For You I Suffer
My master's sigil kept me safe until he returned from his tour. The mark remained tender for days after the gamesman carved it into my flesh, thought I hardly needed the stinging reminder to keep it in the forefront of my thoughts.
I was overjoyed when I returned to the castle late one afternoon and found the baron's boots lying abandoned in the middle of the floor. Their presence in the sitting room was uncharacteristic of my usually fastidious master. But my puzzlement was subsumed by the thrill of knowing that my loneliness was soon to be relieved by the sight of him.
I left Quatre in the sitting room and rushed to the bedchamber, rightly guessing that I would find Heero there. He was fast asleep, no doubt worn out from his travels. I walked softly to the side of the bed, the nearly healed brand on the back of my neck seeming to burn anew as I watched him sleep. My vigil was disturbed by a sound at the door, and I turned to see Quatre motioning me towards him.
"The guards told me that he requested someone wake him in a few hours for dinner," he whispered. "Why don't I come back for you then?"
I nodded in agreement and waited until I heard the outer door open and close behind him before turning back to the man sleeping on the bed. I approached cautiously, wishing not to wake him, but unable to tear my gaze away. It seemed as though months, rather than mere days, had passed since I had seen him last. I greedily took in every aspect of his recumbent figure, the tousled mop of hair crushed by the pillow, the skewed flop of his limbs, the slack softness of his lips.
Although he had removed his boots, he had not gotten much further with his efforts to undress, managing to take off only his doublet before giving in to exhaustion. I wanted to finish what he had began, both to increase his comfort and for my own selfish reasons, but I was reluctant to disturb him.
I could not, however, resist my need to be as close to him as I possibly could. Slowly and quietly I rounded the bed to the side I had come to consider my own. I cautiously eased myself onto the bed, careful to disturb the bed as little as possible with my weight. Of course, I underestimated Heero's awareness of his surroundings even in sleep, for no sooner had I began to settle down than my master turned his head toward me, fixing me with the gaze of one blue eye.
"Forgive me," I exhaled in a rush. "I did not mean to wake you...." My words faltered as he reached for me without speaking. He drew me down until our lips met, and all thoughts of speech were soon the furthest thing from my mind.
I trembled at every brush of his fingers over my swiftly heating skin. Every sensation was made the sweeter for its recent absence, and my satisfied cries split the stillness of the room. Soon I was naught but a quivering mass upon the mattress, desperately tried to slow my breath and calm my racing heart as the fluids of my own body cooled upon my skin.
I watched through dazed eyes as my master sat up and stretched, the muscles in his back bunching and smoothing in turn. As he stood, his previous tiredness seemed to drop away like a discarded robe. He pulled a cord that hung near the wall, summoning servants from some distant chamber.
"Hot water will arrive soon," he said before turning to look at me fully. "Join me. You could use a bath." The lightness of his tone belied any insult, and I acknowledge the order with a shy nod. My gaze raked over his gorgeous backside as he stood and quitted the room. My efforts to quiet my thundering heart failed miserably in the face of his unprecedented teasing. This sort of ordinary domesticity was the stuff of my most precious fantasies. I began to fear that I might never recover from the almost painful surge of hope that spread from my head to my toes.
But still, I was glad that the darkness of the early autumn evening had hid my mark from his notice. The brand was to remind myself of the promise my heart had made, and the longer I had it, the more I was convinced that only by keeping it a secret would its power remain.
The next few days passed uneventfully. I did not go to Trowa's during this time, for my master seemed once more to require my services as an ornament. Having finished his semi-annual tour, Heero spent his time dealing with minor matters of state and meeting with the nobles who always had some gripe or other they felt the need to have the baron attention.
I accompanied him as he granted the nobles an audience and spent the day lazing about his office when he was not otherwise engaged. Though it had passed in a flash, nearly half of my time with the baron was gone. The easy nature of my days provided plenty of opportunity for reflection. How much I had changed in a mere three month's time. Back when the baron first made his offer, I would never have believed that my transformation from a simple farmer to a creature who lived for nothing but his master's pleasure would be so utterly complete.
