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thy constellation is right apt

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Cesario has made himself at home in Orsino’s house just as easily as Viola has.

Some days, Orsino and his love arise at the same time, sleepy and affectionate, soft touches and gentle murmurs.  Some days, Orsino awakens to find Viola sitting in the windowsill, book in hand or simply gazing out at the horizon into the gentle waves of the morning.

Some days, Orsino wakes first and is already eating breakfast when Cesario comes out to join him.  The boy smiles as they eat together in companionable silence.

The first time Cesario joined him after their wedding, Orsino was utterly confused (though not entirely displeased).  By now, it’s simply part of their lives.  Some days he is married to Viola, some days to Cesario.  Some days it’s hard to tell and he has to ask, but he’s getting better at guessing.

The differences lie in the way that Cesario butters his toast or the way that Viola tilts her head at a riddle but especially in the way that he laughs, how she stands, how they both kiss him.

If the servants are curious, they don’t dare to ask or intrude, though Orsino has certainly heard Curio and Valentine whispering together when they think he can’t hear them.  Wild imaginings about what must go on in their bedroom, whether Orsino has considered bringing a third into their bed (he has) or whether he has ever tried on his lady’s garments (he hasn’t… yet).

Orsino chooses to ignore their wild conjectures, knowing that what he and Viola have isn’t easy to understand from the outside.  In truth, he relishes the surprise of waking up each day next to someone entirely unexpected.


Today, Cesario finds him out in the gardens.  He’s wearing a loose white linen shirt and close-fitting breeches that show off the mouth-watering shape of his legs.  With the sun behind him, he looks like a haloed angel among the buds and blooms of the flowerbeds.

Orsino’s face must show something of his adoration, for Cesario laughs brightly, offering him a hand to pull him to his feet.  With a slight bow, Cesario brushes soft lips over Orsino’s knuckles, a mockery of their first meeting.

“My lord,” he says, a smile in his voice.  “Care to take a walk through the gardens with me?”

Orsino smiles and nods, and Cesario tucks Orsino’s arm into the crook of his elbow.

They wander for a while around Orsino’s expansive estate, talking quietly of nothing.  Cesario guides them on a wide path around the outskirts of the gardens until the main house is no longer in view, blocked by tall, colorful rhododendron bushes in full bloom.

Cesario take a seat on the grass, a knoll that slopes gently upwards.  He indicates for Orsino to sit with him and he does so, his back resting up against Cesario’s chest.  They bask for a while in the sun, absorbing the peaceful tranquility of the afternoon.  Orsino lets his eyes slip closed, melting into Cesario, his fingers tracing idle patterns on Cesario’s leg beside him.

Soon enough, Orsino feels lips on the back of his neck, kissing slowly down its slope to his shoulder.  The tiny hairs on the back of his neck stand up at the sensation and his breath hitches at the promise in the touch.  He lets his head fall back against Cesario’s shoulder with a contented sigh.

One of Cesario’s hands steals under his shirt to rest on his bare hip, the other pulling his collar aside to expose more skin for Cesario’s roving lips, growing more insistent.  Orsino gasps as Cesario bites sharply at his shoulder, soothing the hurt with lips and tongue.  It’s sure to leave a mark tomorrow.  This certainly won’t stop the servants talking, Orsino thinks, chuckling breathlessly as Cesario moves back up his neck to his ear.

My lord,” he murmurs softly in Orsino’s ear.  “May I take care of you?”  He punctuates his question with a nip to the earlobe and another hand stealing under his shirt to trace patterns across the expanse of Orsino’s torso.  Orsino lets out a frankly shameful noise when those clever fingers find his sensitive chest, teasing him cruelly.  He can feel Cesario grin against his skin.

“Yes, yes, of course, Cesario…”

Shhh,” the boy soothes, undoing the clasp of Orsino’s trousers and taking him in hand.

Cesario whispers sweet nothings into his ear as he strokes him off steadily, his hand confident and his breath cool on Orsino’s neck.

When Orsino comes, Cesario captures his lips in a deep kiss, swallowing his high moan as he spills over Cesario’s hand.  Cesario strokes him through it, biting at his full lower lip.  Cesario wipes his hand on the grass beside them as Orsino gets his breath back, his head resting back on Cesario’s shoulder.  The boy continues to kiss at his neck gently until Orsino’s breathing has evened out again.

“My lord, we should return to the house.”

