By the Light of Roses--Chapter Twelve
This week, the relationship between Fëanáro and Eressetor intensifies.
This week's chapter is probably the most graphic in this story and not necessarily in a pleasant way. You have been warned. It can probably be skipped for the faint of heart and pure of mind. It's pretty easy to guess what happens.
Please remember that this story is rated for adults only for reasons of sexuality and mature themes and contains slash. My thanks to everyone who is reading along! As usual, all comments are welcomed.
I examined myself in the mirror that night, naked: It had been years since I’d found the fortitude to look upon my naked reflection, and I could not meet my own eyes, even now, having endured the touch and (doubtlessly) scrutiny of Fëanáro. My throat and the top of my chest were blackened by bruises as though I’d been beaten or maybe nearly strangled; in places, the blood had risen in little red-brown stipples against my unhealthily pale skin. I touched them and expected them to hurt, but they did not. How violent, love! I found myself thinking. Even beneath where my hair fell thick and dark against my neck, the tip of my ear: bitten, bruised. I’d combed my hair over my ears to cover it and worn high-necked robes to supper that night; I had seen Fëanáro smile at that, when none of his sons were looking.
Beneath that, a pale chest nearly sunken and ribs too prominent, as though starved; tiny pinkish nipples puckered, like they were trying to hide. Cold-bumps had risen on my skin, on my scrawny chest and gaunt arms dominated by bony, pointy elbows, the flesh loose and jiggling where the curve of muscle should be, indeed was on the arms of Fëanáro and his sons. My hipbones stuck forward too and cast gray shadows upon the taut-stretched skin of my narrow hips. I dared even look at my groin, as I never did, even while washing or relieving myself, at the bristling dark hair that spread awhile from my groin and up my belly and across my thighs like a perilous fungus that begged not to be touched, at my cock that seemed to shrivel away from my gaze.
I did not possess the strength to examine myself further: the stick-thin legs with black hairs sprouted randomly from my skin like wires, the pallid buttocks flat and flaccid like pancakes, feet long and bony with horn-yellow toenails. I saw myself through his eyes, the eyes of an artist and a genius who understood better than anyone the meaning of perfection, of beauty. I understood little of either, just enough to know that I was their contrary.
I swathed myself in a bath towel, but when I pondered my bed—the trunk still open beside it, hungry and waiting with only a single paper dropped inside of it—I plunged between the satin sheets without nightclothes. My flesh remembered his touch and the heat of his kisses; the marks upon my flesh ached with something that was not pain. I squirmed against the frigid sheets as though they could cool my desire, but they did not, and I fell into restless sleep and dreamt of him.
In delirium, I awoke, a scream buried in my throat, pushing forth with the force of one buried alive, giving me just enough time to turn my face into the pillow before erupting from the confines of my throat.
I had released into the sheets, hot seed splattered across icy-cold satin sheets, orgasm gripping my hips as though in a vice and thrusting them into the bedclothes in a seizure of ecstasy. The ghost of Fëanáro was upon me, smiling in satisfaction, having invaded my body and spirit, having made me succumb.
But of course, it was a dream, and it passed, and I arose, shaking, to pull nightclothes over my damp, naked body, driven by something that pulled me out of my chambers and into the hallway, bare feet burned by the frigid stone floors.
Only a dream!
There was a mirror on the wall, something made by Maitimo that (he had said) once gave his father hope of artistic talent in his eldest son before discovering his hopeless mediocrity. It was a series of mirrored pieces layered upon each other and dazzling to the eye, images embedded within images, a person within a yawning mouth or glinting inside an eye; it was sensual, I saw now, with one’s mouth closing upon one’s own image or at the center of an adoring gaze, where an eye should be. Naturally Maitimo—beautiful Maitimo—would design such a piece; I could imagine him before it—hands upon his young, blossoming body—just as I could imagine Fëanáro doing the same and proclaiming it genius. As I passed, I caught sight of myself within it, and I was hideous—whites showing around my frightened eyes, face flour-pale—devouring myself and seeing naught but myself, and I ran harder, nearly tripping upon the stairs, in my haste to reach my destination that remained unknown to my conscious sense but seemed (somehow) to involve that bizarre and repugnant mirror.
