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Fantasy a love/hate relationship

Alexander’s eyes darted up towards the ceiling for a moment as it seemed like everything had frozen for him. It wasn’t the first time that something like this had happened. Both Nikolai and himself had multiple moments like it, though most of them were while they were together. This one was different though. The moment everything seemed to unfreeze, the moment that he realized Delphine was physically shaking him, he felt a tugging in his chest. He had no actual explanation for what it could be. It was unlike anything he had ever experienced before. Yet he knew it was one of the most important things in his life.

“Missing.” The simple word left his lips in a whisper. Delphine was right and he knew she was. He needed to attempt to focus in any way he could. Despite all that way happening, this sudden tugging was the main thing his mind was focusing on then. The breakdown he was experiencing was still evident, his body refusing to stop shaking and the tears continuing to fall down his cheeks. His breathing was stretched into gentle hiccups then. He was at least not sobbing in the manner he had before.

“He is missing.” He repeated, his voice a bit stronger. He almost stumbled with the force that he was lifted off of the ground from. If he had any sane thoughts in that moment, they would be reminding him why he was terrified of Delphine. The tug only grew stronger when he finally came to his feet. He took a step forward unconsciously, his body already knowing exactly where Nikolai was. He began to lead the way then with the ring still flashing colors on his finger. He didn’t bother speaking as he walked. His eyes were still glazed over and he looked much worse than he had before.

The tugging was like a child playing with a piece of yarn. It wasn’t a solid hold. Instead, it was more of light tugs over anything else. The further he led them into the forest, the stronger the tugs got. Yes! Look closer! That voice showered his mind with praise as he walked quickly towards whenever this was leading him. He hadn’t bothered to look over his shoulder and see if Delphine was still following along. Everything in his wanted him to keep walking. His steps were quickening the closer they got to his destination. He almost tripped a few times over various rocks and roots, but he continued to walk.

The final tug led him to the exterior of a cave. It took him a few moments to recognize just what it was, especially when he had only seen it during the night. He didn’t waste any time in rushing inside. Darkness blinded him for a moment as he stepped into the opening. The familiar sound of the water splashing gently onto the cave walls soothed him in a way he didn’t understand. He looked around until his eyes landed on Nikolai. In that moment, whatever had been guiding him officially snapped into place. It felt like the yarn had gone stiff. It was a connection unlike anything else he felt before. “Nikolai?” His voice was hoarse, the agony from before still evident.

His body hadn’t stopped shaking yet, though the tears had stopped. His eyes were bloodshot and his skin patchy with redness. His clothes were wrinkled from how he had sat on the floor. His eyes still held the dullness, though fear was beginning to creep into them. It was clear he was a complete shell of how he had been when Nikolai left him last.
Delphine found it difficult to follow Alexander’s train of thought. His eyes were dull and distant, and the words coming out of his mouth were fragmented, as if he were a child just learning how to speak. They had established Nikolai was missing. She wasn’t sure why he kept repeating it. “Yes, we know he’s missing! Help me find him!” Just then, the warlock got to his feet, his gaze focused on nothing in particular.

The siren watched him closely, her eyes attempting to follow what he was looking at but there was nothing but empty halls. He began to walk without a word, and against her better judgement, Delphine followed. She had never seen anything like this before, but her contact with warlocks was much more limited than Nikolai. She knew very little about them, and even less about Alexander. For all she knew, this could be normal for him. There was also the possibility that he was insane, but if it helped get her to her brother, she didn’t really care what his mental state was.

She followed him out of the palace and into what looked like an enchanted forest. She kept up with him without any problems, but would occasionally pause to look around her surroundings. The area was beautiful, unlike anything she had ever seen and she had seen a lot during her lifetime. She even thought to have seen cloche e’ouro plants. A flower she thought no longer existed. She couldn’t stop for long, however. Alexander trekked on, and seemingly got faster and faster as he moved.

They stopped in front of what looked like a cave. Immediately, she felt the pull of the water from inside. For the first time since she started following the warlock, she was finally sure he knew where he was going. If there was water inside, there was likely to be a Nikolai too.

The sound of footsteps caught the prince’s attention. His head lifted slowly, the bursts on pain from before had subsided now, and replaced by a heavy tug and dull ringing in his ears. For a moment, he’d forgotten where he was, but quickly remembered that he and Alexander were the only ones that knew of this moon pool.


The sound of his voice brought the siren to his feet, his gAze immediately landing on the warlock. He looked…sick. Tired. Confused? Nikolai couldn’t quite tell what was wrong, but there was something going on with him. “Alex…” his voice was quiet, but echoed among the cave walls, his footsteps sounding against the rocks as he moved closer. There were so many things he wanted to ask. Was he okay? Did something happen? How did he know to find him here? So many questions, yet all he could do was wrap his arms around the prince and hug him tightly.

His cheek rested against the other’s shoulder as they stood there for who knows how long. It wasn’t until he heard an extra pair of footsteps that he lifted his head again. “Delphine?” The woman stood just a few feet away, her features shaped by what looked like relief. Slowly, he pulled away from Alex. Nikolai knew she must have been worried after he hadn’t been home for days. The guilt settled in his stomach as he looked at her, but she quickly moved to him, engulfing him in a hug.

“I was so worried…” she breathed. Nikolai felt the tears threatening to well up again.

“I’m sorry…” she slowly let him go, quickly checking him over for any injuries. It was only then that he registered the fact that she and Alexander were together. “What are you two doing here….together?”
For a split moment, Alexander felt as though he was normal again. His mind seemed to clear from the fog that was covering it. Nikolai’s hug did something to him that he never could properly describe. He lifted his arms up to wrap around the other male in return. His familiar scent washed over him and he closed his eyes tightly to keep from beginning to cry once more. He hadn’t realized just how much he had missed the siren prince until that moment. The worry that he had felt when he experienced the vision of him near the darkness had been consuming when he witnessed it. But for the first time in days, he felt alright. It was all that mattered to him.

When the other male pulled back, everything rushed right back to him. His breathing quickened for a few moments as he tried to calm himself down more. He didn’t need to worry Nikolai too much before he even got a chance to see his sister. He turned his gaze to watch as the two reunited. He curled his fingers into him palm, his fingertips feeling the divers that had formed from where his nails had been digging in. He hadn’t realized just how bad the scabs had been until that moment. He truly had turned into an utter mess from everything.

He took a few shuddering breaths when he heard Nikolai’s words. “I saw you. You were by the black pit. But you left me. You swam away into it. I-I had lost you.” He spoke quietly as he recalled the vision. Flashes of it took over his gaze before he was able to stop them. He visibly flinched at the memory. “The pit. You went into the pit. You were gone.” He repeated. It was the first glimpse he had given Nikolai of just how much this had affected him. He shook his head lightly while he brought a hand up to rub at his eyes.

“She said you were missing and I knew you were missing. I saw it. I saw you. It was the first time I saw you since you left. I thought you were gone for sure. I really thought you were dead. It was terrible. I thought you really left me.” His words were spilling out just like they had before. He really had gotten lost due to everything. His legs were shaking once again. He didn’t look at Nikolai then. His eyebrows had furrowed some as he stood there. The pain was clear on his expression.

“There was a tug after I collapsed. I thought you were dead, but the ring didn’t. The ring brought me here. It was a tug, like on a rope. I didn’t know where I was going but I found you. It brought me here.” He lifted his hand to look down at the golden ring that was still flashing through the colors. There wasn’t anything he could do about it. He held his hand out towards Nikolai. “It brought me here to you.” He repeated. If he didn’t have Delphine convinced he was insane before, he did now.
So many things were being said, it was difficult for Nikolai to keep up. He looked to Delphine for clarity, but she looked even more dumbfounded than he felt. One thing was painfully evident, however. Alexander was not okay, and from the sound of it, it was because of him. Of course it was. What else would send him into a spiral like this? The more he stuck around, the more Nikolai realized he truly was toxic to the people around him even if he didn’t want or mean to be.

