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Not even all the fireworks in the world can light up my world like you

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She had a mind like a box of fireworks

and hands that played recklessly with matches

– Michael Faudet.


It has been a year and a half since Kumandra came to be. The other lands has decided for Heart to host an extravagant celebration, because it only made sense to redeem the past mistakes of what could have been seven years ago. Fang has offered their full help as they deployed extra bodies of builders to help with construction and offered their guards for extra protection during the festival, with a signed documented treaty of no ill intentions from their side. The princess of Fang herself giving her services, refusing no as an answer as the Chief of Heart practically tells her she didn’t need to strain herself. However, she willing persisted.

Which leads her to now, the preparations has taken a whole two weeks of endless and non-stop building along the open fields right outside Heart where they will be holding the event. While Namaari has been mostly doing the labor-intensive side of things, only occasionally travelling back and forth between Fang and Heart where her Princess services were needed. Raya has been doing the technical princess duties of it all alongside Chief Benja.

From formally extending the invitations, making sure the merchants from each land who are helping contribute their services and business during the festival to be processed smoothly, making sure that there is enough food that will be shared with everyone, to helping scout the around areas for bandits and processing agreements with the tribes that there will be no treachery or disturbances during the event.

In rare times however, Raya finds the time to spend around the construction area with the help of Tuktuk pulling any excessively heavy items for builders. This usually gives Namaari a chance to admire the princess ordering people around and lifting her own heavy work, the sweat dripping down her neck and collarbone that never fails to make the Fang princess’ throat dry up as she stares unashamed.

Her feelings have been out of control as of recently, and she’s thankful for the busy state everyone’s in that she doesn’t have too much time to ogle the Heart princess. Although, it does give her too much time to think about her instead. A river of hopeful what ifs would conquer her thoughts, but it’s quickly followed by the darker rapids of heart-aching guilt and self-doubt.

Behind the deep waters of regret though, lies the yearning of acceptance and affection that her heart and body sought for. Each touch and spoken word of the other princess sends a euphoric feeling throughout her body, a desperation to give her whatever she pleases, the cold bitterness that her heart held for the longest time seeking the warmth of the other who has the power to melt away her doubts and fears. Long wavy hair, dark honey brown eyes, and the warmest smile flash through her thoughts. The way slender hands holds her own reassuringly, soft and meaningful gazes that held promises, and the never-ending challenges to always do better as she holds her in an intimate embrace when things get too rough. The calming thoughts making her body reaching out for the image in her mind.

Namaari internally sighs. She is perched on the corner of the roof of what is supposed to be one of the food stands, hammer in hand. The heat of the sun beating down directly above her. She feels its painful rays piercing through her skin, the beads of sweat trickling down her arms and neck, feeling the insides of her shirt getting soaked from the perspiration.

The humidity in Heart is far different from Fang, it sticks and feels almost suffocating, the open field bear no shade from the trees that surrounded the area. She slightly regrets not joining the other helpers for a break, but the preparations are nearly done, and she just wants it all to be finished.

The dragon keeping her company is somehow managing to keep her sanity intact. Sisu talks endlessly about her siblings and their adventures. Namaari is partly listening, she feels a little guilty for not giving her full attention, but the exhaustion from the day is already catching up to her and she can’t find the energy to. Although, she does appreciate her help passing the heavy items, saving her time from hauling it back and forth by herself. The least she can offer were occasional hums or nods at the water dragon’s eccentric story telling to show her interest.

               “Have you eaten yet?” The water dragon asks sidetracked.

She shakes her head, “No, I will when this gets done”

               “I don’t know who’s worse, you or Raya”

Namaari gingerly scoffs, “We both know it’s Raya because she doesn’t remember to eat.”

Sisu hums in acknowledgement, “That’s true but you purposely forget!”

The Fang princess frowns at her comment, her statement is only partly true. It’s so she can finish everything and not worry about coming back to it later. She dismisses the dragon’s words with a huff, focusing her attention back to her work. She lets Sisu’s voice fill the quietness of the air as she changes the topic.

As she’s about to hammer down the last of the damn nail in the board, she feels the wet droplets of rain falling on her skin, only just noticing that the water dragon has decided to hover above her. She tunes into her voice just in time to hear the end of her sentence,

               “–since you and Raya are together now, we can go watch the fireworks together! Unless you want to be alone then–“


Namaari still unconsciously hammering, brings the tool down with a heavy force but misses the nail entirely as she whips her head up at the dragon completely baffled. She hits the area at the top of her thumb and index finger with much force eliciting a loud cry of pain from her lips.

