Secrets & Confessions

The young Lord leans back against the pillows, releasing a deep breath and closing his eyes. Weariness deepens the lines of his face.

"How do you feel, Margot?" he asks after several heartbeats.

"Strange. But overall, well cared for," she answers. Not daring to move too much, she turns her head to look up at Rory and Desrianne.

"Thank you both for your care. May I see what was let?" she asks with interest.

"That's why I'm here, Poppy," Desrianne says, her face relaxing into a loving and relieved smile. She pats Margot's hand and then rises to fetch a gown from the clothes chest.

"Of course, Princess," Rory answers her thanks and request at the same time, adding a bow as he extends the bowl a little so she could see the thickened, dark liquid inside. At most an eighth cupful, in the parlance of Amber measurements.

Margot observes the blackish substance, fascinated by how non-blood like it looked. It was almost like…jelly, and reminded her of some of the viscera she had seen after a hunt when the Stags where hung. Perhaps because it came from her own person she was not disturbed; perhaps because she did not watch the display.

"Thank you, Rory, that will be all." She smiles at the servant before turning her attention back to Kendall.

Rory takes the bowl away, joining Desrianne across the room and leaving the two briefly in the make-believe privacy afforded to those of rank surrounded only by trusted servants.

"What may I do for you?" Margot asks softly, her eyes filled with remorse. Disturbing his solitude is the last thing she would have wished to do, and yet here she was: left at his mercy to save her life once more, once more leaving him weary.

Kendall opens his eyes, lips curling up in a smile as he tilts his head to look at her. An arm lifts to make room for her to cuddle against his side if she wished. "It would seem I should never let you out of my sight, so mayhap having you stay here with me for a time would be the most prudent."

"That may be for the best; it seems I have a gift for finding trouble and danger," she replies, accepting his unspoken invitation to press herself against him and pulling the blanket over both. One hand guides his to the clasp that holds her skirts in place.

Kendall's eyes gleam, turning his faint smile to mischief as nimble fingers unclasp her skirt in a mere heartbeat before sliding under the loosened fabric. "You appear to have some ideas about how you would prefer to while away some time together," he observes, voice low for her ears alone.

He pulls her around to straddle his lap, helping her out of the confining skirt as she moves. "I would think you to be tired…." The last words were almost a question.

She cradles his head in her hands as her legs bracket his. "Never too tired to find comfort and sanctuary in your arms," she breathes as he begins caressing her bare back. Her lips paint his jaw with affection while fingers move to his shirt to slip buttons free and bare his chest to hers.

"Would you choose rest to pass the time?" she asks, fingers sliding under fabric to dance along his rib cage. Breast to breast, Margot can easily feel his heartbeat race at her touch.

He tips his head down and to the side so he can capture her lips with his. Likely they both had far too much pent up energy for true rest yet, energy springing from many encounters on this less than peaceful journey. The analysis didn't really worry him too much, though. Not when his lover's skin is soft and cool and her lips inviting, tempting him to take his pleasure. He leans into her kiss, away from the pillows so she can push his shirt from his shoulders.

The inconvenience of cloth stripped from his shoulders, Margot wraps her arms about him. "Thank you," she says, heartfelt. One arm releases him to comb through his hair, smoothing it away from his face.

"You are most welcome, Margot," he barely whispers in return.

Behind Margot, a loud thunk and a gasp herald's Desrianne's reaction as she turns with dressing gown in hand and realizes what was happening between them. Right then. With both she and Rory still in the room! Eyes wide, she opens her mouth to say…she doesn't know what, but a hand over her mouth interrupts her. She turns her head to find Rory had intercepted her, and then he shuffles her toward the door and out of the cabin with surprising strength and assertiveness. It was all so astounding she barely had a chance to register what was happening before the door rustles shut behind them.

But the world beyond the mattress makes no impression on the lovers. Lips find lips again, speaking of their desires in a language without words. Fingers trace the lines of her ribs, down her spine, around her shoulder blades, enjoying the sculpture of her torso before he pulls her down on the mattress with him.

It took only moments for the lovers to entangle beneath the blankets, flesh against flesh. Margot caresses his face with the most delicate of touches, fingertips refusing to let his lips leave hers for more than a breath. Even subdued, a passion burned deep within; a yearning to savor the torments and to revel in simply wrapped limbs and the feel of heart-to-heart.

Their lovemaking is slow and gentle, perhaps to account for her healing wound and his fatigue, though maybe it was simply the mood. He could now recognize her need, after stress, to reconnect on a basic level with both life and her lover. Indeed, for her, it might be that reconnecting with her lover was a way for her to touch the deepest portion of life. He strokes her body tenderly, lips never straying from hers as their needs grow gradually like water simmering over a low flame.

