Arctic Butterflies

by Someone Else

another round of Sunrise over ice

Hrun leaned in to nuzzle the curls framing Ara’s now-hard dick. They breathed in Ara’s scent, luxuriating there, face-to-dick. Ara twitched at Hrun’s breath on their skin, Hrun responding with a firmer nuzzle and slight giggle. They ran their tongue up the seam of Ara’s dick, starting at the intricate interface where the inner lips of their pussy merged into the base of their shaft. At the small encouraging noise out of Ara they did it again, teasing until Ara could hardly help but move under them, asking for more.

They took Ara’s dick into their mouth. First just the head, running their tongue under Ara’s foreskin before taking them deeper. Ara gave only a breathy, cut-off moan and threw their head back over the bed’s white pillow, their legs still spilling off the bed with Hrun crouched between. Hrun sucked, moving up and down, drawing out little whimpers from Ara who opened their legs wider and couldn’t restrain some small thrusts.

Hrun took a hand to run their fingers over the lips of Ara’s pussy in time with their mouth on Ara’s dick. They knew how responsive Ara’s pussy was. They slipped in a finger, then another, thrusting into Ara’s pussy, keeping the rhythm, Ara panting along.

They backed off from Ara’s dick in order to see them better, replacing their mouth with their other hand while continuing to to work Ara’s pussy. Ara had their head back, their eyes closed, and was making little incoherent sounds of pleasure.

Hrun loved seeing Ara this way: completely overtaken with pleasure, the heavy weight of the aftermath of whatever massacre had left them alone in their battle-ravaged village lifted for a time. Hrun always found Ara beautiful. They loved Ara’s tall, slim form, the sharp line of their jaw, the poetry of their words and their movement. But Hrun found Ara especially beautiful when they were like this, on the one hand lost in the moment and yet all the more fully present, grounded in time and place by the raw physicality.

Hrun shifted up and forward a little bit. Their dick, eagerly awaiting its own turn, took a bit of solace at now being pressed onto one of Ara’s legs. Hrun leaned over Ara, sandwiching Ara’s dick between between their chest and Ara’s belly. As they thrust their fingers into Ara’s pussy, they said, “It could be my dick.”

Ara tensed and came all over Hrun’s face. Hrun laughed happily, but even as Ara’s orgasm passed over, Hrun saw the peace was already gone from the corners of their eyes.

Hrun wiped their face and climbed up. Ara slid over to make space, draping one of their arms over their eyes. Hrun laid next to Ara, snuggled close, but on their back.

After a moment Ara said, “Never more than a fantasy.”

Hrun didn’t answer. 

“Don’t ask in the moment,” Ara continued. “I don’t know that I’d have the strength for that no.”

Hrun nodded. They were laying close enough that Ara could feel the movement. Ara took their arm off their face and stared at the ceiling. Then they turned to look at Hrun and waited until Hrun looked back at them.

“I mustn’t bear; you see this.”

Hrun thought of all the times they’d seen Ara frozen, oddly vacant, in the middle of what should have been a simple task, and the toll it took on them, body and mind. 

“Were it otherwise, it would fulfil a longstanding dream, but as bad as my trances are now, they were much worse when I was moving from childhood into adulthood. I’d be gone longer, my body having taken fits while I was not in residence. I’d wake sore, grateful if that time I hadn’t bitten through my tongue or broken a bone, and awakening itself was an exhausting journey across distorted space and time. The stronger changes of pregnancy could only be expected to be worse.”

Hrun saw written on the muscles of Ara’s face how important this was to them. Hrun, on the other hand, didn’t find the idea of bearing had such a personal appeal. They had always expected some day to parent, but they had only just been getting established in their old village when they’d been brought here, so the expectation had remained vague.

Ara went back to looking at the ceiling. “Even in an ideal world, no is the only answer available to me, and ours is far from an ideal world.”

At that thought, the emptiness of their half-rebuilt village and the depravations of their situation seemed to press in on Hrun: their aloneness where once children had run and other adults had conversed; the extensive labour in front of them; the meagre, battle-scarred garden feeding them; the ragged state Ara had been in when Hrun first arrived.

“We’re probably neither of us sufficiently well-fed to conceive,” said Hrun.

Ara drew in a breath and took a moment to steady themself. “Had you said that in the moment, we would have a problem now should you be wrong.”

