by Togi Kayako (土宜草子)
illustrated by Higanbanashi (ヒガンバナシ )
There was an art to rejecting a marriage proposal, and thus far, it was not one Edmund had mastered. The unfinished letter sitting centered on his desk contained only a salutation and two pleasantly bland introductory sentences. It had taken him three drafts, plus the better part of both an hour and a generous glass of brandy.
The brisk knock on his study door startled him out of his debate over whether flattered or humbled was the better word choice. As he stood, his elbow caught on his glass and the last of the brandy blurred what little he had managed to get on the page. Edmund sent up a quick prayer for patience and went for the door.
His housekeeper Jane bobbed a perfunctory curtsey, which was all Edmund had managed to talk her down to. “My lord, there’s a spot of trouble in the barn that needs your attention,” she said. Jane was so unflappable that she could mean anything from one of the ewes having trouble birthing to the entire barn being ablaze. The only thing Edmund could be sure of was that it had to be serious for her to disturb him so late in the evening.
“Too urgent for me to get dressed, I assume?” Edmund asked. Jane gave him a tight-lipped nod. “Right, tell me what’s the trouble as we go, then.” Edmund grabbed his drab wool greatcoat and buttoned it up as he followed Jane downstairs. She was neat as a pin despite the hour, cap edges starched so stiff Edmund suspected they could be used to slice bread.
Jane had been in his service for over a decade, yet he didn’t have the faintest idea of any of her personal tastes, nor even if she approved or disapproved of his rather eccentric methods of running the manor. He’d thought it was disapproval for the first few weeks, but slowly came to realize she looked at nearly everyone as if they were a speck of dirt on an otherwise spotless floor.
“We seem to have another visitor, sir.” Despite Jane’s reserve, Edmund heard the displeasure in her tone loud and clear. “Tess herded them into one of the empty stalls. No damage to anything that we’ve found yet, and it seems to be just the one this time.”
Edmund pinched the bridge of his nose and mouthed a curse that he didn’t dare voice with Jane at his side. It was coming up midsummer, so the visitor was hardly a surprise, but he’d had such high hopes for this year. He and most of the staff had worked through the winter to shore up or build fencing around the whole of the estate. But no, even turning the damned boundary lines into veritable hedgehogs with good iron nails wasn’t dissuasion enough.
Ultimately, Edmund himself was the problem, or rather his bloodline. One of his great-great-grandparents — or possibly both, as neither had been willing to implicate the other — had caught the interest of their neighbors in the forest. That interest had persisted, turning the manor and the Aubert family into veritable catnip for any of them that ventured beyond the forest. Possibly they were some sort of tourist attraction, noted down in guides for anyone heading to the human side of things.
It could be worse, as Edmund often said. Most often to himself, but also to the brave souls willing to remain on his staff once they understood what working on the Aubert estate entailed. Despite his brave front, Edmund felt tired down to his bones every time another visitor popped up. He could never host anyone in the warmer months, and he’d decided marriage was right out after his father moved out to a holiday home when Edmund was still a child.
Jane cleared her throat and Edmund jolted like a schoolboy who’d nodded off during his lessons. For all that she had to be a solid handful of years his junior, and was technically his subordinate to boot, Edmund always felt that she was seconds away from taking a ruler to his knuckles. It was possible he deserved it — they’d made it all the way to the barn, and Jane had undoubtedly said something else that Edmund missed in his haze of reminiscing.
Tess, the head groom, poked her head around the open edge of the barn door and let out a huge sigh of relief. “Mister Aubert, great timing. Visitor’s starting to get a bit antsy in there, looked like they might be fixing to try something drastic.” She ruffled one thick, calloused hand through her short mess of ginger curls and tugged out a few pieces of straw. “You want me to brace the door behind you?” Her eyes slid over Edmund’s shoulder and she tacked on a quick, “Sir?”
“That would be lovely, thank you, Tess.” Edmund clapped her on the shoulder as he passed by, the motion delicate more for the sake of his hand than her shoulder. Tess was so broad and densely muscled that she hefted some of the more stubborn sheep to round them up rather than bothering to coax them in. She was also possibly the gentlest soul on the estate, and the one whom Jane seemed the least un-fond of.
The inside of the barn was dim, only the lanterns at the door lit, but it was far from quiet. All of the horses were unsettled, shifting around in their stalls and snorting their discomfort. No doubt every last one of them had their ears pinned back. The other noise was a steady, aggravated mumble, punctuated by a few very colorful curses. Edmund scooped up a lantern and the iron-tined pitchfork next to it, squared his shoulders, and headed toward the voice.
He used the pitchfork to knock on the frame of the stall and the speaker cut off mid-curse. “If I open the door so we can talk, are you going to try to attack me?” Edmund asked.
“Uh, no? I think there’s been some mistake, sir, I was just looking for somewhere dry to rest my head, that’s all.” The voice started out lower than Edmund’s but shifted awkwardly up into something high and breathy, like the virtuous orphan in some dreadful play.
“Look,” Edmund said, letting all the irritation he couldn’t put into his letter out into his voice, “it’s late, I’m tired, and I’m in no mood for games. I know what you are and what having you in my power means. Let’s negotiate a fair boon and then you can be on your way.”
There was a long, heavy pause, and then another curse. “Ugh, fine, not a whole lot of choices, are there? Year and a day of service, no harm to you and yours, but everybody keeps their hands to themself! Any human bits get near me and I bite ’em clean off, got it?” Their conditions were stated so loudly that it echoed through the whole barn.
Outside, Edmund could hear Tess trying to muffle her laughter. He closed his eyes and took a long, slow breath in through his nose. “You have my word that no one will touch you in a carnal manner. You may not bite anyone who bumps into you by accident, needs to tap you on the shoulder, or similar. If there are any visitors on the estate, you need to look, sound and act fully human, but otherwise you’re free to appear however you please and use your powers toward the benefit of the estate and its residents. Is that acceptable to you?”
“Suppose it’ll do,” the visitor said thoughtfully. “I agree to the terms, and swear myself to your service for a year and a day, all that good stuff.” Edmund felt the oath snap tight between the two of them like a taut rope and wrinkled his nose. He disliked what little power he had over his staff, let alone the idea of someone wholly under his control.
It helped that his new arrival seemed less than inclined to deference: “Mind letting me out now, human? I’ve got hay all up in my everything and it’s itchy like you wouldn’t believe.” Edmund could near them drumming their nails on the wall impatiently with what sounded like rather sizable claws.
Edmund propped the pitchfork up on the wall where he could grab it easily, just in case, and tugged the stall door open. The visitor was up near the ceiling in casual defiance of gravity, spindly green arms and legs braced against the walls like some kind of huge, hay-covered spider. Their indecently brief tunic was striped in vivid orange and teal that clashed with itself as well as the green of their skin and the tall pink-purple tuft of their hair. The headache Edmund had been nursing bloomed at the sight.
“Right then, what’s your name?” The visitor cocked their head to the side and looked Edmund over with eyes the color of well-polished copper. “You are the lord of this place, yeah? Not just some old guy that feeds the horses or something?”
Tess had given up on hiding her laughter, though Jane was stoically silent as ever. Perhaps she was composing an entry into the list of Edmund’s failings that he suspected she kept. “I am the lord of this estate,” Edmund said patiently. “You may call me Edmund, or ‘sir’ when there are guests present. How may I address you?”
They quirked one purple eyebrow up in an expression that was awfully judgmental for someone who appeared to be clinging to the wall to avoid hay. “Not even going to try to get my name? That’s no fun at all.” They scuttled along the wall and dropped down at Edmund’s side. When they straightened up fully, they towered over him by more than a head. “Call me Hiss,” they said, grinning with a display of teeth that would put any shark to shame.
