A/N: Just a little something I've been working on. Read it, you'll like it or I'm not an sarcastic expletive.


'The last act is bloody, however pleasant the rest of the play: a little earth is thrown at last upon our head, and that is the end forever.' I had read that somewhere, in passing, it was written by a man who theorized that by believing in something we can never hope to know, in the lives we live presently, that after we have succumbed to our last bloody act we, by our faith in the unknown, can reap rewards at no cost.

There is always a cost. Time wasted, perhaps? A thousand thirsts gone unquenched? Needs left unsatisfied? I find I could continue all the way into the morning but the gas lamps are smoky and hurt my eyes when sleep grime settles into them.

My leg aches something terrible and my furious rubbing does nothing to soothe it, but instead serves to inflame it more and irritate me to a bountiful degree. I shift in my chair so I don't disturbed the limb propped across the pillow on the ataman to my chair's right while I fumble through my desk drawers searching for a box of matches, lost amid papers and inks.

I strike the red tipped splinter and set the long stemmed incense in a bottle on the desktop to kindle away, then I reach for my cane and lift my weary self up and limp to my bed. I've spent my day staring out onto a dry landscape. I've eaten little, haven't dressed, haven't bathed, I've just sat in my chair; rising only to ease my leg's pain caused at the hands of atrophy.

Thinking puts me at ease, I must go to the Realms soon as there is work to be done.

The clock on the wall tells me it is past eleven; I am tired and my body cries out for rest. There is a woman who lives here, under my employment, I would not dream to call her a servant but rather she is someone to keep the loneliness from eating at me. Dhara worries sometimes, and I do not blame her for it. She is asleep by now and I will not wake her for the silly and daunting task of preparing a bath. Instead I relieve the lights of their noxious flames; they sputter and die in the dull dark.

The doors are left open with the spaces curtained, for the nights in India are hot and balmy. The only vexing quality of the open air being the ardent little armies of insects that persist noisily around my lamps when lit. I leave my cane hooked on the headboard and settle myself under the cotton sheets; I rise only to pull the nets around myself to keep pests from nibbling on my sticky skin while I sleep.

My leg makes my rest fitful and wakes me in between short bouts of sleep devoid of dreams. I'm left to think more before I fall, once again, back into sound slumber. Of all the things my mind wanders too, I wish to remember none of what I'm accustomed to seek out.

When I wake it is to Dhara rousing me from my bed, she has forgotten her idle tolerance of my solitary behavior and puts the curved piece of wood I've resorted to for my mobility into my hand and fusses all the way into the bath. I'm no longer modest by certain means as I was at Spence among Ann whom I spent years living in a small room with, or how I was at sixteen and seventeen at our house in Belgravia when Mrs. Jones sought to help me dress and bathe as if I was a child, or when I was still a child under Sarita's care in India. I let Dhara strip me of my chemise.

The buttons are fussy, and the thin linen of the garment sticks to my thighs and chest. I struggle trying to find the balance I so desperately need in order to step into the wide claw-footed tub, I hand Dhara my cane and find the strength in my legs to climb over the edge and into the hot water. I nearly shriek at the way it scalds my skin and my right leg in those moments takes it upon itself to forget about its own limitations and along with the left collide solidly into the mosaic floor.

In that sprightly feat of agility my body had forgotten itself, of all the sudden reactions in the presence of close hot heat it chose the one that caused my legs to buckle and leave me in a damp dripping heap on my bath's floor.

Dhara's laugh permeated through the open space; her amusement over my burned bottom and my naked self sprawled across the tiles made for good and quick humor, in her mind at least. I suppose it should be my own dose of karma for my previous sour mood. The wash of discomfort in my knee and calf doesn't hurt half as bad as the part of my pride that has been bruised, with a shaking hand I reach for the edge of the tub. Dhara seeks out my cotton robe and throws it over my hunched shoulders. I tie a quick knot with the belt round my waist and with my cane hobble out through the open doors of my secluded bath.

I hear Dhara call to me saying that she would adjust the water for the comfort of my tiny bum. The smile I return is in good cheer and I can see her own relief to find that I am sound, except for a bit of pierced pride from my ungracious fall. The lines of her brow unfold and soothe themselves into reprieve. The garden adjacent to my bath is warm and the mango trees, running along the wall, keep unwanted eyes from seeing what lay behind it.

