The headache wasn’t going away, that much was certain.
With a sigh, Kenna watched the others – her allies, good and loyal people who might very well be dead in just a few short days - leave the throne room and raised a hand to her face, pinching the bridge of her nose as if it might relieve the tension that had been building behind her eyes for what seemed like the better part of a month.
She knew the price of war, had prepared all there was to prepare, gathered as many forces as she could, yet the gnawing anxiety and tension wouldn’t leave her bones. Luther was coming. Was almost upon them, his fleet having been sighted just a few day’s travel away from Stormholt.
It was all coming to a head, and Kenna couldn’t remember the last time she had relaxed, much less had a good night’s sleep.
She allowed herself to slump onto the throne and closed her eyes.
The cool voice came as a surprise and Kenna’s eyes snapped open, hand already reaching down to the sword at her hip and exhaustion forgotten in the rush of adrenaline. It was impossible to miss the proud figure stepping into the light, gleaming metal armour and light brown hair catching the rays of fading sunlight falling through the window.
“Captain Leventis,” Kenna greeted, self-consciously straightening in her seat and forcing her fingers to uncurl from the handle of her sword. “I wasn’t aware you were still here.”
“Apologies, your Majesty. I did not mean to startle you.”
Helene’s sharp gaze scanned her from top to bottom, and Kenna instinctively attempted to hide the slight tremble in her hands and the nervous twitch of her leg. The former Captain of the Nevrakis Guard was nothing if not perceptive, a trait that served her well on the battlefield and that, along with her exceptional strength and an unrivaled grasp of swordmanship, made her someone not to be trifled with.
Kenna had tried, once, when they were still on opposing sides, and it would have cost her her life had it not been for the other woman’s uncompromising sense of honour.
Just as she had failed to best her then, Kenna now failed to hide the tension in her limbs.
“You seem unwell,” Helene stated, neither sympathy nor derision in her voice. “Perhaps it would be wise to turn in for the night.”
Kenna observed her for a moment, distantly taking note of the high cheekbones and broad shoulders she had found herself admiring now and again when she could afford such thoughts, before letting herself relax.
“I’ve tried. But I can’t seem to settle down.”
Helene nodded. “Understandable. When I was your age and just starting out as a guard, the anticipation before a big fight had me antsy, as well.”
“My age?” The corners Kenna’s mouth turned up into a small smile. “You say that as though I’m a child.”
“Not at all, your Majesty. You have proven yourself to be a strong and wise leader, and a far better one than Luther could ever hope to be. I’m proud to serve you.” Helene gave a small bow of her head and regarded her with dark eyes. “But it will take many, many years to be able to shake off that anticipation.”
She stepped closer, stopping just in front of the throne.
“If you wish, I can…help.”
Kenna peered up at her, eyes catching on the other woman’s strong thighs for a second before she shook off that particular distraction, and cocked her head inquisitively. “I have tried sparring with Dom, if that’s what you’re offering. While I would appreciate the chance to learn from you, exercise hasn’t helped me.”
Shaking her head, Helene inched forward, and for the first time since Kenna had known her, she could detect a hint of hesitation in her movements.
“No, not sparring. A distraction,” the Captain explained.
Any further questions Kenna might have had were halted as Helene sank to her knees and raised one hand to let it hover just above the flesh of Kenna’s thigh, close enough to feel the warmth of her palm searing through the fabric of her pants.
Her face bore no expression as she indicated the lower part of Kenna’s body with a jerk of her head, unmistakable in its meaning. “Some relief might help.”
The breath caught in Kenna’s throat at the proposition, a shudder of warmth snaking down her spine. She couldn’t pretend she hadn’t entertained the thought, not when she’d held a strange sort of attraction to the woman since the first time they’d fought, but while she knew other kings and queens delighted in their power to take whatever and whoever they wished with little to no regard for their subjects, Kenna was not that kind of ruler.
She was not that kind of woman.
“I can’t ask that of you,” she said, decisive even as her eyes were glued to the space separating Helene’s palm from her thigh. “Your sense of duty is admirable, but pleasing me isn’t one of them, and it’s not something you should feel forced to do.”