***

Hrun spent the next morning in their library as usual. They took down the atlas once again and traced the coast running east yet another time. This must have been the way the whistler that kidnapped them had taken them. Like every other time they’d looked, it didn’t match their memory of the event, but the whole trip had been surreal. Trying to reconstruct it logically, too much was still unclear. The atlas showed where the last portions of their trip over water must have been, but with the extent of the ice always shifting, Hrun couldn’t identify with any certainty where they’d glided over the ice. 

Sighing, Hrun put the atlas away. They no longer knew what they wanted. They missed their old home, its busy, life-filled paths, and their place in it. Yet, they had something very special here now too. To go home is what you were supposed to want when you’ve been kidnapped. It seemed disrespectful of their old comrades to feel otherwise. But they weren’t sure that Ara would want to come, abandoning their empty village with all it meant to them. Hrun couldn’t leave anyone alone in such desolation and more importantly, they couldn’t leave Ara.

Turning back to their books, Hrun looked up at the section on sailing and boatbuilding. They’d learned many interesting things, but with more than labour enough to do in this village and no clear destination, these things remained theoretical. They’d read about whistlers, but uncovered nothing that shed light on the why or the where of their kidnapping. They’d looked at traders’ records, deliberately obscured to uselessness by the traders’ code. Traders no longer seemed to come to this village since its destruction. Hrun had considered books on botany, geology, and others, and those might yet contain useful hints, but it would be a project of years to learn the preliminaries first.

Perhaps what they wanted was not even what mattered most here. The search had been fruitless; wanting or not wanting didn’t change that. Perhaps the time had come to put it aside. They wandered around lost in thought until they ended up at the section on ritual and mythology. They took down a book and began to read.

When the sun was high in the sky, Hrun went out to the garden. Ara was there. They had done some digging, spilling fresh dirt out of the raised beds but without any effective change to the plants.

“Afternoon, Poet Ara,” said Hrun.

“Scho—” said Ara, and then they froze, one dirt-covered hand stalled in the air. Hrun reached over to gently hold their hand with equal parts affection and concern, and waited.

A few moments later, Ara blinked and sighed, slumping slightly.

“Rough morning?” asked Hrun.

“Nowhere has a strong pull on me today,” said Ara.

“Maybe it isn’t a day for work,” said Hrun. They pulled two turnips, the spiciness turned sweet by the frost. “Come sit with me on the hillside?”

Sitting side by side, they both looked over the village. By the light of day, the sun shining brightly on the snow, dotted here and there in recent sawdust, there seemed more hope than ruin. Together they had rebuilt over half the buildings from whatever disaster had befallen the village and left Ara here alone.

“It’s really looking better,” said Hrun.

In answer Ara brought an arm around Hrun’s shoulders and turned to look at Hrun. “An honour to their lives,” they said.

Hrun had been reluctant to burden Ara by asking, but with things now more repaired than not, perhaps it was the right time.

“Poet Ara, would you tell me what happened?”

Ara sat a moment, looking over the village, and then began to tell their story.

 ***

I lived, at that time, along with my comrades, under the perpetual shadow of whistler uncertainty. Chaos incarnate, riches and discord alike grew from the whisler’s footprints. Unexpectedly they’d appear, doting on Fisherman Ewo while our other two fishermen seethed at the special treatment and harassing our old librarian Scholar Haroa. Then they would disappear again, following alien obsessions through rock and sky.

Usually, I might have called the whistler happy, clanking after new mountains, oblivious to the marks they left. Only that one day was there terror in their movements and desperation on their face. They came running into the village pursued by a squad of raiders, losing ground to them at every step. 

Scholar Haroa rang the bell as the raiders swarmed in. We were panicked ants, newly exposed to the light of danger, the raiders’ arrival having pulled away the false cover of safety that had sheltered us. Unable to outrun or outmaneuver these attackers, the whistler turned in the central square to make a stand. Our twin guardian spirits tossed raiders like children tossing dry leaves, leaving the snow banks spattered in red, but there seemed to be no end, the raiders weathering the spirits with each wave. 

Turning a corner, I saw a mess of whistler things all over the ground. All their pack-rat hoardings splayed out chaotically, for reasons only a whistler could know. Kneeling down amid the debris, I found a knife and considered how to make use of it.

“Great idea, Comrade Ara!” yelled Fisherman Ewo, running over. “Look what Comrade Ara has found!” they called to the others. Awkwardly, Fisherman Ewo grabbed a whistler sword. “Die, villains!”

Others joined us. I picked up the knife and time shattered.