Warm wind blows dust onto the mosaic floor and waits to be swept away later by a fuming Dhara who cares nothing for dirt. It has been six years since I have last seen the school of my more girlish years and four since I left the girls' university in New York. I have twenty-three years behind me and many more ahead on paths I have no interest in seeking out early. I have no husband, no children, I tend a to a large library here in the city of Bombay in peace. I have been to Scotland, Cairo, California, and Paris but none of such large, industrious lands have ever come close to matching or surpassing the glamour of India.

While at the university I studied hard and learned many things. After my two years abroad I had returned to London to say goodbye to my father at Tom's request. The consumption had killed him within two years, he lasted longer than we had expected. We had taken him away from India and his bouts of depression long enough for him to die in a cold rainy London winter. I was nineteen, and as his coughs grew louder and the blood on his red initialed handkerchiefs grew bolder and his fever left him writhing across his sheets, I finally, in those last foggy days, let go and let my pity go with him. I try not to think on him too often, or my family. I now watch my days dwindle by from my chair in my study when I am not busy arranging or pouring over books in a dim Indian library.

Felicity and Polly visit me often, at least four times in every year, if not more. Felicity bounding about in tailored trousers and shorn hair, a symbol of her freedom from English schools for young ladies of the curtsy and of backboards chaffing our arms forever. She dances with Polly in the gardens, among the mango and fig trees, it's been years since either of them has submitted to corsetry.

Ann writes me. For a few hours I am granted solace from the mediocrity of falling time while I read and reply to her post. Sometimes she pays me a call but her performances do not allot much time for visiting old friends. I've seen her on stage more times than I care to count; sometimes she knows I am there, most times she does not, but she is still a hundred times more stunning than any Lady Macbeth or Nan Washbrad who has ever sang a song or played a part on such a grand stage as she lords over presently and perfectly.

The realms are as they should be: beautiful and eternal. I go often, sometimes I do not know if they are real or if my mind has finally gone off and left me behind. I have seen many things and felt many pains but none seem more faultless than what I've been granted as a privilege and a duty, the Realms are my domain and they shall see no war or strife as long as I live.

Most do not know what it is to live for something else, to give your life away to serve. I am a master and a slave to the Realms. I hold the power in my hands and I suffer by anguish of the land when things go awry. I am at beck and call, and yet I command. I suffer the Realms and the Realms suffer me. I am Brahma and I am Shiva. Somewhere between the two extremes lies Vishnu, the preservation. I have hoped never to stray from that middle ground I have sworn on the lands of the Realms, I shall not, and sometimes all one needs to do is say something and it is true. There are power in words so we must chose the important ones carefully and that is among the wisest piece of advice I have ever received not containing a word about the importance of garters or corset laces.

Finally I return from wandering my gardens almost lewd with my robe hanging at my waist and my small breasts bared to the Indian sun. Dhara has adjusted the heat of my bath water to a temperate degree and I slip in forgoing the help of my cane. I let her bathe me and wash my hair and I lean forward so she can pour water over my shoulders, it tickles down my chest and falls back into the pool of water at my waist.

She dries me but I am still damp when I wander off into the garden my nakedness unbothered by chastising glares or warnings about the vulgarity of skin. Dhara sits upon a wicker chair and pops figs into her mouth, puckered by skin leathered by too many years darkening under that hot orb in the sky and the sand of Indian summers. She leaves me to be dried by the warmth of the sun. My freckles are numerous and my hair is flaming. The unruliness of my Spence days has stayed with me it would seem, though now I find myself consoled by it not compromised.

I am dressed by noon, I have had Dhara mend my wardrobe and adapt it so it is better suited for the harsh climates I now face when I wander outside. Gone are my heavy fur muffs and wool coats that look smart while in London but foolish here in the East. My dresses are made from starched tossa jute or cotton. I have grown to favor long skirts and tailored shirts that I purchase from England when I find I need such items. I find that I no longer fear bare skin and have taken to rolling up my sleeves in public, for there are still woman in India who bare their old stretched breasts as a symbol of their maternity and fertility here on Bombay's streets.

