Snake Mountain


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Elsa didn't have many intentions for driving two hours to get halfway up the nearest mountain. She had come here during winter, but the resort was also open during summer time. She had stopped halfway up on a big bridge to look over a waterfall she had seen in her winter trip, although with the weather drying up it was more a calm stream. Back then, peering over the edge to the large drop below terrified her, now, she doesn't feel anything. She had a sudden urge to go down to there and walked along the road till she found a lower section in the forest cliff that she could get up on, in order to then make the treacherous climb down. It was unstable footing, and certainly not made to be climbed up or down. Her foot slipped, and her arm automatically reached out to grab the nearest small tree. Undeterred, she stood back up and continued down. Although she felt the mild searing from the cuts and grazed she had sustained. Once she finally found her way down she just stared at that flowing water. She didn't know why she had the sudden urge to come down, and she can't be bothered to climb back up.
"You have an aura of death around you," a calm male voice suddenly said behind her.
She probably would have reacted more dramatically if she felt alive inside, but apart from her heart quietly missing a beat, she showed no reaction. However, she was more surprised when she turned around. The man who stood a couple paces behind her was breathtaking. She was surprised to see him dressed in a yukata - a casual summer kimono. Long silver hair that almost touched the ground, pale skin, and striking predator like grey eyes. His calculative gaze and taller stature made him more imposing. But then her mind processed his words and she turned away from him, staring back at the water.
"I just want it to be quick and painless. I would have liked it to be winter so I could sit up here and freeze," she spoke emotionlessly.
"That isn't quick or painless," there was a hint of amusement in his voice.
Elsa let out a small heartless chuckle. "No, I suppose it isn't. But jumping off a bridge felt too brutal."
The man was silent behind her for a moment. "If you wish to die, then why not let me take your life." His voice was suddenly right behind her and she spun around to look right up at him. "So, what do you say?"
Elsa found herself entranced by his eyes. "Do what you will," she said quietly. She caught him grin slightly, before a quick movement and everything turned black.