“He’s been like this ever since we got to the palace.” Delphine commented, her arms folding over her chest. She never was big on patience. “I was lucky enough to get him to help me look for you.” She huffed, taking a few steps away and making a gesture towards the warlock as if to tell Nikolai to fix it. In truth, he didn’t have a clue what to say. A lot of the words that came out of Alexander’s mouth didn’t make much sense, except….

“Whoa, whoa, slow down…A pit…?” he thought back to the ominous space he’d faced so many times during the past few days. Of how the last time he was there, he was certain he’d heard Alexander’s voice. But how was that even possible? “How did you even…?” His words trailed off, realizing if he asked what he was thinking, he’d be confirming he did in fact go there. Judging by the state he was already in, Alex didn’t need to know that. He could see the wear and tear on the prince’s body, his face tired and sporting bags under his eyes, his usual innocent and curious spark now dulled by whatever was haunting him.

No, there had to be more. The mere idea of Nikolai disappearing alone couldn’t have been the cause for such a drastic change in his person. His gaze fell to the prince’s hands, pale and trembling. Nikolai carefully took them in his, giving them a gentle squeeze as the sunlight reflected against their rings.

The rings…

Was that what made him stay? How much power was actually in them? It seemed like the more time passed, the more Nikolai realized they weren’t just magical trinkets. “I felt it too…” he muttered, almost to himself but loud enough for Nikolai to hear. “The tug…I felt it.” The comment had been sandwiched in by so many other words that it hadn’t registered in Nikolai’s head until now. He’d definitely felt something similar to what Alex described. “Earlier, before you got here, I-…” he glanced to the space where he’d been sitting, recalling the subtle pull in the direction of the palace.

He looked to Alex again, that expression of sheer terror in his eyes making his heart sink. One hand instinctively reached up, gently cupping the prince’s cheek.

“What’s going on? What else happened while I was away?” Even if what Alex saw of him near the black hole had affected him, Nikolai refused to believe that was it. There had to be more to this man’s distressed state.
Alexander wanted to stop rambling out in the manner he was. He truly did. His mind was just a swirling pit filled with everything that had been going on since the other male left. All of the visions were present every second of the day. Every time he closed his eyes, he saw flashes of them. He wished he could get rid of the splatters of blood that were burned into his retinas. The screams of the siren still echoed in the back of his mind. Then there was that voice that urged him to continue to look closer at the situation. He hadn’t a clue as to what it meant, but it was one of the only things that had kept him sane during this time.

The other thing had been Nikolai, before the vision of him at the pit.

The thought of the other male had been a fresh breeze washing everything away from his mind. Nikolai was an anchor to him. He had never felt such strong emotions towards another person, even if he couldn’t decipher just what he was feeling about the siren prince. There was something that was so new and so refreshing about him that he would truly always appreciate. Nikolai showed him a freedom that he had always craved. He brought him a sense of joy that he was missing. He thought he might love him, if that was even possible. He couldn’t understand just what his affection felt like yet.

His mind registered the fact that Nikolai confirmed that he had been at the edge of that pit like he had seen in the vision. He normally would’ve scolded him for such a thing, but his thoughts were racing far too much for it. His body was still racing as he stood there. The gentle grip on his hand and the cupping of his cheek helped take him out of it slightly. It was enough for him to hear the question he asked. His eyes darted to Nikolai’s meeting his gaze then. “I saw everything.” His first statement was ominous, but he quickly elaborated.

“I saw everything that happened to that siren. The visions. I saw everything.” He explained, not looking away from the other male. “I saw years worth of things. Years worth of carnage. I don’t know who it is, who was the one that had this happening. I saw it all though. There was the blood and the wreckage. I think it might’ve been in the palace, but I don’t know.” He continued to ramble, moving to take a step closer to the other male. “There were a bunch of storms too. The only connection I know of was one man. He constantly yelled at this poor siren and blamed him for everything. I never saw his face, but his voice sounds so familiar.” His eyebrows furrowed as he thought on it.

He hadn’t a clue that it was Nikolai’s life he had been seeing. “The visions won’t leave me alone. I can’t sleep without seeing them. Then you went to that pit. That was the worst one. I was at breakfast and I must’ve fallen out of my chair. I don’t know what happened during it. My parents said it might’ve been a seizure or something. I really thought you were dead Niko. I thought I had lost you.” The tears finally began to form in his eyes once more. They quickly began to stream down his face.
Part of Nikolai hoped that whatever types of vision Alexander been having before they parted had stopped. After all, that’s one of the main reasons he had decided to leave, and deep down when he saw the state the warlock was in, he knew it probably had something to do with them. However, nothing really struck him like hearing Alex say it. He’d wanted to help, but he ended up making it worse.

It was terrifying and perplexing how Alexander was seeing his memories, like a play back of a film, subsequently going through the many years of emotional and psychological torture he had endured. Nothing could compare to the pain he’d felt back then. All of the nights he’d spent crying, the days he’d spent drenched in blood and fear, terrified of doing or saying anything in fear of causing more destruction. Every time he was told it was his fault, he believed it more and more.

Over the years, he’d tried his best to forget, to bury the past as deep down as he possibly could. All that trauma and turmoil had begun to rush back since he’;d first left the warlock palace. All the self-blaming and the never ending need to just disappear along with the problems his mere existence caused. The knot in his throat grew bigger still when he heard the shift in Alex’ voice. He never imagined his vanishing would affect him this way, yet there he was, crying over a siren he barely knew.

He looked down at their hands, the prince's sadness and relief seeping through him. He tried his best to keep composure, but the with every ounce of Alexander’s emotions that came in, a little bit of his seeped out. His ring mirrored the tight feeling deep in his chest as he let the prince’s hands go, his head lowered, eyes closed to keep the tears behind his eyelids.

“I’m sorry….” It was all he could say. Despite how much he wanted to let Alexander know what he saw was all in the past, and that he’d been doing everything he could to keep it from happening again. He couldn’t. Not a word about those days or the curse that caused them was allowed out of his mouth. No one else knew his pain. No one except…

His head lifted suddenly, his eyes immediately finding Delphine who watched and listened quietly from the entrance of the cave. There was the look of concern on her features, but not surprise. Perhaps she’d heard this from Alexander already, but they had an unspoken pact to not speak. But she seemed to quickly catch on, her steps slowly taking her closer to the duo.

“Niko…are you sure that’s allowed?”

Nikolai’s eyes shifted between the two. As much as he wanted to continue to ignore this, it was well beyond that point now. He nodded, hesitantly, before turning to Alexander. He took the other’s hands once again, attempting to swallow the lump still lingering in his throat. “I’m sorry…” he repeated, this time a bit louder. “It is all my fault…” he echoed the words he’d heard so many times before. No matter how he looked at it, he was to blame whether he wanted to cause suffering or not.

He let the hands go, giving Delphine a gentle nod before stepping away, as far away from the cave as he could get without leaving them behind.

Delphine watched Nikolai, her hand instinctively reaching for Alexander in case he tried to follow. Once she was sure he was far enough, she looked to the prince. “Look, I don’t particularly like you.” She stated first and foremost, but quickly followed with. “But for some reason, Niko does. And he obviously trust you enough to…” her words trailed off with a sigh. She watched him for a moment, unsure if he was even mentally stable enough to pay attention. “I need you to promise to never speak of what of what I’m about to tell you to anyone.” She instructed. “ESPECIALLY not Nikolai or you will be putting him and a lot of other people in danger. Understand?”
The fear that was gripping Alexander was irrational and he knew it was. It was just something that he had been unable to shake no matter what he tried. Every time that he thought he kept those emotions repressed enough, they immediately were brought back to the surface by a sudden flash of what he had seen. He felt terrible for whoever had to experience those things he had seen first hand. He couldn’t imagine just how much of an emotional and mental toll it took on a person.

