Dreams of Farratn
I love this. Lying here, warm in bed, his arms wrapped around me. I feel safe, secure, and serene. In this whirlwind we call the world, he is my shield, and I am satisfied.
His warmth envelops me, and I snuggle down closer into it. His arms tighten around me, and I enjoy it. I enjoy belonging to him, being his and his alone. Of course, I would never admit that – not even to myself. I have been possessed before, and it was slavery. Is this the same thing?
I decide for the moment not to think about it, and just let myself be lost in him. His embrace is comforting to me, telling me that all is well. I smile and look up at him, into his face, searching for the love in his eyes that would make my feeling of content complete.
I pull back in horror as I realise what I am seeing.
This is not my lover.
This is not Aku.
"Wha – what?" I ask, not fully comprehending the situation. "Why are you..."
"Why am I here?" repeats Farratn, his scarlet eyes searching my face with what seems terribly like desire. I recoil, but his hands hold me fast. "Why not? I do what I please. You should know that, Milan."
That name – my Demon name. I haven't heard it for a year, at least. Even Aku no longer uses it. I hate the name; it is a remnant of a life I hated, one I'm trying to forget. "Don't call me that," I growl, softly. "I'm Jahari now."
"Are you really?" he murmurs, pulling me close, despite my feeble protests. "That's an old name... trying to forget?"
He knows my thoughts.
"You will never forget," he continues into my ear. "Do you think you really could forget? After this?" His hand moves to my left arm, which is covered in thin scars that twist vine-like down it from the shoulder. Burn scars, partly; carved in fire by the same hand that holds me now. Farratn's brand on his property.
"Take your bloody hands off me," I snap.
He merely smiles coldly and tightens his grip. "No, I don't believe I will," he says in a voice full of icy malice. "Curious, though – you want so much to forget, yet the company you keep...."
It takes me a moment to understand his meaning. When I do realise it, my eyes grow wide with shock. Aku. He was my partner when we were Demons. When I was saved – I am now neither Demon nor Faerie, but somewhere in between the two – I insisted he undergo the same treatment. Micah agreed; Aku was saved; we fell in love.
"How can you forget when your very lover embodies everything you hate?"
"That's not true!" I cry out. "He is nothing like that! Nothing like you!" Farratn is everything I hate. He is cruel, malicious, cunning ... his very name means "betrayer."
"Oh, really?" he questions. "Tell me, then... why do you love him?"
That's unexpected. "What?"
"Be honest, Milan. You don't really love him... You just enjoy the attention. You don't love. You can't. But he pets you, cuddles you, embraces you, and sleeps with you. You like it. Don't deny it, Milan. You don't love him... you love being possessed."
The words strike me deeply. Is he right? Do I only love Aku because I feel like I am his possession? Do I only like the attention and nothing else? No, that can't be right. I love Aku more than life itself. More than that, even. There is no comparison – I just love him dearly, and that's all I know.
"You're wrong," I say, the words scarcely audible. "I love him. Truly."
"Do you?" Farratn asks. "Then tell me... what happens when I do this?"
He kisses me. At first I'm too shocked to do anything, then I find that I cannot. His hold is tight on my arms, and his mouth is in mine before I can resist, trapping me within his embrace. I feel his tongue probing, searching, tracing the outline of my teeth; I feel his fangs scraping against mine –
I wake up drenched in cold sweat and panting hard. Oh God... I am not unused to nightmares. Truly, it is rare when I don't have them. But this...
I look down to my sleeping lover, stretched out on the bed beside me. He looks so peaceful, so calm. I wonder if he ever questions my devotion the way I do. Aku is jealous, sometimes, but I know he's protecting me. He's afraid of loosing me like he's lost everything else. I know this. He's told me.
Sometimes I wonder why I haven't told him my worries. If I love him, I should want to, right? Then why have I not confided in him?
You don't love him. Farratn's voice whispers in my head, telling me the reason I least want to hear. I do love him. I do!
But in some ways, Farratn spoke the truth. I also enjoy the attention. I like being stroked and cuddled like one would a favourite pet. Is that so bad? Does that make my love any less valid?
I sigh in frustration and misery, putting my head in my hands. The sound must have awakened Aku, for a minute later, I feel his soft, inquisitive touch on my arm, a silent request. I look at him, but I don't meet his eyes. Do I dare look at them when I feel so unfaithful?
"Jahari?" His voice is as soft and questioning as his touch. "Something wrong?"
Yes, I think mournfully. A dream just told me I couldn't love you. "I had a bad dream," I say aloud, understating the issue.
"Again?" he asks. He tries to keep the exasperation out of his voice, but I can sense it there. Or do I just think I sense it? Nothing is for certain anymore.
I nod, not sure what to say. How can I tell him? What would he say? But I have to tell him – my conscience won't let me rest if I don't. "I..." I start, but the words don't go any farther.
"You what?" prompts Aku as he sits up, extending an arm across my back, pulling me closer to him. This is like in the dream – a possessive gesture, meant to show ownership, and I can feel myself leaning towards him, encouraging it. Enjoying it.
"No – don't," I protest, and I pull away. "Don't."
He looks at me, hurt, and I still can't meet his eyes. "Why?" he asks, confusion and hurt as apparent in his voice as in his face.
"Why do you love me?" I finally ask, looking away.
"What?" He sounds even more hurt than before. "Jahari, how can you ask that?"
"I need to know," I say. "I need to know why you..."
He cuts me off by putting his arms around me, pulling me close, and kissing my cheek from behind. "That must have been some nightmare," he murmurs into my ear. "But I'll answer your question."
I both hate and love his embrace at the moment. I love it because it's comforting; I hate it because I love it. I don't know if I should pull away or cuddle in, so I don't move.
"You're gentle, kind, and caring," continues Aku. "You are a loyal and trustworthy friend, and I can talk to you. I can trust you with secrets I wouldn't tell anyone else, and I know you will not only keep them, but you will do all you can to solve the problems hidden there. I feel right with you like I feel with no one else." He kisses my neck once, a sign of passion dwelling just beneath the surface, waiting to be let loose. "And," he says, even softer now, "you are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous. Why wouldn't I love you?"
His words comfort me, as do his quiet kisses, and I finally have the nerve to tell him of my nightmare. I explain to him my shock at finding Farratn in bed with me, his cold analysis of my feelings, and his sudden, violating kiss. Throughout my explanation, I cannot look at Aku. I'm too afraid of what I might see in his eyes.
I come to the end of the dream, and Aku holds my arms and turns me around to face him. "Jahari, look at me," he commands. I hesitate, and then meet his eyes. They're full of concern and doubt. I'm a little surprised – I thought he would be angry.
Now that I'm looking at him, I can't turn away. I'm lost in his eyes, and for a moment, nothing else is real. Then he speaks again.
"Jahari... was he right?"
"What Farratn said, about... you know. Was he right?"
I can't answer. The question reflects my own thoughts so well – was he right? Did Farratn speak the truth? I remember the feel of Aku's arms around me, his mouth on mine, and I compare the memory to the all-too-fresh one of Farratn's kiss. Were they no different? Is that all my lover means to me?
"No," I eventually whisper. "No, he was wrong. I love you."
The doubt in Aku's eyes changes to joy, and he pulls me close. "Good," he mumbles into my hair. "Wouldn't want you to be cheating on me, now."
I know what he means – it's an affirmation of his trust in my fidelity and me. I smile in spite of myself. He faces me again, so close our noses are touching. "Right?" he says.
I don't answer; instead, I wrap my arms around his neck and kiss him passionately. He pulls me down on top of him, our mouths still locked in silent passion.
No doubt, he tastes much better than Farratn.