When time restarted for me, I was still separated from the world by a heavy veil of grey. I was inside, lying on a bed, with people all around. They must have carried me in there; I must have been gone much longer than usual. Twisted through the veil, their words made no sense.

People were touching me, trying to get me sitting. That was the wrong action! I knew this feeling, though I hadn’t felt it in years. Soon things would be worse, best to be on the floor where there’s nothing to fall from. Moreover, they needed to stop wasting time on me. There were more important concerns.

The door opened, the light cutting through writhing greyness. There stood Fisherman Ewo, blood-soaked shirt and half-mangled face glistening wetly. “Look!” I yelled. “Fisherman Ewo needs you!”, but I must have made as little sense to them as they made to me. I tried to push them off. “Go! Nothing can be done for me!”

Someone was then getting me on the floor. “No! My cracked head isn’t worth a massacre!” I yelled uselessly. It might have been Scholar Haora with me then, or that might just have been an old memory superimposed. They’d seen me through some of the first of these. The world swirled with sparkling colours and I knew nothing more.

Reality returned, fuzzy and heavy. The door opened and a raider’s voice called, “Just a dead one in here.” 

I got up on my elbows and spat out some blood. The fuzziness pressed in and I laid back down.

Later I woke in the blood-streaked gloom. Outside the slush of blood-drenched snow had refrozen to red ice, bumpy with lingering footprints. Bodies, raider and comrade alike, lay strewn around. Twisted shreds of guardian-flesh jutted out of the ice in the central square. No one had lived but me.

Then the colour of the world changed and the clouds began to speak to me. They told me to take all the bodies, raider and comrade both, across to the plateau on the far side of the bay and bury them in stones: Two cairns, one for the raiders and one for my comrades. As I brought the bodies over, the stones also spoke. The larger stones refused to be involved with the raiders and the small stones were frozen down, unusable. Their protestations kept the night creatures away. I covered my comrades with larger stones while they argued with the clouds. Taking pity on me, the clouds rained, melting the ground enough that I could shovel up dirt and small stones to cover the raiders. The dirt laughed and said, “We’ll fill in the gaps and trap their souls,” but the rain washed away the rude dirt until just the gravel remained. The task done, I lay over my comrades’ cairn, little more than a pile of wet rags, waiting for the chill to take me.

With the dawn the sun flashed angrily at me, pulsing the world until the colours were too loud to bear. Finally, I dragged myself up, back to the village and a dry and relatively undamaged bed. With one last burst the sun re-yellowed, the world’s colours reset, and neither stones nor clouds spoke to me again.

***

“Oh, Poet Ara!” said Hrun, reaching over to hug them.

Ara leaned their head on Hrun’s chest and the two of them breathed together for a time.

“Poet Ara, you had a wonderful village,” said Hrun.

“They tolerated my weakness.”

“They cared for you.”

Ara looked up at Hrun. “If they hadn’t needed to care for me, they might not have needed to die.”

Hrun gathered Ara tighter in their arms. “If two guardian spirits and a whistler couldn’t handle it, what hope could any of us have? You’re not to blame.”

Ara closed their eyes while Hrun rubbed their back gently. They sat like that until the last of the sunset colours were fading to black and the first stars came out.

A few days later the sound of heavy footsteps and rattling gear approached from over the hill.

“Never are we long free from chaos,” lamented Ara. Soon the whistler appeared over the crest of the hill.

Hrun wanted nothing to do with their kidnapper now returned. They backed away to slip behind the nearest building, but the whistler had seen them and headed straight for them. Hrun tried to lose the whistler by darting through the narrow spaces between buildings and staying away from the paths. The whistler followed. Hrun ran to their library and closed the door, but this was a mistake. Whistlers knew how to use doors and now they were trapped.

The whistler quickly tracked Hrun down in the library and shoved blank books into their hands. After a confusing sequence of clicks and gestures from the whistler Hrun traded some books with them and the whistler left them alone to stomp around outside. Hrun hid in the library until the stomping had stopped.

Emerging, Hrun found a tidy pile of crates in the village’s central square and Ara curled into a ball beside the door of their hut.

“Poet Ara!” Hrun ran up to them. “I think the whistler is gone.”

“Butterflies cannot fight a storm,” Ara sobbed.

Hrun sat next to them and they sat together for a while.

It turned out the crates were full of food.

“This makes no sense!” Hrun exclaimed in frustration. “Why did the whistler leave these? What do they want?”

“Who can understand chaos?” Ara asked.