However I am forever resigned to both corsetry and hosiery, unlike my daring and darling Felicity. I forgo both on days when neither can be tolerated but my corset, despite the painful cinching of my waist or the ever bothersome laces; I find that the support and tightness provides me with a feeling of familiarity and comfort I fear I shall never be able to escape. My stockings are weightless and airy and keep the muddy water off of my skin when torrential rain is brought down upon our heads.

Dhara helps me dress; my chemise is soft and Dhara fixes the string of catches into place down my back, I tie a small knot at the top of my breastbone. My corset is looser than it should be but the day is humid and air is precious. My hosiery is light and my garters don't chafe my thighs as horribly as they could. My severely long skirt and tasteful shirt fall in place. My black freshly shined shoes click against the tiles of my bedroom floor when I walk to meet Dhara in the lounge for breakfast.

We dine lightly on fruit and juice, I have decided while in India that tea no longer tastes the same as in did in England. It was quite the same case as when I lived in New York City, so I reserved myself to a small cup of black coffee each morning. It tastes of foul goat but it keeps my eyes from fluttering throughout the day.

We wander the gardens and laugh together at twittering birds and stray sand, we don't tire for hours. When we do grow weary of acting more like children than grown women we sit together and watch the sun cross the sky and the clouds move in circles and spirals.

I watch the spires build up high overhead from white sky dust, wind, and light. The sun moves the same way every single day; slow, constant, ever-present above. A watchful god, a peeper, a separate conscience holding me up and pushing me out of a stumble and into a sprint.

That light warms me or seers me into smoldering pieces depending on its present fancy and leads me down paths of nostalgia that I'd rather leave to become overgrown with forests of my future rather than ones of my past.

I find I can remember every detail of the day we had won the victory of our young lives in the Realms. I remember the days before that too. I remember an Indian boy and I feel weary and nostalgic. I can remember how I felt when we went to the Cave of Sighs and stared up at huge luscious women, bare and free. I remember the circle and talk of the eternity it meant. I remember steeling myself to the look of his sharp eyes when my hand did not join his in the circle. There was a rift between us then, whether society had made it because of who we were or where our motherlands were or whether it was something the two of us created ourselves to cope with the longing we feared too deeply to acknowledge.

I remember the tree. I remember someone telling me not to let my blood fall onto the parched earth near its roots. I remember squeezing my bleeding arm tighter and in revulsion watching the drops hit that cracked earth and the veins of the ground pulsing. I remember the roots reaching and the ground opening up. I can tell you how it felt to be grabbed by the legs and having the roots twist my kicking right one into submission, I can tell you how my throat felt after screaming itself raw, I can tell you how Felicity and Ann's fingernails felt when the dragged down my arms in an attempt to save me from being taken away. I felt what it was like not to be able to breath because of the roots taking me down, further into the earth, pressing down on my chest, wrapping themselves tighter and tighter until I could make no more sounds. I felt what it was like to have my skin sliced in the hope that more blood would flow out of my veins. I heard the sounds above me, tearing, screaming, creaking, dull pulsing, and Eugenia's voice all around me and for the life of me I can't remember what she said, or maybe I just don't want to.

I saw the Them. The Erinyes, the Eumenides, the Furies, the Kindly Ones, the Graces, the Moirae, the Parcae, the Fates, the Three will suffice. They are neither kind nor gentle but they prove to be quite fair, the give us all what we deserve; a lifetime, no matter how long it lasts. I tasted the berry on my tongue and heard their talk of glory or a chance. I choose and in return took their boon: that never was I to be bothered by the limitations of my sex. A selfish wish, and thinking back on it, perhaps I should have asked for something more meaningful, or invocative of peace for Realms.

I heard the Gorgon's sword hacking at the tree, and I saw her hands reaching down to pull me back out of the dark. I saw life all around me and a dead tree toppled. I know what it's like to breathe again. And I know what it's like to change completely.

I was saved and I called them all to the Caves: the people of the forest, the centaurs, the Hajin, Philon, Asha, the surviving creatures of the Winterlands; the uncorrupted few that had scrapped by on the desolate landscape. I drew a circle around me and then drew them all in.

