This story comes with a challenge. Josan, my beta, during the course of her first read sent a re-written paragraph to me that I liked so much I used it. I offer a specially written story to the first person to find her paragraph. The winner will give me a situation, who is in it and if it should fit in my existing universes or create a new one. Good luck guys.

Title: Regression (Constantinople the First Crusade)
Author: Peach
Email address:
Fandom: X-Files
Pairings: Skinner/Krycek
Warnings: This story contains explicit m/m sex. If these things bother you *GO AWAY NOW*
Master/slave relationship.
I have been asked to do a few stories about those regression tapes I mentioned in His Master's Voice. This is the second.
Rating: NC17
Date: 07/16/01
Archive: DitB, RatB. SKSA. Others just ask.
Disclaimer: The characters of Skinner, Krycek, Scully, and Mulder and the X-Files belong to Chris Carter, 1013 Productions and the Fox Network. No copyright Infringement is intended no money is being made.
Summary: Memories of past lives
NOTES: Thanks to Josan as always for her support, she's been a rock for me in more ways than one. Also thanks to Charl for the history lesson. It was never my best subject, so any deviation from actual events is entirely my fault. I must thank them both for nudging me in this direction next. Hope the rest of you enjoy the result.

My cousin, the Emperor, had insisted that I attend this dinner he was giving for yet another group of those smelly, unwashed, ignorant men from god knew where. I was so bored with this influx of foreigners.  But, my presence was requested, so I dressed in my best and left my chambers to attend.

I was seated at the table near my cousin where I could look over the rabble. I asked the servant who was at my side for the name of the leader of the group who would be arriving soon. I was told his name was Duke Robert of Normandy. A name I had heard, his father William being well known in much of the world. I waited, expecting the same boredom as normal.

Little did I know that it would be a life changing night.

The Duke was announced and I looked up, curious to see this man who would succeed his father if he lived through the coming campaign. At least he was better dressed than most. He turned and gestured and my boredom flew away.

A tall, powerfully built man entered the room to join the Duke. He stood head and shoulders above most of his companions. His shoulders broad, muscles rippling under the rough clothing he wore. His hairline was receding, which made me take him to be older than the Duke. A judgment that would prove untrue when I saw him closer. He stood proud beside his Duke, telling me that he was related or a close advisor.

I motioned for the servant to come forward. "Find out who the big man is and where he is housed."

Things were definitely no longer boring. I watched as my cousin spoke with the Duke about his troops and saw that he referred many of the questions to his big companion. So, not just an advisor but probably an officer. His voice when he spoke was deep, commanding and went straight to my crotch.

When the servant returned, he leaned to whisper in my ear.

"Master, the big man is Sir Walter of Normandy. He is a distant relative of the Duke. His shield carries a bar sinister. It is reported that he is respected for his leadership in battle. He does not just issue commands and watch his men die, he fights at their side. One man said he is such a fierce warrior that none dare disobey for fear of his anger. They also say that the Duke looks on him almost as a brother."

"And where is he housed?"

"The Emperor gave them housing just inside the palace gates."

"Good. Wait for him to return to his housing and bring him to me."

I turned my attention back to the meal in front of me as my cousin raised an eyebrow at me. I smiled, turned to look at Sir Walter, and turned back to look at my cousin. He frowned slightly at me before turning his attention back to the Duke.

I spent the rest of the meal watching Sir Walter. I noticed that his hands were big, strong but well cared for. The nails were short and clean. So, a man who washed more than once a year. He would probably enjoy my bath and it was a perfect excuse. Calling another servant to my side, I gave instructions for the bath to be readied. Telling him also to note what the big man liked.

When the meal had been eaten, my cousin motioned for me to join him. I moved forward to the seat that had been vacated for me next to him.

"Alexius, this is Duke Robert of Normandy and his cousin Sir Walter of Normandy. Duke Robert, Sir Walter, this is my cousin and advisor also named Alexius. He holds a rank of general in my army and the title of Nobilissimus."

I made a slight bow to the Duke and extended my hand in a warrior's gesture of alliance to Sir Walter. He looked surprised but took my extended hand in return. I trailed my fingers over his forearm and down to his palm as we pulled back from the grip of our hands. His eyes widened but that was the only outward sign he made.

My cousin indicated that we were to be seated and the night's entertainment began. My cousin was quite fond of showing off the abilities of our musicians, singers, and dancers. I noticed the Duke was quite pleased with the displays. Sir Walter stayed aloof from the proceeding. Although, once when I looked his way, I found him watching me. His eyes shifted quickly back to the dancers.

I felt the Emperor's hand on my sleeve and leaned toward him. "Alexius, I think you should forget this one. The Normans do not look on sex as freely as we do. You try something with him and you may get hurt. I'd hate to alienate the Duke by having to kill his knight."

"Cousin, don't you think I can handle myself with him?"

"He's a big man. I saw him practicing with his sword earlier. He swings that heavy weapon as if it were weightless. He could break you easily. I've heard as well that he has a hot temper."

"Don't worry. He wants what I have to give him, he just doesn't know it yet."

I raised my eyes to look over his shoulder to see Sir Walter watching me again. This time his eyes locked with mine. I used my tongue to wet my lips slowly and smiled at the way his eyes tracked the movement. He pulled in a ragged breath and turned to watch the dancers again.

I was now impatient for the evening to end but pleased with how often I found Sir Walter's eyes turned my way. Once my cousin retired with Duke Robert for some private counsel, I retired to my chambers to prepare for what I was sure would be an enjoyable night.


I had come to Constantinople with my cousin, Duke Robert, more because I was restless than for any hope of glory. I was a widower in no hurry to remarry.

Sex for me was always quick, with some whore near the many places my sword took me. And then not often, as I did not seem to need the release as often as some men do. Most women seemed to find my size frightening so that too detracted from the experience.

Dinner with the Emperor had been an eye opening experience. His palace was opulent, having rich marble floors, beautiful multicoloured rugs here and there for warmth, brightly coloured frescos, finely carved statues of mythical beasts and beautiful men.

And the clothing everyone wore, why even the servants were better dressed than most of the royalty of my homeland.

I was surprised when the Emperor's cousin extended his hand to me, even more surprised when his fingers trailed softly over my arm and palm as we released the hold. As I tried to watch the evening's entertainment, my eyes were drawn again and again to him. My hand still tingled from his touch. Each time I brought my hand near my face, I could smell his delicate scent, far more subtle and enticing than the others in the room.

I could not tell much about his body under the clothing he wore but his face was as delicate as any woman. His eyes a vivid green that would make an emerald jealous. Eyelashes so long when he blinked they fluttered as butterflies on his cheeks. His lips the soft pink normally only seen on newborn babes.

At one point our eyes met over the Emperor's shoulder and I couldn't look away as he slowly licked his lips, while his eyes sparkled at me. I drew in a deep ragged breath when I realized that my cock had hardened as he smiled at me.