His hands began to tremble more as Nikolai pulled his own back. His first instinct was to reach forward for the other male and pull him close once again. He needed to feel his warmth after lacking it for such a long time. His eyes were finally focusing on the man in front of him. He could see the anguish that was beginning to creep onto his face, causing more concern to fill him. He didn’t know what could cause Nikolai to finally express his emotions in such a way.

His mouth parted slightly, almost in an attempt to find words to question why Nikolai was apologizing. Was it due to the fact that he believed the other male dead? He didn’t think that an apology was necessary for that. After all, his mind still had him partly convinced that he was going insane. He took in a breath and brought his hand up to rub at the tears that still made their way down his cheeks. No matter how hard he tried to stop them they continued to fall. He never truly allowed for himself to cry over anything like this before.

His eyes darted to Delphine as she stepped back into the cave. They shifted between the two siblings a few times before they settled back on Nikolai. “What’s going on?” He asked in a hollow tone, truly a reflection of everything he had been experiencing as of late. Some surprise flashed across his expression when Nikolai took his hands once again. The apology that slipped from his lips once more and the following comment made his confusion grow more. His ring had turned a murky grey at the confusion in his own emotions that he felt.

Much like Delphine had expected, he automatically took a step forward to move after Nikolai. He had no intention of being apart from the other male any longer than he already had been. These past few weeks had been terrible and he wanted to hear the explanation from Nikolai. He paused when Delphine stopped him, dull blue eyes landing upon her. “I knew you didn’t like me from the moment you met me.” He confessed in a quieter tone. It had been very obvious from the moment that he felt her eyes on him. There was a quiet judgement to them that caused terror to fill his chest at the thought of wronging her.

His eyebrows furrowed slightly while he attempted to focus long enough to understand just what she was about to say to him. His thoughts were still racing, but it almost seemed as though someone had placed a lid over them. They weren’t nearly as strong or loud as they had been before. He nodded his head slightly in assurance to her question. “I promise,” He paused for a moment, clearing his throat gently. “What is going on Delphine?”
Upon their first meeting, Delphine had taken Alexander to be an emotionless prude. She was rarely ever wrong about her first impressions, but it was starting to look like this could be one of the rare times she was. She may be cold hearted at times, but Nikolai was the stubborn one. On the contrary, Delphine knew how to admit when she was in the wrong. It didn’t serve her in any way to stick to ideals she knew Ernest correct.

The way in which Alexander had looked at Nikolai. The way in which he spoke to and about him. It told Delphine all she needed to know.

“Don’t take it personally, I dislike most people.” She said plainly. It wasn’t an exaggeration. She wasn’t one for fake smiles or feigned tolérenle. If and when she didn’t like someone, which was often, she’d make it known. That didn’t mean her opinion of them would never change. As luck would have it, the first person in a while that she had been wrong about just had to be a warlock. Still, Nikolai seemed to have grown some sort of attachment to the prince. Whatever they had between them had developed so fast that she had no choice but to watch it unfold. She knew her little brother well. He wouldn’t consent to what he just did if he didn’t trust the person.

“I cannot emphasize this enough, Alexander…” her hands rested on his shoulder, eyes piercing through his. Her usual judgement was gone, in its place a warning. No matter “No matter how much you’ll want to talk to Nikolai about this, you have to know he won’t be able to answer any of your questions.” She recalled when she first had learned about it. She’d grown upset with Nikolai over the presumption that he was choosing to not talk to her, only to find out later that he was simply trying to keep their people safe and at peace.

She let his shoulders go with a quiet breath before continuing. “Those…visions you had.” She watched him tense, already having seen the toll it had taken on him. But it was nothing compared to what it had put Nikolai through. “They weren’t …visions per se. They were memories.” She too lived through them, seeing her people hurt and dying over the heartless deeds of the person that was meant to protect them. It killed every ounce of respect she had ever had for her father. “To be exact, they were Nikolai’s memories.” She looked to him, making sure to keep her voice low. “I don’t know how or why you’re seeing all that but… that siren you kept seeing. That was Nikolai.” It still made no sense to her, but a lot of things pertaining to warlocks didn’t.

“When he was a child, Nikolai was cursed. From what I understand, by a powerful warlock.” There we’re still bits and pieces of the story missing from Delphine’s knowledge. For example, why Rowan disliked Nikolai so much to the point of cursing him. He was just a child for nature’s sake! “I don’t know what led him to do it but…our father was the one to hire this warlock.” She had often wondered if there was a way to break such a curse, and perhaps now that Alexander knew, he could help figure it out. He was a warlock after all, there had to be something he knew about breaking curses.

“Anytime Nikolai does something that goes against Rowan’s plans… our people suffer.” She could understand why Nikolai would want to vanish without a trace. Living with that burden had to be the most emotionally draining way to live. “He didn’t understand that at first, and so… what you saw was the result of it.”
Any fog that had been over Alexander seemed to disappear as Delphine talked of everything that had occurred. It was a moment of clarity he had been yearning for for weeks. His eyes seemed to focus fully while he watched her, his expression tightening more with concern. He didn’t know what to say to begin with. It made sense and he knew that he couldn’t say anything against it. It explained quite a lot as well. He glanced away from Delphine for a moment before he finally gathered his thoughts enough to respond.

“It just doesn’t make sense as to why I am the one seeing them.” He confessed in a soft mumble. His mind drifted back to the mention of it being a curse from a warlock. He fell quiet once again. The pieces were slowly falling together in his mind. His eyes widened slightly. “Oh gods, we need to break the curse.” He whispered. “That’s why I saw them all. That is why this is happening.” He realized with a slight shake of his head. For the first time in days, the voice that had been urging him to look closer went quiet. There was a tinge of satisfaction hitting him that he didn’t know where it was coming from.

Part of him was irrationally upset that Nikolai hadn’t made an effort to get Delphine to tell him sooner. After the second visit they had together, it was clear that something was going wrong. Even their first meeting, Nikolai had gotten the headache during the storm. Everything that happened should’ve led to an indication that he was curse. The other rational part of him blamed himself for not noticing sooner. He should’ve been able to realize that something was happening with Nikolai. That part of him would never forgive himself for not trying to figure it out before.

“I saw a few things that weren’t just Nikolai’s memories. There was one where we were on Œrnak. It was raining and there was thunder. It was a really bad storm, like the ones that I saw in Niko’s memories. But we were just outside the temple. Do you think that might have something to do with breaking the curse? Barely anyone is able to make the trek up the mountain to the temples,” He paused, focusing solely on the woman in front of him. This was the clearest he had been able to think in weeks. “It all makes sense now.” He confessed.

He brought his hands up to rub at his face for a few moments. “I won’t ask him about it. With everything I’ve seen, I don’t wish anymore harm on your people. I want to find a way to break it. From what I’ve seen, we might be able to find a way to break it.” He let his hands drop then as he took a step back. His mind was racing through questions and ideas as to what they could do to break it. He didn’t know any warlock that had done such a thing before, but he was sure that he could find information in the library at the castle.

He turned his head to look back towards where Nikolai left. “Gods, I feel so terrible about this. I am so sorry for the unnecessary pain that you all have been through.” He spoke truthfully, not looking back to Delphine for a moment. “Why would Rowan have a warlock curse Niko? It makes no sense to curse your own son.” He inquired, not knowing she didn’t have the answer to the question.

That had always been the question. Their father seemed to have this unjustified hatred towards Nikolai for simply existing, treating him as if he weren’t even his child. Delphine knew her brother had wondered that many times in his past, and their mother and sister never seemed to question it either. But overtime, he began to care less about the why and worry more about the what and how/

“I don’t know why…” she confessed, her eyes shifting towards the entrance of the cave where Nikolai had walked out of. They’d talked about this before, or rather Delphine attempted to talk about it and Nikolai brushed it off, claiming it didn’t bother him. “I assure you, Niko doesn’t know either.”

