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A 1x1 RP between smolfluffball and boo.

- The Kingdom of Luton, home of the royal castle, Coros Academy, cobblestone streets, tall viny plants, delicate flowers, little black birds, and stray alley cats that steal from merchants. -
✦ Where an encounter goes awry. ✦
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kei ueno.
It was a sleepy evening. The sky had been cloaked with a steady grey sheet of clouds all day, hiding the sun and muting its light, making everything feel dull and miserable. Kei, on the other hand, was in high spirits, because he could feel that today was the day. He was hot on his bounty's trail, and in short order he'd be dragging him back to the people that'd hired him and collecting the payment that was almost suspiciously too good to be true. Kei couldn't imagine what kind of trouble the student, Alba Fairney, had gotten himself into, but it must have been some kind of scandal, because those people that had approached him, probably thinking they looked very mysterious in their heavy cloaks, had been insistent that he carry out his work as quickly and quietly as possible. Kei had also been given a vague warning that "this person is dangerous" and "do not underestimate his desperation", but quite honestly, Kei had seen it all before. Capturing a blond-haired twenty year old shortie wasn't going to be any trouble.

However, it had become clear to Kei a few days ago, when he'd begun the search for the fugitive, that although Fairney was no expert, he wasn't exactly clueless either. His tracks had been swept over, and finding any trace that had left behind was tricky. Kei had been forced to resort to the old-school method of simply asking around and trusting that the physical description he’d received was accurate.

Kei always delivered what he promised. In fact, he’d never not delivered. In fact, he usually delivered early, and was never, ever late. Not only did Kei want to find Fairney today, he was going to, because it was on his schedule, and his schedule was almost never wrong.

It was Kei’s opinion that the best way to start looking for someone who didn’t want to be found was to be easy to find yourself. More often than not, the person who was trying to hide was constantly looking over their shoulder, trying to scan every face and searching for the one who was just a little too normal. It was then that they would begin to make their mistakes, because by focusing too much on the people who blended in, they would completely overlook the people who looked different. This was why Kei made no effort to look inconspicuous—not that he stood out like a sore thumb anyway.

Wrapped in a myriad of fabrics that draped around his strong frame and hung in shades of black and grey, Kei’s appearance was simultaneously scruffy and perilous. His right arm was completely covered with a tight black sleeve that hooked over his thumb, and his left arm was wound loosely with draping black fabric that left his forearm bare. The hilt of some weapon rose at an angle from behind his left shoulder, although the blade was covered with a draping sheath of dark fabric that hid its shape. Kei’s hair was pulled back in a loose knot on the back of his head, and a few rogue strands framed his jawline.

It wasn’t that he was extraordinarily tall, or unusually unpleasant-looking. On the contrary, Kei’s face, although stony, was peculiarly delicate, in a wild-sort of way—almost like a dangerous, endangered species. It was the breadth of his shoulders, the slight upward tilt of his chin, the way in which his eyes raked over every square inch of space int the marketplace, that made Kei something slightly out of the ordinary. If nothing else, he didn’t mesh organically with the people of Luton.

The streets weren’t crowded, but the movement of people was still fluid enough to force Kei to slow his pace. He had to keep moving, because there was a lot of a ground yet to cover, but he couldn’t afford to risk looking over just one more blond head of hair. The eyes, his employers had told him, will betray him. Bright green. Kei wondered if they were green like young grass, or like the eyes of a cat, but he had a strange sense of certainty that he would know Fairney when he saw him. Fairney—something about the name annoyed Kei. Pretentious, high-class possibly. Or in leagues with them. Spoiled, no doubt. Kei had already decided, without meeting him, that he disliked him immensely, and that the sooner he handed him in, the better he would feel.

There. Like a bloodhound hot on the trail, Kei spotted a mop of flaxen hair, and slim fingers that were slipping between the locks. Although several meters away, he could guess that the height was correct, as well as the length of hair. His skin was pale, but not unhealthily so, and there was something about the way he just stood there that irritated Kei even more than the color of his hair, which Kei decided he hated. Yes, that had to be Fairney. Kei's inner sense had never betrayed him yet.

Kei slowly lifted his hand over his shoulder and drew out the blade that was hooked on his back. It was a curved silver sword, not quite as bent as a sickle but more delicate than a scimitar. Dark swirls were engraved along the blade, and there was a small red strip of leather that dangled free at the edge of the hilt.

"Fairney." Kei's voice rang clear, just loud enough to carry audibly, but quiet enough that it might have been a voice in Fairney's head. "Please don't run. I have a schedule to keep."

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alba fairney.

He should have known today would be a bad day, or that something bad would happen, at the very least. Chilly and dark and dreary, without the sun even peeking through the clouds once to shed a hint of light onto the inhabitants of Luton. A perfect setup for a terrible thing to occur.

Throughout the entire day, he thought that it would rain, which is why he had stayed inside during the daylight hours. Inside the shops, he was warm and protected, and he was safe from any prying eyes. His arm was still hurting, a sharp pain that made him wince whenever he moved his hand too quickly, and his bandage was all bloody, too. He didn’t want to set out on his journey before the injury was closed, but he knew he could not linger in the city surrounding the castle and his old academy any longer.

He had to leave his home. He had to leave behind everything he knew. He had to leave his friends and his family. He had to get to his destination. He had to do what needed to be done. Nothing could distract him from his goal.

After only barely getting away from the academy, with the long deep laceration on his wrist that arched down close to his palm, he realized that he was doomed. If he stayed in Luton or any of the nearby cities he’d be captured, or captured then tortured, or captured then made into an example of some sort, or captured then killed, or captured then kept alive and forced, with a spell, to do things he would never do naturally. He could use his magic to disguise himself and get out of the city that way, though the injury on his left arm was an impairment on his casting capabilities.

It was one of the most severe injuries he’d ever had in his entire life. Not only did it bleed excessively, he thought, but it had coated his hand in blood completely and decided to stop bleeding so much after he stitched his skin together, with the help of his magic. To say he had been concerned would be an understatement. He had barely been able to even move his hand while it was still a new wound, which resulted in him thinking it had been damaged permanently, which then resulted in his shaking badly and trying to contain his panic, only a little successfully.

He looked down at his left hand and curled his fingers into a fist to reassess the damage. It hurt to move them but all of his fingers curled like they were supposed to and he could squeeze them, although doing so was a mistake. He uncurled his fingers and pulled the sleeve of his jacket over his wrist, to keep the blood-stained bandage hidden.

His attackers knew where to hit him, when they were chasing after him. They hadn’t aimed to kill him. Just to harm him so he was a less capable magician. They had succeeded, perfectly, annoyingly. He hated that they hit his left arm, because even though it wasn’t his dominant hand, he still used it whenever he was spellcasting. Not all the time, granted, since he knew several spells that did not even require any gestures, but having it bloody and sore and painful to move was not going to be a whole lot of fun to deal with. He guessed the person who had inflicted the injury onto his arm had thought the same, which is why his attacker had tried to remove his hand.

Thankfully, whoever his attacker was had not succeeded. Alba Fairney still had both of his hands, even though one he could not use as fully as he could the other. The wound would heal and he would be fine eventually. He very much hoped that he would still have complete use of his hand whenever he fully recovered. No, he didn't hope, because then that could lead him to being disappointed. He knew he would make a full recovery. No doubt.

He realized he had stopped moving and sighed, then ran his right hand through his hair, pushing his hood down, and stepped closer to a building on the side of the street. His arm hurt. He was hungry. He didn’t have enough medical supplies in his bag to last the entire length of his journey. He had books in his bag, too, and it looked like it was going to rain.

See? Dark. Dreary. Terrible. He didn't want his books to get damaged.

