Author's Note: this story is set in the world of my MageLore and ElfLore fantasy novels. The character of Tavelorn also appears on Literotica in "Ties that Bind." Written for T.M., as a Valentine's present. Feedback welcomed!
"No more fire spells," Tavelorn Ilhedrion said, fixing the two little boys with a stern look. "Is that clear?"
Under his ice-blue gaze, they mumbled and blushed and shuffled their feet. The smaller of the two, the one who would need to see a domestic to grow his hair and singed eyebrows properly back, had a quivering chin as if about to burst into tears. The elder, his cousin, fingered the bandage that covered the left side of his face.
"Leave it on," Tavelorn said. "The salve needs time to work, or you'll be left with a scar."
"Yes, it does."
He shooed them out into the waiting room, where their anxious nanny shot to her feet. She wrung her hands. "Doctor, are they all right?"
"They'll mend. My assistant took all relevant information? Excellent. The bill will be sent to the Household." He gave her a sheet of parchment and a small vial. "Here are my follow-up instructions. The bandage can come off in the morning. Give them each a spoonful of this with clear juice or water before bedtime to help with the pain."
"Don't we get a sweet?" ventured the elder boy.
"A sweet?" Tavelorn arched dark brows.
"For being good."
"If you'd been good, you wouldn't have set yourselves on fire."
He closed the door behind them, took a deep breath, held it, and let it out in a sigh as he relished the end-of-day silence.
Tavelorn kept his office in the Whitewillow Building, in a nice but not terribly upscale neighborhood of Perras Peliani. It was small, but adequate to his needs at this point in his career. His practice consisted primarily of cases just such as this – minor bumps and bruises, coughs, fevers, the occasional broken bone.
And, of course, the endless malaise, ennui and anxieties of well-to-do matrons. They came to him for sedatives, or just to have the momentary attention of a handsome young man. They enjoyed having him hold their hands while he counted their lifebeat, or with his practiced light touch give them their annual ear exams. More than a few, he was sure, exaggerated or outright manufactured their complaints.
Some, those with of-age daughters or nieces and little regard for the scandal surrounding his family, plied him with questions about his eligibility and prospects. Had he wished it, he could have been engaged a dozen times over already. But he was in no hurry for that, the gods knew.
"We do have sweets, by the way," his assistant said, her voice drifting to him like the scent of flowers on a spring breeze.
He glanced toward the half-open door that connected the waiting room to a private lounge. "We do?"
"In the jar on the corner of my desk."
Tavelorn saw the jar, which was smoke-green crystal in the shape of an apple. He lifted the lid and peered inside at a collection of candies wrapped in waxed paper. "So we do. Why?"
"Didn't your mother ever take you to the doctor when you were small?" Vinkiri stepped into the doorway, fussing with her frilly skirt. "And you'd get a treat if you minded your manners and didn't cry?"
"I never had to be bribed to behave myself," he said. He took a piece of candy and replaced the lid. "If I'd become a battlefield surgeon as planned, I wouldn't have taken chocolates and sugared almonds to placate the injured soldiers. And they, need I mention, would have far more pressing cause to complain than a child with a bee sting or a blister."
"I know, I know. What a pity that the war had to go and end before you got your chance to wallow in blood and gore." She tossed her head, sending fluffy ringlets of flame-orange hair bouncing.
"I didn't mean that," Tavelorn said, nettled.
Except, inwardly, he almost did mean exactly that.
He had been training to be a physician when the war between the Emerin and Montennor broke out, and had won his way into an accelerated surgical program with the express intent of being sent to the front to save elven lives. He had been anticipating the challenge of treating axe wounds and poison-gas inhalations and burns from acidic dwarven chemical weapons. Not to mention the inevitable accidents and friendly fire of the warmages – lightning bolts, fireballs, magical frostbite.
Now here he was, treating foolish little children who no sooner learned Ignite Fire in school than they had to go and cast it on each other ... and that was the most exciting part of his entire day.
Add to that the fact that his relative youth made many prospective patients reluctant to fully trust him, and was it any wonder he felt at least a touch disgruntled?
Vinkiri, however, was never disgruntled. He didn't think that she could be. For her, a career as a physician's assistant was only a stepping stone to the life she truly sought. She had told him from the beginning that she would quit in a flash as soon as she met the ideal man.