Some of the things Alexander was saying sounded wonderful. Breaking the curse? It was almost too good to be true. Perhaps she was a pessimist but she didn’t see how this prince could be of any help with breaking a decades long curse. Still, there had to be a reason he was seeing everything. “If…there is a way to break this curse… I want to help.” Despite not showing emotions often, Delphine loved Nikolai more than words could express. She often scolded herself for not having been there for him before, but she had the chance to make up for it now.

“Knowing Nikolai… he probably thinks the only way to get rid of the curse is if…he goes with it.” It made sense, thinking back to what Alex had said about seeing the siren by a black pit. Delphine herself had been near that pit before. A place made solely for the purpose of destroying. She shuddered at the thought that Nikolai was so close to going in there, but it seemed that this warlock had been his anchor to keep him from going through with it. She wasn’t sure about what Nikolai felt for him, but whatever it was, it had saved his life.

“Listen, it doesn’t matter what I think about you.” She stated, her body turning to face the man again. “Nikolai obviously cares about you…” she fiddled with one of the embroidered flowers of the dress, her thoughts seemingly taking her far away. “We’ll figure out how to break this curse. But right now…” she looked to him again, a silent plea for help. “I think he just needs to know you understand.” She took a few steps to the side, clearing a path for Alexander to exit the cave. “You should go find him.”


Nikolai had drifted a bit further from where he’d originally stopped. The wonders of the forest around him seemed to take his worries away, if only for a second. The flowers were exceptionally beautiful this time of day, but the more he tried to focus on his surroundings the more nervous he felt. Delphine and Alexander seemed to be talking for a while now. It wasn’t like Nikolai to worry about something like this, but given the circumstances, he began to imagine the worst.

What if Alexander didn’t want to be around him anymore. Of course he would understand, but that wouldn’t make it hurt any less. He’d promised himself he wouldn’t get attached yet here he was hurting over something that might not even happen. Or worse, what if he decided to tell people and put all of the sirens’ lives in danger. He didn’t seem like the type of person to do that but life had taught Niko that trusting too easily was the biggest mistake he could make.

He clearly hadn’t learned the lesson.

He let out a sigh and took a few steps to the pond nearby, crouching down to look at his own reflection. The tears still threatened to fall, but he forced them down. He’d been through enough to cry over something like this. All there was left to do now was wait.
There was hope lingering in Alexander’s stomach, something that didn’t exist often. He never thought that things would work out and was always prepared for the worst. It was something his father had helped instill in him over the years. The ongoing war only concreted it. He believed that they truly could break the curse, if they were able to find the right resources for it. The task wouldn’t be an easy one, but he was willing to do it in order to help Nikolai. The siren prince didn’t deserve to suffer because of the reckless decisions of his father. He would do anything to help him.

He supposed that it was due to the connection that they seemed to share. It was unlike anything he had experienced before. The visions had only confirmed what he was feeling for Nikolai. He wouldn’t want to spill his feelings to him though in his best attempt to not scare him away. His expression tightened as he shifted his feet. The longer that he stood talking to Delphine, the more that he was beginning to break through the fog that was holding his mind hostage.

“I will have to look through the library back at the estate, but I am certain there are books that might help us. Magic can always be broken. No spells are absolute.” He assured. It was one of the things that each warlock was taught at a young age. No matter how complicated the magic could be, it could always be reversed. It would just take them some time to figure out how to get around such a powerful spell. “Your help would be truly appreciated. You seem to know a decent amount about it and I don’t want for Nikolai to get involved in the fine details in case something happens.” He confessed. He understood the guilt that must be weighing down on the other male. He didn’t want for it to be worse by dragging him into it.

His eyes widened at the mention of Nikolai believing the way to break it was by ending his own life. He shook his head immediately. He turned his head back towards the mouth of the cave. The urge to hurry after him was only growing stronger the longer he stayed here. He moved to step by her once she moved to the side, though he did pause for a moment. He offered her the brightest smile that he could muster after his breakdown earlier. “Thank you Delphine. I truly appreciate you telling me this.” He murmured. He quickly and carefully made his way out of the cave then.

His steps were swift, though he did almost stumble a few times leaving the cave. He almost cursed while doing so, unable to stop his own clumsiness still. That tug he felt before had returned and he trusted his feet to bring him to Nikolai. The walk felt like a blur, eyes glancing around as he did so. The flowers were glimmering under the sun that was peaking through trees. He would’ve admired it if he wasn’t looking to find Nikolai in that moment. The forest was absolutely gorgeous and he regretted not spending more time in it.

He stopped when he felt that strong tug once more, his eyes finally falling on the other male. He quickly moved towards him and kneeled beside him. He didn’t hesitate before pulling him into a tight him, his body still shaking slightly. “I am so sorry Niko.” He whispered. His grip on the other male was tighter than it had been before. “Delphine and I will figure this out. I promise. You aren’t going to be alone.” He assured. He was trying to keep his language about the curse indirect to not trigger something. He hadn’t a clue what might happen if he said the wrong thing.
The forest always granted a sort of tranquil aura. Even in Nikolai’s hyper aware state, he felt its warm embrace, though it did very little to ease his nerves. He let a small pebble hit the water, staring at the ripples it created, each one bigger then the next. Flashes of the storms and raging seas mingled with his vision, and he quickly forced his eyes shut. He’d tried so hard to drown the trauma, but he should have known eventually it would float back up to the surface.

At the cost of getting his clothes dirty, he sat where he’d been crouched, elbows resting on his knees. The forest around him was so full of life, but all he could do was destroy. It was almost morbidly comical how much he enjoyed life, and people, yet he would eventually be their downfall. A sigh escaped him, the tightness in his stomach subsiding a little. The flowers from across the pond danced in the gentle breeze. He was mesmerized by them, enough to not hear Alexander’s footsteps. It wasn’t until the prince kneeled beside him that he became aware of his presence.

“He-“ before he could get out a full word, he was being pulled into an embrace. For a few seconds, all he could doo was stare straight ahead. Alexander’s words tugged at his chest, that familiar feeling of comfort quickly settling in. His eyes stung, feeling a bit hot, and threatening to spill over the tears he’d been holding until now. Out of all the reactions he’d expected, this wasn’t one of them. At best, he hoped he’d just get a general acknowledgement from the warlock to let Nikolai know he understood.

This…this was new.

Similar to how he’d felt after Delphine had found out, and vowed to keep him and their people safe. Except, this time it felt different. He wouldn’t be able to put into words why that was, but one by one, Nikolai felt all of his walls crumble. That knot in his throat formed again, his arms slowly wrapping around Alex to return the embrace. The tears felt hot as they traveled down his cheeks, but they weren’t the same tears of worry and despair he’d been holding back before. He felt…relieved? The cursed was still with him, yet he felt free, almost.

He buried his face into Alex’s shoulder, unable to come up with a verbal response on the spot. Could he really allow himself to hope for a cure? Alexander seemed to be confident about figuring it out, but that could just be that ever present option of his.

Finally, after a long pause, he slowly pulled away, wiping away the lingering tear tracks with his sleeve. His dark eyes stared at the dirt beneath them for a moment while he collected his thoughts, then met the warlock’s gaze. “Thank you…” his voice almost felt out of place now after spending so much time in silence. “But…this is my burden.” He would never expect Alexander or Delphine to take on the task of breaking this curse on their own. Not when this was his own problem to deal with. “I need to figure this out…” his hands moved to take Alex’s, holding them as if they were now his lifeline. “Just knowing you understand is enough.”
Alexander’s grip on Nikolai didn’t lighten as he kneeled in front of him, holding the other male as tightly as he possibly could. He tucked his head in slightly, his scent washing over him. It was familiar, comforting, and something that he had missed while the two had been apart. He relaxed more when he felt the siren prince return his embrace, shifting somewhat to get more comfortable. He had no plans to let him go for the time being. After all that occurred within the short span they had been apart, he needed that reassurance that Nikolai was here and that he was alright. He truly never thought he could miss someone as much as he had missed him.

