hell. But he wasn’t going to intrude if you didn’t want him to. Ground Rule of the Cottage #1: Consent. From everyone. Every time. The guys lived by it religiously. Only Mineta caused problems and he was really only a house-guest with nowhere else to go. He wasn’t a member of the relationship. And yet for some reason, he was the only one the others had to continuously drill rule #1 into.

“____,” Sero asked, bending down to gaze at your dazed and blush-stained face. “Do you want to be left alone with Monoma?”

Well, this was a revelation. Was it a bad one? No. Not at all. But nowhere in the original Snow White did it mention the dwarfs being in a bisexual—possibly pansexual—mega relationship with each other. It was a lot to take in.

But you were going to try.

Heavens have mercy on you, you couldn’t stop yourself. Six of the seven were handsome and buff as hell, with pant-dropping personalities to match. You were only human. You were weak. If they wanted you, then who were you to say no? It didn’t help that you were still on the edge of your orgasm, so the idea of being ploughed by multiple attractive men felt like the best idea in the world.

“If Sero makes me remember everything, then what does he get?” You asked coyly, using it as your declaration of consent.

Knowing that you wanted this, Sero grinned and gave you his hand to help you off of Monoma. From beneath you, Monoma gave you an extra push to get you onto your feet, then clambered up from the floor.

“If Sero manages to bring back your memories, I’ll bake an orange pie next week.”

You didn’t think it sounded all that significant, but Sero perked up.

“Sweet!” He cocked an eyebrow. “So to get your memories back, ____, I have to…?”

Monoma answered,

“Affection and sex are key.”

“Double sweet,” Sero growled, pulling you against him with an arm hooked around your waist. He tilted your chin towards him then kissed you with the same passion as someone who had loved you for years. A moan tickled your throat but no sooner had he drowned you in affection than he broke away.

“Anything you’re not up for?” He asked against your lips. It made your heart flutter. You had never felt so safe. It was a good thing he had asked, really, because you were too enamoured by the situation to remember that you weren’t trying to jump. You didn’t want to put a dampener on the mood but you bit your lip then said,

“No penetration.”

You expected him to tut and look disappointed. Instead, his smile grew. He pecked your lips then nodded, even more eager than before you had spoken.

“Yes, Ma’am.”

He walked backwards towards the dining table, taking you with him, then addressed Monoma. “You hear that?”

“I did.” Monoma assured him. “There’s plenty we can do.”

When the back of Sero’s legs hit the dining table he hopped up onto it, pulling you into him. He crashed his lips to yours as Monoma came up behind you, slipping his hand into the front of your panties. He knocked your legs apart with his foot, giving himself better access to you. You were still dripping and eager, and it was nice for him to know he had made you this way. He stroked his middle finger through your wetness just once, taking his time to rub over every sensitive nerve-ending in his path, then got to work massaging circles over your clit. You moaned into Sero’s mouth, intertwining your tongue with his. Noticing Monoma wasn’t planning to take things slow, Sero reached around and unclasped your bra. Between the two of them, the guys shuffled you out of it in seconds, then Sero ran his hands up your stomach, squeezing your breasts while he appreciated how soft they were.

Monoma chuckled devilishly.

“They’re great, right?”

You could only blush as Sero hummed approvingly as he kissed you. You hadn’t realised Monoma had been doing an appraisal when he squeezed your chest earlier.

Monoma rubbed your clit in teasing circles, staying slow to build your sensitivity ready for orgasm. He wanted to get you there, but there was no fun if you peaked too soon. You, on the other hand, had to moan into Sero’s mouth, begging Monoma to go quicker. Your legs were shaking and warm. You could feel yourself getting closer and closer, but he was teasing you. He knew what he was doing. He was controlled, keeping his rhythm just slow enough to stop you ever reaching release. The longer he did it, the warmer your body felt, the more your arousal built. Sero’s tongue playing with yours became too sensitive. You moaned and whimpered, bucking into Monoma’s hand. You wanted them inside you. You knew you couldn’t but your body was aching for them to take you. You could hardly stand it.

“Take it out,” you whined, rubbing Sero’s erection through his trousers. He chuckled at your impulsiveness but did as you asked. As soon as he freed himself, you pushed your arse against Monoma’s crotch to send him backwards, giving yourself room to bend forward, snuggling your face into Sero’s lap. Monoma gripped your arse, taking the liberty of rubbing his cock between your cheeks to ease the throbbing of his erection as he watched you drag your tongue up Sero’s cock.