He pulled on the strap of his bag, the somewhat worn and slightly tattered one he had used during his entire schooling, that crossed over his chest and glanced down at it, then saw a girl slap a hand over her mouth near him and let out a squeaky noise. He frowned and reached up to pull his hood up, ducking his head down to go unnoticed, but then he heard his family name.

He squeezed his eyes shut and dropped his hand. Okay. He had three options. One: he could pretend he didn’t hear it, but the way the girl was staring at whoever was behind him told him that feigning ignorance would not be advisable. Two: he could walk away and hope that whoever had said his name would not follow him, which was incredibly unlikely. Three: he could turn around and see whoever was talking to him about not running (which he should do) and schedules (which he did not care about) and try to talk with the guy.

All of these options were horrible. He disliked all of them intensely. He knew, or he assumed, that he was being tracked down, since he was Coros Academy’s Most Wanted Student now, but he had really, really, really hoped that he’d be able to at least get out of Luton before he was found.

But of course he had not been able to, because today was cloudy and dreary and terrible things always happened on days like this.

He turned to face whoever was speaking to him and paused, then squinted. This guy did not look like any of the people who had chased after him. He was not hiding behind a cloak and his dark eyes were too intense, and he didn’t have the air to him that every magician had. A hired hand, then? Probably. The blade he was holding looked foreign, with those pretty spirals and the bright red tassel hanging off the end of it. Either it was a foreign weapon or he had requested it be made specifically for him.

Whatever the case was, this situation was incredibly unfortunate. Not for Alba, of course, but for this poor guy who was sent to come get him.

He glanced toward where the lady had been and saw she had vacated the premises expeditiously. Smart girl. He turned his attention back to the stranger with the weapon and pulled up an easy smile, taking a step back.

“I don’t think you really want to use that on me, sir,” Alba said cheerfully, lifting his right hand and waving it dismissively. “I mean, who even is this Fairney person? What kind of name is that? Sounds like a pretty lame name to me. Is it one of those fancy magician names? Do you have to kill him or something? That’s, like, super unfortunate for him, wow.” He gasped and brought his hand to cover his mouth. “But I’m not him,” he continued, waving his hand and sending a ball of light floating over to the stranger, “so I don’t think I have to worry too much.”

The ball of light moved closer to the stranger, then exploded with a loud, fizzy pop! sound, scattering harmless light all over the strangers face. Alba bolted, turning quickly down an alley close to him. He had no idea where to go in the creepy back alleys of his hometown but he needed to get as far away from the stranger as he could.
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kei ueno.
Everything about Fairney screamed suspicion. The way he didn't even flinch, or act afraid, or really done anything that someone who wasn't guilty would have done. His smile was easy, his stance almost innocently relaxed, and his eyes blazing green. That was Fairney, and Kei would bet real money on it.

The grip on his blade didn't shift in the slightest. Its tip hovered in the air, kept firmly in place with a hand that refused to waver. There was a quiet strength there; it was a heavy sword, at least heavier than most would have expected, yet Kei held it stretched out without a problem.

It was only when Fairney spun something in the air, a globe of golden light, and sent it floating toward him like a rogue balloon that a sliver of uncertainty cut through Kei's eyes. This was unexpected. Unnatural. Was it a trick of the light? Smoke and mirrors? He'd dealt with parlor tricks like those before, but something in his gut screamed otherwise. Now his blade tilted up, hooked toward the globe, but before it could make contact the globe exploded in sparks, and Kei found himself stumbling backward, spots dancing in his vision as if he'd just been staring directly at the sun. His lips parted, almost ready to make a cry, but he managed to contain himself, although his gut was now telling him that something was indeed very wrong. He was shaken, something that didn't happen often, because what he'd just seen came into contradiction with the world he was familiar with. Witchcraft? Black arts?

What have I gotten myself into?

Kei might have considered dropping the job then and there, if it wasn't for the sum he'd been promised, as well as the generous advanced payment.

The eyes of marketplace sellers and buyers had already begun to turn in curiosity, but now all attention had been drawn to Kei as he bolted after Fairney, his blade turned inward against the back of his arm so that it had no danger of hooking anything he didn't intend. His feet hit the cobblestone with muffled tread, not completely silent but much quieter than Fairney's. The runaway was light on his feet, but so was Kei, although he felt more comfortable weaving through foothills and pockets of forest rather than slim alleyways and puddles of stagnant water.

"Please don't." Kei's voice was hardly strained, although not completely even either. Frustration laced his tone, clear by the way he dragged out the last syllable, and the lapse of accent in the way he softened his "t". Rounding the sharp corner of an alleyway lined with empty crates, he finally caught a good glimpse of Fairney, hood fluttering behind him, with gold hair streaming over top. "I don't have time," and with that, he surged forward with a greater burst of speed, feet gliding as if they were hardly making contact with the ground. Fairney was much shorter than he, and although he moved quick, he was no match for Kei's height.

His arm latched around Fairney's, jerking him backward and bringing them both to a stop. Part of him had almost hesitated to grab Fairney, only because of what he'd seen earlier, but a job was a job, and he couldn't be completely sure that this boy had made some deal with the devil. It had to have been some trick of the light. A clever ploy, nothing more. Or at least he would convince himself of that for as long as he could. His other hand tightened on the hilt of his blade, shifting it slowly so that it curved around Fairney's shoulder, inches from his cheek.

Kei's grip was vicelike, not budging an inch nor releasing a whisp of pressure. "Kneel. Hands on your head."


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alba fairney.

He couldn’t hear footsteps behind him as he ducked around the corners in the alleys. Maybe he managed to lose the guy with the pretty spiral sword and the long hair, though he didn’t think the guy would give up that easily. He had some schedule to keep and told Alba not to run, which definitely seemed to Alba like he was some hired hand or collector of some sort. If he was some hired hand that had been sent after him then Alba would not be able to get away as easily as he wanted to. Which majorly sucked.

Running down alleys and flashing bright lights at the guy wouldn’t be enough. He could kick up the cobblestone under his feet and send them at the hired hand sword guy, but how effective would pebbles really be against a tall guy with a blade? He might be able to bat them away or swat at them. The cobblestone underfoot could also be forced upright to trip the guy up, or the bricks in the sides of the buildings might be good for whamming against the guy’s body. Surely the tall guy wouldn’t be able to dodge bricks that lunged out at him from the walls next to him, right?

Alba glanced back to see how close the guy was and almost fell over his own feet when he saw the guy was right there. Right on his heels, reaching out to him. He wasn't quick enough to avoid being grabbed and let out a cry when the stranger yanked on his left arm, feeling the tears well in his eyes. He blinked them back and tried to dig his fingers under the guy's grip to loosen his hold on him, to give his wound air to breathe, but all that pathetic attempt resulted in was only scraping his nails against his wound. It was still bleeding, soaking through the bandage, and this jerk just made it even worse. He could feel the hot liquid throbbing in his arm, pulsing with pain, and he felt the abnormal warmth get underneath his nails.

The guy didn’t budge. His fingers were like lead. He even lifted his sword, too close to Alba’s pretty face, and said something stupid. Kneel. Hands on his head. As if Alba would ever do that to some thug with a blade who could be bought so easily. He couldn’t even put both of his hands on his head if he wanted to, since the asshole was still holding onto one of them way too tightly, and he really didn’t even want to move. The sword was too close to his cheek.

Ignoring the stranger and his ridiculous command, Alba instead studied the brick wall next to them. He hadn’t used a spell to manipulate heavy objects in a while. Paper was easy, and so was fabric. Stone could be problematic, since it was a part of the elementals, and he knew that brick would also be just as, if not more, difficult to convince to move. He needed to try. He glanced back at the stranger and took a breath, then closed his eyes and recited the incantation softly, voice kept at a whisper.

And nothing happened.

