Modern Crusaders: Adeptus Major
For Disclaimers, see Chapter 1
"Say from what city, from what regions tossed,
And what inhabitants those regions boast?
So shalt thou quickly reach the realm assigned,
In wondrous ships, self-moved, instinct with mind;
No helm secures their course, no pilot guides;
Like man intelligently they plough the tides,
Conscious of every coast and every bay
That lies beneath the sun's all-seeing ray."
- Homer, Odyssey, Book VIII
Ally drifted towards consciousness slowly and lazily, in absolutely no hurry to allow the outside world to encroach on her cocoon of blissful comfort. Her sleepy mind was not quite sure why it was so blissful, but it seemed like too much effort to find out.
Nonetheless, it was impossible to keep her waking mind quiescent for long, and rational thought slowly emerged. Rather than bringing a dash of cold reality, waking senses reported that things were just as blissful in the waking world.
There was a delightful warmth pressed against Allys back, and a now-familiar link carried its own emotional warmth from the person behind her. A soft arm was thrown around Allys waist, and she realized that she was hugging it to her breast. The hand attached to the arm was tantalisingly close to her lips, and she couldnt resist placing a loving kiss on the fingertips. The body behind her reacted to the sensation with a soft mewling sound, but didnt wake. The residual thoughts coming over the link reflected their owners sleeping contentment, reminding Ally of the time she had tried to scan Cassies thoughts while the cat was still asleep.
Hmm, she thought muzzily. And she was trying to say that I purr. If only she could hear herself now.
The thought served to recall the memories of just how Ally and her bedmate had ended up in this position. Ally had led Evelynne through the doors of her balcony and into her bedroom. Once inside, there had been a moment of slightly embarrassed self-consciousness, which had evaporated quickly when, moving nearly as one, they had gravitated to each others arms and into a passionate kiss. Self-control left quickly after that, though Ally had retained just enough concentration to reach out and close the balcony door before they collapsed onto the bed.
No words other than intently whispered "I love yous" had emerged after that, though the clearly felt emotions were more eloquent than mere sounds could ever be. Now fully conscious of Evelynnes experience, and a dread of hurting her lover again, Ally had tried to restrain herself, but Evelynne would have none of it, and intensely passionate love-making had been followed by incredibly gentle loving for a long time afterwards.
There was some thought struggling to make itself known, something that she somehow knew would disrupt this pleasant haze, but with the ease of long practice in the control of her own mind, Ally refused to let it surface.
Ally smiled to herself as the memories of their encounter came more clearly. With the their slightly awkward first time behind them, Evelynne had proven to be a surprisingly talented and intuitive lover - not that Ally had much to compare it with.
The suppressed thoughts were becoming more insistent, and Ally realized that there were actually several things clamoring for her attention. The first was enough to make her eyes spring wide open, suddenly fully awake.
Oh God, she thought, she was just supposed to stay for a little while, and then go back to her own room. A quick glance at the light leaking around the closed curtains confirmed that considerably more than a little while had passed, though Ally could not tell the exact time. The light still had an early-morning quality to it, but the amount indicated that it was well past dawn. Well, maybe nobodys noticed yet.
That optimistic thought was shattered by the second revelation of the day, as Allys mind finally processed the signals her sense of smell had been sending. A deeper sniff had her squinting blurrily at the nearby night table, and thoughts sped through her head.
Coffee! But I dont drink coffee! Maybe Evy got up and got some. But I would have woken up if she did. Someone else came in and saw us! Ally vaguely remembered Evelynne talking about her ritual morning cup of coffee, and how Seneschal Ylan brought it, without fail, every morning. Oh God, he saw us like this! Ally sat bolt upright.
The sudden movement was more than enough to wake the woman who had been slumbering peacefully against her back. "What? Huh?" Evelynne said, confused by the circumstances of her rude awakening. She rubbed her eyes, propping herself on one elbow. It took her a moment to become fully conscious, but then she looked up to see her lovers bare back, stiff with tension, as Ally sat on the edge of the bed, staring at nothing. "Ally? Are you okay?" Evelynne asked hesitantly, reaching out to place a hand on the expanse of skin, pulling back, hurt, when Ally flinched at the contact. Isis, please dont let her be regretting what we did. I dont want to lose her.
Ally said something, her voice too low to be made out.
"What did you say?" Evelynne asked.
"I said somebody was in here," Ally repeated in a louder voice. "They brought coffee." Her voice cracked slightly. "And they must have seen us."
Evelynne recognized this tone of voice. This was the incredibly shy and private Ally, struggling with the knowledge that someone had seen her so exposed, and a hairs breadth away from a panic attack. Fortunately, the princess had also learned how to deal with a situation like this: very gently.
Sitting up slowly, acting as though Ally was a frightened animal ready to bolt, Evelynne carefully knelt behind her lover and rested her hands high on Allys back. The right covered the small round scar of Allys shoulder wound, and Evelynne stroked the shiny skin with her thumb before pressing a kiss between Allys shoulder blades. Ally tensed briefly, then slowly relaxed into the caress. Evelynne took advantage of the more compliant form to wrap her arms around the other woman, transferring her lips to a smooth neck as she did so.
"Ally, love," she whispered between soft kisses, "its alright. Everything will be okay."
