Content warnings: none.

A Lesson in Manors (part 1)

Ricardo pushed a stick through the campfire, keeping a close eye on the pot of soup that hung above the flames. He filled his bowl, tearing a off a chunk of bread and dipping it the soup. The spicy flavours reminded him of home, and the warmth was welcome. The nights were much colder here in the Borderlands than in Tear or Andor. Through the bond he could sense Marielle, who was far to the south. At this distance her presence in his mind was like the soft chime of a bell. His thoughts turned to her each day, and he missed her deeply, wishing that he could be by her side. But right now he was hunting Shadowspawn, always a dangerous task. There were reports of a Myrddraal leading a band of Trollocs in the area, and Ricardo had been dispatched to hunt them down. Marielle was back in Salidar, caught up in her duties in the rebel Aes Sedai camp, who were still debating what to do now that saidin had been cleansed.

After he finished his dinner, Ricardo extinguished the campfire. He couldn't take any chances that the light would be spotted by passing Shadowspawn. He seized saidin, channeling the One Power to set wards that would wake him if anyone approached the camp. He reached into his pack and pulled out a pendant, a small sphere of clouded white crystal attached to a leather cord. The pendant was a ter'angreal that enabled him to enter Tel'aran'rhiod. Marielle had her own ter'angreal, and tonight they were to meet in the World of Dreams. Ricardo donned the pendant, and set about erecting his tent. Of course he would have preferred to be physically next to Marielle, but Travelling would send up a beacon to any nearby Myrddraal. Instead, the couple would regularly unite in the World of Dreams, and as they had discovered, Tel'aran'rhiod was a reality that had its own set of rules. Climbing into the tent, Ricardo settled himself under the blankets. He fingered the pendant that lay against his chest, underneath his shirt, channeling a small amount of Spirit. Ricardo laid his head against his pillow, eager to find sleep as visions of Marielle flitted through his mind's eye.
Content warnings: mild sexual references.

Bonded (part 3)

The forest was quiet as Marielle walked through the trees, her hand linked with Ricardo's. Though the sun had set, the sweltering heat was still enough to make Marielle sweat, despite the fact that she was only wearing her chemise. The foliage was thick, their surroundings dark but for the small ball of light formed of saidar that hovered in front of the couple as they made their way along the faintly marked trail that led away from the cottage. Along the path, pieces of stonework rose from the undergrowth, covered in moss, the legacy of a kingdom long forgotten, perhaps Farashelle or Manetheren. Their location was remote, north of Andor and west of the Black Hills, near the river Arinelle. Ricardo had told Marielle the story of how he had happened across the cottage during his travels, before he had become an asha'man. The cottage had been abandoned at that stage. Ricardo had repaired it, turning it into a kind of shelter, using it as a retreat from civilisation.

Marielle looked up at Ricardo as she felt his arm slip around her waist. Through the bond she could feel the warmth of his love for her, amidst the rest of his emotions. It was true that the taint on saidin had been removed, but Marielle could sense that Ricardo still carried the pain of his past. Channeling came so naturally to her, she could only imagine what it would have been like to be a male channeler before saidin was cleansed, forced to endure the Dark One's taint in order to wield the One Power, the threat of madness ever present. Even now, Marielle had noticed that Ricardo still had nightmares occasionally, although they seemed to be lessening.

The sound of running water indicated that they were nearly at their destination. Soon enough, a clearing in the trees appeared, revealing a pool of water. Ricardo pulled Marielle close to him, her breasts pressing against the solid mass of his chest as he kissed her. His kiss was slow and tender, deepening as his lips lingered on hers. Marielle's stomach quickened as Ricardo held her in his embrace, their proximity allowing her to feel Ricardo's body respond in kind. Taking a pace back, Marielle pulled her chemise over her head, sensing Ricardo's desire ignite as she turned around and stepped naked into the pond, immersing herself in the water before returning to face him, the pool's surface just above her waist as she stood.

Now coated with water, Marielle's nipples stiffened with the cooling effect of the evening breeze. As she watched Ricardo undress, it rapidly became clear that he was very nicely stiffened at this point as well, a fact that became the focus of Marielle's attention as he joined her in the forest pool ...
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