The more they discussed it, the worse the plan sounded. Alton only knew the song itself and nothing else. It was likely that it wasn’t going to work, so the main plan was to expose Sybil to miasma and see if she remembered anything. However, they argued on the details needed to get that done.
They would need Chickadee because he could let them into a cave that had been previously sealed. Sybil refused to go with the plan at all if Zaniyah wasn’t involved. She felt bad enough that Zaniyah was being left out of so many things. Alton argued that if Zaniyah was allowed to go, she would insist on bringing Vincent. That would be a whole mess of trouble he didn’t want to deal with.
Vincent would want to bring Anais, as she could make an attempt to control any animals they came across. Anais would feel guilty about not bringing Ivy and Gwyn, and Sybil argued that none of those four had experience fighting in caves or against tainted beasts in the first place.
Not to mention that Vincent would say that was enough people to bring Tish along so they had another healer, and she would bring her squad because having an extra mage and sword would be a good idea. Soon the whole first year class would end up on this bizarre field trip. One that none of the knights would be willing to approve of.
“We cannot bring along the first year class for something that might not work. Though we may stand a chance of sneaking Sybil away during that time for her own experiment, I believe it’s better to not have to explain the details of our situation,” said Veximarl, and the other two agreed. “We’re not allowed out at night, and they’ll be suspicious if Grimstone moves around as a group. Three of us are supposed to be behaving ourselves, as we have been grounded.”
“But it will only be for another week and a half at most,” argued Sybil. “I don’t think that matters because it doesn’t change what times we are available. We’ll sneak out in the middle of the night and not tell Zaniyah about the plan until we’re waking her up and dragging her out the door.”
“That does sound like the best option for getting the group we want without overly offending anyone,” muttered Veximarl. “There is no need to procrastinate. If we’re caught, we’ll be in the same amount of trouble either way. Should we go tonight?”
Alton shook his head. “Tomorrow night. I have to be up early and there’s some things I need to talk to Twist about.” He brushed his hair back and tossed a scowling look towards Lydia. Those words were meant for her as well.
Veximarl looked off to the side. “Please ensure that whatever it is, it will not affect the squad.” He stood up and straightened his clothes.
“Goodnight, Vex! I’ll be back soon.” Sybil gave him a wave as he left.
Floating after him was Lydia. “The two of you should be absolutely ashamed of yourselves. Honestly, the youth these days!” Her head shook back and forth as she continued to follow Veximarl down the stairs.
As soon as they were gone, Sybil didn’t know what to do with herself. Alton was staring, as though he were expecting her to say something first, but she thought she had already laid out all her worries today.
Letting out a sigh, Alton stood up and held out his hand. “Dance with me?” She replied with a frown. “Might as well get some extra practice in while we talk?”
He did have a point, and Till had been using him as her dance partner during etiquette classes. It wasn’t like she was unused to him. She took his hand and he pulled her close. Normally they would be doing this to music, but now there wasn’t a tempo to follow. They slowly spun about as a result.
He looked into her eyes for a moment and then away. “Sorry. I don’t actually think you’re filthy or disgusting. I have never meant any of the mean things I’ve said to you.”
“I’ve meant all of the things I’ve said to you,” replied Sybil.
Alton nodded. She probably did. “I know that you’re not allowed to talk about Bronzescale stuff, but the fact that you’re still having hallucinations and didn’t bother to mention it to me or Vex is-” He sighed as he thought over what to say. “I want us to not worry about hiding anything from each other or our friends. If something is bothering or hurting you, I want you to tell me.”
Sybil wasn’t finding any joy in what Alton meant to be a sweet moment. She stopped dancing and took a step back. “I should have told someone, but everything has been so stressful for everyone. I didn’t want to make anyone worry... Especially since it hasn’t happened again in a while.”
And they would no doubt panic if she told him about the girl she saw. The one with the buttercups on her jacket… Who was dragged away screaming for her life… She didn’t believe that either Alton or Veximarl would let her pursue these visions of she spoke of the girl.
“Is there anything else that you’ve been afraid to talk about?” Alton studied her more as she tensed up. “I’m not going to think less of you. I don’t think it’s possible for me to think less of you.”
Sybil laughed to herself and gave a weak punch to Alton’s shoulder. “I know I brought it up before, but I’m still scared of my sword. It lets me be strong, and I don’t think anything can stop me while I’m using it, but I have to channel this emotion of rage and fear in order to do it. I’m not comfortable feeling that way. I’m frightened that I might stop being me because I want more of that power.”
“But that’s not who you are,” said Alton. “As long as me and the rest of your friends are around, we won’t let you turn into that sort of person.”
“That sword is tied to royalty,” continued Sybil. “What if waking up means becoming something important to the kingdom? What if that’s what the king wants? Isn’t it treason to shun it?”
“Remember what I told you the day you failed the exam?” She shook her head as Alton moved closer. He placed his hand upon her shoulder to reassure her. “You’re not a bad person, Sybil. As long as you let me be in your life, I’m never going to let you turn into a bad person. Nor am I ever going to let my family use you. I don’t care how much power they have, I won’t let anything happen to you.”
“Toval…” Sybil stared at him for a moment. “Don’t say things like that. You’re going to fool me into thinking that you’re a real person with feelings and not this horrific sex crazed fish. If I start thinking like that, I’m going to be an idiot and-” She stopped mid-sentence and her face contorted into a look of disgust at her own realization.
Alton leaned in. “You’re going to be an idiot and what?” Fall for him? That would be convenient. Sybil refused to answer as she turned her head away. “Is it easier for you if I go back to being a sex-crazed human who is in no way a fish?”