Orsino groans, wanting to stay in this moment forever.  Cesario laughs, the sound ringing through the open air like church bells.

“The servants will get suspicious if we are out of sight much longer,” he says, making to stand and hoist Orsino with him.  “Besides, it’s almost dinnertime and I’m famished.”

“We certainly wouldn’t want that,” laughs Orsino, taking hold of Cesario’s hand and starting down the path towards home.


The early afternoon light slants through the windows in the master bedroom, dappling Orsino’s almost-naked form as he lounges in their bed.  Viola sits at the vanity in her nightdress, painting her face in preparation for the party they must attend tonight, even though they both dread the occasion.  She smoothes powders over her tan skin as he watches, first a neutral shade and then rouge on the apples of her cheeks.  She lines her eyes with dark kohl and smears red tint onto her full lips, accentuating her cupid’s bow.

Orsino rises and goes to stand behind her, hands on her shoulders, their eyes meeting in the mirror.

“I wonder if it would look pretty on me,” he muses, taking in the array of supplies scattered on the vanity’s surface.  Viola laughs quietly.

“You certainly don’t need the help, my love.”  She turns to face him, considering, eyes roving over the planes and angles of his face.  His cheeks heat under her scrutiny, even after all this time.

“I wonder…” She trails off, eyes lost in some imagining.  Without breaking her gaze, she stands and ushers Orsino to take her place in front of the mirror.  Viola reaches for her rouge and slowly, gently applies it to his high cheekbones, her thumb warm against his skin.  He releases a breath he didn’t know he was holding.

She quietly instructs him to close his eyes and dips her kohl brush in a deep blue-black pigment, lining his eyes careful and precise.

“Don’t open them yet,” she orders softly, and he feels her finger on his lips, smearing something thick and sticky and strong-smelling onto them.  She tells him to open his eyes.

He makes eye contact with himself in the mirror and, oh.  He’s never seen his eyes this big and dark or his cheekbones so elegant-looking or his lips, painted cherry-red, so soft and tempting.  He can’t look away from his transformed visage in the mirror.

“Do you like it?” asks Viola, soft, careful not to break whatever trance she’s put him in.

“Yes, I… yes.”  He doesn’t know what it is about the makeup, whether it’s the pigments themselves or that it was Viola put them on him, but he feels… soft in a way he’s never felt before.

He looks up at Viola, asking for something that he’s not sure how to put into words.  She looks as entranced as he feels, and she slowly reaches up to rest two delicate fingers on his shiny lower lip.  The tension hangs in the air, thick and palpable.  Slowly, so slowly, she pushes her fingers into Orsino’s mouth, his painted lips wrapping around them and oh, what an obscene picture they must make.

Orsino’s eyes fall closed as he sucks on her fingers, bobbing his head in a suggestive mockery of something else entirely.  He can hear Viola’s breath hitch where she stands watching him.  After what feels like an eternity, she withdraws her fingers, slick with spit and the lipstick that’s now smeared across Orsino’s swollen mouth.

A tense moment as they just look at each other, and then Viola whispers hoarsely, “Bed.”

Orsino scrambles to their bed, collapsing onto his back in the pillows.  Viola follows, straddling his hips and leaning down to kiss him messily, their lipstick smearing together in an obscene tableau.  They break apart and Orsino reaches for her but she takes hold of his wrists roughly, pinning them together above his head and holding them there with one hand while she uses the other to guide him into her.

She takes him just like that, deliberate and rough, never letting go of his wrists as he writhes below her.

“So beautiful,” she whispers to him as she rides him.  “So pretty, made up just for me, only for me…”

Orsino can hardly handle the words streaming from his lover, moaning high and reedy as they move together, makeup running from the sweat that gathers on both of their foreheads and cheeks.  They’re both close now.

“I want you to wear it tonight,” manages Viola, her breath coming short.  “I want everyone to see that you’re mine, that you like it, that you’d do anything for me… oh, God!”

Viola comes then, clenching around him like a vice, and he follows soon after, her words ringing in his ears as he spills into her with a shout.

They stay frozen like that for a moment before Viola flops next to him on the bed, breathing hard.  She turns her head to grin at him, exultant, her makeup smeared beyond all saving.  He’s sure his can’t be any better.  He’s sure she’s never looked more radiant.

“We’re never going to make it to that party,” she laughs, not at all repentant.  He laughs with her, rests his head on her chest as she wraps an arm around his shoulders and hugs him close.

“I don’t think I really mind.”