Nell strode down the corridor, lighting the way before her with a small, shuttered lamp. It was dark, long past midnight, and the town around her seemed to be asleep. But she knew better. She could feel wakefulness pulsing in the darkness around her. Wakefulness, and desire.
In the town of Allbarone, magecraft was common. No one knew why power seemed to collect there, but it was highly unusual for a child to be born with no magegift. Nell was one of the few of Allbarone's children to have no gift -- or so everyone thought. She was treated with a certain amount of compassionate pity by her friends, and scorn by everyone else. It didn't bother her any more, though, because it was based on a misunderstanding. She did have a magegift. Only, hers was unusual and it hadn't developed until she was in her late teens. And this, happily, meant that no one knew about it.
As soon as Nell had discovered her new gift she had decided to keep it secret. Many people tried to keep their gift to themselves, but most failed. Her sister, Fiona, for example, had an affinity with fire -- could kindle it with a look, could extinguish it with a frown. A very obvious skill. However, also a very useful skill, everyone agreed (normally simultaneously casting pitying looks in Nell's direction). Then why was it, Nell thought smugly, that Fiona was married to some baker in the city, struggling to run a shop she knew nothing about, whilst Nell lived comfortably at court, rising slowly but steadily through the ranks, closer and closer to the seat of power? She was gratified to be outdoing her insufferable sister, and found Fiona's shocked frustration -- how could her little, unmagical sister be doing so well? -- extremely amusing.
Nell paused in her walk, tilting her head to one side as though listening. Nearby, she could feel a steady pulse of desire. She closed her eyes and listened with some inner sense. She called on her magegift and it rose within her. In a room below, she saw, a woman was touching herself. Squirming and tossing on a crumpled bed, one hand tracing across her chest, the other buried between her legs. Nell tried to discern the woman's thoughts, but they were a jumbled mixture of memories and fantasies, flicking through images of faces and bodies. Nell shook herself. Nothing to be gained there, she thought. She walked on and her thoughts fell back to her sister and the differences between them.
It was easy to discern Fiona's gift. If you spent enough time with her, you were bound to notice how fires and torches leapt and spat as she walked into a room, or how she would absentmindedly pick up a lamp when the handle was much too hot for anyone else to touch. But no one had ever accidently picked up on Nell's gift. And she was determined no one ever would.
It was an unusual gift, it seemed, although thought there was at least one other with it. People whispered about Aurora, the Prince's courtesan. They said that her magegift was in some way wrapped up with desire -- that she could read people's wants and lusts the same way great sorcerers read people's minds. Some even said that she could control people's desires, and that was what gave her such sway over the Prince.
Nell took a narrow turning off the main corridor. She walked slowly now, shading the dim light of the lantern with one hand, making sure to walk softly. This part of the town was made up of the sleeping chambers of important courtiers. She was getting close to her destination.
Personally, Nell thought the infamous Aurora's gift was probably the same as her own -- an acute awareness and understanding of the desires of those she met. She also thought the Aurora was squandering her gift. True, Aurora currently had a lot more power than she, but everyone seemed aware of how she had got it, which could hardly be to her advantage. And she had lost her reputation and good character, meaning that she could never hold any respectable position in society. Nell, on the other hand, had used desire to slowly progress herself without letting herself be tainted by it. She never took part in the degraded activities that benefitted her. Smugly, she thought she used her gift with a lot more intelligence than the infamous courtesan.
Nell had never met Aurora and she never intended to. She was possessed of a strong fear that the other woman would somehow sense her power and reveal it to the world. Perhaps it was irrational, but she always fled court when Lady Aurora was visiting.
Nell stopped outside a large, golden door. She extinguished her lantern -- there was a low light burning in a socket outside the room, and anyway she didn't need to be able to see. For a moment, she stood still and listened, making sure that no one was approaching. She heard nothing. She closed her eyes, and felt at once the emotion from the room. It hit her like a wave of coloured light. Was he there? Her magegift drew the web of desire out from the room and untangled it for her. Yes -- she saw, he was there. She had been waiting all week, spending every night near these rooms, hoping and wishing that her hard work had paid off. And now, finally, he had arrived. He was here! He was here at last.
