It's So Easy From Above
A Kingkiller one-shot by Mushroom Scribe
NOTES: This is a Kvothe/Fela one-shot, kind of AU and set some time after Wise Man's Fear, and it's pretty steamy. Seriously, it's rated M because there's sex in it, I'm not kidding around. If you have problems with adultery (when the woman is also "expecting") then I suggest you look for something else to read, okay? Good. By the way, I actually do have a problem with adultery in real life, but of course this is just a fanfiction, lol. I took the title from a Ben Folds song that has a really similar theme to this story.
It was Wilem who said it. He said it so earnestly, and we all knew he meant it - meant it because there was fine scutten involved. We also knew in the same moment that he was deep in its grips, because he actually bent to the table and lapped up the droplets.
"There is more in the bottle," Simmon chided.
"There is always more in the bottle," Wil retorted as he sat back, wiping his chin. "But the bottles themselves are too hard to come by."
Laughing, I got up to reach into the beautiful green cloak hanging on a peg near the kitchen fireplace. It was a tad damp, but not so much that it would ruin a thing. When I returned, I was hefting a bottle of brackish liquid and piping, "Really? They seem to be springing up everywhere to me."
"You mangy old dog!" Sim chortled. "All this for me? TWO bottles of scutten? You'd think we had ended a war!"
"Oh, but that we had," Wil grumbled.
"Fine, then - rip 'er open, let us truly begin this celebration in earnest!"
Smirking down at the ruddy-faced chap, I began to work on that while I asked, "And what precisely would you say we've been doing for the past hour?"
"Warming up," Wil said, grinning himself now. We all chortled at that, and when I poured we gave joyous shouts and clinked glasses.
And so it went for the following half hour, the three of us reunited. It truly had been forever and a day; my attentions had been fastened on the Chandrian and Denna for so long, on Naming and making a name for myself, that all of my carefully-cultivated relationships had faded into the background. Not that true friendships ever die, of course. They simply slumber.
The night wore on, and we played a bit of dogsbreath and - yes, this is how muddled our brains were - corners with only three people. Eventually we fell to swapping old stories and new ones, and in this way we had all eventually slumped over the table. I guarantee you it is only because we had scutten that Wilem fell into the grips of the spirits and was drooling onto the cards.
I was nodding with my chin falling onto my chest when I heard labored footsteps in the hall. Everything in me tightened. My hand went to the knife hiding innocently in my pocket, my lips formed the name of Fire, ready to loose it should the need arise. All of this without changing the rest of my body. To all the world, I was half-drunk and lolling.
However, when the door opened and I got a good look at my assailant...
"Sorry to disturb you boys," said a voice like tinkling bells in the lightest breeze, "but I think I'd... like a bit of willow bark to cope with the... oh."
I immediately sat up a little straighter, released the knife, opened my bloodshot eyes. It was not Haliax, it was not some revenge-fueled cousin of Ambrose Jakis. Nothing of the kind.
When the door opened fully, I saw just how very pregnant Fela had become in the past eight or so months. Her lithe frame was oddly distorted by the bulge in her midsection, and yet it was unable to detract from her innate beauty. I saw she had managed to throw a robe on over her nightgown and tied it at the waist and pulled shoes onto feet that were no doubt swollen. Her curling brown hair wasn't lustrous and perfect, it had been slept upon recently, but she had made a half-hearted attempt to bring it under control. Even in such a condition as that, she had no desire to interrupt us while looking a fright.
"Fela," I breathed. It was all I could say; it encaptured who she was, and thus was the only word worth breathing.
"Kvothe," she said modestly, glancing down at her stomach. She was embarrassed for me to see her that way; I know she was, it was all Sim could talk about. How his bride dearly loved the idea of a child, but could not bear to have anyone glimpse what had become of her figure. It hadn't been so very bad until the last few months when she had swelled exponentially. That was when she had stopped going to market or any inns and had walled herself up in the bedroom with a mountain of books, intent on research. And hiding.
"How have you been?" she said in a soft whisper.
"This and that." Once I'd said it, I realized it was a terrific answer... to a question other than the one she had asked. It was appropriate for "What have you been doing with yourself"; I had made the wrong selection, that's all. So I cleared my throat and tried again. "Fine, fine. Much more importantly, how have YOU been? The three of you, that is."
"Good, good." She cleared her throat and nervously smoothed her hair down. "So I see the festivities are, ah, winding down?"
"A bit," I said with a smile as I glanced at where Sim was snoring and Wil was drooling. "You, ah... willow bark, right? I'll fetch it if you tell me where you usually keep it."
With a slight smile, she pointed and whispered, "In that high cupboard." Soon enough I was putting it the small bag of shredded bark into her hands, and she was whispering, "Thank you. It's hard to get used to having everyone do things for me. To depend on others."
"It's only fair; soon enough, you'll have a little someone depending on YOU."
"True." She looked up, smiled, then turned to the door... then paused. "Will you... help me up the stairs? Sorry," she rushed ahead, staring down at her stomach, "I hate to ask it of you, but it does take me devilishly long to go up and down them, I regret to even come down for the willow bark but these cramps are something from Tehlu's blackened pit itself, I-"
"Of course." Without pausing for her to sputter more thanks, I took her elbow and led her through the house to the stairwell, then stood on the step just behind hers as she slowly ascended, one hand in the small of her back and the other holding onto the wrist holding the bark. Her free hand pushed into the wall as she grunted from the effort it took to ascend.