Ngh.” He gave a throaty groan, relishing the relief he got from rubbing against you, then returned his attention to your clit. It wasn’t as simple now that you were bending forwards. Instead of using his fingers, he took advantage of the arousal slicking your legs and eased his erection between your thighs, rubbing it against your sensitive cunt. You moaned, using the new stimulation as an excuse to take Sero’s cock into your mouth as far as you could take him.

Ah.” Sero stretched out against the table, holding himself up on his arms with his head tipped back. As you bobbed up and down on him, he panted and gulped and strained to keep hold of himself. “Ah. ____. You’re not… new to this…then.” He tried to laugh but you swallowed him up to his hilt to prove his point.

Monoma could feel how close he was. You thighs squeezing around him was like a new level of pleasure. You were so warm and wet and soft. The combination of that and hearing you and Sero panting and moaning brought him to the edge faster than he had in a long time.

“Shit,” he groaned, only able to keep himself going a minute or so more before his legs shook and he pulled out from between your legs, letting his cum shoot out across the floor. He panted and groaned, enjoying the high of his release as he pressed his forehead to the small of your back. He placed a gentle kiss on the dimple of your spine, promising to attend to you once he had control of his senses.

Sero’s fingernails scraped at the wood of the dining table. In the end, he collapsed backwards completely, finding it too hard to stay upright while you mercilessly took him into your mouth. He didn’t know how much of your story he believed, but he had heard you and Monoma talking from time to time about what you had been up to. There was no doubt in his mind you had been up to all kinds of fun, the way you were expertly deep throating him without so much as a gargle. Every time his cock hit the back of your throat he groaned, and he had to shield his eyes as he started to see stars.

You felt Monoma nudge your legs apart again. He kicked them wider than he did last time. Your body was begging for him to touch you. Twice, he had brought you so close to release. Your whole body was hot with desire.

So when Monoma addressed your dripping cunt with his mouth and not his fingers, you had no reason to complain. Keeping your panties out the way with his hands, he crouched between your legs and gave you the attention you were begging for. He stroked long licks through your cunt, so eager that his nose brushed your clit over and over. But the moment your legs started to shake, he locked his mouth over your clit and flicked his tongue over the over-sensitive and over-stimulated nub until you were writhing and groaning onto Sero’s cock. The vibrations of your voice was the last push it took to send Sero over the edge.

“____,” he said weakly, trying to lift himself up off the table so he could pull you off him. But you knew what he meant by it and had no intention of letting him go. Just as you shook and moaned into release, you clamped your lips around Sero and hollowed your cheeks, dragging his own orgasm out of him as he shook against the table. Monoma gripped your legs, helping to keep you stable as you rode through your high, gently lapping at your inner thighs to stimulate you past it.

Once the moans had died from the air, you unlatched from Sero’s softening cock then slumped to the floor with Monoma’s help, keeping you away from the mess he made. Sero waved an arm limply in the air.

“Give me a minute,” he pleaded half-heartedly. “Then I’ll get the towels.”

Though the floor was cold, you were too hot so it came as a welcomed contrast. Even so, you didn’t reject Monoma when he came to cuddle you with his overly warm body. He kissed you on the nose, enjoying the afterglow with half-lidded eyes.

“Did you remember anything?”

“No.” After all that, you didn’t mind still being clueless. The main thing was that you couldn’t feel the mist tugging you away. “But I enjoyed it.”

“That’s good enough for me,” Sero groaned, doing a crunch to pull himself off the table. Once he was up, he knelt down, leaning down to place a kiss on your forehead. “Now hang fire.”

If that was him telling you to stay still, then he had nothing to worry about. You weren’t going anywhere.

Sero disappeared into the bathroom then returned with a couple of towels. After everyone cleaned themselves up – and the floor in Monoma’s case – the guys helped you back into your clothes then Sero pointed outside.

“____, I’ve got something to show you.”

“Hm?” You cocked a curious eyebrow. Sero led you and Monoma out into the garden where he had semi-assembled the sanded slats. He left you puzzling beside it then disappeared around the side of the cottage. A few moments later, he returned carrying an intricately chiselled wooden headboard. He set it down next to the slats.

“I’ll have it done by tonight.” He said proudly, and that’s when you realised he had built you a bed.