Her thoughts echoed so closely those of the other person inside the room that for a moment she felt her heart pound with desire and thought that the lust and anticipation were her own. She drew back, calmed her breathing, then returned her thoughts cautiously to the room. I may as well observe whilst I wait, she thought dryly.
Inside the room, Lady Harriet Mantle sat on a chaise longue, a dressing gown wrapped demurely around her, her hands clasped tightly in her lap. In front of her stood a young man, The Baron Epsing (first name George), the one who had been filling her mind for weeks. They had flirted, as the youth of court do, but she had not expected him to come to her chambers -- at least not so quickly. She was neither coy nor naive, but she had not dared to dream that The Baron Epsing would be such an easy conquest! Yet here he was in the middle of the night, standing in her dimly lit chamber and letting his gaze sweep over her. He had said nothing when he arrived, quickly slipping in from the corridor and bowing low whilst kissing her hand. He had led her to the seat and she had sat, hardly daring to breath. And now he just stood and looked with that arrogant gaze that powerful, handsome young men develop when they are used to getting their own way. It was exactly the way that Lady Harriet liked to be looked at.
Still, a lady had to be wary, she thought. She had her reputation to consider. She had so far allowed only three men into her bed -- and she had reason to implicitly trust their discretion. Epsing she couldn't yet be sure of. He had a reputation for bedding ladies of high and low birth indiscriminately, and she needed to know that he would keep their tryst a secret. Luckily her magegift could help her. Perhaps he would have heard about it -- her ability to sense lies. But he probably didn't know how it worked. Slowly, she let her grasp on the dressing gown loosen so that the material slipped down from her shoulders, exposing skin and the flimsy, see-through covering of her nightdress. His eyes followed the material, warmly caressing her skin.
Carefully, she opened the gown a fraction, revealing a thin slice of her body. His gaze travelled downwards, sweeping over the curve of her breast, half exposed, the dark shadow of her nipple, the curve of her stomach, the patch of dark hair visible through the silky white material, the curve of her leg peeking out between her gown, the shadow that played over her thigh, the curve of her ankle, her toes digging into the soft carpet.
Out in the corridor, Epsing's desire hit Nell like a wave, making her catch her breath. She leant back against the wall, closing her eyes, tilting her head back, letting her lips part and her breath pant. She smiled, and warned herself not to get carried away. She could replay her voyeur's memories to herself later, but it wouldn't do for anyone to see her here in the corridor, especially in such an attitude! She must stay on guard in case anyone came near. She opened her eyes and listened, hearing nothing, feeling Epsing's desire tug distractingly at the place inside her where her magegift lived. Odd, she thought. She had not expected Epsing to want Harriet so badly. She had thought his other interests might dampen his desire for Harriet -- but now she saw that they heightened his lust and made him eager, desperate almost, for the woman in front of him. She tried to keep her senses trained on the town around her, whilst she let her other sense, her magegift, slip back into the room with Harriet and Epsing.
Epsing took a step towards Lady Harriet, his eyes sliding up and down her poised leg, flickering over the shadows that seemed to hug and show off its curves. Harriet licked her lips, and spoke. "Whatever can you mean, Sir, visiting me so late?" He voice was coy and mocking.
His eyes flickered up to meet hers. "I think you understand the meaning of my visit, my lady." For a minute, he held her gaze. "Indeed, I would go so far as to say you've been expecting me."
"You cannot surely intend to do anything that would compromise my reputation?"
"I am not concerned with your reputation."
She would have, it seemed, to be more direct. "You intend to try to relieve me of my virtue?"
"I do not intend to try, I intend to succeed." His voice was oh-so-quiet, his gaze unwavering. He moved closer to her, each step deliberate, until she had to tilt her head back to look at him. She could easily reach out and pull him towards her. She stopped herself from doing so.
"Sir, to do so would put my reputation at great risk."
He smiled down at her and when he spoke, it was in a different, more sincere voice. "I hear that you can tell if a man lies to you, my lady. So let me tell you the truth. I want to sleep with you tonight. If you want my silence, then I will willingly swear never to speak of this to another living soul. I will take whatever happens here to my grave."
