Word Count: 1934
Apologies: And now some action! Again in the torture chamber though.
Summary: Mord'Sith are hard to love.
Kissing was not something that Mord’Sith did, really. Certainly they performed lip-to-lip contact, although the gentlest version was usually the breath of life. It could be a greeting between a Mistress and her pet. It was a short, ritualized communication, which named the Mistress as dominant, and the pet as submitting to that dominance and possession. In more complicated relationships, it was a challenge, a battle to engage in.
It was never gentle. Even affection, among Mord’Sith, was always cruel. And Berdine knew that she should only ever desire to taste blood in a kiss. But that wasn’t all there was. Perhaps it was the fault of too many books, but she couldn't help but feel that the breadth of experience a Mord’Sith was allowed was so cruelly curtailed. They were told that their strength came from hate, and so they hated everyone. They hated each other nearly as much as they hated their enemies. And that was their greatest weakness. They were loyal to the Lord Rahl, but they hated him too. Truly it was their lack of loyalty to each other that left them vulnerable and alone. The strongest quads were the ones who had formed bonds, even if that bond was a result of knowing that as a group they could kill better than anyone else. That could inspire a certain alliance, a certain friendship, Berdine would say, if that word was not forbidden for Mord’Sith to even think.
She had just wanted a kiss, just wanted to share her admiration and unexpected affection, to honestly say that Mistress Raina was worthy of much honor, that she deserved to take pride in her abilities, that she was beautiful. But that was not something a Mord’Sith was allowed to say.
“Mistress…” Raina’s voice.
She heard a laugh in response, and Berdine tipped her head, knowing that staying would be far more masochistic than her usual limit.
“My pretty pet.”
Berdine stayed, and listened to the whine of the agiel, the soft little gasps and whimpers that Raina made, and the pleas she begged at her Mistress’ behest.
Even limping, her body marked, Raina walked out of that room, jaw set, stubborn and fierce as always. Berdine sat on the ledge outside and considered letting her go past, leaving her pride intact. But when did she ever submit to someone’s pride?
“Did you get to come?”
Raina whirled on her, hand on her agiel, her expression contorted into fury. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
Berdine shrugged. “I didn’t say it gave me any pleasure.”
Raina flinched at those words. “What would give you pleasure? You being the one to hold the agiel?”
Berdine frowned. “I’m not interested in your pain.”
Raina’s lip curled. “It’s always interest with you. Is that all you have, nothing but pure interest, careless, cruel, scientific interest?”
Berdine watched her. “Perhaps it would be easier if that were true.”
Raina’s shoulders drooped. Her eyes narrowed. “You lust after me.”
“Why should that frighten you?” Berdine cocked her head. “Isn’t lust the one emotion a Mord’Sith is encouraged to have?”
“I don’t understand what you want! Do you want to break me?” She spread her arms, as if to offer up her injured wounded body. “Just do it if that’s what you want! Take me! Don’t force me to hang in limbo like this!”
“I’m interested in what you are, not what I could make you.”
Raina looked disgusted and frustrated with her inability to understand. “It doesn’t work like that. Not here. You take me to be broken, or I take you. One of us has to serve.”
“Is that enough for you?”
Raina stepped back, stunned to silence by the question. Her face twisted, the burn of fury in her face and straightening her injured back and twisted shoulders. She was angry, angry with everything, with Berdine, but with her own weakness and suffering as well. “Nothing means anything here!” she screamed. “I can get on my knees for you, just like I do for my Mistress, I can call those girls who love me because I hurt them and spread myself over their bodies, all desperate, all obligated, and it means nothing. I feel nothing. I am Mord’Sith. And you can’t change that just by wishing.”
Berdine slid off the ledge, stepping towards her, reaching out. But Raina jerked away from her hand and lashed out, knocking it away.
“Don’t touch me.” And she was gone.
* * *
“You’re being an idiot,” Cara told her, blandly.
Berdine didn’t really disagree. But it wasn’t as if she could draw her eyes away from the lines of her face, the curve of her mouth, the proud angle of her chin. And to a certain extent, she didn’t want to. Perhaps it was curiosity. Curiosity killed the Mord’Sith. “I want her.”
“Then just take her. Stop making this so difficult for yourself!”
“I could,” Berdine said softly, half to herself. But she wouldn’t. She knew that, without having to question it. She told the truth when Raina asked. She wasn’t interested in her pain, and that was all Mord’Sith knew how to take.