When those of us from the other world returned to Spence we set out on our separate tasks, Mrs. Nightwing, Felicity, Ann, and myself left to repair the damage on the girls done by the loose magic of the Realms. Kartik and Fowlsen left on their own. Kartik wished me luck, but it was somber compared to what I was used to from him. The fissure between us had grown wider, at least he was relieved I was alive. That counted for something, no matter how little it meant for the state of "us".

I was helped across the lawn, carried by Fowlsen before he and Kartik disappeared into the gypsy woods. My leg shot pain across my nerves and I feared it to be beyond repair. Magic is merely a glamour and cannot heal what is already broken, it could not take away my father's anguish, or heal Wendy's unseeing eyes, it could not keep Ann beautiful, and it could not fix my leg. It matters very little now.

I erased what was left in the girls' minds of that night and left a spark: a hope that they would learn to question instead of just listen. Perhaps for some of them the spark has grown into a fire fanned by the flame of their youth. When that familiar shade of purple orchid filled the dull night sky I finally slept. I woke before an hour of time had been ticked away. I was sobbing and screaming; Ann ran out to find Mrs. Nightwing.

My vomiting was laced with blood and my fever threw me into hysteria. The pain from my broken limb was excruciating and unbearable, I found that I couldn't control my most embarrassing bodily function I soiled myself at least twice that morning. My temples throbbed and my throat swelled. Mrs. Nightwing kept me alive on a diet of sherry in the hours before the physician arrived. He concluded that I had Sepsis and that I might die. I remember the coherency my thoughts took after hearing that, I still find it amusing to believe that my first thought after the diagnosis was 'How bloody jolly, about time.'

In two weeks I was weak but very much alive. The physician set my leg while I had passed out from the fever and Bridget took to the task of keeping me clean and feeding me tasteless morsels of food and weak soup.

Felicity and Ann stayed with me and in the weeks following they proved to keep me sane from my seemingly never-ending bed rest due not to the fever but to my leg and my limp. Once Kartik came to my window and knocked, it was late and Felicity was up sitting with me. I was in no mood to see him, let alone talk with him. I was tired and had no patience for the things that would arise from it. Felicity read my mood beautifully and stomped to the window, drew the curtains closed and blew out the candle by my bedside so we would not be bothered again. To this day I hope he found himself lucky that she didn't open the window, hike up her skirts and kick him square in the chest from disturbing me with his incessant knocking.

After seven weeks of never leaving my room I called for a cane and let no one bar me from the world any longer. My pride almost caused me to fall down the stairs. At first the younger girls stared and then when they were reprimanded they never looked at me again. However the curiosity and morbid interest was always there. We all lied and told them a loose beam in the east wing had fallen and trapped me beneath it. As always, a thousand other explanations sprung from the minds of silly and bored school-girls, some more fantastic than the actual truth.

There were always problems of course. Learning how to walk with a cane and not fall, and then the horrid truth of what my fever had wrecked upon my body. After weeks of not noticing and then having to listen to Felicity complain of womanly pains, I took notice that I had stopped bleeding. I haven't bleed a woman's blood in six long years. Part of me is thankful for that small freedom. Men wish for a wife who can produce fine beautiful children. I am not that woman and that small truth has done much to deter persistent suitors. I could however do without the blatant stares and hideous gossip and pity spoken behind the feathered fans of high society.

There is however a constant nagging on my nerves that my own words had served to condemn me. "I wish to be unbothered by the limitations of my sex." silly stupid girlish words, and they have spared me of a life fueled by home and hearth.

The gypsies remained camped in the woods. I hadn't seen Kartik since he came to my window, that night weeks before, but I had dreamed of him despite my refusal to place my hand inside the circle and clasp it with his. We may not have been able to walk through each other's dreams but at night I ached in a different way, I could taste his mouth and feel the weight of his body pressing me down into my hot sheets. That spot between my legs went warm and burning and I spent my nights balancing on that knife's edge of unaccustomed lust and embarrassment.

It was during those nights I sent Ann from our room, feigning pain, to Felicity's. I suppose she thought that I wished to be alone, or was shamed by my condition and needed the privacy to sob myself to sleep. In truth I wished privacy on myself so I could do the things ladies never talk about doing whilst alone in their rooms at night when haunted by the delirium of passionate hunger.