A sigh; a moan. Bodies vie for tender dominance in the eternal ebb and flow that was life and love. Simmering warmth gradually heats to tender urgency, edging them toward the foregone conclusion like lapping wavelets reaching ever higher on the beach with the rising of the tide. She breathes small cries into him as he moves within her, and clinging limbs en-wrap as though to remain thus into eternity. He whispers her name as his body trembles with ecstasy, before letting his weight rest atop her in sated relaxation, enveloping her in heat and sweat, as she enjoyed after lovemaking.

Fingers play upon his spine, travelling in long strokes and memorizing his muscles as tension rises and abates. His scent filled her nose, sweat and sex and the lingering aroma of his favored oil that reminded her of cinnamon. It was difficult for her to decide which she preferred: the slickness of his skin across his broad shoulders or how droplets of exertion pooled at the small of his back.

A sigh mixed with a wordless murmur of satisfaction exhales as her fingers tickle him with gentle sensation. Kisses linger at earlobe and temple before he moves just enough to kiss her lips again. Their lips are salty, and his tongue teases the edges of her mouth and chin before he pauses in their afterplay.

"How do you feel now, my lover?" he asks, serious but also smiling as he looks down on her, a followup to the same question he had asked before she laid claim to the comforts of his embrace.

One hand leaves his back to smooth damp locks away from his forehead. A smile forms, a gentle curl of her lips with eyes betraying her heart and soul to him. Another kiss stolen, his lower lip savored. "Cared for…and complete," she breathes against his lips.

Fingers trace his features. "What of you?"

His expression turns thoughtful as he ponders her question, watching his fingers twist damp tendrils of her hair. "Sad," is the surprising answer. Perhaps not surprising that he is sad, but that he confessed it to her, lying together between damp sheets.

Margot's expression remains peaceful, even as her eyes measure her lover with compassionate concern. Backs of fingers smooth his temple, her thumb stroking away the worry from between his brows. If she is surprised at his candor, she reveals nothing for now is not her time to be focused upon, but rather hers to be his support and strength. "What is it that darkens your brow and dampens your heart?" she asks softly.

Kendall props his head on his hand, resting on one elbow. His gaze moves from her hair to her face, staring into her eyes as though deciding how to answer. "I have loved Diona since…forever," he says finally. "But we were forbidden each other by our father."

It was a feeling she could understand. Her parents had forbidden her to see him or even think of him lest she be forever exiled from their presence. Those hours and days alone, as short as they were, had seemed endless and she had feared she would surely die. It had been more painful even than the torments she had endured since; the fear of never again joining with him had been worse than choosing him over her family, worse than the prospect of death itself.

But she could not conjure words to share these things; he already knew her heart. So she simply rolls to her side and pillows her head on her arm, her loving expression encouraging him to speak freely. He moves when she does so that they are facing each other with legs still tangled together. He toys with locks of hair that tumbled over her shoulder, his distant gaze looking into the past.

"Our desires were no secret to anyone with the wit to notice a mountain two steps away," he continues after another pause. His lips twist into a self-mocking smile, evidence of chagrin at his transparency. "Though we were never so…blatant as my sister was earlier on deck. A product of her madness."

His expression loses its sourness, softening to thoughtfulness again. "Regardless, it seemed to me that you should know of this history. I have loved two women, though neither became mine. It may be that my heart will find this risk too difficult to make again."

Though his admission struck a mortal blow, it was not a surprise. Her gaze does not falter, her loving smile encouraging him to continue to speak at his comfort and in his time. Her hand soothes him, intimate tenderness meant to ease his suffering and remind him that no matter what, he will never be alone.

Kendall thinks some more, memories and reflections teasing the edge of his consciousness. Something that sought recognition, some realization poking at his thoughts without becoming fully known. Most likely, it would break upon him at an unguarded moment — an unsolicited epiphany bringing sudden insight or just more confusion.

He isn't sure what more to say, though many things stirred and rumbled beneath the surface. He focuses on her again. "In any event, I intend to treat you with care and respect, Margot," he says at length. "Though that may not always be enough."

"You have offered me what you are able, Kendall, and more than I could have ever dreamed," she replies, her soft voice barely breaking the silence between them. "That I choose to commit myself to you alone — my heart, my body, my loyalty, my life — those are my decisions and my consequences to live by. I entered into to this with my eyes open; you did not lead me astray or make promises you could not keep. I care for you for all that you are and regret nothing."

Her gaze falls to his chest, perhaps out of intimacy, or respect, or her own sense of vulnerability. "I am not as elegant with my words, nor am I as precise. And we both know that I have a long journey before I master my emotions or appreciate the advantages to being guarded." She smiles, daring to steal a glance before her eyes turn to study the contours of his shoulder and the muscles of his arm.

