Accustomed to Her Face Ch. 35bybill33©
It hadn't come last year, but you had heard about it – the Winter Carnival that pitched its tents in the valley just the other side of the river that ran below the University. You had heard about it from the kids. It seemed strange. In the middle of winter; a carnival.
But one morning as you walked from the big old Victorian house on one hill to school on the other, you heard banging and a clamor and you turned and there it was – the snow had been plowed off the large field between the bridges, workmen were driving tent-stakes into the ground, there were horses in a paddock, animals in cages, old-fashioned rides being erected and signs and trailers. It looked quite extensive and exciting.
In class, some of your friends were talking about it. It would open Friday night. They were going. Could you come too.
"I'll have to ask Shujin," you blurted. But your friends didn't seem to notice you'd used one of your private names for me because the Physics professor came into the room and you all found seats and class began. Besides that, you realized, as you picked up your pencil, I was away on business again leaving you alone for a week with Margaret and Louise and, of course, Miss Brooks.
You sighed and tried to focus on class, but your mind drifted back to the night before, and the professor's voice became a background drone as your memory painted the images of our love-making in your imagination. You squirmed slightly in your seat as you recalled my hard cock, deep in your cunny as you, on top, rode me – your arms tied behind you – your nipples wearing the naughty clamps with their little bells that jingled as you took your pleasure. You felt yourself moisten at the thought and you knew that part of the sudden wetness between your pussy lips was my come still leaking from you.
Thursday passed by – class, study, an evening texting your friends and a call from me as usual. You told me of your day. I told you about mine. We laughed together as you filled me in on Miss Brook's latest antics. I would be home Sunday night. Yes, I would bring you presents. I would be out very late tomorrow night and might not be able to call until after your bedtime.
"OK, Daddy. Oh – the Winter Carnival came to town, may I please go with my friends?" Asking permission was a ritual you enjoyed. You found it a subtly erotic reminder of your submission.
"Of course, Little Love. Bundle up."
So on Friday late afternoon when you emerged from the old stone building your math class was in, standing there on the wide terrace, you had a perfect view of the set-up in the valley across the river below. There was a main tent – very large – and two smaller ones and there was row upon row of attractions and trailers and shows and rides; a veritable circus. You could see the front gate with its banners and ticket-counter. All was ready for opening night.
Your friends came out of the building behind you and gathered 'round discussing plans for the evening.
"How about I catch up with you in a little while," you said, "I'm going to go by the doughnut shop and get Kristin. I'll text you."
So you made your way down the hill and met your friend, Kristin, just outside the shop. You had texted last evening to arrange about going to the carnival.
She waved when she saw you and smiled. Her red hair was tied back, but her bangs still showed from under her green wool, long stocking cap. Her skin was pale and slightly freckled. Her eyes were a striking pale green. Her cheekbones were high and her smile created adorable dimples in her cheeks. She was wearing her black down coat and black wool pleated skirt.
You thought how pretty she looked and thought, as you often had, that it was strange you'd never seen her with a boyfriend. She was so witty and bright. She'd be a catch for anyone for sure.
She was going to school at the County College part time, working her way through. She lived in the small apartment above the doughnut shop here where she was the manager. The shop was popular with the college kids. That's how you'd met her.
You had liked each other right away and she had always been particularly fond of you. She walked toward you and you hugged.
"Up for some fun, baby?" She always called you baby.
"Oh yes. Let's go. I'm hungry and freezing." You locked arms, braving the frigid breeze as you strode down fourth street and round the corner, and over the bridge.
From the crest of the slightly arching bridge, the carnival came into view. It had a high wooden fence all around it and its gate, wide and tall, had an arching sign over it, "The Magical Winter Carnival." As you got closer, you could hear the barkers and laughter and the commotion inside. You could hear the sound of the carousel and a drum-roll and bang and the crowd cheer from the main tent.
Kristin laughed, "Human cannon ball?"
You smiled, "Maybe, Kris. Hey – tonight's my treat." And, coming to the gate, you bought your tickets at the ticket stand.
The sun was setting. Inside the carnival boundary was a different world. All lit up. Exciting. Colorful. Fun. The games and rides lined the crowded thoroughfares and the heat of all the people bustling and standing gawking at the sights and playing the games made it warmer there. You unzipped your coats as you walked.