She’d expected the Captain’s hand to retreat, but it didn’t. Instead it came to rest on her, large and warm, a calloused thumb rubbing tantalising circles against her thigh.
“I have sworn to serve you. Not because I was born into your rule, but because you are a worthy ruler. Allow me.”
Kenna found herself lost for words as deft fingers made short work of the buttons holding her pants closed, couldn’t tear her eyes away from it even as she knew that Helene was watching her for any further sign of protest.
She most likely should have stopped her, she knew that. But Kenna was exhausted and anxious and wound tighter than the string of a bow and sitting here with Helene Leventis servicing her sounded really damn nice.
It made her heart beat faster and heat coil in the pit of her stomach.
So when the other woman tugged at her waistband with a respectfully murmured “May I?”, Kenna could only nod and lift her hips to allow Helene to expose her to the cool air of the throne room, pants pulled down until they caught at her boots.
Instead of leaving them there and getting on with it, the Captain sat back on her heels and began to unfasten the heavy leather boots encasing the lower half of Kenna’s legs. With one foot resting against the other woman’s thigh, Kenna could only stare.
It was a sight to behold, the single-minded focus with which Helene concentrated on undressing her. Another part of what she considered serving her, no doubt. Kenna had never paid much mind to what it meant, but it was strangely enticing to watch this stern-faced, powerful woman kneel at her feet and do what Kenna would have otherwise done herself.
A low thrum of arousal began to pulse between her legs and she wondered if Helene could tell, if it even mattered to her. Once the boots had been disposed off, her pants soon followed, leaving her naked from the waist down and goosebumps forming on her skin as the room cooled down in time with the coming night.
Helene spared no glance at the revealed skin, steadily looking into her eyes. Her palm, however, had returned to Kenna’s thigh, and Kenna shivered at the feel of calloused fingertips on her naked skin.
“Are you ready, your Majesty?”
Her voice had lost none of its cool strength, whereas Kenna felt the anticipation as keenly as the damp wetness building between her thighs.
“Yes,” she rasped, clearing her throat. “Go ahead, Captain.”
Helene nodded sharply, once, before laying her other hand on Kenna to mirror the first and leaning forward to press a methodical kiss against the inside of her thigh. Her lips were cool and firm, exactly like the woman herself, and the anticipation in Kenna’s stomach rose.
She didn’t need foreplay, didn’t need preparation, not when the hum of energy in her core made her feel ready to burst at a moment’s notice, but when large hands began to stroke up and down her legs, brushing against her hips and the back of her knees, she didn’t protest.
“Tell me to stop when you need me to,” Helene said quietly, the low rumble of her voice vibrating against Kenna’s skin as she brushed her lips along her thigh.
“I will.” The latter part of Kenna’s breathless words got lost in a soft noise of arousal as she felt the flick of a hot tongue. She stared, watched with hooded eyes as the Captain lavished attention on her legs, hands and lips and tongue serving to turn the warmth in her belly into an insistent pulsing.
She hadn’t noticed that her hips had begun to twitch upwards, not until Helene grabbed them and held her still with one hand, as if it took no effort at all. Kenna groaned, low and quiet.
There was a method to it all, she acknowledged in the back of her head. Every move thought through, every kiss and touch calculated. Helene approached this the same way she approached a swordfight – single-mindedly focused and with a clear goal in mind. And just like in a swordfight, the other woman knew exactly how to get Kenna where she wanted her.
She shifted the hand holding Kenna’s hips just enough to brush the pad of her thumb against her slit. The touch was feather-light, just barely coming in contact with her clit, but it was enough for Kenna to suck in a sharp breath and reach down to claw her fingers into the Captain’s forearm.
She needed more.
“Captain,” she gasped, forcing her voice into a tone resembling normal. “Keep going.”
Helene inclined her head in acknowledgement, cheek brushing against Kenna. She kept rubbing her thumb against her, stoking the fire but never hitting the spot Kenna needed her to most.
Opening her mouth, Kenna was about to tell her, order her, if necessary, to touch her properly - when she felt the hard press of teeth against her.