The brick next to them was still. There weren’t bricks pelting the guy’s arms. They hadn’t even moved an inch. The cobblestone was unbothered at their feet. Nothing was happening. A wave of anxiety hit Alba and he tried to step away from the guy, and he found he was able to. The guy had let go of his arm. Okay, so not nothing. That happened. Why? He clutched his arm close to his chest protectively and looked the stranger over, eyebrows furrowed, frown present. His heartbeat, rapid, worried, slightly pumped from running, could be heard thumping against eardrums.

What did he say? What spell had he recited? He couldn’t remember. It was obviously not the spell he wanted but the guy was not harmed in any other way that he could see. That didn’t mean that nothing had happened. Something did happen. He did cast something. A spell. He recited an incantation. He felt his lips move and heard something come out of his throat.

But what?

Alba took another step away from the stranger, running his hands through his hair, disregarding the pulsing pain in his left arm. He quickly looked the stranger over again, making sure he hadn't accidentally added any extra parts onto him or caused a plant to grow out of him. Well, okay, that was fine. No extra parts was good. No plants. No blood. His heart was hammering against his chest, and now it was not from having run for his life. He cast something and he had no idea what it was. What was it? What could it possibly have been? It wasn’t one of those harming spells he read about in Aunt Vivianne’s journals, the ones that they used in wars. The guy was not hurt or bleeding anywhere. Maybe it was internal, then? Internal bleeding was something he could achieve with one of those spells. Or he was feeling ill. Or there was something wrong with his head. Or was there something wrong with the alley?

One look around told him no. Which meant he cast a spell he didn’t know on a stranger. He cast a spell and had no idea what he even said. A spell that could be anything. A spell that could have done anything to this guy with the sword and the schedule to keep.

This was probably not good. Definitely, it was not good. Bad. Bad. Bad. Very bad. This was very bad. A disaster.

“Are you…” Alba started, then dropped his hands from his hair and took a quick breath, which did nothing to calm his racing heart.

No. He had no time to worry about this. The guy was after him. He had to get away from Luton. This stranger was just a poor schmuck that got some spell put on him that Alba didn’t know, but it didn’t matter. The spell was probably not actually that bad and it made the guy release him. The guy shouldn’t have gotten himself involved in magician problems in the first place. He had no one to blame except himself, really.

Alba took another step back, but he couldn’t peel his eyes away from the guy. He studied him again, taking in his face and the clothes. He looked fine. There was no injury anywhere. Seriously. Maybe nothing actually happened.

He really needed to leave.

“Are you feeling okay?” Alba asked, going against all the warning bells going off in his head. “I mean, like, are you fine? You’re not bleeding anywhere? Are you feeling okay? I just, I, uh, I don’t…” he trailed off and shook his head. “Because if you are fine, then, you know, I think I really should go, actually, so…” He took a couple more steps backwards, clutching at his backpack strap. “Yeah, I have to go, so… I'm sure you're fine, right? Yes. Right. Okay. So, bye.” He kept moving backwards, watching the guy to see if the spell he cast (or did not cast, hopefully) would do anything horrible to the stranger.
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kei ueno.
Immediately, something clouded Fairney's delicate face, and Kei knew that he was in pain. A wound? His arm trembled where he grasped it, and between his fingers he could see a glimmer of blood bubbling through the bandage. Oh. He hadn't even noticed the bandage, so focused as he was on halting Fairney's flight. It didn't make much of a difference; wherever Fairney would end up, it wasn't Kei's problem. His employers could handle it. In any case, the wound kept Fairney from struggling away, although the younger man didn't look as though he was exactly eager to comply with Kei's command. In fact, his eyes scanned the walls behind him, as if looking for an avenue of escape, although there was little chance of that. The alley was thin and completely barren; the only way to run was forward or backward, and Kei was confident that he'd be able to grab him again.

His lips parted to bark something in impatience, but Fairney's did at the same time, and uttered something under his breath that Kei couldn't catch. A profanity? Maybe a plea for a bargain? Kei may have been a hired hand but he was an honorable one, and he wouldn't go back on the word he'd pledged to his employers, no matter how much money this runt offered. He didn't exactly look like he had funds on him, anyway. His eyes narrowed, and he was just getting ready to kick out a foot to knock Fairney to his knees, but suddenly, he froze.

It had started as the beat of his own heart, and while Kei hadn't noticed it until now, he realized that it was racing. He hadn't been running fast or far enough to make it beat this hard, and anyway, it was different; it was more like his heart was leaping, jumping, even dancing. His ribcage felt brittle against the pounding within it. He blinked a few times, met Fairney's eyes, and suddenly his skin prickled with goosebumps, and heat rushed into his face. With a gasp, he released Fairney's arm as if he'd been holding a hot iron, and he stumbled backward a step, still looking straight at the other, shorter man.

He didn't know what was happening—his brain felt strangely fuzzy and unintelligible—but he did know one thing. No—he refused to acknowledge it, no matter how light his head felt now, nor how he felt compelled to step closer to Fairney, although he managed to keep his feet glued to the cobblestone. Fairney was talking now, his voice strangely concerned especially considering what Kei's intentions had been just seconds prior. Kei let out a hot, shaky breath, his face stretched with an internal struggle that was quickly overwhelming every scrap of conscience within him. It was a battle he hadn't even had a chance in.

With the last ounce of his white-hot hatred for Fairney, which was quickly draining, Kei suddenly rushed forward, his blade raised high and just about to slash down, ready to administer a wound that would put the man safely out of commission, but suddenly his feet tangled, and he stumbled to his knees, his sword clattering to the ground. He made no move to retrieve it, but simply stared up at Fairney, his eyes hollow and frightened. There was no doubt about it now, Kei was firmly and solidly bewitched.

"You..." He swallowed quickly, and a shudder ran through his body. Fairney looked just about ready to bolt, but Kei knew that he would just chase after him, although for a far different reason than before. His job was all but forgotten. "What did you do?"

It was at that moment, gazing up at Fairney, that Kei began to realize, with horror, how beautiful Fairney had suddenly become. Was it a trick of the light? His hair, which Kei had considered messy and mop-like only moments before, was now endearingly so, falling around his face in waves and curves that made his heart beat faster than ever. And his eyes—Kei couldn't stop meeting them, the striking green tugging at his heartstrings. He could almost see his reflection in them, he was that close. Fairney's lips were pursed with shock, and all Kei wanted to do was get a closer look at them.

No no no... Words began to bubble up in Kei's throat like bile, and as he realized what they were, he tried as hard as he could to swallow them again. But the confession that, under normal circumstances, would have flowed naturally after weeks and months, was pulled out of him violently and only after a few seconds, so quickly and under such strain that it physically hurt him. His hands clutched at the fabric around his chest as if it was choking him.

"I—I love you." The color drained from Kei's face, although it was quickly replaced by another blush, this one more furious than the last. Cold humiliation trickled from his head and into the rest of his body, but the foreign sensations that had been enjected into him overrode it with a heat he couldn't control. "What did you do to me?"


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alba fairney.

The world grinded to a halt. All it took was three words, uttered in desperation and horror. The following question sounded far away. Alba barely even heard it.

I love you. I love you. I love you.

But he was a complete stranger.

“You don’t,” Alba whispered, staring at the guy on the ground, who was looking up at him with such a twisted and awful expression. “You don’t even know me. There’s no way you could love me. Did you hit your head somewhere? Or did you drink a potion? Or—”

Or was he hit with a spell recently? One that was spoken so softly? One that one Alba Fairney did not actually know the result of? Oh no. No. No. No. Not possible. A love spell? Was that what he cast? On a complete stranger? How did he even know any love spell? How did he even cast a manipulation spell like that? Who in his family had that kind of magic?

Ugh, he felt like he was going to be sick. He breathed out slowly and closed his eyes, stepping away from the stranger who almost sliced him down with his sword, which now was abandoned on the ground. He moved over to the brick wall and leaned against it, running his hands through his hair and trying very hard not to freak out completely. His wrist hurt so badly and he could feel the blood running down his arm but he did not care.

