Gideon Nav knelt on the cold stone floor and thought about what she’d done. She had gone too far tonight, she knew, had pushed her mistress too hard. It wasn’t the first time. It wouldn’t be the last. Probably it was the sixth house blonde who’d been the final straw, all shiny and starched in her cohort whites and so very willing to let Gideon’s hand drift down to the round curve of her arse while they danced, in full view of Harrowhark Nonagesimus, who had watched, and seethed, and plotted her revenge. It was her revenge that Gideon was subject to now, as she knelt, naked but for the collar of bone around her throat, and the tracking cuff on her left ankle, the metal cold and heavy and inescapable. A reminder of what she was. Of who she belonged to.
The party had ended maybe an hour ago, or, rather, Harrowhark, dark, imperious, beautiful, awful Harrowhark had stood up from her chair an hour ago, the skirts of her robe swirling with calculated drama, and strode away. And Gideon had let go of the sixth house blonde and followed. The faithful dog following after. Or, to put it another way, she had made it clear to everyone else in that room, everyone who hadn’t known already, that when it came down to it, Gideon Nav was Harrowhark Nonagesimus’ bitch.
And now here she was, waiting, waiting, waiting, dull to the pain in her knees, too aware of the slight constriction of the collar. Waiting for Harrowhark to come back, and give her what she needed. To own her. To take her. To touch her. Her body was as much a traitor in this craving as her mind. She was already wet, already slick with anticipation, already feeling the thump thump thump of her heartbeat as blood pulsed through her and made her clit ache with the same need that had nestled somewhere deep in her soul, and which would not now let her go.
She remembered the first time, when the fighting, the constant warring had become this, when Harrowhark had pinned her down in the goddamn corridor with shackles of bone and cartilage and used Gideon’s own knife to cut open her shirt. She remembered the bored, dispassionate expression on Harrowhark’s face, and the dark satisfaction behind her eyes, as she had pinched and caressed Gideon’s nipples, which had made her gasp and moan and arch into the touch whether she wanted to or not. She hadn’t stopped there. She had slid her long fingers in and out of Gideon, had done something to her, something flesh magic, maybe, to keep her on the very edge of an orgasm for what felt like an eternity. Until Gideon had broken. Until Gideon had begged. Until Gideon had called her my lady, and promised anything, anything if only she could come. And Harrow had let her, had broken her there on the floor of that corridor, had made her come undone over and over.
Then she had left Gideon, trembling and shaking and crying, in her ruined clothes, curled up on the floor.
And a week later, Harrowhark Nonagesimus had made Gideon Nav her cavalier.
Between then and now there had been too many times to count. Too many times, and not enough. There had been wordless fumbling in the dark, Harrowhark directing Gideon’s hands and fingers and mouth and tongue where she wanted it, long fingers tangling in Gideon’s red hair as she pushed and pulled. There had been fights, which had ended with Gideon on her back, Gideon on her knees, Gideon on all fours, whatever Harrowhark wanted. And then there had been the provocations. Harrowhark Nonagesimus did not like other people touching her things. She especially did not like other people touching her cavalier. Gideon had learned that early on, had learned how a little frustration could bring Harrow to this mood, this wonderful terrible mood, where she would turn Gideon into her plaything, and after, if Gideon was very lucky, she might be forgiven for her transgressions.
Which was how they had come to this. Gideon, kneeling and waiting, and Behind Gideon, positioned where she could not quite see, the door swinging open. She could hear the sound of Harrowhark’s boots against the stone, ringing clear as a bell, as her mistress stepped into the room.
She knew just where to stand, just where Gideon couldn’t see her, just where her presence would make the hairs on the back of Gideon’s neck stand up, just where it would make that shiver of terrible anticipation run down her spine and sink into the heat between her legs.
“You took your time,” Gideon said, because there was a rhythm to these things, rituals and steps that had to be observed.
In response, Harrowhark tightened the collar of bone around Gideon’s neck, cutting off her air supply. She held it there, so that Gideon was not quite choking, but gasping for every breath, utterly helpless, as she walked around to stand before her. She was still dressed in those long, black robes, with the silver and gold ornamented corset of bone overlaid, and gleaming in the low light. She had taken off her veil, but still wore her paint. She always wore her paint for this.
Casually, lazily, as if she were not currently choking her cavalier, Harrowhark slid a bone ring from her finger, and tossed it to the floor, where it unfurled and grew into a white throne. She settled herself into it as Gideon’s head began to spin, perfectly disinterested.