I wasn't sure what was happening. I had never reacted this way to anyone in my life. Certainly never a man! I was very glad my cousin's attention was on the entertainment. He always read me far too well and questions were the last thing I wanted at this time.

I was very glad when the evening ended, wanting only to find my bed and the release my hand could bring me.

That was not to be.

A servant was waiting outside the room I had been given. He jumped to his feet and bowed to me.

"Sir, my master requests that you visit him in his chambers. If you will come with me, I will take you there."

"And who is your master?"

"Nobilissimus Alexius, sir."

"Please offer my apologies to your master. I am far too tired and wish to seek my rest."

"Please, noble sir, do not send me back with that message. I will be killed if I return without you."

"He would kill you for *my* refusal? Is your master that cruel?"

"My master is very kind because I never disobey him. Are servants not punished for disobedience in your country?"

"Yes, they are. But beaten, not killed. I will come with you."

I followed him back the way I had just come, noting a few curious looks from the men as I walked back toward the palace. Instead of leading me in the way I had entered earlier, he led me to a smaller entrance on the east side of the palace. We traversed a series of hallways that had me hopelessly confused and finally arrived at a doorway. He knocked politely and the door was opened by another servant. Bowing, he left me there as the other servant stood aside for me to enter.

"Noble sir, if you will follow me, I will show you where you may undress. The master is waiting for you in the bathing chamber."

"Now wait a minute. I did not come here to join your master in his bathing chamber. I was asked to come here and I am here but I will not be undressing. Tell your master I will attend him tomorrow, since he is obviously not ready for guests."

"Sir Walter, I thought you might find our bathing methods restful after a day of practicing your skills for battle."

I turned toward the sound of that deep almost raspy voice, my cock thickening with desire. He was standing in the archway, naked, gleaming with the water that was running down his body. None of the statues in the palace could have competed with him.

His body of the same height as mine but lighter. Defined muscles but not heavy like mine. The swords used by his people being lighter required less mass to wield. My eyes tracked down to see his cock lying heavy against his thigh. I jerked my eyes back up to his face to find a slight grin there.

All my attention was on the beautiful naked man standing both too close and too far from me. Had I turned at that moment and run, I might have escaped but I doubt it.

I was well and truly his from that moment forward.

His hand raised, open and beckoning. I held out my hand and let him lead me to his bathing chamber. I stood quietly as his skilful servants undressed me. Followed him to the pool. Accepted the goblet of wine he gave me before dismissing the servants with a wave of his hand.


I heard Sir Walter's voice and, by the tone, I knew I would have to intervene. My servant would not withstand the heat I heard. I rose quickly from the pool and went to the archway. He was standing with his back to me, his stance giving away his anger. I have been told many times that my voice has a lasting impact on people, especially when I let it dip into the deeper range.

"Sir Walter, I thought you might find our bathing methods restful after a day of practicing your skills for battle."

He turned toward me where I stood casually naked, water still running down my body. I suppressed the smile that wanted to grace my mouth. No, gloating would not be the best way to seduce this man. I moved my hand as if rubbing my thigh, knowing a warrior would automatically track any movement. It had the desired effect of drawing his eyes down to my crotch.

I couldn't entirely suppress my good humour as his eyes jerked back up to my face, but I kept it to a slight grin.

I held out my hand and he placed his in it. He stood unresisting as the servants undressed him. I was pleased to see the beginning of his arousal. He flushed but made no move to cover himself. He sank into the pool with a sigh as the warmth of the water covered his body. I pressed a goblet of strong wine in his hand and settled next to him in the pool.

"Do you like this, Sir Walter? Is the perfume pleasing to you?"

"The water feels very nice. As for the scent, my men will probably laugh themselves silly when they whiff me."

"We are very conscious of body odours here. We bathe often. In my case, daily when I am at home. I prefer to have a clean body, especially when I make love."

He didn't meet my eyes as he spoke hesitantly. "Is it true then, what I hear about the men here?"

"What have you heard, Sir Walter?"

"I think since we're sitting naked together in a pool you may call me Walter. Do men lie together here? I've heard that it is acceptable for men to have sex together in your culture."

"Yes, it is accepted. Encouraged by some. A man will fight harder in battle if he fights at his lover's side."

"And you practice this?"

"When I find someone attractive and he is willing, yes. I find the tight passage of a man far more pleasurable than entering a woman."

At this his eyes met mine. I could almost hear the thoughts passing in his mind. Even in the least repressed cultures, most men are willing to penetrate but being penetrated is seen as weak. I had not expected him to ask such direct questions. Although I was not displeased that he had. Better to have him know what I wanted then to get going and have him panic. As my cousin had said, he was big and could harm me.

He was quiet a long time, sitting just sipping his wine. When he spoke again, I was surprised at the question.

"Do you ever allow a man to take his pleasure in your body?"

I looked into his eyes seeking to know why he asked this but they were calm, steady, with no information to be had. Something in his straightforward manner made me want him all the more. I wasn't sure why, since he was so different from the type of man I usually wanted in my bed.

I normally bedded men whom I knew I could best physically. Men who were smaller than me. Pretty boys actually. Boys who were well versed in the ways of pleasing a man.

Now, I wanted to bed this man. A man I would need to train to please me. A man I *wanted* to please.

"No. I've never allowed anyone that privilege. Does that make you less inclined to see where this could lead?"

"So, I was not invited here merely to enjoy the bathing facilities?"

"You are the first man to share my bath. My lovers normally come to me from their own baths."

"Normans are a filthy breed? I needed cleaning before using, is that it?"

"Most of your countrymen smell, Walter. You do not. But then it is obvious that you are far different than most of your countrymen."

"It is, is it? That's good to know. Is that why you thought I might be agreeable to sharing your bed? That is why you asked me here, isn't it?"

His eyes held mine, waiting. I smiled at him then, the smile most people never see. I moved closer to him reaching to find his already erect cock. I pushed the foreskin back and ran my thumb over and around the glans. His head dropped back, eyes closing, as a low groan escaped his throat. I dropped my mouth to his throat and bit lightly.

His hand closed around my wrist in a tight grip. I kept my thumb moving slowly as I waited to see what he would do. His eyes opened, filled with lust and something I couldn't quite figure out.

"I've never done anything like this. I've only bedded whores and not many of those. My size scares most women."

I squeezed his cock gently, "Your size pleases me. Allow me to show you the pleasures of my bed. The pleasure no woman could ever give to you."


I released his wrist and was rewarded with another one of those dazzling smiles. A part of my mind asked what the hell was I doing? The primal part that knows only rutting shoved the inquiring part down deep. When he stood and offered his hand, I took it willingly, allowing him to lead me trailing water behind us to his bed.

His arms wrapped around me as he kissed me for the first time. Whores don't need to be courted with kisses so kissing was not a skill I had acquired. His mouth was as sweet as honey and as soft as a kitten's fur.

When his tongue sought entrance to my mouth, I opened willingly. His tongue mapped every tooth and the contour of my mouth. When his tongue withdrew, I followed it with my own. He made a growling sound deep in his throat and sucked gently, pulling it deeper in him.