A love spell. A spell that made someone fall in love with someone else. He cast a love spell. He didn’t even know what he said when he cast. He just spoke and words came out. He just opened his mouth and his brain provided him with something that he had no idea about. He could have said any other spell except for a love spell and it would have been so much better. A wounding spell? Easy to fix. If he had extra limbs? Also easy to remedy. Paralyzing him or giving him mental issues or turning him into an animal? Everything else would be more preferable than a spell that made someone fall in love.

Because he had no idea how to break spells like that.

Yes, he had learned how to cast emotional manipulation spells, and, yes, he had used them once before, but he despised how they made him feel and what they did to people. He always set a countdown for them so that they never lasted that long because manipulating people into feeling certain ways was too nasty and evil. He never messed with intense emotions, like anger or fear or sorrow or love. All he really did was confuse people, then he let the spell end after a few hours, because being perpetually confused would ruin someone's life.

So would being in love with a complete stranger.

Why did it have to be a love spell? Why love? Out of every emotion? Love was almost impossible to control. It was undefinable and took on so many different forms and could make people do very drastic things. People killed over love. They lost their minds over it. They went insane because of it.

If the spell made the guy feel genuine love and not infatuation or a very intense like, then Alba thought he’d really be doomed for good. He was already being chased by the people from his academy and he had to get out of Luton and get to his destination before anyone could find him. Except, of course, someone had found him, and he had cursed him with a love spell, and he was still in Luton, and the people from the academy were still after him.

And someone he didn’t even know the name of said he loved him. Maybe it wasn’t really love. He really hoped it was just like a lot and wow what a cutie and not I am full on in love with you and I will give my life to protect you. He really badly did not want it to be the last option. The last option was the worst option. Knowing his rotten luck, the spell would make him feel that last option, which was absolutely awful.

He had to think of this logically. He took a deep breath and held it for a few seconds, then released it and looked back at the stranger. He could fix this. He could. Every spell had a way to break it. A way to reverse it. He just needed to figure out what spell he even cast then find the incantation to end it.

And he had to figure out what to do with this poor guy who really should not have involved himself in magician problems.

“I,” Alba started, then he tapped the strap of his bag and pulled it around so it was in front of him. “I am very sorry but I’m sure I have a way to fix this somehow,” he said, opening his bag and pulling a book out. He flipped through it quickly, scanning the pages for anything that’d help him. “Not this one,” he murmured, putting the book back and taking another one out.

He did this with three other books and was unsuccessful in his searching. He shoved the last book written in a language he knew back into his bag and eyed the one he really hated, but didn’t pull it out and instead closed his bag. Nothing about love spells in the books he read over and over again, but there might be something in the last one. Or in a book at a library or back home. He couldn't go back home or to the library. He had to get out of Luton. He was very screwed.

“I, um.” He ran his right hand through his hair and let out a breath. “I might have kind of possibly accidentally, completely accidentally, cursed you. With a, uh, a spell. That… That I don’t know how to… break? Because, I mean, you really do not actually love me, because you don’t even know who I am, and I have no idea who you are. So it’s a spell. A love spell. That… I’ll fix…” He trailed off and pressed his lips together, looking away from the guy. “I’ll fix it. I promise I will. But I don’t… Um.”

What could he do to explain this? He was doing such a bad job. He took another breath and nodded twice. No, he could explain it. He was a good magician. He’d be fine.

“It’s not in any of my books. Uh, the spell that I recited. So um, so…” He eyed the stranger. “Are you okay? How are you feeling? That’d be a really good way to figure out what exactly the spell is. Do you feel wrong? I mean, obviously you feel wrong, but, like, physically? You don’t look bad or unwell or anything.” He examined the guy, then nodded again. “Yeah. So. How are you feeling, exactly?”
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kei ueno.
With the world he knew crumbling and fading away, a new reality began to assemble for Kei, and it was centered around a man he didn't know. All he had was a name, and with his heart desperate to find more about him to love, the name repeated over and over in his mind.

Alba Fairney. Alba Fairney. Like the name of an angel, Kei thought he'd never heard four syllables sound more beautiful together. It infuriated him, that his heart didn't just like the name but loved it, would do anything to make sure it stayed on his lips and before his eyes. As he stared at Fairney, unblinkingly, despairingly, he drank in every shift in expression that the other made. He too seemed distraught, almost guilty in the way he began to stutter and even apologize. Despite himself, Kei felt his heart ache, and he had the most incredible urge to reassure the man that had nothing to be sorry for. In fact, he found his lips moving before he could stop himself.

"It's alright," he choked, hands curling tighter into the fabric of his shirt, and suddenly his head fell forward in distressing realization of what he'd just said. "Fuck—Spell? Fix it?" He was shaking like a leaf now, although he wasn't exhausted or cold. It made him feel disgustingly weak, and yet his newfound adoration put a strange strength in his limbs that he didn't want to use. Even Fairney's voice made him want to pull the man in tight, hear him whisper those words into his ear...

His watery gaze returned to Fairney again, who'd given his attention to Kei's current state. Why didn't he just run away? Surely this... whatever it was... wasn't mutual? It didn't exactly seem that the other man was looking at him with anything other than agitation, even as Kei's eyes trailed down to stare at those perfectly formed lips again, just long enough that it couldn't have been perceived as a mistake. His face felt hotter than an iron.

"Just stop talking. Stop." Feeling as though his limbs were made of lead, Kei dragged himself to his feet and stumbled back against the opposite brick wall of the alley. He finally noticed his sword, discarded on the ground, but made no move to retrieve it. He already knew that he wouldn't be able to use it if he tried. His eyes snapped up toward Fairney. "I feel—What kind of question is that? You're making me feel..." Instead of finishing, he grit his teeth and swallowed the words to describe the infatuation clouding his mind. And it wasn't just infatuation; he didn't think Fairney was the most attractive person he'd ever seen. He thought he was someone he could live with for the rest of his life. Someone he could love. Someone he already loved.

"Just—just get away from me." Resolved that Fairney could bring him nothing but misery, Kei began to edge along the brick wall, finally bending down to pick up his sword and rehook it on his back. His eyes never left Fairney, until he turned and began to walk away.

And stopped.

And turned back, agony written on his features, as if it was physically hurting him to put distance between them.

"You really have cursed me. Sadist." The slight accent was now audible in his voice, melodious and flowing, lingering on the vowels and drawing out the softest sounds in a hiss. There was a slight sheen of sweat on his forehead, and a few loose strands of black hair were plastered to his face. There was a wild look in his eyes. "I can't leave. I could never—f-forgive myself. I—It's like you've invaded my mind. My chest hurts." His fingers spread over where his heart was hidden, and his eyes steeled. "And now I can't finish my job—I'd never turn you in because I—fuck," and at that Kei wheezed, hardly able to hold back the two words he'd almost said again.

Love you.

I love you, Alba Fairney.

"Fix me. Do it now." His fingers wrapped around the handle of his sword but trembled. He could draw it if he really tried, he told himself. But to actually harm Fairney—he looked back down at the man's injured arm again, heart jumping into his mouth at the sight of blood trailing down his skin.


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alba fairney.

The stranger couldn’t leave.

That was a problem.

Well, all of this was a problem, really, but his inability to be far apart was even more of a problem. But also slightly helpful, a little, maybe.

Alba watched as he turned to go, then he stopped after only a few steps, then made it very obvious that he was completely unable to leave anymore with that agonized expression. His eyes were wide. He was terrified. The accent attached to his words was one unfamiliar to Alba, but he couldn’t even say anything about it, because of the lack of distance between them and the guy's pained expression.

Awful. Awful. Awful. His stomach felt like a solid lump of coal in his chest, staining him a pitch black color from inside out.