You had arranged to meet your friends at one of the refreshment areas and, after you found them, you settled in to hot drinks – coffee and strong warm rum spiced cider – and conversation. You sat at the picknic table next to Kristin. There was no hurry. You figured you would all come back over the weekend and see the shows and play the games.
So you all laughed and drank and became quite loquacious and happy and a little loud and tipsy. Kristin snuggled up to you and you put your arm around her, talking carelessly with your friends.
She turned to you and nuzzled your ear and whispered. "Come on – I'm hungry for adventure. Let's go exploring."
You giggled and nodded and the two of you said your goodbyes. "See you guys tomorrow evening. Meet here? Great – it's a date! Goodbye."
Kisses on cheeks were exchanged. You and Kristin stepped out into the busy walkway full of children yelling and couples laughing. It was glorious.
There were colored lights all around strung from lamp-posts. It was still early, but it had become dark and the last heat of the day drained from the air. Still, you and Kristin, in your parkas and wool skirts and leggings were well insulated. You zipped up.
"Come on, let's go," Kristin said. So, the two of you, warmed by the liquor, giggled as you made your way, arm in arm, along the main walkways and then, turning off the beaten paths, made you way through the narrow, and narrower winding alleyways of trailers and smaller attractions.
You chatted and laughed together. You liked Kristin so much. It was a pleasure to have time alone, you had both been so busy. "Shujin's away until Monday. Why don't you come home and stay with me for the weekend."
"Oh, God, I'd love to," Kristin said and held you tighter.
You slowed as you came to the deepest part of the carnival boundary. There, at the very end of the way, was a trailer away from the others. It was painted with colorful, detailed pictures of countryside and towns far away. There was a lamp on a post in front. Here the lights that, all through the streets, alleys, and walkways of the Winter Carnival, had been many-colored had turned all incandescent white, but cast a soft, dimmed glow.
The trailer's windows were also glowing; from the inside. And, as you approached it, you could see that on the lamp post was hung a sign reading:
"Fortunes Told, Futures Read
"Pickwick, Potions, & Palmistry"
You giggled, "Pickwick?" Kristin didn't get it, but you looked at each other and smiled.
"Shall we?" asked Kristin.
"Of course we shall," you said. You put your hand on the old, brass doorknob and turned and opened the old wooden door and stepped up the steps and inside the trailer.
It was dim, but you could see the form of a woman with her back to the door, pouring water into a teapot.
"Come in, come in," she said, "And close the door, you're letting the wind in!"
The interior of the trailer was warm and comfortable and lit primarily by candle-light. Its walls were hung with tapestries and there was a thick carpet on the floor. The beaded and bangled woman turned to you girls and smiled. "I've been expecting you. Tea, my lovelies?"
Her forest green dress was covered by an apron and a shawl tied around her waist. A scarf was around her neck and a bandanna was around her head over her white hair, braided down her back.
"Take off your coats and stay for a little bit." She gestured toward a chaise-lounge by the wall among stacks of ancient books with leather bindings and colored boxes.
You girls obliged, laying your parkas to the side. She handed you beautiful, old china cups of fragrant tea, each with a cookie on its saucer. And she sat with her own teacup on a plain, three-legged stool sort-of opposite you girls.
There was a large, old mirror opposite the chaise, and you could see your reflections. You caught your images in the glass and smiled. You were still mildly drunk, but, after your first sip of the tea, you were also surprisingly clear-headed.
Kristin said, "You've been expecting us?"
Madame Fleurie, swallowed her tea and said, matter-of-factly, "Of course. What can I do for you lovely young things tonight?"
You spoke right up. "How about telling out futures?"
Kristin said, "How about the cure for unrequited love?"
You thought this was an odd request, and you looked quizzically at Kristin. You thought it was probably the rum talking.
Suddenly thinking of me, you softly said, "How about the cure for unquenchable grief?"
Madame Fleurie leveled her gaze at you. "For you, lovely, life has taken its radical twists and turns. Part of the future, the basic part of your love relationship, is easy to see. It has its twists and turns too, but it is constant. Your man is devoted to you – and you and he will remain so. Other parts of your future are not so clear.
