A double-crack alternate universe in which Leo gets an army and then takes over the northwest.
When he’d woken up, his mind had been circling. Things he hadn’t thought of in years had kept popping up, then vanishing before he could consider them properly.
“Of course I won’t let anyone hurt you if I can stop it. I promise it, Mike.”
“I swear to you I’ll do what it takes for this project to succeed, Regine.”
“Of course I’ll follow the rules of your school.”
“I swear to it, not that you need it.”
He had sworn to so much over the years, and, more than that, there were places in his mind where it felt like there had, at one point, been an oath — but he couldn’t remember making any oath that could relate to the scattered memories or the feeling of a wall no longer there.
This morning, it had been enough to leave him feeling drunk and uncertain. Now… now he was kneeling in front of a girl he had once taught, and he felt drunk and uncertain all over again.
She threw around orders with a confidence Addergoole students didn’t have, and yet, she also talked in a way that left no casual orders laying around. So when she’d said “kneel,” it had hit Luke like a ton of bricks, and then, on his knees, he’d felt a sudden peace and pleasure.
She was standing behind him, having placed herself between his wings, and her hands were on his neck. Luke ought to feel vulnerable. He felt at peace.
“I’m going to collar you now.” Her voice was very quiet. “And then I’m going to go digging in your brain.”
“Wh..” His voice was hoarse. He coughed and tried again. “Why?”
“Because I want to find out what pit traps Regine left, before I fall in them. And,” her voice went from gentle to firm without missing a beat, “because I can, and you, I think, are going to need more reminders than most that you are Mine.“
He twitched, his wings trying to fold in, but she was there, standing between his wings, and they still didn’t want to work quite correctly. She caught the tip of his left wing in her hand. “Easy. No need to grumble. You knew what you were getting into.” She paused, and Luke heard doubt in her voice when she continued, a strange thing for her. “…Didn’t you?”
He found his voice with effort. Her hand on his wing felt strange, too warm. People didn’t just handle his wings. Not even his lovers had done that. “I’ve never been Kept before.”
“Well, then, this will be interesting.” She stroked the flesh of his wing, her fingertips feeling as if they were leaving trails of flame behind them. “First, the collar. And then I suppose we can do Keeping 101.”
“That sounds like it should be a class back at Addergoole.” He forced the joke out, but she didn’t laugh. Instead, her fingers stilled on his wing, near where Leo’s sword had torn a ragged hole.
“You know, it really ought to be.”
There wasn’t any humor at all in her tone, and her fingers were nearly through the holes in his wings. Luke held very still.
“Oh, well, we’ll see what we can do, you and me.” She patted his back, between his shoulder blades. “Let’s get that collar on you.”
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