“Sero!” You gushed, rushing forwards to get a better look at the headboard. He had carved 3D squirrels and birds into the wood, and finished it with a shiny varnish.

“Do you like it?”

“Of course I do!” You said incredulously, like he could have any doubt. “But you didn’t have to. This must have taken so much work.”

Monoma added with a nod,

“Yeah. It’s a shame ____ doesn’t need it anymore.” He trailed his eyes over you, enjoying the way you looked confused. “I’m more than happy to let you share my bed.”

After sleeping on the couch for two nights, any bed at all was better than none. As fun as the idea of sleeping with Monoma sounded, you couldn’t let Sero’s hard work go to waste.

“Sorry Monoma. I want my own bed. Beside, Sero worked hard on it. I bet it’ll be comfy.”

“You bet.” Sero beamed, hearing you wanted to use his bed. “Ojiro got a load of wool from market yesterday so we’ve already made the mattress.”

You didn’t want to think how much that had cost your already fund-less housemates. It made you even more determined to make the most of it.

As you ogled the bedframe, Monoma became aware of a smell in the air. It was partly sweet but mostly...

“Uhm. ____.” He said, looking back towards the cottage. “Did you forget something, perhaps?”

Smoke was billowing from the kitchen window. You saw what he was looking at and swore. You ran back inside, hoping to salvage the remainders of your pie. Monoma chuckled as you disappeared. Maybe it was a good thing you hadn’t remembered anything this time around. He couldn’t have you in charge of the cooking. If they were meant to protect you from the evil queen, you couldn’t go killing them off with food poisoning first.

Chapter Text

A week after arriving at the cottage, an uneasiness washed over you. It was a culmination of many things: the worry of the queen finding you; the guilt of becoming another mouth to feed, meaning everyone had to work that much harder to earn money; and from that came loneliness. You found yourself alone more often than not. The guys worked longer hours to feed you; some disappearing for days on end.

It was surprisingly hard. You felt useless and a burden to them but they never complained. You wanted to help but they always turned your offer down, saying you needed to stay safe where the royal guard could not find you. All the guys made an effort with you, particularly after Monoma had to go away to work. They could tell you were closer to him than anyone else and feared you would get lonely.

But loneliness came all the same. It was an unavoidable outcome.

“I could come with you?” You asked Tokoyami hopefully one morning as he packed for a day of job hunting. Though he knew how much staying in the cottage had to be driving you crazy, he sighed and shook his head.

“I’m sorry, ____. You’re safest here. Mineta and Sero are scouting the forest for bounty hunters as we speak.”

You opened your mouth, ready to argue that you could be an extra pair of hands to earn money, but closed it again. You had tried time and time again to help out but they always told you the same thing: it wasn’t your burden to bear.

“Just… come back safe.” You pleaded, feeling the fight fizzle out of you. The last thing you wanted was to see them hurt because of you. They wouldn’t admit they were breaking their backs to accommodate you but you could see the exhaustion creeping into their eyes day by day.

You walked Tokoyami to the door once he had everything together. It was a cool morning and there was barely enough light to see the paths of the forest floor.

“Will you be okay?” You asked unsurely, knowing if you had to go out there at this time you would trip over every tree root and rock you stumbled blindly in to.

Tokoyami smiled in his perpetually sombre way and petted you on the head.

“I’ll be just fine. The dark is more a friend to me than anyone in these parts. Now remember to lock the doors and windows, and don’t answer the door to anyone. We all have keys so we shouldn’t need to knock.”

“Right.”

Once you were alone, you wandered into the kitchen then sat at the counter on Monoma’s favourite stool. You stayed there for a while, spinning back and forth as you wondered how you could help the guys. Even without your added mouth, they barely had enough to live off. There had to be an easier way for them to live. Perhaps it would be kinder to let them turn you over to the queen and get the reward money. You knew at some point in your past you had been a strong fighter. As long as you armed yourself before being turned over, you might still have a chance.

Or maybe not. Though you wanted desperately to help your housemates, you couldn’t risk your own life. You had come too far. As the weight of your guilt closed in on you, you wondered lamely if there was anything you could do around the cottage to help. You had already taken up cleaning purely to pass the time when you were alone, but perhaps there was something you could do to make money.

You got an idea. If you got good enough at baking then maybe Ojiro could take your pastries and cakes to market and sell them for a good profit. Your biggest issue would be fighting the oven over cooking times but with enough practice you were sure you’d suss it.