He leaned his head gently against Nikolai’s as he allowed for a silence to fall over them for a few moments. The sounds of the forest echoed around them. He could hear the faint chirping of birds in the canopy of tree branches above them. A gentle breeze rustled through the leaves, melding into a soft song that he could truly appreciate. He shifted to press a gentle kiss to the side of the other male’s head before returning to how they had been before. His breathing had finally evened out from the panic it had encompassed before. He seemed to finally be in control of his own thoughts, not plagued by what he had seen. It was a rare and welcome change.

He allowed for him to pull back, leaning back on his legs slightly. His gaze studied Nikolai for a few moments. He hated the sight of his tears, wishing to take away the anguish he was currently feeling. He shook his head slightly then, his hair falling into his face. It was rather messy compared to the tidy nature he would normally have it. “There is no need for you to thank me Niko,” He paused, glancing away for a moment. His cheeks immediately tinted pink and the ring on his fingers matched. “You mean a lot to me. When I saw you near that pit, I thought I was going to lose you. That alone was enough to drive me mad.” He confessed.

He forced himself to look back to Nikolai as he took his hands in his own. “You don’t have to suffer through it alone anymore. I may not fully understand what it is like for you, but I have seen how it affects you and your people. I can’t just stand aside and not do anything.” He spoke truthfully. He wouldn’t allow for himself to be such a coward. There was a strong chance that the two would be able to break the curse together. It wouldn’t be easy, that much he knew. But he didn’t care. He meant what he had said and hoped Nikolai would believe him.

His eyes studied the other male’s face for a few moments, taking in the sharpness of his features. There was a natural beauty to Nikolai that part of him envied while the other appreciated it. He was unlike anyone that he had seen before. He supposed it could just be due to him being a siren, but he was sure there was more to it. He slowly leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss to his lips, savoring the moment. When he pulled back, he looked down to their hands tangled together. “Just please promise me you won’t ever try to sacrifice yourself again. I don’t think I can handle losing you. Look how much of a mess I was without you.” He tried to lighten the mood with a weak attempt at a joke. A smile pulled at the corner of his lips.
The reunion with Alexander had crossed Nikolai’s mind multiple times while they were away. In his turmoil, there had been a few possible scenarios he’d image would play out. At best, he’d expected to find the prince just how he’d left him. At worst, he’d thought about returning to the perfectly poised exterior he’d first met. But no matter how much he thought about it, he never imagined things would pan out the way they had.

He certainly hadn’t planned on sharing his biggest secret with this man he hardly knew, yet he felt like he had known for an eternity. He clung onto that feeling as hard as he could, his stomach and heart jumping in sync when the kiss was pressed to his head. It was, for lack of a better word, magical. Perhaps what Nikolai had been needing to hear and feel all along. All thoughts of his previous plans had subsided, making way for observations of how Alexander’s eyes lit up, green specks reflecting what Niko;lai felt. The warlock prince blossomed to life again, and somehow, Nikolai allowed himself to actually believe it was because of his own presence.

The kiss was more than welcome. It was too short, in fact. Leaving Nikolai wondering if it would be rude to interrupt Alex mid-sentence to steal another. He let out a small breath of a laugh. The first one in weeks. His own color returned to his features. “You really are a mess.” The teasing took on its usual playfulness, except this time it was mixed in with some truth. In a way, Alexander was messy, as was Nikolai. That’s exactly what had broken the initial dislike towards the warlock. They had more in common than they realized.

He almost felt like he had to apologize again, but held back his words. It was a habit he’d been trying to break over the years. This time, it wasn’t his fault. In fact, it never had been his fault. He was slowly starting to come to terms with that. His gaze lifted to meet Alexander’s, eyes bright and colorful like deep sea crystals. There was so much he wanted to say, but there was still that self sabotaging part of him that protested against voicing his own feelings. He only hoped that the rings were enough to communicate them for now. Instead of words, he settled for reaching over, stealing that kiss he originally wanted. He lingered a little longer than Alex had, keeping their hands tangled together.

For a brief moment after they pulled apart, Nikolai felt his own lips move, the words slipping out like a breath. “Je’u chiero mõito, eu’steilla.” Before his brain could catch up to his mouth, the quiet was interrupted by footsteps. A few seconds later, Delphine’s figure came into view, her features a mix of bewilderment and relief. She silently leaned against one of the trees trunks, her gaze switching between the two princes as if to gauge the situation.

“So…are we all in agreement then?” She didn’t specify further, but Nikolai could take a solid guess as to what she meant. They wanted to find a way to break the curse. He looked to Alexander, his eyes flickering with fear. Going down this path could be tricky, dangerous for everyone involved. The sirens were used to dealing with it, but Alexander still had a choice.
Nikolai’s presence in that moment was all that Alexander needed. It was all that he had been yearning for these past few weeks. He blamed it on the connection that the two of them seemed to share. It was something that he thought he was beginning to understand. Every time that he thought he might have gotten to the bottom of it, he was thrown for a whirlwind. The rings had been the first thing to confuse him. The tug today was something else, something new. It confirmed his suspicions even more. If the two weren’t meant to be together, then he didn’t know what they were supposed to be.

His head tilted at the tease the other male gave him. His smile softened as well. He was unable to help himself any. Everything in that moment was absolutely perfect. Despite all of the torments that had happened before, this took it all away. He was truly happy for the first time in a while. “You should’ve realized that the first day that we met. I almost tumbled trying to get into the cave. If that wasn’t your biggest indication, I don’t know what would be.” His own response was joking, wanting to keep the air between them as light as he possibly could.

“If it makes you feel even better, my parents thought I slipped out of my chair on accident during the vision when I saw you going towards the pit. It took them minutes to realize something was wrong. I wanted to be offended, but it makes sense. I truly don’t know how I have lived this long with how clumsy I am.” He confessed with a chuckle. He was sure that he was giving the other male more ammunition to tease him, but he wanted to see Nikolai happy again. He could partly understand how hard it must’ve been for him after experiencing the visions. He knew that it must still be tormenting him today.

The kiss was rather unexpected, but not unwelcome. His shoulders tensed for a moment before he quickly returned it. Each time the two kissed, the more that he wanted to kiss him. It was completely intoxicating. He seemed to lose all control every time he felt the soft lips against his own. He wished that the two of them could spend an entire day tangled together, not worrying about anything. He realized his mind was beginning to drift to a place that it definitely should not. The tips of his ears turned red, but he managed to keep it from spreading to his cheeks.

His eyebrows furrowed when Nikolai pulled back with a pout clear on his lips. Confusion flashed across his expression at the words he spoke. “What does that mean?” His words were quiet though the confusion was still laced in his tone. The moment was partly ruined when Delphine stepped forward. He let go of Nikolai’s hands and carefully stood. He offered Nikolai a hand to help him stand before he replied to Delphine. “We are.” He agreed. He would do anything that he could to help find a way to break this curse. “We should be getting back soon though. I am sure that everyone is rather worried about us.’
His own words echoed in his thoughts as the trio made their way back to the palace. For all the days, weeks, months, years even, that Nikolai had spent reciting his own mantra of not growing attached to anyone, Alexander had been able to break through that in a matter of days. It was careless, and idealistic of Nikolai to assume this would be any different. But the more he tried talking himself out of it, the tighter he wanted to hold the warlock’s hand.

