January 2003
Miache and Zefrem's first meeting on the River Drell.

This is an extremely obscure pairing based on a tale of the Dominion Jewel told by Coram in Tamora Pierce's Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness book 4). You can read the relevant passages right here.

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Good Fortune

It was night and the soldiers of Galla were hard on my heels when I reached the River Drell. Here in the north they say witches will float where good women drown. But being neither northern nor witch nor good, I trusted to luck and leapt.

The river swiftly bore me and my Jewel away from my enemies into the land of Tusaine, where the soldiers dared not pursue. No doubt they cursed my name in Galla that night, but I cared not. For in my homeland, Carthak, they would call me differently - no longer Miache the Thief, but Miache the Bold, the Brave, the Beautiful.

Already I was free. Soon, I exulted, I would be famous. And I laughed as I swam.

Then I struck my head against a log and the currents pulled me under.

* * *

He pulled me out of the river. He pulled me out of the river with his big bear arms into his big bear hug. He smelt like salt and oil.

I was already half-gone but he roused me. Dropped me like a stone, my shoulder and hip slamming hard against the rough wooden deck. His voice, growling, his hands shaking my shoulders. "Breathe, woman. Breathe!" His fist thumped against my back and I came back coughing. I vomited over his boots, pale and watery, and heaved great breaths with lungs that burnt like fire.

I thought the Gallans had sent him to catch me and the Jewel I had stolen. Hating him, fearing him, I reached for my dagger even as I opened my eyes. But the knife was gone to the riverbed so I spat in his face instead, and though he held me fast I thrashed, like a marlin, a sandpike, an eel trapped in a net.

His slap, backhanded, caught me without warning. "Stay down, damn you. Stay down." I reeled, and stayed. He wrapped me in a blanket studded with fish scales and poured brandy down my throat till I choked. "What's your name, girl?"

Sullen, relieved, I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. "Miache." Too late to wonder if the truth was wise. But I was never wise.

"Miache." He bared blunt teeth. Pale eyes burnt into mine. "Miache." Deliberately he drew his whetstone against the edge of his broadsword, and the sound shivered down my spine, into my belly. I refused to look away.

He told me his name was Zefrem, and that he was a mercenary heading south for the wars. I flipped him a silver coin and said I would pay for my passage to Tyra. After a moment I flipped him another and bought the knife at his belt, too.

Then we spat on our hands and shook.

* * *

The next night we anchored by the Tortallan shoreline. The boat bobbed and dipped in the water, so that I swayed drunkenly as I tiptoed across the deck to where Zefrem huddled beneath a blanket. I lay down beside him and had the pleasure of hearing his heart quicken.

I leant to lick the salt from the curl of his ear. The fringes of my long, pale hair tickled his cheek as I whispered, "Bear, bear." Growling, he rolled over and caught me in his arms. This time I didn't thrash like a fish, but purred like a cat, and laughed. Zefrem kissed me clumsy, bristled jaw rasping against my skin while his hands fumbled me all over. I covered him with caresses, and kisses, and sharp, delicate nips.

I reached downwards, stroking him to heat and hardness, and eagerly he rucked my skirts up to the waist. I urged him with breathless yes, and now, and Zefrem, though in truth he needed little encouragement, and guided him inside me. His big hands closed on my hips, pulling me close. Yes, I hissed again, and then words were lost to me altogether. It was over too soon, but still, it was good. And after we had rested a while, we did it again, and this time was better.

Afterwards he lay his head against my breast and placed his arm possessively about my waist. To my own mild surprise, I regarded this jealous gesture with tenderness rather then impatience. Many times before had I lain with men, for pleasure or for gain. But this sensation was new to me, this warmth in the space beneath my ribs and above my lungs. I liked it.

His voice rumbled deep in his chest. These wars would be the making of him, Zefrem told me, in gold and loot and plunder. He would buy a warhorse and a grand house, and for me there would be pretty dresses and flashing jewels, aye, and a sharp white knife too if it pleased me.

I smiled in the dark at his promises. "My big strong bear," I whispered mockingly, sweetly, "darling Zefrem." With gentle fingers I combed away the dark curls that fell over his brow. Another dagger would not go amiss, to be sure, but what need had I for gaudy gems, let alone fancy clothes, when I already had the only Jewel I would ever need?

"I'll make our fortune in Tyra, Miache," he mumbled, yawning. "Our fortune. I swear it..." His eyelids drooped and closed.

I shook my head fondly but did not wake him. Tomorrow would be time enough to tell him our fortune was already made. For now the Dominion Jewel waited in all its glowing glory, hidden in the leather pouch stuffed into the toe of my left boot. My treasure, my heart. Sighing contentedly, I closed my eyes and slept.


[Rowan's Fanfiction]

Disclaimer: the Song of the Lioness series and its characters are entirely and utterly the property of Tamora Pierce. I own nothing and after playing with the characters - for which I earn no money, mind - I always put them away neatly.