When he pulled back to let us breathe, I noticed that his eyes were a deeper green than before. He smiled as his fingers trailed up over my ribs to fondle then pinch my nipples. I had never thought of my nipples as being a source of pleasure but my back arched of its own volition to keep contact with his strong fingers. When he bent his head to take one in his mouth, I nearly screamed. It felt as though my nipple was directly connected to my cock.

My cock was harder then it had ever been. His every touch adding to the fire. When he worked his way down my body and pulled my cockhead into his mouth, I did scream. I exploded in his mouth and blushed with shame that I had come so quickly and easily for him. His only response was to lick me clean then kiss and suck his way back up my body.

His voice was a low throaty purr next to my ear, "You taste good."

"My lord, I'm sorry. I don't usually….."

"Shhhh. We have all night. I'm going to make this so good for you. I'm going to make you forget anyone else has ever touched you."

I had never been so out of control in my life. His every touch, every word, every kiss pulling me deeper into his web. I had never known such lust, such fire. He played my body until he had me hard again. I went readily onto to my stomach when he whispered for me to turn over.

He moved away from me then and I moaned at the loss of contact. One hand reached back to soothe me. I tensed as he straddled my legs. One strong hand rubbed gently over my ass, as his voice coated me with honey.

"Easy, Walter. I need to get you ready for me. I don't want to cause you any pain."

One knee pushed between my legs and I spread my thighs for him. I clutched a pillow to me as he kissed down my spine, leaving a trail of fire behind. I bucked when his tongue ran down over my hole. I whimpered when he sucked first one then the other of my balls into his mouth, laving them with his tongue. He moved back up to thoroughly lick my hole until I was on the verge of screaming again.

I was so relaxed from all his oral attention that I barely registered when the first finger entered me. The second got my attention as it brought with it a slight burning. His mouth found a spot on my throat that I never knew existed and I forgot the fingers as the new sensation took all my attention.

The third finger brought a sharp jolt as he found yet another spot I didn't know I had. At my groan of pleasure, he twisted his fingers to rub the spot again.

"Feels good, doesn't it?"

I sucked in enough breath to hiss "Yesssss," as he rubbed harder on that spot. The logical part of my mind tried to awaken again. By the Virgin's sweet blood, was I giving this man control? I was bigger, stronger, and older. If anyone was going to be used here, it should be me using him.

But there was something so familiar about him, about this. From the moment I had looked in his eyes, felt his hand gripping my arm, I knew. I *was* his. I *had* always been his. I *would* always be his. Size, strength, age, none of those things mattered. All that mattered was now, this moment in time.

The fingers slipped out and I growled. I heard his soft chuckle.

"I think you are ready. Just need some oil, to ease the way."

He shifted and I felt the warm oil trickle down over my hole to my balls. Then I felt *him* pushing against me. My muscles tensed. His voice instructed me to take a deep breath. Felt the burn as he breached my virgin body. His mouth sucking on my throat again.

The pain followed by the most intense pleasure I had ever known. His harsh breathing in my ear as he pumped in and out of my body. I arched up to meet each thrust, whimpering, moaning, wanting it to last forever.

He pulled me onto my knees without pulling out of me. One hand worked my cock as the other pinched a nipple. He was thrusting harder, going deep inside me, his balls slapping hard against me. I felt as though he were trying to split me in two. I would have suffered that gladly as long as he kept giving me this exquisite pleasure.

"Come for me, Walter. Now!" His harsh voice sending a shiver down my spine as I shot my seed onto the bed below me.

He slammed into me one more time. "Mine!" roared as he filled me with his come. His weight resting on my back, I slid down flat onto the bed not caring that I was lying in a pool of my own come.


I was panting, lying full length on his back. My mind trying to wrap around the last few minutes. I enjoyed sex. I had come spectacularly with partners in the past but this… Nothing had ever been like this. I called him mine? Where had that come from?

I could feel the tremors as his ass flexed around me. As if trying to milk me for more. Or maybe he was still coming. I wasn't sure. All I knew was it felt wonderful. I kissed the part of him closest to my lips. Felt the shiver that it evoked.

We lay there until our breathing was normal then I pulled out to the sound of a soft moan.

"Come on, Walter, we'll clean up."

He rolled over and then I saw the blood. I summoned a servant to change the bed. I led him back to the pool and we sat quietly. Another servant quietly placed food and drink beside each of us. He drank some wine but ignored the food.

"Did I hurt you?"

"A little. I've had much worse hurts."

I reached for him and he came into my arms without protest. We sat there for a long time, not talking, just touching.

He finally spoke. "I should go. I never stay away from camp all night."

"You can tell your cousin that you were with a whore."

"He knows my habits too well for that. I never spend the night with them. If I do anything to change my normal habits, he will question me. I've never been able to hide things from him."

"He would not approve, would he?"

"He might accept me using a man but he would never understand what I let happen to me here tonight. Hell! *I* don't understand why I let you do that to me."

"Maybe I'm your destiny."

"I don't believe in destiny. Please, Lord, will you have someone show me out?"

"If that's what you want."

I summoned a servant and gave orders for Walter to be escorted out. I watched silently as he dressed. He turned to leave but then swung around and kissed me, leaving me with a hunger I had never felt before. Then he was gone.

The next day I stood on the balcony watching the Duke's men honing their skills. Waiting to see him, but he never appeared. That night I sent a servant to summon him to me. The servant returned alone.

"Nobilissimus, Sir Walter has gone."

"Gone? Gone where?"

"His men say that he went with the troops that left this morning. He told them he was tired of the inactivity and wished to get on with the crusade."

"Leave me."

The servant hurried to comply, no doubt fearing that I would kill the messenger. I sent all the servants away. Standing on my balcony looking in the direction he had gone, I cursed us both as fools. Me for letting him leave the night before, him for running away, taking my heart with him. Then I prayed for his safe return.


The servant led me to the entrance of the palace, from there I made my way back to the quarters I had been assigned. I gave thanks to the Virgin that it was very late. I could probably get to bed without being questioned. I undressed in the room I had been given, finding my bed but not sleep for a long time.

The next morning when I woke up, I found that I had stained the bedclothes. Looking down at the spot, I wondered if whores had similar stains the next morning after being with me.

I went in search of my cousin. He didn't understand why I felt a need to rush off to the battle. He was enjoying the hospitality of the Emperor and felt I should be too. But he gave me his permission to go with the troops leaving that morning.

An hour into the ride I knew I should have waited. Every step of my horse sent a wave of pain through my ass. The noble did not have my length but he was thicker and I had been a virgin. I could still smell the scent from his bath on me. I could still hear his voice as he said 'Mine'. By the time we made camp, I was as stiff as if I had never ridden a horse before.

We had camped next to a stream so I wandered away from the rest to find a place to bathe. There were more stains on my clothing and I wondered just how much come he had pumped into me. I sat for a long time in the water, letting it soothe my sore flesh. By the time I sought my bed, I was feeling better, physically at least.