He knew Delphine had her own worries. All of them were justified. After the horrors their people had been through, it was extremely difficult to trust anyone. Let alone a warlock. The very species that put them in this situation in the first place. But Nikolai wasn’t blind to the truth. A warlock may have casted the curse, but it was one of their own that was behind it all. Long ago, Nikolai felt a fire in his stomach, itching to end Rowan and his reign of terror. Eventually, he’d begun to focus less on that and more on not hurting the siren population. ]

Now, it was back. He felt it in every muscle, every nerve within his body. Breaking the curse would be enough for anyone, but not for hook. That would be only the first step towards getting rid of Rowan for good. If the man had chosen to not treat him as a son, then Nikolai had no reason for treating like a father. He’d be regarded like the pathetic excuse of a king he truly was.

“Are you okay?” Delphine’s concerned question pulled Niko from his thoughts of revenge. He blinked at her for a moment, as if she’d been speaking a foreign language. It took a minute for the words to settle in.

“Me? Oh, yeah I’m fine.” His fingers remained laced with Alexander’s, as they had been the entire walk back to the palace. Or so, he assumed. He’d been so deeply invested in his own thoughts, his body seemed to have been moving on pure instinct.

“You haven’t said a word the whole walk here. It’s weird.”

“I was just thinking…” The prince quickly swatted away Delphine’s concern. Of course it was to be expected, after having been away from home for over three days with not so much as a word. He could take a solid guess as to what she imagined was going through his head, but in truth, the black pit was now the last thing on his mind. It seems like all he had needed was to see Alexander again. That had been more than enough to pull him out of his funk. His sister, as expected, gave him an incredulous look but didn’t press any further. “Actually…” She turned to face him, her steps towards the inside of the palace being halted at the sound of Nikolai’s voice. “I think I’ll stay out here in the gardens for a bit…you two can go on without me.”

As much as he’d missed Alexander, he needed to collect his thoughts before going back in there and having to deal with Rowan face to face.
Alexander didn’t mind the silence that set between them as they walked. After all they had been experiencing, he welcomed just enjoying Nikolai’s presence. He had been worried he might not be able to see the other male once more and him not arriving that morning had only confirmed it more. He would forever be grateful for this bond the two seemed to share as it truly was the only reason he had managed to find Nikolai in the spec of time he had. It almost was enough to make him wonder what would’ve happened if he hadn’t spoken through the vision. Would Nikolai have gone towards the pit? Would he have lost him?

A shuddering breath left his lips as they walked, shifting to be a bit closer to the other male as they did so. He wished the two of them had been able to spend more time alone before Delphine came back out of the cave. He would’ve preferred to embrace him for as long as he possibly could in his best reassurance that everything would be alright. He cast a glance towards the siren prince beside him. His gaze was somewhat concerned, though he didn’t push more on the thoughts beginning to swirl in his mind.

He had been dealing with the mania that came along with the visions for days on his own. Even if he had become a shell of himself doing so, he managed to continue the best he could. He worried that if he stepped away from Nikolai, everything would return. He didn’t want to leave his side for as long as he possibly could due to it. He was well aware that Delphine witnessed the terrible state he had been in due to it. He didn’t want Nikolai to see the full extent.

He almost hadn’t realized that they managed to make their way back to the palace as quickly as they had. He paused when Nikolai did, turning to face him at his words. His expression pinched with the concern that he couldn’t hide any longer. “Please don’t take too long.” He murmured, unable to help the longing in his tone. That familiar tug seemed to have its hold on his heart once more. His grip on his hand tightened for a few moments before he forced himself to let it go.

He offered him a rather weak smile, turning then to face Delphine. He led the way back into the interior of the castle. He could hear the familiar echoing of voices, immediately recognizing that of his father’s. He forced his expression to turn neutral once more. He knew it would be best in that moment to act as though nothing had happened. It took everything within him to not turn his head and glance over his shoulder towards the gardens.
Watching Alexander leave proved to be a lot harder than it should have been. Nikolai held himself back from reaching out and grabbing his hand, and instead let him and Delphine go. For a few moments after that, he stood, still and silent. A blank stare settled into his features for a bit, as his head attempted to catch up. What he planned on accomplishing out here, he wasn’t sure. He just knew he wasn’t ready to go back in there and play nice with Rowan. And perhaps he never would be, but at the very least he could gather himself up enough to pretend.

He let out a quiet breath, heels scraping against the concrete paths between the palace and gardens. There were a few guards floating about, but they didn’t pay him any mind. Not anymore. They’d already grown used to his presence in the castle, it seemed. Nikolai didn’t think he’d ever get used to it himself. Come to think of it, he didn’t even know what the families expected him and Alexander to do after getting married. Were they expected to live in the castle? The thought of it made him wince. He didn’t want to live here, but he couldn’t take Alexander to the ocean with him.

And he couldn’t…leave him behind. The thought of not marrying Alexander passed through his thoughts many times before, but it seemed like now the narrative of his subconscious had shifted. He didn’t…not want to marry him. The idea of living somewhere else, just the two of them. No siblings or probing parents. No entitled women that claimed to know Alexander better than he did. Just them…

He hadn’t realized he’d walked as far as he did. Thoughts had taken him halfway across the gardens, towards one of the fountains. He stared at it for a moment, hands shoved into his pockets as his brows furrowed. “What is wrong with me…?“ the question was asked quietly and to no one in particular, and it could be answered in various ways. Truth is, there was a lot wrong with him. Way too much to get into. But what was wrong with him right now…was the fact that he couldn't pull his thoughts away from the warlock prince for a second, and that the idea of marrying him now didn’t seem so bad.

“Ugh-“ a frustrated hand ruffled his own hair as his thoughts screamed louder, stronger. The word love ran through them a few times. As if! Leaning over the lip of the fountain, he caught his own reflection in the water, brows knitted out of frustration and rosy cheeks telling of what had been going on inside his own head. “Don’t even think about it.” He scolded his own reflection, one finger pointing towards the water. “You are not falling in love, idiot!” The tip of his index finger met the surface of the clear liquid, and just as quickly, the water reacted. It twirled up in a frenzy, in multicolored streaks, splashing him in the process.

Nikolai could only watch, at first convinced it was part of the structure’s function, but when his hand moved, the water moved with it. “What…the…” manipulating water to a siren was like breathing to a human. Natural, easy. But it never looked like this. He slowly lowered his hand down to test his theory, and the colorful liquid settled with it. He quickly glanced around, expecting to see at least one guard gawking, but none of them were close enough. His attention immediately returning to the fountain after making sure no one was watching, lingering for a moment before it shifted to a nearby bush. The image of Alexander being flung into one all those days ago flashed in and out of his mind. Was it really the wind, had he tripped or…


Nikolai’s feet planted themselves on the ground, eyes catching a nearby statue. Small enough to lift with ease. Similarly to how he usually commanded water, he began moving his hands. This time, the wind responded. Slowly, steady and then all at once the statue went flying into the greenery before falling to the ground and shattering. Eyes wide and frantic, Nikolai found himself rushing inside as fast as his feet could carry him. He wasn’t sure how he’d found Alexander so quickly, but his hand gripped onto the other’s as soon as he was close enough.

“You need to see this.” Without so much as an explanation, he began tugging the warlock back towards the gardens.
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Alexander allowed his gaze to survey those who stood around them in that moment. His mother was chatting away with Seraphine about the arrangements for the wedding. It seemed like they wanted to have the elements of both cultures evenly combined for the ceremony. It was something that he wouldn’t mind. Everything about the sirens was beginning to fascinate him the more he spent time around them. He had a hard time assessing if his parents felt the same way as he did. His mother consistently had a pleased expression on her face when they were around the siren royal family.

His father, on the other hand, was indifferent.

He could see the anger that caused his father’s expression to twist every moment he spent having to converse with Rowan. If he could read his mind, he was sure the warlock king was plotting the multiple ways he could murder Rowan and make it seem like an accident. If he had to stretch further, he believed his father might even be wishing he could take some trèvÿll and sleep for a century. The thought in itself was enough to almost let a smile form on his lips. He made sure to keep his expression calm though in his best attempt to keep his facade up.