"He'll be older, wealthy, respectable," she'd said. "Preferably a widow, with an ailing child. I'll nurse the child to health, and the grateful father will marry me even though I'm only the daughter of glassblowers and a scholarship nursing student."
And so she approached life with considerably less seriousness, which she now demonstrated by doing a little prance-twirl in front of him. "What do you think of the dress?"
"There's not much of it," he said, after surveying her from head to toe.
The dress was pale springtime-green, leaving quite a bit of creamy skin exposed. Vinkiri had a rounded figure for an elfmaid, and the skimpy bodice was hard-put to contain her buxom curves. Thin silk cords crossed in an X just below her collarbones, crossed again at the back of her neck, and attached to the low, scooped back of the garment. The skirt was a snug sheath of green overtopped by a cascade of white lacy ruffles, emphasizing her hips and exaggerating her already voluptuous bottom.
Glittering high-heeled sandals brought her up to his chin. She favored gold jewelry, a quirk of hers in that most elves favored silver or truesilver, and fine-link bracelets and anklets jingled as she moved. She wore a delicate golden-wire filigree circlet set with tiny sparkling green gems. Two gold hairpins lifted some of her curls up and back, showing off a daring sweep of lower ear.
"You look beautiful," he added.
She preened and dimpled and batted her long lashes at him. "Thank you, Doctor."
"You must have exciting plans for the evening."
"As it happens, I do," she said. "You remember my friend Hilika, don't you?"
"Oh, yes," Tavelorn said. "The actress."
He remembered Hilika very well. Tall, slim, elegant, silvery-blonde ... she had come to the office one day claiming to have hurt her knee, and the entire time he'd been examining it – her long, long leg artfully thrust out from beneath a modest sheet – she had watched him with cool, amused eyes the color of a foggy night.
If truth be told, he had perhaps spent a little more time than was strictly necessary in his inspection of that shapely leg. Holding the sides of her knee between his palms while directing her to raise and lower her foot, moving his fingers up and down her smooth white calf and thigh, querying whether she felt pain above or below the joint ...
Yes, he remembered Hilika, indeed he did.
"Her new play is opening tonight," Vinkiri said. "I promised her I'd come. It's only a little theater in Shamesa Square, not Peliani Grand Performing Arts Center by any stretch, but she's very excited."
"What's the play?"
"Aliona and Myerrus, one of those horrid tragedy things where everyone winds up stabbed or poisoned at the end." Vinkiri shrugged. "Personally, I prefer the happy ones that end in a wedding, but what do I know? Hilika's been rehearsing her big death scene for weeks."
"Is she Aliona?" Tavelorn asked.
"Her first starring role. You should come along."
"I'm sure it's much too late to get tickets."
"Tavelorn, this isn't the Elwyndas Festival, when everything's booked solid a decade in advance. This is a shabby little community theater in Shamesa Square. They're not about to be sold out."
"Unless you were doing something else?"
"I had mentioned to my mother and uncle that I might stop by the house," he said. "It'd be good to have a reason not to."
"Then it's settled." Vinkiri put her hands on her hips, a movement that made her ringlets and breasts bounce again. "But you're not going dressed like that, are you?"
"I thought you said it was a shabby community theater, not the Elwyndas Festival."
He looked down at himself, at the long frost-white tunic with the emblem of the Emerinian Medical Association sewn on the right breast in blue and silver. "Give me a moment, then."
"Gladly." She hopped up onto the edge of a table, crossing her legs and folding her hands on her knee. She smiled a bright, dazzling Vinkiri-smile.
"You're going to watch me change?"
"I don't have anything better to do."
"There are six patient charts on your desk, the examination room cupboard to organize, and a letter to be written to the pharmacy."
"Like I said, I don't have anything better to do." She dimpled again.
With a low, half-rueful chuckle, Tavelorn went ahead and changed clothes. As always, it was a relief to put aside the clean white tunic. It always seemed to be reproaching him somehow, saying that if he had followed his proper career path, he would have ended each day splashed to the elbows with the blood of the lives he had saved.
