It was the girl-child. It was she. Making him suffer like this, making him crazed this way, making him crawl in this manner. And he was crawling - to her - on his hands and knees, his erection swinging heavily, the pendulum that regulated the gears that wound his brain.

He had caught her looking at him just that morning, in class, in the gazing globe that sat upon the corner of his desk. He sensed her movement, saw her head turn and watched as she studied his reflected visage. He looked back at her; in the silvered glass she regarded him. In the curve of the mercury ball he loved her with his answering gaze. She turned her beautiful face away. And he crossed his arms over his breast and with the heel of his hand applied pressure to the wound in his heart.

He was a man and his lusts were the longings of men. His flesh yearned for hers; he could feel desire skim across the surface of his skin. Down beneath the layers of his thin, muscle-ribboned meat, he ached for her in the very marrow of his bones. Behind his feral teeth, he could taste the want for her at the back of his throat.

And in the smooth, childish pout of her face he knew that his need was not her need.

And yet she teased.

He turned away from the thought that she teased in the way that they had tormented. He could close his eyes and see them there, outlined against the horizon of his own youth, The Marauders. Their taunting faces, their calling voices. They played songs of pain and his joints bent in time to their plucking.

He forgot them in the swirling green alcohol. He leaned over the burning sugar and, closing his black eyes, inhaled. He wanted to breathe out this poisoned fire. And slay with his injured fury, he the Dragon King.

Who brought him this drink? This escape?

The dark twins stood on the hill, outside his window and mocked him with their bridal dreams. And he felt his hot blood run cold at the thought of their experienced hands tracing patterns of lust on his bare flesh. They would tattoo him with their carnal knowledge. Would bruise him black and blue with their need.

He drew the burnished leather wing-backed chair up against the window ledge, sat heavily and looked out at them. The glass was old and mouth-blown, the bull's-eye blocking the stormy light reflecting off the polished pewter sky. The dim light could not penetrate the thick green glass where the glassblower had broken the pane from the pipe.

He searched her out then. Late afternoon tea was being served in the House's Common Rooms, he leant over the witch's ball and whispered into its black heart, show me, and it did. She was in the circular gallery, the room below the widow's walk he favoured. He went to her.

His life beckoned him with a finger crooked in mystery. A labyrinth, a maze of dizzying proportions. He followed the twists and turns and came silently into the gallery. She was sitting, ramrod straight, upon a tufted bench. Studying the painting that hung in front of her, observing the stilled passion. He lifted his face to the Heavens, supplication, prayer. He knew this image. He could make her feel what she saw.

She balanced, unsure, in the palm of his hand, upon one girlish foot clad in a delicate black leatherette slipper, arms akimbo and he held steady, steady. In a corner of his mind, a vulture stood upon a skull, flesh and bone, the bird tied to the devoured brain box. Sustenance gone. And he felt the truth of this in his heart. He would bring her death and she would leave him ravenous and starving. The darkling twins carried the absinthe to him, in a leaded crystal decanter. He fled, tripping over his own feet down a long corridor of the Winter maze and found himself in his center.

She had stood and walked around the viewing bench. She sat now, facing him. Small hands folded upon her lap.

He turned and went out onto the roof and climbed upon the parapet and moved in time to the songs of pain plucked in the gothic music room inside the mansion of his head.

She watched him through the glass. He was as fragile as the pane. She pressed her face against it.

He ached.

She strewed the broken pieces behind her and he followed the sharded trail. His knees raw, his palms shredded, his heated blood rivulets. He bound the tips of his fingers to staunch the flow. His clotting fluids beaded upon the wicked remnants of his shattered self and streamletted into the black pool.

He sank below the surface of its frigid water.

He could not stay awake.

~***~

This was written for The Stars Hold Nine Serpents. Read her work here at ff.net and stand astounded.