you're too young & eager to love
10 November 2016 @ 10:12 am
 
The man in the King’s bed is beautiful.

You would not expect less.

His eyelashes are thick and long; they brush the tops of his cheeks when he blinks, slow and leisurely, a half-awake feline still basking in the sun’s warmth. There is something overtly feminine about him despite his muscled chest and well developed arms. It is, you think, the leanness of his torso, the small expanse of his hips, the fine fingers that could play the keys of a piano or trip up the knots of a spine. There is something familiar in him too. The hands that are almost too big, the moss-colored eyes, the square cut of his jaw when he turns his head to see past you towards the door.

Despite the thick fur rugs, the burning fire, the heavy wrap around your nakedness, the scalding pulse of your heart, you are still cold. You feel the ice in your feet and how it crawls up your legs, tightening the muscles, to settle as dread in your stomach. You pull the wrap closer around you before turning your head.

“Your Majesty,” the beautiful man says.

“My Lord,” you echo with your cherub voice, dipping into a curtsy that is small and informal.

Renan passes his fingers over your shoulders. He sweeps your wrap away in one gesture and appreciates the way your skin prickles as a result. As if to appease the anxiety that brims in your eyes, he stands behind you, a solid weight and warmth that you curl into. His arms are heavy when they wrap around your stomach. You used to do the same to Gerhard, although he never had his brother’s width and broadness. Still, you had always felt safer there, more sure-footed, than you do with the King.

He strokes your arms slowly, blunt nails scratching. You breathe out broken air against his chest.

“Who does he remind you of?” The king asks, wine on his words.

You turn your face back to the bed and the man it holds.

“No one,” you lie.

Renan makes a noise from his throat, an amused chuckle that you can feel in his chest; he senses your dishonesty.

“I want to watch,” he says into the shell of your ear, pressing his lips just below, to the curve of your jaw.

You don’t ask why.




He’s a courtier, and you have seen him often around the palace, but you cannot remember his name. He kisses you slowly – slower than you would have imagined possible – and the strange newness of his mouth makes heat and shame flutter in your stomach. He does not look so much like Gerhard now that you are closer, now that you can see the bridge of his nose, the crooked arch in his ears, the dull shade of his hair. But you can pretend when your eyes are closed, so you keep them shut.

The King doesn’t mind. It’s not you he wants looking at him.




Gerhard used to spend afternoons with his head in your lap. You read poetry to him, slowly and haltingly, laughing at the way rhythms and words tangled uselessly in your mouth. He was patient; he was endeared. He would say a line and have you repeat it, kissing your hip or stomach every time you were successful.

He used to make your hands shake when he would trail his mouth lower, unabashed at the intimacy, the exposure. He was gentle and, as in all things, a scholar – eager to learn, to lay claim to the new unexplored map of your body, to become a virtuoso of the instrument that was you. You would tangle your fingers into his hair and pull and knot until his laughter washed over your thighs, and then he would sooth. He liked to take you from above, keeping your bodies locked tight, his forehead pressed to yours, his hands traveling from your hair to your hips, ever bracing.

You would leave him, always, with a bruised, overly-kissed mouth.

You would leave him.




You had always fit better with him. Even after months together, your body refuses to meet Renan’s perfectly. You turn when he would have you arch; your hips are too small for his large hands and it sometimes feels as though he would like to crush you between them; you bite when he would prefer to kiss.

You are startled by your own basic muscle memory and weakened by the nostalgia it brings when Gerhard catches you (you catch him) in a dark hall befitting dark intentions. He has not been drinking, but you cannot remember how many glasses of wine you had with dinner, if you ate or merely picked at the baked partridge. You have felt like air for so long, requiring little sustenance, and your bones are starting to show your secrets. Gerhard notices – your thin wrists, the sharp contour of your collarbone, the tightened bindings of your corset.