"But a cure for grief – unquenchable?" She studied you carefully. "You have deep grief in you, dear. For the ones you lost –" You gasped. "This can be mended in time. But it is not unquenchable, my little lovely. It would require skill to heal. But it is by no means unquenchable."
"I didn't mean for me. I mean for my – my Sir."
Madame Fleurie sat up straighter and closed her eyes. "He is deeply wounded. You have lightened his darkness, but he still falls into the shadows sometimes – when he is alone. He hides it from you. He needs your help."
You blurted, "Yes! Yes! You do see it! I want to help, but I don't know how. I love him sooo much. What can I do?"
Fleurie was watching Kristin. She turned back to you and spoke softly and kindly. "I will help you. But give me time to think about it. The Carnival will be here for a week. I'll have something before it ends – I promise you." She took your hands in hers, she turned them over, palms up and studied.
As she did so, she spoke to Kristin, "But your problem is of unrequited love? This can be tricky." And she looked her in the eyes. "Especially for you given the circumstances."
You glanced at Kristin. She looked slightly uncomfortable. You wondered why.
"No cure, right?"
"I didn't say that. I said it was tricky."
"OK, then – a love potion – a real one."
"Don't be silly, there's so such of a thing, Kris," you said, and giggled.
But Kristin and Madame Fleurie had locked eyes. Kristin was grinning defiantly.
The Madame smiled slowly – her voice was quiet and kind. She had completely dropped what little bit of a shallow, fake mask she wore for the benefit of her carnival trade and spoke earnestly, almost motherly "Yes, there is such a thing. But it's rare and not easily come by. Very few still know its secrets.
"A real potion requires time and special ingredients. But you don't really want such a potion," she said, looking intently at Kristin. "To use such a thing is dangerous. You never know what the outcome may be. And I think the object of your desire isn't available." She glanced at the silver ring you wore on your left hand fourth finger and nodded her head. Although you noticed it, its meaning was lost on you. But not on Kristin. And she blushed.
"Come on, Kris," you laughed, "That sounds ominous. I would just wish for a night to remember – naughty, perhaps, and sexy and romantic."
The Madame smiled at you. "That's a better idea – just something fun, girls. Safer. Much smarter."
But this was like a dare to Kristin. And she felt chagrined that her affection for you had been found out. She folded her arms and addressed Madame Fleurie, "You just don't want to show us – or maybe you can't really do it."
Fleurie shook her head patiently. "No, my lovely, I won't succumb to pride that easily. A real, true, indelible love potion is something I really do know how to make. And so also, I know how to make lesser potions – far less dangerous. But the price even for such a relatively trivial thing is high – although..." and it appeared as if she had gotten an idea.
She paused for a long time and studied Kristin. "I was young once – hard to believe, perhaps." She smiled. "And I am far, far older than you would imagine. I was rather like you when I was a young woman. I was drifting in my life. I didn't have focus or purpose."
You glanced at Kristin. Her jaw was set. Her face was a little red.
The Madame went on, "Then I met my teacher. And, reluctantly, I agreed to learn from her and my life changed forever." She chuckled. "But that was long, long ago, my lovely."
You were trying to lighten the mood and you blurted, "How long could that be? You don't look a day over... fifty?"
Madame Fleurie turned and beamed at you. "You darling child! Thank you."
"No – I mean it."
But Kristin's tone shifted to one of dawning awe. She slowly uncrossed her arms. She was seeing something in Fleurie's eyes. "No – no – you are much, much older, aren't you?" She paused and whispered. "A couple hundred years at least."
You laughed, "Oh come oooon, Kris."
Madame Fleurie had sat especially upright and seemed to be looking far into the distance. She said softly, "Yes. At least." She looked at Kristin. "I have been waiting."
You paused and said, quietly, "What have you been waiting for, Madame?"
She shifted and stood. Her white braid fell over her left shoulder. Her beads and bangles rattled and jangled as she took them off one by one. She undid the shawl around her waist and the apron. She took the silly bandanna off her head. And, straightening up, she stood there in her unadorned deep green velvet dress like an ancient forest queen. Small, but formidable.