"I appreciate this," she panted as she hobbled into the bathroom. "You may return to your... sleeping, was it?"
"Sleeping," I laughed. "That's what it had shaped up to be."
"Much luck with that, then. It was... nice seeing you."
And I took my leave. I had intended to do that in its entirety; take up my now-dry cloak (that had come from her generosity to begin with) and exit the home of Simmon and Fela and find my way to my rooms at the nearby inn. Sim had offered both of us a place by his sitting room's hearth, glad to help keep a few stray jots in our purses, but both of us had refused. They didn't need a gaggle of men cluttering up the house of a woman in the family way should she go into labor and need the space for skilled midwives.
Having doubled back to leave a short note of farewell to Sim, my hand had scarcely alighted on the knob of the front door again when I heard a tremulous "HELP!" from upstairs. Not an urgent scream of gripping terror or pain, just a lamenting wail. Leaving the cloak hanging from the knob, I took the stairs two at a time until I arrived at the door of the bathroom. I knocked. "Fela?"
"Kvothe!" she gasped. "I... I thought you had gone, I heard the door open and shut, didn't I?"
"You did, but I decided to write a note for Sim. Everything allright?"
She gulped. "Well... no, not really, but this isn't the s-sort of thing I'd request you help me with."
Heart pounding in my throat, I asked, "You're not... bathing, are you?"
"No, no, of course not. I just... I can't stand up." A few seconds passed and she said, "You can come in, I'm mostly decent."
Curious now as to what "mostly decent" would turn out to mean, I did open the door a crack. She was seated on the chamber pot, face burning with shame, and her nightgown was pulled down to more or less cover her to the knees knees in front. There really was no strong cause for her to be shy... except of course for the bit where her backside was undoubtedly bare, though I could not see any of that from my vantage point.
"I'm more embarrassed right now than I have ever been, I'm certain," she whispered.
"You're pregnant," I reminded her needlessly. "These things will happen. Here, take my hand."
She did. Once I had her hoisted a few inches up, her hand shot under her gown and presumably put her underthings back where they belonged. Then, readjusting her gown and robe to where they would normally fall, she smiled weakly up at me. "Many thanks, kind sir."
I stood by while she washed her hands, then escorted her to her rooms. When she told me again and again that this wasn't necessary, I finally said, "I'm going to put you into bed and make sure you're comfortable, because I have a feeling Sim is going to be useless in this area for a few hours yet."
"That's a feeling I can agree upon," she snickered as she settled back against her pillow. When I pulled off one of her shoes, her face took on a look of extreme discomfort. "NNH..."
"What, what is it? Did I turn your ankle?"
"They're just in so much pain every moment of the day!" she griped, staring down at her swollen flesh. "Can I ask you to be a little more careful with the second one? In point of fact, I wouldn't ask you to take them off for me at all if I could reach them without making myself dizzy..."
My hands were much slower and more mindful as I removed the other one and placed both on the floor by her bedside, should she need to make another trip downstairs. "You might want a larger size to wear until the birthing."
She waved a hand in a dismissive gesture as she popped a small piece of willow bark into her mouth and began to chew idly. "Waste of coin. It's only another span or so, I'll get by until then. And I daresay we shall be a family of three and NO MORE, because if motherhood means this much agony-"
"Of course," I said with a smile. Then I picked up one of her feet and pushed my thumbs into the sole.
"Kvothe, what- wait, what are you-"
"You have to keep the blood circulating," I chided her as I massaged into her aching joints. She began to slide both feet away, but I'm known to be devilishly fast when I'm feeling particularly determined so I caught one up before she could rescue it. "You know that as well as I."
Fela gulped, turning her eyes away from me. I saw her pale, dainty toes curl inward, as if she was trying to make her feet small enough that I would suddenly think they had disappeared and stop my actions when I ran off to look for them. "You sh-shouldn't... I mean to say, it's not something we..."
"Haven't you been soaking them at all?"
"Well, of course, off and on when I- MMmm, oh goodness..."
Smiling, I let the thumbs drift up the soft, vulnerable arch and to the more weathered skin covering her metatarsals. The moans I generated from her sounded of a sort you would hear due to other activities, but I used my Alar to keep my mind from pondering that further and persisted until I felt her muscles loosen, until her toes flexed more easily and the swelling around her ankles had gone down the tiniest hair. Then I moved to the next... and again she sounded like a demoness being filled with the blackest magic. In spite of my strength of will, my complexion reddened; any woman who can make such scintillating sounds ought to be more careful about when and in whose company they do so.
"Thank you," she said softly, sleepily when I had finished. "Between your magic touch and the bark, I think I'm feeling much better now. Just what I needed."
I shrugged as I gently stroked the tops of her feet now. "I live to serve."
"Liar," she smiled. Then she rolled to one side. "Can... I wonder if you could help me rid myself of this- don't know why I didn't take it off beforehand, but now if I tried-"
"Of course," I said immediately, trying to slide her robe out from under her weight. With a few awkward rolls and a bit of piecemeal work, we managed it, and I draped it over her beside table, knocking a few books and scrolls to the floor. "There."
