For You I Suffer
The sun shining brightly in my eyes served to wake me as surely as the hand gently shaking me by the shoulder. I turned away from both intrusions and instantly regretted the motion as various aches and pains made themselves known. The tension and soreness that had gripped my body the night before had solidified into genuine agony that made even the slightest movement a chore.
"Have a care," my trainer admonished softly. It was a superfluous caution for I could move no other way. The muscles in my neck aching with tightness, I turned my head slowly to meet his compassionate smile. Shame directly lit my cheeks with heat as the full extent of my humiliation - of all that I had revealed to him the night before - filled my mind with painful recollection. I wanted heartily to fling the covers over my head and to bury myself away from his sight.
But Quatre's smile never clouded, nor was there any discernable pity in his kind gaze. He maneuvered me carefully from the bed, his manner unaltered and forthright, granting me much needed reassurance that I had not been irrevocably fouled by the degradation I had suffered at the ambassador's hands.
"It is full morning and there is much to be done today," he continued with only a modest subduing of his usual chipper demeanor. "Time to return you to where you belong."
I paused in the act of rising stiffly from the edge of the bed. I glanced up at him, wondering if he knew just how much his words meant to me. Where I belonged.... I could only hope that place was my master's side. Though he might shun me still, I could not abandon my feelings in return. I longed to see him and my trainer was very aware of my desire. His connotation was subtle but heartening all the same.
"Please," I replied softly, thanking him with a shy attempt at a smile. He nodded approvingly as the try was not a complete failure.
To his credit, Quatre kept up steady flow of chatter as he led me from the sanctuary of his room and back into the bustle of morning in the castle. He pressed me neither to respond to his garrulousness nor did he attempt to further apprehend the extent of my recovery. I was grateful as I needed no reminders of my recent distress. The evidence of it were scattered over my bared skin, the bruises proclaiming my ordeal like disfiguring badges of disgrace. And the undeniable truth of my passionate response to my own abuse yet remained, taunting me and daring me to profess my innocence.
The bright, cheerful sun flooded the corridors and halls, filling the castle with energy and light. A glance out of a clear pane covering one of the countless windows revealed a sky of endless blue, dotted only occasionally with playful clouds. Birds chirped as they flitted about the trees lining the castle walls and the servants going hastily about their duties waved and called to each other, taking a moment to nod at us with friendly smiles as we passed.
I deeply resented the day. Its pleasantness seemed nothing more than a mockery.
We arrived at the baron's suite without incident or attracting undue attention. I was sure the marks left by the ambassador shone like a beacon, proclaiming my wretchedness. Whether I overestimated their prominence or whether it was Quatre's presence at my side that frustrated any potential impertinence, I was relieved when we reach our destination unmolested.
No soon had we entered the main room than Quatre sent for Helen. The baron was not there and though I wanted to see him, I was too drained to completely regret his absence. I had begged Quatre's discretion, and it would not do for my master to see me when my present condition was so terribly revealing. Although I was still tired and would not have minded a few more hours of sleep, I voiced no objection to Helen's imminent appearance. Even more than rest, I desperately wanted another bath as the taint of the Slaburrian's touch still clung to my skin. And in any case, my trainer soon disabused me of the notion of further sleep as he began to elaborate on his earlier comment about the day's events.
"The Slaburry delegation will be leaving tomorrow. As such, Heero is obligated to provide them with one final day of entertainment." The room had warmed from the over-abundant sunshine streaming in through the windows, thus the fire had been doused for the day. Quatre sat on the couch before the darkened hearth and I sank heavily to the floor beside him in fatigue.
"Heero will be hosting a fete in the garden," he continued as though I had expressed some curiosity at his elaboration. I was immediately imbued with a sense of trepidation, remembering clearly an earlier party in the garden at which I had been the featured attraction. Quatre must have apprehended my concern for he instantly reassured me that only my presence would be required on this occasion.
"You need merely be a spectator today, Duo; though I confess I did enjoy your performance during the last garden soiree." He chuckled at vision provided by his memory as well as at my predictable blush. Well I recalled being displayed in that contraption of which my trainer had been so proud. I was very glad that there would be no repeat of that particular humiliation. Though I could privately admit to having found the experience rather exhilarating at the time, in my current state I knew I would not be equal to the task. He was just explaining the tedious details of what gourmet delicacies would be offered and what notables would be there to enjoy them when one of the hall doors opened, admitting Helen into the room.