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Chapter 1

Elsa opened her eyes, and to open her eyes was a very big surprise. She stared at a ceiling, knowing full well she is laying on a bed as well. So… is this the afterlife? I didn't believe it existed. She sat up but a painful throb in her neck made her head spin and she fell back. Ow ow ow ow. If I'm dead I shouldn't be in pain. She felt her neck where the pain had originated and felt two puncture wounds that had healed over. Her eyebrows furrowed. Strange... She rolled onto her side and stared at the sliding shoji doors, and then at the very obvious Japanese themed room, and house - she had to presume. She closed her eyes, trying to make sense of the situation. There was that ethereal looking guy.. He did something the moment before I passed out. Did he drug me or something? She wriggled off the futon and crawled over to the door and slid it open. It opened to a corridor lined with windows that ran along the edge of the house, and outside was very obvious forest land. Does that man live on the mountain then? It would make sense. As she crawled out of the room she suddenly stopped, something catching her eye. And she looked down to see a snake curled up in front of her. She stared at it wide-eyed in shock, her body frozen stiff. She then carefully scouted the corridor and saw snakes casually everywhere. The snake in front of her raised its head to stare at her. Elsa had no idea what to do. She was at the perfect height for it to bite her face or neck, and she feared that any movement might make it attack. Although it stared at her in interest, its tongue flicking out. Snake, snake, snake, snake… I think I'm still alive... But I might not be in a moment. The snake's attention suddenly turned away from her and she scrambled back as quick as she could, slamming the door shut and crawling to the other side of the room, dragging the doona with her. Snakes. There are snakes.
The door opened a moment later and the ethereal man stepped in, a snake loosely around his neck and another coiling around his left arm. "How do you feel? You were asleep for several days, I worried you wouldn't wake up," he said with genuine concern.
"Are those your snakes?" she accused loudly in fear. She didn't have a phobia of snakes, in fact, she had close encounters with several before on the family farm. But there are a lot, and she was frighteningly close to one just before.
"Yes, they are my familiars."
Elsa's panic stopped abruptly, and she looked at him with a frown. Familiars? Very specifically familiars. She inspected the man up and down, and then felt the wounds on her neck. "Did I die at any point?"
The man lingered before answering. "Yes. In order to make you my bride I bit you, then at the point of death, I brought you back with my blood. Although you were unconscious for so long I thought that maybe you weren't meant to be my bride."
Elsa put a hand to her forehead and held the other up for him to stop. I need a minute. But there is a very pressing question.
"What are you?"
"A snake god."
Oh. Of course. A snake god...
"I can show you my other form."
Elsa dropped her hand and looked back up at him, and a moment later he dropped into a frigging gigantic silver snake. Like mythical proportion size. Elsa's eyed widened and she felt like her heart might stop again. "Change back," she said with slight panic, but seeing him transform back was just as straining on her heart. Her mind on the other hand.. She had always believed that there was some truth in myths and legends, and daydreamed about being swept away into their mythical world. So she was pretty quick to make a decision that this was most likely real. Yet it was a lot to take in, and she opened her mouth to speak but couldn't figure out what to say first.
He gently held up a hand. "You should eat first, I have been sustaining you the past few days so you should eat something. I will explain after." The whole time he had spoken quite gently and calmly, and she got that feeling from him as well.
Thankfully the snakes left with him and he shut the door behind himself. Elsa was able to have some time to herself to gather her thoughts. She rubbed her face due to nerves. Okay. So. I believe he is a snake god. So that's something. But I don't get what happened. He said I was taken to the point of death and then brought back... with his blood? ...and did he mention something about a bride? She felt the wounds on her neck. So did he bite me?
She crawled back over to the futon to sit more comfortably, and the god came back a little while later with a bowl of cut up fruit.
He gingerly sat down beside her, and Elsa eyed the snakes that came within close proximity. "I had these brought for you," he said.
She stared at the bowl in her hand, and the chopsticks that were provided to eat with. Staring at the food she suddenly felt ravenous and dug in. "Do you eat human food too?"
He had a soft expression as he watched her eat. "I can eat it, but we gods don't have to eat human food to sustain ourselves. Our brides provide our sustenance."
Elsa swallowed and stared at him. "Sustenance?"
He gingerly reached out and grabbed some of Elsa's hair, letting it run across his palm. "We get it through intimacy. The stronger the love, the more energy is transferred."
"What if the bride hates the god?"
"None of my snakes will hurt you. You are my bride so they will aim to help you." He deftly changed the subject, which Elsa took a mental note that question made him change the subject.
"But if I accidentally step on one their instinct will be to bite. Surely some are venomous." Elsa saw the first glimmer of change in his expression, showing slight tire in his eyes.
"You will not die from it, so do not worry." The expression in his eyes turn passive again and he stood up. "Shall I show you around the house?"
Elsa crawled up, but as she took a step her legs felt tingly and weak, and she fell against the god.
"You were sleeping for several days so your legs will need to wake up again." He gingerly righted her body and linked her arm around his to support her.
She tried to ignore the snake coiled around his neck that ventured onto his shoulder to inspect her. She took note of the forest outside again. "Are we in the mountains?"
They slowly shuffled down the corridor, Elsa's legs still not full obeying her.
"Yes, this is my mountain range. Where I found you is just one part of my domain. Our house lays outside the human realm, so no one can bother us here."
"Just this areas mountains, or the entire connecting forest? Cos that covers half this state, and a quarter of the next state."
That's an enormous area… It made her tired just thinking of how big that area is.

