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louder is the fire

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Thyme is curled up on the couch in her living room, diligently transcribing and reorganizing her research notes with some of her newest findings. Armed with a steaming mug of tea and the soothing, steady tapping of autumn rain on the window nearby, she scribbles in a worn notebook, her brow furrowed in concentration.

When Roe and the Scions had first brought her into the fold, she had been immediately captivated by how despite surface differences, the Source was so alike to the First. Sitting there in the Ocular and listening to Urianger and Y’shtola explain the origins of the shards and just how intricately their worlds were linked, how their very aetherical balance depended on one another… it made her head spin, true, but it was fascinating. Naturally, however, proper literature on the similarities between the worlds was virtually non-existent.

Therefore, after moving to live on the Source with Roe, it had seemed only right that Thyme devote her newfound free time and energy to a new project—namely, an account of the similarities between the Source and the First with respect to her field of expertise, contained in a series of leather bound journals she had neatly hand-labeled The Flora of Hydaelyn and Her Shards. It was difficult, trying to compile accurate notes about flora she no longer had ready access to, but luckily her extensive collection of well-loved botanical journals contained a bounty of notes for her to reference (and having a dimension-hopping girlfriend to fetch samples for her on occasion certainly didn’t hurt). She never minded the difficulty anyway—she loved having a puzzle to take over her attention.

And on this particular evening, she would be the very picture of productivity were it not for a certain someone in whose lap she sits, who took it upon herself not long after Thyme had made herself comfortable to serve as a… distracting companion. At least she brought a fresh-brewed pot of Thyme’s tea of choice—rooibos, this evening—as a peace offering.

As Thyme glances up to collect her thoughts between sentences, gazing at nothing in particular as she absently chews on the end of her pencil, a warm, calloused hand slowly creeps its way up under the hem of her blouse.

“Darling?”

“Hm?”

“You aren’t making it easy to concentrate.”

Roe’s hand lingers beneath Thyme’s shirt, cheekily stroking her belly with the pad of her thumb. “I’m afraid that’s the price you must pay for utilizing my services as a pillow, Tee,” she replies.

Thyme snorts. “You were the one who planted yourself here after I had started to work, sweetheart.”

“Hm, interesting. That’s not how I remember it.” Roe wraps her arms around Thyme’s waist and gives her an affectionate squeeze before she rests her chin on Thyme’s shoulder. “What’re you writing about?”

“Alyssum.” Thyme demonstratively taps the end of her pencil on a small sketch of a dainty-looking plant covered in tiny flowers, and Roe cranes her neck to peek down at her journal. “Did you know that you can find it growing in both the Rak’tika Greatwood and the peaks of Gyr Abania?”

“Really? Same name and everything?”

Thyme nods. “Their blooms even smell similar, too: like honey. I suspect that their functions are comparable as well, but of course that would require further research to determine.”

“Mm. What do you use it for?”

As Thyme opens her mouth to answer she’s briefly distracted by Roe gently nosing her wavy green hair aside to better access the slope of her neck, pressing a light kiss against her jawline. “Well,” she starts, “back home we would use it in a tincture that gives the drinker a temporary boost in strength and energy, although—” She inhales sharply, briefly losing her train of thought as Roe playfully nips at her throat.

“Although?” Roe prompts, that smug grin of hers making itself known in her voice.

“…although,” Thyme continues in a valiant attempt to complete her sentence, “if it’s combined with the vines of a vampire cup and some kudzu root, you can create a tonic that is commonly used by crafters to increase their productivity. And it’s also commonly used in perfumes.”

In spite of herself, her voice is somewhat more breathless than it was mere moments prior, and Roe chuckles. “Am I distracting you?” she murmurs, her lips just brushing against Thyme’s skin. Her hand slips under Thyme’s skirt, and Thyme almost doesn’t notice until she begins to run soft, lazy strokes along her inner thigh with her thumb as she kisses her right at the pulse point of her throat. Thyme’s eyes flutter closed with a sigh almost against her will—gods, she’s gotten really good at that.