Mentally, I would never be the same. I woke in the morning with my cock spurting in my hand as I whispered his name. Each day brought a lessening of the physical memories but an intensification of the  mental ones. I dreamed of him every night. My mind replayed every look, every touch, every word we had exchanged.

It was a relief to go into battle. At least there I had to focus on something else. For periods of time I could forget him.


He had been gone for six months. I had tried to forget him in other bodies. They didn't satisfy me. After  several disappointing episodes, I gave up. He was what I wanted. What I *needed*. I was moving through  life as if in a trance. Looking back, it's amazing that I survived. Only my cousin's love for me kept me alive during that time.

I finally had news of him. From the very servant who had first brought him to me, that long-ago night.

I was on the balcony overlooking the Bay, not seeing the view, lost in my memories of him, when I heard a discreet cough behind me.


"What is it?"

"Master, I heard news about Sir Walter from one of the men who returned today."

I turned and grabbed his arm. "What news? Is he dead? Tell me quickly."

"He reports, Lord, that he is injured."

"What! Injured! How reliable is this man?"

"My Lord, he awaits outside. Do you care to question him yourself?"

He was lucky I didn't order him killed for asking such a stupid question. He was back quickly, hurrying the man in front of him.

The man looking terrified to be brought into the presence of a member of the royal family. He was surprised when I questioned him in his own language.

"Where did you leave Sir Walter?"

"With a farmer about a day's ride away. He was too ill to sit a horse. The fever was making him delirious."

"What makes you think he was delirious? He may have just been confused. How badly was he injured?"

"The injury would not have been so bad but there was no one to treat it properly for him. It became infected. We tried to get him to stop but he kept saying he had to get back here."

"Is that all he said?"

"Once the fever took hold he kept telling us to 'Tell Alexius I'm sorry, tell him it was the best night of my life, tell him I believe in destiny now'.  And talking about the scented water in the pool, then he would start talking to his father. Sir Walter's father has been dead for over ten years now."

"You'll take me to him in the morning. You're lucky I need you to guide me or I would kill you where you stand for leaving him. Oh, and just in case you had any ideas about taking off you'll spend the night in the prison. Pray he is still alive and lives because, if he dies, you will rot in that prison."

The guards I had summoned earlier took him. I turned to make my plans for going to Walter. As I issued orders to the servants the words I had heard kept repeating over and over 'Tell Alexius I'm sorry, tell him it was the best night of my life, tell him I believe in destiny now'. And I prayed as I had never prayed before.

We left at first light. My personal physician coming with me under protest. He couldn't understand why I would want to save a Norman. I pushed us hard that day needing to get to him. Afraid he would die without knowing what I now knew.

Without knowing that I loved him.

Our arrival at the farm caused quite a frenzy. The peasants had never had royalty visit them. Never expected royalty to demand to see a Norman. We were shown to the small hut he was housed in. My first response was rage, turning on the man who had left him there, I backhanded him.

"Did you not instruct them to care for him? Get him out of that filth. Help them clean him. Physician, as soon as he is clean, you will examine him and tell me what needs to be done. He *will* live or you will follow him into death."

I watched as they carefully brought him out of that pig-sty and placed him on the bedding my men quickly spread. The peasant woman timidly offered warm water to bathe him. I wanted to order her death, but restrained myself. It was not her fault that she had not treated my Norman better. My cousin, fearing rebellion of any kind, had allowed all sorts of horrible rumours to abound about these warriors going through our land to the Holy City.

As my personal tent was hurriedly set up, I watched them wash his too thin body.

"Milord, I must take the arm if we are to have any hope of saving him."

"Yes. I see that. Do it quickly. Guards, hold Sir Walter for the physician."

He seemed to be out of it but I was taking no chances. The pain would be great and would rouse him enough to struggle. Not that he would have the strength to struggle very hard. My heart screamed as he screamed with the pain. He passed out when the wound was sealed with the hot blade of a knife.

I had him moved to the tent, telling the servants to watch over him until my physician and I joined them.

I then signaled to the guards. "Hold that man." I said pointing to the man who had left him there.

I turned to my physician. "Take his arm at the same place as Sir Walter."

He looked at me with disbelief until he saw the cold rage in my face. "You will do it or I will and then he will bleed to death. You can give him his life."

I watched as the man was held down while his healthy arm was removed. His screams and pleas falling on deaf ears. Then I ordered him to be kept in the filthy hut he had left Walter in. He was to be given what he needed to stay alive, nothing more. Then I forgot him as I entered my tent.

Walter was still unconscious. I sent servants to make sure there was plenty of water to bathe Walter's fevered body. I gave instructions for soup to be made so I could try and feed him broth if he woke. Had the physician prepare a strong drug for the pain I knew he would feel.

When the water and drug were prepared, I sent them all out, telling them to stay near by in case I should need them. I settled next to Walter, pulling his head into my lap, cooling his face with a wet cloth.

"Walter, I don't know if you can hear me but I am here. I will watch over you. You must live. I will have it no other way. You will *not* leave me."

I would call the servants to bring more water when I ran out. I bathed his body when the fever seemed to rise. Sat talking softly to him between times. Near dawn I was no longer telling him to live I was begging.

It was the longest night of my life. The sunrise brought me hope as he seemed to have passed into a more normal sleep. I allowed the physician to convince me to get some sleep. He said he would tend Walter, for me to rest.

I made myself a bed to one side of the tent and dropped into sleep. I was awakened by Walter's screams. I ran to his side to see that while his eyes were still bright with fever he was aware.

"Why didn't you let me die? What good is a soldier with only one arm?"

Without turning from him, I issued a command.

"Leave us."

I waited until we were alone.

"You could not be a soldier forever, Walter. I would rather have you here like this, then dead."

"You had no right……"

"I had every right."

"How do you figure that?"

"I got your message."

"Message? What are you talking about?"

"'Tell Alexius I'm sorry, tell him it was the best night of my life, tell him I believe in destiny now.' That *was* what you told your men wasn't it?"

"Yes." His face telling me that he didn't see any connection.

"That gives me the right. If I am your destiny, then I was brought here in time to make the decision to keep you alive. You are no good to me dead."

"What good is a one armed man to anyone?"

"So, you're going to give up? Run away from me again? You couldn't face what I made you feel, so you tucked your tail between your legs and ran. And now you are trying to do it again. You fought beside your men in battle when you could have stayed behind them and been safe. Where is that famous courage now?"

He wouldn't look at me and I wanted to hit him I was so frustrated. What could I do to make him understand? He needed to want to get well.


I refused to look at him. He was talking like a woman. He's a man. He should understand that I would rather have died. Why would he want to keep me alive? Could one night have mattered to him? Did he feel any of the things I had been feeling? Why would he want a cripple?

I tried to turn away from him, the movement causing pain to lance through me. He turned to pick up a cup, then lifted me enough to drink. I recognized the smell and knew it was a strong drug, but also knew it would help the pain. He walked to the opening of the tent and spoke to someone outside. Coming back, he sat next to me and bathed my face and body with a cool cloth. It felt so soothing on my hot skin.

