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“It's getting late, Lysithea. We should probably go to bed,” Cyril remarks, poking his head through the doorway to their bedroom. 

Cyril pauses to admire Lysithea’s silky lavender nightgown accentuated with lacy ivory details. Despite her resting pouting face, her face is soft, illuminated light blue as her eyes dart across the screen. Cyril knows better than to disrupt Lysithea when she’s fully focused on her work, so he takes these precious moments to bask in her beauty.

“Alright, give me a minute.” Lysithea is typing away furiously at her laptop, probably revising her week's lesson plans for the millionth time. 

Lysithea knows Cyril can’t see her screen, but she still mentally jumps in his presence. She reorganizes the multiple tabs and programs open on her computer just to be safe, clicking away from a chaotically arranged setup of word documents, websites with crescent moon logos, and infinitely long Reddit threads. I don’t feel at all prepared for this discussion with him, she chides herself. But I don’t think I ever will, so I might as well dive headfirst.

She closes her laptop with one hand, clearly unsatisfied with the day's work, while fiddling with her hair tie, finally managing to undo her messy bun so her hair tumbles down her shoulders. She gives Cyril a knowing look and he takes that as cue to come in. 

Cyril thinks he's stared at her long enough anyways and enters the room to undress. Lysithea turns around, straddling her chair and nestling her chin in her arms. She immediately feels at ease seeing Cyril, and it’s almost enough to quell the agitated churning in her stomach. Cyril doesn’t think Lysithea noticed his prior admiration, but it’s her turn to adore him now. Cyril neatly folds away his work clothes for tomorrow as his striking figure ripples under the moonlight. As he shifts, deep shadows of purples and indigos dance across his bronze skin, and Lysithea blinks twice to dissipate a soft white halo illuminating him from the window behind him. He turns to her and tilts his head, snapping her out of her daze. 

Cyril thinks he's stared at her long enough anyways and enters the room to undress. Lysithea turns around, straddling her chair and nestling her chin in her arms. She immediately feels at ease seeing Cyril, and it’s almost enough to quell the agitated churning in her stomach. Cyril doesn’t think Lysithea noticed his prior admiration, but it’s her turn to adore him now. Cyril neatly folds away his work clothes for tomorrow as his striking figure ripples under the moonlight. As he shifts, deep shadows of purples and indigos dance across his bronze skin, and Lysithea blinks twice to dissipate a soft white halo illuminating him from the window behind him. He turns to her and tilts his head, snapping her out of her daze. 

“You getting in?” 

“Good night, jaan,” Cyril murmurs, and promptly closes his eyes. But Lysithea isn’t ready to fall asleep yet, contemplating if she should go through with what she's about to do. Ugh, just say it! Apologies in advance, Prophet Muhammad!

Lysithea sits up abruptly and asks, “Cyril, have you ever considered…us doing more than we usually do?” Cyril's eyes flutter open, and his eyebrows crease with confusion. He sits up too.

“More than…? Lysithea, I have no idea what you're referring to.” Lysithea avoids eye contact with Cyril, her eyes dancing around the room.

Lysithea sits up abruptly and asks, “Cyril, have you ever considered…us doing more than we usually do?” Cyril's eyes flutter open, and his eyebrows crease with confusion. He sits up too.

“More than…? Lysithea, I have no idea what you're referring to.” Lysithea avoids eye contact with Cyril, her eyes dancing around the room.

“What I mean by that is. Well. We usually just kiss and cuddle. So I was wondering if you wanted to try more…than that.” Lysithea quickly glances at Cyril to see his reaction but looks away before she can make an assessment, pinching herself mentally for not waiting a second longer. Cyril simply blinks, his eyes wide with surprise. He fluffs up the pillow behind him for (physical? emotional?) support and leans in. Lysithea braces herself internally. 

“I never brought it up because you never mentioned interest. But I'm not opposed to anything you suggest,” he says frankly, waiting for Lysithea's response. She stares back blankly at him, her pearly skin now flushing with embarrassment. Lysithea bunches up the sheets in her palms and hides her face in the covers.

“When you say it like that, it seems so obvious⁠—I feel foolish for even bringing it up. Cyril, please just. Go to sleep. My embarrassment will tire me eventually.” 

Cyril reaches out to grasp Lysithea's hand and gently guides the sheet down from her face. His calloused hands hold her so delicately, like shielding a flower from a gusty wind. She is bashfully looking back at him, her face turning a lovely shade of pink against the starlit windows behind her.

“Lysi, you're not foolish. We've been together for how long now?” 

Lysithea releases the blanket and reaches for Cyril's hand instead.

“I know, but that's exactly it. This is going to sound terribly ignorant of me but…I thought since you're pretty religious, that maybe, there was something against it? In Islam? Then I was like, Lysithea, why don't you know your boyfriend's religion by now? Then I tried googling for a bit and went down the rabbit hole that is the Minternet, and⁠—” 

Lysithea cuts off, seeing Cyril stifle a grin. “Cy! This is no laughing matter! Isn't sex haram or something? I don't know!” Cyril laughs softly, not wanting to disrespect Lysithea. Still holding hands, he runs his thumb over her fingers soothingly.

“Jaan. you don't need to feel guilty about not knowing everything about Islam. I kinda feel bad now for not saying sooner, seeing how distressed this has made you.” Lysithea sighs loudly and flops over on Cyril's side of the bed, still clinging to him.

“‘Distressed’ is one word for it,” she pouts sheepishly, hoping he gets her drift. He does. Cyril props himself up with his free arm and catches her lips in his own. Lysithea drinks in the sweet scent of Turkish rose oil and intertwines their fingers tightly. Cyril's bangs fall over his eyes as he gazes down at Lysithea lovingly.

“Everyone's got a different answer if you ask them about what's ‘right’ in Islam. It's true, I follow the rules a little more strictly than others, but there's plenty of stuff I do that could be 'haram' in someone else's books, y'know?” Lysithea scrunches her face, puzzled.

“No, you silly boy. It’s the complete opposite,” Lysithea reaches up to stroke the sides of his cheeks, feeling the pricks of his stubble against her fingers. “All this time I felt ashamed for, just, thinking of you that way, and I didn’t want you to feel forced to make me happy. But knowing that we can still be...intimate without it going against your religion makes me feel...relieved.” Lysithea presses her forehead to Cyril’s chest, and he pulls her closer into his warmth. 

“You shouldn’t have placed so much responsibility on yourself to understand Islam for me. The fact that you’re naturally curious about the things I do is more than enough.” Cyril presses his lips to the crown of Lysithea’s head, flooding his senses with her floral-scented perfumes. “I’m gonna be honest with you, I’m grateful that you took the time to do all that research just for me. There’s a lot of garbage I’m assuming you sifted through that made you feel worse.” As Cyril says that, Lysithea pulls away from him to narrow her eyes.

“Hey, don’t say that. Every religion has factions that are more traditional, and you’re not responsible for them.”

“No, you silly boy. It’s the complete opposite,” Lysithea reaches up to stroke the sides of his cheeks, feeling the pricks of his stubble against her fingers. “All this time I felt ashamed for, just, <i>thinking</i> of you that way, and I didn’t want you to feel forced to make me happy. But knowing that we can still be...intimate without it going against your religion makes me feel...relieved.” Lysithea presses her forehead to Cyril’s chest, and he pulls her closer into his warmth. 

“No need to thank me. I want to be there for you as much as possible, as much as you’ve been for me. Through the halal...and the haram.” Cyril feels Lysithea’s hot breath against him as she muffles her giggles. He slides his arms down from wrapping around her shoulders to securing her waist.

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