She abruptly stands causing her to lose her footing, her eyes widens at the realization of her falling backwards off the roof. She shuts her eyes waiting for the impact but instead she feels her body being lifted up, large claws wrapping around her ankle gently.

                “Caught you!”

She snaps her eyes open to see an upside down Sisu grinning at her, purple eyes sparkling with glee.

               “You should really be more careful, that would’ve hurt quite a bit”

Namaari just blinks back in a daze, “What do you mean we’re together?” She incredulously questions, her mind just processing what the dragon has said earlier.

Sisu tilts her head, “What do you mean, what do I mean? Clearly, my observation skills are right! My girl Raya has been too clingy with you lately so obviously I–“

               “But we’re not together like that, Sisu. We’re just really close…friends” She cuts her off rushing to explain. The last word leaving a disappointing bitter taste in her mouth. She frowns feeling distraught at the thought.

Sisu quirks an eyebrow, face scrunching up as if she ate another one of Raya’s jackfruit jerky,

               “What?!” She drags the word in an exaggerated manner, her tone increasing in volume.

Her familiar question rings too close to the Fang princess’ ears. She feels the blood rushing to her head making her slightly nauseous. She’s about to tell the dragon to put her back down when she suddenly feels the air taken from her lungs, her body flipping through midair, only to be caught in the right angle. Sisu now had her furry claws around the warrior’s torso. Namaari feels her heart in her throat, heartrate spiking ask she now faced her dragon friend the correct way up.

               “Please never do that again” She pleads airily breathing out.

The water dragon shoots her an apologetic look, her toothy grin looking like a tiny grimace, “Oops! Sorry, force of habit”

Habit? The Fang warrior’s face scrunches up in bewilderment. How many times has she flipped Raya or anyone else like that? How is that fun?

Namaari shakes her head rattled. She raises her hand to inspect the injury from the hammer incident, the area around her thumb burning pink and swollen into a big lump. Her face contorts to a grimace. So much for finishing things up today.

                “Okay but Namaari! You’re telling me you’ve been making heart eyes at her and you’re not even together?” The exclamation brings the warrior back to reality, her gaze snapping back at the dragon.

Heat rushes to her face at the realization of getting caught, “I wasn’t… I don’t do that.” She weakly tries to argue, her tongue twisting in a struggle.

Sisu bends to her level unconvinced, “You need to tell her”

Namaari furrows her eyebrows frantically shaking her head, “Not going to happen. I’d rather be turned to stone”

Before the dragon can reply, a familiar voice starts from behind them, “Interesting seeing you both slacking at the job”

Namaari and the water dragon whip their heads to the sound, the Heart princess stands with her arms crossed a few steps away from them, a playful grin on her lips.

               “Raya!” the dragon exclaims.

She feels Sisu squeeze her excitedly before placing her back down on the floor, her big talons gently dusting her off. She proceeds to run off hugging the longhaired princess, her tail almost whipping Namaari’s face as she spun quickly.

She patiently stands back, hiding her injured hand behind her, the other waving at the princess who glances at her suspiciously.

               “Care to explain why I saw Sisu holding you upside down from afar, dep la?” Raya approaches her, a teasing smirk on her face.

Namaari rolls her eyes, the corner of her lips tugging into a smile of her own. She opens her mouth to reply but is cut off my Sisu’s boisterous voice.

               “I heard her yelp like a serlot in pain then saw her slip off the roof while I was talking to her about– “

The warrior’s eyes widen realizing what the dragon was about to expose, she interrupts her immediately,

               “It’s only cause I hit my hand and was caught by surprise! That’s about it. She caught me in time before I fell” She hurriedly explains.

Raya looks at her skeptically. She reaches over to carefully pry the warrior’s hand that she was poorly hiding. She brings it closer to her face examining it.

               “Quite rare for little miss perfect to mess up. I’m no healer but good news, you’ll live” she easily jokes.

The Heart princess softly brushes her thumb on the swollen part of her hand, her brows pinching together in slight concern. Namaari tries to hold her breath at the gesture, her heart performing somersaults at the tenderness of it all.

               “I get worse from our spars” She manages to say causing a hearty chuckle out of the princess.

Raya caresses her hand once more before letting her take it back. She flicks her head to the direction of the palace, “Let’s take a break and treat it.”

Sisu eyes them knowingly, her grin only growing wider as she watches the two walk away. She follows excitedly, both for them and the thought of food that she’s been wanting to eat.