Hrun and Ara stored the crates in one of the huts they’d repaired and ate well for the first time. There was enough food here to last months.

With the satisfaction of a full belly upon them, a thought occurred to Hrun. Putting it into words they said, “The whistler wants to breed back this village and brought me here to that end.”

The food soured in their belly and they shrank away from Ara. Their relationship felt tainted by the idea that they were unwittingly fulfilling the whistler’s aims. Unable to face Ara, Hrun got up and escaped back to their library, contrary to their usual daily routine, and returned to their fruitless search.

Shortly before sunset Ara knocked on the library door. “Scholar Hrun?”

Hrun reluctantly opened the door and stepped well back.

“Scholar Hrun, you owe nothing to chaos,” said Ara, staying in the doorway. “I never expected you would stay,” Ara finished, their voice cracking in the final sentence.

A parade of emotions passed over Hrun’s face. They tried to speak but they could find no words for their own internal chaos. Eventually they turned away. Ara left, closing the door. Hrun slept in the library that night.

Hrun woke early to the sound of splashing in the bay. They’d slept poorly on the hard floor of the library, alone with their thoughts. What could that splashing be? They didn’t think they knew anything that sounded quite like that.

Blearily they stepped out into the pink light of the sunrise. Something was out there in the bay. It poked out from the water, and then it was gone. Hrun walked over to the shore nearest where they had last seen the splashing, the crisp morning air and brightening light refreshing them somewhat.

Looking down into the water, Hrun was surprised to see a guardian spirit looking mournfully up at them from the depths, trapped underwater by its stone-like density. The whistler, not gone after all, was slowly building a scaffold to raise the spirit, step by step, and surfacing with a splash to breathe.

Hrun ran to the hut they usually shared with Ara. “Poet Ara! Poet Ara!” they burst in yelling. 

Ara sat up, wide-eyed at this frantic version of Hrun. 

“One of your guardian spirits was sunken at the bottom of the bay but the whistler is raising it!”

Ara gasped, then quickly got dressed and they both hurried out. They clung to each other as slowly the guardian spirit got closer to the surface.

Once its head was above water, it took a giant step up to the land and rushed over to the village square. It was heavily cracked, and among the cracks were great gouges down from its eyes like streams of tears.

Ara ran over to meet it. Standing right at its feet, Ara looked up and stared into its eyes, while it stared down likewise at Ara. With their eyes locked, Ara knelt down to be closer to the height of a child and the guardian spirit covered Ara’s sides with its two giant hands like it would a very young child in distress. Ara reached their arms over its burly arms, barely reaching past its wrists, their mutual gaze still unbroken. 

They stared at each other a long time, and slowly Ara’s shoulders relaxed and the spirit’s face seemed less as though it were crying. Finally, Ara let go of the spirit’s arms and it took its hands off Ara and produced a flower. Ara took the flower like a child, held the guardian spirit’s gaze one moment more, then bowed their head. The spirit touched the top of Ara’s head with two huge fingers and then stepped away.

Later, Hrun walked up to the guardian spirit with a rust-laden stone for it to eat. Hrun saw in its eyes the weight of its lost mate and lost wards, but it looked down at Hrun with the same promise it offered to any ward, and Hrun finally made their decision.

That evening, Hrun found Ara standing on the dock, looking out at the bay.

“Poet Ara,” Hrun began, standing a polite distance away with eyes cast downwards, “I still hope that someday we can send word to my old village, or perhaps visit, but if you’ll have me, my home is here.” 

“Gladly,” said Ara, stepping closer and raising Hrun’s face gently until their gazes met.

Keeping Ara’s eyes Hrun continued, “I’d like to make a ceremonial farewell to them.” Hrun took Ara’s hand. “Would you help create something appropriate?”

“I will. Beyond that, I fear that you want more than my broken self can be.”

“I want you, Poet Ara. The future we can face together.”

***

A few days later, they both stood out some distance from the current village, facing in the direction that Hrun’s best reckoning said was towards their old village. Together they said some words which Ara had composed and released a small flock of arctic butterflies they had caught, one for each of Hrun’s old villagemates.

Walking back, Hrun said, “Poet Ara, recently you told me two wise things: that this is far from an ideal world and that I — or we — owe nothing to chaos.”

Ara nodded as they walked a few more steps in silence.

“These two things point in the same direction,” said Hrun. “It’s our village; what matters is not what some whistler may or may not want, but what we want. Furthermore, while circumstances remain far from ideal, the direction of change is positive: the structures of the village are more than half repaired, we have a guardian spirit, and a reasonable store of food.”