Unbidden, Edmund’s exhausted mind supplied the thought that he would be far more keen to marry if any of the eligible ladies were even half as striking as his visitor. He ruthlessly shoved the idea away and held out his hand, careful to offer it up rather than make contact and immediately violate his oath. “A pleasure to meet you, Hiss. Let me introduce you to my housekeeper, Jane, and we’ll find you somewhere to stay for the duration of your service.”
Hiss scooped up his hand and bowed over it as neatly as any fine gentleman. Edmund tried and utterly failed not to be charmed, though he at least managed to keep a straight face. “Can’t say the same, obviously, what with the whole service thing, but it is what it is.” Hiss blew out a sharp breath at a piece of hay stuck in their hair, but only managed to flip it back to get wedged in at a different angle.
“May I?” Edmund asked, gesturing toward their head. Hiss gave him a cautious nod, and Edmund plucked out the hay without even brushing against their hair. They beamed at him, and Edmund managed a weak smile of his own in return. So much for having a quiet year.
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Normally, Hiss loved parties. Hear some music, eat some food, dance, and find a warm body or two or three to tumble together with — what wasn’t there to love? Except it turned out that human parties didn’t have any of the good bits. Two whole seasons they’d been oath-bound in the human world, bored out of their skull more often than not, wishing for any scrap of excitement. Now they were barely an hour into this so-called “party” and they’d given up on having any fun ever again.
There was music, but the string quartet in the corner of Edmund’s massive ballroom only played soft nothing sort of tunes so as not to interrupt anybody’s stupid conversations. None of it was anything anyone could dance to, so dancing was also right out. Hiss had been ordered not to take any food from the buffet table, so instead they made a game of nicking things from peoples’ plates or the trays they ferried to and from the kitchen.
Even that small mischief barely lifted their spirits. If they got caught, Edmund wouldn’t even do something interesting to punish them. He’d sit Hiss down, ask them why they did it and how he could get them to not do it in the future. When Hiss refused to answer, he’d sigh, and do the weird thing where he pinched his nose instead of yelling, and then he’d make them write out that they wouldn’t do it like thirty times.
Edmund never got angry with them, not even the time Hiss wrote all the lines on the walls of the room instead of a sheet of paper. That was the first time he left his housekeeper in charge of Hiss, which was way worse than yelling. Stars above, if that terrifying woman didn’t have some Winter in her family tree somewhere, Hiss would eat their stupid, puffy cap.
As for the tumbling, that was right out and also Edmund’s fault. Maybe it was technically part of his oath, but still! He’d gathered every last person who worked on his estate together and told the lot of them that Hiss would be working there for a year and they were to be left alone. It had taken Hiss over a week to get someone to actually chat with them, and even now most of the humans kept Hiss at more than arm’s length.
Even thinking about fucking made frustration tangle up in their guts. Hiss had hands, and they made good use of them in their drab little room in the servants’ quarters, but it just wasn’t the same. With their latest tray of something gray-brown heaped on crackers dropped off, Hiss took the chance to duck out of the ballroom.
The small cloakroom off the main foyer was a safe hiding spot for at least a few minutes. Hiss rifled through the coats until they found the most expensive looking one and then squished the last of a stolen tidbit deep into one of the pockets. Behind them, someone cleared their throat and Hiss made as if they were smoothing the front of the coat down with both hands. With any luck, it wouldn’t be obvious that they were mostly getting the crumbs off their fingertips.
“Good evening. Do you require some assistance?” Hiss asked in their most syrupy sweet voice, turning with their head deferentially bowed. Playing human meant they had all kinds of silly restrictions, but they’d found a form they could tolerate. A middling tree-bark brown for their skin and a darker brown near to black for the hair and eyes — and much shorter, because apparently women especially weren’t supposed to be tall? Hiss would have given almost any kind of boon to see one try to explain that to Her Majesty of Summer.
The human who had interrupted them started laughing out of nowhere and Hiss jerked their head up to discover that it wasn’t a human at all. Calamus was done up like one, kitted out with a nicely tailored suit over his broad frame and not a single antler in sight. His eyes were almost the same shade as normal, that too-pale blue like the sky on an icy day. He stared Hiss down as hard as normal too, like he wanted to stick a pin right through them and watch them writhe.
“Well, well, my dear Hyssop! People were beginning to wonder where you’d squirreled yourself away this time, and here you are.” Calamus grinned with a flash of teeth barely restrained to human bluntness. Hiss was intimately familiar with his teeth, given how many times they’d gone to bed wearing Calamus’ bite marks all over their body. “What a tasty tidbit of gossip that will be once I get home.”
He paused, quirking one eyebrow up so smugly that Hiss ached to see if their new height made it easier to hit below the belt. They couldn’t, of course — even thinking it too hard made the edges of their oath prickle at them, because apparently Calamus counted as a guest. Hiss’s paranoia flared up for a moment, but even with their nerves riled by being trapped in human form near Calamus, they couldn’t believe Edmund would have invited him on purpose.
With no real leverage to get Calamus to keep his stupid bitey mouth shut, Hiss was left with only one tried and true option: be a bastard. “Sounds like the right call for you,” they said, tossing their long curls back over one shoulder. “Scraping the bottom of the barrel and hoping it’ll get you some sad little scrap of influence.”
Calamus’s dark brows drew together and his smile fell flat. “I would say that scraping the bottom of the barrel was when I made the mistake of acquainting myself with you,” he said. He took a step forward, looming in a way that Hiss found far more thrilling than threatening. It was novel to be shorter than him. Still, it wouldn’t do to let on that they were interested when Calamus had opened with threats — if nothing else, Hiss didn’t feel like coaxing him down from his usual Winter snobbery.
“Not what I remember you saying last time we were together,” Hiss said, voice bright as birdsong behind their bared teeth. “Or maybe it was in there somewhere, but I missed it because you were begging me to fuck you harder so sweetly.” They burst into laughter as Calamus cursed under his breath and shoved them backward into the hanging coats. “Don’t know what you’re mad about, it’s not like everyone doesn’t already know how pretty you look with a—”
Calamus got a hand around Hiss’s neck and choked off the rest of their sentence. They kept grinning at him anyway, right up until he slammed them back into the wall hard enough to knock the breath out of their lungs. “I have neither the time nor the interest in listening to you prattle on tonight, Hyssop.”
Through watering eyes, Hiss saw Calamus paw through the coats and pull out several scarves. Hiss didn’t even manage to stop wheezing before he got a thick one balled up behind their teeth and tied snugly around their head. He used another to truss up their hands behind their back, and then tipped them over to the floor to do the same to their ankles.
Hiss had recovered enough to squirm and make indignant noises, but Calamus only patted them on the cheek with a condescending smile. “Shame I don’t have a bit more time,” he said, looking them over slowly. “Though I suppose it wouldn’t do to risk being caught buggering a servant regardless. Perhaps another night, if you ask me nicely.”
With one more pat on their cheek, Calamus shoved Hiss further back into the corner of the room, where they would be almost impossible to see behind the coats. That was apparently the extent of his plan, because he strode out and closed the door behind himself. Hiss nobly refrained from rolling their eyes until they heard the squeak of the stairs next to the cloakroom. Calamus always had been more of a style-over-substance type — likely the reason he was more pretty than bright.
It took Hiss a bit of doing to roll onto their back with their hands stuck under them, but they managed. The process of scooting across the coat room like an inchworm was undignified and uncomfortable, but at least their ugly dress had long sleeves so they didn’t get rug burns. At the door, Hiss took a moment to catch their breath before twisting to drum their heels against the wood as loud as possible.
Hiss dug their nails into their palms hard to tear up a bit, as a delicate human might in this sort of scenario. A real one, anyway. Hiss had found some exciting books tucked away in Edmund’s study that offered fascinating suggestions for what else tied-up maids and manservants might do. They were waiting for the right moment to bring up the subject with Edmund. Hiss had dreams of getting him to dump a full wineglass on himself, or at least sputter and choke a bit.
