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"You're distracting me," Julian says without looking up.

Courtenay considers playing innocent simply to get a rise out of Julian, but it's a different sort of rise he's after, so instead he shrugs. "Your fault. I long ago told you that I found you doing sums erotic."

Julian does look up at that. "How, precisely, is it my fault that you are endlessly depraved?"

Courtenay raises an eyebrow. "You decided to keep me, being fully aware."

Julian sighs. "I suppose there is some truth to that."

Courtenay smiles. Julian tilts his head, a thoughtful look crossing his face. "Undress."

Courtenay blinks. Julian's well aware that there are few things as delicious to Courtenay as Julian taking charge of affairs, but for all that, it's still not something he simply expects of Julian, and more often than not, their lovemaking is a bit of push and pull between the two of them. Not that Courtenay doesn't enjoy that. This, though, a sudden order with the full intensity of Julian's focus underlying it, this is new. Courtenay would swear he could not fall any more in love with this man, and every time he would be wrong, he would be underestimating the depth of Julian's brilliance, his capacity to give.

He does as told, shivering both from anticipation and the fact that fall is upon them. Julian is watching him closely, and murmurs. "Clothes folded, you are to lie on your back in front of the fireplace."

Courtenay bends to pick up his discarded clothing. Julian stokes the fire, which was banked and rather low, to a gentle roar, and now Courtenay's shivering is entirely anticipation. He settles himself as ordered. Julian, still entirely clothed, looks down at him. "You are not to move unless I tell you to do so."

Courtenay's breath catches. "And if I do?"

Julian gives him a pitying look. "I shall be disappointed, of course."

It's the threat Julian intends. There is nothing Courtenay hates more than disappointing Julian, it is the absolute worst of feelings.

Julian walks to the desk with his usual, measured stride. He grabs his pen and the inkwell, along with an extra nib and the blotter. He arranges each of these in a neat line on the side of Courtenay further from the fire. "Now," he says, "I really must concentrate on these sums. I'm running a household here, you understand."

He straddles Courtenay, the fine wool of his trousers settling over Courtenay's thighs. Dipping the pen into the inkwell, he sets the tip just below Courtenay's collarbone and begins writing. Thoughtfully, he says, "It's a shame, you know. Some other time, I might have written another tawdry scene, or perhaps simply about how beautiful you are. Now, just sums."

Courtenay finds himself whimpering, whether from desire or consternation, though, he could not say. Julian's lips curl in a secretive smile but he keeps his voice chiding. "Ah ah, entirely your fault."

"Sorry?" Courtenay ventures. He is not.

Julian's eyes flicker with amusement. "Well, we both know that's a lie, don't we?"

Courtenay would laugh, but it would require him to move the pectoral to which Julian is now applying that impeccable penmanship. Instead, Courtenay offers this truth: "I love you."

Julian makes a sound that means, "Yes, dear, I heard you, but I'm concentrating just now."

The casual dismissal of Courtenay's admission within the bounds of the scene only makes him harder. Julian murmurs something about giving Cook a raise, and speaking to one of the land tenants regarding how the harvest had gone. He scratches out a number, the decisive "x" of the pen the only obvious "read" against Courtenay's skin.

There is a moment, right when Courtenay is so sure he will break, that he will either beg or move from sheer desperation, and then he tips over into acceptance and there is nothing but sensation and the giving of himself to Julian. It's quiet, only the crackle of the fire and the occasional dip of the pen, and he couldn't move if he wished to do so. The air seems to flow over him, around him, like warm waves lapping at his skin, sinking him down into the Aubusson.

"Yes, that's it," Julian says. Courtenay's eyes have closed, but he's nowhere near sleep, rather, he's expanding inside his skin.

He hasn't the slightest idea how much time passes. At some point, Julian says, "Open your eyes, my love," and he does, because Julian has told him to. Julian stands and leans over to take both of Courtenay's hands, pulling him to his feet. "Come."

The servants stay in the main house, with Lawrence and Georgie, so there is no danger in Julian walking him stark naked and covered in delicate sums to their room, and standing him in front of their vanity. Courtenay forgets to breathe for a moment at the evidence of Julian's work. Julian stands behind him, still clothed, but undoing his breeches. He reaches into the vanity for the oil they keep there, saying, "Eyes ahead."

Courtenay stares into the mirror as Julian breaches him, slowly, his hands firm on Courtenay's hips until he is nearly as deep as their stance allows. He hooks his chin on Courtenay's shoulder and asks, "Have you gotten to your right hipbone yet?"

Courtenay's gaze strays there in the mirror, then, of course, and he sees it. "Oh," he sighs, focusing in on the calligraphy looped in and around sums that reads, you are my everything.

"Oh," Julian agrees, pulling out and driving back in, steady and smooth, but not sweet. There will be bruises where his fingers are gripping, bruises that Courtenay will trace and smile at while bathing.

Julian says, "Touch yourself."

There are numbers on the palms of Courtenay's hands. The ink will run on his cock. This awareness brings forth a groan, and he has to breathe deeply as he wraps a hand around himself. He has not been told to come. Softly, Julian says, "Making a mess of my work, I see."

Courtenay laughs, then, joyous and breathy. Julian kisses at his shoulder and he mewls, panting, "Please, Julian, please, I'm—"

"No," Julian cuts him off.

Courtenay whines high in his throat. He would be ashamed of himself were he capable, but he hasn't the emotional room for it. He is Julian's to fuck, to command, to love.

He moves his hand in time with Julian's strokes, which are working themselves ever deeper, ever more firmly thrusting against that particularly sweet spot. Courtenay's legs are shaking without his permission, he's not sure he would be able to stand except for Julian's grip on him, his chest supporting Courtenay's back.

Julian stills, his mouth open against Courtenay's shoulder, the buttons of his shirt hot and pressing into the knobs of Courtenay's spine, emptying himself into Courtenay. Courtenay sobs, he doesn't mean to, but he cannot stop himself, either, a tear spilling down his cheek. "Please, please, I—"

Julian settles lazy, sated eyes on him in the mirror, and without removing his now-limp cock says, "Very well."

Courtenay comes apart. There is no other way to explain it. Everything bursts from him and then slowly settles back together, being stitched there by the way Julian is holding him up, whispering about the treasure he has in his arms, how very good Courtenay is for him.

Shakily, Courtenay tells him, "I don't know that I can walk."

Julian laughs, bright and pleased. "If you could, I'd consider myself a failure." He loops Courtenay's arm over his shoulder and the two of them stumble to the bed. Courtenay falls back onto it, and Julian begins to draw away, saying, "I'll get something to clean you up with."

Courtenay catches his hand and holds. When Julian looks back at him, Courtenay shakes his head and asks, "Not yet, all right? Not just yet."

Julian blinks, and then smiles, softer than anything he ever allows in public. "All right then. Not just yet."

He divests himself of his clothes, now inkstained and probably impossible to repair, and crawls into bed next to Courtenay. Julian splays a hand over the words and repeats, "Not just yet."