"I very much wanted to meet the Lady Diona. I wanted…her approval, perhaps." It sounded foolish, but that didn't stop her. "And even when she so quickly dismissed me as being unworthy of you… I did not wish her ill, because I saw how much she meant to you. And how much pain you felt to see her in such a state."

Margot falls silent, collecting her thoughts. "I am sorry that you have lost your love… and that you should have to feel that emptiness."

"Thank you, Margot," he says softly, warmth returning to his voice. He brushes her cheek with the backs of his fingers. "You are very gracious and kind." He wasn't sure what else needed to be said, and he had practice with stoic acceptance of many unpleasant things.

He rolls onto his back and draws her against him so he can caress her shoulders. Margot snuggles in, resting her head upon his heart. As seemed her unconscious habit, her fingers doodle dainty arabesques upon his chest; seemingly ancient riddles of spins and twirls awaiting to be ciphered and fortunes told. She didn't dare admit it, but she liked listening to his breathing and his heartbeat and how his voice rumbled in his chest. It was…comforting. Familiar. Intimate.

"I don't know what plot she is a part of, but I wish her success. Unless it interferes with me, of course." He says, changing the subject. "In truth, I had hoped to gain her assistance with your orientation to the Courts. But as she is otherwise engaged, and currently unpredictable, it is likely just as well that you have the Lady Dara at your disposal."

"The same one that inadvertently poisoned me?" she asks with a hint of amusement in her voice.

He tilts his head forward to press a kiss against the top of her head, inhaling the scent of her hair. "The very same," he agrees with equanimity, relaxing against the pillow again. "I doubt it was intentional, but now that you are able to speak more freely, please tell me what happened in more detail. I gathered that Dara brought you the berries, and she was injured in some way…"

"I'm not exactly certain," she confesses. "I left you here to have your solace, my book in hand." She pauses, suddenly concerned for her book; she would have to ask Rory about it.

"I was walking the deck, wool-gathering, I guess. Dara was in the mast with one of the ship's crew. She came down with acrobatic feats the likes I had never seen. Unfortunately, there was a misstep and she tumbled the last bit, breaking herself quite thoroughly. She was more concerned about offering me the vine with the berries than with her injury, even as her blood burned through the wood on the deck like acid. I, of course, was concerned for her well-being. She told me the fruit was only edible for a small window of time and insisted that I eat, but only a few. There were only five berries on the branch."

She pauses for breath. "I must have consumed all five, though I don't recall doing so. She said they would 'lighten my mood,' and that those of Chanicut would enjoy them as well, though they would never admit to it. I tried to offer them to her, but she went on about Hellmaidens not needing them or the flavor not agreeing with them. The more she spoke, the worse I felt. She made no move to assist me, she simply sat upon the railing and continued to speak, though the words no longer made sense. I only knew that I must find shelter. I had to get away…"

She turns to rest her chin on his chest and look into his eyes. "I was drawn to the water and had no sense of balance or even where the sky was. Rory found me, and you know the rest."

He listens to the accounting without interruption, and afterwards strokes her back soothingly to chase the tension from her muscles. Margot can imagine him turning all the information over in his brain and inspecting her words from different angles, before finally he responds. "You have opportunity now to give thought to how you will proceed with Lady Dara," he says.

"I suppose I do…" She hitches herself up on an elbow, her brow down turned to match her lips. "But I know if I ate something that Desrianne had given me that did not agree with me in such a gross fashion, she would have been concerned and come to my aid. Especially if what she was offering created a response contrary to the one anticipated. I believe that Rory would very much act in the same manner, if not more proactively and with more alacrity. "

Margot chooses her words with care, her confusion and uncertainty easy to read. "I do not know the ways of the Hendrake or Lady Dara. But I do know how a Lady in Waiting should behave and I do not believe Dara is unfamiliar with these responsibilities. She came to my rescue earlier without hesitation earlier, so I am very confused…Maybe she was coming to my aid and my mind deceives me. Did she follow Rory and me into the cabin?"

"No," Kendall answers. "I have neither seen nor heard from the Lady Dara since she was last here."

"Do you find my recounting…unusual?" Her tone on the last word makes it obvious she didn't like the word, but could not think of a better fit.

"In what way, Margot?" he inquires. He continues to caress her, though he might have more of an aspect of a school teacher than lover right now. "In terms of Lady Dara's actions and motives?"

She thinks for a moment. "I suppose so. I observe Rory and Siorys and I have a sense of what to expect in their behavior and how they will respond in certain circumstances. I am not always correct in my estimates, but I am rarely so misplaced in my anticipations that I am caught completely unaware. Surprised, yes, but usually pleasantly at the level of loyalty and commitment they possess."

Once more she is quiet, trying to pull her thoughts together cohesively; a skill she knew she lacked experience in. Having him there with her as a sounding board helped as she worked through her conundrum.