“What on earth is going on in there?” Jane called through the door, attempting to open it and only catching Hiss painfully in the side. Hiss yelled as best they could through someone’s musty-tasting scarf and wriggled out of the way so Jane could come in. It was almost worth the whole process to see Jane lose her composure and have a genuine, if brief, expression of shock on her face. “Well. I don’t suppose you did that to yourself.”
It wasn’t really a question, but Hiss shook their head anyway. Jane sighed, the same sigh that heralded her disapproval of anything from a smudge on her apron to the house being on fire. The last one was a guess, but she’d made the same sound when one of the servant boys tripped down the stairs and messily broke his leg, so Hiss doubted mortal peril would change her tone much.
What Jane lacked in flair she more than made up for in efficiency. She had Hiss untied in a fraction of the time it had taken Calamus to tie them up in the first place. “Tell me what happened,” she said as she tugged the makeshift gag free from Hiss’s mouth.
“Ran into—” Hiss paused, feeling out the edges of what their oath would let them say. It was like walking through some kind of invisible maze and bumping face-first into a wall every few steps. “Well, someone I know from somewhere,” they finished weakly.
Jane, who was deeply aware of how little Hiss knew or cared about most of the human world, caught on straight away. “Do you know why they’re here? Is Edmund in any danger?”
“Don’t know, and he might be,” Hiss said. They hefted themself up and patted all their rumpled clothing back into some approximation of order. “How about I go check and you go find Tess and send her up after me?” Tess had lots of iron tools and an impressive bit of muscle to back them up with. If push came to shove — and Hiss really, really hoped it might — she wouldn’t hesitate to clock Calamus upside the head with a shovel or prod at him with a pitchfork.
“I suppose that would be a reasonable plan,” Jane said. “Please feel free to consider your… acquaintance as an intruder rather than a guest.” Her mouth flattened into almost-a-frown for a moment before she smoothed her expression back to nothing. “And do be careful, Hiss.”
Hiss beamed at her, and Jane glanced away with something suspiciously like crinkles at the corner of her eyes. “Aye aye, ma’am,” Hiss said. “I’ll definitely run and scream if things go badly, don’t you worry!” She bobbed a quick curtsey and darted away up the stairs to find Calamus.
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Some distant part of Edmund’s mind, buried under a thick, treacle-sweet haze, insisted that throwing a party had been a mistake. He’d thought that Hiss’s presence would encourage others to stay away, but it seemed to have done the opposite. The handsome man who had two absurdly muscular arms bracketing Edmund in his desk chair was closer than anyone had been in a long, long time.
The slight intoxication from the wine Edmund had earlier paled in comparison to whatever was happening to him now. It was something about the man’s eyes, a washed-out blue closer to white that glowed faintly in the dim room. Edmund couldn’t look away, even as the man reached up and started easing Edmund’s tie loose.
“We shouldn’t,” Edmund said weakly. His own hands seemed to disagree, because all they were doing was mapping out the strong lines of the man’s shoulders one stroke at a time.
“Whyever not?” he asked. “You don’t seem opposed, and I certainly find you comely enough, if perhaps less than I expected given all the fuss about your family.” His smile went sharper at the edges and he added, “Besides, I’m quite certain we won’t be disturbed for some time, Lord Aubert.”
Edmund registered the insult, but his fuzzy head refused to grasp onto it. The only objection he could muster was, “I don’t even know your name.” It appeared to be the only objection he would be allowed to make, as the man eased his mouth open with one thick thumb and gagged him with his wadded up handkerchief.
“You may call me Callum,” the man said. He used Edmund’s tie to secure the gag and then caught both of Edmund’s hands and pinned them to the arms of his chair. “As much as you’ll be able to call me anything, I suppose.” With a smug little chuckle, he glanced to one side and Edmund’s mind snapped back into clarity.
It was far too late to struggle effectively, but Edmund’s suddenly pounding heart would let him do nothing else. Callum smiled at him, his eyes intent but no longer mesmerizing, and even colder than they had seemed before. Edmund let out a muffled shout as Callum’s hands locked tight around his wrists, almost to the point of pain. With a casual kick to spread Edmund’s legs wider, Callum closed what little space remained between them.
He couldn’t kiss Edmund properly with the gag in the way, but he brushed something like a kiss over Edmund’s bottom lip and tugged it lightly between his increasingly pointed teeth. Edmund took in a sharp breath through his nose, mind hanging in the balance between fear and arousal. His body was rather more decisive, perfectly content to let his rapid pulse go straight between his legs, given the proximity of someone good-looking.
Edmund managed a half-hearted kick toward Callum’s shin, but it was largely performative. “Now, now, none of that,” Callum said. His gentle tone was at odds with the cruel set of his mouth. With a soft hum, he drummed his fingers against the wood of Edmund’s chair and it sprouted a set of tiny, dry branches that bent as easily as a willow in the wind.
The branches looped over Edmund’s forearms in several places and cinched down to form delicate-looking manacles that wouldn’t let him budge an inch. Callum watched him try his strength against the wood and nodded once in approval when he failed. He slid his now unoccupied hands over Edmund’s chest, down the soft swell of his stomach, and to his thighs without even a single brush over the line where his cock was starting to tent his trousers.
Edmund tried to buck his hips, but Callum set his weight against Edmund’s thighs and kept him firmly in place. “You know, I think I was wrong about you,” Callum said, dragging his thumbs in little circles tantalizingly high on Edmund’s legs. “You’re rather fetching, trapped here at my mercy.” He leaned down, breath oddly cool against Edmund’s ear, and whispered, “I am going to use you so slowly that by the time I let you take your pleasure, you’re going to be ruined for any mere human’s touch.”
Color seeped over Callum’s pale skin, green along with variegated whorls of yellow and orange. His dark hair vanished, replaced by clusters of short buds in the same colors as his skin, nestled together almost like sheaves of wheat. The only things that stayed the same were his eyes and the large, strong lines of his body. All in all, the changes only served to fuel Edmund’s arousal and he let out a shameful moan behind his gag.
Silly concerns like if he was going to get kidnapped from his own home or even if he would make it through the encounter whole and sane faded to mere background noise. Perhaps some kind of hereditary weakness of the brain was what made his family such a popular target, or at least what had gotten his ancestors in trouble in the first place. Callum grazed his teeth on the side of Edmund’s neck, and Edmund shuddered so hard he lost his train of thought entirely.
It was almost disappointing when his study door eased open and Hiss poked their head through. As per their oath, they looked human at the moment. Edmund much preferred it when they didn’t. He had lost far too much time over the past months watching Hiss bustle around the house with their thistle tuft of hair brushing against the top of door frames. Once, when they were concentrating with the vivid purple of their tongue poking out of the corner of their mouth, he’d had to retreat entirely.
Hiss grinned — the same sharp, wild expression in either form — and put a finger to their lips. Edmund moaned a little louder as a distraction, which made Callum chuckle at him. “I thought I might have to beguile you again, but no. You’re quite the eager little thing, aren’t you?” He used one sharp nail to slice the top button off of Edmund’s shirt and then pressed a kiss to the exposed skin.
Over the top of Callum’s head, Edmund watched Hiss pick up a heavy brass paperweight in the shape of a duck. They skirted the edge of his desk in two quick, silent steps and coshed Callum squarely in the skull. He crumpled forward and Edmund wheezed at the sudden impact of Callum’s limp body.
“Hello, boss!” Hiss said cheerfully. “Here to rescue you. Would’ve managed sooner, but this asshole tied me up and jammed me in the back of the cloakroom.” They heaved Callum carelessly to one side and smiled even wider at the thunk of his head hitting the floor. Edmund watched with growing humiliation as Hiss’s eyes scanned down his body and settled on his lap.