Alba averted his eyes and tried very hard to ignore the pain the guy was clearly in, unconsciously running his hand through his hair again. This was exactly why he never used emotional manipulation spells. He felt completely horrible that he had done this to this total stranger. He never wanted anyone to look at him like that, because of something that he did. Guilt was not a feeling Alba enjoyed. Remorse was even worse. He really didn’t know how he could fix this and make the guy stop looking at him like that.

Sure, yeah, the guy had chased after him, and re-opened his injury, and had intended to return him to Coros Academy and to Alba’s ultimate demise, and he had almost used his blade on him, but he was just doing a job, right? He was just trying to make a living, right? So he didn't deserve to be cursed. He hadn’t really harmed him, technically, although the sword on the guy’s back had almost been used against him. It would have been a very big pain to deal with both his freshly bleeding wrist and a slice on his body from a blade like that.

It was sheathed now, though, and the stranger said he couldn’t turn him in because of the spell. That was a positive, for Alba. A good thing. He needed to keep track of the good things, like the fact that he wasn’t going to be turned in by this guy and that, maybe, he could still get out of Luton, even with this new bump he had accidentally created. He needed to keep track of all of the things the spell did to this guy so he could figure out how to undo it, too.

This guy loved him, because it was a love spell. He forgave Alba easily, although he did not really mean to, probably. Saying things against his will, then? He couldn’t leave because of the spell, maybe because he wanted to stay close. Alba “invaded his mind”, whatever that really meant. Like a swarm of bugs? Was he the only thought he had? Was everything else foggy? What did that mean, exactly?

The guy said his chest hurt. Was it a physical response or was it just a psychosomatic reaction to the spell? Brains were very good at tricking bodies into feeling one way or another.

Just like the stupid curse was very good at making this poor guy fall in love with him.

Alba watched the guy grab at his sword. He saw the hesitation in his movements. He saw that he wouldn’t be able to draw it to harm him. He saw his eyes flick down to his bleeding wrist, which was still aching but which he was doing his best to ignore.

This guy loved him. He wouldn’t want to hurt the person he loved, right?

Even though they were strangers.

He hated this. He needed to fix this. He would. He absolutely would. But he couldn’t here, in this alley, completely exposed. He already was worried someone else would come after them, since he had used his magic and made such a dramatic escape earlier. Of course, he had thought he’d actually manage to get away, but plans had to change, and Alba was good at adapting to situations.

And he would never abandon this guy to deal with this by himself.

“I can’t fix it here,” Alba said after several moments, shaking his head. He decided to keep the now out of his sentence, as well as refraining from saying that he did not know how to break it again. “I need, like, uh. Components, maybe. Or to study it more, maybe.” He stepped further back, expecting the guy to follow him, testing his theory. “But I can’t stay out here, so follow me, please.”


His theory was right. The guy did follow him, all the way back to the tavern/inn that Alba had spent approximately an hour hiding out in earlier.

When he entered, the bartender waved and greeted him. He tried for a smile that ended up being a grimace. The bartender’s attention was on a different loud patron so she didn’t notice the expression, thankfully. He glanced around the tavern and saw there were more people in now than there had been earlier in the day and distantly wondered if he should request a room, but he spotted an empty table in a corner in the back and gestured over to it to the guy, abandoning his prior thought as he moved over to it.

He was too worried about the current curse situation to give any forethought to where he'd sleep tonight, to be honest. His plan, also, did not account for him being in Luton before night fell. Hopefully he could stick to that, if things with this guy worked out alright. Coming to a mutual agreement between them would be ideal. A mutual agreement that included Alba leaving Luton and going to where he needed to, while simultaneously figuring out how to undo the stranger's love curse.

And, yes, that might have been a selfish, but the guy really should not have involved himself in magician problems. Alba felt like it was at least half, or maybe a quarter, of the guys fault that this had even happened. He could have just not chased after him and grabbed his injury. Then he wouldn't have gotten cursed.

(And maybe Alba could have not cursed the guy to start with, but that had not been his intention, at all. He did just want to whack him with a few bricks. It was seriously a massive accident, but it was a lot easier to blame the stranger than to admit he'd majorly fucked up, although he did already apologize for it and try to explain the situation. Did the guy even understand what happened? Or was he just completely lost in love?)

Actually, what was the guys deal, anyway? What was his goal? Was he related to Coros Academy somehow? He didn't seem like he was, but Coros Academy, Alba had learned, would do anything to keep its reputation clean. They could have an entire group of sketchy people. They technically already did. The guy still kind of looked like a hired hand though, someone not related to Coros Academy, especially with the sword and the accent from earlier. Alba didn't know. He knew absolutely nothing about the guy he cursed. Not even his name.

His bag landed on the table first, followed by him sliding into one of the seats. He glanced at the guy but really did not know what to say to him anymore, even though he had tons of questions. Instead of speaking, he pulled out an empty journal and a pencil, using his left hand as little as he could. He dragged out the books he had looked through earlier and set them in a stack next to him, still prioritizing his right hand only. The book in the foreign language he couldn't read stayed in his bag. He flipped to the first page of his journal and glanced back at the guy, then tapped the end of his pencil against the paper.

“So, uh,” he started, actually unable to keep his mouth shut. “I’m going to take notes, obviously.” He gestured to what was in front of him. “But, like, I have two questions. The first is: what’s your name? Unless you want me to just label you as Dangerous Stranger,” he tried for a joke, cracking a smile, but it flickered and fell away. “And I need to know if your… Uh, situation, feelings, the spell, is growing or if it’s stagnated? And I have more questions about your feelings and everything, actually, but I’m pretty sure you seriously hate me, so I will refrain from asking them for now.”
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(•ˋ _ ˊ•)


  • mood

    it's a love/hate thing

Kei could easily rank this day as one of the three worst days he’d ever had. It was even worse than the time he’d been poisoned by a backstabbing contractor and forced to crawl through the hallways of a dank prison in search of the one person who could fix it. The mental and emotional anguish rivaled the pain of a fresh stab wound; he was reeling and falling and unable to keep himself from doing anything other than following the man he hated.


No, hated.


He trailed behind Fairney like a stormcloud, a tangle of emotions on his face that he couldn’t find the strength to hide. He should have been ushering him to Coros Academy to receive his bounty, and by evening he’d be out of his godforsaken city for a well-deserved break. His plans had already been made and set in stone—he was going to retrieve his horse from the stable he’d boarded him at and camp out in the forest outside the city walls for a quiet night, away from the unfamiliar bustle of city life, a chance to breathe. The bounty would have been enough to provide security for months.

And now? Kei’s hands curled helplessly into his sleeves, the urge to strangle Fairney battling the desire to scoop him up and kiss—

How was this even possible? Every part of Kei’s body, everything except the tiny voice of his conscience, screamed out to him that this was love. To look at Fairney was a salve to the ache in his heart and simultaneously a fire-hot brand to the flip-flopping in his stomach. It was so intense that it almost didn’t feel real. Almost. Kei was absolutely sure that this was the most he’d ever felt anything before, and it was such a shock to a man who was so often a fortress within himself that it was as if he’d inhabited a stranger’s body. Nothing felt right; every step he took was too jolting, made his brain roll around in his skull, and there was a tingle in his fingertips. He walked behind Fairney because he was certain he’d try to hold his hand if he was too close. His skin longed to feel him, to share the heat curdling within his core, to hold him to his chest and whisper things into his ear that made Kei blush merely in thought.

In short, he was an absolute mess when they walked into the tavern. Beads of sweat had popped out across his brow, and a pale claminess had replaced the flush on his face, so much so that when he sat, a wave of nausea overtook him. He very nearly stood up again to find somewhere private to vomit, but as Fairney spoke, his stomach magically settled as if to tell him that he needed to adore Fairney’s voice just as much as his appearance.

