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Disclaimer: Nothing here is mine, as usual. I do this purely out of love and respect for the series and the characters. This all belongs to Mrs. Carey, beginning to end, and it is the only thing I will write in it.

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Phedre undressed slowly and silently the codes of her training, even when not focused on like the marque on her back, a part of her being as permanent and manifest in whom she was and always would be. The clothes were the softest of silks and the deepest of crimson, but she gave them little heed as they created the image of a river of blood on the floor of her bedroom. She simply stepped out and walked to the window of her bedroom letting the cold nip at her flesh.

The gown having freed her body revealed small-scabbed cuts and bruises along her sides, legs, and stomach. They brought her no notice except when every once in a while a movement of her body would stress a location with and reflect with first a sting, and then a wave of luxurious bliss. There were after all many lagniappes to being an anguisette, which did not end when her night rendezvous' did.

Her fingers tips touched the windowpane where they longed to touch the man her eyes fell upon. Joscelin Verruil; the Casseline brother who broke all his vows, and not to mention his heart, in the service of her protection. He kneeled before Richeline's altar to Elua, his head bowed and arms crossed, and he'd been there for many hours now.

The golden glints of the braid hanging down his back attracted her attention, but his stillness couldn't let her be distracted long. The wounds of her body mattered nothing to the wounds his disappointment and disapproval did to her, except that her skin would heal faster than any emotional wound, which could take eons if indeed it did heal completely. It wasn't as if the losses of her adroit Anafiel or elegant Alcuin had faded even now, or betrayal of the bewitching Melisande.

And perhaps that was what made this both heaven and hell all wrapped delicately into one.

Shaking her head ruefully, Phedre tried to move from the window and the man she could not help but love, but found the act impossible. After all, love and heart break were the own endless wound she had found she could not heal and she trembled before that window, her legs threatening to cave against the raw pleasure, as she stared at him through the light gray rain as it fell