Roe laughs, quiet and deep in her chest, a soft rumble of satisfaction. And Thyme can feel the warmth of her presence beginning to bloom deep within her, can feel her desire to keep working begin to edge out of reach—

—but, she suddenly remembers, she really wants to finish this entry. So she gently pries Roe’s hand out from under her skirt and laces their fingers together. “Give me a few minutes to finish this page, my love,” she says, pressing a somewhat apologetic kiss to Roe’s cheek.

Roe, all airs of seductiveness unceremoniously dropped, makes a small discontented noise and smushes her face into the curve of Thyme’s neck. “That’s what you said three pages ago,” she grumbles.

“I promise, darling. It won’t be long.” As a consolation, Thyme reaches up to stroke Roe’s hair, gently scratching her nails along her scalp, and she smiles as Roe sighs contentedly and nuzzles into her touch, in that way of hers that always reminds Thyme of a puppy receiving an ear rub. “You missed me today, I assume,” she murmurs.

“Is it that obvious?” Thyme can feel the resonance of Roe’s voice against her back, low and throaty, as warm and soft as afternoon sunlight.

Thyme hums quietly in response as she writes. “What have they had you up to lately?”

“Nothing too serious.” Roe props her chin back onto Thyme’s shoulder as she talks. “Just a lot of running back and forth, mostly. Honestly,” she says with a chuckle, “I’m wondering if the Scions expect me to start wearing a postmoogle cap, what with all the errands they always have me running.”

“You’d certainly look nice in the uniform.”

“You think?”

“Oh, most definitely.”

Roe pauses, and Thyme can practically hear the gears turning in her head. “Don’t they usually… just wear the cap?” she asks, after a beat.

“Correct.”

“Ah,”

And it’s hard to tell, considering Roe’s position behind her, but as Thyme takes a somewhat smug sip of tea and returns to her journal, she’s reasonably certain Roe’s cheeks have gone slightly pink.

She’s in the middle of putting the finishing touches on her botanical sketch of an alyssum bloom when she notices Roe’s hand is back, this time launching a sneak attack on her skirt.

“Rosemary.”

“Yes?” Thyme can’t see Roe’s face, still tucked into her shoulder, but she can hear her grinning.

Thyme rolls her eyes. “I swear, darling, you are incorrigible.”

Me? I don’t know the meaning of the word,” Roe retorts proudly, although after a moment, she speaks up again, now sounding mildly confused. “Actually, I don’t. What does that mean?”

Thyme snorts, playfully swatting the offending hand away. “You’re hopeless.”

“Hm. Hopelessly in love with you, maybe.”

Thyme groans, thumping her head back into the couch in mock-exasperation, and Roe laughs, wrapping her arms around Thyme’s waist and squeezing her tight. “Sorry, Tee,” she says, “I’ll be good. Promise.”

“Mm. I doubt it,” Thyme mutters, not unfondly—Roe snorts out a laugh against her shoulder.

They sit like that in silence for a minute, and Roe, for her part, now seems perfectly content with her cheek tucked against the curve of Thyme’s neck and her eyes closed, her arms still wrapped tightly around Thyme’s waist. Thyme sighs peacefully and rests her head against Roe’s temple, listening to the rain outside. Her journal rests on her lap, briefly neglected.

Despite her earlier words, she doesn’t particularly feel like continuing any longer; Roe’s fault, certainly, but at the moment, she can’t bring herself to feel anything toward the situation other than mildly exasperated affection. The weather is misty and cold, as it has been all day, and Roe’s embrace is strong and warm—especially welcome at the moment. And she smells so comforting, too: mint and sandalwood, like her favorite soaps, but also that unmistakable scent of her, the smell she soaks up like sunlight on her skin every time she presses her face to the hollow of Roe’s throat or wakes up in her arms in the morning: the smell of home. Suddenly all Thyme wants, more than work, even, is to bask in it, to fill her brain with nothing but her.

Maybe, Thyme thinks, setting her pencil and journal aside and removing her reading glasses, her research can wait. Seeing her shift, Roe speaks up again, this time in a lower, softer tone that sends a thrumming jolt of desire piercing through her stomach.

“Would you like to take a break for a few minutes?” she asks as Thyme turns to look at her—her voice hushed, patient as always. Her fiery gaze bores into Thyme’s, her amber eyes gleaming in the dim light.

