Season 3, Episode 2
Written by Tof Eklund
Read by Tawn Krakowski
“Gods’ graves!” Geoff fumed. “Don’t you understand?”
“No,” I replied curtly. “This is unnecessary. Everyone who is afraid of me has already fled the castle.”
“If you show your face, you’ll panic the rest!”
“I don’t think so.”
“You shattered the tower!”
“That’s why I have to talk to them! They think I did it on purpose!”
“What,” Geoff grated, “will you say to them? That your magic does what it wants while you sleep, or that it was fate guiding you into the Prince’s bed?”
“Neither of those sound terribly good,” I admitted.
“Then you will do as the Queen requests, and stay put.“
When I had initially woken up, I had thought it might be a good day. The lines on my body were no longer painful, merely sore and itchy. When I looked at the curve of Kaye’s bare shoulder, with only a faint pink spiral on it, I had hoped to take advantage of our new cohabitation. Then Geoff had come barging in before breakfast, rousing Kaye abruptly from sleep with orders from Theobel. She was arranging a feast to raise spirits, and not only was I not invited, she wanted me to stay out of sight. Worse yet, she wanted Kaye to denounce “the witch” and tell everyone that they were safe now that I was gone.
I was sick of it. After all these years, after all Kaye and I had been through, now that I was most-likely pregnant with her grandchild, now Theobel wanted my lover to denounce me. So I lashed out. I looked Geoff in the eye and repeated his own words.
“Gods’ graves,” I said coolly. “Dead gods. You swear by the death of the eternal a lot, Geoff.”
My sudden change of topic caught him off guard and he gaped, an unnatural expression on his controlled countenance.
“What was it Lily said the other day? I think she called you an ‘all-dead’.”
Geoff’s face tightened into a guarded mask.
“Are you a Nihimortalist, Geoff?”
About all I knew about the Nihimortalist sect was that they believed that even the gods die, and that the Church of the High King persecuted them for that belief. I had no reason to care whether Geoff was one, but I wanted to punish Geoff for delivering Theobel’s cruel words.
It was clear I had drawn blood when Geoff’s poker face cracked and he spat, “What do you care, witch? You already know I’m a man-lover; what does it matter if I’m a heretic as well?”
“Stop!” Kaye had been keeping out of our squabble, but now he swung over and placed himself between us. “Yelen, Geoff, both of you stop! Geoff,” he said, turning toward him, “you can tell my mother that I will be at the feast, but only on the condition that she will not speak ill of Yelen.
“Yelen,” he turned to me just as I was opening my mouth to speak, and his pretty hazel eyes stopped my tongue. “I know you deserve better treatment than this, but it isn’t Geoff’s fault that my mother is afraid.”
I suddenly felt like a child. I remembered teaching Kaye about the importance of reserving judgment and not punishing servants for doing their duty. Now he was teaching me.
“I am sorry, Geoff,” I said, “I was trying to needle you, Goddess knows why.”
Geoff huffed and shrugged.
“Really,” I continued, “you have a right to your own beliefs, and I would never use that against you. I disgraced myself by implying that I would.”
“It’s not like it really matters,” Geoff demurred. “Religion’s not for people like me.”
“Geoff,” said Kaye, “what you value is important to me. It does matter.”
The slightest smile twitched Geoff’s lips before vanishing again. “Well, then,” he said, “let’s just say that I don’t think anything is forever.”
“All lives begin and end,” I said. “Only life itself never dies. Some of the Sisters say that that’s what the Goddess is: the continuity of life itself.”
Geoff looked right at me then, and as his grey-eyed gaze met mine, worn and dry as a salt flat, I was suddenly aware of the fact that I’d grown up safe and cared for, while he’d spent most of his life knowing that discovery meant death.
“What if all life ends?” he asked, and it was a question that brooked no answer.
I adjusted one puffed and curled sleeve of Kaye’s scarlet and gilt doublet. He looked resplendent, like the lord of the realm his birth made him. A slender golden circlet rested on his brow, a mark of his status as heir to the throne. It looked good against his high brow and the carefully tamed locks of his chestnut hair. I remembered how blond he’d been when I arrived in Thrice. Kaye’s hazel eyes and the fact that his hair had darkened with age were proof of the common element in House Lycius’ bloodline.
“That circlet suits you,” I said, the stillness of my voice hiding my inner disquiet. “Why don’t you wear it more often?”
“Ah,” Kaye grimaced. “My father didn’t…doesn’t want me to wear it.”
“Try not to think of him,” I said uselessly. Try not to think about the fact that your father was trying to kill you, I thought. Try not to think about the fact that he’s in a coma because your mother is slowly poisoning him.
“Yelen,” Kaye said, taking my bare hand off his sleeve and squeezing it with his own, “I’m coming back. I’ll just be gone a few hours.”
“O-of course you are!” I stuttered. “I know that.”
“Maybe I said the wrong thing,” Kaye replied. “You look nervous.”
It was then that I realized what had me on edge. I felt insecure, vulnerable in a way I could scarcely compare to my prior experience. I’d had lovers, I’d been in love, but I’d never been terrified at the prospect of being parted from a partner like this. I wanted to seize Kaye, press him to my breast, and never let go.
“I love you,” he said, his voice soft and low.
“And I, you,” I replied. I wrapped my arms around him and, with a little care not to knock over his crutches, I squeezed him tight. His hands moved over my lower back and pulled me in even closer. I felt his cock wake up and begin to harden against me.
“Kaye,” I asked disingenuously, “does your skin still hurt?”
“No, it’s more itchy now.”
“Mine too. After this feast, I’ll scratch your itch if you’ll scratch mine.”
“That…mmmm!” Kaye’s reply was interrupted when I kissed him. I tried to put the ache in my heart into it, as well as the growing heat in my body. He responded tenderly, taking the initial press of my lips and meeting it softly, not teasing, comforting.
I caressed the back of his neck with my hand and he kissed me back more passionately. I ran a fingertip over the ridge of his ear and his hands slid down onto my bottom. I knew then that I could entice him into bed, take him, make him late for Theobel’s precious feast. Instead, I broke the clinch.
“Oh, Yelen,” he gasped.
“My beautiful boy.” I gave him a quick kiss on the lips and stepped back. “I’ll be looking forward to later.”
“Me too…” Kaye replied, still short of breath. “We can at least kiss.”
“Kiss?” I was incredulous. “Kaye, I intend to ride you the way a Herrican horse breaker backs a feral stallion.”
Kaye flushed, and I felt my cheeks grow warm. When had my tongue turned so salty? There was a moment’s pause, as Kaye’s embarrassed expression turned to one of confusion.
I laughed, and it was just as much a relief as Kaye’s embrace had been. It felt like old times, discovering yet another wrongheaded Thrycaen taboo.
“Kaye,” I said, “we can keep having sex the whole time.”
“The whole time?”
“The whole time.”
“Because you’re a witch?”
“Because I’m a woman,” I said. I was smiling now. “Now go. I’ll take you out for a canter when you get back.”
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