My eyes had drifted shut as Quatre prattled on about various trivialities - most likely hoping such boring conversation would serve to quiet my unsettled thoughts. But I roused myself as I heard Helen wish us a good morning. She started toward me but paused sharply as she caught full sight of my appearance. She gasped, her brown eyes widening in shocked dismay as she pressed a hand against her chest as if to calm her distressed heart.
Embarrassed, I trained my gaze downward and thus nearly missed the cautioning look Quatre directed toward her over my head. She seemed for a moment as though she might persist, but decided in the end to take her cue from him. I looked up when she took hold of my arm, careful to avoid the darkening bruises.
"Come along," Helen instructed, steering me unexpectedly toward the baron's room. Her tone portrayed her typical motherly brusqueness, but two spots of anger decorated her cheeks with color. After entering the room, Helen directed me to lie on the made bed. It was somewhat odd being in Heero's room without him there and with no expectation of his presence. I felt almost as if we were intruding, though surely by now this had become as much my abode as it was his.
Quatre did not join us, but I did not immediately notice his absence. Helen commanded my full attention, for no sooner had I turned onto my stomach as she had bade than she was pouring a generous measure of fragrant oil on my back. I recognized the scent as that which she ofted used in my bath. It instantly relaxed some of the tension in my body, associating it as I did with the comforts of hot, soothing water and scented steam. And what the oil did not loosen quickly succumbed to the determined efforts of Helen's strong fingers. She kneaded deeply into my flesh, working each of my muscles one-by-one. She was careful of my injuries but thorough all the same, seeming to take each knot as a personal affront to be dealt with without mercy. Before long she had rendered me boneless with relaxation and I was nearly asleep when her curiosity at last overcame her prudence.
"Duo," she began, but her voice faltered with unaccustomed emotion. My face was buried in a pillow, and remained as I was, not turning to look at her or even to acknowledge that she had spoken. Her touch, which had been most welcome until then, suddenly gave me chill as her hands came to a hesitant rest on one of the more livid, finger-shaped marks marring the pale swell of my buttocks. Nearly all of her hard work was instantly undone as my shoulders tensed in reluctant anticipation.
"Son," she asked in a near whisper, "how did this happen?"
I knew better to avoid her question entirely. She knew me as intimately as any mother knew her child and she had taken on much of that role in my mind. I had missed my own mother terribly since her untimely passing and I thought that I might love Helen as much as I had loved my true parent. As such, I had only fleeting thoughts of disobedience for she commanded from me all of the respect of that maternal station. But I was simply too mortified to divulge the full extent of my degradation.
"I spent the previous evening with the Slaburry ambassador," I answered tonelessly as I finally turned to look up at her askance. "He was rather...insistent in his passion."
I left it at that, leaving her to draw whatever conclusions she would from my vagueness. Her mouth turned down sharply into a frown and her lips pressed into a thin, white line that did not ease. I heard her mutter dark curses under her breath with an ease that bespoke her common-born origins. But she questioned me no further and I was grateful for the reprieve as she simply urged me to my feet and let me to the bath chamber and the tub full of steaming water that awaited me.
I sunk eagerly into the bath, letting the wet heat finish what Helen had begun. Though it would take time for the mad whirl of fear and guilt that beseeched my mind and heart to calm, my body was eager to find respite in the healing warmth. Helen bathed me carefully, meticulously washing away any lingering evidence of the ambassador that Quatre had neglected the night before and taming the well-meaning mess he had made of my hair. She tutted in mild disgust at the seemingly impenetrable thicket of tangles it had dried into, but she combed it out with practiced skill until it lay smooth against my back.
The bath done, Helen sat me before the cold hearth and took the time to start a fire so that my hair would dry more quickly. She brushed it as the fire increased the already warm temperature to near sweltering. She paused to open a window to grant us some relief, but did not bank the fire until she was satisfied that my hair would not return to its previously tangled state. She piled it into a mass atop my head and secured it with combs while she applied salve to each of my bruises. She had me kneel on the couch beside her, my head lowered and my legs spread with my ass in the air as she inspected the damage to my tender nether region. Scowling at the red rawness of my swollen entrance, she applied more balm to my sore skin. It was different than the one Quatre had used the night before, which was a blessing, since the odor of that particular ointment was connected with my trainer's solicitous treatment and would have likely provoked a most un-filial reaction in my accursedly well-trained member.