“Perhaps,” Thyme murmurs back, leaning close, “if you’ll let me work in peace afterwards.”

Roe chuckles as she kisses her; they are both well aware the breathlessness in Thyme’s voice betrays that she has no intention of doing any such thing. “No promises,” she breathes as she pulls away, lightly tugging at Thyme’s lower lip with her teeth. Thyme laughs, and Roe presses her lips to Thyme’s again with an insistence that says loud and clear she has definitely been thinking about doing this all day.

After a moment Thyme tries to shift herself into a more comfortable position leaning against the arm of the couch, pulling Roe in close by her shirt, but as she was unwilling to stop kissing her for even a moment, Roe’s weight leaning into her sends her off-balance and brings her down a little harder than she intended—and she tips over like an upended turtle, landing flat on her back on the couch with a soft thump and an undignified, giggling yelpRoe freezes on hands and knees above her, her broad shoulders awkwardly hunched as she straddles Thyme’s hips—the look of part-amusement, part-concern on her face is, although entirely unnecessary, extremely cute—and as she opens her mouth as if to ask if Thyme’s alright, Thyme chooses instead to unceremoniously tug her down the rest of the way by her shirt collar. Roe lands sprawled across her body, all long limbs and comforting weight and warmth, and makes a surprised, indignant noise against her mouth as Thyme resumes their kiss, laughing.

They move slowly, lazily, the way Thyme likes it. One of Roe’s hands knits in Thyme’s hair, her other cupping her cheek; Thyme’s hands settle at Roe’s back, fisting in her shirt.

Then, out of the blue, Roe lifts her head, breaking them apart for a moment. Thyme blinks.

“Sorry, I just had a thought,” Roe says, as she props herself up on an elbow. “Couldn’t you consider this part of your botanical research?”

Thyme quirks an eyebrow in confusion. Roe grins, her eyes sparkling mischievously, and Thyme suddenly feels a deep sense of foreboding.

“You know,” she says. “You could say you’re studying… crossbreeding?”

“Oh, gods help me.” Thyme shuts her eyes, in a great deal of pain.

Roe butts her forehead into Thyme’s shoulder and leans heavily into her, shaking with laughter at her own terrible joke, and Thyme sighs as heavily as she can muster—more putting an air of great indignance than actually feeling it—before she kisses those merry crinkles next to Roe’s eyes. “You know, this is another example of that word I told you before,” she says, running her fingers through Roe’s hair. “You are incorrigible.”

“Well, I still don’t know what that means,” Roe pipes up brightly from down around Thyme’s chest, “but coming from you I’m inclined to take it as a compliment.” Thyme rolls her eyes and tugs Roe back up by her chin, eager to kiss her again.

Her fingers skim slowly along Roe’s back, lazily tracing the curves of her muscles beneath her shirt, trailing down her spine, before coming to rest at Roe’s waist. She gently eases Roe’s hips to press against hers, slowly rolling up to meet her, and Roe wordlessly sighs in satisfaction against her lips as gravity presses them together.

It isn’t long before Thyme feels the energy shift: their living room, before sleepy and still, fills with a deep, ponderous energy, a mindless desire humming through them both. Roe’s hand slips its way under Thyme’s blouse to palm at her breast, and as the pad of her thumb grazes across her nipple, Thyme’s back arches and her body curves up to meet her, pulling a quiet, moaning sigh from her lips that Roe seems to take as encouragement. They pull apart for a moment so Thyme can peel away the offending garment, Roe helping her tug it up and off her head before tossing it unceremoniously across the room.

Now naked from the waist up, Thyme shivers, acutely feeling the chill from the nearby window—but as soon as they crash together again like wave to shore, Roe’s arms enveloping her utterly, the cold is nothing more than a vague recollection. Her hands—warm, rough, but so gentle, skimming along the soft swell of her belly, her breasts, her hips, send Thyme’s nails digging into the fabric of Roe’s shirt, the arousal in her belly twisting like a knife. With their bodies pressed together Thyme can feel every slow, heaving shudder of Roe’s chest against hers, every sigh, every grinding arch of her spine.