When I said "There," what I meant was, "There, we accomplished that." It turned out, however, that I also meant, "There, we seem to be extremely close to one another and both of us with a bit of rosiness to our cheeks."
Fela's hair had come free of its bindings and fanned out on the pillow beneath her. The ever-talked-of glow was all about her face, in her eyes, and when I glanced down I finally saw a fine reason indeed that she had donned the robe before coming to greet us.
"That's a... very sheer garment."
"It is," she breathed nervously. It was. Every minute detail of her bosoms was outlined beneath the fabric - and they were quite a bit larger than I remember them being the last time we were so close to one another and she was so ill-covered. Tehlu anyway, they had been large enough THEN to be getting along with! Worse still, the loose straps that held it around her shoulders did little to disguise the tops and sides of each mound of pliable flesh. "I... my b-body temperature tends to run a wee bit hotter than normal these days."
It was an understatement. From as close as I was, I could see sweat beading on her cleavage. I didn't WANT to see sweat beading on Fela's cleavage, no matter how much more ample it had recently become. My finger drifted down and brushed along a track that one of the droplets had left behind on its voyage down the smooth, graceful slope...
And then her sharp intake of breath brought me back to myself and the reality we live in. Fela was a good friend's wife, soon to be the mother of his child. Much more importantly, she was a good friend to ME. This was more than simply wrong or illegal or sinful, it was in poor taste.
Casually, I moved my hand up from her chest to her forehead. "I see you speak the truth. You're a bit warm. I ought to get you some water."
"Don't," she breathed, hand ensnaring my wrist. When our eyes locked, she let out a feeble, "I mean... you could sit with me a while. I'm fine."
"I'll be back momentarily. You have my word as a gentleman."
She managed a quivering smile as she drew her hand back and held it against her chest. "That's not even worth the air you took to give it."
Out in the hallway, I took a great deal of time to descend the stairs, getting my bearings. Once again, Kvothe the Bloodless becomes Kvothe the Feckless. How often was I going to land myself in impossible situations like these? Down into the kitchens, where I found a pewter tankard and filled it with water. I murmured a sympathetic binding and quickly funneled a small drop of warmth away from it and into the fireplace as I went back to the staircase, letting the binding go when I spotted a few stray crystals of ice floating on its surface.
I knocked on the doorframe needlessly, and Fela shot me a quick, tiny grin. She had pulled the covers up to her chin now, which was a silly thing to do when you're already feeling warm. Not that I was having trouble fathoming why she would.
"Here you are."
"Thank you." She took a sip and then laughed. "And thank you for the quick bit of sympathy, it's quite delicious this way. What's that, mint?"
"Mint?" I asked with a grin. "I haven't put any mint in it."
"Yes you have. Here, taste." I did. "See?"
"Bow-legged fates. There's mint. How on earth did I..." Then I shrugged. "Must have been in the tankard already."
As one, we peered inside it. Not a single leaf was floating on its surface or sticking to its bottom. Fela muttered under her breath and her fingertip glowed, illuminating its inside. No pollutants. It occurred to me that I had managed this trick once or twice before, but only when concentrating my Alar on transmuting the liquid. Never on accident; that was impossible, wasn't it?
Fela was smirking at me now. "Was this your subconscious mind's way of trying to get us to 'cool down'?"
"Perhaps," I laughed nervously. I laid a hand on her stomach, then drew it away. "Oh, I'm sorry."
"No, go on," she said warmly. "Everyone's been doing it; it's all I can do to keep their hands away. As if they could see what he or she will look like by contact with the outer hull of his or her meaty bassinet."
At that I was forced to turn a frown in her direction. "Come on, don't talk of yourself that way."
"It's all I feel like anymore; a carrying case for Sim the Second." After finishing that thought, she looked greatly apologetic as she went on, "Not that it's such a horrible thing to be. I just... there was so much more I wanted to do. So much I STILL want to do. And here I am, about to drift into the role of wife and mother."
"Enough." I rested my hand on her stomach again, more firmly and without hesitation. "It's a beautiful thing you're doing. And I know you; nothing so frivolous as a human infant will bar you from the pursuit of knowledge."
"Infants are frivolous?"
"Quite. I can't fathom why you're tossing away hard-earned talents on such airy-fairy things."
We shared a quiet smile, and then Fela took another drink of her water. Then she smiled again. "It's refreshing. I'd have asked you to do it if I'd thought of it, really the best thing for me right now."
"That and willow bark."
Her smile turned sour. "Yes. Accursed cramps."
"You know," I said mildly as I stroked over her stomach, "I should probably try a massage of your back. It'll be harder to accomplish with this sweetmelon in the way..."
Oddly, she didn't rise to my jest. Instead, she looked faintly shy as she hid her mouth behind the rim of her drink and said, "Please, you've already given me enough relief in my lower extremities. I promise you, I'm fine."
"Nonsense. Just roll a bit and I'll do what I can from there."
I was already easing her onto her side when she started and blurted in a frenzied tone, "Wait, Kvothe, I- you really shouldn't do that, there's-"
We both fell into a strained silence. I was staring at the back of a very nude Fela. The bulge just beyond her hips was mostly hidden by the arm at her side and the hem of the blanket, and the rest of her was alabaster-hued perfection.
