Dimitri does not mean to do it. No matter how Felix hates him after – no matter how much Felix has the right to hate him – Dimitri genuinely does not mean to do it.
They are sitting in Dimitri’s chambers at the end of a long day – Dimitri’s first mistake, because his chambers are far more intimate than his office. Felix is on the sofa beside him. Drinking whiskey, ostensibly, though he has hardly touched it.
He is distracted. Keeps glancing at Dimitri then looking away again, fingers playing with the rim of his glass. Shifting in his seat as though he cannot get comfortable.
Dimitri should have noticed. Should have sent Felix away before anything could go wrong, but he is enjoying Felix’s company. Their relationship has improved significantly since the war, an effort on both their parts. And Dimitri is so happy. Happy to be Dimitri and Felix again, rather than the king and his advisor. Happy to have Felix here, so close, so comfortable.
Dimitri is happy. Not thinking. He lets his guard down – his second mistake, and by far the most damning one.
“Your sword-work is getting sloppy,” Felix is telling him. Not aggressive or disdainful – this is Felix being friendly. “You should train more. You’ve been using your spear too much and lost finesse as a result.”
“You are right, I suppose,” Dimitri says. Smiling. Bubbling with an energy and an easy sort of joy that, in retrospect, should have warned him something was amiss. “It is hard to find the time to do it all, these days. Though I must say I never thought I would find myself skimping on training, of all things.”
“You haven’t completely lost it yet,” Felix says. “There’s time to get it back, though you’ll never be as good with a blade as me.”
Felix often tells people this, and he is always right. By the same token he cannot match Dimitri in lance-work, but, importantly, Felix has no interest in lances. His focus remains entirely on swordplay, and it never seems to occur to him that other people’s priorities might lie elsewhere.
Dimitri is terribly fond of him. Being with him now only makes the years spent missing him all the lonelier. His affection for Felix is an aching thing – would be painful if not for the warmth that accompanies it – and Dimitri moves closer to him without thinking about it.
Not thinking. Not thinking at all, which is his third mistake. Because Dimitri is underdressed, takes off his overcoat at some point and barely registers that he has done it, engrossed as he is in Felix. It is hot in front of the fire, so Dimitri alleviates the discomfort and does not think.
Dimitri never takes his clothes off in front of people. There is a very good reason why he never takes his clothes off in front of people.
Felix’s lecture on sword technique… wavers. He stutters, loses his train of thought. And Dimitri only leans in further, absorbed in his own excitement, because Felix mentioned the Sword of Zoltan somewhere in the middle. He still will not let Dimitri take a proper look at it even though they are, by some definition of the word, friends again.
“You’re… ah, Dimitri,” Felix stammers out. “I’ve been thinking…”
Felix gets no further. Sets his glass down, sudden and decisive, though still mostly untouched. His fingers are twitchy. There is a flush to his cheeks that was not there before.
“The Sword of Zoltan?” Dimitri prompts.
Oddly, Felix’s cheeks go redder. He nods his head. Changes his mind midway – jerks it in a strange, aborted motion, neither yes nor no. “Forget the sword.”
But Dimitri senses weakness, like a shark scenting blood. And he does not stop to examine why he senses it, or why his instincts are suddenly razor-sharp. Dimitri often has trouble understanding Felix, fond as he is of him – not now. Not as he leans in. Not as he senses Felix’s self-control straining, weakening, becoming... malleable.
Dimitri is a cruel, wicked man, and utterly thoughtless in his sins.
“Come on, Felix,” he says. Voice low and persuasive, lips curving into an enticing smile. “Surely you will let me hold it. Just the once.”
Felix’s Adam’s apple bobs as he swallows. Frozen like a rabbit, meeting Dimitri’s gaze dead-on – and Felix never holds eye contact voluntarily. Dimitri should have known, then and there.
But Dimitri, like a fool, leans closer still. “I promise I will be gentle.”
Felix swallows again, reflexive. His cheeks are flushed, his body rigid, and he is so very, very warm. Dimitri can feel him. The breath in his lungs, the shift of his limbs, the rapid thud, thud, thudding of his heart. He breathes in, inhaling Felix’s scent – masculine, spicy – and Felix is wearing a little too much cologne, but it only makes the moment headier. He is so warm. The heat of him is intoxicating, everything Dimitri has ever needed, and he drinks him in. Basks in the glow of Felix’s total attention, his heat, his yielding.
Felix. Yielding. Giving in, and Dimitri reaches for it without a thought in his head. Moves closer still, so close he can see the rare flecks of green in Felix’s eyes.
But then he feels it. Felix’s hand coming to rest on his knee. Felix swaying towards him, pupils blown and lips parted, drawn into Dimitri in a helpless pull. His eyes are on Dimitri’s lips, and he looks positively bewitched. Enthralled.