She let it carry on for a moment longer, seconds that could have been an eternity, while she sat, adjusted her skirts, rearranged the way her jewellery lay. Then, just as casually as she had tightened the collar, she released it.
Gideon collapsed forward onto her hands and knees, gasping for the air that hit her lungs, cool and wonderful, and stopped her head from spinning. Harrowhark watched. She didn’t smile. She didn’t smirk. She didn’t so much as raise an eyebrow. Instead, she said “I do not recall giving you permission to move, Nav.”
And Gideon, who would once have done anything but obey her lady, forced herself to straighten up, returning her hands to their resting place behind her back. But she said, “fuck yourself, Nonagesimus,” as she did it, as though it would make any difference at all.
Harrowhark leant forward, and slapped her across the face. It wasn’t painful. It didn’t even sting. It was nothing but a gesture of lazy contempt, and that hurt a thousand times more than a real blow would have done.
“You forget your place, Griddle,” she said, in that soft, cold voice of hers, the one that made Gideon’s skin tingle and shiver. “You are mine. All of you is mine, do you understand? You are chattel. Your body is mine. Your soul is mine.” And then she smiled, sharp as a knife and just as beautiful, and said “Your sword is mine.”
“I’m not your fucking slave,” Gideon said, and wondered if that was even true anymore.
“Oh, but you are,” Harrowhark leant forward and caressed Gideon’s cheek, running delicate fingers over the hard line of her jaw. “One flesh, one end. Remember? You are sworn to me. Sworn to obedience. What else would you be?”
If Gideon had ever had an answer for that, she had forgotten it long ago. It would have vanished from her mind anyway, at the feeling of soft fingers against her skin, and God, she hated herself for that.
“Precisely,” Harrowhark smiled again, her dark eyes gleaming. “You let other people tough my property, Nav. So it seems to me that you need a reminder of what precisely your role here is. a reminder of what you are.” As she spoke, her hand slid over Gideon’s cheek so that fingers could tangle in wild red hair, and pull Gideon forward, forward, onto her hands and knees, her face level now with Harrowhark’s thighs. “If you can remember that your job is to serve me, and if you can do that job properly… I might not punish you too harshly.”
Gideon barely heard the words, only the soft, gloating tone of the voice, and the sharp edge of command beneath them, because she was looking forward, numb to the pain in her scalp, to where Harrowhark, with her free hand, was pulling up the long skirt of her robes, to reveal long legs, the skin a soft bronze, pale from lack of sunlight, and a delicate nest of dark curls. Hiding what Gideon wanted most of all.
She wasn’t sure, in the end, if it was Harrowhark who pulled her forward, or if she had crawled there herself, and buried herself in the soft, silky wetness between her Lady’s thighs, tongue working frantically as she sought the sensitive nub of Harrowhark’s clit, desperate to please, to satisfy, to placate before retribution came. She was not fast enough. She was never fast enough.
Sensations, pain and pleasure and heat, tore through Gideon’s body as Harrowhark lit every one of her nerve endings on fire, sending wave after wave of stimulation through her. it was as though there were a hundred, a thousand hands, all pinching, stroking, grabbing, caressing, tormenting, teasing, and yet the only hand on her was Harrowhark’s, still gripping her hair. Gideon moaned into her mistress’ cunt, then sobbed, then kept licking, tongue thrusting in and out in that way Harrowhark seemed to like, trying to make it stop, trying to keep it from stopping. She could hear breaths coming in soft gasps and gentle moans above her as Harrowhark relished in the gentle pleasure Gideon gave her.
In the beginning, she hadn’t been able to play with Gideon’s senses while being touched herself. They had built up to that, or, Harrowhark had, playing with Gideon time and again until she knew her cavalier’s body as well as her own. Now, Gideon could feel her own thighs, slick with desperation as she teetered on the brink of an orgasm that she knew would not come, the deprivation at once painful and wonderful, her head swimming. She was mumbling pleas, begging for release, or perhaps they were only moans. Harrowhark huffed out a laugh, a short, contemptuous sound cut off by a moan of her own, and did not relent.
No matter how enthusiastically Gideon licked and suckled, as she coaxed Harrowhark to a climax of her own, the task made so much harder without her hands and fingers to help, she was only ever held more firmly in place, her arms and legs unable to obey her, unable to do anything but keep trying to earn release. The sensations tormenting Gideon were as hands tonight, hands pinching a nipple here, brushing over her clit there, inside her, rubbing at the sensitive cluster of her g-spot, and all the while the collar, that damn collar contracted around her throat, so that she had to gasp and strain for every breath, so that her immobile, frozen limbs would be slow to respond even if Harrowhark lost control, so that her body, on the edge of panic, felt every sensation a thousand times more keenly than if she had been unrestrained.
