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To my surprise, there was no retribution from the Roman soldiers with whom I had dealt. Indeed, life in Alexandria seemed to move into an almost charmed state; only Hypatia’s immunity to my hints about wanting her, prevented things from being perfect.
Stumpy was delighted that the work she and her women were doing with me had enabled me to protect Bella; Bella remained very happy to reward me for my help; and life in the Mouseion suited me very well. My skill as a scribe, and, once I had mastered it, the Greek, established me as a useful member of Hypatia’s team; and, she said, the account I had given of life in Britannia was most useful.
To say the sun always shone is simply a statement of life in Alexandria, but it also reflects my memories of that blissful time.
With Kirill won over by the Shroud, I was able to go back to Lesbos with the letters of Phoebe, and to tell Mother Junia about the thawing in relations with the Patriarchate. In fact, so easy did things become, that we were able to come and go between Lesbos and Alexandria without fear.
In the autumn, just as I had finished my scribe’s training, Hypatia told me there was a visitor who had a message for me. It was, as it transpired, the first portent of a chill which would lead to a frozen winter.
Charmian showed in an older man, heavily bearded, with the bearing of a merchant.
“I was told there would be a reward if I brought this to you.”
I handed him what I thought was a suitable sum, and dismissed him.
The package simply said: “Carwen/Mouseion.”
Upon opening it I began to tear up. It was from Merlin, but contained a note from my brother Artos, telling me that our father and mother were both dead, killed by marauding Saxons in a raid. I sat and cried.
I had been his “little shrimp,” and when even my mother and brothers had despaired of ever marrying me off or my being of any use to the family, he had loved me. To know he was dead, and that, this side of Heaven, I should never see him again, hurt. Should I have gone back with Merlin? I only had to read Merlin’s letter to know the answer.
“Artos has told you the news. They came while we were fighting in the West. Garrianonum was overwhelmed. If you had been there, you, too would be dead. Artos will avenge their deaths, but things here are bad. Even with the Greek fire, their numbers may be too many for us to resist. You were right. There was nothing you could have done. When I can, I shall let you know how we are.”
That was Merlin. Succinct and to the point.
I went to the Church and lit candles in their memory. It all seemed so long ago now and do far away. All that trouble to get here, all those deaths, and to so little avail. What, I wondered, was the point?
I raised that with Hypatia at lunch when I told her the news. She was, of course, full of condolences and sympathy.
“But Carwen, life is for living, and its point is that. Get what you can from it, and contribute what you can to it.”
“You have an answer for everything. But here is another question. What is life without love?”
“Do you mean love, Carwen, or do you mean sex?”
“The two can be linked,” I said. I would not have sex with Bella if I did not have feelings of love toward her.”
“But can you love and there be no sex? I have not seen you take an interest in men at all. Does that mean you are entirely Sapphic?”
Of all the things I had expected a conversation like this to lead to, this was the very last one.
“Entirely. And you?” I had to ask.
“I have been with men, I have been with women, it is the spirit, not the body which matters to me.”
“So, your not taking up any of the hints I have been pushing your way for months has nothing to do with my physique?”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth than I felt like withdrawing them. They were true, of course, but crudely expressed and almost pouting.
To my surprise, she smiled at me.
“It’s more, well, in part…”
Unusually for her, her words trailed away.
“You don’t like petite women?”
“It’s more that, well, what they tend to want conflicts with what I want.”
Suddenly the self-confident Hypatia seemed tongue-tied. Then a light went on, as though someone had lit a candle in my darkness. I thought I had nothing to lose, so ventured where instinct was taking me.
I looked at her.
“It has to be hard, Hypatia, all of this falling on your shoulders,” I said, gesturing around the whole complex of the Mouseion. “And even more so, given that you are, in effect, leading the effort to find a way between Kirill and Orestes, and that we are all looking to you for a lead.”
She looked at me; her eyes widened.
“There, must be,” I went on, “times when all you want is to let someone else make the decisions and kaçak iddaa to relax into them.”
