A thousand things that she believes the Demon Prince to be, and a thousand times he proves her wrong.
Promises of a painful, slow death is what she believes he’ll give her, but a radiant smile dispels her fears. With liquid ambrosia for eyes and vermillion-struck hair, she’s never seen someone so intimidating, so contrary.
“I hope your year in the Devildom is a great one!” the stranger chirps, loud and booming, and friendly.
“Thank you,” is all she manages.
Promises of a scornful, prideful visage is what she believes is his flair, but he bears no ill-will towards the hubris of humanity. A thousand lights splayed below the balcony, a gaze set onto the distant future, graced by the soft glow of hope, he tells her that he wishes for peace, more than anything.
“Don’t all you demons despise us?” she piques and he laughs deeply, sonorous in the never ending darkness.
“Maybe, but I,” and he turns to look at her with a gentleness that she’s never thought to find in a hell-spawned man, “I find human souls, flawed as they are, beautiful.”
Promises of friendship is what she believes would be the farthest thing possible, but when he calls her in invitation to see the black roses blooming in his greenhouse, she finds that maybe, it isn’t the most far-fetched situation.
“Look!” he exclaims excitedly, pointing towards a small bird, tufted in crimson, its winding onyx tail fluttering as it perches itself on the flower’s stem. “It’s a black-tailed canary. It’s a bird native to the Devildom.”
“How pretty,” she comments, watching the bird fixate its beady eyes on her before it takes off into flight.
Lord Diavolo chuckles beside her. “Seeing such lovely things up close really does lift my spirits,” he murmurs in awe, in wonder, underscored by a melancholia she can’t quite fathom.
In response, she presses her hand on his shoulder, humming in agreement; he simply smiles.
Promises of gold is what she believes would catch his fancy, but his curiosity lies in the fleeting moments caught in polaroids. From swirling pink blossoms to the grin of an aquarium’s beluga, to the cascading reds of a maple autumn and a white winter’s falling snow; he finds joy in all these.
“This is my favourite,” he notes fondly and she leans over to look at the object of his attraction. It is the simple snapshot of a summer daybreak, the first light of dawn. “The sun never rises here in the Devildom, so I’ve always been curious about it. Your world’s truly blessed.”
How the Underworld’s Prince is so much of an optimist, she’d probably never know, but it warms her to see him so full of life.
When he passes the picture back to her, she shakes her head and, with more than a little uncertainty, presses her fingers against his hand.
“Keep it,” she insists. “Consider it a gift for the hospitality you’ve shown me.”
Promises of an uneventful night is a relatively easy feat, she believes, but the seven brothers prove her wrong when she’s crowned the guest of honour. They shower her with neatly wrapped gifts, words of gratitude and a group hug so earnest it moves her to tears.
They take turns dancing with her tonight, seven brothers gliding through seven different musical pieces. Mammon steps up into a bold, thrilling hustle; Leviathan sways with unusual confidence in a jazzy foxtrot; Satan twirls her into a fittingly passionate tango; Asmodeus sweeps her around in an excelsior schottische; Beelzebub rounds a blustering, grinning quickstep; Belphegor drifts into a draping, dreamy carousel and Lucifer, unsurprisingly, leads her gracefully into a viennese waltz.
What does surprise her, however, is when the Prince comes up to her, requesting her for a dance. “If you’re not too tired, of course.”
She smiles and places her hand atop his, letting his fingers curl around hers. “No, it would be my honour,” is all it takes for him to capture her breath in a slow, seamless waltz that lasts a beat longer than it should.
Promises of a shrinking distance isn’t what she foresaw, but he is insistent in having her company, which she, admittedly, isn’t too bothered about. He greets her jovially when he meets her in front of AkuDonald’s, dressed down in a maroon Oxford shirt and beige khakis, a pair of shades completing his look; she wonders if that’s his way of avoiding attention.