He donned trousers of a soft dark grey, tucked into straight knee-high boots. His shirt was high-collared and long-sleeved, the deep red of mourning, with many tiny spherical buttons of polished black jet. Somber colors, severe colors, and he knew that he sometimes got looks when walking down the street. The style since the ascendance of the new king had been aggressively bright and airy and frivolous – though the king himself did not adhere to that fashion – as if the entire Emerin wanted to put the past behind them. As if the war had been so long ago it ceased to matter. As if those who had fought and died were dim memories.
Tavelorn Ilhedrion, for one, was not about to forget. He would wear the dark red to remind them. To let them know that he, at least, honored his uncle's passing. Perhaps the rest of the Emerin held Tiercel Reyes, brother of Tavalara Ilhedrion, in scorn and contempt. Perhaps even his own family did ... but for one loyal nephew.
He had lost his father in the war, too, and yet he did not grieve so much for him. His father, an archer, had been absent through much of his childhood. It had always been Tiercel that his mother held up to him as a shining example. Tiercel the knight, Tiercel the hero.
And then, Tiercel the traitor.
"You're getting that look again," Vinkiri said.
"That broody look." She clicked her tongue at him. "If we're going to go out and see this play and have a nice time, you need to cheer up."
"Didn't you say it was a tragedy?"
"Yes, which is all the more reason to cheer up. If I have to sit through three hours of stabbings and poisonings, I'd like to enjoy it."
"Apologies, then, for my broody look." He turned to the mirror, in which she had so recently been primping.
His straight midnight-black hair was worn shorter than was fashionable. It could very nearly be considered provocative, though this was not his intention. He wore his hair thusly in honor of his uncle. Tiercel had been a knight, and knights of the Emerin tended to crop their hair short to better fit beneath a helmet.
It occurred to him, as it so often did when he regarded his reflection, that there was precious little of his father in him. Body or soul, really, if he gave it pause to think.
His father had been an archer, his hair worn long and tied back in a ponytail with a spare bowstring or strip of leather. He had been tanned, and rugged, while Tavelorn was fair-skinned, with classical features.
No, they had nothing in common. The Reyes blood of his mother's line ran strong and true in Tavelorn. He had inherited his father's name, and little else of him.
Throwing a short steel-grey velvet cape with black braid fastenings over one shoulder, he looked at Vinkiri. She had picked up a light silken wrap that would do little for modesty and less against any evening chill, but the Emerinian night proved mild enough as they walked out of the Whitewillow Building.
The inn across the way had only just opened for its early supper hours, and the patrons were for the most part families and young married couples. The street was shaded by towering trees, the air heady with spring fragrance. High above, the sky was a dusky blue shading toward black. The lights of the city glimmered like jewels. Music and melodious elven voices drifted on the breeze.
A host of carriages drawn by white or dove-grey or tawny-gold horses rolled by. Tavelorn hailed one, then held the door for Vinkiri as she scaled the short flight of folding steps. She showed a lot of leg as she did so, drawing many an eye, and gave him a saucy smile as she settled herself inside.
Tavelorn sat beside her, and she promptly slid across the seat to nestle against him. "Ever done it in a carriage?" she asked.
He chuckled. "Hasn't everyone?"
She put her hand on his leg, walking her fingers slowly toward his belt. "Would you believe I haven't?"
She trilled a laugh. "Good. I wouldn't want you to have the wrong idea of me."
"I imagine," he said dryly, "that I have a very accurate idea of you."
Vinkiri had been one of the first to reply when he had advertised in the Perras Peliani Gazette and the Emerinian Medical Association trade journals for an assistant. One of the first, and one of the few ... his family's scandal had broken shortly beforehand, and not many in the Emerin were willing to be associated with the Reyes name thereafter. Of the other applicants, most had been in a desperate situation, either bottom-of-the-class or dismissed from other positions, and unable to find more work. Vinkiri's marks had not been outstanding, but they had not been dismal either, and having grown up a glassblower's daughter, she was too pragmatic to be concerned about his reputation.
She also saw nothing whatsoever amiss with a recreational as well as a professional relationship. Or, in fact, with combining the two. She had ended her first full day in his employ by seducing him in the examination room.
Since then, they had enjoyed many a lively after-hours romp once the last patients had gone and the office was closed. Vinkiri was an adventuresome bedmate, liking to dress up and play games – although, granted, playing "doctor and naughty nurse" was not much of a stretch for either of them. She understood without it having to be explained that they were not in any way romantically involved. It was only sport, only informal fun.
