Anonymous Dreams, The Lover.

She’s a foul, evil, wicked woman.

Her husband lies by her side. He’s snoring a bit, huffs and sighs that punctuate the rhythm of his breath in counterpoint to hers. It happens sometimes, when he doesn’t drink himself into a stupor – something that has become more and more frequent these days, as the years wear on and she births no children, and the weight of things he’s never wanted becomes heavier upon his shoulders – but tonight he’s practiced some long-lost restraint, there was a gleam of hopefulness such as she’s surprised to realize she’d sorely missed in his blue, blue eyes.

They’d supped; he’d escorted her to their chambers himself, rather than entrust her to the guards; then he’d fucked her long and hard and sweet enough that she found herself draping her legs over his back and shifting her hips in tandem with his and biting at him (incidentally, just the way he liked).

She’s always been loud.

Her husband is a skilled lover. He knows how to make her body react in all the right ways, and some that aren’t right, either. Weird, that she’d feel guilty for finding pleasure in her (second) marriage bed. One does not control one’s mind, she reasons.

There are a great many things she cannot control. Couldn’t. Wasn’t sure she ever wanted to.

Their bedroom has a single window, which opens to the bay, and while it’s darker than dark (it’s probably creeping on midnight) there’s always a shard of moonlight that cuts their room edgewise and that not even the drapes could stop. This far up in their tower, it’s almost like the world outside ceases to exist. As if there is nothing beyond that shard of moonlight and the bed and the sleeping shadow beside her – shifting, grunting, sometimes even kicking in his sleep, like a little boy.

It’s adorable. Sometimes it’s even sweet, and she spends a long time watching him, brushing her fingertips across his brow as a surprisingly forceful wellspring of tenderness burns through her.

Most nights she lies on top of the covers, sweat drying on her skin, that shard of moonlight crisscrossing her legs, slashing over him and ending on the far wall, listening to the sounds outside, her fingers drumming on the skin of her lower belly.

This is why she’s terrible, wicked and wrong.

She was sixteen when they wed, her and her King, and she no longer a maid, not since he plucked her from the north and hid her in the mountains, like a dragon with his hoard. She’d been lucky, incredibly fortunate, in fact: her king had cared little for her broken maidenhead (or rather, he’d cared plenty, enough to wage war on her lover, her defiler, and slay him on the battlefield) or her figure, after the birth of her first (only) child. He’d been tender. He’d been generous and loving in a way many men would not be; he’d never hurt her, or demanded anything.

(Other than her body, but then, those were a wife’s duties.)

And she, well, she’s wicked, undeserving of his unreasonable affections, of his lust and his – inexplicable – love, because sometimes…

Back then it was about the horseback riding, the rounds in the training yard, the scraped knees and matted hair.

Things have changed, however. Evolved. There are no more rides in the woods, no more playing at sword with her youngest brother, no more matted hair or scraped knees. She’s always proper, coiffed, ready, as the Queen should, must – needs ever be –

The blood is there, however. It runs hot as ever – the heat that – oh, but she doesn’t like thinking. She doesn’t, not until after.

No, now, she’s got her fingers teasing at the brown curls upon her sex, wondering and wandering.

Wicked. The first time it happened was on her childhood bed, thinking of those eyes – those remarkable dark eyes – those eyes had damned her and shattered her even before, before their running, before he had her under him, those eyes more real than the handsome face and body they were part of. He’d always been breathtaking, achingly beautiful, like something not quite from their world, but his eyes weren’t.

They were ever so painfully human, those eyes, and thinking of them sobered and excited her all at once. She’d felt and she’d explored between her legs, swallowing half-giggles, drunk with pleasure and mad and ever so young in her bed, with her handmaid fast asleep by her side, guarding her sleep though she hadn’t wanted to be guarded, not at all.

Foul. It’d happened countless times after, of course, some of them even under her lover’s body, when he was done before she was, her natural wetness mingling with his seed and squelching obscenely around her fingers. He’d lean beside-and-above her, one of her legs trapped between his, fingers brushing over her skin – he’d watch, so keen and so ravenous and so human she couldn’t help but moan his name as she crashed.

Wrong. It had always been his name. The first time after her wedding, she had her husband by her side, fast asleep – it had been months since they were wed. She’d been sullen and angry and grieving all at once and missing him so much, his body, his kisses, yes, his remarkable eyes – her lover, her mate – so much, she’d only realized what she’d done after, her fingers sticky and his name ghosting on her lips.

She’d cried. She’d vowed to never do it again.

Cruel. Her promise lasted a week before she found herself gasping and mewling under her breath, her husband right there, biting her lip bloody as her mind went oh, oh, until the guilt broke through the haze and she laid on her stomach, sated and sweaty in ways not even Robert’s skill ever could.

They say bastard blood runs hot, that they’re creatures of lust and betrayal and she sometimes wonder about her mother, from whence she came and why was she so twisted and wrong that she could not love her husband (kind, generous, good, fond but not loved) but dream of a man long dead (and sometimes, ah, those nights were the worst, when there was green in her mind’s eye – when not even her dead lover was enough).

If she didn’t look so much like her own father (gray eyed, dark hair, broad shoulders, for a girl) and if her brother wasn’t so much like her (lustful, wicked, laughing and smiling and living) she would have wondered.

It’s useless to resist, or perhaps it isn’t, perhaps it’s just that she doesn’t see why she should. Her fingers dip lower, run over the edges of the outer lips and inward, curling just so, the way she’s learned all those years ago in her lonely, childhood bed. It feels hot to the touch, as usual, and wet. Her husband’s seed has long since been wiped clean off her, thank the gods; what she finds is her own body, her own smell. It’s familiar and welcome.

It’s sinful and wicked, she is not supposed to do this, not supposed to know it even exists, and she doesn’t seem to care, not at all.

Not when her fingers brush that spot. Not when she gives up on restraint and lets her mind wander.

(The first few times since resentment turned into a tired sort of affection, she’d tried. Gods be good, she’d tried to think of her husband, the handsome, charming King who could woo the smallclothes out of any woman, noble or otherwise, all but his wife.

It ended with her aching and frustrated, her release denied and tears burning out of her eyes like blood.

She’d learned to let her mind go.)

As it willed: memories of heat and desire so strong she’d never hesitated, not once, foolish, foolish girl. Her thighs press against each other around her wrist; she sighs, bites her lip – what began as shame turning into necessity – she’s always been loud – her fingers working inside. She’s always had long fingers, slim, a lady’s, however unladylike she felt.

And gods, she can’t help it. She can’t. It’s like an addiction, like she’s truly a wolf-bitch in heat, and she bites her lips bloody and her husband doesn’t even know. He can’t know, otherwise…

She doesn’t want to be like this. Good, sweet, dutiful, lady, Queen–

(She was never born for this!)

It’s understandable, she reasoned with herself. He was your first, your love. Women were not meant to have multiple partners, they mate for life, they go as innocents to their marriage beds because of this, all the endless justifications, but even as she tries to convince herself of that, she knows she’s wrong, because she knows, she knows, that it’s no longer dark eyes that haunt her mind and crosses through her skin and her clever fingers. It’s not the honey-voice of her first lover, coaxing her into bed, into motherhood, into a life she was woefully unprepared to live.

It would be understandable if it were he, her first lover. Wrong and wicked and wrong, wrong, wrong, but understandable.

But it’s not, not anymore.

It’s not him at all, it’s the other one, the one with green eyes, the dangerous one; and even as she shatters, hand between her thighs, a sob in her throat she forces herself to swallow lest her husband, sleeping completely unaware by her side, hear her and wonder about it, she knows she’s doomed.

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