Fandom: Jacqueline Carey - Kushiel's Legacy series
Written for thermidor in the Yuletide 2008 Challenge
Rating: R
Disclaimer: The Kushiel universe belongs to Jacqueline Carey

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"Joie," the youth wished us, nervously presenting the tray with the small glasses of icy cordial. Joscelin frowned, for while the boy was of truly exceptional grace and beauty - wide, green eyes, a full, sensuous mouth and hair a glossy reddish brown which fell in heavy ringlets onto his back - he was far too old for the task of serving the cordial, which was more usually done by the young children of the Night Court.

When he looked up and recognized me, his

eyes widened in surprise before he quickly looked down again, his cheeks coloring with what had to be embarrassment at serving me, the infamous anguisette of Ysandre's court and hero of Terre d'Ange, as if he were a child instead of a youth ready to earn the first lines of his marque.

Joscelin remained silent, for I gave him one of the small glasses to toast each other with before he could ask a question - but you see, I did not do it to spare the youth embarrassment. He was of Valerian House; impossible to miss the signs, especially as I would have been sent to Valerian House as well as a child, had not Anafiel Delaunay bought my marque instead. Like myself, the beautiful youth found his pleasure through pain, and he was too lovely for this seeming punishment not to be a deliberate tactic of a shrewd dowayne.

Indeed, he was attired much like Alcuin had been when Delaunay flaunted him before friends and enemies alike. His clothes were simple and plain, yet fabric and cut were of exquisite quality - an iridescent white silk so thin that I could see the rosy aureoles of his nipples through the white shirt, and the dark contours of his genitals. I would not have been surprised at all to hear that he had been outfitted by Favrielle nĂ³ Eglantine herself, my own seamstress.

Oh, I could see all too clearly what his dowayne had been thinking when the boy grew more flustered under Joscelin's frown. Valerian House was flaunting its finest flower, inviting the gathered court to enjoy his embarrassment and mortification at being given a child's task - and like a lamb pushed into a pack of wolves, this one would draw the attention of all those with Kushiel's blood running in their veins. And yet I remembered well what it had been like at that age, my body ripe and yearning for loveplay while Delaunay made me wait for my first assignation until I was certain I would die from want.

Just like me, this little lamb wanted to be hunted and subdued, and after flaunting him so during the Midwinter Masque, I was certain he would fetch a virgin-price almost as high as Alcuin's.

"What is this?" It was the voice of Barquiel L'Envers, and he looked at the youth with faint amusement, although his expression changed to one of derision when the adept trembled and spilled some of the joie he was offering him. He carelessly backhanded him and I had to take Joscelin's hand to keep him from defending the youth, for even though he was now kneeling at L'Envers' feet amidst the shards of the glasses he had dropped, I could see that his phallus was hard and straining against the front of his thin breeches at the humiliation he suffered.

"The clumsiest servant I have ever seen," L'Envers pronounced with cold disdain, then grabbed a fistful of the youth's wealth of brown locks to pull his head up. "If your dowayne cannot see to it to have you properly trained, then maybe I myself should make certain that you are fully punished for your inability to perform a task so easy any child can do it..."

Joscelin was stiff with disgust beside me, but he knew me well enough to keep his silence even though he loathed what he had to witness. And I could not bring myself to leave for his sake - seeing the youth's helpless arousal at what L'Envers did to him, the way his pale body was flushed all over, trembling with yearning as L'Envers tightened his grip on his hair, it made me remember my childhood in Delaunay's household when I had been an innocent in truth, dreaming of my first assignation while yet completely unaware that the adventures they would bring came along with great pain and loss.

Yet it need not be so for this youth, for he was not Kushiel's Chosen, although the blood of Blessed Elua and his Companions ran strong in him. I prayed that all that was waiting for him was the dazzle and intrigue of the Night Court, and the freedom to be found in submitting to the scions of our Lord Kushiel.

L'Envers ran his thumb over the red imprint his hand had left on the boy's cheek, smiling when the adept moaned and closed his eyes, exquisite in his vulnerability - but then he let go of his hair and turned, striding away to the High Table as if he had already forgotten about the boy who was still kneeling at our feet.

Joscelin made as if to help him up, but I held him back once more to instead watch in amusement how the adept slowly got up, cheeks red with embarrassment now at how the thin fabric of his breeches only emphasized his straining, erect phallus.

"L'Envers is right - how clumsy you are," I said so that Joscelin gave me a surprised look at the uncommon cruelty of my words. "What a disgrace for your House! But I will give you a chance to make up for it. Leave that tray, you will serve at the High Table instead. And take care not to antagonize L'Envers further, or he might have you whipped right here before the eyes of the Queen."

"Yes, my Lady," the youth whispered and bowed before he followed L'Envers, eyes dark with yearning and apprehension, and when I turned, I saw the Duc raise a brow at me and give me a slight bow before his eyes fastened with cruel delight on the approaching youth.