peroxidepirate: (kel/easy way)
[personal profile] peroxidepirate
Title: Protectress
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Tamora Pierce (Tortall universe)
Characters: Buri/Thayet
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, their universe, or anything else of value. This is a derivative work and I'm just playing.
Summary: Buri promised to protect her princess. That's not as simple as she thought.
Author's Notes: Written for Goldenlake's Secrets & Lies Week (January 2010). Thanks to [ profile] faketoysoldier  and Carmarthen for getting me thinking about these two again.

Alanna cornered Buri in the practice yard, after the pages and squires had gone on to their lessons. “I have to ask you something. About Thayet.”

Buri crossed her arms over her chest. “Well?”

Alanna shifted uneasily. “It's not my business. And it wasn't my idea, but Jonathan sent me. He said you would know, if anyone would. He doesn't want to ask Thayet himself... doesn't think it seemly. Which never would have bothered him before, but now that he's practically king...”

“Alanna, what is it?”

“He wants to know if Thayet's a virgin.”

The first part of the journey was the worst. Well, it wasn't, but it seemed that way at the time: Thayet hidden in the bottom part of a huge wagon, under a load of prickly yellow hay; Buri driving, in boy's clothes with her hair tucked under a cap. Knowing, if anyone stopped them – if anyone thought to wonder what a Kmiri tribesman would want with a hay wagon – they were lost, unless she could talk her way out the situation.

The first part of the journey was bad, but it was entirely redeemed by what happened after.

They slept in the wagon that night, crushed together under the hay. Buri pulled well away from the road and parked amidst haystacks in a field, as though the farmer had just loaded up and was waiting for morning to haul this load to the barn. They loosed the horses, knowing they'd make their way home to the innkeeper from whom they'd been purchased two days before, and planned to continue their journey on foot the following day.

Nights were cool, that time of year, but it was almost too warm under the hay. Buri found it near impossible to tell where she ended and the hay began. “How did you stand it all day?” she whispered.

It was dark inside the wagon, but in her mind Buri could see the expression on Thayet's face. “Anything to get away.” Her voice was a whisper, too, but there was a fierceness in it all the same.

“You're so brave,” Buri murmured; as usual she was awed by the other girl's determination.

“Of course I am.” Thayet found Buri's hand in the dark, fingers teasing past her hip on the way, and squeezed. “I know I have you to protect me.”

Had she been sitting up, Buri would had ducked her head, sheepishly. She lost track of the difference between herself and the hay, but she was keenly aware – as always – of Thayet's exact position. Once she had told herself it was only natural: as the princess's bodyguard, of course she had to be conscious of the princess's body.

It had been a long time since either of them had been able to pretend it ended there.

“I'll protect you until the day I die.” Buri laced her fingers between Thayet's.

Thayet leaned forward, her breath warm on Buri's cheek. “I know.”

Buri kissed her, soft lips on soft lips, tongue sliding into Thayet's mouth. She waited for Thayet to roll them over, lie on top of her, and press her down further into the hay. Waited for Thayet to lift her tunic and push aside her leggings, as she had done so many times before.

Instead the princess broke the kiss, pressing her lips first to Buri's cheek, then her jaw, then the place just below her ear.

“Buri.” Her voice was barely more than a gasp now, as Buri's hands played over her body. “I'm not really a princess anymore.”

They were still lying face to face, touching everywhere, legs intertwined. Buri blinked, trying to clear her mind. It wasn't easy. “Of course you are.”

“I'm not,” Thayet insisted. “I'll never inherit the throne. I'll never marry a prince or a warlord. Maybe I'll never marry anyone.” She pressed harder against Buri's thigh. “I don't have to stay a virgin anymore.”

A groan escaped Buri's throat. She flipped Thayet onto her back, hands reaching down to tangle in the fabric of her skirts. “Then I finally get to...?”


The bottom dropped out of Buri's stomach. His Majesty was serious, then: it wasn't just some idle flirtation. He actually meant to court Thayet. And Thayet was already in love with him.

Buri had promised to protect her princess until death. Now she was going to be the very thing that came between Thayet and her chance at happiness. She looked down, kicking at the packed dirt of the training yard and wishing she was better at keeping her feelings hidden.

“Buri?” Alanna prompted.

Buri looked up, reluctantly, scowling. “What do you think?” she snapped.

Alanna reached out a brown, calloused hand and gripped Buri's arm. “Nevermind what I think. Tell me, so I can tell Jon: as far as you know, is Thayet a virgin?”

Buri blinked, surprised by the understanding in the lady knight's eyes. She was offering Buri a choice: to protect the princess, or not. To tell the truth – or not. Lucky the king did send her, instead of coming himself. If Buri was willing to keep her secret, she realized, Alanna would too – the better to protect her kingdom and her king.

Buri sighed. “Yes. Tell him you asked, and I said yes.”


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