Disclaimers:  These characters are mine.  Please don't take them or borrow them without permission.

Notes:  Cahir bathes his little treasure.

Solemn Promises

There was silence as Cahir carried Nacisse to the bathing chamber.  He disliked the fact that the little Naga was eyed with
everything from distrust to open hatred by the elders of this province.  No child should be put through such harsh scrutiny.  
Cahir made up his mind then and there to remove the child from this harmful environment.  He didn't know what he would do
with him, but he was certain that he could find some family in his own lands willing to raise him with proper care and love.  He
felt that no child should have eyes as full of sorrow as little Nacisse's were.  Children were meant to be happy and bring joy to
those who saw them.

Cahir smiled fondly as he thought of his own children.  All of them were so young that everything was new and wondrous to
them.  His eldest was only ten years of age.  His only regret was that he had no sons.  No, none of his harem had been able to
give him an heir yet.

He shook his head, returning his thoughts to Nacisse.  He would see his daughters soon enough.  He would see their smiling
faces and wondrous awe.  He wanted to see that expression of wonder on Nacisse's face as well.  He wanted to wipe the care
and worry from a face that should have none.

He got his wish sooner than he'd expected as he entered the large bathing chamber he'd been directed to.  There were several
pools large enough for dozens of fully grown Nagas to submerge themselves in.

Nacisse gasped and looked around.  "I didn't know there were lakes inside the palace!"

Cahir chuckled as he tried to see it from the child's point of view.  Young Nagas were generally not permitted in a chamber
such as this.  They were so small; there was worry for drowning.  So they always had a smaller chamber of their own to
accommodate their size.  With great care, he removed the ridiculous frills and lacey garments from Nacisse's small body and
lowered him into the water.  "It is merely the adult bathing chamber.  It is actually quite plain."

Nacisse sighed and tried to slip from Cahir's grip.  "It's so warm ... so soothing ..."

Cahir simply held the boy and washed away the makeup.  "Are you sure you're a Naga and not a merman?"  He smiled gently at
his teasing.  Some Nagas did find themselves more at home in water than on land, but Cahir wanted Nacisse to relax.  There
would be plenty of time for the boy to swim when he brought the child to his homeland.

Nacisse, however, proved to be too slippery.  He managed to wriggle free of Cahir and glided gracefully in the water, making
lazy patterns as he giggled with delight.

The elder Naga sighed in resignation.  He hadn't wanted to remove his armor.  It was fairly difficult to get on and off.  Still, he
couldn't leave the child to wear himself out to the point of drowning.  He paused in his efforts when the little golden Naga dove
into the water to make a little leap.

In what seemed like too much time, Cahir was out of his armor and moving swiftly through the heated water towards the
young one.  When Nacisse made another leap, Cahir caught him in his arms.  "Ha!  Got you!"  He shook his head as he cradled
the panting child close.  "You see what you've done?  You've exhausted yourself."  He kept his tone gentle.  He didn't want
Nacisse to think that he was angry.  Far from it.  Cahir was more amused than angered.

Cahir took up the cloth he had been using and smiled as he resumed his delightful task.  Now that Nacisse had gotten the desire
to swim out of his system, he seemed content to let Cahir bathe him.  He no longer squirmed or fought to be free of him.  
Now, he stayed close, allowing the older Naga to hold him in the curl of his thick tail as he used his hands to wipe away the
makeup and perfumes.

The boy's demeanor abruptly changed though, when Cahir began running the soapy cloth down along his arms.  He began to
shiver, frail whimpers escaping his pink lips as he weakly tried to pull his hands away from Cahir.

"Child, what is the matter?" Cahir asked, concerned.

Nacisse bit lightly into his bottom lip, lowering his head as large droplets slipped from his eyes.  "You'll hate me," the boy

"I doubt that is possible."  Cahir smiled.  He tipped Nacisse's chin up with his fingers, wanting to look into his brilliantly blue
eyes.  "Now, tell me what is troubling you."

Nacisse made no attempt to speak.  He merely held up his hands to Cahir.  Shaking, he spread his fingers apart, showing the
King that there was slight webbing between his tiny fingers.  There was more than a regular Naga would have, but less than a
seafaring Naga would.  Cahir understood now.  Though the child's fears were unjustified.  Most Nagas had such webbing,
though not quite as apparent.  Cahir did not, but several in his Harem did.  Did Nacisse truly fear that Cahir would hate him for

He smiled soothingly at the child.  "You must be a descendant of a seaside clan of Nagas."  He gently pressed a kiss to one of
Nacisse's palms.  "Don't worry.  This, too, occurs normally.  It doesn't make you bad or a freak."

Nacisse smiled shyly.  "Mama had them, too.  She promised to take me to the sea when I was old enough."  His smile vanished
and tears filled his eyes.  "That was ... that was before.  He said it was bad ... that he'd cut my fingers off so not to have to
look at them."  The tears fell forth in a waterfall.