I found myself lost in the tangle of Fëanáro’s sprawling home yet still in pursuit, heart hammering, then suddenly in the long corridor leading off of the patio with the three closets at the end. A pale hand, surprisingly steady, was reaching for and twisting the knob; it was slick with sweat and had trouble finding purchase, but it yanked the door open and the portrait of Nerdanel tumbled upon me: her young face and rust-colored hair, almost as ugly as me, upon her back with breasts flattened and androgynous beneath her tunic, her hands as broad as a man’s and stretched toward the painter—fingers splayed—grabbing at the petals that he showered upon her. But the adoration in her eyes: beautiful.
Because, of course, its source was himself beautiful.
In fact, the glints of light in her eyes betraying her exaltation: Were they reflections, of the young man bent over her and scattering her with petals? For whom she reached with hands spread wide and nearly quivering inside the canvas? Was it his reflection that rendered her ugly face somehow worthy of his love?
Inside the closet: a thousand icons of her, upon canvas, in metal, in clay. All of them bravely brandished her flaws, almost flaunted them. My jealous eyes fixed upon each in turn—the fleshy hips, the bulges of fat at her lower back, the ponderous bovine breasts—and found reason for disgust…and hope. My hands sought the statue that had dropped upon me the first time I’d happened into this closet, made in copper with her hair strewn upon her breasts, her thighs closed primly but the fork of her legs still uncovered, that place that had last known the rough love of Fëanáro. I wondered—if I took it—if he would miss it, but though the statues of her in the closet were numerous, the one done in copper was missing.
In its place were new icons that had not been there before: a girlishly young Nerdanel, her hair damp from labor, smiling into the face of a newborn Maitimo; a pale bust done with her hair flowing in a sea of copper around her; a painting done of her back, bent over a table in her workshop. These were distinct and I would have remembered them; the latter, when I pressed it to my face, still smelled oily, of fresh paint.
With only my love for the beautiful Fëanáro keeping me from putting my clenched and trembling fist through Nerdanel’s laughing portrait—as though I could scatter the petals even from the hand of her admirer—I stuffed the items back into the closet, unsure what they proved, and returned to uneasy sleep.
As Fëanáro’s lover, I achieved a new status. I remained his apprentice, and he became stricter with me; I had transcended the status of a mere student brought to act as a pawn in the endless subtle games that he played with his half-brother. He threw my parchments—carefully connived and written again and again until the penmanship was perfect—upon his desk, teeth clenched in rage. “This! This is juvenile! Maitimo did better at the age of thirty!” He held me to a higher standard now, it seemed, same as he held his sons. Taking me to the brink of hurt rage—tears burning my eyes, lips quavering and unable to muster the strength for speech—he always rescinded at exactly the right moment, as I had seen him do while scolding Tyelperinquar, sweeping him from his feet and tickling his belly and laughing suddenly, until the tears had melted from Tyelperinquar’s eyes. This he did with me: He railed and even—on one or two occasions—tore my hard work to shreds; then he took me into his arms and kissed my mouth. “I know what you are capable of. You must trust me, for I love you and would never hurt you.” Pushing me onto my back, upon his desk, upon the rejected shreds of paper, plying me with kisses and caresses until I forgot my hurt and believed him and strode from his study with headlong determination never to disappoint him again.
But I did disappoint him; we all disappointed him, for he expected perfection, and we were not perfect; we were not him.
We would meet in the privacy of his study or else walked in the forest, to the secret places that he said only he knew. We told no one of the strange turn that our relationship had taken, even Telvo, for Fëanáro cautioned me that although they were known as Pityo and Telvo now, long before, they’d been Ambarussa and even the most secret thoughts of one was never fully his own. Telvo, he said, was the purest in heart of all of his sons and would never intentionally betray us, but the bond between twins was something that we could not understand and should not dare to judge. “So we shall tell no one,” he said, “for no one shall understand.”
Though I believed that Telvo knew that something had changed, for he would appear at my side at odd hours during the day, saying nothing and looking into my face as though waiting for something. He and Pityo had switched places at the dining room table and he sat beside me now and Pityo opposite us; his knee brushed mine beneath the table throughout the meal. I forced myself to meet his eyes on the rare occasions when we spoke; I longed to see the bond with Nandolin in his eyes, as Fëanáro had said that I would.
I was working in the library one day, rewriting one of my essays that Fëanáro had shredded and refused to return to me, claiming that it was best started anew. I was in a particularly foul mood, and I looked up to Telvo seated across from me, his arm stretched across the table and his head lying atop it, basking in a golden streak of daylight spilling between the drapes. As the bar of light moved, so Telvo shifted with it, his face turned into the light and the gray of his eyes nearly indiscernible from the whites, the black centers constricted to a tiny pinprick. He blinked lazily, blinded momentarily, and I leaned forward to peer into his eyes.