The entire house really was traditional Japanese themed. Elsa had always wanted to live in this type of style home, so she found it a perk to this situation. "You said I'm your bride. Is it in the literal form?"
He had led her into the open dining room and kitchen, which had sliding doors opening out onto a pristine back garden. He sat her down on the couch and wandered into the kitchen, coming back with a glass of some drink she didn't know the smell of. "You should like the taste, it is good for you."
Elsa thought he was avoiding the subject again and tentatively took a sip.
"Our brides are much the same as in human couples. We foster care and love for each other, and have children. But I am not going to force you to bare my child unless you want to, and I want you to fall in love with me in your own time."
Elsa stared at him for a while, and he kept his gently gaze on his garden. "Don't you think you took a risk by choosing me so randomly? How can you be sure I won't hate you?"
He gently stroked the head of a snake coiled around his arm. "When I first saw you standing at the top of the bridge I thought you were going to jump off. The aura of death was so thick around you, you had almost become unseeable beneath it. So I thought... if you had no attachments left, then you might adapt okay to being my bride. You wouldn't be in pain anymore, or have to worry about human living problems. And you would have me to care for you." He smiled warmly at her, and it hit some deep part of her
"Do the other gods pick brides this way?"
His expression shut back down again. "I know another god who picked up a bride that had nothing left and wanted to die."
"Did it work out?"
He silently stood up and helped her back up. I guess he doesn't want to talk about it.
He showed her around the whole house and where everything is. The room she had woken up in was a spare room next to his. Explains why it didn't have a wardrobe, it is just a completely bare room he had put a futon in.
"You can choose any room to be yours."
Elsa was surprised as she thought he would want her to move into his room. He really is trying to let me settle in at my own pace. Although, he did touch her a lot, just gentle little gestures. But he let her have space for the rest of the day. She still felt tired so she went back to lay down. The god said that it is still after effects from the transition, of which he didn't explain. She found it was hard to get information out of him that he didn't want to give. Later on, she got woken up by noises from the kitchen drifting down the corridor, along with the smell of food cooking. As she stepped out of the room she stumbled and leapt to avoid a cluster of small snakes that had fallen asleep outside her room.
"Fucking hell," she cursed quietly.
She entered the lounge where lots of snakes were laying around.
"Everything okay Elsa?" The god asked, and turned around to show a warm surprised expression.
It was quite a surprise for her to see him cooking, and a slight surprise that he knew her name. "Yeah, I just had to leap over some of your snakes."
He chuckled lightly. "I warned them all to give you space, but the young ones don't listen. They are all very excited that you are here."
Elsa couldn't be bothered to ask why, she felt that he might not bother to answer. She joined him in the kitchen and inspected what he was making. She stared at it intently, and she felt a sudden fluster beside her, peeking up to see him embarrassed.
"I don't cook very often," he said flustered.
Elsa looked back at the pan and smiled fondly. "You are trying to make a shepherd's pie yes?"
"I used to make them all the time. I'm happy to make it." She ventured over to the fridge and pantry for a few more ingredients.
"I would like to treat you." He had stayed flustered and blushing, showing brightly due to his pale skin and silver hair.
"I don't mind making dinner each night. So why don't you make breakfasts? I'm happy to help you out though... It must be hard adjusting to human needs." She took over cooking, but he stayed close to her and watched everything she did. "By the way, you haven't told me your name."
"I go by many names, you may use any one of them or call me one unique for you." He sounded particularly giddy when he suggested the latter.
He seems to be quite a romantic. A special name for him that only I call him will most likely make him very happy. She was quiet for a few minutes as she thought, and he appeared completely unfazed by her silence, completely immersed in watching her cook. "I don’t think my idea is particularly unique.”
"I would be happy with any name that you give me," he sounded genuine.
"Kyosuke...” she said quietly.
Much to her surprise he gently kissed her on the head. "I love it."

Kyosuke's eyes lit up when he took the first bite of the pie. "Delicious!"
Elsa chuckled quietly. "It always requires that bit more seasoning than the recipe requires."
"I didn't have a whole lot of food brought up so we can go shopping and buy everything you want."
"We can go to the human world?" Elsa honestly thought that she would be bound to this place and unable to leave. "You would stand out a lot in that appearance."
He smiled warmly. "I can change my appearance, and you can leave here whenever you like, just let me know first." He spoke the last part without looking at her, and she got a strange feeling from his words.
So there is a restriction. I can't exactly leave without permission. Would I be unable to leave the realm full stop? Or would he just be seriously pissed if I left without letting him know? Actually…
Elsa looked out onto the garden and the surrounding forest. How do we get down?
"How do we get down to the human areas?"
Kyosuke glanced at her. "I'll show you when we go shopping. You should rest again tomorrow, so if you feel like it the day after then we can go. The transition was a lot for your body to take, humans are particularly fragile creatures."
Elsa stared at him for a while. She debated whether she should ask more - if he would answer. "So are you the protector of this mountain range?"
"I am the deity and protect the animal and plant life. A long time ago travellers used to pray to me for safe passage, but humans do not pray to gods anymore."
They don't believe in these types of gods, except for maybe the more spiritual religions.
"Was it a coincidence that you were there where I was?"
He didn't respond for a long time so she assumed he wouldn't answer. "I did sense you from far away. I wanted to see what kind of person had decided to come to my mountain to die."
"Was it a surprise that it was someone like me?"
"Yes," he said with slight amusement in his voice.

