The voice sounded lovely like the melodies that brought you here, soft and clear and more than slightly enthralling, in contrast to the words that made your blood run cold. Screwing your eyes shut, several bated breaths passed for you to register the question, and another five to remember that you were being expected to answer it. He’d seen you. The tension was thick in the air as you felt his eyes on you the same way you’d been scrutinising him only moments ago, even through the with thick bark covered stem that concealed your shaking form. You felt like you couldn’t move at all, even if you wanted to. Your heart went frantic inside your chest, almost painfully so while you stayed put behind the tree that was the only thing that currently prevented your legs from giving out underneath you. You had to stay there, pretend he couldn’t see you, call bluff.
“Are you afraid?” the same soft and tender voice asked again, speaking directly to your hammering heart and tempting it to give in, “I promise, i bear no intent of hurting you.”
You drank those words in like sweet nectar, letting them sink into your soul to stir longing and curiosity there, swaying your screaming instincts telling you run once more that night to make place for a more comfortable feeling. How could such magnificent beauty, in any way, be something bad?
“Let me lay eyes upon you, too.”
The warm honey of his voice trickled down your chest with every word, clearing the last of your doubts. While words still could not find their way to your throat, your feet dared to take a single step away from your vegetal hideaway, revealing the white of your dress and the colour of your hair to this perfect stranger. Not so much fear, but rather bashfulness held you back from approaching the delicate beauty of this raven haired vision. Silly old you, in your ripped and dirtied nightgown, hair tousled and tangled and still bathing in sweat. Were you allowed to present yourself like this in front of such a stunning man?
He did not ask a second time, disregarding the fact he never asked in the first place. Instead, he carried on creating embellished melodies identical to those that led you here, soft hums on pink lips like the morning dew on a blushing rose. They tugged at your heartstrings and beckoned you closer. Your little firefly friends appeared as if they were dancing, no longer only hovering over the surface but swaying back and forth on the notes as they surrounded the pale male. Their yellow light threw a soft and subtle warmth on the cold hues of his skin, making the sight all the more alluring.
Again, your feet moved on their own accord, even if you were already planning on telling them to do exactly that. The moss underneath your bare soles felt soft and cool, soothing the stinging scratches the twigs and brambles inflicted on your skin as you were running earlier. Excitement stirred inside your stomach the closer you came to the white lotuses in the spring, and most importantly in the middle, the fairest of them all. A pleasant haze resided inside your head, buzzing only with a lingering desire to listen more closely, to see more vividly.
Sooner than expected, your toes had reached the edge of the spring, only needing to dip down a few inches to feel the wetness of the clear water. You didn’t realise how you were just standing there, mesmerised as you never let your eyes wander away from the bathing man in front of you. If you’d thought he was enchanting from afar, you needed to reevaluate your standards because up close like this, his ethereal face and glistening, naked torso only a mere few feet away from where you were standing, you were scrambling for the right words to describe him.
“Hello, sweet maiden.” The raven beauty finally faced you as he spoke, creating gentle ripples in the water as it carried his body effortlessly when he came even closer, looking up at where you stood at the waterside. “Will you tell me your name?”
With his head slightly tilted to the side, he waited for you to answer him once again, sparks of curiosity gleaming in his dark eyes but you did not want to speak, you only wished to listen. To hear him speak and sing, oh how you longed for the sound of his voice the moment the last word has left his rosy lips in a question. To all the gods in the heavens, the stars in the skies, you wished he would soon speak again. You’d been so focused on his voice, you momentarily forgot about the words it had formed and when you did remember, you realised you could make your wish come true by giving him what he asked for.
“My name…” You spoke for the first time in a long while that night, a night that seemed to have lasted two lifetimes by now. “My name is ____.”
Your throat was dry and your lips were dryer, your tongue coming out for just a second in a reflex to wet them. Your voice was slightly hoarse from both the physical and mental exhaustion you’d been put through and you winced at the sound. It was in stark contrast with the honeyed tones you’d been clinging to since the moment you’d heard him sing them.
“___.” He repeated, his eyes following the movement of the flash of pink darting out between your lips and his gaze lingering there long after. Your name felt foreign when formed with his lips, like something that sounded so beautiful could never belong to you. He seemed to like the weight of it on his tongue, if the small movement of a single corner of his mouth curling up was anything to go by.