It was as if you were seeing her in her real state. A wizened woman who had been masquerading as a carnival fortune teller. But you sensed deep mischief too. Like a current of slapstick humor. She was a little wicked. But in a harmless way. You knew she could wreak havoc, but you trusted her. You smiled. You just plain liked her.
She sighed and her eyes looked distant again, "I have been waiting for my last student. For a long time." She looked intently at Kristin. "For a very, very long time."
"Then I'll be your student for – for a week." Kristin had a slightly mocking tone, "A love potion, Madame. Teach me how to do it."
You were shocked at her irreverence.
But Madame Fleurie spoke softly and steadily.
"And if I gave you this potion, perhaps one that would last for – two days, do you imagine you could learn its secrets in a mere week? What would you do for it?"
You turned quickly to Kristin. You saw her looking into Madame Fleurie's eyes. Suddenly Kristin's eyes were filled with tears. "To see love in the eyes of the one I adore – even for just two days – I would do anything. I too have been waiting, but there's no hope. Still, to have my love returned, even for an hour, I would do anything."
You gasped. Who could this one be? You had no idea she was so in love with someone. Why hadn't she told you?
"Anything?" Fleurie smiled gently and lifted an eyebrow. "How tempting." She chuckled. She looked away. "No – well – I would not require anything of you that you can't afford."
She sat back down on the simple stool and took Kristin's hands in hers. She rotated them palms-up. And gazed. And studied. Then, with a look of wicked mischief in her smile, "Very well, lovely. I will give you both what you asked for."
It was Kristin's turn to gasp.
Madame Fleurie walked to the door and locked it. She drew the inner, heavy drapes across the windows.
"But here is my price: You will return here to me in three days. You will bring with you something I need that you will gather according to my instruction. And you," she gestured at Kristin, "At that time, I will offer you an opportunity you will be glad for." She looked at Kristin, then at you, then back at Kristin. "Yes. I see no harm coming from what you asked for. Not in the period of two days. So that's what I'll give you. But after that – yes – you will be very glad for my offer, I think."
"Wait – I'm not sure I understand. You will give us what we asked for?" Kristin said quickly.
"Yes. For you, a love potion that lasts two days. And for you, for right now," she smiled at you, "'a night to remember – naughty and sexy and romantic.' For the longer run, you will return and we will work on your other wish."
"My wish?" you asked quietly.
"Yes," the Madame said softly, and she smiled, "the cure for your Master and, my little dear, because of your generosity of spirit, the cure also for the burden you carry."
Kristin glanced at you. The word "Master." How odd.
Your eyes welled up. You took the Madame's hands in yours. You bowed your head and began to weep. "Thank you," you whispered. "Don't worry about me – it's him – and he is my Master – my only, beloved One – yes just help me help him."
Fleurie placed her hands on your head. "My child, my child. There, there. All will be well. Are you sure it's what you want?"
You looked into her eyes and spoke with quiet earnestness. "Yes, Madame, whatever it takes."
The Madame placed her hands on your shoulders. "Even if there is danger for you?"
You didn't hesitate. "Of course."
The Madame turned to Kristin, who looked awed. "You see this? You understand what it means? This is what devotion looks like. So – for you – I will give you what you want as well, but you will need to return in three days with what I require – the something – the substance I need gathered exactly as I have specified. You need to both agree. You need to both say 'Yes'."
Kristin exclaimed, "Yes! Yes!" She grabbed your hand and squeezed, "Say yes, silly – say yes."
You said, "I don't know, Kris. I'll do whatever is required of me to help Shujin –" The Madame raised her eyebrows at the word. "And returning in three days isn't a problem," and you turned to Madame Fleurie, "She is impulsive. I'm worried for my friend. What is this substance? And how shall we get it for you?"
But Kristin would have none of that. She sounded desperate. She squeezed your hand harder. "Just say yes. Please. I'm so close. I want it so badly. I've wanted it for so long. Say yes. For me."
And so you said, impatiently, "Oh, very well, Yes. But I'm not even sure what I'm saying yes to – I mean on your behalf."
Madame Fleurie smiled at you and said, "I promise no harm will come to you. I will allay the danger for you." and she seemed to hesitate, but then she chuckled, "Oh, very well, Yes." She clapped her hands once, twice, three times.
And the world shifted.
You felt strange – as if you were dreaming.