Elain wakes slowly, consumed by how nice the sheets and the sunlight feel against her bare skin. The moment is quiet and still and she languishes in sleepy contentment, feeling Lucien shift next to her.
She freezes, panic shooting through her veins. Lucien. She’s in Lucien’s bed and she’s naked and he’s next to her. The night before shoots back to her with mortifying clarity, and Elain manages not to groan out loud at her own stupidity. Cauldron, what must he have thought?
Last night, she’d been—well, drunk was a strong word. It was exceptionally hard for high fae to get drunk, in fact, and Elain knew because she’d been trying all evening. But she’d been tipsy, and had unfortunately begun to dwell on how frustratingly slowly her and Lucien’s physical relationship was progressing, despite it going remarkably well in all other ways. He’d been out late taking care of something in the village, and Elain, in a prolonged moment of boldness bordering on ridiculousness, had stripped naked and posed provocatively in his bed, waiting for him to come back.
And then she’d promptly fallen asleep.
In the daylight, her own stupidity is nigh unfathomable. She barely dares to breathe with the fear of waking him, but sits up just enough to eye the floor next to the bed. Her dress is right where she dropped it. If she can sneak out of bed, put it back on and get to her own room—but what then? It’s not as though Lucien didn’t see her when he came home, there’s no undoing this, no avoiding that conversation.
Elain is momentarily so paralyzed with indecision, holding a sheet to her chest with a tightly fisted hand, that she doesn’t hear Lucien shift again behind her.
His voice is rough with sleep, traced with what might be amusement—Elain turns, a rush of embarrassment rising in her throat. He’s propped up on one elbow, languid, casual. Smiling at her.
“Good morning,” She manages, clutching the sheet.
Lucien regards her for a moment, cocks his head slightly. He’s beautiful, the light flattering the cut of his cheekbones, lending a gleam to his mussed red braid and a little highlight to his gold eye. Focus, Elain.
“Come here,” he murmurs, not a command but an affectionate little request. It catches Elain off-guard, and she doesn’t resist when his arm snakes across her waist and pulls her to him, the sheet between her and his obviously bare chest. He nestles into her neck with a satisfied, sleepy little noise. He’s disarmingly warm, arm still slung around her, and Elain finds the tension leaving her body against her will. Lucien’s scent is thick around them, sweet and smokey at the same time; she can feel the weight of him next to her, the fuzzy sensation of him through the bond. It’s absurdly pleasant, it makes her want to melt even as confusion wracks her—where’s the questioning? The teasing, at least? He can’t possibly be so unconcerned with this situation.
Finally, she can’t stand it. “You… didn’t wake me up when you got back last night.”
“You looked peaceful; it seemed a shame to disturb you.” He almost mumbles it, like he’s so sedate with contentment it’s too much effort to articulate.
Elain nearly laughs. Peaceful. That’s one way of saying nude, she supposes.“Are you going to ask why I’m naked in your bed?”
“I wasn’t, no.” She can feel his breath against her collarbone. “If you’d like to tell me, I’m not opposed to it, but I’ve been enjoying it too much to question it.”
It’s almost annoying, how thoroughly his acceptance of this thwarts her mortification. She huffs, and it ruffles his hair. “I’m trying to be embarrassed, Lucien.”
“Mm.” A lazy adjustment of his head, his nose brushing under her ear. “Why would you be that?”
“Why would I be embarrassed?” Elain half-cries, drawing back so he’s forced to look at her. “Maybe because I’m naked in the presence of a man I’ve barely touched before, because I was trying to drunkenly seduce him and instead fell asleep?”
Genuine surprise flickers across his face, followed by sheer delight–Elain covers her face in her hands; Mother, she shouldn’t have said anything, here it comes–
“That’s what happened?” Lucien says, almost dissolving into laughter. “You were trying to seduce me?” His voice goes up a whole octave on seduce. Elain’s face is so hot it hurts and he tries to pull away from him, bury her head into the covers. “Elain, Elain, sweetheart,” he soothes her quickly, still chuckling as he moves to hold her, presses a kiss to her forehead.“You’re adorable.”
Elain is about to protest that she is not adorable, that there is nothing adorable about this situation and cute forehead kisses can’t fix it, but she’s suddenly distracted by the fact that the shift in Lucien’s position has left him on his stomach and the sheet pushed down around his thighs.
And also, he’s not wearing any pants.
Elain isn’t as bashful as she once was, but Mother save her, she can see Lucien’s entire ass. She feels her mouth drop open, quickly comes to her senses and claps a hand over her eyes with a little squeak. “Lucien! Why are you naked too?!”