"O-okay?" Ally said, her voice hitching slightly in response. "But someone saw us. In bed. Naked. Together. Do you really want this to come out now?"
Evelynne sighed and rested her chin on Allys shoulder, maintaining the embrace and reveling in the sensation of skin on skin. She forced herself to focus on the issue at hand. "Love, the only person who probably saw us is Nancu Ylan. He always brings my coffee. And -" A glance at the side table. "- he also brought you some hot chocolate. Somehow dont think he would do that if he thought I was in danger. Also, that man is the very epitome of discretion. He will never tell anyone about what he saw. So dont worry; our secrets safe." The last phrase caused a sliver of resentment to enter Evelynnes tone.
Ally relaxed further. "Im sorry," she said, hanging her head. "I just Im not good with exposure." She turned her head to face Evelynne. "Does it bother you that I ont want anyone knowing about us?"
"No, not really. Mind you, there is a part of me that wants the entire world to know that we love each other. But the larger part is not ready for anything like that."
"Thats how I feel," Ally admitted. "Of course, in our case, it would literally be a case of having the world know, and Im nowhere near being ready for that."
"Thats alright." Evelynne smiled and placed a wet kiss on a handy expanse of neck. "Now," she said in a seductive tone, "do you want to drink your hot chocolate, or "
Ally looked hesitantly towards the closed door to the bedroom, as if expecting someone to come bursting through at any moment. "Um, I dont know " She was rapidly becoming distracted by her lovers attentions.
"Its alright," Evelynne coaxed, urging Ally back towards the middle of the bed. "Neither Ylan nor anyone else is going to come in here. Its early still. We have plenty of time "
Now on her back, with Evelynne draped atop her body, Ally looked up. "Okay," she said, her hands beginning to move across the other womans back. "Hot chocolates better cold, anyway."
Sir Arthur and Maïda were in the breakfast room eating when Evelynne finally entered much later looking for food. The princess paused in the doorway, self-consciously smoothing her black silk blouse and gray trousers as she did so. While she didnt think either of them knew what she had been doing for the last few hours, a part of her was convinced that it was written across her forehead.
"Good morning, Highness," Maïda said. She looked to the door that Evelynne had walked through, but didnt see who she was expecting. "Is Alleandre joining us?"
Evelynne blushed. "Um, no. Shes... still in bed right now." She face her bodyguard as a servant brought out a plate of eggs and sausage. "How are you two this morning?"
"Quite well, Your Highness," Sir Arthur replied. "And yourself? Are you feeling better?"
"Better?" Evelynne asked blankly.
"Yes." The Guard looked puzzled. "Seneschal Ylan informed us that you were indisposed this morning."
"Oh. Right. Yes." Both Maïda and Sir Arthur were puzzled by the blush which deepened even further. "I was indisposed. Actually, it's Ally who's... indisposed right now. Uh, that's why she's still in bed. It was probably something she... ate." It appeared as though Evelynnes face was threatening to catch fire. Or someone.
"You still look very flushed, Highness," Maïda observed. "Have you spoken with Latifa about what it might have been?"
"No!" the princess blurted. "That is I know it wasnt anything Latifa provided. It was something that I... gave Ally." Several times, in fact.
"I see. But you are alright?"
"Absolutely." Couldnt be better, in fact.
"You should probably avoid giving Alleandre whatever it was from now on."
Ill, uh keep that in mind." Not likely. That is one delicacy I intend to offer as often as possible.
There was something about Evelynnes behaviour that Maïda could not put a finger on, some vibe which was clamouring for attention. It wasnt until the princess absently rubbed a red mark on the side of her neck that it clicked. The shy bite mark was unmistakable. "Oh my." The fork dropped from Maïdas hand.
"Are you alright?" Sir Arthur asked. There was something nudging his subconscious as well, but he couldnt figure out what it was.
"Oh yes. I only just realized something, thats all." A second glance at Evelynne's neck and face showed that the princess was smiling slightly as she rubbed her skin, apparently distracted by some memory. The lady-in-waiting tried to bestow a reassuring smile on Sir Arthur, while her levels of maternal instinct were screaming at her to do something. "Really. There is just something I must take care of after breakfast."
"Of course," the bodyguard said. He returned his attention to his charge. "Are you going to have Latifa send up something to eat?"
"Um, no. I thought I'd take something up for her myself. You know how she hates having people she doesn't know around when she's not feeling well." It wasn't quite a lie. Evelynne knew that Ally really did hate intruders when she was ill. "In fact, I thought I'd take the day off and... tend to her. There aren't any really pressing issues to deal with today anyway. Could you let my secretary know?"
"Certainly, Your Highness," Sir Arthur said. "I hope Alleandre is feeling better soon."
Evelynne flushed. "Oh, I'm sure she will." At least, if I have anything to do with it.
Evelynne finally tracked Nancu Ylan down in his office, where he had apparently been reviewing the Palaces accounts. It took her longer than usual because she didnt want to draw attention to the fact that she was seeking him out. In retospect, it would probably have been more inconspicuous to simply ask a Guard, but there was no point in trying that now.
The princess was feeling a little rushed, since it had been a while since she had left Ally, hopefully still asleep, but on the other hand, this conversation was potentially life-changing - one of many life-changing experiences Evelynne had experienced lately. The Seneschal had the power to either keep both womens lives private, or complicate them immeasurably by revealing what he had witnessed that morning. Evelynne could only pray that her earlier reassurances to Ally about Ylans discretion were accurate.
