Maeve opened her eyes to see Perry's face above her. He appeared to be suppressing some strong emotion but he looked slightly frightened as well. She didn't really comprehend the latter emotion, which only appeared as a hint of vulnerability in his eyes, so she ignored it.
Responding to what she presumed to be fury, she mumbled "You should've just let it happen. You don't really care."
"I do when I get hurt," he growled under his breath so that Chloe wouldn't hear. She looked on at the scene with a lost expression.
Maeve found enough energy to whisper "You jerk."
Perry ignored her insult and carried her back into her house. He took her upstairs and into her room.
It was amazing, Maeve found herself thinking, how her parents didn't notice anything. But then she remembered that her dad was out playing golf and her mum was shopping. Doubtless they would notice if here.
Once in her room, Perry set Maeve on the floor and pulled off her shirt.
"Oi!" she shouted, instantly feeling violated and vulnerable. But Perry didn't seem to have anything sexual in mind.
"Don't you wish I wanted that," he murmured, chuckling quietly, though his amusement was tainted by slight crossness in his tone. He pushed her onto her bed, lifting her legs onto the covers so she could almost lie comfortably. He didn't remove any of his clothing as he sat beside her and Maeve was relieved that her jeans and underwear remained on. The next thing she knew, he was licking her back.
"What?" she said, not really asking a question, but instead conveying her utter confusion and disbelief.
"Don't you dare tell anyone," he said, anger flaring up in his voice, and after a few seconds, he was sitting up again. She heard him mutter something like "... stupid destiny thing." and "...no right to affect me like that."
For a second, the wounds on her back stung again but then the pain went and Maeve felt normal. It was rather like Perry had applied antiseptic fluid ... Oh. Saliva was antiseptic.
"Thank you," she murmured, touched by the gesture, not really caring about the disconcerting nature of it.
"Shut up," he said.
"You're stopping my wounds becoming infected."
"I'm stopping myself feeling pain," he retorted.
"So you're truly indifferent to me?" Maeve asked sceptically.
Perry stood up and threw Maeve's top at her.
"I don't believe that," she said quietly, taking the clothing in her hand.
"Believe it," he said shortly.
Maeve sat up and pulled her shirt on.
She looked at Perry. He refused to return her gaze.
"How much time have we spent together?" she asked, changing the subject completely.
"About thirty five minutes."
Calmly, she asked "And how do you want to spend the other twenty five?"
Perry looked at her, surprised.
"I thought you hated the minimum of an hour thing."
She shrugged. "I've decided I don't want you to go to prison - however that works."
"You're brave to ask what I want to do."
"Yeah, I guess. But you'll have to use your powers on me if you want to share loveless kisses with me."
Perry looked amused. But suddenly he was sitting down beside her again and gazing intently at her with an expression of intrigue.
"What would you do of your own accord?" he asked.
Maeve swallowed nervously. He was too close. She couldn't help but remember last night in the meadow. And since he had bit her neck this morning and she had discovered exactly why her heart started pounding wildly...
"Hug you," she lied.
Perry smiled in a way that told her he saw through her. He pretended to believe her, however, replying "Fine."
And without any warning whatsoever, he put his arms about her, embracing her.
Filled with alarm, she yelped "No! Get off me."
"What's wrong with a hug?" he asked innocently. He began to stroke her back.
"Please," Maeve whispered. There was something definitely wrong about this hug. Why should a usually reassuring gesture send her heart into violet palpitations?
"At least hug me back," he said, pretending to sound hurt.
Maeve quickly put her arms around him, hoping it would cause him to let go. But while trying to let go in the next instant, Perry rapidly fell backwards and gazed into her eyes, holding her in place.
"You ever kissed a guy before?" he asked, jumbling Maeve's thoughts and melting her insides with the intensity of his stare.
"N-no," she stammered.
"What about this morning?" he asked, amused she hadn't said that.
"Y-you forced my will," she pointed out.
Perry nodded to himself. ‘I see,' he seemed to be saying.
Quite unexpectedly, he began to talk about Maeve in a way that was slightly reminiscent of observations in a scientific experiment.
"You're ... you're so in control," he commented, reaching up to stroke her hair. Maeve's confused senses tried to interpret this as a sign of him being in love with her but she sternly told herself to remember Chloe. Perry was continuing his descriptions.
"Stubborn. Determined to resist something you don't like even if it involves you. But overwhelmingly in control. I'm trying to make you feel good about yourself and you won't let me."
Maeve was beginning to calm down. Though his gaze was still intense, her mind started functioning normally again. It didn't look like he was going to make a move on her.
"You're doing it the wrong way," she told him. "Not every girl likes the control to be taken away from her. I'll only let you in when I trust you. And I'll only kiss you when I've let you in."
Perry sighed, communicating a mixture of longing (though it was the sort of longing associated with desire rather than love) and mild exasperation.
"If that's how you think your heart works."
"It is," Maeve replied with certainty.
Perry's gaze lost some of its intensity.
"How does your heart work?" she asked him.
Perry looked to the side, avoiding her gaze.
"I like to make girls feel good. But then I also think that one great experience is enough for anyone. I've no idea how I'm going to last out a relationship of this length."
"We could take it slowly," Maeve suggested.
"What, kiss after a year?" He looked back at her, one eyebrow raised.
"No," Maeve said, chortling at the ridiculousness of the notion. She grew serious. "Perhaps after a week."
"Oh, it would be less than a week."
Maeve frowned and tried to pull her arms free. Perry allowed her to and she moved off him to sit beside him.