Ara’s expression was hard to read. Hrun stopped walking and took Ara’s hands in theirs.

“Poet Ara, would you like to have children with me?”

“Scholar Hrun, I would be very pleased to do so,” said Ara, “but I still mustn’t bear. Sharing the weight with the spirit has helped in carrying the past, but trances have been taking me my whole life; nothing about that has changed.”

Hrun swallowed. They were nervous about the last step. On rational consideration it was simple: they and Ara had different constraints, but there was a way for the overall goal to be met. When they’d considered this plan earlier, Hrun found themself worried they might have difficulty playing the needed role. After all, in previous sexual situations they’d generally felt that fingers were wasted on their pussy and much better applied to their dick. However, right now, with Ara directly in front of them, Ara who they loved deeply, it was a different kind of nervousness than before, an excited, anticipatory nervousness.

“I can bear,” said Hrun, pulling Ara closer. Ara sighed and closed their eyes, pressing their body against Hrun.

“Let’s go home,” said Ara with a special smile.

Now that it had moved from thought to plan, Hrun found themself not only willing, but in fact distractingly aroused by the idea of just how Ara’s dick would feel in their pussy. They were wet and hard in anticipation throughout the walk back.

Soon enough, they found themself in bed with Ara pushing in for the first time. Ara slid their dick slowly and smoothly between the lips of Hrun’s pussy. Hrun lay and breathed at the silky movement. More quickly, Ara pulled all the way out, carefully keeping their angle so the head of their dick just kissed Hrun’s pussy. Teasing, Ara pushed in agonizingly slowly a second time. Hrun moaned at the increasing fullness and the continuous gentle rub on their pussy’s lips.

The next time out, Ara sat up enough to reach between them and grab Hrun’s throbbing dick in one of their hands, supporting themself on their other hand. They pumped Hrun’s dick and, as if driven by a ratchet, pushed their own dick in again in tiny increments with each hand stroke. Hrun whined at the continued teasing and after the second iteration, Ara relented, put their arms back down beside Hrun as anchors, and began to thrust into Hrun in earnest.

Hrun’s dick, pressed tightly between both their bodies, rubbed the line of fur down Ara’s belly, back and forth with Ara’s movements, tension slowly building. Every thrust of Ara’s dick slid against their inner lips intensely and filled them up inside. This was not going to be a problem after all.

At the bottom end of a stroke, Ara paused, breathing heavily, and again lifted their chest to make space for their hand on Hrun’s dick. Firmly and quickly they used their hand along Hrun’s dick, bringing Hrun to the edge. With the final tightening just before orgasm, Hrun found their pussy tensing around the intrusion that was Ara’s dick. In that moment it felt enormous inside Hrun, impossibly filling, and Hrun came, their pussy pulsing around Ara’s dick while their own dick emptied into the space between their bodies.

At that, Ara braced themself, took their final deep thrusts, and came with a cry inside Hrun.

Ara rolled off and snuggled up next to Hrun.

One gestation period later, the next stage of rebuilding Ara and Hrun’s village began.

Love2
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6 thoughts on “Arctic Butterflies

  1. What a precious story about making the most of the hand that fate deals, and finding joy and love and a future after and even through traumatic events! The narrative voice is so evocative, too.

    • Thanks so much for your comment and your impressions! I find Hrun’s voice easier than Ara’s, but then I went and put a key section as Ara’s narration because that seemed to be what the story needed.

  2. I just read the previous story + this one!! They were both so good!

    The pacing, world building, mood and tone are all so chef kiss.

    I really appreciate the characters you’ve created as well.

    • Thank you!

      Regarding pacing, the earliest plan in my head had the two stories together as one, but stopping at the point where Ara is first Poet Ara was just too perfect, and that’s how it became two stories. (With a year between them for me to grow as a writer.)

  3. It was fun seeing more of these two, and getting a feel for the legitimate village recovery effort going on in the backstory, complete with reviving one of the guardians! Deciding which partner is going to carry children in a society where everyone has more than a single set of genitalia also felt realistically fraught; Hrun being willing to push past their discomfort and agree to carry offspring is such a clear sign of how much they care for and trust Ara. Glad all those writing sprints were able to get this beastie across the finish line in all its complexity!

    • This wasn’t the one I was sprinting (that one is much longer). Thanks for your kind thoughts on their society.

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