Leviathan stretched and yawned on the chaise in his chambers. Even his tail, now long enough to come up beside him, shared his lethargic state. These new responsibilities of being king took a stronger toll on him. He knew Lucious was there to take the load off, but to leave everything to his little brother? How would that make him look? Besides, it seemed like something else was cooking on his little brother’s end. The silver wolf was being all secretive about it. The Grand Marshal was supposed to be his First Adviser, but he still spent most of his time with his old master. Aah, what did he need them for, anyway. Not like they were at war or anything. All the better. The more they left him alone, the more he’d gather time to plan his hunt for that nasty angel. At the thought of Aarin, Leviathan’s tail was startled. Its movements sinuous as it rose to face him, and there it stayed, in wait. The king sighed and reached for his trousers’ side pocket. He presented it with a medium-sized red peach. It didn’t have eyes, the tail, but its attention was right away rapt on the piece of fruit. It followed Leviathan’s hand movements as though it was enchanted with a song only it could hear.
‘You have no sense of pride anymore, do you?’ Leviathan jeered.
He threw the fruit to the side, but the tail was quicker and snagged it mid-air with its fully matured fangs. It moved to the floor and there it stayed, nibbling at its treat.
‘Pathetic thing. You better not embarrass me in front of people.’ He added, resuming his rest, looking up at the ceiling.
The celebrations of the previous night had taken a long and unexpected turn when the sons of some nobles challenged the wolves to a friendly arm wrestle. The loser would be the other's lackey for an undetermined amount of time. Refusal could see one lose a limb, if not a head. Under the old rule, maybe the wolves would’ve discounted the naïve and spoiled brats, but these were new times; open rebellion was in fashion, it was each man for his own worth. Everyone was free to speak or show their mind.
As expected, it ended up being an ill-advised idea when the sons of the nobles started losing fingers, ears and other parts alike. It was as if the wolves shoved all the years of humiliation and servitude in their parents’ faces. The nobles didn’t find it amusing in the slightest, but of course, it was hilariously entertaining. It ought to teach them not to underestimate wolves again, even if it’s just arm wrestling.
Rapid knocks on his chamber door caught him. What now?! He had left express orders not to be disturbed. ‘Unless your life depends on it, don't come in.’ He groaned.
The double doors burst open. A scrawny, balding old demon flailed his arms in front of Miina as they barged in. She shoved, pushed and handled him as though she was the demon, and he the human soul. Well, he was an Imp.
‘I-I’m s-s-so sorry your highness!! I’ve tried to stop her! Madam, please!!’
Leviathan sat up. So she came.
Miina was wearing her new uniform; or rather, it was wearing her. What was yet to be a whole uniform had its loose bits of fabric hanging about, showing parts of her dark skin. The nervous little green Imp was the tailor. He had just seen him yesterday when he placed the order.
‘You can’t possibly expect me to wear this!’ — She declared, flaunting a piece of the skirt in front of him as if it had a nasty stain on it. — ‘How is this a captain’s uniform?!’
‘What are you talking about? I designed it myself. What’s wrong with it?’
‘What’s wrong with — LOOK AT IT?! I don’t even have to bend to show my knickers!!’
‘My lord, th-this was the design, a-and the measurements you gave me. I-I tried telling the captain, but she-’
‘It’s alright… erm…’ Leviathan clicked his fingers, prompting the Imp.
‘Alfred, your excellency.’
‘Alfred! Good Imp. You’re free to go. I’ll take it from here.’
‘Sh-shall I call someone, my lord?’ The tailor asked nervously. He seemed to shrink even more under Miina’s gaze, maybe fearing more of her wrath. He was smart to fear it; her eyes seemed like they’d be able to produce new holes in the small demon. It was a good thing human souls could not handle the Colours.
‘No, it’s okay, Alfred. I’ll send for you later.’
The tailor left, closing the doors behind him.
‘This was not what we agreed on!’ — Miina demanded without wasting time. — ‘You’re trying to mock me, or embarrass me, whatever it is, I don’t care. This is humiliating!’
‘Not from where I’m sitting. And you still came all this way wearing it. To show me? Mm, I think it’s very flattering.’ He offered a playful smile. She tilted her head and rolled her eyes. An expression that had become too natural on her whenever they spoke.
She could smile, broadly even, he had seen it. She did it with less effort with others. This permanent frown was only reserved for him. He used to feel privileged to have her expressions to himself, but of late, things have changed once again. He’s been craving to tear that frown apart, force it into a smile instead.
No. She had another expression he desired more. He had seen it only once before when he forced her into their wager. That was definitely an expression she wouldn’t show to any others; that one had to be his alone.
He sighed and lazily stood. Then moved to her, slowly, studying her. She looked furious, but also uncomfortable; defenceless almost, he could tell. Obviously, he had picked this outrageous design on purpose. He knew she would never agree to it, but he wanted to see her in it at least once. His stomach buzzed with a thrill he barely contained. His eyes feasted on her stressed curves, her exposed long legs, and the pronounced lines of her neck.
‘Tell me, what’s so wrong with showing a bit of skin? It’s not restrictive. You’d be able to move well with it. Would you prefer a full armour set? The fewer or lighter the clothes, the better. In an emergency, they’re easier to take off, no?’
She glared at him. He moved closer until his face was only a few inches from hers. It was surprising how she stood her ground, though he could still see a faint uneasiness. He grinned, welcoming that sudden urge to see her more unsettled. It seemed his old habits hadn’t completely faded after all. His fatigue from the previous night faded away, giving room to new excitement.
‘Because you’re king now, you think you can have everything go your way?’ — Her tone a mere whisper, complacent even. — ‘Is this why you wanted me to be your personal guard? So I could also be your side piece?’
He paused, examining her, his grin widening. ‘Oh, no no. I've seen you fight. Against a wolf, no less. You passed your training with flying colours, I know you're fit for the role. But having this, would it be such a bad thing?’
The scowl remained as she let her eyes look at him from the bottom up. ‘Maybe. Maybe not. I’d have to find out more.’ She uttered.
He paused. What did she just say?
No, he hadn’t misheard. She said it… like an invitation. Was he misreading the situation?
‘What’s the matter? Never known you to lose your tongue.’ She nudged herself closer. Her sweet scent invaded him, and what little was left of his reason flew away. ‘No… I…’.
She was right, he had lost his words. This sudden change in her tone astonished him. It was more than welcome, but absurdly unexpected. Her eyes too had changed. Looking over her eyelids, they invited him. Her hand brushed his, and he wondered whether he had fallen asleep on the chaise and was just dreaming.
Miina interlaced her fingers with his. She pulled herself closer to him and let her lips tease him when they hovered over the skin of his neck. His free hand moved on its own and found its way around her waist. He let his head fall on the small of her neck and inhaled her deeply. ‘Miina… I-’
‘Shhh.’ She cut him off when she pulled back and placed a finger on his lips; a faint smile crossed her lips and Leviathan felt something rock him in the pit of his stomach. She led him away, deeper into the room. And like a lost mouse following the enchanted flute, Leviathan followed.
They came to his old chamber, where he used to
have his plays. Although he had not used it in months, it still had his old
toys on display. She moved about unfazed, already knowing where she wanted him.