After a short, desperate eternity, she felt her head wrenched back to look up at Harrowhark. Gideon’s chin and cheeks were slick with Harrow’s cum, the taste of it filling her mouth. She panted for air as the collar slackened just a little, head spinning, heart pounding, and the rush of sensation lessened just a little, just enough to allow her to think.
“Speak,” Harrowhark ordered, tightening her grip on Gideon’s hair as she spoke, sending a searing pain through her scalp.
“Please, Nonagesimus” the words tumbled form Gideon in a desperate, breathless litany. “Please, no more, I can’t… please.”
Harrowhark sighed, and shook her head. “You aren’t paying attention, Griddle,” disappointment, tinged with a gleeful malice, dripped from her words. “This isn’t just punishment, this is atonement. You failed to respect me. Until you learn to apologise for that, your punishment does not end. Do you understand?”
“I’m sorry, Nonagesimus,” Gideon gasped out the words, and knew even as she spoke them that they were a lie. She had made this happen. She had needed it. She could not honestly say that she was sorry it had worked. “Please.”
She no longer even knew what she was asking for. For it to be over? For it to carry on? All she knew was that Harrowhark, a hint of bitten red lip visible through her inscrutable mask of paint, was smirking down at her.
“Your attitude is improving, Griddle,” was all she said, before she pushed her cavalier’s head downward once again, and the overpowering, overwhelming stimulation began again, and the collar began to draw tighter. Gideon was sobbing now, she knew it as if she were watching herself come undone, rather than because she felt it. She felt so much, now, so much that she could not distinguish one sensation from another, so much that the pleasure was itself now pain, and God help her, but after all these months she still didn’t know whether she even liked this. It was just that she could no longer imagine living without these moments, when Harrowhark’s whole being was focussed so totally on Gideon that the rest of the world seemed to cease to exist.
If Harrowhark came again, Gideon didn’t know it. She had lost all ability to hold a thought, her mind swimming in the blank haze of desperate overstimulation. A tiny part of her knew that, without Harrowhark’s control, her arms and legs would no longer have the strength to hold her up, and was almost grateful for the immobilising force that held her. Harrowhark released Gideon’s hair, and dropped her robes back down to cover herself, only the slightest flaw in her paint where she had bitten her lip giving any indication that she had done anything more strenuous that sit there.
“Well,” Harrowhark sounded just a little out of breath, just a little overwrought. “Have you learned your lesson, Griddle? Or do you need further instruction?”
Gideon could not speak. She tried, tried to promise that she had learned, tried to say that it would not happen again, but all that came out was a broken sound, not quite a sob, not quite a moan. The tiny part of her that still had its sanity wanted to scream. But that had been the part that had stayed silent even as she had obeyed Harrowhark’s order to undress and get on her knees, so it didn’t get a vote now. It was just as to blame as the rest of her for all of this.
Harrowhark smiled, a smile of genuine satisfaction. Of triumph. “Yes,” she said. “That’s what I thought.”
And she released her hold on Gideon’s nervous system. An orgasm, long overdue, desperately needed and almost painful in its intensity tore through Gideon as her arms gave way and she collapsed onto the cool stone at Harrow’s feet, a ragged, broken cry falling from her lips, and tears from her eyes. She lay there, twitching, trembling, shaking, gasping, as the collar at her throat fell away to dust, leaving her bereft. Harrowhark stood up, the hem of her robes brushing against Gideon’s oversensitive skin. From somewhere above Gideon, the necromancer’s voice drifted down.
“Be quiet when you clean yourself up,” she said. “I’m going to bed.”
And then she was gone.
Gideon did not know how long she lay there for, waiting to come back to herself. She knew that the room was dark by the time she could move again, by the time she could find a rag to wipe herself clean, and a glass of water to sooth her parched throat. She moved as quietly as she could, cleaning her face, washing the sweat from her body with cold water, all too aware of the soft sounds of Harrowhark’s breathing where they came from the large bed on the far side of the room.
Once she was clean, and recovered as much as she could be, Gideon made her way toward that bed, legs trembling. Her own cot was at the foot of it, and she climbed into it, curling up between the sheets. As she drifted toward sleep, she did not let herself remember how she had once balked at being placed here, at her Necromancer’s feet. It was one of many things that she no longer thought about. It was easier to accept it that way.