It was then that the man across from him had the audacity to dig out a notebook and pencil as if Kei was some twisted science experiment. Writing a case study file about me? Forget it. Kei ignored the part of himself that was thrilled to have Fairney pay any sort of attention to him.

His lips twitched at the attempted joke. Seeing Fairney smile… his heart melted. It was beautiful. Dark eyes flicked away, refusing to make contact, but the image replayed over and over in his mind, and it had the wonderful effect of combining with his lingering nausea to make him feel lightheaded, as if one more smile would be enough to send him floating.

That’s when he remembered the wound he’d accidentally reopened; Fairney’s left arm was beneath the table but now that Kei’s mind had turned to it, he couldn’t think of anything else. Was he in pain? Was it still bleeding? He shifted restlessly in his seat.

“I’m not giving you my name,”
he said flatly.
“You’re going to cure me and then you’ll never see me again. It’s not important.”
He was still clinging to the dwindling hope that Fairney would be able to fix this, despite the fact that he was becoming more and more convinced that Fairney had no idea what he was doing. And that was besides the fact that Kei still had no idea what kind of person was capable of doing something like this; a sheltered lifestyle on the other side of the world meant little to no contact with magic. He’d often considered the word meant some kind of new technology, but this… it was a question he had yet to unravel.Not that he wanted to know more about it. Quite the opposite—Kei wanted to get this magic out of his system and forget all about it.

The wound came back into his mind like an annoying bug, flitting before his eyes, buzzing in his ear. Silence descended as Kei tried to mentally swat it away, but nothing was working. He couldn’t think about anything else. The wound. He’s bleeding. I have to help him. Have to make him feel better.

“Listen—I can’t—think,”
he suddenly cried, a hand flying up to cradle his temple, the pounding in his skull overwhelming. Eyes squeezed shut.
“I can’t stop—your—if you—just stop talking.”
His heart was pounding against his ribcage like a sledgehammer, as if there was something inside of him bent on torturing him until he did what it wanted. And what did it want? Kei knew all too clearly.

Dark fabric rustled as his other hand flashed out to wrap around Fairney’s left hand. He could feel the edges of a bandage that had been wrapped around his wrist, and as he lifted it, his grip iron and unwilling to release, he saw red staining it. His heart lurched.

“Let me fix this, and I’ll—I’ll answer some questions.”
Without realizing it, he’d inched closer, moving seats so that he was beside Fairney, leaning over his hand, painful concern flooding his eyes despite his best efforts.
“I can’t concentrate, not until you’ve stopped bleed… bleeding.”
He swallowed mid-sentence, and he finally looked up, locking with those otherworldly green eyes and very nearly losing himself in them.

He whispered the word against his will, fingers already inching under bloodstained bandages and beginning to unwrap them.

what a difference a day makes

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alba fairney. dbd9bl0-0dd00ab9-a2a1-4d27-86c1-e6df952dd3fc.gif (kei @ ally)

Alba startled when the nameless stranger grasped at his head. He looked at him, wide-eyed, confused. Was his talking really that grating? Was his voice that annoying? Or was the spell causing him more pain? He pursed his lips and dropped his eyes back down to his journal and started writing his questions, leaving the space at the top of the page blank until he learned the guy's name, but then the guy's hand was reaching for him.

He flinched away from it, expecting to be whacked or hit or strangled or something, because he really did deserve it and the guy was taller and definitely stronger than he was. The guy did not do anything but grab onto his left hand and lift it. Alba winced, breath hissing through his teeth. Twisting his wrist out of his grasp was not an option. He tried to pull away anyway but, again, the guy’s grip was way too strong. He glared at him, prepared to use his magic again if he needed to, then actually heard what the guy was saying.

“What?” Alba breathed out. Fix what? His injury? His hand was shaking again. He tried to force it to stop but was unsuccessful, so instead he looked at the guy.

Wow, okay, he was way too close. Personal space was not something Alba tended to pay attention to with his friends or people he liked, but this guy had tried to capture him and now was in love with him. He was definitely paying attention to their proximity, entirely because Alba had no trust in him. The spell did not completely negate that he wouldn’t injure him somehow or another.

Well, he did look like he wasn’t going to earlier, but still. Alba had to be cautious. The guy could be trying to trick him or something. He could come to his senses briefly and use that moment of clarity to lash out or run away or knock him out or whatever. The guy was a massive unknown. Alba had no idea what to expect from him.

The eye contact was one of those unexpected things. A quiet oh escaped Alba’s lips, unprompted and accidentally said. The guy's dark eyes were so different from his own bright green ones, and they contained some unwarranted affection in them. His pupils were dilated. He looked like he wanted to do something to him. He looked like he was in love because of a curse. Alba had to look away from him. He couldn’t handle it.

His eyes focused on his wrist when he felt the stranger wriggle his fingers under the bandages. He let out another breath at the guy's plea to help him. Really? Alba couldn’t believe that, after he drew his sword on him and told him to kneel. It was definitely the curse making him want to do that. Maybe if he let him help then he could figure out how tenderly the spell made him act. That’d be more data to add to all that he was compiling. He eyed his journal briefly, then looked back at his wrist.

“You want to help me?” he asked, staring at his wrist, at the bloodied bandages, at the red smeared all over his skin. It was reopened because of the guy who now wanted to help fix it. “I don’t know about that, Danger Man. I get that you love me but that doesn’t really fill me with any confidence in your healing abilities.”

He glanced at the guy’s hand holding his wrist again, not painfully, then slipped his right hand into his bag and grabbed the smaller bag full of medical supplies out. It wasn’t as heavy as it should have been. He needed to get more of them eventually. He slid the medical bag over to the guy.

“You can try, though.” He took up the task of unwrapping the bandage from around his wrist, accidentally brushing his fingers against the other guy’s. He saw how much blood was on his skin and felt his stomach twist uncomfortably. His stitches were uneven and a couple overlapped. Several had torn apart. “That’s so much blood,” he whispered to himself, tossing the bandage onto the table, making sure not to land it on his open journal or books.

Two of his fingers were tingly, like they were just waking up from being numb. His heart banged against his chest, nervous, scared, terrified, but he swallowed his concern down and twitched all of his fingers. They all responded.

“So, what’s your first step?” he asked, forcing himself to relax, trying to put on an unbothered air. He ran his free hand through his hair and gestured to the guy. “You do know that even if you take care of that, it won’t undo the curse, right? My blood is not the answer to breaking it.” Well, technically, it was, but he was not going to explain how his magic worked to the guy who refused to tell him his name. “I told you earlier that I don’t know whatever curse this is, it’s not in any of my books, so I don’t know how to break it. I don’t know how it’s really affecting you but anything I learn about it will help me figure out what it’s not. Which means you need to work with me and talk to me if you want to break it. I know you hate me and the idea of being stuck with me, but it’s either we work together or you are trapped with these feelings indefinitely.” He paused, then pouted and shrugged. “Or I can just shut up, since you want me to stop talking.”
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(•ˋ _ ˊ•)


  • mood

    do i gotta do everything myself istg

Please, thought Kei with a grimace. I've dealt with worse than this little papercut. As the bandage unraveled, however, it became much clearer that this wound wasn't as tiny as he’d assumed one. It was deep and covered in blood, both dried and fresh, and was crisscrossed with sloppy stitchwork. It made Kei physically cringe.

He looked up toward the proffered supplies, noting bandages, needle and thread, all three of which he’d need, but not quite yet. This wound looked relatively new and it needed cleaning. Badly.

Ally was talking again. Kei looked up, half-listening, half-planning what he would do to ensure Ally’s wellbeing. Love, he realized, was very exhausting; he needed to find the best way to balance Ally’s comfort with his safety. And there was this annoying voice in the back of his mind that told him he should impress Ally, because it was very clear his affection was one-sided (very understandably) and unwanted (on both sides), and clearly impressing him should be on the top of his list.