“If you could, I would appreciate it.” She frowned as he ran his fingers over her bosom for a moment and then gave a hard tug at the ribbons he found there. “What are you doing?”
He looked up from her chest and into her eyes. “I want to touch you and your clothes are in the way... Are we going to have a problem?” She stared back at him for a moment and then shook her head. “Wait, really? No, wait. Don’t answer that. In fact, don’t talk or say anything for a bit.”
Moving closer to her, he was surprised when she met him halfway and gave him a light kiss. He quickly picked her up as she squeaked from surprise, carrying her over to the third year Bronzescale room and kicking open the partially closed door. The beds didn’t have blankets, sheets, or pillows on them, but neither of them cared. What was more important was that they weren’t mounted on the walls like they were in their own squadroom.
Dropping her on the bed, she immediately sat up and caught the back of his neck with her hand. She pulled him into a passionate kiss, and they took turns prying the clothes off from the other. Tender touches, forceful bites, and playful toying of lips. All was a mix of wants as needs as the other fought the other to get a taste of desire.
Pushing her down firmly below him. Alton took a moment to look at her. Her face was flushed red and her mouth was slightly agape as she breathed shallowly. She had an intensity in her eyes, and he felt the way she looked. His fingers drew themselves down her chest, resting on her bare breast for a moment.
The scars were still there. Blu had done wonders to heal away Sybil’s wounds, but there were rough patches from when the beast’s claws had torn into her and from the surgery that followed. He traced the shape of them for a moment before settling his palm on her waist. There wasn’t any hesitance on her part. Only a bite on her bottom lip. He could do whatever he wanted to her at this moment and she wanted him to do so.
He began to place slow kisses down her neck, trailing down to her stomach. No matter where he touched her, she didn’t make one whine or complaint. Looking up once more, he saw she had covered her mouth with her hand out of embarrassment. Her head had rolled to the side and her eyes were closed, waiting for him to do what he wished.
And that was the moment he felt a fire burning within him. There was protection in the pocket of his jacket... This was it. This was happening. They could be one tonight. He found himself completely frozen at the realization.
Hearing her say his name in that needy whisper sent a shiver up his spine. He hovered over her again, and let her know that he was there by placing a lingering kiss to her lips. His voice came out as a harsh whisper as he spoke,
“Should I put on a condom?”
Sybil inhaled sharply and froze up for a moment. She gently rested her fingers against his bare shoulder. “Y-yes.”
Something about the way she looked when she said that made her beautiful. He wondered if it was possible that she would become even more stunning once they were entangled, but everything about this felt wrong. Here he was, a man she was using in order to satisfy herself, and yet he found himself petrified by the thought.
Even though he gladly filled that role for others in the past, he couldn’t bring himself to do that with her. He debated if he should force himself to go through with it anyway. His forehead rested against her shoulder. This was the plan, wasn’t it? To be with her? This is what he had told himself that he wanted, but why did it feel terrible?
“I didn’t bring any... Let’s stop for now.”
“Then why did you ask?!” She fought off the urge to push him off of her.
Alton pinned her down and kissed her deeply. Their tongues pressed against one another, and the way her nails dug into his back made him moan into her mouth. “I like the way you look when you want me,” he whispered as he pulled away.
“You jerk!” Her face twisted between embarrassment, arousal, and anger. It even looked as though she were about to cry because of how overwhelmed she felt at this very moment.
“You’re going to be my wife someday,” he muttered. “We have our entire lives to figure each other out, but I don’t want our first time to be someplace where Highland is going to charge in at any moment to yell at us. I want it to be memorable for the right reasons… Don’t you think so?”
She reached up and pinched his cheek. He was right. They shouldn’t allow themselves to swept up at a time like this. “Yeah… It’s fine.” She reached for her blouse. “We should probably-” He snatched onto her wrist and held onto it tightly.
“N-no clothes,” he stammered back. He hadn’t finished burning the image of her nude body into his mind, and he’d be damned if he was going to leave here without doing so. It could be years before he got a chance to be like this with her again.
When she went to complain again, he silenced her with a kiss. They stole a few precious moments in order to calm themselves down, eventually ending with her settling herself against his shoulder. He drew their coats over them and stared up at the ceiling while she closed her eyes. There was still guilt weighing itself down on him.
“You’re actually fine with me? The fact that we’re together now?” She nodded her head wearily. “You’re not going to be kicking yourself tomorrow because of it?” She shook her head. “Sybil...”
“Go to sleep.”
He smirked. “Would you mind answering a few questions on what I can improve on for next time?”
“Either go to sleep or go away so I can sleep,” she whispered back.
There was that conflicted feeling again. Alton had dated before, but he had never been like this with anyone or even bothered to care about others before. Laying around in such an intimate manner was different.
He didn’t feel the need to make up some excuse about why he needed to keep his distance or suddenly leave without saying anything. This was weird. This whole relationship that he had with Sybil was weird. He didn’t know what to make of it.
Sybil was embarrassed. Her eyes were tightly shut and she was hoping to pass out so she could forget about this incident as quickly as possible. This was just a one-time thing. All she needed to do was to get this curiosity about Alton out of her system so she could carry on without thinking about it... But she was still thinking about it. Worse, she wanted more. She couldn’t stop herself.
And that just made her feel like an idiot. It didn’t matter if they felt anything for each other now, this was a temporary arrangement. Whether it was their goals as knights, or the status they had when they were born, or a dozen other reasons… They were never going to work out. She needed to leave now. While her heart could still take it.