He’s laughing almost too hard to respond. “You were; I figured my stripping down was only fair.” Elain, still with a hand firmly over her eyes, has to bite back a hysterical giggle; her mate is ridiculous and does not need encouragement. “And maybe you’d become mysteriously allergic to all clothes and I shouldn’t risk exposing you,” Lucien adds. “Which I wouldn’t mind at all, by the way.”
She wants to hit him with a pillow, but there’s a lot of nudity happening in this bed, so she does the safe thing and pulls the covers over her head with a groan. “You absurd man–go put pants on, for the Mother’s sake,” she says through them.
She can hear the smirk in his voice. “Wasn’t the goal of this endeavor to get me out of my pants? You’re contradicting yourself, dove.”
The risk is worth it. One hand holds the sheets and the other blindly lobs a pillow at his face, eyes still screwed shut.
He’s still laughing as he fends her off. “Alright, a moment, please, pet.” The mattress shifts under him as he gets up, and Elain hears him cross the room and open a dresser drawer. “Next time you decide to seduce me maybe send me a formal invitation, that way I won’t be so late I miss the whole thing. On nice stationary: ‘Dear Lucien, your seduction has been scheduled for ten PM, in Elain’s room.”
Elain has to smile at his absurdity, and feels like… maybe she should open her eyes a little. Just to check. He didn’t tell her not to.
He’s rifling through the drawer with his back to her, and she tentatively gets a second, more thorough look at his ass, at the slope of his leg muscles and the powerful lines of his back, where his braid hangs down over a series of scars. Maybe he can feel her looking, because he glances over his shoulder just long enough to give her a cheeky grin, and tosses her something she doesn’t identify until it lands on the bed. It’s a shirt. He’s still on his invitation bit: “Please RSVP so she doesn’t get naked for no reason again,” he goes on.
Elain tentatively ignores her embarrassment and plays along. “What would I tell you to wear?” While he’s still turned away, she relinquishes the blanket to quickly slip on the shirt–it’s long enough on her that it might as well be a nightgown. It smells pleasantly like Lucien and the wood of the dresser. “Formal dress doesn’t seem appropriate.”
He laughs. “What would you like me to wear? Anything in particular you’d like to strip me out of?”
“I could tell you to just arrive already naked. That would save time.” Emboldened now that she’s at least decent, Elain gets out of the bed and gathers up her clothes from the floor. “But you’d have to walk from your room to mine nude, then.”
Lucien’s slipped on loose trousers, and ties them up as he shoots her a wolfish grin. “You know I’d do it.”
“That’s why I wouldn’t ask! I don’t want you to traumatize poor Alis.” She stifles a smile as she passes him, heading towards the washroom.
“Where are you going?” He asks, and she pauses on the threshold.
“I have to put this on.” She raises the bundle of her clothes, full of ties and layers and things she needs privacy to wiggle into. Not like he hasn’t seen everything now, she thinks, flushing a bit, but she’d like to return to some semblance of modesty. “I can’t very well walk all the way back to my room wearing only your shirt,” she adds, awkwardly.
Something shifts in Lucien’s face, something playful and a little predatory as he steps towards her slowly.
“So don’t.” His voice is a lover’s murmur as he gets close enough to kiss her, close enough that Elain can feel the warmth of his only half-clothed body. “Stay here wearing only my shirt. It looks good on you.”
Elain is about to decline, but his hands find her waist and his lips find her neck and the words slip through her fingers like water. For all that they haven’t done very much together, Lucien has still managed to figure out which spots under her jaw turn her into a boneless mess.
“I’ll have breakfast sent up for us,” he murmurs into her skin, persuasive, as he braces one arm up against the doorframe to better pin her there.
“Don’t you have obligations to take care of?” A weak protest–it comes out almost as a gasp.
There’s a smile in his voice. He can feel her crumbling. “Nothing that can’t wait a bit.”
Since she woke up, Elain has primarily wanted to wash her mortification away in a long bath, put on something very modest, and pretend this never happened; she knows he certainly wouldn’t fault her if that’s what she did now. But she is also rapidly recalling why her less sober self was dead set on seducing him last night. And eating breakfast with him in his bed–really, any activity that would allow her to keep looking at him shirtless like this–is very, very appealing.
She huffs, and surrenders. “You win. I’ll stay.”
He grins, moves to kiss her properly–but Elain meets it with a grin of her own and ducks under his arm, darting out of reach.
“You have morning breath,” she says lightly, by way of explanation. She’s such a pushover when it comes to him that she feels obligated to give him a little trouble sometimes.
With the way he’s smiling at her, he knows it. “Then I’ll just be a moment.”
Lucien goes to brush his teeth, and Elain dives back into bed, burrows under the sheets warm and happy and waits for her mate to join her.