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Pasion Pasiva

The Usurper

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A lesson for another time, then.

While Rafael had considered that her transformation might not be exactly like Lucia’s, he hadn’t bothered to believe that her fatigue might outweigh her hunger. But it too was different now, wasn't it? What had exhaustion been to a creature of nothing more than earth and water, little more than a crude simulacrum of a life it was never supposed to possess? As he looked at her now, delicate hand extended, the emperor remembered her times in the dungeon, when she begged for just a moment’s rest, only to be renewed with a second wind not a moment later. All of that was gone. In her nudity, he could see her tiredness with perfect clarity, as real and heavy as the thick, black blood coursing through her veins. “Of course,” he finally replied after a moment of silent inspection. “We will rest for as long as you need, my dear.”

He dismissed her meal with a wave of nonchalance, then gently captured her long, slender fingers in the palm of his hand. While the men, women, and children neatly filed out from the imperial chambers, the last of which closed the door behind them, Rafael wrapped his great pretender, his darling Irene, deep within his embrace and took refuge in the comfort of their bed. He held her back against his chest as they lay there, locked away behind his strong arms that crossed over her breasts. Pressing his nose into the unruly tides of her dark hair, he drew in a breath, as if smelling her for the first time. She smelled of Irene—not the orange blossoms, but of her bare aroma, scrubbed clean of any unnecessary fragrance. It was perfect - she was perfect.

Rafael closed his eyes, holding a woman that was not quite his wife but close enough to dream, and for the first time in what felt like a lifetime, he smiled. “I’m happy that you survived this,” he whispered into her ear, kissing the lobe. “I knew that you would, but still, I am happy to see it come to pass.” Rafael squeezed her more tightly against his body, refusing to let go. “Sweet dreams, my empress.”

Edited by King

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