The mundane nature of this period threatened to lull me into believing that perhaps I would face no more trials of body or soul during the remainder of my service. But although Heero had been unusually generous with his attention of late, and though he continued to allow me into his bed, beneath his outward equanimity, there was no sign that his heart had thawed toward me in any real sense. Whether we were with others or alone, the baron spared me only the minimum of notice unless it was to satisfy his lust.
Gone was even the treatment of me as the pampered pet that I had once so resented. Rather, my master seemed to content that I be seen and not otherwise acknowledged. And though his intimate demands still brought me to the heights of helpless passion, no more did he hold me in his arms as we slept. I was grateful for the nightly sight of his dismissive back if only because it hid the despair that my face was surely unable to conceal.
Resignation to my dull, lonely existence settled like a heavy weight in my heart, but the untroubled nature of the passing days were almost comforting in their sameness. I should have expected that something would occur to completely destroy everything, but I did not expect that my beloved trainer would so cheerfully provide the key to my undoing.
I was picking at my breakfast alone one morning - Heero deciding that the day was perfect for to start the seasonal fox hunts - when Quatre interrupted my solitary melancholy. His face was alight with a broad grin that beamed sunshine into the early morning gloom of the sitting room. My stomach tightened with wariness and I relinquished the bit of toast I held back onto the tray, for something told me my appetite was about to be ruined.
"Duo! I have wonderful news that is sure to brighten your day." I tried to smile as I swallow down the hard lump of toast, pretending to share his enthusiasm for whatever horror he had planned for me.
"Today is Lady Dorothy's birthday, and she begged me for the privilege of spending some time with you to celebrate. Since the baron will be busy with the hunts all day, he granted her the honor. Aren't you delighted?!"
It was clear that my trainer was thrilled with the prospect of seeing the blond noblewoman again, even if it was only to deliver me to her. His infatuation with the birthday girl was poorly concealed, not that he even bothered to attempt any subterfuge where his opinion of her was concerned. For my own part, however, I likewise lost any ability at pretense at the mention of her name. The memory of a cruel smile and icy gaze were the main impressions that Lady Dorothy had left me with at our brief meetings, and the thought of them instilled me with little confidence.
Still, it was not as though I had any ability to refuse the request. I spent the rest of the day in the baron's suite with only my trainer for company. He engaged me in a game of strategy that my father had tried with little success to teach me when I was younger. The years had not improved my ability, but Quatre was a patient instructor and by the time Helen came to prepare me for my evening, the pattern of the carved wooden figures on the board had begun to lose some of their mystery.
Helen arrived shortly before the dinner bell rang. She saw to my bath and sat me before the fire to brush my hair dry while Quatre excused himself to inform Lady Dorothy of my imminent arrival. Helen scoffed that he could have easily sent a servant on the errand and shook her head at my trainer's puppy dog attitude. As for that worthy herself, Helen was not the least bit shy about telling me what she thought of the young noblewoman.
"I know that Master Quatre is sweet on Lady Dorothy, but I wish he wouldn't be so accommodating to her. I don't know." The motion of Helen shaking her head transferred through her hands, causing her to tug slightly on my hair as she applied the brush to the thick mass. "Something about that girl's eyes just don't sit right with me." I was inclined to agree despite my instinct to give all due deference to my betters.
It was foolish of me to believe that I could hide my brand from Helen when she was so intimately familiar with every inch of my body. My thoughts consumed with what the evening might hold, I had nearly forgotten about the mark that Trowa had so carefully carved into the back of my neck. But Helen's gasp and the brush of her fingers against my skin quickly reminded me of its presence.
"What in the world is this?! Who did this to you? Why didn't Lord Quatre mention it to me so that I would take care to avoid it? What did the baron say when he found out?" I cut her off before her temper and worry could increase into a full blown gale.
"They do not know about it. I-it was something I wanted." She sputtered in disbelief.
"Something you wanted? What on earth do you mean you wanted...?" She trailed off as she took a closer look at the mark. "It's the baron's insignia, isn't it?" She harrumphed at my confirming nod. "I won't ask who did it. Who else would know how to mark a beast so well, hmmm?"