She blinked, once. He did not lie. "I will allow you to stay. In return, you will tell no one. Do you swear to keep my secret and protect my honour?"
He smiled, pleased, "I do." He meant it.
They looked at each other for a moment and Nell felt their desire heavy on the air, colouring the space between them. She felt Harriet reach out and brush a finger down his arm. Felt the electric jolt as their skin touched. She could see, smell, hear everything in the room as though she was there -- between their bodies, feeling the heat and lust flowing from them both, equally aware of the desires and sensations experienced by both man and woman. She felt, as Epsing, the light touch of the lady's finger travel down his arm and across his palm. At the same time, she felt the tightness of Epsing's muscle underneath Harriet's fingertips, hard yet somehow supple, malleable, to the touch.
Their fingers entwined and the heavy red robe dropped from Harriet's shoulders. She spread her legs wide on the little couch and Epsing moved even closer to her, pushing between her legs. He raised her hand to his lips and gently kissed her wrist, letting his tongue linger on the sensitive spot, playing where the pulse leapt under her skin. His teeth grazed her wrist. Then he let her go and moved his hands to her face, stroking her cheek, pushing his fingers into the tight curls of her sophisticated hairstyle, loosening it. His fingers caught in her hair and he gently pulled at it, lifting until it hurt and she was forced to stand, following his hands as he lifted her up to him.
When she stood, he released her hair and gently turned her round, guiding her by the shoulders. He moved her to the end of the chaise longue, standing so that its back was before her and her knees were knocking against its low armrest. He took the ties of her nightgown and quickly untied them, loosening it at the back until he could pull it up over her shoulders. It dropped to the ground and she stood there before him - naked, shivering, desperately aware of him standing silently behind her, just looking at her.
She heard him breathing, fast, almost panting.
Heat filled her, low in her stomach and spreading outwards, downwards, unfurling in her cunt, coiled in her thighs. She had wanted this for so long. Her back arched, longing for him to touch her. In the corridor, Nell's body echoed Harriet's, arching against the cold wall, their breathing exactly in time.
Nell had spent weeks following Harriet, watching her, discovering all her desires. She had known her longing for Epsing for quite some time. It had seeped into her, filling the pores of her skin and the deep, unknown places inside her.
Last week, after finding out about Harriet, Nell had turned her attention to Epsing, looking for a way to use Harriet's desire to her advantage. She had trailed Esping, seeking a weakness. It didn't take her long to find one. But with her intimate awareness of Harriet's wants, she had often found herself fantasising about him as she watched him, followed him, listened in on his conversations, spied on him through cracks in doors. Now, Harriet's feelings flooded her again and she let herself be swept away by them. When Epsing leant gently forward and kissed the back of Harriet's neck, Nell felt the cool touch of his lips and moaned in pleasure. Epsing carefully placed his palms low on Harriet's back, either side of her spine, and one by one lowered each finger to touch her and dig into her soft skin. Nell's back tingled. She could feel his hands gripping her hard, bruising her soft flesh, and she gasped in delight as he kissed Harriet's neck again. This time, his mouth lingered, softly stroking and licking her neck and spine and shoulders. Harriet clung to the chaise longue as his tongue moved down over her back slowly, flickering soft and light then pushing hard against her firm skin and the ridge of her spine. He let his teeth drag and graze against her soft skin, sinking slowly into a gentle bite before his soft tongue returned and lapped away the momentary pain.
Harriet moaned and, nearby, Nell moaned. She was hardly aware of herself, hardly conscious that she was not Harriet -- that she was Nell. But somewhere, on some level, she knew, and that small part of her was frustrated and frantic with desire. Her tiny scrap of consciousness took charge of her body and she wedged herself back against the wall in the corridor, spread her legs wide, pulled desperately at her skirts until her hand could find a way underneath them, and slid her fingers between her legs. As her hand moved to her cunt, Epsing moved his right hand down from Harriet's back and slid it between her legs. His fingers pushed at the top of her thighs and she obligingly spread her legs, leaning her weight forward along the back of the chaise longue. But that wasn't enough. He grabbed her left leg and forced it upwards until her knee rested on the arm of the chaise longue. She was spread along its back now, one leg up, one straight, balancing her. He stood just behind her, one hand hovering over her arse and the other sliding up and down the inside of her thigh.