The Seneschal looked up as the princess knocked on the door. There was no surprise in his expression, leaving the impression that he had been expecting Evelynnes visit. But then it could have simply been his normal impassive expression. Still, he rose instantly as she entered. "Your Highness," he greeted solemnly.
"Seneschal," Evelynne replied, taking refuge in the formality of the greeting. Her stomach was in knots, and she seriously considered leaving and avoiding this discussion, but steeled herself and faced Ylan squarely. Then she realised that she was still dressed in her casual silk outfit, which was hardly the most regal attire, and almost laughed. The princess held back the slightly hysterical reaction carefully, and managed to say, "How are you this morning, Ylan?"
Nancu Ylans white brow rose. "Quite well, thank you, Your Highness. And yourself?"
"Im doing extremely well this morning." Evelynne turned and closed the door, ensuring them some privacy. That accomplished, she sank down into a nearby chair. "I suppose we need to have a talk," she said quietly, looking down at her hands clasped in her lap.
"I suppose so, Your Highness," Ylan replied, taking a seat of his own across from her and waiting patiently.
A tense silence stretched for several minutes before Evelynne finally said, "I... assume that it was you who came into... Allys room this morning and left the coffee and chocolate."
"It was, Your Highness," the Seneschal confirmed.
"And you saw us."
"I did, Your Highness."
Evelynne waited for him to continue, but he did not speak further, and she began to feel irrationally angry with him for making her spell out the situation. "Damnit, Ylan, I want to know what you..." She deflated suddenly, seeming to fold in on herself, hugging her arms to her body in a protective gesture. "I want to know what youre going to do about it," the princess finished in a small voice.
"Do, Your Highness? I intend to do nothing."
Evelynne looked at the Seneschal carefully. His tone had been as unassumingly bland as it usually was, but it seemed as though she could detect a faint note of "You dont approve, do you?" she asked softly. "Of Ally and me."
"Your Highness, it is not my place to -"
"Ylan," Evelynne interrupted, "please. I consider you a friend. I need to know what you really think."
The Seneschal frowned, but appeared to relent by a minute amount. "Very well, Your Highness. I do not believe that Dame Alleandre is the best choice for a liaison."
"You dont like her," Evelynne stated. "Or is it because shes a woman?"
"Not like her, Your Highness? Not at all. I have great respect for Dame Alleandre. I find her to be a most remarkable individual. However, the fact that she is a woman does concern me. Not for the reasons you are probably expecting," he continued, volunteering information for the first time. "I am concerned about your position, Your Highness. If you were a commoner, I would completely support your decision to engage in a relationship with another woman, especially one as admirable as Dame Alleandre. I have no objections on an emotional level to homosexual relationships. As you may recall, my son has been living with a man whom he loves very much, and they are planning to marry some time this year. However, he is not in your position. You are the Heir, and as such, any alliances you may make must protect your authority and the respect due your title. With all respect to Dame Alleandre, she is not only a commoner, albeit an admirable one, but also a recent Citizen, and as such her loyalties could be called into question." He didnt add that he was also somewhat uncertain of the young Knights ultimate loyalty. "Your political opponents could use that as a weapon to attack your authority. And that does not even consider the fact that she is a woman. These factors lead me to believe that Dame Alleandre is unsuitable as your Consort." The Seneschal cocked his head, a gesture that was the equivalent of a shrug. "I apologise if I have upset you, Your Highness, but I am sworn to protect your interests, and I believe that they are best served by the truth. That said, you need not worry that I will reveal what I discovered this morning."
Evelynne wiped away the tears that had formed in her eyes. Ylans words had brought the unwelcome reality of the situation crashing down on her. The Seneschal could be considered to be a fair representative of the Atlantlan citizenry, which lent credit to his thoughts, and raised serious concerns over the future of her nascent relationship with her new lover. Still, the thought of ending this wonderful new experience so soon was even more painful.
"Well, thank you for being honest with me, at least," she said, her voice cracking slightly. The princess cleared her throat. "I appreciate it. But this isnt just a... liaison for me. I love her. Ive never loved anyone like I love her, and I dont want to let her go."
Ylan nodded. "Would you consider abdicating or her, Your Highness?" He knew that he was crossing out of what would be considered the proper territory of a mere Seneschal, but he felt that the Heir must consider all the options.
Evelynne opened her mouth to reply immediately, then hesitated. She wasnt sure what the answer was. "Isis, I dont know," she whispered. "I love her, and part of me would give up everything to be with her. But Ive been training to rule my whole life, first as Princess, and then as Queen, ever since Patrick abdicated. There has been nothing else... until now. So I dont know."
"I did not mean to suggest that you should, Your Highness," the Seneschal said. "In fact, in my personal opinion, if I may be so bold, you will make an excellent Queen when you Ascend the Throne. However, I believe you must be aware of all the options."
"I know, Ylan. And thank you." The princess smiled sadly, but with some genuine humour. "Damnit, I want to have my cake and, uh... eat it, too," she said, blushing slightly. She sighed. "For now, though, Im grateful that you arent going to say anything to anyone."