My first attempt of granting myself that type of pleasure proved to be more aggravating than blissful. I felt silly and unacquainted with my own body. My breasts felt odd in my own hands and bound by blankets I tried to find a way to use them to stroke my own heat without succumbing to discomfiture and awkwardness proved more difficult than I had first imagined.

After, left to my own devices for many nights, I grew bolder and knew where my own hands proved most useful. With my bedcovers pushed down to my waist and I lay down on my stomach my hands found their way between my open thighs. I pushed my hips against the heels of my palms and felt that newly familiar perfect piece of pressure take hold of my rocking motions. I held my breath for as long as I could, my body moved only at the whims of the dull ache between my legs. My body grew hot and my hair stuck itself to the back of my neck and shoulders. My chemise was fixed to the back of my thighs and bottom by sweat.

I thought of his arms, the muscles that pulsed when his sleeves were rolled up while he worked, that line of hair disappearing behind the band of his trousers, his pouting lips curving into something of a smile but more akin to a smirk for me, the weight of his body, his curls and the way they framed his obsidian eyes.

The memories of his scent drove my hips even when cramps formed in my thighs and my hands grew sore. In my wicked thoughts of him I could hear the perfectly lewd things he would say to me about his want, his need for my lips, my thighs, my breasts, my flesh, my body, my thoughts, my zealousness to worship him as a foreign and golden Adonis.

Such thoughts drove that heat from my body and what some women would call bliss or rapture or gratification would come over me and my hands and hips would still in faultless comfort. It was like running as fast as one could up a grand hill and then once at the top, throwing oneself into a roll until you hit the bottom on the other side.

As soon as that bottom hit I would feel uncomfortable in my own skin, as if I was wrong or damaged, and I hated myself for feeling so abnormal. I didn't like it that my own embarrassment outweighed my ardent needy fervor.

Perhaps it was because I knew it was something that a lady should never do, give into such hungry pursuits of fleeting fulfillment. Perhaps if I was younger I would not know such shame and find innocence in the feelings pleasure evokes from our bodies. As more nights went by I outgrew that phase of self-conscious mortification of my own body. I grew needy of something more than a handful of nights alone, tangled in my sheets, striving for escape where none could be expected to last for more than a few hours.

Soon I was able to gain some skill when it came to walking; I walked with Felicity and Ann along Spence's tailored green lawns and while they pretended things were the same as before it was always their grasping hands, flying out to right my balance when I stumbled, that told me otherwise. I don't know what was more foolish: their need to help me, the cripple, or my pretense of pretending not to notice.

Ann was gone soon after that leaving Felicity and myself to our own devices. In those last few weeks we watched together as girls flew to their parents with new found womanhood and thoughts of debuts singing in their pretty little heads.

While they sought new freedom with gowns and sparkles of youth I found mine on sprite whims. It was hot the night I went into the woods. Felicity helped me sneak out and stayed close to me all the way to the Gypsies' encampment, when I told her to leave she did, perhaps out of pity or maybe from a certain sense of neediness and urgency that surrounded me. I had grown tired of lying in hot sheets, drawing out my own discomfort knowing that I would leave him and never again see heads or tails of him. I was a cripple, barren, and too young to care about what it would do to him or to me.

Gypsies crowded themselves together, drinking, dancing, smoking, on my way to his tent I had thought I caught sight of a pair copulating against a tree. I didn't blush or turn away, I observed for longer than I should have and went on my way.

Some glanced my way; I was in no way stealthy and won't contest that as I hobbled by on my cane through the dirt and past the cooking fires. They knew who I was, I was familiar. My presence may have bothered some of them but they didn't bother accosting me on my way to my goal.

Kartik.

I found he wasn't staying with the rest of them; I made the long trek back through the woods and towards the lake. I was foolish to forget he had recently changed his lodgings to the dim and dank boathouse. My feet ached from stepping across worn gravel and sharp twigs. I hadn't bothered with shoes when we left, I had forgotten how harsh the ground was in the woods and campsite.

When I reached it and slipped inside I found him preparing for bed. It was late, I suppose. I noticed his hair was shorter, it had reached his shoulders the last I had seen of him and now it only reached his nape curling on his forehead and neck. He shone golden with perspiration, his arms and torso left bare to my hungry young eyes.