Softly, slowly, his hand moved higher until his finger pushed into her damp pubic hair and then -- at last -- met the warm, wet flesh of her cunt. His fingers stilled for a moment then began to rub, gently, sliding back and forth, over and over, becoming slick with liquid. With his other hand, Epsing began to undress, slowly and unhurriedly. One by one, he discarded each item of clothing, and every time Harriet heard the soft drop of material onto the floor, she moaned and rubbed herself against the couch.
When he removed his shirt, his finger's dropped away from her. But she only had time to moan in frustration before his left hand replaced the right, and he shrugged his right arm out of the shirt. But when he took off his trousers, he had to use both hands, and Harriet was left stranded and desperate. She began to grind herself against the couch without realising it, pushing her pelvis into the material, listening to the soft sounds of him undressing.
In the corridor, Nell's fingers rubbed desperately at the same spot that Harriet was pushing against the couch. She was entirely caught in Harriet's feelings. She was no longer even aware of Esping's desire -- so thoroughly had her magegift sucked her mind into the web of Harriet's lust. She was as surprised as Harriet when Epsing suddenly grabbed Harriet's hair, slid his other hand underneath her body and pulled her torso up and away from the chaise longue so that she was standing. She teetered, unsteadily, her left leg still up on the armrest, and fell back against his chest. He let go of her hair and slid his hand round to the front of her neck, holding her throat lightly in his hand, pushing her back against him. His other hand ran over her stomach and then her breasts, sliding up and down the soft curves, lingering on the nipples to rub and circle and rub. Nell was lost in the sensation of Epsing's fingers touching Harriet's nipple -- softly rubbing and pushing and pulling the erect little hill. Nell's fingers played with her own nipples, delving under the tight material of her bodice to follow each circle and tug and movement of Epsing's.
Gently, he pushed Harriet forward, his hand still moving over her breast, until she was once again lying out along the top of the chaise longue. He pushed himself up against her, his cock hard against her arse. She let out a soft, drawn-out sigh of relief, spread her legs wider, and let his cock move slowly inside her. His hands moved up to her back, steadying her as she let her weight fall forwards so that she was draped across the chaise longue, her face and breasts pressed against its cushioned back.
He moved, slowly, rocking back and forth inside her. He groaned and cupped her arse with his hands, digging his fingers into her full flesh as her moved faster, harder, and she began to moan and grunt and rock with him, urging him deeper, harder, faster, controlling the rhythm, building it, speeding it. She grabbed at the chaise longue and pushed herself back at him, her legs locked, her body shaking and grinding back and forward, dipping up, down, harder, faster, more, more, "more," she grunted, and he pushed harder, faster, more, his hands slick with sweat as he grasped her buttocks, pulling her towards himself -- harder, faster. "Harder, faster, more, more, more" Nell chanted breathily in the corridor, "more, more!" Her voice rose louder and more urgent -- at the same time as Harriet also began to call out "more -- yes!" She cried, the chaise longue creaking and shaking underneath her as it, she, and Epsing rocked together frantically "yes, gods, yes!" she gasped. "Yes, gods, yes!" Nell echoed. Together, the two women shuddered, their hands clenched and they pushed their heads back and let out a deep, heavy moan of pleasure. Nell's legs gave way and she sank to the floor, her hand still inside her, leaning back against the wall. At the same time, Epsing pulled back from Harriet and she let out a heavy, satisfied groan and slumped forwards across the couch, spent, laughing.
For a long time, Nell lay in the corridor, not knowing where she was. Then as Epsing and Harriet's desire fell away, to be replaced by a low, background sense of satisfaction, clarity returned to her thoughts and she leapt to her feet.
She straightened her gown and patted her hair and tried to recover her breath. She looked wildly around her. There was no one there, but she thought -- for a moment -- that she heard a soft noise, like a footfall. No, she told herself. You're imagining things. But then she felt a slight tug in her mind. It was a tiny flicker but her magegift picked up on it -- a nearby leap of desire, like a tiny breeze blowing past her. Someone else nearby must be as wakeful as they, she thought. She turned her attention back to straightening her dress, and then to the door in front of her.