It was confusing. It didn’t make sense. Kei’s head hurt. He was hungry. This tavern smelled bad.

“I told you earlier that I don’t know whatever curse this is, it’s not in any of my books, so I don’t know how to break it.”

Kei grit his teeth. That was the second time Ally had admitted as much. So what were they doing here? If he couldn’t break this curse (THE CURSE HE’D PUT ON KEI IN THE FIRST PLACE) then wouldn’t it be better if they just…

But Kei couldn’t see himself leaving. Ever. He’d die if he couldn’t have Ally.

Little fucking shit.

“Listen, I—”
He threw his head back, exasperated, setting Ally’s hand on the tabletop like it was a piece of cracked china he didn’t want to break further.
“I’m not telling you to shut up. I just said I—”
A deep breath ballooned his chest, and he forced out a strained smile. He wasn’t quite sure why.
“You want me to be honest? Fine. The thought of you in pain makes me want to kill the person who did this to you. I don’t—”
He swallowed painfully.
“—hate you. I’d rather kill myself. Fuck.”
He suddenly pushed back his chair and stood, his face twisted with that same look he’d had in the alley earlier, just after he’d confessed his love for the first time.

“Don’t go anywhere.”

He stepped away and wanted to throw something, but headed to the bar instead and ordered a glass of whatever they had that was strongest.
“Make that two,”
he added, and brought both back to their table. He was glad it was a busy evening; no one seemed to pay the two of them any mind. Not that they were doing a very good job at hiding anyway. Kei was now certain that whoever was after Ally would be after him, too. It was only a matter of time; he’d promised to deliver him by the end of the day, and when he didn’t, it was inevitable that someone else would be sent. Someone bigger and badder. Kei’s shoulders dropped as he sat, a new weight descending, another thing to add to his ever-growing catalog of anxieties. Fantastic.

He shot the first glass back with a gasp, half-hoping that the alcohol would clear the lovesick fog in his brain. It didn’t work. Worth a shot. He dug into the satchel hidden on his hip and dug out a scrap of black cloth, which he laid out on the table. Then he grabbed Ally’s hand and set it palm-up on the table, holding it down firm.

“Don’t scream.”

Kei dumped the other little glass over the wound. He felt Ally twitch and writhe beneath him. Then he heard Ally scream. Really? After I just said—


Kei’s head spun, stars dancing before his eyes, cheek throbbing with an intensity that seemed enhanced by the sting of alcohol still draining down his throat. God I’m going to kill him—


Do I hate him now???

He snapped his head back toward Ally, hopes rising, suddenly forgetting the pain in lieu of the slim chance that the curse had been lifted. But then he saw Ally’s face twisted in agony, and his heart lurched in that way that was quickly becoming a bad habit, and his hopes crashed and burned.

Nope. Could still kiss the shit out of him. Dammit.

Kei grumbled under his breath as he continued; Fairney seemed to have spent all his strength and fight on that one slap, and he didn’t protest, or really even say anything, as Kei painstakingly removed the bad stitches and redid them. His were far more evenly spaced, stitching the skin together to ensure that when the scar formed, it wasn’t a massive lump of knotted tissue. It would be visible, but it wouldn’t horribly deform that pretty pale skin…

Kei’s fingers were stained red by the time he’d finished rewrapping Ally’s wrist. Despite the eyes that had turned toward their corner of the tavern when Ally screamed, things seemed to have quieted down again; apparently this wasn’t the first time someone had performed first aid on a tavern tabletop. But it still made Kei uncomfortable. He longed for privacy, not just for his own sake, but to get Ally, a wanted man, out of sight. Call him paranoid, but he was paranoid.

Kei still had his fingers curled around Ally’s, and he didn’t notice. They’d been draped there as a way to help keep him still, but now that he was finished, it was a warm, comfortable place, and it satisfied the itch in his chest.

“Now then—Fairney.”
He cleared his throat but his voice was still husky.
“Now I can think.”
That was one anxiety alleviated. Dark eyes turned to green, a little less desperate and more willing to cooperate. Slightly.
“I don’t know where you learned to stitch a wound but that was unacceptable. If those are your skills… Just let me handle it from now on.”

From now on?

“I’d prefer if we went somewhere more private. And… I’ll answer some questions. As long as they’re not…”
He struggled to find the word.

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alba fairney. dbd9bl0-0dd00ab9-a2a1-4d27-86c1-e6df952dd3fc.gif

Alba watched the guy’s hand on his wrist, feeling a very uncertain kind of way. His wound didn’t hurt as badly anymore, which meant the stranger had stitched it up well and the alcohol probably numbed it a little. He’d taken such care with sewing his injury closed. Alba had seen how neat it looked, before the guy started wrapping it up again. It was unexpected and made him wonder what other neat tricks the guy had up his sleeve.

It also told him exactly what he wanted to know - the guy really was going to treat him tenderly. It was a good experiment, at the heavy cost of a slap that stung his palm and a few looks from the other lurkers in the tavern. Alba listened as the guy, still unnamed, explained that now he could think, which was interesting.

Was his wound really that bothersome it threw off his brain from focusing on anything else? Was that why he was so obstinate earlier? Was that why he had been so annoyed and short-tempered? He did seem more relaxed now.

“Somewhere more private?” Alba echoed, deciding to leave his hand under the guy's hand, to see if that would keep him calm. “I’m not leaving this table.” He gestured with his free hand to his books and the journal, then saw his bag was still open and quickly closed it. “All of my stuff is out already, and I sincerely doubt that anyone will pay us any mind, since no one has bothered us even though I screamed and slapped you. Plus, I have this.” He pulled the hood of his cloak up over his hair, smirking. “And there’s twenty-two taverns in Luton, not including this one. The chances are slim that we’ll be found within the next few hours. I would know, since I’ve not been caught yet, until you grabbed me and hurt me.”

He pouted down at his hand pointedly, but he was mostly over it, honestly. He was more concerned with undoing the curse. He didn’t think the stranger had made his injury any more severe than it was prior to their meeting. He did think that if the guy was willing to work with him, then the situation would be better for both of them and they could break the curse that much quicker.

He had tried to suggest that, and the guy had not even said anything about it. He was really good at ignoring some of what Alba said. Not that it mattered too much, but it still bothered him, a little bit. Of course, he had, apparently, been concerned by Alba’s injury, so maybe he hadn’t meant to.

His ignorance couldn’t bother Alba. He’d get his point across eventually. Now, though, he needed to get another point across. One that would ensure that the stranger knew how things would be between them.

“To add to all of that,” Alba started again, drumming his fingers against the edge of the table, “you are in love with me, and you want me to go somewhere private with you? I can see the desire in your eyes, Lustful Beast. Going anywhere private with you sounds like a perfect set up for a disastrous event to unfold, and while that might sound fun to you, I can’t allow anything like that to happen at this current moment.” He pulled his hand away from the stranger’s and studied the bandages briefly, then looked across the tavern. “I can’t stay in Luton. I can’t rent a room here so we can speak privately. I have to leave by tonight.”

He inhaled softly, then grabbed his pencil and twirled it in his fingers, replacing his serious expression with one full of nonchalance. “So.” He pointed the pencil at the guy. “With all of that out of the way, I can say with absolute certainty that I do not know what to do about your curse.” He tapped his journal with his pencil and shook his head, frowning. “But are you in any kind of physical pain?” He pointed his pencil back at the guy. “I can take care of that, if you are. Technically love doesn’t really have a remedy, I don’t think, but…”

But? But what? Alba was momentarily lost for words, which made him flush and turn his face away from the guy. He scribbled words on the page of his journal to try to hide his humiliation.