"I don't like cockiness," she said.
Perry shrugged. "I'm not going to apologise."
Maeve sighed heavily, frustrated by his arrogance but also willing him to display some personality trait that she did find attractive.
"Did anyone ever tell you you were beautiful?" he asked unexpectedly.
Maeve glanced at him, surprised.
"Well, you are. And when I saw you yesterday, I thought you looked really ... natural."
Perry fell silent. Maeve didn't know how to respond.
"Um, ... thanks, I guess," she said awkwardly. Then, impulsively, she asked "Perry, do you think this will work?"
Perry regarded her sympathetically.
"Honestly? The way you want it to? No. At least, not with me like me and you like you."
"Oh," she said, very quietly.
"I could encourage you to lose control but I don't think you'd do that and it wouldn't help with the issue of permanence. You could try to change me but I don't think that I would do that..." Perry froze suddenly. "Hey, have we left Chloe outside?"
"Yeah," Maeve murmured, not really paying attention.
Faster than the human eye could detect, Perry was out of the door. Maeve watched after him and wondered when they'd next get an opportunity to talk like this.
"I'm sorry, Chloe," she heard him say as the two re-entered the house.
Perry brought Chloe upstairs and into Maeve's room. For a laugh, Maeve imagined it as some super famous, extremely popular place where all the coolest people came.
To her surprise, Chloe didn't look annoyed.
"That's okay, Perry," she said. It was then that Maeve remembered that Chloe seemed to like to submit to Perry. "It's a beautiful day."
Maeve wondered if Chloe knew how weird she sounded.
The next thing she said, however, made Maeve pay attention.
"Have you been overpowering the human's will?"
"What?!" Maeve asked, totally shocked.
Chloe glanced disapprovingly at her before readdressing Perry.
"I told you, she'll be trouble till you do."
Maeve stared at them, unable to quite believe that they were discussing controlling her.
"I know, Chlo," Perry said. "But I'll sort things out. You know me."
Chloe frowned slightly but didn't say anything more on the subject.
"So what have you two been doing?" Chloe asked.
"Chatting," Maeve answered quickly, pushing the bewilderment and disbelief to the back of her mind, fearing Perry would construct a lie she was uncomfortable with and at the same time not wanting to mention the disconcerting hug.
"Nothing," Perry replied casually.
This produced an odd emotional reaction in Maeve. She knew that he was just covering up the fact they'd talked about relationships but she felt stung and wanted to cry out that it hadn't been nothing.
Perry glanced at her oddly, sensing this feeling, and then said to Chloe "I was just telling Maeve that angering a witch is never a good idea and that she's incredibly lucky I'm bound to protect her."
Oh, so Chloe was a witch. Well, that was interesting. Maeve supposed she should have ruled out shapeshifter when Chloe didn't get her back for the insults by turning into a fierce animal, though.
"Yeah, what would I do without you, Perry?" Maeve asked, semi-sarcastic but semi-wistful.
Chloe looked at her and said "See, that's how you ought to behave towards him normally. You're not his equal: you're lower than him. And yes, he admires a spark of defiance from time to time but he appreciates respect. Respect is due, especially from a human."
Maeve wanted to tell her that she wasn't a queen, that she couldn't tell Maeve how to live her life and act around guys but she didn't want to be burnt by the blue fire again, and Perry, who she could feel watching her as he lounged against one of her bedroom walls, almost certainly was communicating ‘Don't' with his expression.
Quietly she asked "So I should just let him subjugate my will?"
Chloe beamed. "Yes! You finally understand!"
‘How was she when you made love to her?' Maeve wondered, directing the thought at Perry.
Unexpectedly, he almost burst out laughing. And somehow, for just one second, that connected them. Perry probably didn't like it but they had shared a private joke. And that symbolised for Maeve the way she wanted their relationship to move forwards. With accord. With non-overpowering intimacy. With laughter.
Chloe was frowning. "What's funny?"
When Maeve looked away without replying, the other girl turned to Perry.
"She's just an extremely weird person," he answered, shrugging.
Maeve chuckled, not least because it was Chloe who she found odd.
"You can say that again," Chloe muttered. Addressing Maeve, she said "That's good advice I've given you. You'd do well to take it."
Maeve pretended to look as if she were seriously considering it.
"And what ... other advice could you give me? What else would Perry's perfect woman do to stay his perfect woman?"
Chloe looked confused and also a bit embarrassed.
"Well, I couldn't tell you about his perfect woman but I can tell you that you mustn't expect faithfulness from him."
"Well, it's just not him. Like I said, Perry chooses a woman, shows her a good time and then dumps her."
"Ah," Maeve said gravely. "Then there's no chance of a serious relationship with him."
Perry shrugged at Maeve when she glanced at him, as if to say ‘I told you so'. She turned back to Chloe.
"You have very ... interesting things to say, Chloe. I can't say I would act like you do with Perry but a new perspective on life and one's ... role in it is always refreshing."
Chloe frowned, trying to figure out whether Maeve was being serious or disguising insults with compliments.
Perry straightened up, frowning. He evidently saw that Maeve was only pretending to be nice and had returned to ‘Protect Chloe' mode.
"D'you mind if I take you home, Chloe?" he asked. "I think I might try a bit harder with the putting the human in her place thing."
Chloe smiled at Perry. "Sure. I can't be sure, but I think she leaves something to be desired in her treatment of guests."
Maeve smiled to herself at Chloe's lack of certainty in her ‘bad manners' and lay luxuriously on her bed while Perry took the witch home.