A servant came into the tent just as he finished, bringing a bowl of steaming broth. Following some words between them, Alexius lifted me while the servant pushed pillows behind my back for support. More words with the servant who quickly left.

Alexius settled next to me again and started spooning the broth into me. I tried to fight him even then but he just pushed the spoon against my lips and it was open or have it run down onto my body. He didn't stop until the bowl was empty.

The drug was pulling me down into sleep. I later thought it must have been a dream that I felt his lips brush over mine, followed by words of love.


When I was certain he was sleeping, I left the tent to get some food, setting one of the servants to watch over him with instructions to send for me should his condition change.

I knew I had a battle in front of me. He was a warrior. That's all he ever expected to be. He had probably spent his life expecting to die gloriously in war. When my stomach was full, I went in search of my physician. I had questions I hoped he could answer.

The information I received from my physician gave me hope. He had heard of artificial arms being made for warriors. It was only useful to hold a shield but that alone could help him feel he had not lost his purpose. It would mean him learning a new way to balance and he would need a lighter sword.

All these things I could provide him. And the time he spent learning the new skills, I could spend showing him that peace and home could be a satisfying way to spend his life. I would not take him back to Constantinople when he could travel. We would go to my country home. There we would be among my people. That would be safer.

As I approached my tent, I heard the servant's voice shouting for help. I arrived to find Walter delirious with the fever again, trying to strangle the servant I had left to watch him. I pulled him off the servant.

"Walter, it's Alexius. You're safe. Lie back."

I ordered the servant to bring fresh water as I pushed Walter back and used my own body to hold him down until his exhausted body went limp.  The cool water was brought. I could see the bruises on the servant's throat. I told him to send one of the other servants to attend me and gave him leave to rest.

Turning back to Walter, I soaked a clean cloth in the water and began to bathe his body again. The next hours were some of the longest of my life. His fever soared and my heart tightened. He rambled, talking to his father, talking to his cousin Robert.

He finally settled, the fever lessening for several hours and I dozed next to him. Sometime just before dawn the fever raged again and he began to talk about me and our night together. I listened carefully to his words.

"So beautiful…. never knew a man could be so….  pain into exquisite pleasu….. Can't stop dreaming…. the dreams cock in hand… his name…. Got to get back… he felt anything…. said 'mine' … it mean anything….love"

I leaned down to kiss his fever-cracked lips softly. Whispering my love to him and praying to the gods again for his recovery.  The ritual of bathing him resumed, fighting the fever, feeling slight relief when he calmed and seemed to sleep again.

The next few days passed in a blur. My every waking moment spent at his side. When the fever subsided and didn’t return for most of a day, my physician said he would live. But I wasn’t so sure. He looked at me with dead eyes, turning away every time his arm was tended.

By this point we both stunk. The tent needed to be aired out and we needed to bathe. There was a stream near-by so I sent my men to see that it was cleared of people or livestock. I wanted to be the only one aside from my physician to see how his body had changed. When I held out the robe, he looked at me with no sign of comprehension.

"We stink, Walter. We need to bathe and the tent needs to be aired and cleaned. When you were ill, I could ignore it but no longer. I know you are not totally well yet but I will have them bring a cart if you feel you cannot walk. It's not far and you will feel better once you are clean and have a clean bed to lie in."

"I'm a Norman, Lord. We're supposed to stink."

"Walter, you can attempt to walk, or get in a cart, or I can have you carried." The look I gave him must have shown my determination.

He began to push up. The effort was obviously hard for him but he jerked away from me when I tried to help.

"Since you are so determined that I live, I must learn to do things for myself."

He stood still, panting as I wrapped the robe around him and tied it at his waist. Standing, it was even more obvious that he had lost a good portion of his flesh. We walked slowly out of the tent. He halted at the opening, squinting at the sunlight. Even the slight effort of walking outside left him trembling. I summoned a servant, ordering a stool for him to sit on while a cart was brought.

He was silent and allowed my help getting into the cart only after he failed to get into it twice. I walked beside him as the horse was led to the stream. He put his remaining hand on my shoulder as he got down from the cart. I led him to the stream and had him sit with just his feet in the water.

My guards I ordered to wait at a discreet distance. Close enough to hear should I need them but far enough to give us privacy for a quiet conversation. Once we were alone, I shed my clothes, wading into the water and turning to beckon  him. He struggled out of the robe and managed to slip into the water up to his waist.

I went farther out, ducking down to cover my body, leaning back to wet my hair. When I came up, I found him farther out so that the water had reached his chest. He was starring at his stump with a look of abject horror. I knew I had to distract him quickly.

"Walter, duck your head. Your hair needs to be washed, too."

He turned to me and the horror was replaced with anger. I much preferred the anger.

"My hair needs washing? Do you think I care about the little hair I have left? Look at this! Look at what you let them do to me! I'm a soldier who can no longer fight. What purpose can there be for my life now? You should have let me die."

"I couldn't do that."

"Why, by all that is holy, not?"

"Because I'm not ready to die and because one night with you wasn't enough."

He looked at me for a long moment. I moved toward him, keeping my eyes locked with his. I had almost reached him when he ducked down, submerging his body. He refused to meet my eyes. He did however submit to me bathing him. He sat wrapped in the robe watching me as I bathed myself. I made sure he had a good view, willing to do anything to make him see that his life didn't have to be over.

I didn't call the guards until he was seated in the cart. The tent had been aired and fresh bedding brought. A bowl of broth ready for him. The face he made when I sat next to him with it told me he was sick of broth.

"Can't I have some fruit or at least soup with some meat in it?"

"If you feel up to that, of course."

I summoned a servant and ordered fruit and something more substantial. He lay back against the pillows and allowed me to feed him.  He had been living on just broth for so long that it didn't take much to fill him. He slipped farther down and was soon sleeping. I sat staring at him for a long time, knowing that he still didn't truly want to live but that he at least knew some of what I felt.

My body told me I needed rest, so I undressed and lay down next to him on the side away from the lost arm. Sometime during the night I woke to find him clutching at me as silent tears wet both our bodies. I pulled him into my arms and held him as the grief took solid form.

I'm not sure when we realized that we were both hard. I wrapped my hand around us, working us. His weak moans telling me he felt pleasure in the touch. Something happened to me then as I brought us to completion. I felt a certainty that I would bring him through this. He was mine and what is mine I hold.


I panted softly as my heart slowed. Part of me wanted to hate this man who was insisting I live. I didn't remember much of the last days, only that he had been at my side whenever I was aware. His voice flowing over me, his hands tending my body with care, the cool cloths on my hot skin. I believed his will had kept me alive.

Could he possible feel for me as I felt for him? At the stream, he said that one night hadn't been enough. But I had been whole then. What use was a cripple? I would be reduced to living on the charity of family or begging in the streets if I went home. At least here I could be his whore in return for support.