"Of course not, Your Highness." Ylan paused. What he was considering saying could be considered a breach of confidence, but under the circumstances... "You may not believe me, Your Highness, but this morning was not the first time that I have... intruded on a similar situation involving a Royal couple. In this Palace as well, as a matter of fact."
"What are you talking about? Did you find Patrick... But no, Im pretty sure hes never done anything like that. Or was it..." Evelynne broke off, as a horrible possibility filled her mind. "Oh no. It was... za? Who was he with?"
"He was... with your Royal mother, of course, Your Highness. Before she was your mother, however."
Evelynne relaxed slightly. "Oh, okay. At least they were married..." She saw Ylans expression. "They... were married... right?"
"Not at the time, Your Highness. This occurred several months prior to the wed-"
"No, no, no," Evelynne said, covering her ears with her hands and screwing her eyes shut. "I do not want to hear this." She opened one eye a crack to glare at Nancu Ylan. "Thank you so much for that image, Ylan. And today of all days." She shuddered.
"I apologise, Your Highness," he replied. The twinkle in his eyes was very well hidden. Those who claimed that the Seneschal had no sense of humour really didnt know him at all.
Evelynne quietly entered Allys rooms, a tray piled high with food balanced carefully in her hands. Latifa had offered to get a servant to bring breakfast up, but the princess had declined, claiming that Ally felt uncomfortable having other people around when she was sick. In reality, of course, Evelynne felt that Ally would be even more uncomfortable to have someone walk in when she was naked and asleep, but she hadnt said that to the cook.
Closing the door behind her, Evelynne walked across the living room and peeked into the bedroom. The unruly mop of mussed brown hair poking up from above the blanket on the bed showed that Ally was still sound asleep. Evelynne silently placed the tray on a nearby table, then snuck closer the look at her lovers face.
Ally was resting mostly on her stomach, her head turned towards the outside of the bed. The blanket was pulled up high, leaving only a small portion of her shoulders and neck visible. Her face was completely relaxed, and Evelynne realised that all the cliches about people having a childlike innocence when they were sleeping were true. This Ally before her was not the incredibly powerful Adept, nor the intelligent scientist, nor even the kind, shy woman she had come to love; this was just Ally.
Evelynne spent several moments crouched by the side of the bed, just watching her lover sleep. Shes so beautiful, the princess thought. She doesnt believe that she is, but its there for anyone to see. And Im so grateful that Ive seen more than most. Unable to stop herself, Evelynne reached out and began to run her fingers through Allys short hair, lightly scratching the scalp. This, she had learned last night, was one of Allys favourite sensations, capable of reducing her to a puddle of jelly. It seemed to be wokring now, too. Still deeply asleep, Ally let out a contented sigh and snuggled further into the blanket. Evelynne listened carefully for a moment, then grinned. Ally was purring again, the soft, pleased humming just barely audible, but she still didnt wake. I wore her out last night and this morning, Evelynne thought, absurdly pleased with herself. The poor thing. Of course, she wasnt exactly complaining
Feeling her libido waking once again at the memories, Evelynne instinctively leaned forward to brush her lips over Allys. The sudden slight gasp and mild tension that resulted informed her that Ally was now awake. The knowledge was confirmed when her lover snaked an arm out of the blankets and around her neck, drawing her closer for a proper "Good Morning" kiss.
Several minutes later they both came up for air. Evelynne pulled back slightly, sitting back on her heels by the side of the bed. Allys left hand remained loosely cupped around the princess face, lightly stroking her cheek with the thumb.
"Good morning," Ally said lazily, her voice still rough from a mixture of sleep and emotion. She cleared her throat, then her eyes widened as she realised their position. "Youre dressed," she blurted.
"I am. But youre not," Evelynne replied, sneaking a hand under the blankets to stroke bare, soft skin. She grinned cheekily. "I like your way better."
Ally blushed, then her breathing hitched as Evelynne brushed against some very sensitive skin. "So do I," she whispered hoarsely. "However -" She reached in to capture the wandering hand. "- right now I really need to go to the bathroom."
"Okay," Evelynne agreed, pressing a kiss to Allys forehead. She stood, holding out a hand.
Ally looked at the hand for a moment, then reached out to take it, sitting up as she did so. She tried to keep the sheet wrapped around her body, but couldnt quite manage it. She fumbled for a few seconds before Evelynne took her other hand.
"Ally," the princess said, "what are you doing?"
"Im... um... Well..."
"Love, Ive seen it all before. Remember?" Evelynne voice was gently teasing.
Predictably, Ally blushed again. "Sorry," she said, casting her gaze downwards. "Its just... force of habit. I dont really like anyone seeing me... well, you know..."
Its alright, love." Evelynne reached out to bring Allys eyes level with her own, then placed both hands on her lovers shoulders. Not breaking eye contact, she said, "Stop me if you want to, alright?" Ever so slowly she brought her hands down, taking the sheet with them, and baring Allys upper body. Ally tensed, but made no move to stop her. When her lover was bare from the waist up, the blanket still covering her lower body, Evelynne stopped. She didnt look away from Allys eyes. "Ally, youre beautiful. You dont have to hide yourself from me." She raised her right hand to cup Allys breast, smiling inwardly at the sharp gasp the move brought. "I love looking at you."Giving the breast a final caress, Evelynne pulled her hand away. "But I also want you to be comfortable. If you dont want to show yourself, thats alright also. I never want to make you unhappy, love. Do you understand?"