After dinner, she sat curled up on the couch for a while thinking about her life and what had driven her to want to die, and what this new situation means for her. Kyosuke came over and handed her a tea.
"This is a special blend gods drink, it will help boost your body, and it tastes quite good too." He sat at the other end of the couch with his own tea and snakes coiled over him.
The tea smelt good, and a tentative sip made her taste buds come alive. "Delicious."
Kyosuke smiled brightly, and Elsa noticed a baby snake slithering along the top of the couch towards her.
"He is a python, so he isn't poisonous, and he won't bite you out of surprise."
Elsa cautiously watched the snake approach, and as it stopped near her head she very slowly reached a hand up to it. It flicked its tongue out to her finger, making her flinch slightly. It slid over her hand and coiled around her arm, looking up at her with an oddly cheerful expression.
"The babies are particularly excited about you." Kyosuke chuckled lightly.
Several other baby snakes quickly slithered over and up Elsa, causing her to tense. They all looked up at her without aggression, and she slowly relaxed and carefully moved her arms.
All the babies stuck to Elsa until she went to bed and Kyosuke took them off her. He had walked with her to 'her room'.
"I'll make sure they don't sneak in while you sleep. But if you need anything in the night there will be several sleeping outside your room, so they can help guide you." He left her with a gentle smile on his face, and she found it sticking in her mind as she stood alone in the room.
She felt an attraction to him. He is attractive, but is this bride transition thing causing these feelings? She shook her head and laid down, too tired to consider these thoughts.

The sun was well and truly up by the time she woke up, which Elsa found strange as she has always woken up with the sun. It had started warming up and she wriggled underneath the covers, enjoying the warmth. She lay content for a couple of minutes till she jolted. Liking the heat?! I've been sick in the heat for years. She jumped up and bolted out of the room, jumping over the snakes, running to the lounge where she hoped Kyosuke would be. And he stood out in the garden, turning around at her approach.
"What's happened to my body?" She asked in a panic. "You said that my body went through a transition. What did you do?"
He slowly walked over to her and gently pulled her into a hug, which surprised her as she didn't try to stop him. "Settle your mind," he said calmly before leading her over to the couch and sitting with her on his lap. "Because you are human I had to change your body slightly so that you could be my bride. I injected my venom into you to bring you to the point of death and then brought you back with my blood."
"I'm sleeping more than usual and I like the warmth," she whined.
"Your fatigue would be from your body adjusting, but you have taken on small characteristics of snakes. You will find that as you settle in you will enjoy the snake's companionship."
Panic started rising again. "What? So am I going to lay eggs?!"
He gently stroked her head. "Shh. You are not turning into a snake, you are human. You just like the warmth." Strangely his words and hand calmed her, and he continued to hold her even after her ragged breathing had returned to normal.
"Is there anything else about me that changed?"
He was silent for a while and gently kissed her head. "Your body will not physically age, and so long as I also share energy with you, you won't die."
That's unexpected. Although I feel like that should have been slightly more obvious considering I'm the bride of a god. She slumped against him, and he wrapped his arms around her, laying back cuddling her. She sighed deeply. "I suddenly feel very tired."
"It's a lot to take in. I have been trying to give you information slowly."
Ah, so that's why he would avoid some subjects.
He nuzzled her head. "Do you want something to eat?"
She sighed again and then laughed lightly. "I feel like fast food take away. But I doubt there is any of that up here."
"I can't do that, but I can make you food."
She lay contently against him for a while, almost drifting off back to sleep. Only being willed up by her ever-increasing hunger, but she only rolled off him to lay on the couch.
"Is there anything you feel like eating?" he asked gently.
She shook her head. "I'll eat whatever you make." That is edible.
He was relatively quiet in the kitchen, except the occasional loud cooking fail - which made her chuckle quietly.
"When did you learn to cook?" she asked loudly.
"After I brought you back here."
Elsa opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. So less than a week… She smiled to herself.

After eating a bit haphazardly made, but edible lunch, Elsa spent the rest of the day in the garden. She had been given free rein to make her own garden, which she decided to make a vegetable patch. Kyosuke sat on the veranda and watched her the whole time. It was a little uncomfortable so she worked on ignoring the feeling of his stare boring into her back.
Once she was back inside later that day he stopped watching her like a hawk. While she made dinner he did hang around to watch, but effortlessly kept out of the way like he knew how she was about to move. She didn't get the same watchdog feeling as when she was in the garden though. Perhaps he is worried about me being outside?
After dinner, she sat on the couch with a tea, but working in the garden most of the day had exhausted her, and she vaguely noticed Kyosuke gently take her drink from her hand after she had closed her eyelids. She next woke up being carried by him, but it felt very comforting in his arms. Although she didn't hang on after he laid her on her bed, quickly drifting back to sleep as he stroked her head, with the faint feeling of a touch against her forehead.