"I was extremely warm before," she hissed urgently, "and you t-took so long with the water, so I wanted- that is, decided I might need to... to... Kvothe, shouldn't you roll me onto my back again?"
"No," I told her determinedly, taking the tankard and setting it on the table next to her robe. "I haven't given you the massage yet."
When she felt my hands pressing into her lower back, she seized and stayed tensed, but then relaxed into my ministrations. My hands are the vessels of my heart, as you know, and if I do say so myself I have honed them to instruments capable of great artistic wonder. Keeping my mind on historic dates and listing all the runes of sygaldry, I slowly moved them up her back, concentrating on distractions and allowing my mind to simply follow the task at hand without much thinking about what it was. Or what unearthly sounds Fela was making.
"Stop tensing up," I reprimanded her at last when I was between her shoulderblades. "It's useless for me to bother if you're going to fight me."
"Sim should be doing this," she whispered weakly, then moaned again before continuing. "It's not the job of the... husband's best friend to massage his wife's aching musculature."
"I'm not sure I even count as Sim's best friend anymore. That distinction likely belongs to Wil."
A shaky laugh. "He still holds you in high esteem, you know that. He understands why you went. We all do - now, at any rate."
I slid onto the bed behind her as I kneaded into her shoulders, keeping my body a hair's breadth away from hers, touching with nothing but my hands. "I'm lucky to have such an understanding bunch blowing the wind at my back."
That was an awfully sensual sound. "Are... you allright there?"
"I think you've found a knot," she laughed nervously. "Please, I'd r-really prefer you to quit while we're ahead."
With a smirk, I pushed in harder, and she let out another squeal of pleasure intermingled with pain. "It really is lucky you're sweating so much; I haven't any scented oils or anything."
"I'm not sweating," she snapped. "Women don't sweat, they glisten."
"Then you're 'glistening' an awful lot for somebody who's had their blanket lifted and their back exposed to the air for several minutes."
Fela swallowed, looking over her shoulder at me and readying to bite out another retort... and when she found she couldn't, I felt a tiny bubble of dread well up and burst inside my stomach. This was already going fairly unwell, and it was soon to take a turn for the worse.
"It shouldn't take a genius like you to figure out why."
My Alar collapsed. Her eyes were wide and fearful, her tongue hastily moistening dry lips, chest rising and falling too rapidly for anyone at peace with their situation. I became painfully aware that my pelvis was inches from hers, that it was only my clothing holding us apart because she was not wearing a stitch. Hadn't she also been in bloomers? Was she really that feverish that she had to strip fully while I was running to the kitchens?
"Answer me something," I asked in a quiet tone, raising the top hand and laying it on her upper arm. "Is there... any other reason that you took your clothes off when I went to fetch you water?"
She swallowed again, her gaze flicking down toward herself, then pointedly turning to the ceiling. "Kvothe, I'm not sure I like what you're implying."
"I didn't say you had to like it; I'm not sure how I feel about it, either. It just needed to be asked."
By this point she was shaking. "That is a sick thought indeed. I am with child."
"You're worried I'll cave in its head?" I said in a would-be jovial tone. "We've both gone to the Arcanum, we're not so ignorant as to believe-"
"It isn't that!" she hissed at me, eyes misting over. "It's... I would never presume to put my body on display when it has been stretched out like a haversack holding a horse."
I grinned at the old saying, but said, "You don't look like that."
"I'm hideous right now. Why would I want you to see me this way?" She made a quick swallow, then dropped her voice even lower. "If you're... l-lusting after my body the way it is, then that means you have a serious mental affliction."
"Nothing short of a complete transformation into a toad could make you hideous. Don't presume that some distension is enough."
She rolled to face me. That is to say, she rolled to face me, leaving the blanket behind. There was a cold defiance in the set of her jaw, even as she continued to grow redder in the cheeks. "Tell me, Kvothe; appease my ridiculous vanity if you can do so honestly. Tell me I'm beautiful like this. Like THIS."
Mind slowly going blank, I gazed down the length of her. I'd seen a handful of nude females in my short life, never having been to a brothel (not to partake of their services, anyway) and only finding a woman's favor on a few paltry occasions. Even so, Fela made every single one of them look like old hags. Save for her stomach, each and every detail was as if chiseled by an expert sculptor with the intent that this would be his life's greatest work. Even her swollen belly was perfectly round and smooth, the navel a tiny button at its peak.
"God's body..." And for once, I meant it literally; hers must have been.
"Stop lying to me."
"Fela, you are a vision. There's... I haven't any words. You're just beautiful, that's all I can manage."
"And you'd truly lay with me when I look like I've swallowed a 'sweetmelon', as you put it? Come now, enough games."
"Is that an invitation?"
There was a hunger in my voice I hadn't intended. It was raw and earnest and primitive. Fela's eyes widened a tiny bit when she caught it; there was no possible way something like that could slip by unnoticed. Then her sweating palm covered one peak, the wrist the other, and her remaining hand went downward past her stomach to hide something else. Her mouth fell open so she could pant like a dog in rut, though in fact the need for extra breath came from her fear. Her lungs needed to feed her adrenaline rush.