“You’re wasting away,” he murmurs into your hair, soft and sad. You feel the trembling of his mouth and the mixture of emotions pouring from him. He is hurt and he is angry and he, like you, is confused. But the weight of his hand on the small of your back and the closeness of his body tells you all you need to know: he misses you. You cling to this as you would to a rock in storming waters.

“Soon, I’ll be nothing but bones for him to batter away at.” You mean it as a joke, but the humor fails and the bitterness is not nearly strong enough.

Gerhard’s hand on your back stills. He holds his breath.

“Is that what you want?”

You don’t understand the question until you realize he is holding you, hard, at the waist. You tilt your face up to his. You want many things, your eyes seem to say, and what Gerhard sees there is enough to convince him to act. He kisses you, his teeth catching your bottom lip, almost clumsy in his aggression. His fingers dig, his long gait pushing you, forcing you against the cold wall where the merciless stone scratches your back through the fabric of your gown. Still, you tangle into him easily, leaning up to meet his mouth, your legs wrapping around his waist when he lifts you.

His strength surprises you. It always has.

One of your shoes slips from your foot and clatters, impossibly loud, to the floor.

You turn your face to the wall when he enters you, rough and quick, your cheek hot against the cold surface. You hold on to his shoulders, brace yourself against the stone, pressed against a hard place and what you can only surmise is a punishment wrapped in a plea.
 
 
you're too young & eager to love
10 June 2016 @ 12:55 pm
 
I tried writing a response to my muffin's timed writing piece, but I only got this far. Which is not nearly far enough. My brain is all cloudy and full of distractions.

Alas. :/


---

The world was rearranged.

You're surprised at how quickly the pieces mold back together, the foundation settling somewhere along the line of your body.




You think you are growing larger and smaller all at once. Now, the courtiers and ladies dip their heads at you when you pass. Now, a trail of whispers follow in your wake, rustling across the stone floor like the silk of your skirts. Now, you sit beside the Queen Mother in the Great Hall when the court dines together, her wrinkled hand close to yours on the respective arms of your chairs. But for all the largeness of your presence, even the gaudiness of it, you sometimes feel invisible. The King has given you three of your own ladies in waiting, as though you were his Queen instead of his mistress, but they never meet your gaze. Not when tightening or loosening your stomacher. Not when brushing your hair. Not when you return from Renan's bed, or he slips from yours, and the silence of their nearby bodies and blind stares deafen you. Then there are the men at court. The wolves who admire your beauty, your name, your father's growing estates. But none of them ask to lead you in a dance. None of them walk with you through the gardens. None of them ask for a piece of your favor.

To be raised so high but feel lower than ever before. This contradictory state of being troubles you. Your waist is shrinking.

In smaller but acutely noticeable ways, the terrain of your life had shifted too.




Gerhard used to pass you from courtier to courtier, trusting in your return and their careful handling. You were precious, a gem to be admired but not taken. He had liked it even, watching you duck under their arms, turn between their palms, dancing as elegantly and easily a swan swims. Your laughter had been the loudest on those nights, with wine on your tongue and holding the eyes of so many.

But then court life had always agreed with you. You were modest without being a prude; smart without being threatening; useful as one of the Queen Mother's Ladies. If you were flawed, it was only on account of your father's ambition.




Gerhard was closer to you now than he had been in weeks. The smell of him filled your tight ribcage with feelings oddly shaped and too large to fit inside. You dipped into a curtsy so low and poised, you were startled you did not fall. "My lord."
 
 
you're too young & eager to love
15 May 2016 @ 05:50 pm
 
Blurbs! Because I didn't feel like writing an actual piece.

-



“You tart,” he teases, his mouth on the inside of your wrist, blunt teeth biting lightly.

There must be a sudden shift that happens in your eyes, a stillness in your fingers, because he pauses (he has been doing this for months now – reading the subtle signs your body makes and interpreting them the way gypsies interpret palms). He is soft again, smoothing his hand across your cheek, brushing a thumb over your rose bud mouth. “I am sorry.”