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Chapter 2

She woke up the next morning feeling the best she has in a long time. A smile spreading across her lips as she stretched. Maybe this life won't be so bad. This time she was completely unsurprised by the snakes outside her door, in fact, she had thought the babies might have snuck in, but Kyosuke must have made sure they stayed out. She found him in the kitchen already making breakfast.
"If you are feeling well shall we go down to one of the towns?" he said without looking back. He appeared to have a good sense of where she was.
Although snakes have very good vibration sensors. "I'm feeling the best I've felt in years." She smiled brightly and joined him in the kitchen, inspecting what he was making. "In fact, I don't think I remember when I last felt like this," she said nonchalantly.
"So you are happy?" he asked quietly, but he muttered it like thinking out loud. He didn't look at her and continued to cook. His question got her thinking, and the longer she thought the more time that passed, and the time to answer the question passed as well.

After breakfast Elsa stared at Kyosuke dressed to go out, ignoring that she too was dressed in a yukata. This will be slightly embarrassing, but his appearance will stand out more than mine.
He was looking back at her innocently as she stared intently at him.
"Is there anything you can do about your appearance? You're just really going to stand out like that."
"I'm able to change my appearance in front of humans so that I fit in more." In the blink of an eye, his hair became shoulder length. Although nothing else changed.
She was surprised by the sudden change but amused by what a small change he did. That's good enough. "Let's go then. What town are we going to?"
Kyosuke gently took her hand and led her into the surrounding forest. "Is there any town near my forest you would like to go to?"
She shrugged. "I don't mind. I don't want to have to walk too far to get to the shops."
"The change might make you feel a bit dizzy," he warned a moment before the scenery completely changed, and she did buckle at the knees. He held her steady and let her take all the time she needed.
"That's certainly something," she said in awe as she gazed around at the drastically changed scenery, while still clutching onto him. They went from the middle of the forest to being on the edge of a town. She caught a passer-by staring at them so she grabbed Kyosuke's hand and quickly marched over to the nearest clothing shop on outside of shopping centre.
The stares from everyone they passed made Elsa walk faster and faster until she felt like making an Olympic record sprint into the clothing shop. Although she stopped abruptly once in there and turned to Kyosuke.
"Do you have human money?" she hadn't thought deeply about it until then.
Kyosuke smiled brightly. "I have unlimited human money."
She was blinded by his dazzling smile. "I see... that's good. Go pick out whatever clothes take your fancy. I'll be looking over here." Even though she said that he only stayed a couple of steps behind her. Is he worried I'll run away?
"I won't go anywhere, so go look for some clothes for yourself," she shooed him away. Although the expression he had made her think that maybe it isn't her running away that is worrying him. Is he worried that something might happen to me? But it's not like anything will happen in a clothing shop.
It had been a long time since she had been clothes shopping, and the styles had already changed again. Seriously, humans go through different fads so quickly. Kyosuke still looks like he's stuck in the 19th century, but time is perceived differently to them because they don't die. I suppose I'll end up like that... Her strange twang of feeling for him caused her to frown and wander into the change room to hide.
I have only known him a couple of days, and I completely believe everything he has told me. It would be hard not to by now. I wonder what would happen if I decided I didn't want to be his bride, would I die because my life is linked to his? my life linked to his? Her mind was plagued by complicated questions and thoughts as she mindlessly changed in and out of clothes. She didn't really need to try them on, she knew her faithful clothing sizes. It just gave her time and space to think.
Eventually, she couldn’t hide in there any longer, she knew it would worry Kyosuke if she was gone too long. She stepped out in the last clothes she had tried on, walking around in the yukata wasn’t something she fancied doing any longer. She really likes the yukata and has always wanted to wear them, but it's not appropriate in this shopping centre. She sighed heavily, which caught the attention of Kyosuke who had been standing nearby. He had changed back into his yukata, which conflicted Elsa as he really did look good in it but she also wanted to see him in casual clothes.
An intrigued shop attendant stood nearby so Elsa went over and explained that she wanted to buy these clothes, but also not take off the ones she was currently wearing. Thankfully the worker was obliging, and did so without complaint or staring too much.
Kyosuke produced a blank white card that caught Elsa by surprise, it didn't appear to cause any change in the worker, but it worked.