They separate after lunch, much to the Fang princess’ disappointment. Raya going back to her duties and Namaari finishing the last few preparations she has left. They had wrapped her hand snugly, she was told not to strain her hand as per orders of the princess. The thought makes her smile remembering the stern pout and scowl Raya had. She continues where she has stopped working, a few more stands to set up then the last touches with the lanterns around the venue.

Sisu has decided to accompany Raya leaving her with a farewell and a discerning look that leads back to their conversation earlier. She doesn’t get a chance to think about it much as the helpers come back going straight back to work. She busies herself instead, but her mind weighs her options if confessing will help ease her heart or make it worse.

As night falls, Namaari makes her way to Raya’s chambers. She has eaten a quick dinner, enough to fill the emptiness of the day. She has finished washing the grime and sweat off her body, the fresh linen of her sleep wear feeling comfy on her skin. She sits on the edge of the Heart princess’ bed, thinking back to how exactly it became natural for her to enter the room like it’s her own.

Her own guest room has been completely forgotten, only used it to change her clothes and use the bathroom, not daring to use the other princess’ personal one as sinful thoughts file in her head. However, she’s always comes back to her quarters. It has started when the Heart princess invited her during the first few days of the preparations, they would fall into light conversation, discuss the festival and fall into their usual banter before one eventually feels the day tire them out, the moon high in the sky, the stillness of the night reminding them how late it has gotten.

Namaari at first would walk back to her room to leave the other girl to her privacy but one night, the princess had shyly asked her to stay. She remembers the way her stomach fluttered, and her heart swell delighted as she hesitantly agreed. Not sure what it meant for them, but she scooted beside the princess, her bed smelling of cherry blossoms as her head hit the pillow, the warmth radiating from beside her almost sending her to nirvana.

From then on, the routine had stayed. The Heart princess would be in her room already waiting for the warrior excitedly ready to fall into conversation, enjoying each other’s company. However, there are nights when Raya comes late. Namaari waits instead, an unspoken promise that she’ll be there to help wind down the day, but the hard work and exhaustion usually takes control of her body, knocking her out cold. Raya eventually comes back late finding her asleep. She wakes in the middle of the night to find the blanket draped over her, the Heart princess snuggled close by her side sleeping peacefully.

By the time morning arrives, most of the time Raya would already be gone, much to Namaari’s disappointment. It’s the first time she has seen the other girl wake up early for more than a day straight. A part of her worries that she hasn’t been getting enough of rest but when she’s woken up at the late hours, she always find her in deep sleep. A wave of assurance spreads through her body at the sight.

Their days always start without seeing each other but Raya sometimes leave notes on the nightstand in her messy handwriting, reminding her to eat and drink water for the day, a small line of tease inserted in it sometimes. The Fang princess keeps all the notes for safe keeping, a tiny smile gracing her face ready to take on the work ahead of her. Their days usually ends by each other side, despite not being able to always talk about their hectic days, it’s a comfort in knowing the princess is the last thing she sees before she sleeps. It doesn’t help her deep evolving feelings for the other girl at all, her heart longing for more but refuses to be selfish when she feels like she doesn’t deserve it.

There are nights Namaari lays awake, roused by her dreams, studying the peaceful and vulnerable slumbering princess beside her. The temptation to run her hand through her silky hair and feel her warmth in her arms, to tuck her face at the crook of her neck, the way they usually hugged, the feeling of safety that spreads throughout her body whenever the girl pulls her close. She wonders how it will feel like when she can hold her like that at night too, the moon and the stars the only ones to bare witness of her private longing, what she wants so desperately right in front of her but cannot have.

Heart’s palace is bustling with servants and guards rushing in and out of the palace, trying to get last minute preparations going as the festival already started out on the field. Namaari stands by her mother, as she walks around helping approve the food and some arrangements while Chief Benja and Raya are in the festival itself making sure everything is going smoothly.

The formal attire feels suffocating and hot on Namaari’s skin, the lack of fresh air in the palace building contributing to her discomfort. She pulls at her collar, adjusting the tightness of her top around her abdomen and resists the urge to scratch a spot on her back that’s been itching from the material. It takes every part of her willpower not to tear her top into shreds, she’s at least glad the chong kraben isn’t as uncomfortable as it looks, the only thing that actually allows her legs to breathe and move around swiftly.

Virana seeing her discomfort finally declares they join the festival. The cool air of the night sending a wave of relief through Namaari’s body. She sags in satisfaction as they walk to the festival not too far away from the palace. She inwardly vibrates with excitement hoping to see Heart princess and hopefully spend more time with her during the festival together.