When Hiss removed his gag, Edmund blurted out, “It’s not what it looks like,”despite the fact it was and could hardly be mistaken for anything else. He tried to casually cross one leg over the other, but a quick glance down told him it was less than effective.
Hiss’s eyebrows shot up even higher. “Oh, you got a second one of these tucked away in your trousers, then?” they asked, waggling the brass duck in Edmund’s face. He sputtered and hung his head as Hiss broke into a gleeful cackle. “Probably wouldn’t put Calamus off even if you did. He’ll bend over for just about anything, and I know that one firsthand.”
Edmund’s eyes flicked down to Hiss’s perfectly ordinary skirts, hanging smoothly off their narrow hips, and then guiltily back up to their face. Hiss looked intrigued rather than insulted. Their eyes narrowed and their smile slid from mirthful to predatory. “Curious about what I’ve got under all this?” they asked with a little tug at their skirt. They set down the paperweight and leaned back against Edmund’s desk, watching him expectantly. “Be honest, now.”
“Very much so,” Edmund said. It took him a moment to rally his courage, but he looked up and met Hiss’s eyes. “Though perhaps somewhat less than usual, given the limitations the guests on the estate present.” The reward for his bravery was getting to watch Hiss’s face as his meaning sunk in. They looked hungry in a way that lit up his every animal instinct with warnings of danger and also flooded his body with helpless lust.
Hiss straightened up and Edmund spread his legs in clear invitation as they stepped forward. “Dangerous thing to tell me, with us all alone and you trapped in that chair.” They walked their fingers up Edmund’s bound arms, staring him down so intently he felt near mesmerized all over again. “Now as I recall, the rules we agreed to said that you couldn’t touch me,” Hiss said slowly.
Edmund gripped the arms of his chair tight and pressed his heels back against the legs, anchoring himself against the already strong urge to try to do just that. Hiss tapped a finger against his bottom lip and said, “Open wide, and then hold very, very still for me.” Edmund let his mouth fall open. The thought of how he must look washed over him in a wave of heated embarrassment, but he didn’t move a muscle.
Hiss grabbed his chin with one hand in a grip that was too strong for the slight woman they appeared to be. With their other hand, they slid two fingers into Edmund’s mouth. The slow glide of them against his tongue felt filthy, and doubly so when Hiss pulled back and thrust their fingers in again even deeper.
It was a familiar sensation, though it had been a long time since he’d had the pleasure of another man. Taking a cock in his mouth featured in enough of Edmund’s fantasies that it felt fresh no matter how many years removed it was. Edmund had no idea what any of the fair folk might have in lieu of a prick, but his mouth watered at the thought of finding out, of getting on his knees in front of Hiss and taking anything they’d give him.
Hiss yanked their fingers out of his mouth and hastily scrubbed them dry on a corner of their apron. “Of course now help arrives,” they muttered. Edmund sat bolt upright in the chair, but before he could even consider how to hide his state, Hiss wrestled Callum’s jacket off his unconscious body and tossed it over Edmund’s lap and bound hands. “Just let me do the talking,” Hiss said, setting one foot none too gently on Callum’s back like a hunter with a trophy buck.
Seconds later, Tess burst through the door, brandishing a pitchfork with a grim expression. She scanned the room, stopping as she spotted Hiss standing over Callum with a relieved smile. “Already taken care of, is it? Well done, Hiss!” Tess propped the pitchfork up beside the door and added, “Alright over there, Mr. Aubert?”
“No serious harm done — Edmund’s trousers saw the worst of it.” It was true enough for Hiss to say it, but Edmund was so impressed at their creativity he had to fight off a nervous laugh. Hiss puffed up a bit with pride and added, “I got Calamus clean in the back of the head with that stupid duck thing.” They gestured toward the paperweight and Tess let out a low whistle.
“He’ll be out for a good while then, I’d wager.” Tess crouched down and prodded at Callum’s side, which garnered no reaction whatsoever. “Shall I lock him up for you to deal with later, sir, or just chuck him off the grounds?”
As nice as it would be to toss Callum — and all the other guests — out immediately, Edmund wanted to maintain the tiny sliver of reputation he had left. “Lock him up in a guest room and stand guard for now if you would, Tess. Then one of you please ask Jane to concoct some plausible story about someone trying to rob me so I can change and take a few moments to compose myself.”
“I’ll go get you a change of clothes,” Hiss offered. They trotted out the door before either Tess or Edmund could say a word, and the two shared an amused glance.
“Think she just didn’t want to deal with Jane,” Tess said. “You are well though, really? He didn’t do anything?” She looked up at Edmund with a genuine concern he would have been much better able to appreciate under any other circumstance. As it was, Edmund only wanted her out of the room as fast as possible, guilty though he felt for the thought.
He tried to muster a smile to offer some small reassurance. “Yes, he was still in the midst of trying to find the right balance of threats and promises to get me to agree to leave the estate. No real harm done, though I’m none too inclined to be generous in whatever bargain I strike with him.”
“As well you shouldn’t be, sir,” Tess said with a firm nod. She started working on hefting up Callum’s limp weight, crouching to get her arms under him and then hefting him up over her shoulder. When Edmund realized he was watching the flex of Tess’s muscles far too intently, he closed his eyes and focused on taking measured breaths. Once Tess’s slow but steady footsteps faded away down the hall, Edmund let his head tip back with a sigh and stared blankly at the ceiling. It had already been an eventful night, and it wasn’t over yet.
The door clicked shut and Edmund straightened up to see Hiss carrying a change of clothes that were, against all odds, an appropriate replacement for what he was wearing. They dropped the clothes on his desk and tugged Callum’s jacket off of Edmund, tossing it casually to the floor. Edmund’s breath caught as Hiss raked their eyes down to his lap again. What little cooling off he had managed was lost in an instant as Hiss leaned in and braced their hands on Edmund’s wrists.
“You know, I have some time before anybody’s going to come looking for you,” Hiss said slowly. They weren’t using their powers, they couldn’t be, but Edmund was trapped in their gaze all the same. “I could do just about anything I wanted to you with you like this.”
Whether Hiss meant the restraints or how desperately aroused he was, Edmund couldn’t disagree. He nodded but said nothing — the word please was on the tip of his tongue, and it could cause all kinds of problems if it slipped out. At best, it might nullify his bargain with Hiss and at worst, they could use it to turn the tables entirely and put him into their debt instead.
Hiss’s smile was so knowing that Edmund feared they could pluck his dangerous thoughts right out of his head. “You wouldn’t even try to yell for help, would you? You’d sit right there and stay still and let me have you.” They punctuated their sentence by slipping a hand down to stroke Edmund’s erection through his trousers.
The light touch was more than Edmund had gotten all evening and it felt good — far too good. With a rush of shame, he realized he would be making a mess of his trousers if Hiss kept going. “If you don’t stop, I am going to humiliate myself in short order,” he said, not quite willing to make it into a command and force Hiss to obey.
“Hm, can’t say I care about that in the slightest,” Hiss said. They curled one hand around Edmund’s hip, holding him down as they kept stroking him steadily. “If you mind so much, you can make me stop. I’m in your debt. Tell me that I have to let you out of this chair right now, and you’ll be free. But that’s not what you want, is it?”
Edmund shook his head and let it drop to his chest. Every other breath he took caught in his throat and he felt almost light-headed with need. He couldn’t thrust up into Hiss’s hand, couldn’t grab them, and didn’t dare try to beg. All he could do was sit and shiver and let Hiss work him toward climax at whatever pace they cared to set.
Hiss pulled their hand away and Edmund had to dig his teeth into his lower lip to stop from pleading. “Oh, hush, you can wait a moment longer,” Hiss scolded him gently. They planted one foot on his thigh and grabbed Edmund’s chin, forcing him to look up. “I just want to watch your face while I make you come in your clothes.”