Elsa handed Kyosuke’s clothes back to him. "Go change before we leave."
He smiled sweetly before going to the change rooms. Shit. That smile is incredibly unfair. It makes me so weak against him.
When he came out of the change rooms in jeans and a simple shirt Elsa was stunned silent. The other two women around also stopped and couldn't take their eyes off him. He approached Elsa with his usual smile and took the bags from her, taking her hand in the other.
"Do you want to shop for food first? Or are you hungry?" he asked.
"Eat," was all Elsa could manage to say. She was busily thinking about how her chest warmed at him holding her hand, and that she didn't feel adverse to it, in fact, she liked it. She liked being around him, and she liked touching him. But are these feelings only brought on by this strange connection, bride transformation thing?
He led her to the food hall but stopped, and she looked up to see him gazing around in wonder. Obviously he's never been to a food hall before.
"There are lots of different types of food to choose from." Elsa had already picked what she wanted to eat from across the hall.
"What do you want?" He looked down at her with a very caring expression that made her waiver.
"I'm getting a kebab. Have you ever had one before?" Although after asking she felt stupid. It's highly likely he hasn't.
"Never," he said but his eyes twinkled with excitement, and Elsa couldn't help but laugh quietly.
"Come on." She pulled his hand and led the way over. "You pick which meat you want, what sauce, and any of these extras."
Elsa ordered her usual, and when it came to Kyosuke he said everything. He wanted both types of meat, all sauces, and all the extras. The look on the workers face made Elsa incredibly embarrassed, but Kyosuke in his delighted nativity didn't look phased at all.
"Can you do both meats, no sauce," because she thinks that will be easier. But she stared at the extras, stumped. Snakes don't eat vegetables. But he's a god and been eating human food no problem. So I suppose everything would be okay for him. She looked up at him. "Would you rather it was just meat?"
He contemplated her question for a moment, then stared at the extras and she noticed him take a few breaths before pointing to several extras.
They sat at an empty table that Elsa was thankfully for being slightly away from other people. "I suddenly wasn't sure about what you could eat. Because you're a snake god. So I thought about how snakes are only carnivorous, but then you're a god and have been eating vegetables no problem."
Kyosuke was surprised by what she said but then chuckled quietly. "I can eat all human food, but I do also enjoy raw meat. Before you came I mostly ate raw meat or caught animals if I felt like eating."
They both ate silently for a while. Elsa mulling over her thoughts. "Have you spent long periods in snake form?"
"Mmm. I spent a century only in snake form." A century! "But then a dispute between two gods broke out and it was better to be in human form."
"Does it get bad when gods fight? Does it affect this world?"
Kyosuke pressed his lips together in a thin line, obviously displeased by the memory her question brought up. "If it's a small dispute between lesser gods in the other realm then it doesn't affect the human world, but one of the powerful gods simply being mad at anything will cause effects in the human world. Fights between powerful gods cause a lot of destruction to the human world."
"So... when there have been big 'natural' disasters, were they caused by the god's moods?"
He didn't appear to want to look at her to answer that question. "Most likely…"
She sensed it probably wouldn't be a good idea to ask any more questions about that topic. He wouldn't answer them if he didn't want to anyway.
She stood up. "Come on, we can finish eating as we walk."
He appeared slightly relieved that she left the subject alone, and once they entered the food shop his eyes lit up with wonder.
Elsa left the shopping up to herself, and Kyosuke happily followed behind, inspecting anything and everything that took his fancy. She was moving through the aisles, not paying attention to Kyosuke, and turned back to see he wasn't in the same aisle. She quickly rushed back to the previous aisle and found him inspecting something animatedly. Several snakeheads caught Elsa's attention and made her bolt to his side.
"Elsa look at this. Humans are fascinating," he said with wonder while holding tinned cat food.
She sighed internally. "You can't let the snakes be seen here. Snakes aren't allowed in shopping centres," she spoke quietly and quickly, her eyes darting around to see if anyone had noticed.
"Oh." The snakes slithered back to hide underneath his clothes.
"Come on. I've got everything so let's pay and go home." She turned around and started walking off, but noticed he didn't follow. She looked back at him to find him stunned with blank shock. "Is everything alright?" She asked with worry.
"You said home," he said quietly.
Elsa stared at him in surprise for a moment but then settled with a gentle smile. "Well, I'm your bride aren't I? That is my home now."
He threw his arms around her and hugged her tight, and she could feel the overwhelming emotion bubbling out of him.
He's happy... This is really nice.