As I said that, my eyes locked on hers. I saw a flicker. I was right. I knew it.
“So,” I said, standing and walking over to her, “petite women would simply add to that burden, wanting you to decide for them, to set the pace, the agenda.”
I put my hand under her chin and raised her face to mine, kissing her.
“So, if this petite barbarian were to tell you to take that kalasiris off and stand up in just your schenti, you’d do it, wouldn’t you?”
As though mesmerised, Hypatia stood and, divesting herself of her fine linen dress, stood in just the loincloth which hid her sex. Her breasts, which were pert and firm, attracted my attention; her nipples were dark red and stiff.
“Good girl! Now were I to tell you to put your hands behind your head open your legs wider, you’d want to do that, too, wouldn’t you?”
“Yes, yes, I would!” She said, almost breathless.
I stood, breast height and untied her schenti, letting it fall to the ground. The scent coming from her was unmistakable.
I kissed her nipples, first the right one, then the left one, licking each for a few seconds, before pushing my hand between her thighs and cupping her cunt.
“In fact,” I said, huskily, “I rather think my lady enjoys being taken control of by a petite woman, so much sexier than one your own size, isn’t it?”
Gasping from her arousal, and the pressure against her entrance from my finger, she whimpered her assent.
“So, a petite barbarian from the northern isles who took control of you and made you do what she wanted would be quite a different proposition from one who wanted you to set the agenda, right?”
As I said that, I pushed my middle finger into her gooey, sticky wetness. My palm could feel her clitoris as it pressed in.
“Yess, oh yess, yess!”
Even as I said those words, her knees seemed to buckle as she pressed onto my finger.
“Do you have a sapphic stick in your quarters?”
“Yes, Miss, I do.”
“Are there others about between here and there?”
“I don’t know Miss.”
“Well, as you are going to walk there now, you’d better hope that there aren’t.”
Hypatia gasped, but to my delight, nodded.
“But first, taste yourself,” I said, putting my finger to her lips. She looked at me, I saw the lust and the pleasure in her gaze.
She nodded before opening her mouth and sucking my fingers.
I pulled them out, patted her backside and we went to her quarters. We didn’t, as it happened, encounter anyone else, but the sense that we might clearly got to her, as when he checked her cunt, she was sopping wet.
“I am going to take you now, Hypatia.”
Still in her erotic daze she nodded, and without my having to say anything, she dropped to her hands and knees as I donned the phallic stick and its harness.
“I am going to mount you now!”
I heard a throaty gasp. followed by a “Yesssss!”
I knew what she needed.
Gently, but firmly, I pressed her head down and spread her legs before mounting her.
One hand on the small of her back, I adjusted the phallus with the other and knew when it was where she wanted it by the sudden thrust back.
“Oh fuckkkkk, yes, take me, take me, hard, fuck me, yess!”
I could hear how wet she was, and I pushed in deep and hard. The more I thrust, the more she pushed back. She wanted, no, she needed to be taken, and so I took her. Gripping her hips, I adjusted the angle and pressed in and out, pushing her forward so she could press back.
She almost fell forward as she balanced on one hand, her right hand having gone to her clit which she was rubbing.
Hypatia screamed, urging me to fuck her, and to take her, bucking back wildly until the inevitable climax, which was accompanied by a roar which must have been heard outside. Her whole body went into spasm. But I remained locked into her, waiting for her to come down from her high. As soon as I felt she was, I ploughed into her again, making her groan.
Unlike a man, a woman with a sapphic stick is limited only by the strength of her legs, and for Hypatia, I was prepared to go as far as I could. It was only after her third orgasm that I pulled out, making her moan, and turned her over, plunging into her again, but this time so I could kiss her lips.
“Would that have been the sort of thing you might have wanted if the petite barbarian had been of that persuasion?” I giggled, seeing her eyes light up.
“That, just, wow, just, where, oh, oh, Carwen.”
And she kissed me long and deep.