You are not used to this – a member of royalty apologizing to you with all the genuineness of a man of the cloth. You still think yourself a child, at times, hiding behind the heavy curtains in your father’s library. You have the good grace to shake your head, catching his thumb in your mouth, voice hot on his skin, “It doesn’t matter anymore.”

Gerhard makes a quiet noise of agreement.

“Do you sometimes feel much older than your years?”

“I’m a crown prince of Cissai. I feel a hundred.”

You slap his shoulder, squeaking in the way you know amuses him when he catches your wrist and waist with both hands, pulling you to his lap. There is the rustle of your skirts against his legs, the scratch of his beard on your neck, and the heat of him that is always, somehow, gentle rather than scorching. It would not even burn the lace of your bodice, so you lean into it with craving.




“Peaches,” Renan said without lifting his eyes from the map of boundary territories he was perusing. “She smells like peach blossom.”

Miriam turned her shrewd gaze to her second son, the black of her mourning dress making the sharpness of her gaze all the bluer. She arched a thin eyebrow. “How observant of you.”

“Now, mother, ask Gerhard if she tastes like it too.”




Your riding jacket is torn. You notice it when your horses have slowed. You father taught you to never stop a sweating mare, to let them walk after a heavy run, till the sweat cooled on their coats. You have always loved riding, have always loved the feel of the beast beneath you, its power and endurance somehow transferring to you the more you leaned into its breakneck speed.

Only your ride today has done nothing but tousle your pretty blonde hair, flush your cheeks, and rip your right sleeve. You think it appropriate, really, this red-faced and sweaty look. The expensive velvet, as yellow as daffodils, makes you look gilded. The flesh of your arm is white beneath, cream to be licked. Only Renan is like a child with a new toy, overzealous, preferring to break in his eagerness than savor. You keep expecting to bruise but your body’s stamina continues to surprise you.

Renan watches you as though you are his prize, a trophy provided to him by right and heritage rather than earned with merit. He does not shy away from his brother’s gaze when the two of you bring the horses to the stables, Renan’s stallion a pace above your own. He is King now. He will never have to hide his gaze again.

You cannot say the same.
 
 
you're too young & eager to love
03 May 2016 @ 08:22 pm
 
In her dreams he is always smoke. A figure she cannot hold on to no matter how tightly her fingers grasp. He eludes her. Even two years later she awakes with a sense of frustration that melts into shame. A rock of resentment and bitterness in the pit of her stomach.
 


His name was Julian He was tall and burly, more soldier or blacksmith than courtier. His arms were as wide as tree trunks, the veins beneath them coiled vines.

“My lady,” he would say with his gravel voice, kissing her knuckles hard enough to make his beard scratch her skin.

Julian gifted her with jewels and dresses, books of poetry, letters of love. He took his time until he was neither knife nor sword but poison – so subtle and delayed that she could not feel the damage he had done until he was already gone.

She remembers it still, the burn and sting and suffocating pain, but she remembers him more. The man himself. He smelled like oranges, and he kissed her the way all girls wanted to be kissed, with a claiming and a promise of the future. He told her she was beautiful, that her mind was as precious as the body he wanted, and still she remembered Sarah’s advice, to prolong the inevitable, to have him in a bed in the proper way, to not let him press her to a dark wall or the thick hay of the stables. She would be no stable girl, no common whore.

She was a lady, Abigail would remind him, when his mouth strayed further down her neck, when he would pluck at the tight bindings of her bodice.

He would always laugh then tip her small chin back, take her mouth for his, and the taste of his laughter simmered on her tongue like charcoal.


 
“He reminds me of Mephistopheles,” Old Anne said over their needlework one night, listening to the younger ladies in waiting gossip beside the fire while the Queen Mother slept. The Queen rarely called for assistance after retiring, and only Old Anne was trusted enough to maintain the vigil after the crown barred her doors. She kept her wrinkled fingers working, smoothly and carefully adding to her embroidery, her watery eyes deceivingly focused. “And any modest young woman would treat him as such.”