A soft sigh escaped his lips as he finally let his eyes fall down to his feet. The longing in his chest for Nikolai hadn’t faded no matter how hard he tried for it to. It was a constant tug at his heart, almost as if someone had wrapped a rope around it and was pulling him towards the other male. The feeling was one that he had never experienced before. It wasn’t unpleasant, but it most certainly was beginning to come to the forefront of his mind. He tried his absolutely hardest to push it away, to act like he didn’t care for Nikolai in the way that he did.

Everything had only led him back to the other male though. Each moment brought them closer and closer. The more time they spent together, the more he realized that he had fully fallen for Nikolai. Even when he tried to act like his mania hadn’t been affecting him terribly, Nikolai was the only one that could break through it. Truthfully, Nikolai had saved him.

That alone both scared and excited him.

He supposed he could believe that he indeed was in love with the siren prince. The thought wasn’t as farfetched as he made it sound. The two had been through a lot when he thought back on it. Without Nikolai actually knowing, he had witnessed the entirety of his formative years. He knew quite a bit about him without ever thinking of getting that intimate with him. He would’ve found himself to be insane if he were to go back and tell himself the day he was to meet Nikolai that he felt this way for him. But now, now he was forever grateful for his presence.

The other male had such a light air to him. There was a freedom that not many were able to experience, even with the curse that was plaguing him. Nikolai never allowed for anything to truly damper that. It was admirable in a way he had never appreciated something before. The ability to have strength when everything around oneself was falling about was an ability unlike anything other. He would always be in awe of that strength, especially when he was lacking that himself.

His eyebrows furrowed at the thought. His fingers curled gently into his palms, much like they had before. The familiar indentations of where his fingernails had dug in before were still very present. He made a mental note to see if he might be able to heal the scabs on them later that day. He almost hadn’t realized that Nikolai rushed inside until the other male took his hand in his own and began to tug him away. His first few steps were stumbles, but he quickly began to follow after him once he got his footing. His confusion only grew as he was tugged to the garden. “Niko, what happened?” His voice was gentle. Any hint of panic that it held before had dissipated.
Running on autopilot, Nikolai didn’t release Alexander’s hand until they were only a few steps away from the fountain he’d just been at. The question made him realize he’d now have to attempt to put into words what had just happened. “I-“ his brows furrowed as he looked around them. “…don’t know?” Part of him still tried to comprehend what he’d done, and realized then that this was something he shouldn’t have been able to do in the first place.

“I just uh-“ he vaguely gestured to the fountain. “I was talking to the water and then it-“ his hands made a wild flourish of gesture, attempting to mimick the swirling motion the water had taken. He probably looked and sounded insane, but words were failing him, “And then the statue…” he pointed towards the broken pieces of the sculpted figure, now laying on the ground beside the bush it had been flung into. “I think I- I’m sorry?”

He looked at Alexander, head tilting like a confused puppy. A few strands of blonde fell over his eyes, large and wild with curiosity. He was aware none of the words he’d just spluttered out had made any sense, but still couldn’t gather his thoughts enough to form logical phrases. “I think…I threw you into that bush…” he almost winced at the phrase, already feeling guilty for the bruises he’d left on Alex that day. But after what he’d just experienced, that was the only explanation he could think of.

He let out a huff of air, the hair covering his eyes floating away from his face. “Now I sound like a lunatic.” Maybe he didn’t have to explain it in words, if he could just replicate it. Holding up one hand, silently asking Alexander to wait, he turned on his heels, looking for another statue or something he could pick up. There was a small, potted plant near them. Perhaps he could control the wind enough to pick it up and set it back down without shattering it. He took in a deep breath before concentrating all of his attention on the item, moving his hands in the same motion he had before.

Within a few seconds, the pot started to lift. It hovered in the air for a moment before moving towards them, carefully landing in Nikolai’s hands. It was only then that he realized, there was no wind this time, only the natural gentle breeze. Certainly not string enough to lift a plant. Nikolai’s dark eyes stared at the plant for a good few seconds before looking over to Alexander as if the prince held the answers he was looking for.

“This is not normal…”
Alexander’s feet stumbled slightly as he was dragged along by Nikolai out towards the garden. He did his absolutely best to not trip. Nikolai seemed to have something occupying his mind that he couldn’t read on his expression and he didn’t want to slow them down with his own clumsiness. His eyes stayed fixed on the other male as they walked, his eyebrows furrowing slightly. He couldn’t help the tinge of concern that was beginning to edge its way onto his own expression. After everything he had been through himself as of late, he didn’t want for the siren prince to be experiencing anything like he was.

He stopped next to him as he awaited an explanation, slowly turning his head to look around them. Nikolai seemed to be very startled by what all he had just experienced. His explanation didn’t help him any either. “You know, you are starting to sound like I did earlier.” He teased gently in his best attempt to lighten the mood. Yet, nothing could break the slight panic that was lingering in the air between them. His eyes followed where the other male was gesturing. It didn’t make sense originally. But then, Nikolai spoke about throwing him into the bush.

His head snapped back to look to him once more. “Niko, are you saying that you were able to control the wind? I thought sirens could only control water.” His own mind couldn’t piece together just what was happening in that moment. He was unable to fathom the idea that Nikolai could indeed have magic in him. He didn’t even fully register that Nikolai had tossed him into the bush that one day. His mind was still lingering on the fact that he was able to use the wind.

His eyes narrowed slightly as he waited for the other male to do whatever he was planning to. His mouth parted the moment that the pot lifted into the air and began to move towards them. Any rational thought that he had completely left his mind. He hadn’t a clue how it could be possible. The only thing that came to his mind was Marie. The woman seemed to know something about the two of them that they certainly didn’t. After all, she offered them the rings. “We need to go see Marie.” The words left him in a soft gasp.

He turned away from Nikolai for a moment to look back towards the statue that had been broken by what the siren had done before. He lifted a hand, the pieces lifting off of the ground as he did so. They immediately formed back into the statue, it forming to look like it had before. He then turned back to the other male. “She seems to know a lot that we don’t about ourselves. These rings, gods I should’ve known something was different when she gave them to us. They are rumored to be made for warlocks. At least, that is what the myth said.” His mind seemed to finally be piecing his thoughts together.

He lifted his hand once more, lifting the pot from Nikolai’s hands with the movement in the air. He had it returned back to where it sat before. He then grabbed Nikolai’s hand. His grip was tight while he began to pull him back towards the marketplace they had visited all those nights before. “Is this the first time that something like this has happened?” He asked softly while they walked.
No matter the way Nikolai’s head tried to wrap around this, it never made sense. He watched silently as Alexander mended the statue he’d broken and out the pot back in its place, his bottom lip nervously caught between his teeth. These were the sort of things warlocks did. As easy as it was for a siren to manipulate the waters around them. There were stories of some sirens powerful enough to harness other elements of nature such as wind or roots, but those were few and far in between. And that was not what had just happened here. What Nikolai had done was more reminiscent of a warlock’s magic rather than a siren’s affinity to nature.

His gaze remained straight ahead, even as Alexander took his hand and guided them both out of the gardens. He floundered for an answer to the prince’s question. Had he done anything like this before? No. Not knowingly? He shifted closer to Alex as they walked, as if the other’s presence could cure his confusion. “As far as I know…I’ve only ever been able to control water.” he thought back to those dark times, in which the ocean became his and his people’s greatest fear. Had he done anything then? If so, he didn’t recall. Brows furrowed the closer they got to the old woman’s shop. Was this really a good idea?

His feet came to a stop, one hand still gripping Alex’s, but his gaze focused straight ahead. For the first time in a long time, he was scared. The logical side of him claimed he had nothing to worry about. He trusted Marie. She was a wise and gentle soul. But she hadn’t known either of them for long. There couldn’t possibly be anything she knew about them that they didn’t themselves. And yet, he somehow knew Alexander was right. It was clear even to him that she was no ordinary warlock, and somehow she seemed to know something about them that could potentially change everything. That thought alone was scary.