The sentiment alone might have been enough, had Edmund been able to move. Instead, he lasted one brief moment longer until Hiss gave his cock a few more firm strokes. Edmund shuddered in their grip and came to the sound of Hiss’s delighted laughter. They gave him one last squeeze, pressing damp fabric into his oversensitive skin to really drive home what a mess he’d made, and then released him entirely and stepped back.
“Oh, you are a sight,” Hiss said. Edmund could hear the smile in their voice, though he absolutely couldn’t convince himself to look at them. “I almost don’t want to let you go. You’re really living up to your family reputation and I wouldn’t have guessed you had it in you! Well, mostly. Those dirty books you’ve got hid away in your bedroom told me you were at least curious.”
Edmund choked on his own saliva and had to clear his throat several times to be able to speak. “What is my family’s reputation on your side of things? I’ve always wondered.” He was not going to address the fact Hiss had found his collection of very explicit stories. The last iota of hope in his body went toward the thought that Hiss somehow managed to overlook the few books tucked furthest back that had human men being seduced by the fair folk. Though really, the matter of where his interests lay had to be clear as glass to Hiss by this point.
“You don’t know?” Hiss asked. “Going to be a bit tricky to tell you at the moment, but I’ll see what I can do. Also going to be a bit tricky to get you out of that chair, now that I think about it.” They tugged at one of the branches wrapped around Edmund’s arms. The wood creaked but didn’t break and Hiss wrinkled their nose at it.
Edmund gathered his scattered wits to phrase the necessary adjustments to Hiss’s oath. “You may speak freely as long as we’re alone in a room together and no one else is listening to the best of your knowledge,” Edmund said. “Also, you may use whatever means necessary to free me, provided it doesn’t alert anyone outside of this room.”
Hiss was already rolling their eyes before he finished speaking and gesturing for him to speed it up, but they nodded their agreement once he finished. “Yes, sure, I get it. Anyway, Her Majesty’s got a bounty out on anyone who can bring one of you back — minor favor and getting to join her for a night. Apparently a couple of your ancestors went over once, tumbled into bed with her, and wore her out so much she slept for three full days after.”
That explained why his great-great-grandparents had refused to tell anyone what happened. Edmund was grateful that they were enough generations back that he’d never met them. He would certainly not be meeting the eyes of their portraits in the family gallery whenever he walked by next. “So is that why you came here in the first place?” Edmund asked.
He was relieved when Hiss broke into laughter, waving off the idea with both hands. “For the favor? No, I like to keep out of any business in the courts as best I can. I was just curious, mostly.” Hiss shrugged and twirled one wrist, their nails growing into long, sharp points somewhere in the gesture. “Now let’s get you out of there so you can deal with Calamus and all your boring human guests.”
Edmund closed his eyes and held his breath while he listened to the Hiss split the wood binding him to the chair with their bare hands. “It was kind of you to assist me,” Edmund said. Hiss scoffed as they always did at his careful wording, like nothing had changed. Edmund felt changed, like he’d somehow drifted off to sea while Hiss was standing unaffected on the shoreline.
Thankfully, he had a ready excuse to garner himself some time to think. “Go tell Jane I’m well, if you would. I’ll change and go speak to Callum — or Calamus, you said? I suppose it doesn’t much matter when I already have him captive.”
“Take any advantage you can get,” Hiss said with a small shrug. “That’s what he’d do if your positions were reversed. What most any of us would do, if it got us something we wanted.” Edmund felt chilled through at their words. It was true, and he’d already known it, but he’d gotten so familiar with Hiss that he’d all but forgotten their nature. “Shall I come join you once I speak to Jane?”
“No, thank you,” Edmund said quickly. “I’ll deal with him and send him on his way as soon as I can, and then I can see about winding the party down.” He doubted Hiss’s presence would make negotiations go more smoothly, and he desperately needed the breathing room. Hiss headed out with a minimum of complaining and Edmund changed into fresh clothes, using the soiled ones to clean himself off as best he could.
Tess was on guard outside the guest room with all her attention focused on the door. Edmund cleared his throat as he approached to avoid startling her, but Tess flinched anyway. “It’s only me,” Edmund said. “I trust our unexpected visitor didn’t cause you too much trouble?”
“He went along willing enough, but that one has a mouth on him,” Tess said with an uncharacteristic look of disgust. “One nasty little barb after another until I threatened to run him through. Did you want me to go in with you, or…?” Had he been less tired, Edmund would have cracked a smile at her clear hope that she wouldn’t have to deal with Callum again.
“No need, Tess, thank you. Give me a quarter hour, and then assume I need rescuing if I haven’t come back out, please.” Edmund accepted her pitchfork with a gracious nod when Tess pressed it into his hands, though he held out hope that he wouldn’t need to make any threats. Making his face as impassive as he could manage, he stepped into the guest room.
Calamus was back in his human guise, lounging on a plush armchair as if he hadn’t a care in the world. “Why hello again, Lord Aubert,” Calamus drawled, raking his eyes over Edmund’s body. “You seem rather more composed than when I saw you last. Did you perchance take a brief stop in the cloakroom and make use of the present I left for you?”
“Hiss was the one who knocked you out, actually,” Edmund said. Without the haze of arousal clouding his mind, he was beginning to see why no one was terribly fond of Calamus. “Now, I’m sure you’d prefer to be on your way, so let’s come to an agreement and then I’ll see you off.”
“Oh, I’m in no rush at all, really,” Calamus said. He settled a little further into the chair with a smug smile that made Edmund’s hand clench tighter on the pitchfork’s handle. “You have a very comfortable home, save for the rather excessive use of iron.” He gestured absently toward the metal lattice on the windows. “Does that trouble ‘Hiss,’ or do they spend too much time on their back for it to be an issue?”
The knowledge that Calamus was likely trying to anger him did nothing to stop Edmund from bristling. “I don’t care for your implications,” Edmund said levelly. “Hiss is a member of my staff, however temporary, and I treat them accordingly.”
Calamus broke into cold, bright laughter. “And certainly a human would never use their power over someone to get their prick wet. Maybe you couch it in prettier terms, or even play at giving them a choice, but when it comes down to it, Hiss is under your control. They’re not free. If they were, I doubt they would waste a single hour of their time playing a pretty human maid for someone like you.”
Anger and a visceral stab of guilt made Edmund level the pitchfork at Calamus in an instant. “Here are my terms,” Edmund said, holding the tines steady in front of Calamus’s eyes. “You will leave at once, peacefully, and never return for as long as I live. If you speak of me or my family to anyone, you will do your best to paint us in as unappealing a light as possible. Tell them you left unsatisfied, or that I’m a humorless, dull human, not worth the trouble, et cetera. Do you understand and accept?”
“I understand and accept,” Calamus repeated. Both he and Edmund made an incidental frown of distaste as the oath pulled taut between them. “It will hardly be a stretch to convey what an utter bore you are. Best make the most of your current plaything, because I will do my utmost to make sure they’re your last.”
“Glad to hear it,” Edmund said flatly. “Now get out.” He yanked the door open and passed the pitchfork back to Tess. “Please see him to the edge of the estate, and feel free to prod him if you don’t think he’s getting there fast enough,” Edmund muttered. He stormed off down the hall without a backward glance, confident that Tess would take care of Calamus. His own energy could be devoted to putting up a good front for his party guests and making very, very sure he was never alone in a room with Hiss for the duration of their oath.
💮 💮 💮
Over the next few days, Hiss got less and less sure of Edmund’s continued interest as he failed to do anything but look at them. They’d thought maybe he would make a move once the party was over, or once he dealt with Calamus — a meeting Hiss had rudely not been allowed to sit in on. He didn’t. If anything, Edmund made himself more scarce with every passing day. Several times, Hiss caught him watching out of the corner of their eye, only to see him about face and practically run in another direction.