However, when you checked the pantry and saw how bare it was, you realised the fault in your plan. To bake, you needed ingredients. Ingredients costed money. Money that you could not have without selling cakes you could not make without ingredients you could not buy.

Ugh.” You slammed the pantry door in frustration. You truly were useless. If you couldn’t help, the guys would stay away from the cottage for longer. You hated to admit it but you needed them around. Loneliness was a terrible thing, particularly when you knew you were lost and they were the only friends you had.

You decided to take a bath. You had too many thoughts jostling around your head and without anyone around to talk to, you could only hope the warm waters would help you feel better. You slipped out of your clothes in the guys’ bedroom, taking a towel from the bottom of their shared wall-to-wall wardrobe and wrapped it around yourself in case Mineta suddenly popped out of the woodwork. You knew he was off with Sero somewhere but that didn’t mean you could let your guard down. Perverts had their ways.

When you went into the bathroom, the last thing you expected to see was Midoriya already in the tub. To your knowledge, you were alone.

“____!” He exclaimed, turning beat red the moment he saw you in nothing but a towel, aware he was also completely naked. “I-I-I-I—I’m in the bath!”

You looked away but didn’t have the heart to panic like he was.

“Sorry…” you muttered sombrely, thinking once more how useless you were. You closed the door then sat on Monoma’s bed in your towel, hanging your head. Your heart was heavy. It felt like you couldn’t do right for wrong.

Things were getting on top of you. The past few nights, you had been kept awake by the uncertainties of your memories and by this weird world you found yourself in. You didn’t hate the guys – in fact you liked them a lot – but with Monoma gone for three days now you had no one to talk to about your real worries. Would you ever get home? Would you ever return to the place you truly belonged, with the people who knew and loved you?

In the other worlds, like with Ochako and Kyouka, at least you had been blessed with girlfriends to talk to; the ones who knew what to say to make you feel better because they could relate. It wasn’t complicated around them. There were no sexual urges or complicated feelings mixed into their relationships. You wanted, just for a while, to go back there where it was simple.

Because you knew most of your loneliness came from missing the guys your heart longed for.

This would be so much easier if you could stop thinking of Denki and Eijirou and Katsuki and Shouto. They haunted your thoughts like warm and loving monsters, leaving you longing to see them again.

You wanted someone to talk to, to tell you that you were okay; that things would turn out alright.

The longer you sat and brooded on the bed, the sadder and lonelier you felt until finally you couldn’t stand it anymore. Sighing, you pulled yourself up and trudged over to the bathroom door. You were being a nuisance. You knew you were being a bother. But you didn’t want to be alone with your thoughts, feeling them dragging you down.

You knocked.

“Midoriya?” You said with a solemn voice. “Can I come in?”

Without having to see him, you could tell his face was cherry red from the way his voice sounded an octave higher than normal when he stuttered,

“C-c-come in? Do you—do you have to?”

You bit your lip, feeling your emotions trying to get the best of you. It didn’t help that he sounded so against the idea.

“I’m just… lonely.” You muttered. “Please.”

The pause was long enough to make your heart clench. Then,

“Come in.”

You let yourself inside. Feeling awkward because you thought you were making a show of yourself, you quietly walked over to the tub and sat on the floor, resting your back against it. Midoriya purposefully kept his gaze to the ceiling until you were sat down, and even then he did his best not to look until he realised you were still wearing a towel. You were pretty but he didn’t want to leer at you if you were upset.

Now you were here, you didn’t know what to say or do. You felt bad for intruding which only added to your guilt.

“Sorry…” you muttered, resting your chin on your knees. Midoriya shook his head.

“Wh-why are you sorry?”

“For bothering you.”

You heard a sharp splash as Midoriya flipped himself over in the water, looking at you over the side of the tub in alarm. He began to ramble.

“N-no, no. You’re not bothering me. Th-the opposite in fact. I didn’t realise you wanted a bath. I only got back from work a short while ago. I should have checked. You surprised me when you came in, that’s all. I didn’t mean to upset you. Do you want me to get out so you can get in? I was having one to ease muscle ache so I could be in here a while. I don’t mind. If you need one then I’ll get out. I’ll get out.”

It was hard for you to unpack what he was saying as he spoke at unprecedented speeds, but from the gist of it you realised he had been out all night. If his muscles were sore you didn’t want to force him out.

“It’s okay.” You mumbled, your face still pressed into your knees. “Please stay.”