Thyme lets her mouth wander down from Roe’s lips to the hollow where her throat meets jaw and gives it a light graze with her teeth before she sucks at her skin, hard, intending to pay her back for her teasing before—and it works like a charm, as she knew it would, when Roe lets out a groan, small and shuddering, and moves to kiss her back with a ferocity that sucks the air from her lungs. Roe kisses her long and hard and hungry, her breath hot and intoxicating in her mouth as their kiss grows messier, looser, deeper.

Thyme nuzzles her face into Roe's neck to plant soft kisses along her jawline as she runs her hands up and down her back, feeling the restless shift of her muscles beneath her skin, drinking up her warmth. Roe goes mostly still against her, slowly removing the hand laced in Thyme’s hair, and it does not occur to her until Roe’s gotten the base of one of Thyme’s ears between her finger and thumb and begun to rub at it that Roe, perhaps, had taken this lull as an opportunity to try something nefarious.

As the sensation rolls through her body like a wave the heat pooling between her legs quickly turns to a thrumming, almost painful need and Thyme cries out with surprise and pleasure, her head lolling backward and her back arching as her eyes flutter shut.

“You’re so noisy.” Thyme can hear the playful smile in Roe’s voice as she gently rakes her fingers along her scalp at the base of her ears, making them twitch. “It’s cute.”

Roe," Thyme starts, flushed, opening her eyes and returning her voice to its normal pitch with a concerted amount of effort, “I’ll have you know that the number of nerve endings in my ears as compared to ears like yours is—”

She does not receive an opportunity to finish her sentence, as Roe decides to interrupt Thyme’s somewhat stilted explanation by firmly pressing her thigh just so between Thyme’s legs. Thyme sucks in a gasp between her teeth.

“I know.” Roe sounds insufferably pleased with herself. “That’s why I did it. Obviously. And I know you like it, you’ve told me before.”

Thyme gently shoves Roe’s head down toward her breasts, silencing any further comments.

Roe, ever obedient, lets go of her ears and takes her into her mouth, her eyes gone half-lidded and dark with mischief as they flash back up at Thyme’s. Her lips close around the point of her breast, lightly grazing at her skin with her teeth just enough to make goosebumps rise on Thyme’s arms, and then she swirls her tongue just so, and sucks—

A keening, high-pitched moan slips from her mouth, her fingers knotting in Roe’s hair, and Roe huffs out a laugh against her skin. Unthinkingly Thyme lets her other hand slip down, down, desperate for contact, for relief, but Roe catches her—like she always does, not just here—lacing their fingers together and murmuring “let me” in that velvety-soft, low tone that she saves just for her, that always makes Thyme’s stomach lurch. She begins to work her way down Thyme’s body, trailing soft kisses and licks along her shoulder, her collarbone, her breasts, the ridge of her hipbone, down and along the soft curve of her belly as Thyme shivers and sighs below her, letting her head fall back.

Clearly delighting in the opportunity to be the one in command, Roe takes her time and caresses and squeezes every inch of her with her rough, gentle hands, ever-so-light grazes with her teeth sending goosebumps pebbling across her skin. It’s not long before Thyme is burning up, gasping on every breath. “Darling,” she rasps, her words low and plaintive, “please—”

They reposition—Thyme’s skirt hitched up, the back of one knee hooked over the top of the couch, the other leg draped lazily across the floor— and then Roe begins again infuriatingly slowly, tracing her mouth up Thyme’s leg starting at her ankle, grazing her shin, nipping and running her tongue along her inner thigh, and Thyme almost growls with impatience, her hips rutting forward desperately with nothing to collide against.

“You are such a tease,” Thyme huffs, indignant, and Roe laughs again, loudly.

“Learned from the best,” she replies. Thyme can practically feel her glowing with pride.

Roe takes pity on her then and goes to slip her fingers beneath Thyme’s panties to tug them down and away, but pauses first, looking up from between Thyme’s thighs with that fiery, expectant gaze that Thyme knows means is this okay? before Thyme nods, breathlessly, eagerly, and Roe takes to her task with a vengeance. Finally, she makes contact and Thyme lets out a needy, gasping cry, arching off the couch as she grips Roe’s free hand tightly, her other hand drifting to fist in the plush surface of the couch beneath her.