His lips sought mine, I allowed him to kiss me, opening for his tongue to slip inside. By the time he let go, my heart was racing again. He pulled away and cleaned us then settled next to me and was soon asleep. It took me a long time to sleep again. My mind trying to work through the fear, fear of loving this man only to lose him. I had no doubt that once the novelty wore off, he would tire of me and I'd be thrown out.

We stayed there for another week. He made me go to the stream with him daily for bathing. He encouraged me to eat, each day my appetite growing. At night he held me. Whenever my body became aroused by his presence, he would stroke us to completion. Not once did he enter me. Each morning I woke in his arms and for the first few minutes felt content until I tried to reach for him with an arm that was no longer there.

The wagons were ready. I had been settled under a tree while he directed the preparations. I watched as he moved with grace among his men. His traveling clothing allowing me to appreciate the beauty of his long frame.  He came for me when all was ready and helped me settle in one of the wagons. I still tired easily so I was soon dozing in the warmth of the day. Whenever I opened my eyes, he was there beside me asking if I needed anything.

Around mid-day, I realised we were not headed back to the city.

"Lord, where are we going? This isn't the way back to Constantinople."

"No, Walter, it isn't. We are going to my country home. It will be more pleasant for your recovery."

"Your country home, Lord? I thought you lived at the palace."

"I have rooms there for when I'm in the city but we are going to my home. The place where I was born. I think you will like it there. Didn't realise that your destiny was a rich man, did you?"

His smile was beautiful in the bright afternoon and my body responded. I watched as he guided his horse over to a tree near the road. His graceful body angling upwards, he picked a large round fruit from the tree. Turning he spoke to the servants, they hurried to gather more of the fruit and place it in the wagon next to me. I picked up the strange fruit and examined it. He rode back to me smiling at the puzzled expression on my face.

"It's an orange, Walter. Here, this is how you eat it."

I watched as he peeled the one he was holding, separated it into sections and held a small portion out to me.

"Try it, Walter. They're really good, tart and refreshing."

I bit into the segment of fruit he handed me, my mouth being flooded with the juice. As he said, it was tart. I swallowed and smiled at him. He leaned down to me to speak softly.

"If I had know an orange would get me a smile, I would have sent my men to find some days ago."

He held out the rest of the fruit and I took it, setting it on my lap and eating slowly as we continued on our journey. When we made camp that night, he had chicken prepared for me with a glaze flavoured with the juice from the fruit. I ate more than I had since before I had been injured.

That night he held me close, careful of the healing stump, raining soft kisses on me. Just before I dropped off, I heard him whisper. "You are mine and what is mine I hold. You will never leave me again."

I didn't know then just how accurate his words were.

It took us two more days to reach his home. The workers in the fields greeted us as we neared the house. I was amazed at the warmth I saw in the serfs' eyes as they came over to him. The women held back but the men addressed him openly but with obvious respect.

One man reached to take a new babe from a woman's arms and held it up for the Lord to see. He spoke to the woman as he touched the babe softly. She blushed and murmured something in return.

He then turned and pointed to me, speaking again to them. Each turned to look at me as if memorizing my face. I was given brief nods by the men and shy smiles from the women. I gave them a smile in return. Wondering what he had said to them about me. They turned to move back to their work and we continued to the house.

His home turned out to be smaller than the palace but just as opulent. The gardens were well tended and blossoms of every colour flourished there. Later he would tell me that the marble used throughout my new home was quarried on his land as well.

He got down and I heard a yell and a young woman ran from the house. She laughed as she jumped, he caught her with ease and swung her around, laughing then kissing both cheeks before sitting her on her feet. I gritted my teeth to keep back the territorial growl that tried to escape. After all, I had no rights, I was just the cripple he'd brought home.

He led her to the wagon, letting go of her hand as he reached for me.

"Sir Walter, I'd like you to meet my sister. Calliope, this is Sir Walter of Normandy, the man I have chosen as my consort."

I had been looking at her, cataloguing the resemblances to the Lord, not really listening to his introduction of me until the word consort came from his mouth. We both turned to look at him then. I was expecting him to say it was a jest but he was watching us both, waiting. She looked at him a long moment then turned toward me.

"Welcome, Sir Walter. I hope you will enjoy your new home with us."


I watched the two most important people in my world as I made my announcement of Walter's new position. My sister, of course, knew of my preferences but had always assumed I would at least marry to father an heir. Walter, I knew was still thinking this was some sort of charity.

Watching him hover so close to death had made me realize that only he was important. My sister would need to provide an heir for our family. Oh, I suppose I could still father a child. There were women at the court of my cousin who would take my name gladly, give me a child then find lovers.

There was a major problem with that...bedding someone else would be impossible for me now.

I had received more satisfaction from bringing us to climax with my hands than I had ever experienced with other men. The sounds he made for me, the light in his eyes, knowing he had never let another man touch him in that most intimate of ways, all those things made what happened between us the ultimate ecstasy for me.

I saw the resistance in my sister's eyes then the capitulation. I knew there would be trouble at some future time. I just hoped it wouldn't come until he was more secure in his place with me. In his eyes I saw first disbelief then hope followed by fear.

The next few weeks passed much as the ones at the farm, with me staying near him, encouraging him to eat and regain his strength. I had all the dishes prepared that I thought might tempt his still poor appetite.  At night I held him close, whispering my love to him as he fell asleep.

When I felt he was strong enough, I gave instructions to my strongest servant and left him for a few days to see to the harvest. When I returned, I brought the best metal worker available to work with my physician on an artificial arm for him.

I returned to find that my sister had made her feelings known to him.

I rode onto the land nearest the house only to have one of the workers run to stop me with a message.

"Lord, Sir Walter has gone. He managed to get out without the servant you left to care for him knowing."

"And where is the servant?"

"Gone to find Sir Walter. He had hoped to bring him back before you returned."

I told him to see that supplies were made ready. I would need a fresh mount and other men to ride with me so I hurried to my home to leave instructions. When I rode up and my sister did not come running to meet me, I knew she was responsible.

I went straight to my bathing chamber, wanting to rid myself of the grime of the road before taking to it again. Looking to one of the servants, I gave instructions to find my sister and bring her to me.  I had just sunk down into the warm water when I heard the footsteps of the servant returning.

"Lord, your sister says she is too ill to attend you now. She says she hopes you are well and had a good journey."

"Go back and tell my sister that she will attend me now before my anger grows stronger. She will not like the consequences of making that happen."

I was almost ready to get out of the water when I heard her footsteps. She moved slowly into the room her head lowered.

"Tell me what happened between you and my consort. Tell me why he has fled from here."

"I don't know what you mean. He is a grown man. He is not your slave. He was free to leave if he wished. Why do you care? He is just a crippled Norman. You can find prettier, younger boys to fill your bed. And now that he is gone, you can marry and produce an heir."

"You forget who is master here! I have chosen him as my consort. This is not something that is going away. You will produce an heir for our line. I will never marry. He is the only one who will share my bed. Did you say to him the things you just said to me? Is that why he has gone?"

"I told him you needed to produce an heir and he would be in the way when you came back with a wife."