Ally nodded shakily, her emotions - love, fear, embarrassment, happiness - plainly visible on her face. "I understand. Thank you. I love you." She suddenly chuckled embarrassedly. "But right now I really need to go to the bathroom."
Evelynne laughed. "Alright," she said, standing up. "Go ahead."
Ally hesitated a moment longer, then pushed back the blanket and stood up in front of her lover, not bothering to cover herself. Evelynne eyed her with a frankly appreciative gaze, and she managed not to hide herself with her hands, instead allowing the princess the opportunity. The only signs of her discomfort were a constant flush and her twitching hands, which tried to automatically cover her most private areas. Damnit, this is Evelynne, she thought. And she was right: she has seen everything Im displaying now. More, in fact. Her flush deepened at the thought.
Evelynne finished her perusal, fighting the urge to throw Ally back onto the bed again. I dont think that would be a good idea right now. But when she gets back from the bathroom... watch out. Her gaze finally rested on Allys face, whose owner refused to meet her eyes. She gently but firmly reached out and forced Ally to meet her gaze. Pulling her lover down, Evelynne kissed her passionately, then broke away. "Go," she ordered, pointing to the open bathroom door.
A suspicion of tears in her eyes, Ally smiled tremulously. Then, turning away, she walked, still naked towards the bathroom, consciously forcing down her instinct to hide as quickly as possible.
Evelynne watched her retreating form, eyes hot on her back... and lower regions. Reaching the bathroom, Ally turned and smiled apologetically before closing the door.
The door closed, Evelynnes body could finally start sending blood back to other vital areas, like her upper brain functions. Shaking her head, she turned back to the breakfast tray, hesitating briefly before extending its short legs and placing it in the centre of the bed. It was odd, she mused as she worked. Despite the fact that Ally was the one who had the experience in these matters, so far it was the princess who felt that she was the experienced one... at least in some areas. Still, I suppose it makes sense in a way, she thought. Ive been raised and trained my whole life to both be confident and to instill confidence in other people. Its a necessary part of my life. But Ally has apparently had several hard knocks, and its shaken her. I know that her parents, her friends, and even... Annie - She managed to think the name with only a moderate twinge of jealousy. - have done their best to reassure her and bolster her self-confidence, but for whatever reason it hasnt been enough. Of course, carrying around the secrets she does, and not being sure exactly what shes capable of becoming, would be enough to shake anyones self-image. And its not as though shes had hundreds of lovers who could have helped her overcome it... thank Isis! So I suppose that task must fall to me. Evelynne grinned wickedly. Oh dear, however will I manage it? There was a thread of insecurity beneath it all, though, unvoiced even to herself.
Hearing the toilet flush, the princess snatched up a pair of Allys green silk pajamas. It was enough that Ally had managed to expose herself - both physically and emotionally - once this morning. Evelynne didnt think that her lover would be able to eat breakfast while naked.
The door to the bathroom opened then, and Ally stepped out, still in all her glory. She had apparently taken the time to splash water on her face, and Evelynne watched, mesmerised, as a drop of water that had escaped the towel slowly wound its way down Allys neck. The brief respite also seemed to have restored Allys confidence somewhat, because much of her earlier tension appeared to be gone.
Realising she was staring again, Evelynne held out Allys pajamas in one hand, and her glasses in the other. She was considerably surprised - though pleased - when her lover simply brushed them aside, wrapped the smaller woman in her arms, and bent down to kiss her deeply, passionately and thoroughly. The items tumbled forgotten to the floor, as Evelynne eagerly returned the embrace. Without quite understanding how it had happened, the princess herself found back on the bed, pressing Ally into its surface, her wandering hands mapping bare skin.
Finally breaking away, Evelynne looked down to find Allys intense grey eyes looking deeply into her own. "Hello," Ally said hoarsely, her own hands rubbing up and down Evelynnes back through her shirt.
"Hello yourself," Evelynne murmured back. Her face quirked into a smile. "Thats a very nice way to say good morning."
"Mmm," Ally agreed. "Maybe when youre Queen you should enact a law making that the official greeting in the Realm. Thou shalt passionately kiss the first person thine eyes lay upon each day."
"I like it," Evelynne said, giggling.
"Im pretty sure it would boost morale. Maybe you should add on a bit about kissing the first person you see at work."
"Now that would increase workplace satisfaction. Of course, it might also hamper productivity. People might find themselves greeting their co-workers more than actually working."
"Thats true. So I suppose we should just keep this to ourselves, huh?"
"I suppose we should," Evelynne whispered, ducking her head back down to kiss Ally with definite intent.
Ally kissed her back for a few moments, then managed to pull back slightly. "I hate to keep breaking the mood," she said, puntuating her words with kisses to Evelynnes jaw, "but I am absolutely starving."
"Mmm, eat later," Evelynne hummed. She paused. "Or you could eat now..." She raised an eyebrow wickedly.
"As... tempting as that is," Ally said, "right now I really need food. Although later we could have... dessert."
"Mnm, mnm," Evelynne murmured, burying her face in Allys neck. Her voice was muffled. "Dessert now, food later."
Ally sighed and called on all her self-control. Rolling to the side, she managed to put several centimetres between them. "Trust me, love," she said. "Anticipation makes the best dessert even better."