He turned to see who had entered without a word, his chest and stomach rippled with taut solid, all too male, muscle. My heart bruised a rhythm against my ribs and my stomach dropped from fear or excitement, foolish lust tugged my thoughts to less chaste territory. I wanted him, fiercely, feverishly, fervently, all of him, above me, below me, with me, against me. I wanted too much and not nearly enough in those harsh silent moments.

I've hated myself for years with what I did, with magic I baited him.

When he turned to me he said my name, surprised that I bothered coming at all. He never did expect to see me again. 'Gemma', again he pushed my name past his lips, and I kissed him. Hard and full. He was surprised and made the mistake of pushing me away, for a moment my solid conviction wavered. He told me it would be best for me to go back, that it was late, that he would hate himself if I stayed.

That bright and shiny moment of realization drew closer to me. I was not the only one suffering. For all my yearning he showed his own on his face, tenfold. With magic I told him that he was dreaming, that this was his only chance, and he would not get another. His eyes glazed and the glamour of magic made real my heated private thoughts.

That type of power proved to be better than anything I'd ever felt in the Realms. The power that women can wield over men, it's intoxicating.

I wanted him as a lover; it wasn't as if my purity mattered anymore, I couldn't very well be married off with the conditions my body was in and it wasn't as if I was risking anything, no child would be conceived and no one would know but I. Kartik would think it all a dream and I would never see him again. Felicity wouldn't dare say a thing about my trip to the woods out of dutiful respect. My knowing him would hold no future significance to anyone but myself.

We stood there eyeing each other. I moved towards him and let my dressing robe and cane drop. I grabbed his jaw and pulled his mouth to mine; His tongue tasted like plums and spice, his scent stirred the warmth in my stomach and between my legs. I wished his hands all over and his mouth covering every inch of skin in promises and psalms to me. I let him set me on his bedroll and cover my body with his, when his hands sought my breast they met the molding of hard whale bone in its place.

"Cut it off me." He cut between the rivets and then threw the merciless thing to the other end of his small quarters. I pressed my small chest into his hands and moaned out when his mouth covered my pulse. I opened my thighs and he settled himself between them pressing a covered thigh to my throbbing sex.

I cried out when he pressed up with a strong leg and my own hips pressed down. I wanted viciousness from him; every time I saw that side of him, the man in him, I felt my resolve strengthen. His hands tugged on my breasts making the nubs harden and darken behind the white of my chemise. The buttons down the front refused to pop open while he fumbled in vain against them.

"Tear it." He did and pulled down the front.

His mouth and tongue matched the fervent staccato in my ribs on top of my breasts. "Gemma." he gasped at me when I stretched and writhed under him. I felt him hard against my thigh. I reached to my side and pulled my chemise to my hips.

I'd heard the secrets of lovemaking told behind feathered fans or from Felicity in her shaded hut of scarves. From everything I heard told to new brides and young girls, pleasure should not be expected. They said it would hurt, but you would bear it for your husband's pleasure. If it was to hurt I was fully inclined to at least reach my own peak through my own means before he reached his own through his.

His eyes went obsidian when he realized my intentions, I had thought privately he would be aghast from my lewdness but from the way he watched me I would come to see that it had excited him to a point I'd never thought I'd ever get to see. I took his thigh between my own and rubbed myself against him. He rocked with me, helped me by taking my hips in his rough hands. His tongue traced my nipples.

"No, your teeth." And I gasped when I felt them graze my neck and breasts. The thrusting of his thigh to my wet heat sent my back bowing and my hands to his bare back scratching at him as I sought satisfaction. His trousers created a friction that made my breathy sighs into something more akin to the wanton.

Kartik kissed me and caught my bottom lip between his teeth; he smirked down at me, at my neediness. I breathed my breath into his mouth when I finally tensed. The dampness between my thighs and my swimming head left me limp against his pillow and his bed. I could still feel that ache that washed itself into the flush on my chest and face and on the wetness between my thighs like some sort of rabid animal pressing me deeper into myself.

I beckoned him to me, I watched him push down his trousers, I felt him hard, hot, and heavy against the insides of my thighs, I felt his hands white knuckling on my hips. My legs went round his waist and through the pain of that first quick thrust I concentrated on threading my hands in his hair and not the tearing away of what was inside me. He kissed my face and my chest and my hands. I told him it didn't hurt nearly as bad as I carried on about it. His tongue licked the salt tears from my cheeks and he tried to be gentle.