A full week after the party, Hiss had run out of patience. They raced through all their chores at double speed, then made a point of telling Jane they were going to bed early. A brief stop in their room made it truthful, though Hiss only sat on their bed long enough to slip out of their shoes. They swapped their skirts for trousers and wove their way back out of the house silent and unseen. The boughs of a sturdy apple tree near Edmund’s bedroom window made a perfect perch for them to settle into and wait.
The sun dragged its lazy self below the horizon eventually and Hiss watched windows light up and then go dark again as the household went through its usual nightly motions. Edmund’s study was still lit when Hiss saw Jane draw the curtains in his bedroom. Hiss had zero interest in whatever boring paperwork full of numbers Edmund was always fiddling with in the evenings, but they were grateful that it made his routine so very predictable.
They snuck back into the house and up to Edmund’s bedroom, ears perked up to catch any hint of footsteps nearby. Only Jane was still bustling about, and Hiss knew her usual rounds well enough to keep their distance. Safely tucked away in the shadows beside Edmund’s wardrobe, there was nothing left to do but wait and think about what they wanted to do to Edmund. That, and the even more tantalizing options of making Edmund admit to what he wanted Hiss to do to him.
He’d managed not to plead last time, but Hiss had no intent to rush things tonight. They were determined to get Edmund to beg at least once, because nothing would be sweeter than getting that rush of power over him to go along with the pleasure of his body. If he asked for enough, it might even tip the balance and release Hiss from their contract.
The thought of freedom didn’t make Hiss as happy as they would have guessed, but thankfully Edmund walked in before they had to dwell on it. Hiss waited until he’d set down his candle on the bedside table before they eased themself out of the shadows and said, “Evening, boss.”
Edmund flinched quite nicely at Hiss’s words and his expression when he turned to look at them was a work of art. A good helping of guilt, ducking his head like he’d gotten caught stealing sweets before dinner, but the way his eyes strayed over Hiss’s body told another side to the story. Whatever his reasons for how odd he’d been acting lately, it hadn’t been a lack of interest.
“Good evening, Hiss.” Edmund cleared his throat and turned his gaze down toward Hiss’s bare feet. “If it’s something urgent, I believe Jane is likely to still be awake, but I was about to go to bed.” It was a passing imitation of his no-nonsense way of talking to the staff, but paper-thin at best when he was so busy hunching in on himself.
Hiss took one step forward; Edmund took one back. They closed in, letting their height and blank expression do the intimidating for them, and Edmund almost fell as the bed caught him in the back of the knees. “You’ve been avoiding me,” Hiss said. Edmund shook his head faintly and Hiss added, “It wasn’t a question. You’ve been avoiding me, and I think you should tell me why.”
Edmund could have tried to make them ask for the information, but he was far too human, far too soft-hearted, or both. All the tension went out of him at once and he sank down to sit on the edge of the bed. “I’m sor—” Edmund cut himself off and buried his hands in his hair with a frustrated huff. “It wasn’t my intent to offend you,” he said, each word laid out slowly like a mediocre hand of cards.
“Well, you did,” Hiss said. They stayed put right in front of Edmund, arms crossed, and stared at the top of his bowed head. Since he wasn’t looking, Hiss allowed themself a brief smile before they went for a dirty trick they knew Edmund wouldn’t be able to ignore. “If you’re ashamed you let a monster touch you, just admit it.”
Edmund straightened up, face even more indignant than Hiss had thought it would be. “I have never thought of you as a monster,” Edmund insisted. “If anyone else here has treated you poorly, I will speak with them, or make sure you don’t need to work around them ever again, as you prefer.”
Laughter bubbled up to Hiss’s lips and their severe expression crumpled. “Pfft, no, pretty much everyone’s near sweet enough to give me a toothache. Got you to stop fretting and look at me, though.” Edmund’s expression started to shift toward something worryingly fond, so Hiss pushed forward to their actual point. “Think we figured out how you really feel about me not being human last time.”
Hiss watched the implication of a this time land and sink into Edmund like raindrops onto thirsty soil. His eyes fluttered closed for a moment like the thought alone had overwhelmed him. “It’s true that I find you… quite compelling,” Edmund said. He shook his head slowly and added, “But you’re under my power. I should never have let things go as far as they did.”
Oh, so that was the stupid hang-up rattling around in Edmund’s pretty head. “Suppose you’re going to order me to leave, then?” Hiss asked. Before Edmund could even try to answer, Hiss snapped out their hand and clamped it over his mouth. Home in their own form, their hands were large enough to muzzle him easily, with their palm pressed tight to his lips and their fingers curled around his jawline. Edmund started to lift his hands, but froze with them poised in midair next to Hiss’s arms.
Hiss tipped his face up to make him look into their eyes. “If you touch me, you’ll be an oathbreaker and I’ll be free to go.” They had no intent of doing so, but it was nice to see Edmund try to shake his head at the idea. “So what you’re going to do instead is take off all your clothes and hold still while I tie up your hands so they can’t cause any trouble.”
There was a small chance he would toss Hiss out on their ear instead, but Hiss was willing to take the risk. They slid their hand off Edmund’s face slowly and let their fingers trail over his lips along the way. He shivered, but dropped his hands back to rest at his sides. “You’re certain you want this?” Edmund asked softly. The worried way he was watching Hiss’s face made them ache to kiss him senseless — but there would be time enough for that soon.
Hiss stroked the back of their hand down his cheek, soft as a falling petal. “If I told you even half the things I want to do to you, I think you might come without me even putting a single finger on you this time.” Edmund’s whole body tensed and his hands clenched, rumpling the covers around him. Hiss took a few steps back and gave him their filthiest grin. “And then I’d still fuck you anyway, of course.”
“And I would let you,” Edmund said. His voice was quiet but steady and his eyes didn’t waver from Hiss’s face even as he stood and started unbuttoning his shirt. His confident gaze held up until he stepped out of the last of his clothes and then drifted down to the floor. Hiss could see a faint flush across Edmund’s cheeks as he offered up his hands toward them, wrists crossed.
Hiss shrugged their shirt off and casually tore one of the sleeves into a few long strips of cloth. They’d half expected Edmund to protest, but no, he was busy staring at the flat lines of Hiss’s chest and shoulders like he’d never seen a bare body before. It was hardly different from his own, except for the colors and the fact Edmund was plump enough to have a couple pleasant handfuls to grab onto.
“You have been fucked before, right?” Hiss asked as they bound Edmund’s wrists. They left a long tail of fabric as a nice handle to pull him around by. With his hands out of the way, they took the chance to give his chest a little squeeze and giggled as Edmund squeaked like a startled mouse.
“I have, but—” He broke off with a curse as Hiss rolled their thumbs over his nipples. Hiss would have worried it was too much or too fast, but Edmund arched into their hands and his cock was already starting to fill out nicely. “It’s been some time,” Edmund said breathlessly, “and I’ve only been with humans before.”
Hiss’s hands went for their waistband and Edmund’s eyes snapped down to watch. “Guess we’ll find out just how curious you really are, then,” Hiss said as they let their trousers drop. They’d done all sorts of bits between their legs at one time or another, but this was their favorite set, flower-like and colored the same rich purple as their mouth and tongue. Smooth petals ruffled out toward their thighs and belly and four thin stamens with round, deep yellow tips uncurled from their center.
On the rare occasion they wanted to get fucked, Hiss could shift a deeper space there. Tonight it was a slick sheath for their equivalent of a human cock, which Hiss suspected was different enough to drive Edmund wild. The nubbly dark purple tip was barely peeking out and Edmund was wide-eyed already. He absently licked his lips and Hiss decided it was far past time for that kiss they’d wanted.