Dimitri pulls back so abruptly he almost falls off the sofa. Catches himself on the coffee table, almost sending his own whiskey glass smashing to the floor. His heartbeat is thundering, but he is freezing, and every part of him is howling to lean back into Felix’s warmth because Dimitri is so hungry, so cold, so –
No no no.
He shoves himself to his feet. Lurches away, wrapping his arms around himself defensively. Sick to his stomach, reeling with the magnitude of what he has just done.
He did not mean to enthral Felix. He does not even remember when it started. He was excited, that is all. Happy, enjoying Felix’s company. He wanted to hold the sword – that stupid sword – and now –
“Forgive me, Felix.” Even as he says it, he knows it is impossible. Dimitri is a monster – how could Felix ever forgive him? Dimitri… Dimitri bewitched him.
Felix is talking. Saying something – something that is probably important – but Dimitri is choking on nothing. Cannot hear him over the ringing in his ears.
He used his thrall. He used his thrall. He did not even realise he was doing it, does not remember it rearing up in any conscious fashion. But Felix leaned in for a kiss – what other explanation can there be than enchantment?
Silence. Felix has stopped talking. Dimitri cannot look at him. Stands in the middle of the room hunched in on himself, back to Felix, saying nothing at all.
“I’ll… I’ll just go,” Felix mutters. Uncharacteristically small. Angry, disorientated, confused – and how could he not be?
Felix is Felix. A proud, driven, disciplined man. Not inclined towards displays of affection, certainly not towards Dimitri. They are doing better, arguing less, but they still argue. Still have trouble understanding each other. Still struggle to find common ground.
Dimitri hates it. Wishes he could understand Felix, feel close to him, as he has not since they were children. Cares for Felix with an intensity that has never quite made sense, only worsening with the passage of time, but Felix hated him for so long. They are only just recovering, only just finding their feet again.
And now Dimitri has done this. He did not mean to. He really, genuinely, did not mean to.
But the curse of his blood is not so easily ignored.
- - -
Dimitri learns the truth about his mother after the Tragedy of Duscur.
He loses his father, his stepmother, Glenn. Loses his innocence and joy. Loses, also, his humanity.
Dimitri survives. Survives when he should not, for he takes a sword right through the heart. Remembers it piercing his flesh, the pain, the certainty of death just on the horizon.
But Dimitri lives.
After the funerals are over, after Dimitri’s tears have dried up, he goes to Rodrigue. Tells him the truth - exhausted, hopeless, confused. Dimitri should have died next to his father, yet here Dimitri stands.
Rodrigue is quiet for a long, long moment. Then, with a heavy sigh, he tells him.
The story of Dimitri’s mother is not at all like the one Dimitri was told. His mother did not die during the plague. His mother was not human at all.
She was a demoness. A succubus. So beautiful and charming his father fell deeply in love, though he did not know what she was at the time. She married him. Bore Dimitri, laughing at the chaos she had wrought in putting demonic blood in line for the throne. And then, one day, she just… vanished.
“I wish I could explain it to you better,” Rodrigue says while Dimitri is reeling. His family is dead, and everything he knows about himself is crashing down too. “I have never understood her motivations. Perhaps they are not for regular people to understand. All I know is that she left you a gift, for when you came of age. It was the only thing she left behind.”
His mother left. She did not die when he was a baby. She left.
It is hardly the most salient point in this life-shattering revelation, but –
"She did not want me?" Dimitri says.
Rodrigue sets his hands on Dimitri’s shoulders. Squeezes.
“She was a demon,” he says gently, “and a powerful one at that. But… she loved you. As much as she was capable of love, I think. It was her who named you – she insisted on it.”
His mother’s gift is a small package wrapped in plain brown paper. Dimitri opens it in the privacy of his room. Hoping, in a foolish, childish way, that his mother left him a note. Explaining it all, explaining everything, piecing his shattered world back together. Telling him to come and find her. Telling him she loves him, and that he is not alone.
There is no note.
Instead there is a golden chain and a simple pendant – a D. Innocuous and unassuming, though his fingers trace the plain metal of it several times before he sets it aside. The second gift is… different. A book – small, thin, bound in a strange-looking leather. It takes Dimitri a moment to muster the courage to touch it.
When he does, he thinks he hears screaming.
It is a dangerous thing; he knows that instinctively. But what is death? Let it take him if it will – Dimitri has already lost everything. He does not care anymore.
He opens it.
Dimitri often gets headaches. This is the worst one yet.
- - -
Dimitri avoids Felix, after the incident in his chambers.
He does not meet him in the training yards in the morning, as is their routine whenever Felix is in Fhirdiad. He does not seek him out to go riding on the next fine afternoon, or for afternoon tea, or for a late-night wander of the portrait gallery, reminiscing about their boyhood days.
Dimitri avoids him at all costs. Covers himself in his heaviest layers and refuses to wash his hair, for all the good looking greasy will do him. Avoids people in general, because if he is accidentally enthralling Felix then he dreads to think what will happen if he catches someone else in a moment of vulnerability.