"To the Duat with anticipation," Evelynne pouted. "Ive been anticipating for months now."
"And didnt it make it last night... really good?" There was just a hint of insecurity in the question.
"Really good? Try... absolutely amazing. Mind-blowing. Incredible." Evelynnes voice dropped and took on an earnest quality. "Loving."
Allys gaze softened. "Good," she whispered.
Holding her lovers eyes for a few moments longer, Evelynne sighed. "Alright," she said. "Well eat now... breakfast, that is. Afterwards, though..."
"Afterwards," Ally promised.
"Alright." Sitting up on the bed, Evelynne reached to the floor and picked up the carelessly discarded pajamas and glasses. "Here," she said, holding them out.
Thank you," Ally said. Slipping on her glasses, she looked around. "Ah, thats better." She quickly pulled on her pajama pants and slung the shirt over her shoulders. She was about to button it up when Evelynne stopped her.
"Let me," the other woman said, her fingers already at work. Ally raised her eyebrows but said nothing. The only sounds she made were the soft hitches in her breathing when Evelynnes fingers "accidentally" brushed against her skin.
"Youre quite the seductress, you know," she said when the task was complete. "Are you sure youve never done this before?"
"Positive," Evelynne replied, smirking. "Im just... inspired." The look she gave Ally almost made the older woman discard her resolve.
"Okay, lets eat... That is, lets have breakfast," Ally said hurriedly.
The next few minutes were mostly silent, as both women ate. After several minutes, Evelynne began feeding Ally morsels of food. Ally blushed, but returned the favour. "This is good," Ally commented. She paused. "So... what did they say when you asked for... breakfast in bed?" The anxiety was back in her tone, though less so than earlier that morning.
"Well," Evelynne replied, finishing off a strawberry, "everyone thinks youre sick... Indisposed was the word Nancu Ylan used. I... Well, I didnt say anything to disabuse them of the idea." The princess eyes twinkled. "In fact, they now think that youre in bed because of something you ate last night."
Ally almost choked on her apple juice, coughing and hacking until her face was bright red. "Oh no," she rasped. "Please tell me youre joking."
"Im not. The reason that Im not indisposed is because I didnt eat exactly the same thing that you did. So you see, everything I said was completely true... from a certain point of view." Evelynne let her eyes drift down Allys body.
"Oh no," Ally repeated, burying her face in her hands. "Ill never be able to look at them again." She sighed and looked up, and her tone and expression were serious now. "So... what did Ylan say about... us? Does anyone else know?"
"No. Hes not going to say anything. As far as hes concerned, this falls under the heading of Personal Secrets, and unless it becomes a threat to the stability of the Kingdom and Crown, he wont say a word."
"Oh. Okay." Allys voice was relieved. "Did he... say anything to you personally?"
Evelynne hesitated, considering how much to tell her lover. Honesty, Evy, she thought. This affects both of you, so you have to be honest. "Hes... He doesnt approve of you," she said finally. Ally winced and Evelynne reached out to take her hand.
"Damn," Ally whispered fiercely. "Its because Im a woman, isnt it?"
"Yes. But not quite in the way you probably think." Evelynne took in Allys tight, shuttered expression, wishing, not for the first time, that she had the Adepts though-sensing ability. "He doesnt have anything against you on a personal level. Actually, he thinks youre quite admirable. However, he is concerned about the effect our relationship will have on my legitimacy and authority to rule. Some of the Nobles could cause quite a few problems. He also has a problem with the fact that you arent part of the aristocracy. Traditionally, Royal spouses and Consorts have come from the various Noble houses, although there have been exceptions to that rule."
Oh. Okay," Ally said after a moment. She forced a smile. "At least now I... we know. So... how do you feel about that?" she asked hesitantly.
"Im... alright for the most part," Evelynne admitted. "Naturally, I would have liked complete acceptance and support, but I truly believe that his concerns are professionally motivated."
"Okay," Ally said. "As long as youre alright with it."
"I will be."
They were silent for a few more minutes. At one point Ally looked up to see Evelynne looking at her with a questioning expression on her face. "What?" she asked.
"What?" Evelynne echoed, startled. "Oh. I was just wondering something... Can I ask you a question?"
"Evy, you can always ask me any question," Ally said. "Of course, I may not always want to answer, but never be afraid to ask."
"Alright. I was just wondering... This morning, when you were, you know, trying to hold up the sheet with one hand..."
"Um... yeah?" Ally blushed at the memory.
"Well... why didnt you use your mind to hold it up? I mean, I assume you could, right?"
"Oh." Ally looked a little startled. "Well, yeah, I could, I guess. Its not like linen is my kryptonite or anything. I suppose... To be honest, I just never thought of it. Even though sometimes I can and do use my abilities automatically, usually I have to consciously decide to do something. And, well, this morning I just didnt even think of it." She shrugged. "Sorry, but thats the best answer I can come up with."
"Oh, thats alright. I was just curious, thats all. I suppose I was wondering just how natural your abilities are to you."
"Well, for the most part, it hardly ever feels unnatural any more. Its just not automatic. Who knows, maybe one day Ill be able to pick things up psychokinetically without even thinking of it, as though it was my arm or hand. Maybe it will be like having ten hands. I dont know."