As it was, I survived Helen's ministrations without undue awkwardness. I started to return to my position on the floor as she replaced the lid on the jar of salve, expecting her to finished arranging my hair. But she stopped me, instead pulling yet another jar from the seemingly bottomless box that was her constant companion.
"We can't have you going about like that, my boy. It would give those fancies too much to fodder for their idle gossiping. Here," she said, removing the lid and tilting the jar so I could see its contents. "This is heavy make-up such as stage-performers use. I never thought I would have need of it for you, seeing as you are already such a pretty thing, but I believe in being prepared." She stuck a finger in the jar and withdrew it along with a bit of the viscously textured liquid. She rubbed it gingerly over one of the bruises on my arm. Even in the light of the fire and the sunlight brightening the room, the mark seemed to disappear completely from view. Helen nodded with satisfaction and proceeded to repeat the operation until every revealing discoloration had been hidden by the clever concealment.
Throughout the operation, her expression had reflected only purposeful concentration. But now as she examined me for any missed spots, I saw a single tear well in her eye.
"Not on my account, I beg you," I whispered as it became too much to contain and coursed down her weathered cheek. Helen reached up to wipe it away before staring down at the bit of moisture on her finger as though surprised to see it there. She blinked, attempting to shed any remaining tears, and turned her head from me as she returned everything to her box. She cleared her throat only once, and when Helen turned back toward me, her face was clear and her eyes dry, though she was careful not to meet my concerned gaze. I said nothing as she turned me about until my back was toward her. In contrast to her intricate coiffeur she had created last night, she simply fluffed my hair with her fingers, leaving it to float loosely about my shoulders.
"There now, all done," she announced, her voice betraying nary a waver. I stepped away from the couch to give her room to move, but she suddenly grabbed my arm and turned me to face her. She stared at me hard, her gaze searching mine as though she were determined to fathom my every secret thought. ‘Tell me everything,' her probing gaze seemed to ask. ‘Tell me what he did to you; let me help.'
My heart beat faster as I felt myself begin to respond to her silent command. The urge to confess swelled within my chest. I wanted to relate the horrors of the ambassador's room. Even more, I wanted to share all of the doubts I had been sheltering since my visit with Lady Une. Greater still was the terrible need to lay bare my fears that I was to remain nothing more a plaything for my betters. And most of all, I wanted to ask her why Heero did not love me.
But I did not give in to the temptation she presented. To lay all of my worries at her feet would have been the worst sort of selfishness. Her kind heart would suffer for me when it did not deserve to be thusly burdened. I decided at that moment that I would bear my troubles as best I could alone, that I would carry the onus of my concerns and the responsibility of my position with all the grace I could summon. And so I met her seeking gaze with a demure smile, ignoring the disappointment which settled on her comfortable features. I instantly felt that I had somehow let her down, but I did not know how to rectify my error, or indeed, whether I should.
Thankfully, Quatre chose that moment to return from his mysterious errand and whatever she had planned to say to me was forever lost as he joined us. Flicking him an irritated glance, she merely blew out a frustrated sigh and took hold of my head with both hands, bending me lower so that she could place her lips against my forehead. My shoulders relaxed as an anxiety I had not even noticed was dispelled. Whatever my offense, she had forgiven me. I took hold of her hands and brought them to my lips, kissing them as a token my affection for her that I would forever treasure.
"Cheeky brat," she mumbled, smiling wryly as pulled away and turned to gather her things. She nodded at my trainer as she left, pausing only to look back toward me pointedly from the doorway. If ever my worries became too much for me to withstand, I knew I would find in her a sympathetic ear. Then she was gone and I was alone with Quatre, once more.
"Truly a treasure, she is," my trainer opined, smiling as he took in my much improved appearance. He lifted a lock of my hair and let it fall slowly from his fingers, appreciating the way the light of the fire caught in the silky strands. "I am sorry you do not have time to get a proper rest, pretty one, but we must get you ready for the party before your absence is noticed."
"Has it already begun, my lord?" I asked as Quatre produced my nipple clamps and cockring. The dildo was conspicuously missing in the array of items he brought to me.