As they both stand in line, he strikes up polite conversation, questioning her how she’s been, how her classes are going, how she’s finding RAD and the seven brothers, and she is, quite frankly, genuinely surprised by how much she’s come to enjoy the entire affair. He’s about to answer when they hit the front of the line, a tired looking demon snippily asking for their order.
Like always, she goes for the fried shadow goose AkuBurger, the six-pack AkuGizzards and a blushberry slushie. He takes a little more time deciding, but eventually settles for the Hellfire DoubleAkuBurger and a Blackburn coffee before he insistently pays for their meal. Tipping her head down in thanks, she takes the tray and leads him towards a relatively private corner in the joint where he tucks into his lunch undisturbed.
“Do you come here often?” he prompts and she shrugs, swallowing her food down.
“Enough,” she responds. “The food here is generally safe for me to not die from.”
He chuckles. “Not a fan of Devildom cuisine?”
“Just not nearly as bold to eat something with ‘Double Poison’ tacked onto it,” she explains. Catching him eyeing her gizzards, she picks one up in between her fingers and offers it to him. “They’re good.”
Leaning forward, without so much of a warning, he takes it from her hand with his teeth and she stiffens, embarrassed, unsure if he’s being serious or just messing with her, or if he’s just dense.
“You’re right,” he answers, happily smiling as he licks his lips, “they are.”
She tries not to think about it too hard, simply nodding in agreement before they pass the rest of the time with small-talk, light banter and the never-ending cringe of dad jokes so terrible she has to laugh at each one. Once they’ve finished and exited the premises, he thanks her for her time today, smiling as he always does.
“I had a lot of fun,” she gladly admits, to which he hums, pleased.
“I did, too,” he reciprocates and then, a little less playfully, a little more seriously, “If it’s alright with you, let me walk you home.”
“You don’t -“
“I want to,” he assures, insists. “I enjoy your company and I’d like us to spend more time together.”
She warms at his boldness, more evident today than any other, at the way he tentatively reaches for her hand in consent, in invitation, and she accepts it with a nod. With a smile that crinkles his eyes and a careful hold, he leads her back to the House of Lamentation.
Promises of constant contact is something she’s sure he isn’t one to keep, especially given his consistently packed schedule, but when she’s back in the Human World, her D.D.D rings most often with his name.
He fills her days with updates on work, on Lucifer’s increasingly baggy eyes, lamenting at how much less bright the Devildom is without her.
“You’re being dramatic,” she chuckles as she picks up a carton of eggs. “It’s not that bad.”
“No, it is,” he implores with a huff. “The brothers miss you, including Lucifer, even if he denies it. Teasing him is no fun anymore,” he protests and she clicks her tongue at him. There’s a pause before a sigh, then, “I’m not being honest here.”
“No,” he repeats; “I miss spending my time with you, I miss being able to see you, I miss talking to you in person. I miss you; I miss you a lot.”
She runs her fingers through her hair and oh, fuck, he really shouldn’t spring these things onto her. She’s sure he can hear her heart over the phone when it’s this loud.
Tightening her grip on the trolley’s handle, she responds with an, “I miss you, too.”
Promises of staying away are best upheld because they’re the smarter option, the safer option, but when she’s back in the Devildom, she‘s compelled to see him again. Barbatos directs her to his study, knocking on the door before he leaves her by the room just as Lord Diavolo lets her in.
The wind is knocked right out of her chest when he scoops her into a tight hug and she eases into his arms, burying her face into his chest. He smells faintly of warm spice and agarwood, of a familiarity she’s sorely longed for.
“I’m glad you’re back,” he whispers, the hint of a tremble in his voice.
“I am, too.”
Promises of subtlety is a given, she believes, but he hasn’t much thought for it when he clasps a golden bracelet onto her wrist. It is a simple chain, studded with tiny opals, and much too lavish for someone who’s come here as an exchange student.
“This is a little excessive, don’t you think?” she asks, raising a brow as she fiddles with the accessory, to which he frowns.