Or so she thought. Apparently, there’s no escaping politics even at a time of celebration. She knows this but isn’t thrilled anytime her mother takes the chance to converse with any Chief or delegate about potential trade agreements and further expansions. She stands polite and attentive, listening but not really, an act she has mastered for years but secretly, her fingers fidget impatiently behind her, the insides of her cheeks at the point of bleeding as she chews uncharacteristically and its taking every muscle in her body not to tap her restless feet as she watches her mother and the Tail chief drag in a conversation every inch of her cells doesn’t care about.

She’s about to excuse herself when a recognizable voice starts from beside her, she practically beams in elation at seeing the Heart princess. She is clad in what looks like a chut prayook dress in the signature blues and turquoises, gold dragons embroidered on the silk cloth, jewelry perfectly accentuating her outfit, her hair braided on top in her usual style while the rest lusciously flowing, and the best of all is the pleasant familiar smile she wears as she slowly approaches them.

               “Good evening, Chief Virana, Chief Intira. I hope you are enjoying the festival,” She forms the pearl hand gesture, inclining her head in a bow as a greeting,  “If you do not mind, I’d like to invite the Princess of Fang here to view the fireworks display with my friends.”

Virana quirks a brow, a discerning smile on her lips, “Of course, sunbeam. Go on ahead. If I may ask where your father whereabouts are before you leave, I have something to discuss with him.”

Raya tilts her head, her finger coming up to scratch the under of her chin. Namaari’s holds the urge to bite her lip at how cute and beautiful the princess standing before her actually is.

               “He was talking to Chief Dang Hai the last time I saw him, but he should still be around the food area.”

The Chief of Fang nods thanking her before ushering for them to go. The princesses bid their farewell before Raya practically drags the warrior out of there.

Namaari can’t help the sigh of relief leaving her lips, “Here I thought political discussions were your thing.” She hears the Heart princess quip, a playful grin on her face.

The warrior scoffs out, “If I wanted to die of utter boredom then sure,” Raya snickers the grip on her hold tightens momentarily, “Thanks for the save, dep la” She offers a tiny smile.

The Heart princess shrugs a shoulder, “I promised Sisu I’d drag your royal tush to watch the fireworks with the gang even it meant physically dragging you away from your personal party”

They approach a tiny hill just outside of the venue. She recognizes the area is where they dump extra boxes and crates of essentials incase they ran out. She helped build it after all. She sees Sisu already perched at the edge of the open building, Boun laying on the floor being bothered by Ongis while Tong holding Noi sat with each other. They are engaging in some wild discussion, only to be cut off by the princesses arrival. Sisu almost glows in excitement.

               “The princesses has decided to finally bless us with their presence!” Tong’s welcoming exclamation causes Raya to roll her eyes. Noi raises her tiny hands to wave at them.

               “Had to pick up a damsel in distress on the way” The Heart princess’ joke earns her a light shove from Namaari who feigns a scowl at her direction, the princess just snickers in response.

Boun and the Ongis who are hanging on his head, sit up a little to greet them, “Hey guys! Fashionably late as always, I see” The young Tail boy teases, he finger guns at their direction before laying back down on the grass, the Ongis finally walking away from him after being ushered away by Raya to leave the boy alone.

The Fang princess kindly acknowledges all of them, happy to see their friends in good humor. She’s about to walk on a small patch of grass right beside Boun when Sisu’s long tail practically drags both her and Raya to sit on the stairs beside her. She lands on her rear a little harshly but her back cushioned by the dragon’s body, while the Heart princess catches herself in time, settling near her on the steps.

Much to Namaari’s dismay, the water dragon isn’t done pulling them together. She wraps her tail around the both of them, squishing them closer on purpose. She knows exactly what the dragon is trying to do, she whips her head to her side to glare at her but Sisu’s gaze is poorly focused on Tong who is playing with Noi. The toothy grin on the dragon’s snout is enough for her to tell what she’s doing is purely intentional. She feels the heat of embarrassment rushing up to her cheeks, trying her best to push it down.

Namaari adjusts herself a little, glancing at the Heart princess apologetically who wears an awkward expression, her own cheeks dusting pink. Her exposed arms are pressed up beside her, her body heat radiating strongly, the touch leaving a burning sensation on the warrior’s skin. She moves her arm behind the princess, hoping it eases the tight space they’re in, but it makes things slightly worse. The other princess now had full access for her to press up closer, the warrior wills her heartbeat to slow down hoping it can’t be felt due to the close proximity.