Felix is strong. Felix is stubborn. Felix, until very recently, hated Dimitri. He of all people should be able to resist the draw of Dimitri’s tainted blood.
But they have been doing better, lately. Spending a lot of time in each other’s company. Felix has been smiling more, laughing more. He even complimented Dimitri once. Perhaps it is simple as that – Felix let his guard down.
And look what Dimitri has done.
- - -
Dimitri’s demonic bloodline does not manifest for many years.
He is an ordinary teenager – gawky, sporadically spotty, sweaty for no reason at all. He is skinny as a beanpole long after his peers have filled out, despite extensive daily training. He does not know what to do with his hair, or how to dress himself, and becomes strangely tongue-tied when someone makes his heart do something interesting.
He is ordinary. Plain, even. Right up until the day he is not.
He grows up. He grows older. Something… changes. And Dimitri is beautiful. By any definition, by any tastes and to any standard, Dimitri is beautiful.
It does not matter how his body changes, or how cruelly life treats it – when he is thin and wild and vengeful, he becomes not repulsive but hypnotic in his brooding waif-like physique. When he is recovering, gaining weight but not yet within the realms of normal, he is slinky as a panther, body rolling and flexible and magnetising in its sway. When he is well-fed and well-trained, he becomes the very image of contemporary male beauty – broad shoulders, tiny waist, covered with lean but well-defined muscle, generous in all the right places.
And he makes the mistake of thinking, by the time he is crowned, that he is done growing into his beauty.
He thinks he has mastered the trick of covering it up. Drapes every inch of his chest in fabric to hide his firm pectorals and taut abdomen. Wears breeches thick and woollen to disguise his shapely calves and well-muscled thighs. Wears gloves to cover his elegant-yet-masculine fingers, boots to conceal the delicately arched perfection of his feet. (Dimitri once thought his feet, at the very least, would be neutral, but an incident at the cobbler taught him otherwise.)
Dimitri is wrong. Because after his coronation, the kingdom flourishes and Dimitri flourishes with it. Stable, fulfilled, confident in himself for the first time in what feels like forever.
And the curse of Dimitri’s bloodline rears its ugly head. Dimitri is confident. Happy, after all his years or misery. And somehow, impossibly, he grows even more beautiful.
"No offence, Your Majesty, but your hair could use some work," Sylvain tells him one day. Has sidled his way into Dimitri’s chambers, apparently with this in mind. "It's an important feast. You should look your best."
"I am sufficient," Dimitri says. He is wearing clothes that are too big, colours that do not quite suit him, and his hair covers half his face. Things he does so often he no longer thinks about them. Things he has no intention of changing.
"Come on, it'll take just a second. Here, give me that comb,” Sylvain says.
And Dimitri… he does not think.
He sits down in front of the mirror, because Sylvain has a stubborn look on his face, and Dimitri is too tired to argue. He lets Sylvain put his hands in Dimitri’s hair. Comb through it with his fingers first, brushing against the skin of Dimitri’s face. Blond strands silky and soft, though Dimitri takes little care of them.
Sylvain is an infamous skirt-chaser. His fondness for women is so excessive it gets him into trouble on the regular. He spends half his life staring at them, and the other chasing them about.
So Dimitri does not think.
But then Sylvain’s eyes meet his own in the mirror. His hands are tangled in Dimitri’s hair, pulling it back out of Dimitri’s face. He is close enough to feel the warmth of Dimitri’s body, to breathe in the scent of his skin.
In the mirror, Dimitri sees the moment Sylvain realises that Dimitri is beautiful. Far, far more beautiful than Sylvain has ever noticed before.
Want. It coils between them. Tugging at Dimitri, consuming, addictive. Telling him to hold Sylvain’s gaze just a moment longer. To tip his head, let Sylvain touch the exposed skin of his neck. Let Sylvain want him, because he can feel the curiosity through their connection, knows in his uncanny, unwelcome way that Sylvain has never been with a man before. Knows that right now, in this moment, Sylvain wants him enough to try.
The wanting. That is what sustains him, that calls to something buried deep within his marrow, his bones, his blood. The thing that empowers him, fills him with energy and life. The breathless, desperate wanting.
Dimitri jerks his head out of Sylvain’s grip. Snapping the threads as best as he knows how. He feels ill – sick on his own behalf, and sick on Sylvain’s. For the desire Dimitri’s corrupted blood pushed into his mind. For the fact there is a part of Dimitri, a dark, lurking part, that liked the feeling of Sylvain’s curious desire.
Dimitri is a terrible man. Hates it, hates himself.
“Nothing to be done about my hair,” he mutters and rushes out of the room, leaving a stunned-looking Sylvain behind him.
He spends most of the evening avoiding Sylvain and hiding behind Dedue, because Dedue is one of the rare few immune to Dimitri’s thrall. Thinks of Dimitri as his family, complicated as their history is, and Dimitri’s demon blood mercifully leaves him alone.