"Kvothe, I am married and soon to be a mother," she hissed violently, the tiny pools of tears she had been creating now starting to overflow and make their slow way down her cheeks to the pillow. "This is not appropriate. It... it's disgusting."
"I'm not the naked one," I reminded her with a slight smile.
"Not funny, either." She cleared her throat. "I was trying to convince you that I didn't strip for your enjoyment, not parade myself about even more. M-maybe that was a rash decision. But that doesn't mean you now have my permission to ogle without reservation."
"Never what I intended to do," I said, forcing my eyes to hers. There was such accusation there, such hurt and shame and misery, that I nearly looked away but I forced myself to keep looking, to take my lumps. "Nor to take you to bed, I promise. None of that. There just..."
Both of us stayed quiet for a time, sweating, feeling needs trying to overtake us but shushing them, beating them back. Then Fela spoke, in a voice so low I had to strain to hear in the deathly silent room, and I listened.
"I've always wondered about this. You and I... we formed a connection very early on. Perhaps it was because your first act of friendship was to ward off the unwanted courtship of the Jackass, and that so soon afterward you saved me from being roasted alive in the Fishery. Maybe my heart developed a great affection for you that bordered on... on attraction."
I nodded, not trusting myself to truly answer.
"And- oh Tehlu tan me, what am I saying?" Another gulp. "I wondered if I made the right decision, to be with Sim. I love him, I love him dearly and he is all that I could ever ask for in a romantic partner, in a husband, in a companion for life! And yet... always, I've wondered... and the wondering never lessens."
I opened my mouth to speak at last, but she shook her head. "This is NOT an invitation. I don't want you and I to... to be anything other than friends. Thoughts that have been swirling around in my head for an eternity needed a release, and that is all, do you hear? So... I hope you won't make this into something more than it is."
"Yet here I am, lying beside you, exposed. Aroused." She glanced away from my face, then squeezed her eyes shut. "Both of us."
I made no move to deny her observation. "True enough. Not that it requires we do anything about it."
"No, not that it does." The corner of her mouth snaked up. "I must admit myself impressed with your chivalry. Unborn babe or no unborn babe, you show remarkable restraint for someone so... so..."
"So deep in the throes of scutten?"
"That indeed." Her nose wrinkled. "I can smell it coming off you in waves. It's little to do with you, though; all sorts of smells are a dozen times stronger to me in this condition."
"Then offer me a better drink," I said with a smile that was probably only half as charming as I thought it to be. "One more pleasing to your nose."
"Well, I have mint tea," she sighed, gesturing to the table with a nod of her head. "And I daresay a plentiful supply of milk, should you be feeling adventurous."
I nodded, then poked her breast from the side; it squished and jiggled quite a bit, even with her hand resting atop it. "Hmm... wineskin full of it, I see." Fela did not answer me. When I looked to her face, I saw she was doing her damndest not to react; therefore, I got a tincture that was one part outrage, one part arousal, one part amusement, and one part uncertainty swirling in five to six parts of flavorless indifference. "Are they... well, I suppose that's a silly question."
"Are they really producing already, even without the baby needing them yet? I've never asked any woman directly, believe you me, so I'm not absolutely sure of when they start to, uh... to fill."
"What a load of fertilizer," she said with a lopsided grin. "You know well enough that they are."
"Honestly, I don't; I have a pretty good GUESS that they are, but I don't KNOW. I've never given birth."
"More's the pity." A few seconds ticked by, gone to never return... and then she swallowed and whispered, "Try one if you don't believe."
"Go ahead. I won't stop you." Her sigh was shaky, but she still affected the airs of someone who had just received a burdensome, annoying request that they scarcely had the time to waste contemplating. "Some men just can't help satisfying their idle curiosities."
I gaped at her for a moment, then let out a sputter of laughter. "Well. That's a dandy one, Fela. You had me going. Never up to Cendling would you let me... oh, you're ridiculous."
Both eyebrows went up in an offended manner. Then she let her hand fall away from one peak as she said, "What's the matter? Afraid of a momentary discomfort?"
My pulse rocketed upward as I stared at the full, exposed tit before me. It was gorgeous and inviting, but what was she playing at exactly? Still, she had thrown down a gauntlet... even if I couldn't be sure as to the true nature of the challenge. Either it was as she said, or what she was truly testing was my moral integrity. Or she just wanted to see if I'd do it, out and out. The scutten in my system made it hard for me to sort these out and decide on the most likely case, so I reasoned that at the very least, I would not have insulted her extremely generous offer.
When I began to bend forward, I heard a tiny squeak emit from her throat. The moment she saw I was going to do it, her resolve began cracking, but she held fast, waiting, waiting for what I would do. Too curious to stop me.
"HAH," she panted when I enveloped the nipple with my tongue. "Oh, Kvothe..." Then she cleared her throat, and in a voice soaked with need she said, "W-well? Get on with it if you're going to find out, hurry up."
Cupping it from the side, I wrapped my lips gently around it and suckled. At first, nothing - nothing but the sheer enjoyment of such tender flesh within my mouth. Then I felt a tiny stream rocked into the back of my throat, and I drew back, wide-eyed.
"That- I didn't expect- it works!"