He stilled. He even forgot that he was supposed to be flustered, hearing your sad voice.

“What’s… wrong?”

He waited for you to answer, peering down at you over the side of the tub, but you stayed quiet. Realising that you didn’t want to answer and that perhaps this had something to do with you saying you felt lonely, he settled down again, resting with his arms hooked back over the sides.

“Why are you lonely?” He asked, hoping you could open up to him. Monoma had told him what you had confessed under Shinsou’s hypnosis. He couldn’t say he understood it completely but he was there for you if you wanted to talk. He didn’t think bottling up your worries would help you at all.

“I just…” you began, your voice muffled by your knees. “I miss my friends. I think. I don’t really remember them but I know they were there when I needed them, and I think I need them now.”

Midoriya frowned as he thought how to respond.

“Do you think if we went and looked, we would find them? Do you remember where they live?”

You chuckled gloomily.

“They aren’t from around here.”

Even if you did find versions of your friends in this reality, you were sure they wouldn’t know you, like what had happened with Shouto.

Midoriya asked, “If they were here now, what would you say to them? What do you need help with?”

You didn’t know. It wasn’t so much what you would say, as how they would make you feel. Even without unlocking any more memories, just to have the girls around would put you at ease. Ochako and Jirou with their carefree attitudes, or Momo’s rational thinking. You knew they were only characters in fairy tales but their strange familiarity was comforting.

To have Denki or the others here would be more than you could hope for – the versions that knew you. Denki from The Three Little Pigs, or Shouto from The Little Mermaid. The ones you had made memories with.

Then again, it would be even better to have the versions of them from the reality you couldn’t quite remember. Your flashbacks told you how close you were to them all. You wanted to be with those versions of your friends. You wanted to share an ice-cream with Denki or play festival games with Eijirou. Everything was so tense. Your world felt close to crumbling. You just wanted to find your friends and know who you were.

Midoriya did not expect it when you quietly got up and climbed into the bath with him. He tensed as you slipped down into the water, discarding your towel to keep it dry. But when he saw the sadness in your eyes he did not flinch when you got into his lap and wrapped your arms around his neck. He could feel the desperation in your hold to be loved, to be cared for, to feel like you were home. He wrapped his arms around you and squeezed you tight, knowing it was all he could do to make you feel better.

His hug was so kind. It was gentle in the sense that he knew his own strength and had to hold back so as not to hurt you, but strong and full of compassion. Midoriya felt like a teddy bear. You didn’t want him to let go, no matter how much of your naked body you squished against him.

Apart from in the shadowy tree hollow, this was his first time being so close to you. Certainly, it was his first time getting a real look at your face. You were so pretty. Your eyes were naturally doe-like and he got a lump in his throat just from seeing them looking so sad.

Monoma had told him many things about you because he was willing to listen and believe. He wouldn’t have thought you had been through all that from looking at you, but he knew better than anyone that looks were deceiving. You usually seemed so bright and cheerful, like nothing could get to you. So to have you clinging to him, admitting how lonely you felt and how lost you were, it gave him a small glance into the sad world below your bubbly exterior.

He wanted to help you.

“Monoma told me you might get your memories back if you’re shown affection. Does that really work?”

“Sometimes.” You said, lifting your head to see his face properly. “But it didn’t work when Monoma and Sero tried.”

He saw your lips quivering, like you were trying to keep it all in.

“What if I try?”

He swallowed thickly. For someone who was part of a poly-relationship, he was still shy. It wasn’t the same as being with the others – they had known each other for the longest time; the nerves had disappeared long ago. But you were new. Being with you brought butterflies to his stomach and fears to his mind that he could mess up or let you down.

But he was determined to help you. He couldn’t let his nerves take control.

He took it slow, giving you chance to pull back. Whether he wanted to help or not, if you didn’t want him to then he had to stop.

But you didn’t budge.

When he kissed you, you felt how tender he was with you, holding you close against him in a way that stopped you from feeling alone. It was a surprise, actually. He was usually so jittery and shy. But perhaps that just showed how much he cared.

When he broke the kiss, he eased your arms from around him but only so he could lean over the edge of the tub for a bottle of shampoo. In that instant you got a full view of his rippling back muscles and the top of his perfectly formed bubble-butt. Your heart fluttered and you had to purse your lips to stop yourself from squeaking delightedly at the sight.