But it does not end there. Dimitri is, generally speaking, happy. Happier than he has been since he was a boy, and in a cruel irony, his happiness is a double-edged blade. His joy makes his accursed beauty grow, and grow, and grow.
Annette is the next victim. She embraces him in greeting one day, a thoughtless, friendly ritual, and becomes so suddenly and powerfully attracted to him that Dimitri reels with the force of it. She pulls back and stares at him, heart hammering in her chest, tiny hands squeezing his biceps, and Dimitri stammers out his excuses and flees.
Ingrid follows soon after. Dimitri still trains and, as a Knight of the Kingdom, so does she. They meet each other blow for blow, and though Dimitri is strong Ingrid is lightning-fast. They whirl around each other in ferocious combat, neither yielding, neither weakening. And Dimitri grins. Sudden, fierce, heart pounding and utterly exhilarated. He grins, and Ingrid goes still. Staring at his face – and Dimitri has pushed his hair back out of it, like a fool. She can see him.
Ingrid made him an offer once already. A vague, passing thing quickly redirected, a pledge of loyalty easily shifted onto knighthood. This time she is not so easily distracted.
Ashe, when he visits next, all but trips over himself he becomes so tongue-tied in Dimitri’s presence. Mercedes, when she spies Dimitri returning windswept atop his horse, wants him with a force that almost topples him out of the saddle. Sylvain, barely recovered after the hair incident, encounters Dimitri on a balcony on a moonlit night and pursues him with a sudden and aggressive zeal that is as shocking to their friends as it is to Sylvain himself.
Desire. That is all it takes – desire. Under the weight of their admiration, Dimitri’s energy is boundless, his smiles easy, his laughter frequent. His moods, often changeable, level out into one long high. He positively bubbles with strength and vigour.
It is sickening. The worst sort of manipulation, and he hates it even as it makes him stronger, and steadier, and more uncomfortably, wretchedly beautiful. He tries so hard to control it, but nothing he ever does is enough. He does not want them to want him, but his body does, and the conflict between the two makes him positively ill.
It is awful. It is wrong. An evil, seeping power, twisting the minds of those he cares for. His blood is tainted, the Blaiddyd line irrevocably corrupted.
He scours his mother’s hateful little book for help, but it only highlights the fractured nature of his being.
Dimitri is an incubus – but only half. He possesses the power but none of the instincts, cannot control it as a true demon could. His personality could not be more ill-suited to it - Dimitri and demon of desire are two concepts that should not exist within the same sentence, let alone the same person. It conflicts with very nature of his being and as such it just… exists within him. Another piece of his puzzle, as contradictory as all the rest.
Beast and man. Strong and fragile. Chaste and impossibly, inescapably seductive.
An incubus. Even though it is laughable, because Dimitri is the least sexy person he knows. Not flirtatious, or charming, or even interested.
Dimitri is Dimitri – dull, a little awkward, working hard to make himself and his country a better place. A skilled warrior and a battle-hardened soldier. The king, burdened with weighty responsibility and the desire for justice because, flawed as he is, he wants better for his people.
Also an incubus. Because for his powers to work, all that matters is that he is the object of attraction, not whether he feels it for himself.
Dimitri is a demon of desire. But in the greatest irony, it has nothing at all to do with what he wants.
- - -
The worst part of the Felix situation is that he has desired Dimitri before.
Felix has wanted him. Everyone has wanted him at some point or other, and not for lack of avoidance on Dimitri’s part.
During their academy days, when Dimitri was just coming into his powers, he felt it sometimes. Felix’s eyes on him, his interest, his attraction. He would stare at Dimitri as Dimitri trained, stare at him as he danced, stare at the back of his head when they sat in different parts of the classroom.
He still hated him. The attraction was not real, not Dimitri but the result of his mother’s blood. Dimitri could almost feel Felix’s confusion, because Felix hated him. Was disgusted by him. Perhaps feared him, just a little, or at least feared the things Dimitri could do.
Yet he desired him. Strange, twisted, sometimes violent, because Felix could not reconcile the co-existence of his hatred and his lust. Dimitri knew, with uncanny recognition, just how Felix would like to have him. Roughly, unkindly, punishingly. Taking out his confusion on Dimitri’s body, the feeling made all the more intense by the clash of his anger and desire.
Nothing like it is now. Nothing heated and heady and enticing, as it was in Dimitri’s chambers. Not Felix warm and open, cheeks pink, swaying towards him as Dimitri breathes in the smell of his cologne.
Felix has never tried to kiss him before. Even when Dimitri’s newfound powers were at their worst, sputtering and spiking because he had no semblance of control. Felix has never tried to kiss him.
“Are you not going to dinner with Felix tonight?” Dedue asks him when he encounters Dimitri heading to his chambers rather than in the direction of the front hall.