"Please don't tell anyone," blushing with chagrin at her characterization of me, accurate though it might be. She sighed as she resumed brushing my hair.
"Oh, don't you fret. I'll do as you ask. But, Duo," she said, voice full of concern, "how long do you think you'll be able to keep it from the baron?"
I could only shake my head, knowing that what I hoped was a far cry from what I should expect.
Whether it was because she did not believe the occasion warranted it or because she unconsciously wanted to give some slight to Dorothy, Helen left me completely unadorned save for my clamps, ring, and collar. My hair, though brushed to a high shine, was left to hang free about my shoulders.
Quatre returned for me just as Helen pronounced me fit for public consumption. If he noticed the plainness of my appearance, he did not mention it. Instead he bid my caretaker a good night with his usual good humor and rushed me out of the room on her heels, nearly forgetting to use my tether to direct my steps. I sighed at his undisguised eagerness, wishing heartily that I could share in even the smallest sliver of his enthusiasm. As it was, I took a deep breath trying to ease some of the disquiet that was coiling my stomach into uncomfortable knots.
I told myself that my anxiety was foolish. After all, what could Dorothy subject me to beyond extreme humiliation? She could not do anything to me materially worse than I had already suffered at her hand. Certainly she might once again treat me as some sort of doll to decorate with silly embellishments or provoke me to perform stupid tricks for her amusement thinking that I would respond to the promise of a treat like some dumb beast. But such treatment, though greatly injurious to my pride, was nothing more than that. No, I thought firmly as my trainer lead me toward an unfamiliar corner of the castle, I would perform as well as I was able to please my mistress and could only hope that the hours passed swiftly.
Quatre nodded to the guard standing at Dorothy's door. The man was dressed in a mixture of Calderash and Slaburry colors, an acknowledgment to the lady's dual heritage. As I had not seen her since the garden party what seemed like ages ago, I had forgotten that one of Dorothy's parents hailed from that hateful place.
I shook my head slightly to dispel the errant thought. Afterall, despite what Helen had said to me earlier, I had no real issue with my soon-to-be mistress other than the somewhat questionable sense of humor and fashion she had jokingly displayed at my expense in Relena's quarters so long ago. I took a breath and settled my features into passiveness as the guard bowed toward my trainer and opened the door.
The lady was sitting before a merry fire, sipping tea from a beautifully delicate porcelain cup. I caught a brief impression of the room before lowering my gaze to its proper attitude. I was very grateful to see that her tastes ran toward a much more sedate color scheme and adult décor than the garish hues her friend, Lady Relena, favored. She looked up as we entered, and at the sight of us - or perhaps just of Quatre - her eyes lit with pleasure. The fire cast highlights of orangish-gold over her impressive platinum mane, and I was grudgingly forced to admit that she was beautiful. She returned my trainer's formal bow with an equally accomplished courtesy before abandoning protocol to move towards us in a swirl of ice-blue silk and white lace.
"My lord, I feared you were teasing me when you told me that the baron had granted my humble request. But here you are with my present!" Quatre laughed at her unhidden delight even as I resisted the urge to squirm at the condescending moniker.
"Indeed, the baron is well aware of how good a friend you are to Lady Relena and he was pleased to indulge you on such an auspicious occasion. May I wish you a most happy birthday, Lady Dorothy." He bowed again and therefore missed the cat-in-the-cream smirk that twisted her softly pink lips. My sense of bored resignation swiftly gave way to a nebulous sensation of foreboding. But the expression was gone so quickly from her face when Quatre raised his head once more that I almost convinced myself that I had imagined it.
"I must say, as well," he chuckled, "that the baron was most amused at Duo's appearance last time he was in your company." Dorothy laughed, waving away the compliment with pink-cheeked modesty.