Midoriya offered to wash your hair, which you gladly accepted. The bath was big enough to fit four comfortably but the two of you stayed close together; preferring the intimacy. You sat in the centre with your legs crossed then Midoriya crouched behind you, popping the lid off the shampoo.

He gently combed his hands through your hair, guiding you to lean your back against him as he worked to relax you. He coughed awkwardly when he then got an erection and it bumped against you but you told him not to worry. It wasn’t the worst thing to feel jutted into the small of your back.

When it was time to wash out your hair, he shuffled to the side, placed a hand behind your neck then eased you into the bath until your face was submerged, the back of your head resting in his lap. It was unbelievably relaxing. With your eyes closed and your breath held, your senses felt more alive. You could feel each time Midoriya combed his hands through your hair to rinse it; every time he stroked over your scalp or rubbed your hairline to make sure the soap was gone.

He cupped the back of your head when he was done and eased you back to a sitting position, keeping the strain off your neck. You smiled, rubbing the water from your eyes.

“Do it again.”

You were only half-joking.

“I can wash your body i-if you want?”

His stutter made you blush. It was a simple enough offer, but the stutter meant he knew he was entering more intimate territory. If it wasn’t for the stutter, you would have thought it was innocent enough.

“S-sure.” You agreed, but cursed yourself for stammering. His shyness was contagious. It made you feel like a schoolgirl nervous to be touched for the very first time in her life. Actually, it was quite refreshing. You loved a good manhandling, but going back to beginnings seemed just as appealing. Neither you nor Midoriya was a new hand at this, but for some reason you both felt stripped of your promiscuity in this moment.

Fetching the soap, he rubbed long circles over your skin, balancing behind you on his knees with one hand around your waist to hold you above the water. The fact he was using his bare hands to wash you instead of a luffa made you sigh in delight. You could feel every stroke of his fingers, every gentle touch and every hesitation as he lathered your skin with soap. Your sigh was audible when he rubbed his hand over your left breast, covering it in bubbles. You felt him pause for just a second and his erection twitched against your back. You giggled, hearing him sigh before he rested his head into the crook of your shoulder, placing a kiss against your neck as he massaged your breast again.

He did it until the excuse of merely washing you grew thin then carried on south, now using both hands to lather your stomach, your sides, the tops of your hips – anything above the surface of the water.

“Am I okay to go f-further?” He asked, pecking your neck as his hands ran up your arms. You smiled, washing one hand in the water before petting his mop of green hair.

“Mhmm.” With or without your memories, you felt better. You weren’t willing to let this end if Midoriya wanted to get closer to you. His touches told you that even if you couldn’t be with the ones you held dear from your past, you still had a chance to find new darlings here. You just had to let them in. Your walls were high. You were so afraid of gaining connections then losing them by jumping that you hadn’t been willing to forge them properly.

But it was okay. More so than in any other fairy tale, the dwarfs knew what you were going through and you really felt like you could rely on them because they had not shamed you, or called you crazy. They were there for you.

Midoriya stroked down your stomach, taking the soap bar with him until his hands dipped below the surface of the water. For such a cute face, his body was solid. When he glided his fingers over the sensitive skin of your pubic bone, you jutted against him but he didn’t move an inch, fully braced to take your weight. The friction sparked an ache inside you that only grew as he massaged your thighs, lathering them with bubbles that instantly washed away. When he could reach no further he hunched forwards, curling you towards the water so he could playfully tickle the tops of your kneecaps.

He left himself pressing down on top of you, curling one arm around your waist to help brace you against him. The soap bobbed to the top of the water as he let go of it to take your chin, turning your face so he could kiss you. He was gaining confidence, you could tell. He let go of your chin, trailing his way back down your stomach to get between your legs. You felt the ghost of his hesitation before he found his confidence, then he rubbed tentative circles over your clit with his three middle-most fingers.

You shook again under his touch but he did not budge. You felt weightless in his arms, like a kitten wriggling in its owners grasp. Well. So much for your innocent thoughts. What was that about man-handling? It was difficult to remember that innocent schoolgirl feeling when Midoriya could quite literally throw you over his shoulder, onto the bed and plough you with absolutely no effort on his part. Not that he would. He was definitely a big softie and would never dream of doing something so violent with you, but that didn’t mean you weren’t loving the grip he had on you. If you lifted your knees off the floor you were sure you wouldn’t fall. His arm around your waist was like a seatbelt on a rollercoaster. You were stuck but you were safe.