“Oh, hush. All men look like the devil to you.” Sarah, with her bright hair twisted into her characteristic braid, flapped her hand at Old Anne. She had a way of expressing herself with her body that was simultaneously endearing and sensual. “Keep with your stitching and we’ll keep with our fun.”

“Too much fun is a woman’s downfall,” Old Anne quipped, her leathery mouth frequently spilling such adages.

Abigail laughed, unoffended, her hair bright in the light of the fire, her eyes soft. “He has promised me a house in Hever with enough lands for an herb garden, and plots for summer and winter vegetables. I would so love to have horses. My father bought me a gelding of the richest black when I was little … I could take him with.”

Old Anne huffed, reminding Abigail of her mother. “Words from the mouth of sinners are as good as dust. You ought to have taken an oath and a ring instead, Lord knows what you young women will give up for feeble words.”

The girls had the grace to blush, but Abigail shook her head in protest. “Lord Vanderhart comes from a good name.”

“We all come from good names in Ciassa, dear, until someone else tarnishes them.”

“You sound like a hen clucking over her chickens,” Sarah laughed and squeezed Abigail’s arm in camaraderie.

Like all young things, Abigail felt too invincible to hear the foreshadowing in the old woman’s words.

She thought herself metal when she was only wax to be melted.
 
 
you're too young & eager to love
02 May 2016 @ 01:26 pm
 
I love royalty! And trios.

Trying to flesh Abigail out some more.


--


“What does it mean?” She has that ache in her voice, a strained metal-on-stone sound. Abigail has not slept and her eyes are heavy, but their blue tone still matches the depth of the sapphires spread across the table. She has wrapped the necklace in velvet, as though they are already precious to her, and her hands twitch on her lap when her father lifts the jewels to inspect their quality.

Thomas Hudson is not a young man, but his hands and voice are as sure and steady as the day she was born. “Don’t be so dull-witted. It’s a message of his intentions … and an invitation, I presume.”

Abigail bites her bottom lip, curling her fingers into the heavy fabric of her winter skirts. “I can’t possibly accept. He is bound to marry. I will be nothing once that happens. And there is-”

“My dear, you are hardly anything now,” her father scoffs, interrupting, but not with the intention of being unkind. “We’re lucky that prince of yours even sanctioned your affair with a proper arrangement considering how obliging you were to him. By the grace of god, he has not married either. No matter, we learn, yes? We learn and we strive. Although I do hope your sentiments are not distracting you from the larger, more prosperous picture.”

Jane Hudson, in comparison to her husband, is younger but more clearly affected by the passage of the years. She has the withered, frail look of an autumn leaf. She does not look up from her needlepoint, seated beside her daughter, and her voice threatens to quaver. “If you had married before any of this, you would have a husband to return to after the affair has run its course. Your reputation would not be a point of discussion at all.”

“And if it doesn’t?”

“What?” Her mother’s mouth twists with disapproval.

“If it doesn’t? Run its course?”

For this, Jane lowers her needlepoint and stares at her daughter, a girl turned into a young woman more capable of brazenness than she would have assumed. “If you can keep him, you mean? For years? Even if he marries? What makes you presume to know him so well? This new King of ours has an even worse reputation than the old one for being fickle with his … heart.”

“No,” Abigail corrects, softly so as to not cause her mother’s ire or holy judgment to show, and leans forward, taking the necklace from her father’s curious hands. “I do not believe it is his heart that changes with the tides. His heart is constant.”




Gerhard had offered her a servant or two, her own Ladies in Waiting, but the idea had seemed distasteful to her at the time. Like putting on airs. So now she brushes her own hair, lulled by the rhythm and pressure, stroking and stroking until the luster returns and shines as pure as gold. She rubs herself with creams from earthenware pots until her skin glows and smells of distant summer nights. Her gown for dinner is an imperial blue, shameless in its association, but she understands the rewards boldness reap. She lets the neckline plunge, leaves her hair free and unveiled, applies rouge to her swollen lips and powder to her cheeks.