"So, when did you?" she asked. "In a carriage, I mean."
"Hmm," Tavelorn said, thinking back. "The first time in a carriage, I must've been in my mid-thirties. Just before medical school."
"Precocious bad boy!" she crowed, and flicked her tongue against his earlobe. "Who were you with?"
"Nientha Halthmeris," he said. "There were several of us, eight at least. We'd all been to a concert out near the edge of Shanlen County. It started to rain, so we hired a carriage and all crowded inside. Nientha had to sit on my lap."
"Like this?" Vinkiri snuggled her pert bottom down onto him.
"Yes, like that." He slipped his arms around her. "Well, the ride was bumpy and we'd all shared some wine, and with one thing and another ..."
"A purely natural reaction, I'm sure." She wiggled, bounced a little.
"It was dark, out on that rainy country lane. We could barely see the other couples, though of course none of us were deaf and we all knew what was going on. The murmuring, the whispers, the giggles, the rustling. There was a tacit, unspoken agreement among us. No one said anything. We just ..."
He moved his hands from Vinkiri's waist to cup her breasts. She arched her back, cooing. When she did this, he was able to capture the tip of her ear between his lips, and she gasped. He kissed her ear, blew into it. She squirmed on his lap again.
"Just what?" she asked huskily.
"Started touching each other," he said. "Nientha had been somewhat standoffish before – her parents were uncharacteristically strict about certain things – but being there in the dark like that, with everyone pretending nothing was happening even though we all knew better, she decided that it was all right. She stayed sitting like you are, but she managed to work her hands under –"
Tavelorn's words broke off as Vinkiri did just that, working her hands under herself to grip him through the fabric of his trousers. She gave a gentle squeeze, then rubbed her palm over him in a slow, delicious circle.
"Was she wearing a short skirt like me?"
"No one wears a short skirt like you," he said, a little breathless. "But ... mmm ... yes, she was wearing a skirt. Knee-length, over silk stockings."
"I bet you were able to reach under it readily enough," Vinkiri said, grasping his wrist and drawing one hand down from her breasts.
"Actually," Tavelorn said, "I caught hold of the hem and pulled it up, slowly, bunching it bit by bit until it was around her waist. Like this."
"And she let you?"
"There was a moment I thought she would change her mind," he said. "I thought she might protest, or even slap me for my impertinence. But, as I said, the idea of everyone pretending we were all on an innocent carriage ride ... and being surrounded by couples with their soft moans and the other sounds ..."
"It got to her." Vinkiri leaned her head back until her left ear was brushing against his right, and they both shivered.
"It did. She raised up enough to let me pull her skirt out from under her bottom –"
"And then I was able to touch her here." He slid his hand, then paused. "Of course, Nientha was wearing underthings."
"The silly girl." Vinkiri squirmed again as his fingers parted downy curls and sank into a moist velvety heat. Her breathing quickened. So did her hand, rubbing him. "What did you do?"
"Kept touching her," he said. "Through them, feeling her become more and more excited, until I thought she either wouldn't notice or wouldn't care when I tugged them to the side, out of the way."
"Did she notice?"
"Oh, of course she noticed."
"Did she care?"
"She didn't try to stop me, if that's what you're asking. Especially once I found the right spot." With two fingers inside her, he pressed the pad of his thumb against the small, firm bud of her clitoris.
Vinkiri uttered a cry, then said, "And ... ooh ... what did she do?"
"At first she didn't, or couldn't, do much more than sit there and make little whimpering noises," Tavelorn said. "Then she started trying to get her hand into my trousers. 'Let me touch you, too,' she said. But with her arm bent around, she wasn't having much luck undoing the buckle."
"It's the belt," Vinkiri said. "Very difficult to undo a man's belt with one hand, behind your back. But I've had practice, as you can see."
"So it seems," he said, as she deftly unfastened not only his belt but the top three buttons of his trousers. "Nientha wasn't so dexterous, and of course by then I was too impatient to wait. I worried we might come to a lighted section of road at any moment, or the driver would decide to stop, and we'd all lose the anonymity of darkness. So I whispered that she should rise up again and I'd make her job easier."