“For what are you looking, Eressetor?” he asked me, and I fell back, rebuked. He straightened, his auburn hair falling in a tumble over his shoulder. Indeed, he did resemble Fëanáro least of all of the sons, though his delicate features surely came from his father, not his mother.
“N-nothing,” I stammered and resumed writing.
“Do not lie. You stare into my eyes and you never did before. I know that you are not in love with me,” he said with a laugh, “so have out with it, Eressetor. You want to see if I am in fact wed to Nandolin, is that it?”
Swiftly, before I could regret it, I nodded.
He clamored across the table on his elbows and took my face in his hands, and we stared into each other’s eyes. His were gray but almost yellowish at the centers; this close, his breath tickled my face and I could smell the earthy scent of his skin, overlaid with the aroma of soap. The pupils of his eyes were dilating, having been removed from the light, and I looked for my reflection there…and saw nothing but something that spun ever onward, across the span of time, a dark and placid peace.
I gasped, and my hands lifted to clench his wrists.
“You see it, don’t you?” he said. “So maybe now, you will believe?” I nodded and he stroked my cheek. “Eressetor, I am sorry for you. For what happened with Ornisso”—shushing me with a finger pressed against my lips—“and therefore to you. He is not a bad person but confused; he tried with me too, long ago, but I had already seen Nandolin from afar and knew that I loved him. So his ploys did not work. It is said,” Telvo added with a wry grin, “that Ornisso can smell our aberrance on us like a dog sniffing blood. That he needs more love than any single person can give and so he shall always be bereft. Try to find pity for him, Eressetor, rather than anger.”
Tenderly, he kissed my forehead, as though we were not nearly the same age, as though he was much older and bestowing me with his wisdom, and his feet slipped back to the floor and he was gone.
I’d asked Fëanáro once, seated upon his lap in his study and watching the Lights mingle, his hand tucked between my knees, his heartbeat against my back, why Telvo and Nandolin—if they were married—lived apart. “Nandolin is his father’s only son, and his help is required with farm work,” Fëanáro had said, “so he cannot come here but for single nights, sometimes not even that.”
“Why, then, doesn’t Telvo go to him?”
“Certainly, he could. I would allow it, and Nandolin’s family is simple, quiet folk; always have they desired first their son’s happiness. Telvo, they see, makes him happy, and alongside me, they rejoiced in their marriage. But my wife Nerdanel, she does not understand, and we had harsh words about their marriage, even after I was exiled. Telvo believes, I fear, that to live fully with Nandolin as a husband will drive his mother and me farther apart, so he acts not to shame her, in hopes that our marriage will be restored. In hopes that—if he does not disappoint her—she will come home to me and to his brothers.”
Telvo is the purest in heart of my sons.
“I have told him that the hope of that is frail, but he persists. After the exile ends, he says, he will remain in Formenos when the rest of us return to Tirion. The scrutiny upon us shall not be so strong then, and likely, no one will notice. Until then, he says, he wants Nerdanel to have the fewest reasons possible to hate me.” He’d laughed bitterly then, and my heart had been uneasy in my chest.
With winter upon us and the crops harvested, Nandolin came often to supper, to sit beside Telvo and was ignored by most of his brothers-in-law. In the parlor after the meal, Macalaurë was called to play the harp, and Telvo curled in Nandolin’s lap, Nandolin’s fingers twined in his hair, and Pityo rose suddenly and stalked from the room.
Fëanáro leaped to his feet to follow, but Telvo held up his hand. “Do not, Atar. One day, mayhap, he will know in his heart the kind of love that I have in mine, and he will understand what it is to desire parting from a limb before parting from a lover. What he knows now, it is not love, but the kind of desire that entertains for a short while and leaves one cold over the whole of time. It is envy of my blessing—not hatred of it—that sunders us. But that shall change.”
Jaw set resolutely, Fëanáro sat down again.
Staring into the fire, as the first note of Macalaurë’s song fell like warm rain upon our ears, Telvo said so softly that only those nearest to him—Nandolin, Fëanáro, and me—could hear him, “Fate hastens love to him now, disguised as Night, and he shall know bliss before the end.”
Fëanáro and I had yet to spend a night together, more of my accord than his. He would kiss me goodnight at my chamber door on some nights. “Eressetor. Let me come in with you,” his kisses hot upon my lips and face, his arousal grinding against my hips, until I was forced to push him away and remind him in tremulous whispers of how risky and unwise it was.