Dedue frowns. Falls into step beside Dimitri, his silence meaningful. A question, though Dimitri is not sure what answer he expects.
Dedue knows. Dimitri told him years ago, choked out the truth when he was hiding in his bedroom at the academy. The day he looked in the mirror and discovered he was beautiful – not himself. Not Dimitri, the stuffy, boring, too-serious prince, plain as a wheat biscuit. The day he looked in the mirror and saw an incubus staring back at him.
“It is for the best,” he tells Dedue.
Dedue just looks at him. Makes a noise – neither agreement nor disapproval. He will, Dimitri knows, speak to him about it later, when he thinks Dimitri has calmed down.
Dimitri is already calm. Or, if not calm, at least resigned. He has already sent a letter giving Felix his apologies, explaining that he is unfortunately indisposed this evening after all.
It is only dinner. A new restaurant has opened in the city, and though Dimitri gets little out of food, he and Felix arranged to try it. Felix was oddly twitchy when he asked. Smiled, cheeks flushing, when Dimitri said yes.
Dimitri wants to go. But he cannot do it, now.
Because Dimitri was wrong in thinking that Felix’s desire was the worst part. It gets worse still. If Dimitri thought Felix meant it, that Felix really wanted to kiss him…
Dimitri would let him.
- - -
The blood coursing through his veins is a strange thing. Foreign yet familiar, incongruous yet entangled in all that Dimitri is. It makes him beautiful, when he does not want to be. Makes him… know things. About people.
Through only a look, he knows what they want, what they like. Knows what they would like to do to him, and how he may use it to get what he wants. Knows how to manipulate the beating of their hearts, how to bend them to his will. How to have them eating out of the palm of his hand, if he so wishes.
Dimitri hates it. He is not a manipulative man. Cannot reconcile the dishonour of using his knowledge against people, the dishonour of knowing it at all. He tries not to. Pushes it to the back of his mind when his accursed instinct flashes through him.
But Dimitri knows. He could make them want him. And through want, he could make them do anything at all.
It is sickening. It is wrong. An honourable man would never use such a tactic. Dimitri’s mother may have been a demon, but he will never sink to that level.
Dimitri is naïve. He has no idea just how far he has to fall.
But he does.
He tries his power during the long, long years of his exile. Tries it to wheedle information about where Imperial soldiers are going – their next encampment, their next strike, the next deployment of new soldiers fresh out of training. Hungry for revenge. Hungry for their deaths.
It took years for Dimitri to try it. And now he does, it… does not work well.
Dimitri is a terrible incubus. He cannot bear to be touched. The most he can stomach is baring his fingertips, stroking along a cheekbone, tilting up a chin. Gaining information, sometimes, and knowing in a distant, muted way that he has done something to the person who gave it to him, if not done it very well.
Dimitri is an incubus, but he is no good at it.
A demon of murder – that is what Dimitri should have been. A demon of blood and hate and vengeance.
But he is not. He is… this.
His powers are useless. Useless for his purposes, his demonic blood too watered down. He is beautiful, always beautiful – but he does not care. His inheritance is useless at killing, and killing is all he cares about.
He wears his mother’s necklace around his neck. And during the height of his madness he thinks he can hear it whispering to him beneath the howls of the angry dead. Thinks that if he presses it hard enough into his palm its secrets will unfold. That it will carry some message, some sign, and make him into the monster he was always born to be.
He will be a demon, then, a real one. Not a shallow imitation. Not made up of fragmented, conflicting, irreconcilable pieces, a mosaic of broken glass. Dimitri will be whole at last.
But Dimitri regains himself, regains his sanity. And the pendant is just a pendant, metal shaped into the first letter of his name. A gift from his mother, name and pendant alike.
If there is a message behind it, it is not one Dimitri will ever believe.
She left him other things. Left him the little book of demons, left him the corruption in his blood. Left him, essentially, nothing, because he is neither human nor demon enough, caught in the middle, both nothing and everything at once. A tempest, a void.
She laughed at what she did to the line of Blaiddyd, Rodrigue told him so. He wonders if, if they met, she would laugh at him too.
Because when Dimitri’s madness fades, when he comes back, so too does the power of his mother’s blood. It grows, and build, and changes, and Dimitri finally understands.
His powers lay dormant during the height of his madness. Could not be properly reached, no matter how hard he tried, because they were drowned out. By hatred, and anger, and violence.
Because those parts of him, horrifying as they are, have nothing at all to do with the demon inside him.
Because those parts of him are terrifyingly, utterly human.
- - -
Felix comes knocking on Dimitri’s office door a few days after they were supposed to go to dinner.
Dimitri is not expecting him. Calls, “Enter,” as he always does, and blotches his paper when it is Felix who follows the command.
“Felix,” he says. It sounds pathetically weak.