I had never felt such rage at my sister before. I had indulged her in all things since our father had died. Obviously I had let her have too much freedom. She now believed she could run my life. I surged up out of the water bearing down on her my hand raised to strike. Her eyes widened with fear but she made no move to flee.

My movement stopped as I saw him standing in the doorway behind her, the servant I had instructed to watch over him holding tightly to his remaining arm. She turned to see what I was focused on and frowned.

"Calliope, go to your chambers and stay there until I send for you. We still have things to discuss. You go with her and make sure she stays there. I will talk with you later."

The servant released Walter and fell in behind my sister as she stalked from the room. I walked over to where he stood, head lowered and touched him gently.

"Seems like we have been here before. How much did you hear?"

"Only what I had already heard. That you need to marry and I'm in the way."

"Undress and join me, we'll get the dust of the road off you while we talk."

One of the servants moved forward to help him but he pushed him away.  He undressed slowly then came and slipped into the water as far from me as he could manage. I moved closer to him and reached to bathe him. He remained stiff as I moved my hands over him, cupping water to flow over his chest.

"Do the women in your land tell men what to do?"

"No, of course not. Women know that decisions are made by men."

"Do you think the women here make decisions for the men?"

"What do you mean?"

"I mean why would you believe that my sister makes my decisions? Have I given you any indication that she makes them for me?"


"Then why did you listen to her nonsense? Is that not why you left?"

He gave me that stubborn look I had learned to dislike. I silently asked the gods why they had made me fall in love with such a stubborn man.


The servant had found me. I told myself that I returned with him to save his life. But I knew that was a lie. I returned because I was in love and I needed to be with Alexius as long as possible. His sister's words had cut deep, deeper still because they rang true.

"You should marry and produce an heir. It would please your cousin. No woman would tolerate me in your bed. Not even when she has your name. Maybe especially when she has your name. Let me leave now before..."

"Before what, Walter? Before you love me? Before I love you? We both know it's too late. We have loved each other since the first night we were together."

His fingers brushed over a nipple bringing it erect. His mouth covered the other one and my back arched to press closer to him. His other hand finding me under the water and bringing me instantly erect.

I'm not sure how we made it back to the bed. My body his, to use as he wished. He settled between my legs, our hardness pressing and rubbing together as he kissed and sucked at my neck. I held tightly to him with my one remaining hand. When he pulled away, I moaned.

"Need to get you ready, Walter. It's been so long it will be as though you are virgin again."

I surged up to him when he pressed into me, forcing a fast deep penetration. His hiss of surprise was oddly pleasing to me. He began to pump into me and I revelled in being used by him again after such a long time.  The pleasure was far beyond my memory. My climax when it came caused me to scream his name. His smile signalled his pleasure in my actions.

I fell asleep in his arms and woke to find him still holding me tightly. When he went to talk to his sister, he left me with two servants and guards at the door. Not that I blamed him. I would have done the same.


I waited until after breakfast the next morning to go to speak with my sister. I left Walter with an extra servant and guards at the door. My orders simple: he was not to leave.

My sister was in her private garden, lingering over her own breakfast. She looked up at me with trepidation as I took a seat next to her.

"Calliope, I have given you much leeway in the years since our father died. I feel I have done you an injustice in this. I fear your husband will not indulge you as I have. Most probably he will beat you if you ever interfere with him as you have with me."

"Alexius, you should send this man away. You must father an heir. Our cousin the emperor....."

"Enough! Understand this, my sister, I *love* this man. You will accept this or you will cease to be my sister."

I wanted to reach out and wipe the pain from her face but knew she would see that as a reason to continue this campaign. I wanted no more attempts made by her to drive him away.

"Do you hear me, Calliope? No more words to him about leaving."

"Yes, Alexius. I understand."


I kissed her gently and left her to go find the metal smith.

Walter stared at us in disbelief when I told him what we had planned.


I was in love with a madman. A metal arm? Did he really think it would be of anyuse? I tried to hide my true feelings as the physician and the metal smith examined and measured. Their words unknown to me but the gestures letting me know at least part of the plans.

Alexius watched and made an occasional comment to them. Then switching to my language gave me an explanation.

"Walter, the arms my physician had heard of are made to hold a shield and help the wearer to balance on a horse. It can never replace what you have lost but will give you back a measure of the abilities you have honed on the battlefields over the years. I am having a new blade made for you as well and once that is completed we will work together for you to learn to use both."

"Alexius, you do not really believe this will work do you?"

I saw the shock on the face of the other two at my addressing him by name. He merely smiled as he answered me. I had decided that since he was insisting we were lovers and not just whore and master, I was entitled to use his name in the informal setting of his home.

"My physician has heard of such being used. It is worth the expense to me. I will enjoy having someone here to practice my own skills with. My guards are too fearful of injuring me to give me a decent workout. I trust you will do that for me?"

When the arm was made, the physician insisted that I only wear it for a short period each day. I had to admit that he was right to suggest that. During my recovery I had learned to balance in an entirely different way than before.

I pushed myself too far the first day, determined to learn to walk properly with the cumbersome thing. I wore it much longer than the physician wished. It was Alexius himself who rubbed the ointment into my sore shoulder and chest that night. And, for the first time, I slept wrapped around him instead of him wrapped around me.

Over the next months I learned to wear the arm with little pain, the skin of my body becoming callused where the straps rested. We started with a very lightweight shield the metal smith had made especially for me. As the weeks and months went on, the shields became heavier until they were of a practical weight that could actually be of protection against a sword.

Alexius had been practicing with me as I learned to use the lighter weight sword that had been made for me. The day I managed to actually touch the point of the sword to his chest was the day I felt like a man again.

That night I initiated our lovemaking for the first time. His joy in my actions took my breath away. His tears when I spoke of my love for the first time the greatest gift I had ever received.


My lover had learned the new skills well. A lesser man would never have been able to carry both the weight of the arm and a shield heavy enough to protect. The day he got close enough to actually place the point of his sword at my heart I knew he would now have faith in himself again.

That night, when he pulled me close in the bath to kiss me, my heart soared. When he spoke words of love for the first time, I couldn't stop the tears of happiness that came from my eyes. We made love again in the morning, something we had never done before.

The next day the messenger arrived with news that my cousin had obtained a husband for my sister and we were to come to the city right away. My sister was not pleased with the news. She had hoped for a longer time to stay in her home. But neither of us would defy the emperor in this.

Walter had not wanted to go with us to the city but I insisted that I wanted him with me. Now that he had declared his love for me, I couldn't bear the idea of being away from him for so long.

As it turned out it was a good thing he was with us.

We were attracted on the second day of our journey. The rabble was a band of foreigners looking for wealth to take home with them. Walter and I fought side by side and when I was knocked unconscious he stood over my body, fighting off attackers, until my advance guard returned to rout the thieves. Stopping the plan the horde had made to rush him.

Calliope told me later that she had feared for my life. She was expecting to be raped by the attackers. In all the months that had passed since I had brought Walter home with me, she had tolerated him at best. It was quite a surprise to find them both hovering over me when I came to.