I pressed into her, and we lay, connected, letting the warm afternoon sun play on our sweat-drenched bodies.
She eventually kaçak bahis stopped kissing me long enough to ask:
“Oh, it was that memorable, was it? I shan’t bother next time.”
There was a second before she realised I was teasing when she looked horrified that she had offended me, and then she laughed.
“Memorable, it was the best fuck ever. No, what I meant was…”
“What you meant was how did I know? Or perhaps, assuming that like most petite women, I love to be told what to do, you imagined that was beyond me?”
“Both,” she said, honestly.
“I just sensed it!” I said, equally honestly. I had no further explanation, neither did I ever find one.
“If I’d known earlier,” I ventured, “I’d not have wasted so much time!”
“Maybe then we would not have had the connection we do now?”
There was a lot in what Hypatia said. By fencing round each other, uncertain but interested, we had, unconsciously been forging the link which had enabled us to do what we had just done.
I kissed her, moving my hips just enough to make her moan.
“I do like feeling you in me.”
“I noticed,” I grinned, before moving a little more, just for the pleasure of watching her reaction.
Eventually, if reluctantly, we realised that we would have to get back to whatever it was we were supposed to have been doing with what was left of the day.
Once we had dressed, Hypatia looked at me.
“I’d love more.”
“Good,” I said, “because I would, too.”
It became our secret.
The mere idea that the brilliant, powerful, and commanding Hypatia was in sexual submission to me would have been laughed out of court, even if anyone had made such a ludicrous suggestion – which, of course, made it all the more intense for her. As I got to understand her better, I realised that this was just one of the things that gave our affair the edge it did for her.
At the heart of it was her need for release, sexually and mentally. Everything in the Mouseion depended on her, she was the spider at the centre of the web, the ever-turning point of our perpetual-motion world and the cynosure of every eye. But in the bed chamber she wanted to be free to do what her lover wanted.
I could see how that could have gone wrong, and indeed, once we got close enough, she told me how it had gone badly wrong with a younger man to whom she had surrendered sexually. He had assumed that the bedchamber was the antechamber to the rest of her life instead of a place set apart from it, and had attempted to interfere with her work. That had led to a breakdown in their relations. Then there had been the man who assumed that because she was submissive in bed, that gave him license to beat her. Last, had been the man who took what was suitable for the private sphere into the public arena where he called her his “bitch.” That had ended matters.
It was, I reflected, no wonder that she had clammed up. And in truth, I could see how the men had made their mistakes. My problem, I explained to her, would be almost the opposite – which is that because I was falling in love with her, the idea of making her do things ran counter to my desire to please her. At least it had done, before I realised that what pleased her was my telling her what to do!
What made it work for us, where others had failed, was that I knew, by instinct, the rules of the game. In the bedroom, Hypatia was passive, she was mine, and she trusted my love not to take her to places of harm; I reciprocated that trust. As our games continued, so the trust grew. She knew two things: that I loved her, and that when our games were over, I would always hold her and bring her back, with love, to where she needed to be; and that what took place in the privacy of our bedchamber, stayed there.
It was a genuine privilege to explore her desires. Soon after our affair began, she asked me what I wanted, and I was able, with a smile, to say: “to please you.”
“But you could do whatever you wanted with me,” Hypatia whispered, looking almost puzzled.
“I do,” I replied. “I want to see you satisfied and happy, and that is what satisfies me.”
“You are a puzzle,” she said.
I could see why that might be for her, but also know that was what made us work. I had a suspicion that if my focus had been on my own pleasure, then our affair would have swiftly run its course. However much she felt that she wanted to be used sexually, I knew Hypatia enough to know that had she been left unsatisfied, then the bonds that bound us would have frayed. As it was, they were renewed every time by the pleasure I gave her, and the joy I got from that.
Bella was the only one who ever noticed anything.
One evening, drinking after dinner, she asked whether I’d noticed anything about Hypatia.
“Such as?” illegal bahis I asked, noncommittally.
