You and Ivan were both standing on an island of rock in a sea of magma. Through the heat-haze, you could make out a few holes in the rocky wall of the chamber, which was about fifty metres away. Behind you, the swirling black portal gaped like a grotesque mouth.
Ivan clicked his fingers, and an arch of rock sprung up in front of you. He grasped your hand, and you realised that his wings were slightly curved around you. It was, you guessed, so you wouldn’t have to look at the molten rock that churned beneath you.
“Go on,” he said, pushing you forward gently.
You forced your feet to move, looking everywhere but down. Instead, you focussed your gaze ahead. Was it your imagination, or were there a dozen pairs of glowing eyes peering out from the darkness?
Ivan leant forward. “Ignore them,” he muttered in your ear, making you jump. “They do this every time there’s a new arrival. They’ll lose interest as soon as they realise who you belong to.”
You twisted round, trying to read Ivan’s expression, but his face gave nothing away. As soon as they realise who you belong to... you did not like the sound of that.
At long last, you reached the end of the stone bridge, and turned on to a narrow ledge jutting from the wall. As soon as you and Ivan’s feet had left it, the bridge crumbled. The magma sizzled as it devoured the rock.
“Don’t worry, I won’t let you fall,” said Ivan, having seen your terrified expression. He placed his hands on your waist as you inched along the ledge.
It was rather irritating for the demon, how just putting one foot in front of the other was such an arduous task for you. Still, you were only human. It was to be expected. And at least this experience would deter any ideas of escape that could be forming in your mind.
Anyway, it wasn’t all bad. Ivan had a rather nice view from this position.
He licked his lips. It had been so long since he had tasted a real, human woman. Of course there were female demons around if he really had to satisfy his urges, but nothing compared to the feel of a living, breathing girl in one’s arms. And the warmth... Ivan sighed blissfully at the thought of it, then shook his head. He was constantly surrounded by rivers of boiling rock. How was it even possible to be so cold all the time?
“Ivan, welcome back,” a voice greeted as you finally reached the part of the ledge where it met a wide tunnel.
You looked up o see another demon standing in front of you both. His hair and skin were ashen in contrast with his bright red eyes and black horns. He was quite short compared to Ivan, but his stance was assured and slightly cocky. He shot you a lopsided grin.
“Looks like you got what you wanted, you lucky devil.”
Ivan’s grip on your wait tightened. “Go away, Gilbert,” he growled. “Don’t you have someone else to annoy?”
Gilbert shrugged. “I only wanted to welcome you back and be the first to get a good look at our guest!”
“Well, you’ve had a look,” Ivan snapped, turning you to the left so you were facing the gloom of the tunnel. “Now we’ll be on our way.”
“Who was that?” you asked as Ivan guided you down the stone corridor. Torches in sconces on the wall gave the place an eerie, stuttering light.
Ivan sighed. “Gilbert is a fellow demon of mine. You’ve probably never heard of him; he tends to favour a town in Prussia. Well, ‘favour’ may not be the right word.”
“Right...” You were sure Ivan didn’t plague your village because he liked the views there.
“Anyway, he lives here with his brother. I can tolerate Ludwig, but I find Gilbert insufferable.” Ivan stopped talking and pondered for a moment. “Although, I will admit that he has a lot of spirit, for a demon.” His voice hardened. “But you stay away from him. He’s trouble.”
You sighed, too aware of the unwavering hold on your waist. It was clear who was in charge, and you were not keen to defy Ivan.
“Here we are,” Ivan said shortly. He had stopped you at the end of a short tunnel leading off from the main one.
“It’s a dead end,” you stated, examining the smooth stone in front of you. You reached out a hand; it was warm to touch.
Behind you, Ivan clicked his fingers once and the wall disappeared. You whipped around to see him grinning at your surprise.
“I’ll teach you how to do that,” he smirked. “It’s not like you’d get very far if you tried to run.”
You swallowed, thinking of the pool of magma. Deciding to scrap your plans of escape (for now), you turned around to see where you would be staying.
Your mouth fell open in amazement. Ivan’s house was... fantastic. You took a tentative step forward into the cave that served as the demon’s home, and heard Ivan follow you. He clicked once more and the stone door resealed itself.
Ivan was a demon, a creature from in the depths of Hell. He was not supposed to live in a place like this.
You slowly spun around, trying to take it all in. On the floor was a thick pelt, like the ones your uncle sold at the market sometimes, and in the centre of the room were two small sofas. Sofas! Only the rich could afford soft ones like those. At home, you and your family usually sat on the floor.
The smooth, slightly curved walls were lined with shelves and shelves of books. You couldn’t make out many of the titles since they were far above your level of reading, but they looked formal and intellectual. The rows of books were broken up by the occasional wooden sculpture or matryoshka doll. On the other side of the room was a wide hearth, flanked by two armchairs.
“You like it?” Ivan came up behind you and took your small hand in his.
“It’s like home,” you murmured, “only cosier.”
“You do not think it is strange?” His violet eyes searched your face.
“Of course not,” you replied.
“Good. Some of the others found it creepy.” His fingers subconsciously rubbed the ends of his pink scarf.
“I’m not sure why they would,” you said, gazing around the room once more. “If I’m going to be stuck here, I’m glad it feels sort of homely.”
Ivan’s face suddenly broke into a smile. Not a smirk or malicious grin. A real, genuine smile. “It makes me very happy to know that. I will show you the rest of the house now...I’m sorry, you never told me your name.”
Then I will show you around now, ______!”
You were amazed at Ivan’s sudden transformation. As he showed you where you would cook and clean (that was, you learned, one of your purposes here), he hardly stopped smiling. His face darkened slightly when you asked what his job as a demon was, but he quickly changed the subject and his happiness returned.
Finally, Ivan showed you his bedroom.
It was quite small, but cosy, like the rest of the cave. All the rooms had been specially carved into the rock, apparently by Ivan himself.
“So...” you stated, fiddling with the ends of your (h/l) hair. “Where will I sleep?” you asked tentatively, though you already knew the answer.
Without warning, Ivan grabbed you and pinned you down on the bed. He grinned down at you, and for the first time you realised just how sharp his teeth were.
He leant forward and placed surprisingly gentle butterfly kisses along your neck, before pulling away.
“You’ll sleep with me, of course!” he said in a sickly-sweet voice.
“I... what?” you gulped.
Ivan’s voice had taken on a desperate tone. “Do you know how long it has been since I felt warm?” He resumed in kissing your neck, moving up to your jaw. You hissed in pain as he nibbled your earlobe with his sharp teeth. “Demon women are not like humans. They do not care. They do not love you back. That is why I need humans. I like to hear them moan, beg for more...no other demon feels this.”
His lips finally reached yours. They were rough and calloused, but your first kiss was gentle. If not for the situation, it would have been quite pleasant.
He broke away after a few seconds. You were sure he could see the heat in your cheeks.
“So, you will be sleeping with me, eventually,” he said, releasing you and standing up. “But not yet. I do not think you are ready.”