"Oh, that was nothing more that the silly play of girls. But if the baron enjoyed it, then I promise to return Duo to him in an even more magnificent manner." Her gaze darted toward me in the briefest of glances, but this time I was unable to either deny or dispel the chill that lodged like a ball of ice in my belly. I nearly succumbed to the desire to beg my trainer not to abandon me to this seemingly innocent lady, but before I found the courage to speak, he was taking his leave.
"Then I shall come for Duo later this evening. Your servant, my lady." Thus, with a smile, he was gone, and I was alone with Dorothy. She glided closer to me until the barest of inches separated us. Though I am not overly short, neither was she, and she had only to brace her hands on my shoulders and lift herself the slightest bit to press her lips to mine. The fleeting touch of her silk gown on my skin was more substantial than the feel of her lips. Caught off guard, I was still blinking from the butterfly kiss as she graced me with a smile of feline contentment. I could not help but feel very much like a trapped mouse.
"Oh what fun we shall have, Duo, you and I. But come, surely you must be hungry. Please sit and we shall have dinner together," she urged, clapping her hands to summon tray-laden servants.
Thus, my visit started off innocently enough. Though I was forced to eat my dinner from a plate set on the floor without the use of my hands, I was no stranger to such an arrangement, and it caused nothing but the slightest flush to warm my cheeks. The food was delicious, and as the servants lingered to see to their lady's needs, Dorothy kept her one-sided conversation with me to a minimum. All I learned of her during dinner was that Relena had thrown her a rather tedious breakfast party and that she simply hated the dress one of Relena's less well-bred sycophants had given her. Her talk was catty and uninspired, and despite myself, I lowered my guard, fearing boredom more than anything I might experience in her rooms. But our meal was soon complete and once the remains had been cleared away and the servants made themselves scarce, the blonde regretfully turned her full attention to me once more.
"You know, Duo, when I first met you, I was certain you would be gone from here in a matter of weeks if not days. You had such a prideful look in your eyes. How you hated us ladies for our games." Her laugh was sparkling, yet the sound of it made my skin crawl.
"Yet, to my surprise, here you remain." She lifted my chin with her fingers, though she failed to similarly affect the direction of my gaze as I refused to raise it to meet hers. "And now there is a softness about you, a willingness to please that I did not see in you before. I wonder," she murmured as though speaking only to herself, "just how far you would allow yourself to submit before that glorious pride returned."
She rubbed her thumb across my lips, and the pressure of the caress was none too gentle. Startled, my gaze flew upward until it met hers. Her expression was inscrutable and long seconds passed in silence before she gathered herself and treated me to another deceptively pleasant smile.
"Let's play a game, shall we?"
I wondered why she even bothered to ask me. Still I played along and acquiesced with a silent nod. The smile she bestowed on me betrayed her genuine pleasure at my agreement, and the change in her demeanor was so complete that I nearly allowed myself to believe that she had nothing in mind but some innocent diversion.
"Excellent!" she exclaimed, rising from her quietly upholstered settee in a swish of skirts. She moved over to the wall near one of the suite's interior doors and unwrapped a cord from where it was secured to an embedded peg. Freed from its tether, the cord began to move upward, slowed only by her grip on it. My gaze followed the line toward the ceiling, noticing where it was anchored to the ceiling by a pulley before ending at a set of manacles. I gulped at the sight of the metal rings, unable to look away from them as they were lowered.
Dorothy returned to my side and motioned for me to rise before handing me the cord. It felt like a snake in my hand, yet I somehow managed to retain my hold on it. The lady stared into my face, no doubt marveling at how quickly all hints of color had drained away from my skin. Seeing that I was not going to either faint or release the cord, she turned and walked away until she stood beneath the manacles. With a graceful flick of a slippered foot, Dorothy kicked aside a corner of one of the decorative rugs covering the floor, revealing, of all things, a long yet narrow trap door that took up the length of the uncovered floorboard. She bent to take hold of the iron ring embedded in the door, and with nary a creak, the door opened at her urging. I blanched further at the sight of a pair of matching shackles lying just below, attached to pegs embedded deep into the wood.
Knowing it was useless, I did not hesitate when she motioned me forward. I stopped beside the manacles and she surprised me by taking the cord from my hand.