"I know that Dara resents her post," she continues. "I know she has no love for Amber or being placed in a position of servitude. But I believe she takes great pleasure in planting seeds of doubt regarding House Chanicut and I do believe she sees the benefits — however insignificant by comparison — to being under my protection while I am…sponsored by House Chanicut. Being Houseless, this gives her access to the resources she has been denied far too long while resting in the dungeons of Amber. In truth, she has the potential to wield far more power this way, if she were to be of a conniving mind. So wouldn't that mean it would be in her best interest to keep me well rather than see me harmed, regardless of personal feelings of hatred and spite? And if so, then why not see to my well-being once it became apparent that I was not … well? Is that the way of the Hendrake as a House?"

Margot sighs, even more puzzled.

"I agree that you are far more valuable to the Hendrake alive than dead," Kendall begins. "Which is why I suspect the effects of the berries were unforeseen and unintended. But I cannot give any insight into the ways of Hendrake, Margot. It is not that am I unwilling, but simply that I am not knowledgeable and cannot give you reliable information. Each House conducts business in its own way, and each House views their own way as the best or only option."

He moves his head around so it is propped up at a better angle to look at her without straining his neck. "It may be the Lady did not realize your distress, as she was occupied with healing her own hurts. It is possible she did not believe the effects to be of concern. There really is no way to know if you would ultimately have ultimately or recovered eventually without aid. But those considerations are of no matter. What matters is, if the Lady does not perform her duties as you expect, you need to bring your displeasure to her attention. You have not yet spent time with Dara to learn of her or instruct her in your expectations. Now may be the time to do that."

Margot rolls on to her back, one arm resting above her head while the other strokes her stomach much in the same absentminded patterns as she doodled on his skin. She was troubled, but considers his advice. "I don't understand the inconsistencies of it all, though…" she mutters softly, followed by a heavy sigh. "But, you are correct. What is past is past. Regardless of motive or intent, I am here and for the most part, outwardly unscathed. Contemplating that someone may wish me ill purposefully is not something I enjoy, and is something that I would rather not expend energy on if it is not warranted."

Her words remained quiet with a tone that sounded perhaps like she was trying to convince herself more than anything else. She did not wish for enemies or for others to see her as a threat; she didn't even know how to recognize threats. It disturbed her and the strain of it pinched the muscles of her face.

"I would not say it is best to dismiss the past as being of no account," Kendall says, turning onto his side and propping his head on his hand once more. "It matters not at all if one enjoys contemplating plots and schemes. You are clearly troubled by the circumstances, and evaluating them is the best means to prevent them from happening again."

"I will speak with Dara," she agrees. "But, I think I would like to get Rory's perspective first… I would hate to add animosity to an already challenging relationship because I was too out of sorts to recall the details in full."

Sitting up, he reaches over to the bedside table and rings the little soundless bell again. "Rory will answer any questions that you put to him," he assures her.

She watches his movement, enjoying how his muscles flexed and rippled beneath his skin. "Do you think me paranoid?"

He turns from putting the bell down, giving her an amazed look. His mouth curls into a smile, though he tries very hard to control his expression. "I apologize, Margot. I know you did not intend to jest, but asking a Chaos Lord for an evaluation of paranoia is…unusual." He has to pause to choose the right word.

"Well…" She tries to control her own mirth in response to his, cheeks burning with the strain. "Given I am neither a Chaos Lord nor born of Chaos, humor me."

Kendall sits back against the pillows and reaches his arms above his head in a long stretch before resting a hand on her head once more, stroking her hair. "From your accounting, it sounds as though the Lady Dara was not attending to her duties with as much diligence as she ought to have been," he agrees. "You will have to think of a suitable punishment for her."

"Punishment…?!" Margot's eyes widen. "I… I… I wouldn't know where to begin! How does one punish a Lady?"

An eyebrow quirks, the smile still very much in evidence. "Perhaps you should start with a spanking," he suggests.

Margot laughs, pulling the pillow out from beneath her head and sitting up to playfully cover his face with the fluffiness. "Kendall!" she squeals with amusement.

"Mmft, brft, ssmft," he mumbles against the pillow, grabbing her and pulling her into his lap. More squeals fill the cabin until she is settled, breathless, astride his lap.

Pulling the pillow away, she stares into his gorgeous eyes. "And HOW to you presume I get a Hellmaiden to sit still across my lap?"

He chuckles, picking up a lock of her hair and tickling her nose with it. It was almost enough to forget what they were even talking about. "I can imagine no better position for her," he admits.

"I will take your recommendation under advisement," she says with mock severity. A pause to stare at each other across an electrified inch, and then she melts against his chest to press her lips against his. He returns her kiss, both arms coming around her back. But the familiar sound of someone at the cabin door interrupts their lover's dance before they have time to even begin.

Back to list of Kendall's game threads
Investigation: Questioning Rory

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License