“I could not help notice when we shared showering facilities after exercising that he backside looked as though it had been recently spanked. And having heard noises coming from your chamber this morning, wondered if that had anything to do with it?”
She looked amused.
“You mustn’t,” I began.
“I shan’t,” she continued, “but it would explain why she’s been looking like a woman who is being well fucked frequently. You, Carwen, are a dark horse.”
“Jealous?” I asked, to deflect things.
“No, you give your big-tittied Bella a good fucking too, so I have no complaints. I just wonder sometimes about you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, I don’t think you are entirely dominant, are you?”
I smiled at her.
“I think, my darling, that I am a chameleon, or something else that takes the colour of her environment. With you, and with Hypatia, I take a lead because I like the pleasure it gives you.”
“But what about you?” She asked.
“I can only tell you what I told Hypatia, which is that my deepest and most abiding satisfaction is in giving you pleasure.”
Bella leaned in and kissed me full on the lips.
“You know, Carwen, you are the perfect submissive dominant, happiest when giving others pleasure because they have no choice but to let you.”
There was much, if not everything, in Bella’s formulation.
The next few months until the Liturgy of the Nativity passed peacefully. I had hoped for more news from Merlin, but there was none. Kirill remained satisfied with my help and made no further trouble for the Junian church or for the Mouseion. He had enough on his hands with the Governor’s attempts to enforce law on the church. On Lesbos, calm reigned, and Stumpy and I moved freely between there and Alexandria.
Privately, Hypatia and I explored the erotic labyrinth we had opened. It transpired that one of her very favourite things was to be my slave girl, and so we would play a scenario where I would buy her at auction.
That involved had standing naked before me while I examined “the goods.” She loved it when I ordered her to turn and bend so I could explore her “holes”. It would make her so wet when I told her to hold her “tits” out for inspection, and made comments about them as I caressed and kissed them. I would, to her delight, have her exhibit herself shamelessly.
After taking her hard, as she needed, I would then make love to her and bring her back to an equilibrium.
Others noticed a change in her mood. She was certainly less tense and less likely to lose her temper, and she also slept better, at least those nights when we were not playing together. Across the months we worked out ways in which Hypatia could get the release she needed, and the love she wanted. Even Stumpy, not the most perceptive of observers, commented to me:
“Do you suppose our Hostess is getting laid? She seems less skittish. It’s usually a sign you know!”
I feigned ignorance, to Bella’s delight. But it was Hypatia’s secret, and important that it was kept. I was delighted, however, to see how much happier she became.
One of the things I missed about Britannia were the seasons. Egypt appeared to have only two – a cooler period between Advent and Easter, and then a hot period the rest of the time. Even the winter was not what anyone from the northern climes would have called cold. One got used to it, but it also tended to induce a kind of complacency, even a lassitude, so when, as happened from time to time, the Nile flooded, everyone seemed to be taken by surprise.
Indirectly, it was such a flood which marked the first stage of a tidal wave that would engulf us – and my happiness.
After Easter there was a flood. The Roman authorities dealt with the consequences, but one of Kirill’s “monks”, a hermit called Peter, started to proclaim that this was a sign of the wrath of God. When a fire broke out in the poorest districts of the city, Peter was loud in claiming it as another sign of Divine displeasure.
As far as I could work out, Kirill’s more extreme supporters were getting impatient with his refusal to press the Governor over the boundaries between God and Mammon. Always sensitive to such claims, Kirill began to harden his line, and when, as was inevitable, Peter was arrested by the authorities, Kirill denounced the Governor, Orestes, and tensions began to mount.
In the middle of that, Peter, after his release, began to use the square outside the Mouseion to preach his message of repentance. This brought some pretty undesirable “monks” into uncomfortably close contact with us, and began to focus Peter’s attention on us.
Such “pagans” were, he claimed, an affront to God and needed to be dealt with.
What needed to be dealt with was Peter, but as the heat of the summer increased, it became ever clearer that was not going to happen. By July, it began to feel as though we were just waiting for something to happen. Then it did.
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