Fela scowled. "Is it really all that insane that I'm an average woman?"
"You are beyond average," I told her boldly. "You are incomparable. But, well... I don't know, I suppose a part of me kept on believing that they would be dry."
"Well, now you know better." Her arm lowered further, paused, then raised over her head, palm outward. It was a curiously vulnerable pose, and the realization seemed to be seeping into her eyes that she had just offered herself up to me fully, if only in body language. "I... if you need to test them both, just to be sure, then I suppose you might as well."
So I did. I knew everything I was doing was wrong, but the drink tempted me into more, told me that this was not so different than what I had already done. She moaned and made guttural sounds as I fed from her breast, drinking several languishing mouthfuls before snapping myself back to a semblance of sobriety and pushing away from her.
"How was it?"
Fela smiled awkwardly. "I haven't tried it myself, of course, so I'll take your word for it."
"Really?" I leaned in to the first one, drained it a bit - she shrieked - then took her mouth with my own.
Kissing Fela was like a dream that you've been having for weeks finally realized, being so wondrous and beyond compare that you might soil yourself... and then waking up again to a reality that is somehow far greater than that. The mingling taste of her blood-heated milk and the mint from before was dazzling, and it set off tiny sparks of excitement every time our tongues collided and sampled each other.
I wasn't truly aware of my hand sliding up the side of her breast, along the damp fur in her armpit, up and up until it reached hers, locking all fingers together. My other hand was similarly operating without my direction when it went to the side of her face, to her neck. To her credit and both our relief, her other hand stayed right where it had been. My knee pushed up against it due to the way I was now kneeling on the bed, and she broke away from our union.
"It's d-delicious," she sputtered, trembling all over and looking as if she might scream or cry our growl curses at me. Possibly all.
"I can feel that against my stomach, you know."
I grimaced. "Sorry. It's... got a mind of its own."
"One that has apparently taken over yours. Possibly both of ours. What are we doing here?"
"Something very bad." I could not pretend anything else, could I? Even if it was so darkly beautiful, to lie about it would only accent the darkness more instead of lessening it. "And something that cannot be stopped."
"Is that just an excuse?" she demanded as she felt me grind into her taut belly-skin. "Stop, Kvothe. I'm asking. Now tell me it's really beyond your power to honor my request."
I did stop. Stopped dead. Didn't pull away, didn't remove my hands or draw back from the pressure against my organ. But I did stop moving.
I smiled. "Now that I've stopped... do you want me to go away?" I waited quite a while for an answer, but all she did was stare up at me with eyes full of dismay, her chest rising and falling so quickly that I was afraid she might truly hyperventilate. "Fela?"
"No. God char me and scatter me to the winds... I..."
I didn't force her to say anymore. Instead, I kissed her again, took her mouth and devoured it, tilted her head back slightly with the hand on her neck. We kept at that a while, marveling at how the touch was, at how much we touched and how it did things to our minds that were better left not done but felt no less exhilarating for it. Then, much later, I felt the hand that had been shielding her innermost being turn upward and clutch at mine.
"Fela!" I gasped as I broke off; her grip was sure and steady, and she soon had me bucking into it, even through the clothes.
"Kvothe... do you love me?"
Most people would consider that to be the most normal question to ask under those circumstances. I didn't. Even she didn't, I could see it in her eyes. "I always have."
"Enough to obey what I ask?"
"Any wish is mine to grant."
She nodded, gulping. "Stand from the bed and disrobe." Feeling my pulse in my neck, I did as she asked, nearly panting from the effort. The moment my trousers joined the rest of my clothing on the floor, she gasped and looked away, and I saw her thighs press against each other. "Oh, goodness... now I'm not sure this idea is even worth trying, you're so... so very blessed!"
"Idea? There doesn't seem to be many ways this can go from here."
Tears were already falling, but she was not weeping. She simply whispered, "You may do one of two things, Kvothe. That is all the permission I can give. You can watch from afar and see to yourself while I see to myself, or- or... or you may straddle my lips. Choose, or choose neither and take your things and begone."
The shame in her voice wasn't necessary, but it did make me feel so much the worse about what was likely to follow. Apparently, she was very insistent that we would not be lying as man and woman are intended. That was unbearable, unforgivable, base and vile and putrid. So she gave me some other route to take so we might dissipate this heat that had been building. Always thinking, that Fela.
Even as I considered these offers I continued to hate myself for letting things degenerate into this situation, but the fact remains... it was a tough choice. The opportunity to watch someone like Fela bring herself to climax must come along once in a lifetime - if that frequently. Sights and sounds never to be repeated! Then again, to feel her touch me, envelop me... also rare. Then, when another notion as to what might naturally follow if I chose the second made my mind up for me, for it was much more important than whether or not I was sated.
"Very well. I... I am decided, but I must ask you one last time if you mean what you offer. Neither of us would forgive me if I neglected that."
"I do," she sniffled.
And so I gently eased my knees onto the bed, one on each side of her shoulders. She voiced the calls of disgust and elation at the same time, and when I felt her breath on my taut, engorged flesh, she let out a low moan of longing that I didn't think her capable of. The sight of me pleased her, as well, did it? That was heartening even as it was consternating. By that early point in my life I didn't even know whether or not the male anatomy even held any sort of aesthetic appeal for women (or anyone else), so it was reassuring that mine was on the high end of the spectrum.