Midoriya coaxed you closer and closer to orgasm. When he felt you really start to shake he eased himself backwards, propping his back against the side of the tub with you secured in his lap. When you turned to kiss him, he took your lips readily, blushing when you mewled against his mouth.

“Midoriya.” You felt yourself on the edge; your eyesight turning hazy. He kept his fingers at a steady pace, stroking you again and again until your legs spasmed. You moaned, tangling your hands into his hair as he finally broached your orgasm. With a sharp bleat, you clenched your eyes tight and shook against him as your vision turned white and your body rippled with warmth.

Midoriya continued to stroke you until you began whining, too sensitive to have his fingers between your legs. He kissed your shoulder, turning his hands on the patches of skin still covered in bubbles. But even they seemed too sensitive, leaving you trembling as he washed the soap off. You whimpered, finding your way down from the high only after he secured his arms around you in a caring hug instead of terrorising you with his fingers.

“Mmm…” you purred, find your voice even though it cracked at first. You nestled against Midoriya and he happily pulled you into his lap, ignoring his urges to finish himself off in favour of cuddling you in your afterglow.

Keeping your eyes closed, feeling sleepy after your orgasm, you muttered, “I’m sorry I keep being such a problem.”

He chuckled half-heartedly then kissed your nose. “You’re not a problem to us. Did you remember anything, by the way?”

“No,” you admitted. “But I feel a lot better.”

“Good.” He kissed you again then you sat up, looking more awake.

“Want me to wash your hair?”

He turned red, like it was the most lust-loaded question you could have asked, like he hadn’t just given you an orgasm.

“Oh, come on,” you laughed. “I’ll be gentle.”

You were sat behind him, rubbing your fingers through his wet, curly hair when the door to the lounge opened. You hadn’t noticed the lock was off. Sero, Mineta and Tokoyami walked into the bathroom, with the former two caked up to the teeth in mud, chatting away without a care in the world.

Mineta, with senses that could detect the naked female form from up to half a mile on a good day, spotted you first. He took one look at your totally naked body, wet from head to toe and partially covered in bubbles, then his nose began to spout blood. It was only the quickest glance because as soon as you registered him, you squeaked and pressed yourself against Midoriya to block yourself from view. He was little help, too flustered by being caught in such a sweet exchange with you by so many of the others at once.

Tokoyami took it upon himself to drag Mineta from the room. No matter how much he protested. Sero chuckled, grinning at the two of you who looked like rabbits caught in a headlight.

“Don’t stop on our account.”

With Mineta gone, you managed to relax and unstuck yourself from Midoriya’s back.

“Want to join us?” You asked innocently, showing Sero your soap-covered hands like it was nothing even though you were completely exposed to him. “I can wash your hair next?”

You appreciated the way he raked his eyes over you, then Midoriya and his not-so-inconspicuous erection, but all the same he shook his head.

“Maybe next time. Me and the others need to talk about something but definitely put a pin in our bath time.”

Midoriya, over his embarrassment, drew his eyebrows into a frown. “Is everything alright?”

“Sure,” Sero said nonchalantly. “You guys finish up then Tokoyami can explain while me and Mineta clean up.”

He left the two of you two it. You looked at one another, not sure what to say. But the cluelessness on each of your faces made the other one laugh. You grinned and threw your arms around his neck, finally able to topple him into the water to rinse his hair.

oOo

Once you were dry, Midoriya having towelled you hair until you were dizzy and it was fluffy, the two of you found Tokoyami in the kitchen, perched at the counter.

“Hi,” you greeted merrily. “You’re back early.”

“Yeah, is something wrong?” Midoriya added, think Tokoyami wouldn’t have been back until late tonight.

The birdman nodded in greeting, getting up from his stool.

“Everything will be fine. But I found a pack of hunting dogs in the area. They belong to the royal guard.”

“She’s found me?”

You tried not to let the dread settle in on you. The dogs didn’t necessarily mean you’d been found.

“It’s alright.” Tokoyami’s voice was as calm as ever. “I called Sero and Mineta back so we can form a plan. Ojiro is still at market, and Shinsou and Monoma are out on jobs, but we’ll be fine.”

“But Shinsou’s perfect for this kind of thing.” Midoriya said, unable to hide the worry from his voice. Unlike the two of you, Tokoyami seemed relaxed.

“It’s okay. We’ve figured out what to do.”