Roe works her fingers slowly, teasing through her folds and skating just around her clit but not making contact, and not knowing precisely where she’ll be touched next is maddening. Thyme finds herself desperately angling her hips against Roe’s hand, arching to meet her, but Roe, fortunately, learns fast, and is soon touching her in just the way she likes—which sends her reeling, her chest heaving with heavy, low moans, all thoughts other than pure feeling sent scattering out of reach like marbles dropped on a hard floor.

Roe pulls her hand away and Thyme almost whimpers for the sudden lack of her touch (Roe chuckles at that), but it’s only for a moment as Roe slips from the couch to the floor so she can better reach Thyme with her mouth, and oh, that clever tongue of hers is in its element, applying pressure and heat in all the right places. Suddenly Thyme is seeing stars, gasping and flushed, and she can hardly keep herself together.

Roe carefully braces an arm across Thyme’s hips to gently hold her in place as she can’t help but move, completely at the mercy of the waves of sensation coursing through her like electricity and sending her curving up against Roe’s mouth, needing more. Roe slowly eases a finger inside her then, followed by a second, and begins to crook them just so—Thyme’s body offers little resistance—and this combined with the hot and wet pressure of her tongue is almost too much to bear. Her hand grips frantically in Roe’s hair, not wanting to hurt her but needing something to hold to keep herself grounded, to keep from coming apart at the seams, as she spirals wildly toward climax, as her mind splinters with sensation, feeling nothing but Roe—

Soon she finally comes apart with a huge, shuddering gasp and a breathless “oh”, and Roe works her through it, gently moving her fingers and tongue in time as Thyme shakes apart, before softly withdrawing as Thyme softly pushes her head away, overwhelmed, and melts. Her chest heaving, utterly boneless, it takes her a few moments to slowly piece herself back together, for her eyes to flutter open.

But of course, the first thing she sees once she returns to her senses is her love kneeling next to her on the floor, grinning up at her with satisfaction, before merrily popping one of her now very slick fingers into her mouth.

Thyme rolls her eyes, smiling, and opens her arms. “Come here, you.”

Roe flops down next to her—mostly on top of her, really, due to the size of the couch—and they lay there a moment, Thyme cradling Roe’s head into the crook of her neck and stroking her hair, listening to the steady thrumming of the rain, feeling Thyme’s heartbeat slow. Thyme plants a kiss on Roe’s forehead and Roe makes a low, quiet sound, deep in her chest—contentment and heavy, smoldering desire.

“It’s your turn now, my love,” Thyme murmurs, and Roe, sounding somewhat drunk on the feeling of Thyme’s fingers in her hair, mumbles something into Thyme’s shoulder that she can’t quite make out, but she thinks she hears the phrase “good point” just before their lips meet again.

Their kisses are much lazier than before, loose and unhurried, as Thyme takes the lead. Where Roe was urgent and insistent, Thyme is halting; slow, deliberate in her movements, taking her time and savoring every second—Roe tastes like her now, bitter and sweet, and it’s intoxicating.

It’s Roe’s turn to sit back against the arm of the couch now and she does so quickly, hastily stripping off her shirt and tossing it aside as Thyme shifts to a kneeling position straddling her hips, indulgently dragging her hands up and down Roe’s bare chest as Roe works her hands around the curves of her waist and squeezes. Roe feels burning hot beneath Thyme’s hands, and she shivers lightly with every stroke of Thyme’s fingers, but otherwise goes utterly still beneath her touch, enrapt.

Thyme knows precisely how to get Roe going thanks to their many hours of practice, and starts by stroking the flat of her tongue against Roe’s nipple before taking it into her mouth, eagerly, reveling in how Roe’s breathing hitches in response and how her head lolls backward, slowly, her mouth falling slightly open, eyes fallen half-lidded to narrow, honey-amber slits. As Roe’s chest begins to shudder beneath her in earnest, her breath quick and halting, Thyme slowly traces her lips back up to Roe’s ear, running her tongue along the shell of her ear, lightly nipping at her earlobe.

“Do you want me to touch you?” she breathes, watching with pleasure as Roe turns her head and leans in for another kiss, a dazed look in her eyes, sighing a quiet “yes” into Thyme’s mouth—her voice is low and rough and dripping with desire, and Thyme drinks it up like water.