Felix is straight-backed and proud as ever, but his jaw is tense. “Dimitri.” He does not sit, but paces over to Dimitri’s bookshelf instead. Stares at the books and assorted knick-knacks with great concentration. “I haven’t seen you.”
“No, I – I have been busy. Forgive me.”
Silence. Felix’s lips twisting into something bitter. “You don’t have to lie to me. I can take it.”
Dimitri swallows. Sets down his quill, letting his hair fall in front of his eye. Covering his face.
Felix does not even know what Dimitri did to him. Does not know what Dimitri is. Not the two-faced thing Felix accused him of, all those many months ago – something much worse.
“Felix, I owe you an apolo-”
It is so sudden and decisive that Dimitri startles. Felix is glaring at an innocuous wooden bird on Dimitri’s bookshelf. His shoulders are so tight they are drawn up almost to his ears.
“Felix, please, I–”
“Don’t. You don’t… owe me anything.”
Dimitri most definitely does. Struggles to find the words. I bewitched you, Felix. I made you think you want me. I took control of you in the most heinous fashion.
He cannot say it. The words burn his tongue, the shame swallows him whole. He did not mean to hurt Felix. Not to control him or compel him. Dimitri would never use his thrall on Felix, never.
But he did.
“I am sorry.” It comes out all in a rush, in no small part because Dimitri thinks Felix will try to stop him.
He is right. Felix whirls on him. Eyes narrowed, hands balled into fists by his side. “I hate it when you get like this. You don’t need to apologise to me.”
“You don’t understand…”
“You don’t understand,” Felix shoots back. “I didn’t come here to fight. I came here because I – I owe you an apology. That night, I thought…” Felix’s cheeks redden. He looks away. Grinds out, his tone at odds with the strange vulnerability of his posture, “I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry. I won’t… I won’t do it again.”
Felix stares at the floor. Cheeks still flushed, but the rest of him blanched. His lips are turned down – warningly, distinctively so.
Felix is… sad.
The realisation hits Dimitri like a bolt of lightning. Felix is not angry, or irritated, or disgusted with him. Felix is not seething with wounded pride, fuming with resentment, not sharp or hateful of bristling with offence.
Felix is sad.
Dimitri cannot help it. He is on his feet before he has the chance to think, though not thinking has been his downfall many times before. Approaches softly, carefully. Reaches out –
For a moment, Dimitri means to touch Felix’s face. To tilt his chin up, lift his eyes, so that he may see him properly. So that he may comfort him, reassure him, tell him the truth.
But the truth is that Dimitri did this to them both. All of Felix’s guilt and awkwardness and rejection – they are all his to bear.
He drops his hand. Forces himself to turn away. To go over to the window and stare out, collecting himself.
Dimitri in an incubus. Felix desires him – and Dimitri knows exactly how. How Felix would kiss and touch and bed him. He knows what Felix wants from him, even if Felix does not know why he wants it.
Right now, in this moment, all Dimitri wants is to put his arms around Felix. To hold him.
It has never been about what Dimitri wants.
“It is my fault, Felix, whatever you may think. There are a lot of things you don’t know about me. But if I thought you really…”
Dimitri swallows around a lump in his throat. Shakes himself – that will do no good. Fuel the fires he has no right to fuel.
Dimitri wants. But he is not allowed to want, not like this.
“Let us forget the matter, shall we, and be friends again,” he says. Pastes a smile on his face when he turns back to face Felix.
“Friends,” Felix repeats. Takes in a breath – pauses. He turns back to the bookshelf. Stares at an ornament, throat bobbing. “Of course.”
- - -
Dimitri cannot stop thinking about Felix.
Every time he closes his eyes, he is there. On the sofa, Felix’s hand on his knee. But this time, in the safety of his imagination, they go further. That hand creeps slowly up his thigh. Their lips meet, slow at first, becoming increasingly urgent as Dimitri pins Felix down with his body weight, pressing him into the cushions. Felix growls at him when Dimitri begins to kiss down his throat, struggles to regain leverage, but goes quiet and docile when kissed just right.
Dimitri knows how to do it. Knows exactly what would make Felix shiver and whimper and cry out. Knows just where to kiss, and nip, and stroke with teasing fingers.
He knows it. Because it is what Felix wanted.
But this time it is different than with all the rest. This time Dimitri cannot ignore it, even though he knows it is an invasion, a violation of Felix’s most private thoughts.
This time… Dimitri wants too.
He cannot stop thinking about it. How he could make it so good for Felix. So good he would ruin him for any other lovers, because Dimitri’s powers are an insidious thing. He could bring Felix to ecstasy over and over again, without pause for breath, without need for rest. He could fulfill every want and need and fantasy before Felix even knew them for himself.
Dimitri knows exactly what Felix would like. To be taken, laid out on his back with Dimitri crooning in his ear, achingly, maddeningly slow. To take Dimitri in turn, on his hands and knees, as rough and hard as Felix needs, Dimitri groaning encouragement the whole way. To be wrapped up in Dimitri’s arms, lose his senses, forget everything but the whisper of sheets and Dimitri’s hands and mouth and endless, overwhelming pleasure.