The scent of her was pungent and heady, filling me up and conspiring with the scutten to send me into a slumber, but my ravenous need for Fela overpowered all, keeping me intent on my newest goal. I placed a kiss on her inner thigh.
Her nimble fingers guided me into her waiting lips like a lighthouse on the shore brings a ship to safe harbor. She was not inexperienced, but neither entirely comfortable with her actions; she worried over how I would react, if I was enjoying what she was doing, if she recalled the actions that led to the most pleasure with a clear memory. Perhaps Sim had only asked for this treatment a handful of times, or only in the early days of their marriage - but enough thoughts of Sim. Plenty of those would be plaguing me afterward that I did not need them at present.
For a time, I simply pushed myself into her throat, enjoying the carnal pleasure. Then, when I had a grasp on myself well enough so as not to allow my spine to kink and spasm, I decided I ought to be responding in kind.
"OH!" she gasped, allowing me to fall away temporarily. "Kvothe, no, I- that's not s-something- you don't have to do that!"
"Yes I do," I breathed into her steaming folds of rosy grandeur. To illustrate my point, I ran a hand over it and her back arched, I felt fingernails stab into my buttocks. She let out a quiet scream... and then, most likely dreading she would allow that to happen again, took me once more.
Neither of us spoke again for many minutes as we tended each other. Scutten pounding behind my temples like a rabid blacksmith, I felt her ankles rest upon my neck when she gave up trying to stop me and embraced what we were conspiring to commit one level above her husband. The awfulness of it all seemed like a distant worry, something akin to taxation; when the collector came around, THEN it was time to fret. For now, it was time to revel.
Toward the end, I began assailing her throat all on my own, and her hands fell to her own chest. It was this more than anything that prodded me toward a completion; the sounds deep in her throat from a bit too much stimulus. My hand went into her, and her hips met it gladly like embracing an old friend.
Finally, we were sated. My sweaty body was flopped next to hers, our heads touching, her arm haphazardly beneath my neck. I reached over and caressed one erect peak, which no longer elicited a moan but simply a giggle. Then we both laughed... and then the laughter died.
"We've committed a grievous error," she whispered.
"Do you regret it?"
I turned to look into her deep eyes, seeing my own reflection they were so clear. "Not much. But I can't say my conscience is light as a feather, either."
"Then we are agreed? Simmon can't know?"
"I'd say that's wisest."
She nodded and didn't elaborate further, but neither did she take her gaze away from me. Shifting to the side, she draped herself over me; I felt the weight of her stomach heavy on mine. She whispered, "Which is the mistake? This night... or two years ago?"
"You can't think like that."
"It will achieve nothing. So therefore, no, you can't."
"But what if you and I-" I would have stopped her if she hadn't stopped herself. The words caught in her throat, struggled for a moment, then suffocated and died. "You're right. It will achieve nothing to dwell on it. Even if there was a chance you were better suited for me, it's eons too late."
Shrugging, I played with her hair idly. "No... I don't think we are anyway. Sim is a better man than I, more suited to see to your needs."
"It isn't ALL about one's needs. Sometimes it's about souls, how they commingle when you're alone and the world falls away..."
"Fela, I'm always going to love you. As a friend. You've never simply been Sim's lady to me, not once, ever. That isn't going to change."
Her smile held a darkness that I wished so desperately to dispel. Alas, it was beyond my power. "Isn't it? Now that we've done this reckless deed, won't the dynamic of our relationship be skewed inexorably toward... toward a death?"
"Not if we decide we're going to stay friends."
"Easy as that, eh?" she laughed. Then she snaked an arm up my chest and gripped my shoulder. "Mm. Maybe... maybe it won't bring everything to a sticky end."
"Just remember these two things: one, I am nowhere near in the right state of mind to have resisted your ample charms." She laughed again, a more robust laugh. "And two, I've often heard that women become more... enthusiastic in the bedroom when they're in your condition. If Sim has been neglecting you, then it stands to reason you'd be, well... wound a bit tightly."
Fela nodded sadly. "It's not a real excuse in and of itself, but I won't call you a liar. I almost took to straddling candlesticks or similar."
After a moment, I kissed her on the crown sleepily, and her contented-yet-troubled sigh felt like a warm cordial. Like one I shouldn't have such an affinity for. "Must be so easy from above where you can really see it all."
"How do you mean?"
"Tehlu and all his angels. They could point and say, 'Those two, Kvothe and Fela; they're well-suited for one another. Stick them together.' And here we are down on the ground, fumbling and bumbling, hoping to figure out what the Gods themselves are too stubborn to reveal to us. I'll bet nobles and beggars alike stroll right past their soulmates every blackened day and never know the first word of it."
"They came pretty close with me," she whispered, and the whisper turned into a yawn. "But you... I fear it will be a long time before you find her, whoever she is. With all your 'work' standing in the way."
I nodded glumly. "Or maybe I already have, and my work is about to drop a barrier between her and I once more."
Fela's nails cut into my flesh for an instant before she forced herself to relax. "If we're going to go back to being old acquaintances, I have a modest request; don't ever, EVER say a thing like that to me again. It's too unbearable."