At last, he would wait no longer. “Eressetor,” he said, after summoning me to his study one day, “I want you to spend the night in my bed beside me tonight.” He was pacing furiously, his hands wringing together. “I will hear no excuses! Tyelkormo, Carnistir, and Pityo are gone on a midwinter hunt, and none of the others are near enough to my chambers to hear anything amiss.” He fell to his knees before my chair; he nuzzled my hands and suckled my fingertips, one by one. Tingles of pleasure coursed up my arms, crackling in my brain, until I wondered if I would ever be sated of him. “Please. I have been lonely for so long!”
Reluctantly, I agreed, and he shouted with joy and delivered a surprising kiss to the inside of my thigh—clad only in breeches—making arousal settle into my groin with the sudden heaviness of an anvil dropped from a height. “Tonight…” he said, parting my legs further, his lips so close to my groin that I could feel his breath warming me, staring up at me with a wicked smirk upon his face.
We had yet to move beyond kisses and caresses, though Fëanáro had certainly tried, prodding me with his fingers until I shouted in pain and wriggled away, sinking to his knees to pleasure me orally even as I tugged him up again by fistfuls of his hair. “No, don’t….” “Why? I don’t understand!” “Just…don’t.”
He’d managed to bring me to climax on a few occasions but not often, and when he did, there was little pleasure in it but more of a defensive reaction, the rubbery spasm of muscles and a dutiful squirt of semen. My body stubbornly resisted him even as I desired him so strongly that I was sick with it, maddened by it, yet I could not bear to allow him to bring me to completion. It was he who writhed beneath me, who stemmed his cries against my shoulder and neck, leaving bruises. It was he who was reduced to lying trembling and helpless in my arms. I feared this, one so great as Fëanáro brought to his knees, proclaiming his love for me in tongues I’d never heard, his pupils dilated to where his eyes appeared depthless and black.
I returned often at night to the closet at the end of the hall, where the paintings and statues changed by the day, relentlessly horded by Fëanáro—doubtlessly—when I was not around. He was obsessed with her, I realized, even as he claimed to love me. I wondered what other troves like this he kept around the house. The forge, locked and secret. Such obsession, like a disease; I feared it claiming me if I gave in to him as he had given in to her.
After the others had retired to bed, Fëanáro came to my chambers to retrieve me. I’d packed some overnight things—my best silk nightshirt, a hairbrush, and a few toiletry items—and crept after him down the hall. He still slept in the master suite, a room built in symmetry for two people: two of everything: two armoires, two closets, two bathrooms. I’d never been in there before, but as I knew my way around his house as though my instinct, I knew this too. And I knew that he dwelt on that symmetry—the empty half—and felt incomplete himself, lying alone in his big bed at night.
There was a sitting room at the front of the suite and even a private dining room, but he led me past all of this and into the bedroom. He was like one maddened, fairly snapping with energy, squeezing my hand with an almost-painful force, grinning so that his teeth were bared top and bottom. The bedroom was just as I’d imagined: symmetrical, with his bathroom and closets on one side and Nerdanel’s on the other. There were even two writing desks, against opposite walls. His was a mess of ragged quills, sloppy stacks of parchment, and dog-eared books. The lid was shut upon hers; the state of it relative to his was not for me to know.
And at the room’s center: the bed. Big enough that I could lie across it with my arms stretched overhead and not be able to touch both sides, raised on a dais accessed by two stairs, with a skylight overhead showing a patch of starry sky. Fëanáro was still dressed for forge-work, and as I stood awkwardly trying not to make it too obvious that I was studying his bed, thinking of him naked between the bedclothes with her, in throes of ecstasy that I could not contemplate, he removed his jewelry and tossed it onto a bureau and yanked his tunic over his head. “I will have a bath before I come to you, Eressetor, so no worries about that.” He held me to his naked chest and kissed me. He smelled pungently of sweat with the dusty odor of soot beneath. He trailed a line of kisses to my ear and whispered, “Tonight will be special. Wait for me in bed.”
I heard him running water and bumping around inside his bathroom, and nervously, I disrobed and put on my silken nightclothes. I’d had yet to allow him to see me completely naked, dreading the impact of all of my flaws viewed at once, but rather only to see essential parts bared briefly then tucked away again while he gasped and moaned in the aftermath of ecstasy. I even turned my back to his bathroom door, though I could hear him stepping into the bathwater and knew that he would not emerge anytime soon. All of my nightclothes were long and high in the neck, and I secured every last button, tugging the sleeves to my wrists, and turning to contemplate the bed.