“Do you not like it?” he inquires and she shakes her head.
“No, I do,” she assures, and she really does. It’s a beautiful piece of jewellery, it’s just that, “I’m not quite sure if I’m so deserving of such things.”
At that, he takes her hand, pulling her a little closer. “You are,” he affirms softly, gently lacing his fingers with hers. “Let me be a little selfish.”
She chuckles. “You’re being selfish by giving me a gift?”
“No,” he replies as he levels her with a crackling, sparking gaze and her heart skips a beat. “I’m being selfish because I want you to myself.”
Promises of indulgence are what she believes to be a demon’s domain, but he simply holds her in his arms most nights, content with the simple pleasure of having her there with him, of talking to her, of hearing her say his name without the formalities.
“You’re not anything like I thought a demon would be,” she muses as he hugs her tighter from behind, letting her head rest on the line of his shoulder.
He chuckles, pressing his lips to hers sweetly, briefly. “No?”
“I expected them to be a little more ...” she trails off in search for a word, then, “churlish.”
“I can be,” he mumbles while he lazily nibbles at her ear, patterns kisses into her jaw and the exposed column of her neck. “I’m just being polite.”
She hums. “Maybe.”
“You don’t think so?”
“No,” she responds with a peck to his cheek, hand coming up to the side of his head, pulling him closer against her. “I think you’re just a touch holy.”
His skims her skin with tongue and teeth, breaths warm, chuckling as he does. “You’re bold to say that to the Prince of Hell.”
Promises of a Lord unshaken is what she believes the demons see, but behind all the closed doors, he bares his vulnerability to her against the starless, perpetual nights.
“Do you want to talk, Diavolo?” she asks. He’s silent for a moment before he offers his hand to her. She takes it and he pulls her to his side, letting his arm drape down to hold her at her waist.
Overlooking the city sprawled under him, he sighs. “Sometimes I wonder if I’m doing the right thing,” he confesses under his breath, the uncertainty wavering his voice. “I want peace between all the realms, but do they? Do my people?”
"You don’t think they want that?”
“We’re demons. War is within our very nature,” he states simply, pressing her a little closer to him. “A few of us are fallen angels, others human, but most demons were born here, and all of us are vengeful, resentful creatures,” he murmurs; she says nothing. “The fallen angels want nothing to do with the Celestial Realm, the human-turned-demons carry over their hate and the rest of us have just always had a taste for destruction.
“For most of us, we’ve always felt like the two worlds looked at us with nothing but contempt. When Heaven smites an angel unruly, they’re punished into being a devil; when humans talk about eternal torture, we’re the very picture of it. Demons are a proud folk, we give back the respect we’ve been shown, but when everyone has only ever hated us, what is there to be but bitter? And the cycle keeps going, it has for the last thousands of centuries.”
“I’m sorry,” is all she can offer and he chuckles.
“Please, it’s alright,” he assures with a smile, though it’s wearied with the burdens of a leader. “I’m just ... wondering.”
She isn’t sure what to say to him, if she can even comfort him. She’s no angel, or demon, and even as a human, she’s never been a particular occult; she’s just an exchange student who lacks understanding of the tension’s nuance.
“Look, hey,” she starts, “I know I’m not the best person to say it, but your people respect you. They might squabble with Heaven or us humans, but they’ve put their trust in you; otherwise, in all honesty, I think they’d have just eaten me and Solomon alive.”
He cracks a small, tiny smile at that.
“You needed mutual agreement between all the realms for this exchange program, and you did it. If that tells me anything, it’s that they’re probably tired of all the fighting, too,” she surmises. He laughs, just barely, before he bends down to kiss her forehead, letting it linger.
When he pulls away, he says, “Thank you, that helped.”
He hums. “A little,” he responds, loosening his grip on her. “I need to be alone for a while, is that okay?”