The cluster of sapphires hangs heavy, like a burden or a noose, around her thin neck; her collarbones look sharp beneath it.

Her reflection in the polished mirror on her vanity seems vulgar and gaudy – a cheap imitation of something royal and predestined for greatness.

That was the trouble with Kings and Princes, wasn’t it? Their inability to contextualize what it meant to strive for something greater, to struggle with the paradox of being an honest woman in an impure role, to sacrifice more than just the gap between her thighs.




He has her by the waist, and she can smell the wine from dinner on his breath. His eyes are swollen with it. She can feel his mood in his pulse: his anger and confusion. The anguish and betrayal at the center of it all, burning a pathway to his heart.

Gerhard pushes her hair away from her face, wipes her red mouth with his fingers, smearing away the rouge. He does not recognize her. Cannot fathom her, this woman in front of him, so uncharacteristically desperate to remove herself from his embrace. “I have no choice,” she sighs with that ache-voice he rarely has heard, speaking through clenched teeth, straining her neck to peer down the long corridor of the castle’s west wing. “He can take what he pleases. He’s the King.”

“And my brother,” Gerhard groans, his frustration and heartache encompassed in that single admission. “Is nothing mine? You could not even give me a fortnight, a chance …?”

Abigail turns into him for the first time since he caught her, since he took her drunkenly by the wrist and pulled her into the hall. Her eyes are red but tearless and her bottom lip trembles but her voice is steady, severe. “We all have our duties.”

“Was that it then? I was one of your duties.”

He has an angry, disgusted tone. She has not heard it before and the direction of his disgust makes her empty stomach pitch and roll. It is her turn to shake her head, to clutch at him with her thin fingers, to protest. “No, never, please. You cannot think that.” They are still in the hall, the stone walls cold and damp with the season. She’s shivering, more from emotion than from the frigid air, and the thought of him believing he was hers to pursue for mere personal gain only causes panic to blossom in her chest. She whimpers, wounded, desperate to keep the days of their warm year together intact. Whole.

Abigail lets herself kiss him, messy as it is, public as it is, with her back pressed against the wall and his pianist’s hands groping along her bodice, gripping at her hips. He makes a noise not unlike her own animal cry, a sound she drinks into her mouth and allows to turn her hollow insides full with pain. It is better than the emptiness.

When he drags his lips from hers, across her cheek, down her neck, he might be crying. He sounds like a lamb about to be slaughtered.

“Gerhard,” she whispers, kissing his hair, his temple, when he presses his face into her chest, his breath hot and tormented against her exposed skin. Distantly, she realizes that she will have to change, that the King will not want her so sullied with his brother’s wetness and salt across her breasts.

Maybe it’s his awareness of the intimacy in their moment, or the threat of sound from around the corner, or the familiar smell of her hair and feel of her nails against his scalp, or the quiet way she uses his name. Maybe his emotions clear away the wine and he can think clearer, feel stronger. Either way, she senses him slipping from her, can practically see his shoulders stiffen and his posture turn to steel.

When she reaches for his hand, he pulls it away. “You forget yourself, Lady Hudson.”

The formality resonates against her as surely as a slap from the back of his hand might. “….Apologies, my Lord.” Her voice is such a murmur now, weakened and simpering, and she hates the sound of it as much as she hates the instinctive way she dips into a curtsey, eyes lowering.

As sweet and subservient as honey.
 
 
you're too young & eager to love
01 May 2016 @ 07:09 pm
 
Trying out new characters! I attempted to do a compare and contrast type of thing, but I ran out of steam. Oh well.

Cut for ~adult~ content. Ger's part is intentionally in past tense for emphasis.



your wilderness is cold )