Hiss tugged Edmund’s bound hands up and back behind his head. He was unbelievably lovely like this, letting Hiss move him as they pleased and looking up at them with big, hopeful eyes. Hiss caught his chin and leaned down to murmur, “Remember, you have to hold still.” They drank down Edmund’s answering groan as they kissed him, sealing their lips together and sliding their tongue deep into his soft, pliant mouth.
Edmund’s arms tensed up, but Hiss didn’t let him budge an inch. This was everything they had wanted since the first time they’d thought of having Edmund at all. Towering over him in their own skin, pulling him around to pose like a doll however they pleased, and getting to find out how very, very badly he wanted the same things.
Hiss broke the kiss and rolled their hips forward, curling their stamens around Edmund’s cock. He jolted at the feeling and glanced down in time to watch Hiss stroke each tip down his shaft one by one, leaving a dusting of yellow pollen on his skin. “You can control those?” he asked. Hiss slipped one up to tease inside the edge of his foreskin by way of an answer and Edmund drew in a sharp breath.
“I can, and I’m gonna use them to work you open,” Hiss told him, “and then I’ll fuck you until either I’m done or you beg me to stop.” They gave Edmund’s cock another little squeeze, reveling in the gentle heat of him against their skin. Their stamens weren’t so very sensitive, but they were a nice little tease to get Hiss all warmed up.
“God, yes,” Edmund said. He was shivering all over, probably with the effort of holding himself back from rutting up against Hiss. “I want that — I want you, Hiss, please.” Edmund froze when the word slipped out of his mouth and his eyes flicked up to Hiss’s face with alarm.
The trickle of power was sweeter than a ripe peach and sank into Hiss’s gut like a shot of something potent. “Best be careful how much you ask for,” Hiss said. “A few more requests and you’ll even the balance between us in no time.” They stole another brief kiss and added, “Keep going and you might even end up in my control, and then who knows what I’d do with you?”
Having Edmund as a pet would present far too many problems, really, but Hiss could see he liked the threat of it. If push came to shove and Edmund did tip things that far, Hiss could always take charge for a little while but stay on the human side of things to keep Edmund in his element. Having him serving them on hands and knees wouldn’t be any hardship, and it would keep him safely away from Her Majesty so Hiss wouldn’t have to share.
“Now how should I take you?” Hiss asked, voicing it purely to make Edmund blush a little harder. In the midst of a showy turn around the room, Hiss’s eyes fell on the full-length mirror tucked away in a corner and inspiration struck. “Stay still for a moment,” Hiss said and Edmund did exactly as he was told. He didn’t move his arms to a more comfortable position or even shift from one foot to the other as Hiss dragged the mirror over and set it up facing the bed.
The fact that Edmund was obeying because he wanted to and the only thing he stood to lose was Hiss made it all the more intoxicating. Hiss eased Edmund’s hands back in front of him, then held the extra cloth on his bindings up to his mouth. “Open up,” Hiss said. Edmund did, and bit down on the cloth once Hiss tucked it between his teeth. “That should keep you out of trouble, as long as you don’t drop it.”
Hiss patted him on the cheek, and then steered them both over in front of the mirror. They leaned forward to rest their chin on Edmund’s shoulder and locked eyes with his reflection. “Here’s the rules,” Hiss said firmly. “If you stop watching, I stop touching. So keep your eyes open and I promise you’ll have a very, very memorable night.”
Edmund nodded, which made his bound hands bob adorably. “Such a good little human,” Hiss said. They grinned at him with all their teeth and watched his hips buck. It was an outright miracle that no one had managed to seduce him before, given that he melted like a snowflake in their palm every time Hiss reminded him of what they were. There was no way Edmund would last long once Hiss touched his cock, but that was a problem with several fun solutions. See what it took to get him off without a helping hand, see how many times he could manage to hit his peak, or the very mean option of both.
Hiss sat back on the bed and pulled Edmund into their lap, earning another delightful little squeak. He wobbled for a moment and Hiss wrapped an arm around his soft middle to steady him. Humans had such an odd amount of hair — far more than most of the fair folk, and far less than some of the more bestial residents of the woods. It seemed impractical, but the dark fuzz on Edmund’s stomach and thighs was awfully nice to pet, especially when it made him wiggle so fetchingly in Hiss’s lap.
If Hiss had their way, Edmund was only going to be writhing more from here on out. They curled one stamen inward, which was a slight stretch, and wet it with their own slick. After a quick check to make sure Edmund was watching, Hiss pressed it up against his hole and waited. Predictably, Edmund tensed up at the touch and closed his eyes.
“Look at me,” Hiss ordered and Edmund instantly complied, though his eyes were unfocused in the mirror. “Now relax and let me in. You can take just one without any trouble, I’m sure. It’s not even as big as one of your fingers and I’d guess you’ve had that inside you.”
Edmund made a high, shivery sort of embarrassed noise and nodded. Hiss rewarded him by slipping the small tip of their stamen inside his ass and curling it over to rub against him. “Have you fucked yourself on more than one of your fingers at once?” Hiss asked the question all sugar-sweet as they slicked a second stamen and lined it up.
Dazed as he was, Edmund quickly picked up on the game Hiss was playing. He relaxed back against their chest, met their eyes, and nodded just once. Hiss eased the second one in without any trouble and went right on to their next question: “Was the last time you did that since the night of your party?”
The look on Edmund’s face was damning even before he nodded. Hiss pressed in their third stamen, rocking all three together to get Edmund’s body ready to be fucked in earnest. He had to have guessed what they would ask next, but Hiss made him wait for it. Edmund squirmed in their lap, rocking his hips with what little leverage he had and looking more desperate with every passing second.
Hiss teased their last stamen against the delicate stretch of skin behind Edmund’s balls, back and forth but not quite where he clearly wanted it to be. “Were you thinking about me while you touched yourself?” They laughed softly as Edmund nodded. His eyes were starting to water a little, probably at least half from the fight to keep watching. He was soft and open around them now, though he clenched down deliciously when Hiss made all their stamens flex in different directions at once.
“I think you’re ready enough to find out what the real thing feels like,” Hiss said. They grazed the points of their teeth at the edge of Edmund’s ear and he let out the sweetest pathetic little sob. “You want me to fuck you now, Edmund?” Hiss pulled the damp fabric out of his mouth and growled, “Beg me for it.”
Edmund was so far gone he didn’t even hesitate. “Hiss, fuck me,” he said, all hoarse and wanting. “Take me however you want, but let me touch you, please.” Hiss had to close their eyes as the intense rush of power hit them. The oath strung between them was hanging on by a thread, and they had no doubt Edmund would break it the second his hands were free. A little twinge of something nagged at Hiss, but they shoved it aside before they could do something dangerous like name the feeling.
“So much for keeping you out of trouble,” Hiss said, unable to put any bite to the words. They pulled all their stamen free and nudged Edmund off of their lap. He wobbled and then sank to his knees in front of Hiss, holding up his bound hands all doe-eyed and hopeful. Hiss pretended to consider, tipping their head showily side to side. “Yes, but first, I want to show you something.”
They spread their legs and reached a hand down to help ease their cock, such as it was, out where Edmund could see it. The textured tip was the darkest color, all dramatic, but the rest of the shaft was the fun part. Hiss had designed it with two sets of wider and narrower parts, each slightly larger than the last to make sure anyone they fucked felt every last inch.
Edmund’s mouth dropped open so wide that Hiss would have been tempted to fill it straight away if they weren’t dead set on fucking him. He lifted his hands again and said, “Free me immediately,” and for the first time since they’d met, Hiss got to feel Edmund actually use the power he had over them.
It felt like falling from a height, giddiness, fear, and loss of control combined. Hiss sliced through the fabric with one sharp nail and found their only regret was that they hadn’t gotten Edmund to order them around sooner. Edmund shook off the fabric scraps and immediately grabbed Hiss by the hips.