It had been made neatly and—I sensed—in my honor, with a brightly patterned quilt done in a Star of Fëanáro pattern smoothed neatly across it and pillows piled high in inviting chaos. Nervously ascending the stairs and peeling back the quilt, I found red satin sheets that clung to my skin with the same slippery coolness as water, tucked tightly beneath the mattress. I stuck my legs beneath them without unmaking the bed, scooting into place and settling awkwardly against the dozen or so pillows piled behind my head, the quilt and bed sheets tucked beneath my chin. The bed smelled of the charged air before a thunderstorm, of Fëanáro. I breathed him in, absorbed him into my blood. I wished that I’d thought to bring a book, but then, that was too marital and bland, to have him emerge from his bath, slick and naked, to find me tucked into his bed and absorbed in a book. I lay with my neck bent awkwardly against the pillows and listening to the splashing from inside his bathroom, wondering what he was doing, wishing that I could watch.
I should have asked to watch. He probably would have liked that, would have made a show of slick caresses and his perfect, naked form.
Even though the bed was wider than any I’d ever seen much less slept in, I was stretched at the edge of it with yards of quilt and mattress and satin sheets to the other side of me. This had been one of his marital beds—the other in his home in Tirion—and I suppose it had ceased being an object of much marvel to Nerdanel. They probably stood on opposite sides of it, undressing and peeling back the bedclothes, arguing or discussing or fallen into the insular silences that I suppose don’t feel odd once one has been married for so long. I wondered if they’d crossed the width of this bed and held each other, even at the end of their marriage. I wondered if any of their children had been conceived here. Tyelkormo had been begotten in the summer as had the twins, and the family had spent most of their summers here. I wondered what Tyelkormo and Pityo would say to know that I was about to sleep in the bed where their lives had begun. I wondered what Telvo would say. One of the six greatest days of my life, Nerdanel’s letter had said of Carnistir’s begetting. I wondered if Fëanáro would be thinking of those days as he laid here with me, if he would regret that it was my touches and kisses—not hers—that were superimposed upon the memories they’d shared here.
Each place he put me seemed to erase a bit of her. Even as I felt a guilty twinge of joy for this, I wondered if he would one day come to resent me for it.
In the bathroom, a drain was opened and water gurgled from the bathtub, and a moment later, he emerged with his hair stuck to his shoulders in wet tendrils, with only a thin towel around his waist and not hiding much. Already, I could see, he was half-aroused, though I had learned that it didn’t take much to arouse Fëanáro: a suggestive look or an unintended innuendo, and he was pressing my hand to his groin to feel how hard he was. No wonder you have seven sons! I’d said once, frightened by his intensity that I could never hope to approximate much less match.
“Look at you!” he laughed. “Swathed in that bed like a cocoon!” He made a circle of the room, extinguishing all of the lamps except for the two beside the bed; he climbed the dais and yanked back the covers of the carefully made bed with such force that they were even torn from me. Still wearing his towel, though it was coming loose at the side and baring his long thigh nearly to his hip, he knelt beside me. He smelled of soap; beneath that, the electrical essence that was Fëanáro. “This,” he said, indicating my prostrate body in my prim nightclothes, “will not do. You shouldn’t have bothered to bring nightclothes at all. I want to feel your naked skin on mine tonight.” He knelt to begin undoing my buttons and whispered in my ear, “I want to feel all of you, inside and out.”
Heart hammering, I caught his hands before my shirt was half-undone and brought them, trembling, to my lips. “I-I do not want to disrobe.”
He took my hand, hooked it where the towel was tight around his waist, tugged it free to fall to the bed in a limp pile. He was fully aroused now and beautiful in the lamplight, kneeling with his legs splayed and his damp hair clinging to his bare chest. But he was used to eyes upon him; he was a prince and splendid at that.
“Please, Eressetor,” he said, and I expected him to guide my hand to his erection but he held it, bringing it to his lips, tenderly kissing my knuckles. “I let you look upon me, and from the desire in your eyes, you like it. I want also to look upon you, to know and master every inch of you as I am slowly letting you learn and master me.”
“But—I am not beautiful like you.” He was easing my nightshirt past my shoulders, coaxing me to lift my body so that he could slide it down and toss it away. My narrow shoulders were bared, then my skinny chest and belly, with its line of hair leading to my groin. His hands were beneath my buttocks, lifting, gently sliding my nightclothes away, leaving me bared and shamed, trembling hands lifting to cover myself and just as quickly nudged aside by Fëanáro. “Hush,” he said, allowing his eyes to slide slowly down the length of my body. “I believe that you are beautiful.”