She only tenses for a second before relaxing when she feels Raya leaning her weight on her slowly. Before she can dwell on it though, the fireworks display start, the bright colored hues exploding in the sky, the satisfying crackle of the explosion matching the beat of her heart as the Heart princess’ head veer closer to hers. She feels her breath on her cheek as she speaks,

               “How exactly did Fang come up with fireworks anyway?” She asks, her voice low only for her to hear. She holds back a shiver, taking a subtle inhale instead.

She smiles at the princess’ curiosity and starts off with the history she was taught in Fang on how fireworks came to be and how they use it for a range of different things in her land. They fall into light conversation after, her arm somehow finding itself around the other girl’s waist. The action makes Raya scoot closer as the warrior points out how the colors in the fireworks work.

After Namaari’s deep explanation, she’s about to apologize for rambling but she sees the Heart princess’ gaze fixated on the display. The shining colors reflecting back on her wide brown eyes as she stares in awe, the lights dancing on her orbs sparkling with every glow, the way the dull moon light caresses her features, each dip and curve of her cheekbone, her scars prominently displayed like a badge of honor and a reminder of the struggles they faced, the tiny freckles scattered under her eyes like constellations in the sky, but only to be seen if you’re lucky enough to be in the vicinity. As Raya gets lost in the colors, Namaari gets lost in her expression filled wonder as she watches the person she loves with great admiration.

Her wonderment is cut off as she feels a nudge on her side. She twists her head to the water dragon beside her, forgetting her existence a moment ago. Sisu flicks her head towards the Heart princess, her eyes darting back and forth between the warrior and the other girl wordlessly telling her to do what she’s been too afraid of doing. Namaari holds their gaze steady, the fear evident in her own eyes, but Sisu’s stare remains unwavering and reassuring. The look she has seen before on the plateau right outside of Fang before everything went wrong. She finds herself nodding, ignoring the way her heart clenched tightly in her chest. She gulps down her nervousness and steels herself before shifting her attention back to the Heart princess.

As if on cue, the fireworks display comes to an end. Namaari fidgets a little, not knowing how to approach the topic with everyone around. Before she can ask her to step out, Sisu urges the others if she could meet their families.

               “Didn’t you just meet them, Sisu?” Boun skeptically asks.

The water dragon lets out a nervous chuckle, “I mean spend time with them, you see. I promised your sister I’d take her for a ride!” Even Namaari isn’t sure how true her statement was but the Tail boy seems to be content with it, standing up to dust himself off.

He runs towards the princesses, catching the warrior of guard as he quickly wraps them in a hug. He pulls back ushering everyone to hurry bidding the two princesses farewell. Namaari blinks in surprise, judging it’s the first time she has ever been hugged by the growing boy. She thinks it’s because of the Heart princess beside her and has no choice to include her too but the way his tiny arms pulled them both tugs at her heart strings. Tong and Noi with her Ongis offers their own hugs and goodbyes while Sisu grins devilishly wiggling her sharp talons at them before flying off with the gang.

With that, they’re left alone. The silence almost tangible but not unwelcome. The warrior can’t help the sigh that escapes her lips. The other princess who she forgot for a mere second, abruptly stands up forcing her to let go of her waist that she has also forgotten she was holding. Namaari raises an eyebrow, eyeing her strangely. She think she’s about to suggest for them to leave too but the other girl walks in front of her, stepping in between the gap of her spread legs and suddenly sits down squishing herself right in the middle.

The Fang princess takes a sharp inhale when she feels Raya shifting to lean back on her front. Her body tenses, unsure what to do,

               “Relax, dep la. I just got cold, and you’re pretty warm” The Heart princess speaks up, her voice reassuring with a hint of amusement.

Namaari gulps in her nervousness, her heart skipping a beat as she uses all of her willpower to keep it steady since there’s no way the other girl won’t be able to feel it. However, she can’t help her the blush on her cheeks, she’s thankful for their position that her face isn’t in display. She finally urges herself to relax, both her arms absentmindedly encircling around the Heart princess’ waist. She adjusts her sitting position making sure they’re both comfortable, Raya’s head falling back on her shoulder as they watch the bustling festival below them.

               “You did an amazing job with the stands and everything. It’s perfect and nothing seems to have broken down yet, surprisingly” The Heart princess casually jests, Namaari squeezes her too tight in response eliciting a chuckle out of her, “I’m kidding! But those lanterns are incredible by the way. I knew they were gonna look nice but seeing it is breathtaking” Raya compliments easily.

The warrior studies the lanterns she had strategically set up hanging from stand to stand, accentuating the lamp posts that stands tall lighting up the walkway where the people of Kumandra leisurely strolls on. She hums in agreement, quite proud of her hard work and thankful it turned out well.

