A/N: So much for my hiatus... Written in about an hour-long burst of creativity while on vacation in Canada. Smuttiest piece I've ever posted online; this one is a strong "M" for fairly graphic sexual content and very crude language, so if you're easily offended, just head on back, 'kay? For the rest of you, hopefully you'll find it entertaining (and in-character). As always, comments and/or concrit warmly welcomed. Enjoy.

Raphael's was an upbringing marked by utmost refinement, by civilized cotillions in verdant gardens, making casual conversation with other men of high standing while subtly catching the fluttering eyes of coquettish debutantes, imagining the soft, pale skin beneath their extravagant gowns.

His keepers would often chastise him for such thoughts, should he ever forget himself and express them outwardly. Those young women, they would state, are ladies of the highest degree, and ladies must be treated most gently.

His lips quirk into a ghost of a smile as he imagines his manservants' likely reactions to the situation at hand—to himself, surely, clutching at the slender curves of the woman astride his lap, sinking teeth into her pale shoulder, drawing blood from flesh already torn and bruised...

Oh, but to witness their reactions to her, hands braced on either side of his hips, soft blond hair wild and slicked with sweat, head thrown back as she rides him with some kind of primal abandon (and oh so tight and slick around him, lips parted sensually as she arches her hips upwards before coming back down to take his full length inside her, and he knows he'll never tire of the look in her eyes now, half-lidded with lust and hunger as they burn into his). She may be many things, even to him, but she is certainly no lady, not as they'd see it.

It'd be scandal, to be sure, if he were still a member of that storied nobility, when he'd made agonizingly dull small talk with any number of equally dull noblewomen, only to spend an evening slipping beneath their petticoats for an hour's worth of painfully restrained lovemaking. They'd always want it soft and slow, monotonous with feigned romanticism, the woman beneath him continuing to play the shy young maiden, all bashful eyes and rosy cheeks, even with his fingers between her legs and his cock pounding into her.

It'd be scandal, then, if they should see him with her now. He's never made love to Cassandra, she knows that as well as he does—they fuck, hard and passionate, all lips, teeth, and tongues, bruises all along her fair skin, deep scratches down his back. When she comes, whether the first time or the sixth (and really, who's counting as she contracts around him), there's nothing of a bashful maiden to the feral creature writhing against him, nails gouging into his shoulders, holding him deep inside her, sweetly clinging, as his name tears from her throat, somewhere between a whisper and a scream, and he can't help but roughly slam his hips against hers once, twice, before spilling inside her.

He never cries her name, even when he feels it heavy against his tongue, fighting to be heard.

Usually he takes his leave once he's finished, runs a swift, careless caress along her cheek and doesn't meet her eyes, doesn't want to see that tired look, dim and weary from too many nights of hoping, hoping for something more, something he can't (won't) give.

Tonight is one of those rare occasions when he stays, holds her as she slumps against his chest, tucks her head under his chin, absently rubs her back in a comforting caress. Her breathing echoes in his ears, slightly ragged, the only sound in his darkened chambers. She seems almost peaceful in that moment, and he finds that he could almost hate her then.

The ladies liked to be held, he remembers. Treated gently, always gently, held and worshiped after the fact even as he rolled his eyes and wished for morning.

Cassandra asks nothing of him—holds him when he finds himself longing for her embrace, accepts his cool rebuff when it inevitably comes. She'll fuck him like a high-priced whore, fall to her knees before parting soft pink lips to suck him dry, but it's not for curiosity or indulgence, not to take revenge on a restrictive father, not for the bragging rights that come with bedding the beloved son of the Sorel estate. He doesn't care to acknowledge why she does it, not on those incredibly rare occasions where he hears her name upon his lips even before he realizes he's said it, then looks to see her failing to mask the pure, shining love in her eyes.

And he could hate her, sometimes nearly does, for not hating him.

A low-class merchant girl. Maybe they would be well at ease with the sight of her snuggled against him, so warm and content, even with her body aching and his seed slick along her thighs. They'd raise no protest over the bruises, the strained muscles, the trickle of blood along her shoulder. She'd be little more than a whore to them; treat the ladies gently, they'd said, and she was certainly no lady. Just a throwaway girl, used to sate base desires until one was once more as restrained and dignified a bed mate as true ladies deserved.

It'd be scandal, he muses, feeling warmth spread through his chest as she lightly kisses his collarbone. For he's finally realized that he doesn't want a lady.

He imagines widened, bulging eyes, clenched fists, at this declaration, but he has no desire for a bland, coquettish woman who would lay still beneath him and carry on about propriety. He inwardly shudders at the thought of another night with a simpering peacock held loosely in his arms, a high, shrill voice demanding he join her and mama soon for tea.

He wants fire, passion, wants a stubborn scrap of a woman who wields a finely-honed sword and returns his glares with her own. Wants her burnt pastries, wants her determinedly awkward French, wants her laughably ill-timed shield uppercuts. He wants her writhing beneath him, wants her teeth against his throat, wants his name on her lips. And he wants her smile by candlelight, her soft, even breathing as she drifts off to sleep, wants that longing adoration in her aquamarine eyes. He wants her.

Almost, he thinks, as much as he hates her. As much as he loves her.

"You're awfully quiet tonight," she murmurs against his chest, raising her eyes to meet his. A faint line of worry is etched into her brow, and he fights the urge to smooth his fingers over it, to ease her back into that soft, contented relaxation.

"I see no need for idle conversation," he finally responds, finding comfort in familiar arrogance.

"Are you all right?" Concern threads through her tone, and he's torn between wanting to angrily push her aside and forcefully kiss her with all the confusion and desire he feels.

In the end, he does neither, merely drapes an arm along her waist and speaks honestly. "I was thinking of the highborn ladies I've known in times past. You hardly compare, my dear."

A frown, a flash of indignation across her lovely face. "So, what, I'm not noble enough for you?"

"Not remotely."

She raises her eyes to meet his, and he can't help but notice how beautiful she is then, all passion and fury.

"As I recall," he continues, "noblewomen are exceptionally restrained in nearly all areas, most noticeably when it comes to physical desires. I was merely observing," here he pauses to lightly kiss her brow, "how fortunate I am to have a woman of such striking difference in my arms at the moment."

"So you're...complimenting me?"

"In a roundabout way, I suppose. I wouldn't get used to it."

"Complimenting me by, what, insisting that I'm not a lady?"

She's puzzled at the slow, easy grin across his handsome features. "No, my darling," he says simply, brushing a soft kiss across her lips. "You are so much more."