Cahir's heart went out to the child.  "Oh, come here."  Though he wasn't empathic, he could feel Nacisse's sorrow as he
hugged the child.  Nacisse hugged him back as fiercely as one would cling to a lifeline.  "I know it doesn't seem so now, little
one, but everything will work out."  He gave the boy what he hoped was an encouraging smile.  "Come ... let's finish up in here
so you can get some decent sleep.  I'm sure you must be exhausted due to the fear you've been living in lately."

Nacisse relaxed and allowed Cahir to finish his task.  His little golden-scaled tail was moving in the water slowly.  Once in a
while, he sighed sadly as if dwelling on what was and what might have been.

Cahir wished to cheer the child, so he cleared his throat.  "When we arrive in my homeland, I'll show you some of the most
beautiful lakes after you're settled."  He smiled gently as the boy looked up with sleepy interest.  "One has a small waterfall that
flows into it, sending rainbows playing among the rocks at certain times of day.  All sorts of woodland creatures go there.  I'm
certain it will come to be one of your favorite places, as it has become one of mine."  He washed Nacisse's beautiful hair and
smiled at the thought of the child enjoying the cool waters of the lake.

Nacisse smiled shyly at Cahir and snuggled against him, his tail wrapping around the king's middle.  "I believe you.  I know you
would never tell me a falsehood."  Then he yawned delicately and rested his head against Cahir's shoulder.  "I feel sleepy."

The innocence of this child amazed Cahir.  He was infinitely sweet and completely trusted in anything and everything Cahir did
or said.  It was breathtaking and Cahir found himself carefully considering his intentions to this boy.  Would it be enough just
to take him home and find some family to take care of him, as he had first intended.  No, Cahir would have to raise this sweet
child himself.  There was no question to it now.  Nacisse was far too pure to risk letting anyone else have a hand in raising him
up.  Cahir never wanted to see this innocent youngling turned into a jaded shadow of his former self.  Cahir would do all that
he could to protect every facet of this child's being.

He chuckled at Nacisse's words, running his claws lightly through the child's hair as he held him close.  "Yes, I expect that you
would be."  He felt satisfied that he had cleaned the boy off as much as he could.  Nacisse was clearly exhausted in every
possible way.  "Come, I'll get you tucked into a nice comfortable bed."

Nacisse hummed softly as Cahir eased out of the bathing pool, the child held securely in his arms the entire way.  "Tell me
more about your land?"  He whimpered, his eyes opening a crack as Cahir set him down, then smiled again when the King's
arms surrounded him again, a thick towel wrapping around him at the same time.  He didn't seem to realize that Cahir was
drying his body.  He merely purred in contentment, wriggling slightly as Cahir's hands moved across him, over the barrier of
the towel.

Cahir started talking to the child in soothing tones, ignoring his own discomfort as he described the mountains and rivers and
forests of his homeland.  He grabbed a second towel and hastily ran it across himself, never releasing his hold on the child as
he did so.

He cast the towel aside when he was done; smiling as he thought of what he missed the most from his home.  "But the best of
all ... is my family."  He carried the child out of the bathing chamber and gestured angrily to the first servant he found.  Within
moments, he was led to a bedchamber and gave orders not to be disturbed.

"Your family?" Nacisse asked in a sleepy murmur.

Cahir settled Nacisse in the thick pillows of bedding and drew a blanket over him.  The warrior king settled himself right at the
child's side, coiling his tail around this gentle creature.  Nacisse hummed, a smile lighting up his face as he curled into the
embrace.  It had been so long since Cahir had indulged in such a practice.  This was how parents attended their young, keeping
them warm, offering them comfort.  He, himself had done so for his own beautiful daughters and to the bearers who had
carried them.  It was an intimate gesture, reserved for children and lovers, and one Cahir had never thought to do with some
stranger.  But then, Nacisse wasn't just any stranger.  He was a child in need of affection.  And now he was family to Cahir.  
He deserved this simple intimacy.

"I have many daughters," Cahir said as he wrapped himself tightly around the boy.  He smiled down at the child nestled so
snugly in the nest of his tail.  "Daughters who will all adore you."

Nacisse blinked up at him sleepily, snuggling in, his fingers settling on Cahir's tail.  "Daughters?  Do you have sons, too?  And
your mate, won't she be mad?"

Cahir shook his head sadly.  "I have no mate, child.  My harem has only given me daughters."  He could marry none unless
they gave him a son.  It didn't much matter though.  He was surrounded by beauty every night.  His harem was filled with the
finest Naga and Nagi.  "I have yet to receive any sons."

Nacisse settled down with a yawn.  "Oh.  I'll give you sons."  He closed his eyes, resting his head against Cahir.  "Good strong

Cahir chuckled with mirth.  It was adorably sweet that Nacisse would say such a thing.  "I'm sure you will," he acquiesced,
not wanting to upset the child.

"I promise I will," Nacisse muttered, finally slipping away into a peaceful sleep.

The End