Whatever he’d been intending to do was halted as they both got hit with the dizzying sensation of the oath breaking. Edmund shrugged it off first and stretched up to swipe his tongue over the lowest bulge on Hiss’s cock with a filthy moan. Hiss caught up a handful of his hair, pulled him away, and kept him there despite the adorable whine of protest he made.
“If you wanted it that badly, you should have taken it before you gave up control of me,” Hiss said. Their heart was racing and they felt downright feral with the sudden rush of freedom. “Now the only thing you get is what I want, and I want to see how long you’ll last once I start working my prick into you.”
Edmund nodded in their grip so hard it had to be hurting him. Hiss crouched down and scooped Edmund up off the ground so quickly he yelped and scrabbled hopelessly for purchase on their back. It was a joy to throw him face down on the bed and follow after to pin him there. Hiss got a hand over Edmund’s mouth before they ground their cock up against him, keeping all his pleas to wordless noises that wouldn’t bring any more debt into the mix.
“How have you made it this far in life without winding up as someone’s pet?” Hiss asked. Edmund shrugged and rolled his soft ass right back against Hiss. “Fine, you needy thing.” Hiss huffed and gave him a quick swat on the backside. “But don’t you dare beg or I swear I’ll leave you here bound to the bed and covered in my seed without any release for you.”
When Edmund failed to sound sufficiently distressed by the idea, Hiss added, “Jane will be the one to find you, and you will never be able to look her in the eyes again.” Edmund went stiff as a board and then nodded weakly under Hiss’s hand. “Good. Now hold still and let me fuck you already, you stubborn man.”
Edmund’s shoulders shook with laughter right up until Hiss set the slick head of their cock against his hole. They started to press in and Edmund all but melted forward onto the bed with a moan. “So that’s what it takes, then?” Hiss teased him as they rocked their hips forward until the head of their cock was fully inside Edmund. “All the fight goes out of you as soon as your greedy little ass gets anything in it at all.”
Hiss worked forward to the first bulge in their shaft faster than they’d meant to as Edmund moved with them to take as much as he could. He shuddered to a stop as the stretch started, toes curling and hands clutching at the covers. Hiss grabbed one of Edmund’s shoulders for leverage and pushed the whole thing inside him in one long, slow movement. He whimpered out a few needy nonsense syllables and then turned his face to one side to muffle himself against his arm.
“Still have one more to go,” Hiss told him, stroking a hand along one of his trembling arms. “I almost hope it’s too much for you, so you’re full to the brim and I can press it up against you and make you feel the stretch you can’t quite take over and over again.” They caught Edmund’s other wrist as he tried to subtly slide a hand down to touch himself.
There was no chance Edmund wouldn’t be able to take them — Hiss wanted to be all the way inside him enough that they would shift things smaller if they had to. The only thing they had to do in the meantime was keep Edmund from saying anything stupid or biting himself to stay quiet. Hiss tugged Edmund’s mouth away from his arm and shoved two fingers in over his soft, hot tongue.
It was a messy way to keep him from forming words, but Edmund seemed more than content. He even bobbed his head forward to take their fingers deeper, sucking at them so nicely that Hiss regretted not using his mouth earlier. They chased away their regrets by pushing forward again, teasing at his hole with the last, largest swell of their cock.
By the time they worked it inside, Edmund had lost all coordination. His mouth hung open for Hiss to toy with and a slick line of saliva dripped down his jaw. The only motion he could manage was a full-body shudder as Hiss ground their hips up against him with a triumphant grin. It was going to be a very short lived triumph, with the way Edmund’s body clenched down on every inch of their cock, but Hiss was more than ready.
Hiss coiled all their stamens inward, teasing around the edges of Edmund’s hole where it was stretched around the base of their shaft, and started to gently rock their hips. A few strokes of Edmund’s cock was all it took to send him over the edge, and Hiss let the glorious, rippling pressure of his climax bring them along too. His tiny splash of seed splattered on their fingers while Hiss pumped him as full as they dared, one sweet wave of pleasure after another until they felt drained dry.
As Hiss started to pull out, Edmund sounded pained for the first time, so they shifted themself a little smaller and a little smoother to ease the process. Not enough that he wouldn’t feel it, though. The way Edmund’s body jolted and his softening cock twitched each time one swell slipped free was too sweet for Hiss to give up entirely.
Edmund was limp and incoherent by the time Hiss pulled out entirely, barely managing a mumble of protest as they held him spread open for a moment to watch their seed trickle out. As soon as Hiss released him, Edmund’s breathing started to even out in what sounded like the precursor to snoring. A tiny nudge of power pushed him fully into sleep, and another cleaned up all the signs of their coupling.
Hiss felt tired, or something that they were determined to call tired rather than look at too closely. With Edmund unconscious, there wasn’t any fun to be had, so Hiss supposed they might as well leave. They dressed, and stole a couple of Edmund’s dirty books they hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. With one last look at Edmund’s sleeping form, Hiss blew out his candle and left.
💮 💮 💮
Edmund was confused when he woke up without any sign of the night before, though not surprised that he was alone. Hiss had gotten what they wanted from him and won their freedom back, so of course they had left. He consoled himself as best he could with the thought that giving in to his weakness had only moved things forward by a few months. Hiss would have been gone soon enough regardless, and at least this way he had some very pleasant memories to keep.
After he informed Jane that Hiss was gone, she immediately suggested he take it easy for the day and even unbent enough to pat him on the shoulder. With her blessing given, Edmund let himself wallow for a few hours. It wasn’t a heartbreak — he wasn’t sure he’d ever had one — but it seemed a close cousin to how people spoke of heartbreak. He felt like a fool and the house seemed far too quiet as he eased back into his usual routine over the following days.
To keep himself sane, Edmund took on more work than ever, stepping in to lend a hand anywhere he could on the estate. If he wore himself out during the day, it allowed him to fall asleep at night without getting caught up in regrets, touching himself, or the dreadful combination of both. It worked well for the following week, though Edmund was sore enough to want a hot soak every night after the first few days.
He jolted awake in a tub of lukewarm water to Jane calling him from outside the bathroom door. The sharp edge to her voice told him she had already had to repeat herself at least once, which got him to scramble out of the tub and dry off in record time. To Edmund’s surprise, Jane’s expression was calm, bordering on pleasant, even as he stepped out in nothing but slippers and a robe with his hair damp.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, sir, but I’m afraid you’re needed in the barn. Again.” Jane let out a faint sigh, but a smile tugged at the corners of her mouth as she said, “We seem to have something of a recurring problem.”
Edmund gaped at her for a long moment, then broke into a grin and started striding down the hallway. “Thank you, Jane,” he called back over his shoulder while he trotted down the stairs. The night air was cold on his damp skin, but he hardly felt it with how fast his pulse was racing. He heard Tess laughing at something as he neared the barn, and took a moment to fruitlessly try to neaten himself up.
Hiss was lounging against a wall inside, chatting with Tess, who was holding a pitchfork only vaguely pointed in their direction. Their beautiful, metallic eyes snapped up as Edmund walked through the door and they raised both hands with a sheepish smile. “Looks like you caught me again, boss. Silly, silly me. Going to have to work off another year and a day, I guess!”
“Would the same terms as last time suit you?” Edmund asked. Tess backed away as he walked up to Hiss, beaming at them both with one hand over her heart.
“Think we could take out the no touching bit, since everyone was so good about it last time.” Hiss pushed themself up off the wall and straightened up to their full height.
Edmund couldn’t even try to pretend he was anything less than thrilled. “Agreed,” he said, and Hiss dragged him into an eager, biting kiss as soon as the word left his mouth. Neither of them stopped until Tess let out a wolf whistle in the background and Edmund broke away with a bout of breathless, happy laughter.