"Shortly," he replied. I gasped as he affixed the clamps, but only slightly as I had become used to the exquisite pain of them. I was tired as he had noted, thus my cock barely stirred as he slipped the golden ring over it, pushing it up until it nestled firmly against the base of my shaft.
"What of the, um, the other, my lord?" Quatre chuckled at the faint blush that colored my cheeks as I asked about the missing accoutrement.
"I think it is best if we leave the dildo behind for today. I do not believe you have recovered quite enough from...your ordeal," he finished judiciously, affixing the furred leather collar about my neck. My blush increased, owing to the greater humiliation of memory. I struggled to banish those abhorrent thoughts from my mind, finding sufficient, though not complete, success.
"No, my lord. You guess correctly." I could still feel a painful twinge with every step. The affects of Treize's heavy-handed treatment would not fade quickly. The feel of a slimy residue coating my skin lingered, and I resisted the urge to scrub at my arms, knowing that there was nothing there. Morose anger festered in my heart as I wondered if I would ever be fully rid of the hateful stench of him.
The beautiful day persisted, only a few clouds floating lazily in the endless expanse of blue. The mid-day sun shone brightly, spilling over the already heavily laden banquet tables. Short benches and chairs were arranged around small tables scattered about the open space that marked the formal confines of the garden. The meandering creek, which had powered the machine to which I had been strapped on my previous visit, babbled musically as clear water rushed over hidden rocks at the garden's edge.
Several attractive varieties of maple and birch defined the edges of the plot and had been implanted here and there to provide shade. An artful but unobtrusive profusion of apple blossoms and burgundy glow provided color and freshened the air with their sweet scent. And of course, a profusion of lush roses in every shade from the palest white to the deepest red nestled on their carefully placed bushes and, along with a sprig of baby's breath, graced each table from the delicate vases arranged decoratively upon them.
The castle's gardeners had been busy since I had last been there, for the arrangement of flowers was completely different than the last I had seen. I figured they must have changed the foliage according to the event, for never could you imagine a more perfect early afternoon scene.
The creek now sported a tiny bridge, just long enough to span the narrow course and to provide the partygoers with access to the far side of the garden. I wondered why it had been constructed until I looked across the creek and saw that a field had been set up beyond it to host various amusements for the fete's honored attendees. Toward the left of the open space, archery targets had been set up at a respectable range from a line of bows and quivers placed upon mats just beyond the bank of the creek. And toward the right, posts in the ground marked the nominal edges of a makeshift arena.
Several members of the gentry had already arrived, preferring to extend their enjoyment of the pleasant afternoon rather than practice the fashionable lateness habitual of their class. As Quatre led me toward the gathering by my golden tether, I spotted Lady Relena and, with great displeasure, noted that Lady Dorothy sat beside her as they chatted with several of the lesser Slaburry delegates. Even as I watched, more of those Calderash nobles who had been favored with an invitation and the remaining Slaburry delegation began to fill the empty spots.
Treize was among them and I paled, forcibly quelling the bile that rose into my throat at the sight of him. He sat beside his cousin, gracing her with a fond grin. We were still some distance from the seating area, so he had not yet seen me. I thanked Quatre silently as he stepped in front of me, attempting in some small way to shield me from the ambassador's unwelcome notice.
Emerging from the relative dim of the castle into the bright garden, I squinted beneath the brilliance of the sun. In my blindness and distraction I almost missed the quartet that was approaching the gathering from the opposite direction. Lady Noin and Lord Zechs were making their way toward the garden arm-in-arm, bearing the magnanimous expressions that had so warmed my heart toward them. Slightly behind them was Lady Une - her ladyship imposing in her regal demeanor and impeccable attire - with her ever-present companion, Lady Sally, the physician.
But even though the sight of that powerful personage chilled me as I recalled our last encounter, it paled next to the anxious desire that gripped me as I saw that the person standing to Lady Une's other side was none other than the man I both most desired and most dreaded to meet. It was the first time I had seen my master since I had been reduced to wretched nothingness at Treize's hand. Would he be able to espy the marks that besmirched my skin even through Helen's artful ruse? Would he know at a glance the depths to which I had sunk through the ambassador's mastery over my tutored lust? Would he look with disgust upon the overwhelming longing for him that had begun to eat away at my soul?
As though there were some connection between us, he heeded my silent call and I shivered as my baron's fathomless blue gaze captured mine across the verdant distance.