She fumbles for Roe’s trouser button with one hand, unwilling to stop kissing her for even a moment to check her work, but with Roe’s help her trousers and underwear are soon undone and kicked away, and Thyme snakes her hand down, skimming across the taut muscles of Roe’s belly, down through the thick patch of dark hair between her legs, down and back up. The heel of her palm makes contact with Roe’s clit as her fingers press into her with little resistance—

A loud gasp rips from Roe’s lungs and she lets out a wordless cry, already wound tight as a bowstring. Seemingly on instinct her hand flies to cover her mouth, to muffle herself, but Thyme takes her by the wrist, feeling her pulse rabbit-quick beneath her thumb, and eases her hand away.

“I want to hear you,” she murmurs, and Roe flushes with slight embarrassment but obliges, opting instead to grip Thyme’s hand, tightly lacing their fingers together.

Thyme smiles and pauses to press a kiss to the deep furrow between her brows. “Do you feel alright, darling?”

Roe nods, eager, breathless. “Don’t stop, please,” she gasps, her head falling forward to rest in the curve of Thyme’s shoulder—even here, that bashful heart of hers shows its face—and as always, Thyme is happy to do as she asks.

She methodically continues her work even as Roe knits her fingers through Thyme’s hair and pulls her in to kiss her so deep and fierce it’s a wonder either of them remembers how to breathe, and soon she’s pulling beautiful little noises from her lips, quiet groans and sighs of pleasure that gust against her skin and send her heart soaring. As one they move in time, breath and sweat mingling and swirling, the rain on the window nearby providing them a steady drumbeat, until—

“Thyme,” Roe starts, “I— ah— fuck—!”

Roe attempts to stammer out some type of warning but instead her head rolls back toward the ceiling, quiet gasps and groans giving way to loud, breathless swearing as she arches into Thyme in earnest at last, and Thyme eagerly devours every little sound she makes, every quavering note in her voice. She murmurs a constant stream of encouragement and affection as she works, watching the way Roe’s lashes flutter and her brow knits as she is overcome by sensation, watching how her eyes sparkle when they meet hers again with such desire and love for her. Then Roe squeezes her eyes shut as she plummets over the edge at last, and Thyme chases her, urging her along, happy to follow her always, forever.

As Roe collapses back onto the couch, sated, Thyme follows, the two of them sinking together into a heap of tangled, exhausted limbs.

“So—” Roe starts after a few moments, her voice gravely and shaky from exertion, but the word chokes and dies in her throat as Thyme slowly, lazily traces her fingers along Roe’s every curve, her muscles now utterly relaxed beneath Thyme’s hands, sweaty skin flecked with tiny little freckles and scars that Thyme gently presses beneath her lips, one by one.

Roe starts again— “no more working on your research tonight, then?” —and Thyme could, she thinks, but this is definitely better.

“Absolutely not,” she breathes, planting a kiss just next to Roe’s lips, and the way Roe smiles down at her, so soft and warm and utterly head over heels in love, almost makes her heart stop entirely. Roe wraps her arms around Thyme’s waist and presses a lazy kiss into the top of her head, rubbing small circles into her back as Thyme nuzzles into her, cheek pressed against her breast.

The rain outside continues to fall: steady, calming. It only takes a few minutes—or perhaps they were only seconds, it’s hard to say—for Roe’s breathing beneath her to grow slow and steady, her grip around Thyme’s waist still present, but now loose and relaxed. The sound of Roe’s heartbeat is soothing, her skin warm and soft against Thyme’s.

Thyme, too, finds herself dozing into Roe’s chest, her eyes growing impossibly heavy as exertion catches up with her all at once and the afterglow begins to lull her down, down… until she’s nudged out of her gentle doze by the feeling of Roe’s voice thrumming beneath her.

“I just realized something,” Roe says. She’s mumbling groggily into Thyme’s hair, her voice low and thick. Thyme does her best to rouse herself just enough to catch her words.

“Mm?”

“We let your tea get cold.”

Thyme laughs, reaching up to press a sleepy kiss against Roe’s throat, and the last conscious thought she has as she slides into sleep is overwhelming in its simplicity:

—My heart, my Rosemary, I love you so.