"If you would do the honors," she said in a pleasant, conversational tone as though she were asking if I wanted a cup of tea. Anger and humiliation warred for dominance in my chest, but I struggled to exhibit none of my inner turmoil. Instead I knelt and saw to my own confinement. I stood once I had finished securing both feet, careful to keep my gaze lowered away from her even as I resisted the urge to fidget at the cold, heavy feel of the metal around my ankles. I suppose I had become use to being cosseted, for the sensation of the naked, uncushioned metal against my skin gave me the most disquieting sensation that, for the first time, I was truly a prisoner.
"Hold out your hands," she ordered, and once I had complied, Dorothy lowered the manacles from the ceiling and bound them around my wrists without ceremony. I twitched at the sound of solid click as the locks engaged. A smooth tug on the rope was all it took to bring my arms over my head. I watched my hands rise with feigned dispassion, but I was unable to hide my growing discomfort as she continued to raise the manacles until I was stretched to my full height and then some. I was a moment away from lifting to my toes to relieve the growing ache in my shoulders when she finally stopped. Examining my posture with a satisfied nod, she returned the cord to the wall, wrapping it tightly about the peg and tying off the end so that only a great amount of struggle on my part would dislodge it.
"You truly are lovely, Duo." Her tone betrayed no falsehood or condescension as she returned to my side, and I almost believed that she was sincere in her admiration. She reached out a hand and delicately traced the curve of my jaw. Her fingers flitted over the collar around my throat and continued down over my chest and stomach in a slow caress. She stopped just shy of the nest of hair at the base of my cock and I tried to shift away from her touch as the betraying column twitched at the feel of her hand.
"Since the baron was so pleased at how I left you last time we were together, this evening I thought I might try something even more impressive." My brow furrowed, telegraphing my confusion. She smiled indulgently. "I have a few hobbies to make the tiresome days more interesting," she went on, "but my favorite by far is painting. So, I thought how delightful it might be if I painted you. How does that sound?"
An artistic endeavor? Is that what she meant by all of this damnable mystery? I was sure that she meant to decorate me again, this time by applying color directly to my body. I sighed in both relief at the innocuous nature of her desire and in annoyance at the thought of how irritating wet paint would surely feel against my skin. But relief was by far the stronger of my emotions.
With a final pat to my hip, she moved behind me, and with my feet planted as they were, I could direct my gaze no farther than my shoulder. Thus I had nothing but sound to inform me of her actions, and they were confusing to say the least. The opening of a door was easily identified, and I guessed that the scraping sound was of something large being drug across the floor. I wondered if I had mistaken her meaning and if it was an easel she had retrieved in order to render me in a more traditional fashion.
She breathed heavily with the effort of moving whatever it was, but she succeeded in settling it behind me and somewhat off to my right. I turned my head in that direction, but was only able to make out the edge of something large and black. I did not think that it was an easel, but my knowledge of such things was admittedly limited, and I did not feel it worth the effort to speculate. Later I would wish that my curiosity had made more of an appearance.
There was a moment of quiet, interrupted only by the clink of the iron holding me in place as I shifted to ease some of the tension in my shoulders and the discomfort in my wrists from where the metal dug into my flesh. But the silence was soon split by none other than my own startled gasp as two sensations reached me at once. I saw the tip of a large ostrich feather as it appeared under my left arm and stroked down my side, goosebumps following in its wake. But before I could squirm in reaction to the ticklish caress, my right side was similarly treated to the much more solid feel of leather. I glance toward the source in surprise and my heart plummeted into my gut at the sight of a well-used leather riding crop.
Dorothy stepped around me, her face graced with the most enigmatic smile I had ever had the misfortune to behold. She lifted both the feather and the crop once more and stroked them gently down the front of my chest before leaning so close that her lips rested against mine.
"What fun we shall have." As she deepened the kiss, forcing her tongue between my lips, I began to understand that whatever painting she meant to do would not involve a brush or canvass.
So it was that I found myself bound and trapped at the mercy of this strange girl, fearing with all my might what fate held in store for me.