               “And you did a great job waking up early for two weeks straight, dep la. I did my fair share of princess work, but I can only imagine the amount of paperwork you had to do with setting everything up legally and making sure everything else is processed thoroughly with each land. I’m proud of you, princess”

She knows how important and meaningful recognizing Raya’s work as an actual princess entails. Being deprived of it for six years has caused her more than just her home, but of her duties and her roots of where she came from. The guilt still lingers in the warrior’s heart every time she thought about it, but she makes sure to make it up by reassuring the Heart princess and be there whenever she needs help or just someone to go to when it gets to overwhelming.

Raya practically melts back in her arms. The princess intertwines her fingers on top of Namaari’s as a gesture of thanks. Namaari rests the side of her head on Raya’s. They fall into an easy silence, the faint buzz from the crowd in the festival lapsing in the air around them, their breathing in sync as they basks in the warmth of each other.

               “You know what’s ironic?” Namaari starts, deciding to build the nerve to say something hoping it’ll lead to revealing what she really wants to say.

Raya hums in question. “You make me feel safe” the warrior admits with a low voice, as if a secret she’s afraid to share with the world.

The Heart princess gingerly huffs agreeing, “It is pretty ironic since you and I were beating each other to pulp back then,” she pauses a smirk playing on her lips, “Still kinda do.”

Namaari pulls back a little causing Raya to turn tilting her head to face the sudden serious expression on the warrior’s face,

               “I will never hurt you like that again” she wholeheartedly swears, a flash of regret crossing her features.

Raya tilts her head, lifting a hand to lay on the Fang princess’ cheek, “I know” She replies tenderly, the delicate sound of her voice causing Namaari’s heart to clench. The Heart princess’ face immediately turns mischievous, “Cause I won’t let you. Plus, I win our spars most of the time anyway.” She adds the joke to ease the tension around them.

The warrior mellows out, letting out a snicker, “Just cause you cheated that one time, doesn’t mean you have the lead”

               “Cheat? I simply used your distracted state as an advantage,” Raya grins, “It stays twenty-three wins for me and twenty-two for you, princess.”

Namaari rolls her eyes scowling. She moves her hand to press the spot on the princess sides she knows is ticklish. Raya lets out a strangled squeak before a full-blown whimsical laugh escapes her lips, trying to stop the Fang warrior’s hands poorly. When she does ease up, she settles back to her position, her side leaning on Namaari’s chest, face still tilted her way. She tries to steady her breathing back to normal.

Raya idly plays with the warrior’s long fingers, her expression turning shy, “I feel safe too, you know,” she drops her gaze on the other princess’ collar instead before speaking again, “With you” she finally admits honestly.

The Fang princess lets out a shuddering breath, taking in her confession. There’s no way of slowing her heartrate now. Here goes… everything. She thinks to herself.

               “Can I tell you something?”

The Heart princess shifts her gaze back to her. She quirks an eyebrow at the sudden quietness of her voice but nods letting her proceed.

               “I,” Namaari awkwardly clears her throat. She tries to make eye contact, but the familiar honey brown eyes stares back at her with much intensity, she can’t help but look anywhere else.

She braces herself choosing to close her eyes instead, “I really care about you” Okay, not what she exactly wanted to say.

               “No. That’s not it.” She blurts out, “I mean yes, I do but that’s not–“ She lets out a frustrated breath. Her stammering didn’t help the increasing panic she’s going through.

Raya sits up straighter, turning her body a bit more fully to face the other woman. Her own heart beats in her chest rapidly in anticipation. Is she going to say what she thinks she is? She let her hands caress the warrior’s cheek, the other one laying right above her left breast feeling the intense drumming of her heart.

Namaari opens her eyes at the gesture. She sees the glow of the lanterns and the constellations in her brown eyes, she sees nothing but promise, affection and what she hopes to be love. Love, love, and love. She finds courage in her eyes,

               “I have feelings for you, Raya” She confesses.

She doesn’t miss the way the Heart princess’ pupils widen in shock, she feels the need to hastily explain herself,

               “I mean I know I have a lot to atone for still. That I don’t deserve your love or even your forgiveness. There are days I don’t even know if I deserve this friendship or anyone’s at all. But I just can’t hold it in anymore” She sighs dropping her gaze, her head hangs low and vision turning bleary.

               “It’s starting to physically hurt day by day when seeing you around potential people, I know I have no chance. Then again, I also knew I never had a chance. And… I just don’t know what to do” She physically deflates with each word, “I don’t deserve you, but I had to say something”

Raya blinks blankly at the princess in front of her. She sees the deep crease that has formed on her forehead, eyes looking so distant and pained. She feels her own chest swelling up, her breaths becoming erratic as she places both hands on the warrior’s cheeks tilting her head back to look at her.