His thrusts became sporadic and through my own discomfort watched his face and the pleasure that he took from my body play across his perfect features. I had guessed perhaps I had not been his first woman; he knew what to do somewhat, at the very least. It wasn't until then that I had realized the things men and women do together is regarded as something holy in India and that the teachings of frenzied days and nights are not held as taboo, it is but merely a part of our lives as members of our different castes.

It was over far quicker than I anticipated, I noted by his sounds of desperation and the hot wash of new liquid between my legs. He collapsed on my chest and breathed me in, we kissed and stroked each other sweetly. We needn't speak less we would begin to measure our goodbye in words and false promises of future ardor. I left his steel embrace and tried as I could to dress myself. I found that my torn chemise and ragged corset were now unfit to be worn and an attempt at such would prove to be unworthy of the fixation of trying to mend either of them. I used the scarps of my chemise to clean myself of the blood and semen dripping down my thighs and threw my thin dressing robe over my nudity.

He didn't shy away from me but instead kept his eyes trained on my body as I tried to clean myself up. I told him to bathe before he went to sleep and think on all this to be a pleasant, albeit rare occurring, dream. I told him to wait until I was gone to do this. I carried all that I had left behind and took up my cane and hobbled out towards the lake. I stripped once more and waded into the cold water. I sank my dirtied chemise to the bottom by tying it around a rock and when I trekked backed to Spence chucked my ruined corset deep into the woods.

The light of a lantern greeted my arrival to the edge of the woods. It was Felicity.

'I waited.' she said to me.

'I can see that.' I greeted her back. We walked across the grounds by yellow lantern light.

In all the years since that night she never asked me once why I smelled of spice and sweat, or why my hair and body dripped with water, or why I wore nothing but my dressing gown.

However she did tell me after she extinguished the light from the lantern and the shadows hid her face, 'Some goodbyes are more necessary than others.' I have yet to say 'thank you' to her for that small glint of wisdom.

I did however ask her if she would ever do such a thing, to which she answered, 'I think not, the only things out there on the grounds are gypsies and gargoyles neither of which befit my need for the mysterious or the illicit behaviors unmentionable for a lady such as you to hear. Goodnight to you Gemma.' I quite nearly cackled loud enough to wake the entire grounds.

The next morning both Felicity and myself left to prepare for our debuts. I walked funny that entire day from the growing discomfort of my goodbye between my legs and did not escape Mrs. Jones' observant eye once I returned home, but that is a different story entirely.

I left after Felicity in my own carriage sent by Tom, his absence filled by Mrs. Jones dressed quite sumptuously for a lady of her age and for the occasion. As I said my goodbyes to Mrs. Nightwing and the youngest girls my eyes trained over the gypsy woods one last time.

Among the branches and brambles stood the object of my long and tumultuous fixation.

Leaning against the tree with his shoulder and holding something in his hand that swept the ground with its tattered laces, he frowned at me and in his eyes I saw the pain akin to that of a dejected and wounded animal. A small dredge of guilt welled in my throat before Mrs. Nightwing pushed me up into the carriage and handed me my cane. I watched from the window as he stood there, his eyes meeting mine in harsh metered veracity.

A scarp of dirty lace and whalebone swayed in the wind. I struggled against the heat behind my eyes as I watched him turn closer and closer into a speck as the carriage pulled me away. The crash of my actions fell on my head and I knew without reflection that he knew, he remembered, and he didn't try to stop me.

I sit here now in India, the sun hot on my face and my body through my clothes; my happiness is beyond something one can just meter and weigh and cut into halves day after day after day, so is my soreness. I am content but I feel I have missed something deeply important in my life.

I hope to be at ease at least once in my tired life, I hope to find that deeply important thing, I hope to teach myself to stop giving up on what I want simply because it is easier to reject now.

I hope to find a tangible balance for the Realms, I hope to see that boy as a man coming to meet me on a market road or in a crowd or gasping against my skin again.

For now I have the sun and that is my constant, that is my fulfillment, to know it will rise and set without question and, without equivocal reason, do so for the rest of my tired days.

A/N: You know you love me.