Nikolai’s feet turned in their heels, bringing him face to face with Alex. There was that hint of fear in his eyes that didn’t come through often. “Alex, I don’t-“ he let out a breath, head tilting towards the ground. Admitting he was scared of what this visit with Marie could bring was almost as hard as admitting he had been jealous of that woman claiming to love Alexander. His brows knitted together as he searched for the right words that never seemed to appear.

“What if….”

What if I’m not who you think I am? What if I’m a danger to you? What if we can’t get married?

All his worries stuck to the back of his throat, forming a knot too difficult to swallow. He felt the fear creep up in his chest, the gem on the ring settling on a tumultuous red hue to match it. His head lifted again as he took in every edge and curve of the prince’s face. The same face he initially wanted nothing to do with, but now could not imagine living without. Something inside him shifted like the planets aligning. There was nothing he could tell himself now that would change the fact he had done what he swore he wouldn’t do.

He’d grown attached to Alexander… no…he’d grown to love him, and now had to live with the constant fear of losing him too.

What if you don’t like what we find, and you push me away?

“What if things change…” in the end, this was all he was able to say.
Alexander’s eyebrows furrowed at the response to his question. He assumed the answer would be no, as it was certainly the most logical response. He couldn’t recall a time where he had seen Nikolai using abilities like he just had. The only time that there was an experience such as that was the time he was thrown into a bush. The other male had apologized already for it and he wasn’t planning on holding it against him at all. It seemed there was a lot that the both of them were learning the longer they were together, if they were technically considering their situation that of a proper relationship. He was well aware of how he felt about Nikolai. He had no intention to push the other male to find out if he felt the same way or not.

He had been so entranced with his own thoughts that he hadn’t realized Nikolai stopped waking until he felt the tug on his hand. He turned his head to look back towards him with some confusion, though he didn’t try to drag him along. He instead turned to face him. The concern was evident on his expression by that point. His eyebrows were still pinched together and there were slight wrinkles in the corner of his eyes. The blue of his eyes had finally lightened back to what they had been long before the visions plagued his mind. Despite his deep rooted worry, he finally felt almost normal.

He waited patiently for the other male to come up with the words to complete his sentence. He knew that this entire situation must be rather disorienting for him. He had no intention of pushing him until he was fully prepared to speak. His mouth parted slightly as the question was asked. His mind immediately believed the question to be somewhat irrational, but he quickly shoved the thought away. He looked down to the hand that he held within his own, reaching carefully to take Nikolai’s other hand. He held them silently for a few moments, his thumbs running over the back of his hands.

“It won’t matter to me if things change. If we find something out about you that we haven’t known before, that is okay with me,” He paused, trying to figure out how he could properly word what he wanted to say. He lifted his gaze to meet Nikolai’s then. The adoration that he felt for the other male was finally showing clearly in that moment. He couldn’t hide it no matter how hard he tried to. His expression had softened much more than it had been before. His eyes held that affection that the worked hard on shoving down.

“Nothing will ever change the affection I feel for you Nikolai.” He promised. He let out a gentle breath, eyes glancing away for a moment. “Yîu trêvitte vuî.” The words initially left his lips in his native tongue, a habit he hadn’t been able to shake. He cleared his throat gently before correcting himself in the shared language. “I love you Nikolai. Nothing that could happen would change that.” He assured. It felt odd to finally admit those words out loud. It was something he had been fighting for such a long time now.

“Besides, I am far more of a mess than you will ever be. I can handle anything that the gifs might throw out way.” He tried to joke and lighten the mood some, wanting to help him feel a bit better.
Saying things wouldn’t change wasn’t much Alf a reassurance. Nikolai knew that from experience. He’d been told those very words many times before, but things did change. They always did, and never for the better. For a moment, he thought of voicing his thoughts. Of telling Alexander this was easier said than done, but all of his thoughts became irrelevant the moment he heard those three words, repeated in two languages.

“I love you…”

There was a tug at his chest and for a moment Nikolai swore he’d forgotten how to breathe. His eyes were large with surprise, his body almost frozen in time. Had he heard that correctly? No…he most certainly had. He probably stared at Alexander in a silent shock for a bit too long, his mouth struggling to keep up with the words his head was shouting at him. In the end, all he could manage was a quiet “oh…”. Realizing that probably came out sounding not at all in the way he meant it, she quickly shook his head. “I didn’t mean… I just…never….” His lips pressed into a hard line, unsure of how to voice what he felt. “No one has ever said that to me before…”

Delphine loved him dearly, of that he was certain. But she had strange ways of showing it sometimes. Nikolai knew he could count on her support, and trust her with anything, but this…this was different. And for a brief moment he allowed himself to believe it, but the self sabotaging part of him quickly took over, screaming at him to pull away. Alex was lying, clearly. He had to be. They barely knew one another, how could he possibly say he loved him. Maybe it was a good thing they were going to see Marie after all. If there was something dark within Nikolai, now would be the best time to find out.

“I’m sorry, I’m just…being dramatic. It’s fine.” He breathed, carefully pulling one of his hands away from Alex’s as he turned to face the direction of the marketplace. “Let’s go…” He didn’t say much the rest of the way there, and despite his growing fear of what might happen, he kept a hold of the prince’s hand, as if that were the only thing keeping him together. Once at Marie’s he paused just outside her shop as he normally did, except this time it seemed like she had been expecting them.

“Come on in, you two.”

Her voice floated from inside. Nikolai exchanged a look with Alexander, that sense of dread quickly settling in again, before he pulled back the curtains to head inside.
Alexander didn’t know what Nikolai’s response to his confession would be, but he certainly had expected something other than the slight mess it had turned him into. He kept his gaze focused on the siren’s face, eyes scanning the delicate features on his expression in order to get a better understanding as to what he might be fully feeling in that moment. He knew that the moment of confession hadn’t entirely been the best. So much had been happening for both of them and he hadn’t wanted to push things to be worse. In fact, he would’ve loved to say it at any other moment than he had. But alas, the words had slipped out without him being able to stop them.

The confession that no one had spoken those words to him before sent a pang to his heart. His lips parted slightly in an attempt to come up with something in response, but nothing formed. No matter how hard he tried to find the right words to say in that moment, he couldn’t. He couldn’t even as Nikolai continued to speak. He wouldn’t dare admit the stinging sensation that came forth when the other male didn’t return those three words to him. He had no place to speak on his feelings when they were the last thing that should be on both of their minds.

He allowed for him to pull the hand back and continue to lead the way towards Marie’s shop. The silence that fell between them was far more uncomfortable than any he had experienced with him before. He supposed it could be his own mind fabricating the situation. He hadn’t even spoken such words to any other person besides his parents. In fact, there was a lot he had done with Nikolai that he hadn’t before. It could be the basis for the intense affection that still was pushing to show. The fingers of his free hand curled into his palm, a sense of comfort and a terrible habit he needed to break.

He paused beside Nikolai once they arrived at the shop. He almost wanted to make his way inside without any warning as the situation was rather dire. Yet, he waited like Nikolai had. He was sure his impression with Marie hadn’t been the best after the way the two came back that one evening. He could still recall the complete change in Nikolai’s demeanor due to the way he had snapped at the siren. The guilt still was swirling in his chest from it as well. He doubted he would ever fully be able to forgive himself for that evening, even if Nikolai assured him everything was alright.

He didn’t hesitate in stepping inside once Marie told them to. It was then that he finally dropped Nikolai’s hand. His eyes fell upon Marie, narrowing slightly. “You’ve known this entire time, haven’t you? It was the reason you gave us the rings. You know as well as I that these are rumored to only work for those with warlock blood.” His voice was gentle, though it was clear he was piecing things together himself. “What else do you know Marie? I would prefer it if you were honest with us. After everything I’ve been seeing as of late, I need to know everything that you do.”

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