The vulnerability in her eyes is the kind that Raya hasn’t seen before, it carries more weight of numerous mountains sitting heavily on her shoulders but as fragile as the dragon gem once it has fallen.

               “You deserve more than you think” Raya starts. Her own eyebrows furrowing as she looks for ways to emphasize her words, “You deserve everything around you and every friendship that comes your way. You went through a lot, and that’s okay because we all make mistakes. But your heart? It has always been in the right place”

Namaari’s eyes glistens with each word, tears brimming around dark orbs waiting to spill.

               “Also, who said you didn’t deserve me?”

The Fang princess’ expression morphs into confusion before the realization hits her. It’s like seeing a real dragon for the first time but the feeling multiplied.

The Heart princess bites her bottom lip, holding back grin as she stares at the warrior’s reaction in amusement. Her cheeks now dusted pink, “Can I kiss you?”

Namaari doesn’t trust herself to speak, not even sure she’s able to form coherent words as she processes the situation. She nods slowly gulping as the other princess closes in. She can’t help the eagerness in her system, so she meets her halfway, capturing her perfect soft lips in her own. She feels fireworks in her gut exploding with satisfaction, the crackle leaving a fluttering feeling throughout her body.

The Fang princess practically melts forward, the tenderness of the kiss silencing her thoughts. Their lips moves in a melody, purely in sync seizing every unspoken vow in her mouth. She feels the other girl twist herself pulling her closer, her arms now around her neck, breathing her in. Her own senses unfurling as she feels a tongue glide along her bottom lip, asking for permission which she instantly grants.

Raya has somehow managed to sit on her lap, she notices feeling the weight on top of her, their bodies pressing closer. The first touch of her warm tongue elicits a hum of pleasure from her throat vibrating through their bodies. The contact pleasantly slow and intoxicatingly passionate. Her stomach burns in fire as the kiss grows heated, the way the Heart princess explores the insides of her mouth causes her to pull her impossibly closer, a guttural moan threatening to escape her lips. The heat radiating from the Heart princess causes her legs to involuntarily squeeze tightly, the sultry way their mouths move against each other only increases the dampness she feels building up in her core.

Before she can fall on her back and continue the kiss, Raya pulls away panting for air. Namaari snaps her eyes open, taking in the princess on top of her with her eyes still shut, swollen lips puckered out and face fully flushed pink. She can’t help but lean forward to peck her once more on the lips, this time Raya opening her hooded eyes.

               “I don’t know if you got it but that means I like you too by the way” The Heart princess states airily.

Namaari lets out a breathy laugh looking at her in awe and disbelief. She lets her head fall on princess’ collarbone, feeling the rise and fall of her chest. Raya hands reaches out to play with the tiny, shaved hairs on the back of her head, nails lightly raking the area, she lets out a gratifying hum at the wave of bliss spreading through her body. They stay like that for a few moments, just bathing in each other’s company.

Their moment is promptly interrupted as Sisu’s almost deafening squeak causes them to twist their head at the water dragon. Her excited reaction catches the princesses attention, both now completely flushed red.

               “Won’t say I told you so, but I definitely told both of you so!” She claps her big claws clearly ecstatic, “My girl Raya refused to confess so I thought maybe you would. You guys almost became the reason my fur starts turning all white from all the stress. River aloe doesn’t help with that type of thing, you know.”

Namaari looks up at Raya, her brow quirking upwards. The Heart princess bashfully looks away at the questioning look, “I was scared? And I honestly didn’t want to ruin what we already had” She tries to explain hoping it suffices.

The Fang princess merely leans forward to kiss her cheek, “If this is ruining it then I don’t mind at all. Please do.

               “If I had known, I would’ve confessed sooner” Raya coyly admits.

She really wasn’t sure if the Fang princess was just tolerating her, or if their increasing and evolving closeness is normal in friendships. So, she didn’t dare to confess her developing feelings.

               “I think the only people who didn’t see it was you both.” Sisu blatantly points out, looking at them disapprovingly.

Namaari makes a face, “I held back a lot. But trust me, it’s been a while since I felt this way” she reassures the princess.

Sisu just starts clapping once again, thrilled to see her two favorite humans finally get together.

Raya narrows her eyes at the dragon, “How long have you been here exactly, Sisu?”