He laid atop me, our arousals pressing each other, and kissed me deeply. One of his arms was stretched, reaching to fumble open the drawer on the bedside table, withdrawing something that he tucked into the palm of his hand. My eyes were opened and rolled to the side, trying to see what he was doing, even as he kissed me with such depth and passion that I should not have been able to resist him. He grew frustrated with me sometimes because I could.
“Lie back. Close your eyes,” he said, rising to slide down the bed, to press kisses to my chest. “Do not worry about what I am doing, for I will not hurt you and you must trust me. Relax and give in to the pleasure of it.”
Quavering hands pressed to the mattress on either side of me, I did as he’d instructed, though I was as tense as a wire. “Relax,” he whispered again, massaging my shoulders and arms with skilled hands that had me doing as he’d commanded within less than a minute. He kissed my nipples and down my trembling belly. He spread my thighs with gentle hands, and I acquiesced. When his mouth enveloped the head of my penis, I shouted in pleasure and surprise.
He laughed and the laughter made most pleasing vibrations. I moaned. “I knew that you would like it. See, you must trust me,” he said, spreading my legs further. My heart gave a nervous shudder. “Keep your eyes closed. Focus on the pleasure.”
He’d slicked his finger with something, and he probed by entrance. “Fëanáro…” I whimpered, but he hushed me and licked the length of my arousal, plunging into my tight insides when I quivered with the ecstasy of his tongue upon forbidden flesh. I shouted again, but this time with surprise and pain, and he withdrew the finger for a moment before prodding me again, and I writhed. “Fëanáro, no, it hurts,” but he had my thighs pinned beneath him, and though I thrashed, I could not escape one so much larger and stronger than me, as he was.
“Eressetor, you are tense and you assume that it will hurt and so it does,” he growled impatiently. He released me and was kneeling over me again. Something was dripping onto my belly; I opened my eyes to see him slicking his arousal with the same oily substance that he’d used on his fingers. I remembered the time in the woods, Telvo flat on his back upon the rock with the much-larger Nandolin thrusting into him, his cries that could have been borne of pain if one didn’t see his eyes, the fevered wildness there, and see how quickly he climaxed, even with his arousal untouched, Nandolin’s hands pressing his hips to the rock, holding him to the mercy of his thrusts. I twitched at the memory, and Fëanáro smiled. Smiled and kissed me. “It will be good. You will experience sensations that you don’t yet know are possible. But you must expect pleasure, not pain. You must relax and trust me.” His eyes as bright as flames in the quavering, lamplit semi-darkness, he asked, “Do you think that you can do that?”
I must have nodded because my ankles were being lifted onto his shoulders, his erection positioned at my entrance. His hands roved my body, and his cheeks were flushed with color; I was nearly panting with apprehension…apprehension, yes, but also an elusive twinkling of desire, wanting the sort of union that I had seen between Telvo and Nandolin.
With a hiss of breath, he thrust inside of me, and I screamed in pain and found his fingers pressing my mouth. I tried to kick free of him; I bit his fingers, but he only retreated and thrust into me again, deeper this time, past tight, resistant flesh, and tears cut burning tracks down my cheeks already damp with sweat, and his hand lifted from my mouth to wipe them away with the backs of his fingers.
“I love you,” he whispered. “Do not cry, do not hurt, for I love you.” He moved inside of me then, touching a place that made a white-hot flash behind my eyes, half agony and half ecstasy. He watched the transformation upon my face and grinned. “Yes, Eressetor. Yes.” Kissing my skinny, pale legs trembling upon his shoulders, moving inside of me again until I didn’t think that I could bear it—the painful intrusion or the agonizing pleasure of it—and I screamed into his hand that had again covered my mouth, and he thrust into me again, his pupils dilated and mad, his lips skinned back from his teeth, and I felt his length throbbing inside of me, and I thought, This is love! This is union! before he released and we became one flesh.
Trembling, gasping upon the bed, I could manage only to clamp my arms around him as he fell to the mattress beside me, burying his face in my hair and whispering my name like an invocation against loneliness. Eressetor, Eressetor, how I love you, Eressetor. It had taken less than a minute, and it was over. I’d survived, though I ached inside and the stickiness trickling between my thighs, I knew, was a mixture of his seed and my blood, but that—I suppose—was our union.