“Take all the time,” she answers. Placing a quick kiss onto his cheek, she turns on her heel and walks away. Comforting demon royalty isn’t something she’s good at, and maybe she never will be, but space? Space is something she can give him.
Promises of ‘unto death do us part’ is tradition, the idea of a romance that spans the fire of life until it’s snuffed out by a swing of the scythe, but she believes that mortality is fickle to him. A being of a thousand years that will live on for a thousand more, and she fills in the mere potential century; a year for him is a decade for her.
Yet here he is, knotting the string of his life to her in promise. “Make a pact with me,” he declares, bringing her hand up to his lips, kissing her knuckles as though she were royalty.
Her breath hitches. “Diavolo.”
“Let me be yours,” the demon pleads, yearns, longs and she’s a little taken aback by the openness of it all.
“You don’t have to,” she says but he surges, drawing her in.
“I want to,” he asserts, unyielding, though she’s still unconvinced.
An act of binding. That’s what it means to be tied down to a contract, and she knows full well what the consequences are, for the both of them, should any of them trespass their terms. With the seven brothers, she did as the situation demanded, but with Diavolo, there’s absolutely nothing that warrants it.
He seems to sense her unease, because he squeezes her hand, brings her closer. “It’ll be fine,” he assures; “Let me show you what you mean to me.”
“I know where I stand with you,” she tells him as she raises a hand to cup his cheek.
“Do you?” he asks in rhetoric, pressing his lips against her pulse, eyes locking onto hers. “You needn’t ask and I’d gladly give a century of my life for you, freely offer you my soul, and even if you love me less, leave me for a human, I’d regret none of it.”
She swallows his words when he presses his lips to hers, wholly engulfed by the sincerity of it all. Gentle as always, tender as always, and none of the demon she’d thought he’d be, his hand coming up to caress her face. He leaves her lightheaded, breathless, forehead touching hers, the warmth between them near unbearable.
“I trust you, utterly and entirely; let me show you that I do,” he murmurs and she clasps her hands behind his neck, her lips hovering above his.
“Nothing I say will change your mind, will it?”
He chuckles. “I’m afraid not.”
Promises of sacrifice and loyalty, they aren’t taken lightly by the laws of a contract, but he pledges himself anyway, so readily and so staunchly she almost falters.
In reverence, he traces the mark - his mark - that runs from her shoulder and coils around her arm, marvelling at the sight of it. “Was it painful?” he asks as he glances to her, worry underscoring his words.
She shrugs and offers him a smile in hopes it’ll reassure him. “Nothing I couldn’t handle.”
Leaning in to thumb a kiss to her clavicle, he chuckles low. “Sometimes I forget you’ve made pacts with the seven strongest demons here,” he says and the pride in his voice makes her chest swell.
“Eight,” she corrects while she cards her fingers through his hair, trailing the curl of his horns, eliciting a quiet, pleased hum from him.
“Eight,” he repeats in satisfaction before he lifts his head up to meet her and she, emboldened, enraptured, captures his lips in fervour.
Agarwood and warm spice, she drinks the taste of him, smoky lapsang and carbon ashen. He spills her name into her mouth, once more into the spellbound night when she punctures a soft bite into the juncture of his neck, a hymnic praise that makes her feel nothing less of otherworldly. He almost - almost - whines when she pulls away, chuckling as she does.
Under her, he’s nothing short of breathtaking, with topazes for eyes and vermillion hair, and dark skin marked by black, steeped in gold. Triangular patterns of red hiss around his throat, the newly formed pact pulsing with magic and she trails her fingers across them, enamoured.
“You’re beautiful,” she finds herself professing and he lets out a quiet laugh, Adam’s apple bobbing under her touch, the sound reverberating.
“I’m all yours,” he surrenders and she’s touched, honoured by the sincerity of his proclamation. “I will be until you say I no longer am.”
“And I, yours,” she promises before she laces her fingers with his and kisses him once more.
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