"Hmm," Evelynne mused. "Ten hands, eh? You know, that could be very useful in some situations." She stared at Ally hungrily.
"Oh?" Ally said.
Her eyes narrowed, and suddenly Evelynne gasped, her right hand flying to her inner thigh. The princess gasped again when another phantom touch brushed the curve of her breast. It was a nearly indescribable sensation. The touch lacked any sort of friction or heat, being composed solely of a kind of moving pressure, almost as if she was being very gently caressed with a small, rubbery ceramic rolling ball. Still, it was somehow incredibly erotic. "Oh, Isis," Evelynnes groaned.
"Are you okay?" Ally asked. "Is that... alright?" She was truthfully a little worried. While she was fairly certain that the feeling wasnt pain, she wasnt certain how Evelynne would react to being touched in such an unconventional way. "Are you -" She was cut off by the impact of a leaping red-headed body which proceeded to smother her in kisses and caresses. She managed to keep control of her awareness just long enough to rescue the breakfast tray, lifting it off the bed and onto the floor before it could spill its contents all over them.
Ally lay staring up at the multicoloured blob that was the ceiling, lazily running her fingers through the flame-red hair that lay spread out across her stomach. Evelynne was humming happily at the attention, turning her head every now and then to press a kiss to the soft surface her head was lying on. Her hand also rested near her face, softly stroking the skin beneath it, and occasionally inching lower to tease short, wiry hairs. Both women were nearly completely exposed to the air of the room, the sheets and blankets pushed down into a tangled pile at the foot of the bed.
Ally was content to simply lie back and revel in the sensation of pleasure recently and energetically expended, along with the near-constant, low-level arousal that Evelynne was keeping alive. Her contemplation was interrupted by Evelynnes low murmur.
"Ally, love," the princess began.
"I know, I know," Ally interrupted languidly. "Im purring."
Evelynne giggled, causing delightful sensations to ripple over Allys lower abdomen. "Actually," the princess murmured, "I was going to say something else. But youre right. You are purring."
"Hmph," Ally pouted. "Okay, then, what were you going to say?"
"Well..." Evelynne hesitated before turning her head so that she could look up at her lover. "I... kind of had a question." She trailed off.
"Remember, I told you that you can ask me any question you want." Ally peered down at Evelynnes face, cursing her eyes for turning such a beautiful visage into a near-shapeless blob.
"Well.. I suppose it was two questions, actually." Considering for a moment, Evelynne chickened out and chose the less potentially loaded question first. "The first was... well... Have you ever been attracted to a man?"
Allys eyes widened. "A man?" she asked.
"Yes. I mean, I know youve only ever been in a relationship with a woman, but I was wondering if youd ever looked at a man... that way."
"Oh." Ally was silent for a moment as she thought. "Well, I guess that is depends on exactly what you mean. For example, do I find some men handsome? Of course. Some I would even call beautiful. Your brother, for example, or your father. Both are very handsome men. I have absolutely no physical or sexual attraction to them, however."
"Thank Isis," Evelynne murmured, and Ally laughed.
"On the other hand, there are a few men who... well, turn me on." Ally could feel herself blushing. "The thing is, though, that most of them are more along the lines of fantasy figures. George Clooney, for example. Now hes hot!"
Evelynne looked at her incredulously. "Youre joking, right?"
"Evy, Im gay, Im not blind - quite... or dead. Ive had the occasional... mental image of George Clooney and what he might be like... you know. But what Im getting at is that being attracted like that is... well, just pure fantasy. Its not real. Theres practically no way Im ever going to meet George Clooney, and even if I did, would I still find him as attractive in real life? I dont know. Probably not, considering that actors nearly always look better on screen."
"Okay, I guess I can understand that," Evelynne said. She shook her head. "But George Clooney? I dont see it. What about..." She tried to recall who the Hollywood sex symbols were now. "Brad Pitt?"
Ally made a face. "Ew, no. Tom Cruise, on the other hand..."
"Are you sure youre not blind? I mean, you have actually looked at these people, right? And you still find them... What was the word? Hot?"
Ally shrugged. "I cant help it. On the other hand, Angelina Jolie blows them out of the water any day of the week."
"Ah," Evelynne said, this time nodding in satisfaction. "Now there I can agree with you. She is rather..."
"Drool-inducing?" Ally suggested.
"Well, I was going to say alluring, but, yes." They both laughed. "So if those are your fantasy men, have you ever felt attracted to anyone that you actually know?"
"Well, there have been a few men that I've been a little curious about," Ally admitted. "I mean, even if Im only attracted to one in a thousand men, well, Ive seen way more than a thousand men in my life. But even there its just a physical, fantasy thing. If I really had the chance Im pretty sure I wouldnt want to do anything... intimate with them. Besides, theyre almost all total strangers anyway, and the thought of having sex with someone I dont know - man or woman - is just... repellent to me." She shuddered. "Of course, some people like sex like that, and all I can say is, good for them. As long as youre all consenting adults, do what you want. Its just not for me."
"Mm. So I should be glad you know me, huh?"
"Well, Im glad we know each other."
"So am I." Evelynne thought for a moment. "So if you wont have sex with a strange man, what about a friend? Someone like Chorus, for example? Would you be attracted to him?" When Ally tensed, Evelynne propped herself up on her elbow, maintaining her gentle stroking of Allys belly with the other hand. "Ally?"