You nodded slowly, your own gaze fixed on either his rosebud lips or his dark eyes on yours. You couldn’t quite decide.
“Will you join me, ___?” The perfect stranger, feeling more familiar with every word he spoke, proposed as he let his hands wade through the water in an invitation. “The water feels very pleasant.”
You seemed to be unable of doing anything else than dumbly nodding your head at everything he says, but your mind went truly blank in beholding such a sight, the fizz of inexplicable desire ever present. In that moment, nothing else but this man existed for you. It was more than just simple infatuation as you knew you would give your life to be with him, without hesitation.
You were about to plunge into the pool, nightgown and all, when your ears registered a series of disapproving clicks coming from the tongue of the radiant man in front of you. The skin between your eyebrows creasing slightly, you silently wondered what your mistake was.
“Bathing is not done while still wearing garments, now is it, sweet ___?” He answered your unspoken question without intent of getting response to his own, his dark gaze critically gliding over the dress concealing your curves and contrasting with the suggestive twist on his lips. There was no maliciousness to be detected in those slightly scolding words, spoken so gently you could have taken them as the caressing words of a lover.
Heat flushed underneath your cheeks, your eyes briefly cast at the ground for the first time within his proximity. Nevertheless, your hands eagerly moved to your shoulders, fingers hooking around the hem to let the gown slide down your hips until it was a pile of white fabric, bundled around your feet. Unexpectedly, you no longer felt shame underneath the scrutiny of his eyes when you stepped out of the discarded dress, your bare body for him to examine and approve or disapprove of.
“Slowly now.” He murmured as your pointed toes made the first transition from dry land to wet water, the rest of your leg following as he silently but thoroughly took in every inch of your skin, every little freckle and blemish there was to observe.
He waited until you had fully entered the pool, the bottom half of your body underneath the surface but still very much visible albeit a little distorted through the clarity of the water. Your breasts were only half immersed, nipples steadily growing harder underneath the cool temperature while the swell of your bosom peaked slightly above the surface.
For a few moments longer, the dark-haired beauty let his gaze linger there before slowly making its way up to your face, his eyes boring deeply into yours as he whispered, “Exquisite.”
A million wings appeared to flutter inside your chest and stomach, butterflies and hummingbirds, upon hearing that single word meant only for you. You couldn’t keep a dazzling smile from curling around your lips, your heart about to burst out of its cage in pure euphoria, especially when he graced you with a smile of his own. It wasn’t as wide or as exuberant as yours but it was all the more blinding, lighting up the darkness of the night as it still mirrored the same wantonness. You so wanted to please this man.
“This night has caused you much distress, has it not?” He hummed with a hint of compassion in his voice as he brought up his hand to let his fingers lightly brush over your temple and you did not question how he knew. “Allow me.”
One large and elegant hand curled into the curve of your waist, gently pulling you closer to him, while the other formed a cup with tightly enclosed and slender fingers to scoop up the spring water much like you’d seen him do before. He brought it to your naked shoulders to wet them as well, emptying it onto your skin before smoothing the water over with the palm of his hand to wash off the dirt.
“How does that feel?” He asked when he felt your muscles tighten only slightly with every touch of his hand.
“Truly refreshing.” You sighed in contentment, your body relaxing when it got used to the cold water. All the stress your nerves had endured that night slowly dissipating and making place for a strange kind of excitement that had started stirring in the pit of your belly.
A satisfied, but soft snicker tumbled from his lips. “I apologise if my hands are a bit on the cold side.”
“They say that if your hands are cold, it means your heart is warm…” you mused softly, as if you weren’t aware you were speaking your thoughts aloud. Suddenly, you’d become so much more comfortable around his bewitching persona.
“Is that what they say?” He hummed, amused, smoothing down your hair as he swept it to the side, baring your neck and all the while not taking his eyes off yours.
“I don’t know...I might have just plucked thoughts from my mind.” You boldly stated, feeling less like strangers the more he touched you, the more you spoke. You wished you could touch him, too.
You were hesitant, however, since you had never touched a man while bearing such impure intentions, such sinful thoughts in mind. Never have you been touched this way in your life, either. It awakened a craving inside, one that felt very strange to you. Exciting, yes. But strange. The unfamiliarity of it all kept you from acting on your desires...