The Captain was watching her.
Holding her gaze even as she began to bite down on the soft, sensitive skin on the inside of Kenna's thigh. Watching, perhaps, for a sign of discomfort.
One she wouldn't find.
Kenna struggled to keep her eyes open at the sting, a pointed lightening bolt of pleasure zapping down her spine and pooling in her center. The whine in her throat escaped unbidden as Helene's thumb suddenly switched positions to circle her clit, slow and steady.
She couldn't hold her gaze any longer and let her head fall forward, hips beginning to jerk anew even as she was held down.
"Please," she rasped. "Please."
What exactly she was pleading for she couldn't quite say, but then the other woman buried her teeth deeper in one sudden twitch of her jaw and Kenna's fingers dug hard into her forearm at the sensation.
It was almost a shame when Helene released her. Kenna raised her head, breath heavy and stuttering in her throat, to look at her.
A single bead of sweat ran down the Captain's otherwise hard face to soak into her collar.
"Do you want to continue?" Helene asked.
Kenna didn't answer, and instead held the Captain's gaze as she slowly, carefully, spread her thighs wider until she was on full display, wet and swollen.
Helene's gaze darted down, just once, and Kenna thought she could see the slightest movement of her throat as she swallowed.
"Very well." And with that, she leaned in.
There was no teasing this time, no exploring touch, as Helene dragged the flat of her tongue along Kenna's slit in a broad upward stroke.
Kenna's upper body pitched forward, jerking and curling at the wet swipe over her clit. The keening moan that was wrestled from her throat did not sound like her, did not sound like the warrior queen she had made a name for herself as, but she couldn't find it in herself to care.
Helene pressed her tongue against her entrance for a moment before curling upward, flicking her clit and circling it as steadily as her thumb had done before.
"Fuck," Kenna chocked out, hands reaching out to tangle themselves in the Captain's meticiously braided hair. "Fuck."
Helene's caresses were firm but gentle, driving Kenna into a frenzy. The heat in her belly was spreading, her clit pulsing with every touch of the other woman's strong, nimble tongue. It wouldn't take long, not like this.
Not with the wet, clicking sounds permeating the air whenever Kenna's hips twitched to press against Helene's lips and the scent of sex clouding her head.
She forced her eyes open so she could look down at the woman working tirelessly between her legs. Helene's eyes were closed as she tasted her, a barely noticable flush in her cheeks that hadn't been there before.
The thought that the Captain, powerful and steadfast and ever so unaffected, enjoyed servicing her…-
Kenna tightened her grip on Helene's head. And when she pulled, demandingly, and rocked her hips forward until the other woman's mouth and chin and lips were pressed tightly against her, not an inch of space between them, Helene made a sound in the back of her throat that shivered down Kenna's back in a delicious wave.
She held her there, clutched between her hands, and began to rock her hips – first slow, then fast and eager as Helene easily parted her lips and swirled her tongue in time with her thrusts, offering no reproach even as Kenna humped her face and stained it with wetness.
The sight of it, the Captain’s hooded eyes and flushed cheeks, now stained a noticable red, only spurred Kenna on further. She lifted one trembling leg, only made possible by the other woman’s hand that came up to assist her, and slung it over Helene’s shoulder to spread herself wider, to open herself further to the tongue gliding relentlessly against her, over her, inside her.
The heat in her belly was curling, centering, she could taste her release, just out of reach-
“More. Inside.” The order was little more than a choked-out plea, but Helene obeyed regardless and brought the hand that wasn’t cupped around Kenna’s thigh up and between her legs. She made no move to stop the ministrations of her tongue, and Kenna couldn’t keep her hips from rocking if she wanted to, but despite the cramped positioning, her first finger slid in with ease.
When she pushed a second one inside, up to the knuckle, Kenna groaned and lost her rhythm for a moment. Helene had broad, strong fingers, fitting with her palms, that curled roughly inside her and she struggled to jut her hips forward in the heady rush of pleasure that burst in the pit of her stomach.