Ally sighed heavily. "Well... yes," she said simply. She wished she could sample Evelynnes emotions, or even just see her face clearly, but felt a little relieved when her lover simply kept up her soft stroking. She sighed again. "To be honest, Chorus is the only man I would seriously consider sleeping with. Hes a good friend, and thats something I consider to be absolutely essential to any intimate relationship."
Ally struggled with her next words for a moment before continuing. "A few months after Annie broke up with me," she began in a low voice, "and after Id met Chorus, we were in Greece. And Chorus and I had really clicked as friends, and I found myself pouring out all this stuff that I was feeling, about how hurt I was, and angry, and sad, and at one point he pulled me into this hug. And I cried for, oh God, I dont know how long. And he was just there, and being really supportive, not really saying much, just letting me talk. After a while I calmed down, and, well... I kissed him." She smiled sadly as Evelynne tensed. "Nothing more happened, but there was this part of me that really wanted to be with him. I wanted someone to love me, and cherish me, and touch me, and make me feel good, and just make me feel special again. Of course, I wasnt really thinking clearly at the time, and he knew that, because he gently but firmly told me no, and put me to bed... alone. Well, almost alone." She chuckled. "He somehow found me this incredibly tacky, yet beautiful, plush Greek Aphrodite doll and gave it to me to sleep with. He told me that, given what I am, there was no way the Gods were going to risk pissing me off by not giving me someone to love. I didnt really believe him at the time, but I guess he was right." Ally smiled down at her new lover, who had relaxed again as the story continued. "Youre here."
"Yes, I am," Evelynne whispered, pressing another series of kisses to the skin beneath her head. Her hand resumed its stroking, slowly inching downward as it did so. "So what happened to the doll?"
What? Oh, um..." Ally was having trouble concentrating. "Oh, I, um lost it in a fire in Italy." She felt, rather than saw, Evelynnes questioning glance. "Its a, uh, long story. Ill tell it to you sometime."
"Ill hold you to that." Evelynne hand slipped a little further south. "I... had another question." Without moving her hand, she slid upwards until her head was level with Allys and they were pressed abainst each other for almost their entire lengths. Shifting, she began to place tiny nibbles along one flushed ear. She was hoping that by concentrating on this, she would be able to ask the question that actually had her very nervous.
"Uh... yes?" Ally breathed. She was trying to use a meditation technique that she usually used to control pain to maintain her concentration, but it wasnt working very well. The thing about pain was that is was generally unwelcome to begin with, whereas this...
"I want to know..." Evelynne paused and swallowed, stilling her hand. "I need to know..." She trailed off again, causing Ally to focus on her.
Seeing the uncertainty in her lovers face, so close to her own, Ally whispered, "What, love? What do you need to know?"
Evelynne swallowed again. "I need to know... Do I satisfy you? Do I do... things that you like?"
Ally would have laughed if Evelynnes face hadnt been so serious. "Youre here, doing this -" She reached down to rest her own hand over Evelynnes. "- and Im almost passed out from it, and youre worried that you dont satisfy me? Trust me," she gasped, "you have nothing to worry about."
Evelynne smiled a little tremulously. "Its just that Ive never done this before yesterday, and you have, so... I want to be sure that Im doing all the things that satisfy you."
"Evy," Ally said seriously, "you havent done all the things I enjoy. Its not possible anyway. Weve been lovers for a day, so there is an absolute limit to what we couldve done. Trust me when I say that theres time. Besides, some things that I enjoy, you might not, and vice versa. For that matter, there may be things that I like that I dont even know that I like yet." Giving Evelynnes hand - and herself, by extension - a squeeze, Ally smiled. "Believe me, we have time."
"Good," Evelynne said, truly smiling again, as she began to move her hand once more. "I just didnt know whether you were comparing me to Annie, or..."
"To Annie...?" The words cut through Allys mounting pleasure, and she stilled Evelynnes hand with her own. Looking at her lover with a deadly serious expression - though it might have been more impressive if she hadnt been flushed and gasping for breath - Ally said, "I will never compare you with Annie. It isnt fair, either on you, or her... or me. You are two different people, and they are two different relationships, and I will not cheapen either one by comparing it to the other. If you have specific questions, fine. I will answer them as objectively as possible. But do not ask me to put a value judgement on any part of either relationship, because I wont answer." Allys face softened, and she reached up to stroke Evelynnes face. "When Im with you, Im with you. Im not imagining or wishing youre anyone else... except maybe Angelina Jolie." The weak joke drew an equally weak smile from Evelynne. "And when I was with Annie, I was with her, and she was with me. None of her previous lovers were there. Right here, right now, like this -" Ally covered Evelynnes hand again. "- theres just you and me." Raising her head, Ally kissed Evelynne hard.
"And Angelina," Evelynne murmured, smiling. She began moving with purpose.
"And Angelina," Ally gasped.
"Well, she can wait her turn. Right now youre mine." Evelynne gazed down into Allys face; flushed, eyes closed tightly and a rapid pulse beating in the neck. "I love you," she whispered, although she didnt know whether her lover was hearing her or not. "I love the way you smell, the way you feel against me. And I especially love the way you look... right... about... now," she finished, holding Ally as she convulsed.
To be Continued in Chapter 28
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