The water dragon’s purple eyes widens, “Oh! That’s right, I almost forgot. Your parents asked me where you guys were, so they told me to let you know if you could go down and see them. But I saw you both smooching and I thought I’d watch and wait because I was excited” Her honest reply sends a wave of embarrassment through the two princesses, their faces flushing once again.

The Heart princess clicks her tongue, “We’ll meet them by the food area right now. Can you let them know we’ll be there please?”

Sisu gives her a thumbs up, “Will do! I’ll see you guys later!” She merrily grins before making her way back down the festival.

Raya reluctantly stands, offering a hand for Namaari to help her up. Once the warrior is on her feet, she pulls her aggressively close, her other hand coming up to the back of her neck dragging her fervently in for another kiss. Namaari elicits a sound of surprise before reciprocating, this time the kiss becoming messier. The Heart princess doesn’t hesitate to put more passion to it, shoving her tongue in her throat and exploring the depths of her mouth, each arc of her pointed fangs and dip of the roof her mouth. She sucks on her tongue intensely causing a throaty moan out of Namaari as she presses their bodies closer.

She let their tongues dance frantically till their lungs begs for air. Raya slowly pulls back, her teeth grazing the warrior’s bottom lip. The Fang princess absentmindedly leaning forward for more, but Raya gently pushes her back.

               “I have always wanted to do that” The Heart princess audaciously confesses.

               “Please do it more” Namaari’s voice coming out as a desperate whisper, her hands clutching the ends of the princess’ top.

Raya huffs out an amused laugh, “Maybe later? The respective chiefs are summoning our presence and to be honest, I don’t know how I feel about being caught by the almighty Sisu with my tongue down your throat”

Namaari flushes a deep shade of red but obliges knowing fully well she can’t handle the mortification that follows if Sisu, or worse, their parents caught them in such a compromising situation. She takes the time to compose herself and fix her wrinkled up attire before clasping the princess’ hand as they walk together to join their parents in the festival.

Meanwhile, Sisu stands by the Chiefs patiently waiting for the princesses. After a few more moments, Benja and Virana spots their daughters walking hand in hand from afar.

               “Sisudatu, do you happen to know who may have confessed first?” Virana asks, a knowing smirk tugging on her painted lips.

Sisu scratches under snout in thought, “I think it was definitely Namaari. Since I only heard Raya’s response at the end saying that she likes her too.”

Benja’s expression morphs into triumph as he raises a hand, palm outwards towards the Chief of Fang. Virana uncharacteristically grumbles under breath digging through the pocket of her dress and pulling out a few jades. She hands it to the Chief of Heart begrudgingly so.

               “I’m surprised by my own daughter’s courage and I’m quite frankly disappointed at your own. You win this time, Chief Benja”

               “Raya is as stubborn as a stump deeply rooted on the floor, Chief Virana. There is no swaying her once she makes a decision.” Benja haughtily states, for once proud of his daughter’s unwavering stubbornness.

Sisu makes a sound of agreement, nodding vigorously at the statement.

The princesses finally makes their way to them, hands now disjoined. They have caught Virana handing Benja some jades from afar, they eyed their parents skeptically.

               “What was that for?” Raya blurts out the question.

Virana offers her a feign innocent smile, “Just a bet. Not for you younglings to worry about.” She dismisses her question swiftly, “Morning mist, I have important things to discuss with you later.”

Namaari is taken aback at the sudden proclamation, she senses the lack of urgency in her mother’s voice but instead replaced by a questionable hint of amusement in her tone. She’ll find out sooner or later. She sees Benja beaming at her more than usual, as if he sees right through her skin. It makes her both nervous and angsty, his gaze holding a sense of pride and a bit of surprise. She wonders if the Chiefs had a little bit of rice wine to drink.

The Fang Chief then turns to Raya, her eyes narrowing at the princess of Heart, “And you, my sunbeam, need to work on your courage.”

The accusation surprises both the princesses, unsure of the context it holds but Raya grimaces, pouting slightly. Namaari is about to retaliate and defend her but she’s immediately silenced as her mother walks forward then gently pats the Heart princess’ cheek a few times, the tender smile on her face holding no ill thoughts.

She says nothing further after, walking past both of them. Benja starts to follow but not before stopping to send a knowing look towards the princesses, “Follow along now, you two. We have to address people in the festival as their hosts.”

He leans closer to his daughter only for her to hear, “Also, she means that in a good way, Dewdrop” he whispers cheekily before strutting away.

Sisu just watched the whole thing in utter amusement before ushering the perturbed princesses, mouths agape to start moving.

               “Alright, let’s get going lovebirds before a firequito lands in your mouths.”

Raya & Namaari with the Kumandra gang