For a moment she considered moving to find a position that would allow her to move more easily. To see if the Captain would mind if Kenna climbed atop her and over her face. The thought pushed her higher, damnably close now, but there was no opportunity to make it a reality as Helene took a hold of her behind and tugged her into a proper rhythm – pulling, pushing, encouraging her to ride her fingers.
Kenna’s grip on the other woman’s hair tightened. The combination drove her mad, now, thick fingers pressing inside her just as a smooth tongue swirled around her clit, a warm palm on her behind and dark brown eyes looking up at her from underneath lowered eyelashes.
Close now. So close.
Just one last push and she’d…
And just as she thought she couldn’t take anymore, Helene closed her lips around her clit to suck it into her mouth – soft, careful, too much and just enough to Kenna’s overstimulated body – and Kenna felt more than heard the keening noise building and, finally, tearing from her throat.
The tangled knot of heat and need in the pit of her stomach and between her legs came undone with a snap.
She moaned, or screamed, she couldn’t tell, but she knew she said Helene’s name – her given name, not her title – and she knew that the curses she released into the room would have made her mother very cross with her if she’d been still alive.
Thighs wrapping tight around the woman between her legs, Kenna put what little energy she had left into riding out her orgasm. Even in the haze of pleasure, she thought she could hear Helene groan against her, soft vibrations drawing out another set of delicious shivers down her spine.
She came back to herself gradually. First becoming aware of her harsh breathing in the otherwise still room, then the way she had screwed her eyes shut, then the ache in her fingers and thighs from holding on too tight.
Only when Helene withdrew her fingers did Kenna open her eyes to take her in.
A light sheen of sweat clung to the Captain’s brow and she was flushed, her throat moving in a harsh gulp that belied her proudly drawn back shoulders and the stern neutrality of her expression. Strands of hair clung to her face where Kenna’s fingers had pulled them from her now mussed braid.
“Thank you,” Kenna said with a slow exhale of breath. “That was…”
Relaxing. Pleasurable. Something she’d like to do again. None of the words and phrases seemed accurate for what had transpired, least of all because she felt shaky and pleasantly blank.
Helene did not call her out on her lack of eloquence and simply got to her feet in one smooth movement. Kenna found that she rather missed the warmth of her, now that the rapidly cooling air in the room brushed over her exposed lower half and served to make her shiver.
“Are you feeling calmer now, my Queen?”
The entirely new title, spoken in a voice just a pitch rougher and deeper than usual, was almost enough to wake Kenna’s sated need once again. It certainly made her ponder what else that voice might be brought to say and sound like.
But now was neither the place, nor the time.
“I am. I think I might…sleep well tonight.”
There was a buffer in her mind, it felt like, a haze that let every anxious thought bounce back into nothingness as soon as it made to appear. She was exhausted, but no longer felt like she wanted to jump out of her own skin. It was just exhaustion now, just something that would let her sink into her pillows and into a deep and undisturbed sleep.
“Very good. I was pleased to serve you.”
Their eyes met, just for a moment. Then the Captain bowed her head and made to leave, as if her cheeks weren’t still flushed, her appearance far more messy than anyone had ever seen it, as if Kenna wasn’t still slumped in her throne, half-naked and satisfied.
“Helene,” Kenna called. A gamble, perhaps, but she wasn’t a coward, and certainly not one to blush and shy away from an opportunity.
The other woman stopped, showing no sign of being thrown by the use of her given name. “Yes, your Majesty?”
“I may be Queen, but I’m not above returning a favour.”
“Is that so?”
Kenna shifted carefully, slinging one leg over the other in a gesture that both ignored and emphasized her nakedness. She was gratified to see a spark in darkening brown eyes.
“If you’d like to join me tomorrow in my quarters, I believe I might be able to show you.”
The ghost of a smile twitched at Helene’s lips – dry and somehow unpracticed, but there nontheless. “I am sworn to serve you, my Queen,” she said, a touch of shared amusement at the game they had somehow come to play in her tone.
This time, when the Captain turned to go, Kenna allowed herself to study her form as she walked away, a lazy sort of anticipation curling in her gut.
Yes, Kenna thought, she was going to sleep very well tonight.