This was so stupid and embarrassing. He was really faltering with this asinine curse. How was he supposed to undo a love curse if he didn’t really know anything about love? Sure, yeah, he loved his parents and his siblings, and he adored his friends, and he had a boyfriend(-ish) and kind of girlfriend, but that was obviously not what the guy was experiencing. It really would have been so much better if the guy grew an extra limb. Like a tail. Or another set of ears. Or even another head. That would be so much easier to handle than these feelings and mushy gushy love nonsense that was apparently painful and exacerbating to this guy.

It was basically painful and exacerbating to Alba, too. He did not want this guy to be in love with him. He seriously had no idea how to handle romantic feelings, if his miserable past with relationships was anything to go by. That one particular one, the one where he literally ran completely away from it? Yeah. Not great. Totally miserable. He always made up the excuse that he was too busy with his schoolwork or with his friends or family or literally everything else to even bother with love, which was true about forty-nine percent of the time. And, now, it was so great! He was on the run. An escaped magician. A Wanted Person. He had a plan and an Important Object that could bring about Disaster if it was found. So he really really really could not deal with this guy's completely ridiculous feelings.

He'd have to deal with them. He'd have to put up with it until he figured out how to break the curse. At least the guys feelings could provide some insight into the spell. Maybe he could analyze him and use him as a guinea pig to figure out what love even was, because Alba had basically no idea.

(Okay, he did actually have some idea because his boyfriend(-ish) had not really been just an -ish thing, but he did not want to relate that relationship to the one with this stranger who was still completely without a name.)

Ugh, the more he thought about it, the more he realized he was super screwed. How could he do what he needed to do and drag this lovesick fool around with him? His quest was supposed to be completely solitary. It obviously couldn't be anymore, which was infuriating. He already knew that he'd refuse to tell this guy what he was doing, so that wasn't a concern. He hadn't asked yet, but if he ever did, then Alba would just avoid talking about his plans, because the guy would probably go back to Coros Academy and tell his employers about what he was planning.

He frowned at his absolutely moronic choices up to this point but focused his attention on his books, shoving thoughts of romance aside to focus on the curse (which dealt with romance). There’d probably be something about love spells at the library. No, there definitely was, in the gated section. He remembered how his friends had tried to brew love potions from the spell books there, and how they had failed so excellently. He wouldn’t be able to brew any potions, but there’d be something in the library to help him.

He couldn’t go there, though. Like, at all, basically. He was Coros Academy’s Most Wanted Student. He’d be found immediately if he walked into the library with his face looking like his face. There was another option, and he was sitting right next to him. Could he be charming enough to convince Mr. Nameless to help out? Maybe.

“Have you been to the library?” Alba asked casually, his prior flub completely forgotten. He pulled up his best, most charming smile and showed it off to the guy. “Do you think you could go in there and find books about love spells? I can wait outside for you. We could see how much distance you can tolerate.” He cocked his head to the side and batted his eyes. “Please?”
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  • mood

    this is embarrassing lol

Lustful beast.

Kei was bright red now, no use hiding it. Well, he tried anyway; tenting his elbows on the table, he hid his head within his hands and let out a quiet, shaking breath. That's not what I meant. I'm not trying to get in your pants.

That's what he told himself. But he couldn't just deny the newfound urges and cravings he'd tried to ignore; their existences were far too strong now, and some stupid part of him thought it would hurt less if he just acknowledged how much he really would enjoy bedding Fairney. Not only was he in love with the man, he now believed he'd never seen someone so utterly attractive and with so much raw, sensual appeal. It was infuriating. He just wanted to push Fairney against the wall and give him a piece of his mind...

Kiss him until he was dizzy...

Hear him whisper his name—

Kei hardly acknowledged what Fairney was saying but he gave a weak shake of his head nonetheless. He could understand why he wanted to leave, but haste very often led to mistakes, and now that his problem had become Kei's problem (being hunted down by vengeful headmasters of some academy in Luton), Kei felt as though he should have some input. Clearly Fairney did not share his perspective.

"No, I'm not.... hurt."

There was a pause, and Kei furrowed his brows as something seemed to eat away at Fairney. Feeling guilty. About time.

No, that wasn't right. Suddenly Fairney looked up and Kei's heart stopped. God, the smile. Captivating. He immediately took back what he'd said earlier—his heart hurt, felt like it was about to burst. Dragging in a ragged breath, he bit down on his lip until he was sure he'd start tasting blood. Don't smile back. Don't do it.

"No. This is my first time in... Luton."
His tongue flapped stupidly, the name of the city almost escaping him entirely. He's doing this on purpose, he realized in a panic. He wants me to do his dirty work for him.

Fortunately (and simultaneously unfortunately) for Kei, he had an excuse. He couldn't just say yes, but he couldn't say no either.

"Shut up,"
he muttered, exploding with a flush that he could feel crawling down his face, all the way to his collarbones, stretching up to the tips of his ears. Eyes fell to the floor, only to rise after another moment.
His voice cracked boyishly, and a hand flew up to his mouth in horror as he was forced to clear his fault.

Wonderful. Now I sound like a hormonal teen again.

"That's an awful idea. Wouldn't the library be right beside your precious academy?"

A pause, and another rise of embarrassment, although this time for another reason.

I can't say it.

He could only manage to hold out for a moment longer; those pretty eyelashes were beckoning him in a way he couldn't understand. He bit the inside of his cheek and managed a growl.
"There had better be a cure in there, or I... I'll think of something."

A heavy gray sky settled over Luton, dreary and cold, and within minutes of stepping outside again, dry cobblestones turned wet from fat raindrops that didn't let up in the slightest. Kei's bad mood compounded, turning from displeasure to frustration to downright depression, until he merely trailed behind Fairney with a sullen expression that made him look like he was a child forced to have a time-out. It was dark now, and he was wet; despite his hood, rain managed to drip onto his nose and down his neck, until he was utterly and thoroughly miserable, inside and out.

And he was still helping Fairney.

The library was an admittedly impressive building—or at least, that's what Kei would have thought if it hadn't been raining and cold. A bank of mist had even begun to creep through the streets, hiding the spire on the dome that was atop the entryway of the library. There was a sweeping rise of marble stairs that led up to a massive pair of oaken doors, engraved with swirls and symbols, scenes from some mythology that Kei knew nothing about. Everything about Luton was unfamiliar, and it made him yearn for home.

The multi-paned windows were dark, betraying that the library was indeed closed, as Fairney had reassured him. But Kei's stomach still tumbled with apprehension, with the fear that this was all a trap, even when they circled around to an entrance that Fairney once again reassured him was hardly ever used.

This city is much too crowded. Tall walls rose on either side, a narrow alleyway that opened up into something like a service entrance. It didn't make Kei feel any better. It was still raining.

Fairney shifted toward the door, digging a hand out from within his cloak, and suddenly a sense of dread filled Kei.
He grabbed his shoulder and pushed him aside.
"Absolutely not. Your spells got us in enough trouble last time."
He crouched in front of the lock, blocking it with his body so that Fairney wouldn't have another chance to bewitch the door or whatever it was he was planning on doing.

Kei slid two thin pins out of his pocket and set to work. Within a few seconds, there was an audible click, and Kei turned the handle, and the door swung open. Huh. That was disarmingly... easy?

He looked over his shoulder at Fairney, dread pooling in his gut. Fairney expected him to go in alone, and he'd already told him where to go, but he couldn't. And not because he couldn't bear being apart from him, although he was sure Fairney would take it that way. There was something else.

"I... I can't do it. Alone."
Lips trembled, threatening to seal, reluctant to reveal a secret that would surely earn him ridicule, especially when faced by someone like Fairney, whose background was so very different to Kei's own. It wasn't that he'd never received schooling—it was just that it had been so long. His fingers tightened around the doorhandle, slick from rain.

"I don't know how to read."


girl in red

♡coded by uxie♡

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