As Kyosuke paid and Elsa put the last bag in the shopping trolley she stopped and stared at the bags in disdain. She walked off silently and Kyosuke hurried after her.
"What's wrong?" He picked up on her mood change immediately.
She stopped and stared at him blankly, a slight twitch of worry. "I didn't think about how we need to carry all these bags back to the base of the mountain."
Kyosuke stared back blankly for a moment. "Easy. I'll fly us back."
"Fly?" Elsa didn't expect the high pitch that came out. "You're a snake," she whispered, "how can you fly?!"
Kyosuke smiled brightly. "Because I'm a god."
Elsa looked away and sighed heavily. Of course…
"Come on." He took the shopping trolley, and Elsa trudged after him. He took them to a quiet back space of the shopping centre. "Tie each bag in pairs, then you can hang them over me."
Elsa was beyond questioning any of this and quietly obeyed. He then changed into a massive snake and Elsa laid the bags over him like he was a pack horse.
"Get on," his voice came out similar to a hiss.
The snakes that had accompanied them wound up Elsa to be carried back. Kyosuke suddenly started floating and she leant over to hold on tightly. "Won't humans see you?" she asked with her eyes squeezed shut so she couldn't see how high they were getting.
"Humans are blind to things around them. They never see things that are outside the realm of their logical beliefs."

It was a surprisingly quick trip when she felt him descend and land on the ground. When she opened her eyes they were in front of their house. "That was quick," she remarked.
"It wasn't that far to the mountain, and I could take us directly back here."
"Handy," she muttered.
Kyosuke stayed in snake form to help get the shopping bags in the house, and gently slid them all off as he changed back to human form. His hair had also changed back to floor length.
"You can change back into your yukata if you're more comfortable," Elsa said as she started unpacking.
"What would you prefer I wear?"
Elsa kept her face averted as she blushed. "...Yukata," she muttered. She felt a touch on the back of her head, but Kyosuke had already turned around by the time she did. Did he kiss my head?

Elsa had bought some vegetable seeds at the shops. She noticed a gardening section in one of the isles, something she had forgotten existed in food stores. She sat out in the garden after putting away the food, slowly planting the seeds. Old memories had resurfaced that unsettled her heart and mind, so she had deep frown creases and her jaw was tense with displeasure. She threw her old life away and had resolved to forget everything as best she could now that she had a completely new life. But the more she thought about it the more it distressed her, and then she got distressed about the fact she was trying to forget all those memories.
"Elsa," Kyosuke called breaking her thoughts.
She then realised that the blinding sun had disappeared and the sky was covered in clouds that slowly got blacker.
"Come inside, it's not safe." He too looked slightly displeased with something.
Maybe he doesn't like storms? She stepped back inside and he immediately shut and locked the door, and she quickly noticed all the windows had been shut too. "Is it a summer storm? It's quite unusual," she remarked.
Kyosuke stared outside before putting an arm around her waist and moving her away from the door. "Looks like it will be a bad one," he said coldly. His attitude change caught her attention, and she watched him from afar the rest of the day. His smile never returned, and he was emitting a tense aura.
Heavy rain came while she made dinner. This time Kyosuke didn't stand by her to watch but scowled at the view outside.
I wonder why he is so upset.
She stared at the diced up beef in front of her that she was about to cook, her hand paused before tipping it in the frying pan. She turned off the gas and walked over to Kyosuke who sat on the couch. He still wore a bad expression, and it made her wring her fingers with worry. But he looked up at her beside him.
"I'm not overly hungry after lunch, but I'm planning to make beef and ginger… do you want to eat? I can leave raw beef for you if you want?" Because being the size he is when he is a snake, surely he would have had to eat large animals, and cows certainly could have been one of them.
He stared at her, and she could tell his mind was ticking over. His expression suddenly turned to flustered worry and then softened. "I didn't mean to make you worry." So he was able to figure it out... "I'd prefer raw tonight."
"I can bring it over now if you like?"
He shook his head and reached out to gently grab her hand, kissing her the tip of her fingers. "I want to eat with you."
Elsa couldn't help the blush that came to her cheeks and quickly escaped back to the kitchen. She's never really been the type to blush in those situations, but everything feels different to her with him. Although she still doubts the authenticity of these feelings.