It would be a night Felix would never forget. A night with a demon in his bed, who knows better than he does exactly how Felix would like to be touched.
Dimitri feels filthy. Dimitri feels wrong, because he has no business imagining Felix this way. Taking Felix’s own fantasies and spinning them around in his own mind, because who knows what his demonic blood will do with them? Who knows what he will compel Felix to do next, if he is not careful?
Felix almost kissed him. He has never tried to do that before, and Dimitri is terrified.
Dimitri is a poor excuse for an incubus. He does not want to seduce people, does not want to be desired, even though it fills him with that boundless, ecstatic energy. Dimitri wants more. Dimitri… Dimitri wants to be loved.
He wants Felix to love him.
And if he thought he could earn Felix’s love with his body, he would do everything Felix wants without another thought.
- - -
“What did you mean the other day?” Felix says out of nowhere.
He and Dimitri are in the training yards. Sparring. Have, up until this very moment, been pretending that nothing strange happened between them at all.
Felix lowers the tip of his blade to the ground. Glaring at Dimitri, though it is difficult to say whether his anger stems from genuine irritation or his own discomfort.
“That – thing, you said.” At Dimitri’s blank look, Felix glowers. Mutters, “You said something about… you know… if you thought I really…”
Dimitri’s heart thumps. “It was nothing.”
“Thought I really what?”
Dimitri swallows. Felix has a stubborn look on his face, all too familiar, despite the flush to his cheeks. His jaw is set, his shoulders tense. His hands, though, are twitching around the hilt of his blade. He squeezes them tight, stopping the motion.
Dimitri looks away. Sheathes his sword. “Felix. Please.”
It is an admission, but Dimitri only realises it when Felix’s lips part. When his eyes search Dimitri’s face, and there is something that looks almost like hope upon –
No, Dimitri. No.
“You think I didn’t mean it,” Felix says. Not question – statement. Fast, a little airy, for Felix is breathing too quickly despite his bravado.
Dimitri squeezes his eye shut. Turns away, shoulders hunching, and he hears Felix mutter a curse under his breath.
Footsteps behind him, slow and careful. Felix’s hand taking him by the elbow, searing hot despite Dimitri’s many layers.
“Dimitri, look at me. I don’t – I’m not going to push you. Come on, please.”
Dimitri should throw off his hand before things go any further. But Felix’s voice is low, manner uncharacteristically gentle, as though dealing with a spooked animal. And he has never used this voice on Dimitri before. On Annette, certainly. On Ashe, too, and on stray cats whenever he happens to pass by them.
Dimitri cannot help himself. He turns around.
“I’m not – I’m not good at this.” Felix’s face is scarlet. His mouth is twisted down, faintly miserable. But he holds Dimitri’s gaze. “I don’t know what I’m doing but…”
“Leave it alone, Felix,” Dimitri says softly.
Felix releases his grip on Dimitri’s arm. Glares up at him, angry again all of a sudden.
“I don’t like being mocked. If you don’t – that’s fine, but don’t play with me. We’ve been seeing each other for months. All the… the sparring, and the drinks, and the invitations and…”
Seeing each other. Seeing each other.
Dimitri's shock must show on his face, for Felix trails off. Confidence wavering - Dimitri can see it - because Felix is not good with social cues. Misinterprets, sometimes. Has confronted Dimitri with a sudden and forthright bluntness only to belatedly realise that, when spoken aloud, his claims are not as ironclad as he thought.
Felix's anger fades. Replaced by a sudden, heart-wrenching look of humiliation.
Felix thinks they have been seeing each other. Is here in front of him, not touching, not desiring, not filling Dimitri's head unwittingly with the things he would like to do to him.
Felix thinks they have been seeing each other. Which means Felix would be open to…
Dimitri's heart is beating so loud it threatens to fly right out of his chest. Happy, so happy. He feels like he is glowing.
He never thought. He never even dared to dream that Felix might really…
Dimitri swallows. He cannot get ahead of himself. But maybe, maybe.
Maybe it is real. Maybe Felix it is so bewitched he does not know truth from reality. Maybe Dimitri is more of a monster than he thought.
But if there is a chance, if there is even a sliver of hope…
"Felix. There is something I need to tell you."
- - -
It is hours later.
Felix is standing in Dimitri’s chambers. Staring at the hateful little book Dimitri’s mother left him – not touching it, because Dimitri warned him firmly away.
“An incubus,” he says, not for the first time, though it is just as sceptical as ever.
“Half,” Dimitri corrects. As though it makes any material difference when it comes to this. “Yes.”
“Huh. Well… it explains some things."
It is not as bad a reaction as Dimitri feared. Felix, after all, hated him enough when he thought Dimitri a beast, but an actual, real-life demon…
"What's that look for?"
