A/N: Happy New Year to my dear readers!
Andrew hadn’t realised quite how hard it would be to watch Naria feeding. It probably wouldn’t have been so bad if she had been fully in control of her herself but watching her having to be restrained by Ystelyan as she fed on over a dozen goblin and speaker volunteers was upsetting, especially since many of them passed out before Ystelyan guided her on to the next one. He was glad they were all obviously willing but it was still disturbing and part of him wanted to look away – but he couldn’t do that to her.
Instead, he knelt by her again and took her hand. She squeezed it gratefully and gave him a wan smile as a couple of goblins helped a woozy naiad away.
“You don’t have to pretend that this isn’t upsetting, Drew,” she said. “Void knows it upsets me. I hate being this out of control.”
“It’s okay, Nari,” he said reassuringly. “You’ll be fine.”
“Thank you,” she said.
The next volunteer was a blue-eyed young goblin woman with the same blue-black hair and coppery skin as Naria and a pair of insect-like antennae emerging from her hair. Naria smiled brightly at the sight of her. “Ladria! Drew, this is my old sister Ladria. Lad, this is Andrew. When did you get back?”
“A few days ago,” Ladria said. “And I hear you and Hal have been busy.” She looked Andrew up and down before smiling. “So this the human guy you’ve gone and got yourself entangled with? He’s cute. I think I approve.” She sat down by Naria. “But you need to feed so get on with it.”
Naria pressed her hand against her chest. “I think I’m nearly okay now.” She glanced at Ystelyan.
“It looks like it,” he said. “Try and see if you can control yourself and I’ll step in if you can’t stop.”
“Yes, my mirian,” Naria looked back at Ladria. “Tell me if I take to much, Lad.”
“Don’t I always,” Ladria said and held out her hand to her. Naria took it and closed her eyes. Several moments passed before Ladria gently pulled her hand away. “That’s enough now, Nari.”
“Okay.” Naria scrunched her eyes closed, her face contorted with effort and her grip on Andrew’s hand becoming vice-like. After a moment she gave a triumphant yell and Andrew felt her sever the energy link between her and her sister. “I did it! I stopped on my own.” She sounded so happy that Andrew found himself grinning in response.
“Of course you did,” Ystelyan said. “You always do. Now let’s get you some physical food and talk about how to avoid this happening again.”
“It was stupid,” she muttered. “I could feel how edgy he was; I should have had my guard up.”
“Stop that!” Ystelyan said sharply. “This is far from your fault. But we do need to consider what happens if you are hurt again.”
“I – um…” Andrew hesitated, uncertain if his suggestion would be offensive or rude to a dragon.
“If you have an idea just say it, Andrew-idan,” Ystelyan said. “I promise not to be offended.”
“I was wondering, would it help if you lent Naria to me or Lyrrekka the way Estara lent that dragon to Dan?”
Ystelyan’s eyebrows shot up. “It would work,” he conceded after a moment. “But Kelaria owes Daniel-idan a kin debt so the loan is expected. Lending out a member of one’s court in other circumstances is highly irregular. It’s not impossible or forbidden but it’s not really the done thing.”
“With all due respect, my Mirian,” Naria said. “Is there anything about this entire situation that isn’t highly irregular?”
Ystelyan threw back his head and laughed. “Truely spoken, Naria-alra. And we can probably make a case that you owe Andrew a debt for helping you escape from Likadrian if anyone does take issue – which I doubt. Very well, Andrew, I will lend Naria to you for the forseeable future. After all, I’ll probably be releasing her to you permanently at some point if the two of you decide to keep your bond. We’ll do it after she’s rested some more and we’ve all had dinner.”