Then she kissed me. Not a chaste kiss of friendship, but with nowhere near the frienzied urgency of moments prior. The Lover's Final Kiss. I held her for a long, long time.
Several seconds later (or so it seemed), I felt her shaking me. "Wake UP, you lazy bones!"
"Sorry," I muttered. "Did I fall asleep?"
"Not for very long," she told me gently, allowing the irritation to evaporate. "Um... help me to the bathroom again?"
We both dressed, me fully and her in only her gown, and I helped her into the small room with its chamber pot and washtub. "Sim doesn't have an affinity for flushing toilets?"
"He does," she grunted as she sat. "But he keeps telling me he can construct it himself and won't hear of bringing in another Arcanist who can do the same job as him without detracting from his work."
"Suppose it would be a waste of silver."
"You sound just like him," she snorted. Then there was a trickling sound, and she glanced up at me with round eyes. "Oh... oh, goodness, I probably should have waited until you left."
"Don't worry about a little thing like this," I told her with a shy smile. "Pretty soon you'll have some old maid's shriveled face breathing up your dress, waiting to catch your newborn; I think my listening to you pee is low on the list of embarrassments."
Her lips pursed.
Once I had her tucked away in bed, underthings in place and sheets drawn to her chin, I kissed her gently on the forehead, then lightly on the lips, and then turned to take my leave. When I was at the doorway, she whispered, "Kvothe?"
"I..." She struggled for a moment, and I only tilted my head enough so my ear was pointed more directly at her. "Part of me really has been in love with you since you helped deflect Ambrose's boorish advances. And it always will be. I love you so much..."
She was sobbing. The polite thing would have been for me to slip out and allow her to weep in peace, but I couldn't let it stand at just that. If I left, yes, she would be spared the further shame of my listening to her sobs, but at what cost? There was a small chance she actually thought what she had confessed to me was a bad thing.
"I can't say the same," I told her with complete honesty. "But I don't condemn you or anything. In fact... it has gone a long way toward erasing the long hours of pining I've done for a few select women in my past." Steeling myself, I turned until just one of my eyes could take her in, and I saw she had looked up at me, cheeks blotchy and eyelids puffy but the eyes themselves were open, receptive, attentive. "Now I know that you and I are always going to be in each other's lives, one way or another. That makes you my best friend, from now until I leave this plain."
Her fingertips pressed into her mouth, and she nodded fervently, then let out a thing like a sob doing its best impression of a laugh. "I see. Well, then, friend Kvothe... I love you dearly."
"And I love you dearly. I'll be sure and come visit you when I can meet your child."
"See that you do."
And with a final "take care", I tromped down the stairs, took up my cloak, and walked out of the home of Sim and Fela... for the last time.
"Well, that was disappointing."
Chronicler looked up from his writings. "That was... I'm sorry?"
"Bast, you should know better than to interrupt," Kvothe sighed as he melted into becoming the innkeeper once more. "But go on; in what way did my story disappoint you?"
The dark-haired fae leaned his face onto his fist, elbow propped upon one of the Waystone Inn's many unremarkable wooden tables. "If I were you, Reshi, I'd have returned several times to partake of what the good Fela had to offer, pregnancy or no pregnancy. Alas, I am not you, and have not your way with turning the heads of young human females. Oh, that I were..."
"Lock up your daughters," Kote grunted as he stood from the table and walked to the bar. Then he snapped his fingers in an irritated fashion. "Damn, I just remembered the rest of the cheese is in the kitchen. Back in a few grains."
Once he was gone, Chronicler set down his pen and leaned in toward Bast. "That's really all there is to this leg of his journey?"
"Oh yes," Bast sighed. "The fool threw away a beautiful affair with a married woman who earnestly sought him, not just the thrill of the infidelity. That isn't to say they didn't meet in the Eolian and at celebrations here and there, a score of times, but yes, I believe that truly was the last time they were alone together in Fela's bedroom, and also the last time they copulated. What an ingrate!"
"I think it's a noble thing he did, to walk away from a situation so fraught with pitfalls and perils."
Bast waved a careless hand as he took a deep draught from his pint. "You would, old man. I've met Fela, and she was... a worthy prize indeed. Supple lips, lofty and graceful height, weighted breasts with just the right amount of spacing - even after four children!"
"Four?" Chronicler sputtered, then grinned wistfully. "She said she would stop at one, but then again, the young heart knows not the yearnings of its future self."
"Or the young heart knows not how to keep the young thighs closed." Both men shared a bawdy chuckle before Bast continued. "Don't let his sentimental sighs and 'oh, such is life' idioms fool you; he misses her. He has always missed her, as much if not more than Denna."
Chronicler nodded. "Even an old bookworm like myself could pick up on that from his voice."
At the same moment, Kote was in the kitchen slicing up a wedge of cheese and arranging it on a platter. He had nearly turned to go back to the inn's common room when he spotted his tankard of water from earlier that morning. Sighing, a weariness stabbing into his eyes that hadn't been there a moment before, he picked it up with his free hand, smiled a tiny, private smile, and murmured a binding.
Mint-flavored ice crystals tinkled in its depths as he strode from the kitchen to rejoin his companions - the first ones he'd created in many years.