They sat together on the couch to eat and Elsa caught the flash of lightning outside, followed very quickly by a deafening clap of thunder. It caught her so much by surprise that she dropped her fork and it clattered to the ground, the meat on the fork quickly being eaten by one of the snakes that had been lying in wait for such an opportunity.
Kyosuke put his hand on Elsa's back. "Are you okay?" he asked with worry, and when she looked at him he was clearly fretting.
She forced a smile. "It just caught me by surprise." But then another clap of thunder right overhead made her flinch and squeeze her eyes shut.
Kyosuke took the bowl from her and set his aside, pulling her back against him and holding her tight. "I know it's loud, just try to bear with it for now," his voice was strained.
It's not that she was scared of thunder, but for some reason this time it was sending a bad feeling down her spine. "Is a god causing this?" she mumbled.
Kyosuke's only response was holding her tighter and kissing her head.
So it is.
"What did you plant in the garden today?" He asked in a soothing voice.
"A lot." She chuckled quietly. "I didn't manage to plant everything because I didn't plan on buying as many as I did. Today I planted carrots, beans, broccoli, basil, eggplant, pumpkin, and rhubarb. But there are still over 10 others that I need to plant. I bought sunflower seeds too, I've always wanted to grow a big field of them so I could run through them." She laughed at the memory of being called childish for wanting to do that despite already being in her 20's. "I was warned that it would be dangerous due to snakes, but that wouldn't be a problem here. Everyone would probably love it too."
"That sounds like a good idea, I can help you plant it all."
Elsa smiled and snuggled against him, enjoying the warmth and comfort. This really isn't so bad.

She stayed curled against him until she became sleepy and he carried her to her bedroom. Part of her wanted to hold onto him, but she let her arms slide off him as he pulled away.
"Don't worry about the storm, the house can withstand it. I'll be staying up tonight so come to me if you're worried and can't sleep." He stroked the top of her head with a gentle smile and left the room, although she sensed him still outside the closed door like he was standing guard.
She stared at the door for a while, the heavy rain filling her ears, but her thoughts still staying clear. The storm wasn't keeping her up, but her thoughts certainly were. After a little while, she crawled over to the door.
"Are you there Kyosuke?" she called quietly.
"... Yes."
"I want to say some things, but please stay on the other side."
"… Say whatever you want," he replied gently.
"I've been thinking about my feelings for you… it's been bothering me all day, and I don't know what to do. You say I'm your bride, and I went through some sort of process that binds me to you," at least that's how she thinks of it as, "so I couldn't help but wonder if these feelings are really mine, or if they are artificially brought on..." She couldn't think of the right way to articulate the rest of what she wanted to say, and there was a long pause as she tried to word it right in her mind.
"You being my bride, and that process, won't affect your feelings. You could be openly quite hostile to me if that is what you really felt, your feelings are entirely your own."
Elsa pressed her lips into a thin line. "How can I be sure that is true?"
"... That is something for you to come to a decision to on your own. I could tell you many times that your feelings and mind are free and only yours, but you must be the one to decide to trust that."
Elsa pushed the door open and saw him sitting against the wall to her bedroom, staring out the windows. Many of the snakes were crowded around him but moved as Elsa crawled over to be in front of him. He finally looked at her then with a guarded expression. "Close your eyes," she said quietly.
He obeyed immediately and Elsa sat there staring at him. Able to fully study at him without worrying about him watching her. She studied his face, and unconsciously her hand moved to touch his hair around his face. She ran her hands through it, feeling the soft silky texture. Her hands then came back up to gently trace along his cheeks and then along his lips. She moved forward and gently straddled him, clasping his face as her thumbs stroked his cheeks. He still made no move, and his breathing remained calm.
Honestly, she had no problem with the feelings she had for him, she was not some bashful maiden, but she didn't want to allow it if the feelings weren't hers. Kyosuke has given her no reason to distrust him so far, and she somehow felt confident with his eyelids closed and a passive expression, like his eyes and smile could have been entrancing her. She closed her eyelids and gently touched her lips to his, for he might not have been expecting it. His lips gently parted and so did hers, letting the kiss develop on its own. He gently placed an arm around her waist, and another against the side of her head. As the kiss continued he made no move to end it, letting Elsa be completely in the lead and the one who pulled back first. She only pulled back slightly, staring deep into his grey eyes.
"Don't push yourself. Take it at your pace," he said gently and pulled her head to rest against his shoulder.
She felt incredible peace laying against him. Despite his calm demeanour she could hear his heart beating hard.

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Chapter 8 ~ Last Chapter

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