Dimitri fidgets. Swallows around a lump in his throat. "I understand, if…"
He is half expecting Felix to leave. His stupid, foolish hope is all but gone now, dull misery taking its place, because while Felix has not reacted with disgust, he has also not…
Felix exhales. Sits down beside him on the sofa.
“I don’t get you.”
If it is an accusation, Dimitri does not understand what Felix expects in reply. He lowers his head. Hears Felix snort.
“You’re an idiot. You thought you’d – what, cast a spell on me?”
“Enthralled you, yes. And I am so sorry, I did not mean to –”
Dimitri shuts his mouth so abruptly his jaw clicks.
“You’re an idiot. I won't deny that… well, you know what you look like." Felix's cheeks go pink again. "But you're a terrible demon. You freeze like a startled rabbit when anyone so much as looks at you."
"I don't want them to look at me. You saw how it was with Sylvain." Dimitri is not sure why he brings it up. To punish himself, maybe. To remind Felix of just how bad he can be.
Felix just snorts again. "I remember. He made an ass of himself, but that's nothing new. You didn't exactly encourage him."
"No, but…" Dimitri did not have to. His powers work sometimes without his consent. He is only half-blood - he lacks control.
Felix reaches over. Carefully, very carefully, places his hand over Dimitri's.
It stuns Dimitri into silence.
"You haven't cast a spell on me, or whatever you think it is."
"You cannot be sure. Neither of us can. And I cannot… I cannot do that to you, Felix, I -"
"Idiot," Felix says, though he sounds strangely… fond. “You can make people lust after you, right?”
Dimitri cringes at the description, but it is hardly inaccurate. “Ah… yes.”
“But you can’t... You can’t make them love you, can you?”
“No, I –” Dimitri starts to say. Freezes.
Love, Felix said. Love.
"There you are, then." Felix is gruff, matter of fact.
Dimitri's heart is thundering in his chest. So fast it is hard to breathe. So fast he is trembling with it.
Dimitri cannot speak. And faced with his silence, Felix starts talking again, all in a rush. His face is positively flaming.
"Don't take it the wrong way. I'm not saying - that. But you haven't thought it through, as usual. It’s - I care about you, obviously. Aside from all the other stuff. I mean - I’m still a man and you’re definitely attractive, but –”
He never gets a chance to finish his sentence.
Dimitri kisses him.
It does not matter that he has never done it before. He kisses him, and he knows it is exactly how Felix likes to be kissed. Cups Felix’s jaw in his hands and kisses him until they are both gasping for air.
Dimitri is still Dimitri, in all his facets. His body goes electric with the force of Felix's desire for him, building in a steady tide. Felix's fingers tangle in his hair, stroke through it, as he knows Felix has always wanted to do. His hands stray down Dimitri's back, feeling the muscle of his shoulders and the tiny breadth of his waist and every knob in Dimitri's spine. Felix groans into Dimitri's mouth and Dimitri has never felt so powerful, so wanted, so alive.
But Dimitri is Dimitri. Shy, slow, a little nervous despite the uncanny skill pumping through his veins.
Dimitri wants Felix too. But slowly.
They do not go to bed. Instead they lie together on the sofa, both breathless, their limbs entwined. Felix combs his fingers through Dimitri's hair, pushing it back from his face. Studying him, taking him in. Looking at Dimitri in all his supernatural beauty, nothing for Dimitri to hide behind.
Felix wants. But in a nice way. In a way Dimitri does not mind.
“If you think this means I’m letting you hold the Sword of Zoltan," Felix says suddenly, "you can think again. I know you. You'll break it."
Because Felix is Felix, it is not a joke. His eyes are narrow. But Dimitri still snorts a laugh.
“As you wish,” he says.
He could make Felix, he knows that. Knows how. His uncanny knowledge is ever at his fingertips, knowledge of how to make Felix yield to his every whim. But he does not take it. Does not want it. Hates even the thought of it, because he is not that sort of man.
Dimitri cannot help his blood - it is a part of him like any other, for Dimitri is a lot of things. But he is not a manipulative person. Not the type to wield his knowledge as a weapon. Chooses not to be.
Perhaps it is the choice that really matters.
Felix’s hands stroke the length of Dimitri’s spine. Come to rest at his waist, playing with the fabric of Dimitri’s shirt.
“Although…” he mutters. His cheeks are pink.
“Hm?” Dimitri meets Felix’s gaze, though Felix’s eyes skitter away almost immediately.
“I, uh…” Felix coughs. Shifts beneath him. “I… might let you persuade me, some time.”
Flirting. Felix is flirting.
Dimitri blinks. And Felix looks nervous all of a sudden, hands stilling, as if wondering if he has pushed too far.
But then Dimitri laughs. Sagging with something akin to relief, and Felix relaxes. Settles his hands in the small of Dimitri's back. And Dimitri leans in to kiss him again.