"You saved us both, Walter. Without you here he would be dead and I would, at best be raped. I have been wrong to want you gone. I see that now. Do you think you can forgive me?"

"If you forgive me for thinking of you as a spoiled child. It has not been easy for me to accept what we have. In my country we would be put to death. Burnt alive after torture with fire.  I felt that he would cast me aside as soon as he tired of me. So your words were painful to hear. I still worry that he may tire of me. Maybe today I showed him I have value outside his bed."

My heart ached at his words but I made no mention of them to him then. I waited for a time when I could be alone with him. I waited until I decided on the one thing I thought would make him believe.

I turned my head to look at them and moaned with the pain. Reaching up carefully to make sure my head was not lying in two pieces on the blanket I felt under me with my other hand.

"Alexius, lie still. You have a gash on your head and I don't want it to start bleeding again."

His hand was warm on my shoulder, my sister's hand resting on the other one.

"Are you both unharmed?"

"Yes, my brother. Your Walter kept us both safe. He was a demon standing over you, his sword bringing death to all who approached too closely to us. He saved your sister from the shame and pain of being raped. Now I need only cope with the shame of not seeing him for the good man he is."

"Did you believe your brother would choose a lesser man as his consort?"

Her answer was lost to me as I sank back into the darkness. I floated in and out of awareness for the next few days. I would wake to the motion of a wagon, my sister's voice speaking softly to me, hearing his voice as he issued commands through my chief guard. When I asked later, the guard told me he obeyed out of fear of the demon he had seen in battle turning to devour him. And since all the commands made sense and looked out for my well being, he did not think I would be angry.

By the time we reached the city I was awake more than I slept and my eyes able to track movement without pain or blurriness. My cousin knew we had been attacked because Walter had sent a messenger ahead with the news. He was waiting for me in my chambers when we arrived.

After his interrogation of my chief guard, my sister and several of my other men, my cousin conceded, --privately of course, that I had picked a good man to stand at my side.


Calliope's wedding was a spectacle beyond any I had ever seen. I was pleased that she insisted I be seated with them during the feasting afterward. When her groom looked at me askance, she explained to him that I had kept her pure for him. Spinning a yarn of my exploits that made me appear to be almost a god.

She had told us both she feared the alliance her cousin had made through this man. She was relieved when she met not some troll of a man but a decent looking man. It was true he was older than her by at least a decade but he acted with courtesy toward her. His eyes showing his pleasure in her beauty.

As they rose to retire for the evening, he came to me as Calliope was kissing her brother goodnight.

"She tells fantastic stories. I think I shall find my life with her most entertaining. I thank you for keeping her safe and pledge I will do the same."

"That is good to hear. She is fiercely loyal, a good thing to have in a wife."

"A good thing indeed. Goodnight."

Calliope stopped by me kissing my cheek and whispering goodnight before turning to place her hand in her new husband's. I felt Alexius's hand on my arm.

"Come, Walter. We can use my recent brush with death as an excuse to retire early."

The light in his eyes told me that 'retiring' would not actually be what happened when we reached his chambers.

When we reached his rooms, he sent the servants away, telling them he would call if he needed them. Once we were alone, he pulled me close, kissing me as if we had never kissed before and never would again. Somehow he managed to get me mostly undressed before ending the kiss.

"You are mine, Walter. Do you understand? You belong with me."

"Alexius, what are you saying?"

"I heard you when I was injured. I heard you tell Calliope you think I will *tire* of you. I've thought about that a lot, trying to decide how to show you that will never happen."

"I don't know if anything can really make me feel secure. I mean you must want me, now at least. The gods know I would have died if not for your determination to keep me alive. Then when you had an arm made for me and spent so many patient hours helping me learn to use it. I began to feel like a man again. Not whole but not a cripple either."

"You have never been a cripple in my eyes, Walter. And your actions on the journey that day proved you are not. Tonight I'm going to give you what I have given no one else. What I will never give to another."

He stepped back from me and began to drop his garments. When he was naked, he came to me quickly stripping off my remaining clothing. His hand trailed over the rough skin where the straps rubbed against me.

Taking my hand he led me to the bed and pushed me down to lie on my back. My legs began lifting of their own accord, opening my body to him. He smiled down and shook his head slowly while pushing my legs back to lie flat and side-by-side.

I watched startled as he began to slick my shaft with the musk-scented oil we normally used to facilitate our lovemaking. I sucked in a deep breath as he straddled me and began to take me into his body. I stared, amazed, as he grimaced when my cock breached the ring of muscles. Waited to see if he would pull away and enter me instead.

He sat very still for a while, taking deep breaths and rotating his hips. I grasped the bedding tightly as I struggled not to obey my body's desires to thrust up into him. I knew my size could hurt him if I was not careful.

I gripped his leg as he pushed down further taking all of me into his tight, hot body. I smiled at him as he began to move on me. The feeling beyond any I had ever felt with a woman. Finally understanding his pleasure when he did this to me.

His movement were frantic and I fought with my body to hang on. I didn't want to come until he was ready. When he pulled off me, I moaned with the loss. I watched surprised as he positioned himself on his knees, his ass high and his shoulders resting on the bed.

"Take me, Walter. Take me as I take you. Give me the pleasure of being possessed by you."

The words panted by a man who had given me the greatest love I had known.

I moved to my knees behind him, mesmerized by his small hole pulsing as he waited for me to enter him. I positioned myself, sliding into his relaxed body easily.

Moving slowly and carefully, I began to make love to him. But lovemaking was not what he wanted right then. He wanted a claiming. For a brief moment, I wondered if his sister was assisting in her deflowering as enthusiastically as he was in his. Then all thoughts were lost in the heat of having him give this to me.

I pumped into his body. His reaction, a growled "*Yes*!" He rocked back to meet me and was soon chanting "*Harder*!"  So I wrapped my hand around a hip bone and pounded into him in the way I had always wanted to fuck the whores I had used but never had.

When he screamed my name, I felt the shudders of his release, then his muscles locking down on me so tightly it was painful but at the same time glorious.  I pulsed, empting my come deep inside him. He dropped to the bed and I followed him down, too tired to do anything else.

I'm not sure how long I lay there before it occurred to me that I was crushing him. He moaned weakly as I rolled off his body.

"You should have told me."

"Told you what, Alexius?"

"How wonderful it feels."

I rolled to my side to kiss him gently.

"Feels damn good from either side to me. Thank you for giving yourself to me."

His eyes looked at me seriously.

"No more doubts?"

"Not ever again."


"You were a very dashing knight, Walter."

"And you were a very seductive noble, Alexius. But you did spoil Kim. She made pretty babies though."

"Beautiful babies. Karma took a while to get back to me, huh?"

"Look at it this way, you are even again. And you got me again so you are still blessed or cursed depending on your outlook."

"Having a lover with a sweet, tight ass and a fucking huge cock? I think I've been blessed. Now come on take me to bed and show me how well you ride."


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