Her own mistress had enjoyed playing with her before she had been broken, had enjoyed shaming her, mocking her, asking if her father would have been horrified to see his little girl doing such things, disgusted with her for finding pleasure in them, having pleasure wrenched out of her body.
Berdine had taken the shattered pieces of herself and sealed them back together like sand into glass. But she had never let herself care about that part. That had been a sign of her mistress’ weakness, assuming that Berdine could be hurt by shame. She knew what shame was. Shame was nothing but words, nothing but the lies the world told you. And her father would have cried to see what was happening to her, but he was dead, and you couldn’t blame the dead for their impotence.
But these feelings, the ones that were not about taking, were wrong and unhealthy. Whatever she was, she was Mord’Sith first, and Mord’Sith knew better than to let themselves become corrupted like this. Even if she was right, even if looking past the blindness of the Mord’Sith was worth doing, the woman didn’t want her. And she had no idea how to reach out and give.
* * *
Berdine found her after the bath, her hair half undone, a lush mass, heartless black against the tan of her shoulder, and she hovered in the doorway and watched as Raina twisted the wet strands into their accustomed tight braid. But even still and silent Raina felt her eyes and turned, flinching at the sight of her, a moment of open bruising in her eyes before it was flushed out by hard irritation.
“Why are you still doing this?” Raina snapped. “I thought you would have gotten bored by now, but you’re still following me around, speaking to me, as if-“ She looked furious. “You’re acting like not a Mord’Sith.”
The words were calculated to enrage. Cara would have flown at her, agiel out, for such an insult to her honor. Berdine just considered her, a small smile on her face. “Break me of it?”
Raina froze, comprehension slow. “You-“ She took a step towards her and lashed out, a fist connecting with Berdine’s face, her head snapping to the side. “How dare you even ask me that?”
Berdine looked back, the throb of her cheekbone only adding to the tension in her body. She had to ask though. She knew it was foolish and dangerous to have this sort of obsession, and she needed breaking, but there was no one else who could do it.
“I am just a soldier from the backwoods. I train lazy brats and washouts. I am handed all the shit that drifts to the bottom, and I deal with it. I don’t have the right to break you.”
“I asked you to.”
Raina’s eyes widened, and it wasn’t a kiss, but there was a tight clench in Berdine’s chest as she hoped when she shouldn’t, and saw the desire written on her face.
* * *
Berdine was stretched and hanging from the chains, bare and bound. Her body was marked heavily, the cut of the whip that Raina wielded with enviable skill had left cuts and welts that were purpling into bruises. She knew Raina could break a person without even touching her agiel, she had seen her do it, but somehow she knew this wasn’t going to work. It wouldn’t change anything. If Raina broke her she would be just as obsessed, just as weak and devoted. It would be worse.
It was strange somehow, how breaking was so much like confession. Confession was even more horrific, because it destroyed the will entirely, not just bent it to another’s desires. You could overcome your breaking, break your mistress, but you could never overcome confession. This breaking, Berdine feared, was far more like confession than it ought to be.
“You’re thinking something again, aren’t you?” Raina said, frowning fiercely. The cool steel of a knife touched the back of her neck. “Haven’t I taught you to stop that by now?” She moved around her, stepping up onto the ring around the shallow drain that Berdine dangled over. The tip of the knife pressed into the hollow at the base of her throat.
I was just thinking about you, she didn’t say, about the beautiful way you wield a whip, about that fire in your eyes when your pet resists you. But saying that… you would be even more beautifully angry.
“'Nunc iam illa non vult.'”
Raina froze as the words slipped from Berdine’s bruised tongue and bloodied mouth. “What?”
Berdine managed a small smile. “'Now she desires you not, and you, powerless, do not wish for more. Do not chase her, nor live in misery. Harden your mind, endure.'”
“Stop it.” Raina pressed closer, the knife breaking her skin, a single drop of blood trickling down the center of her chest. Her hand reached for her agiel, and Berdine tried to move her head closer to her, wanting to just brush against the sleek drawn-back hair. But they were too far apart.
“'Goodbye sweetheart, I will endure this. I will not seek you out, nor beg your company against your will.'”
“I told you to stop.” Raina shoved the agiel into her stomach, and Berdine gave a small grunt of pain, but it was lessened by the way Raina did not look away from her eyes and her lips. Her actions were vicious, but she hardly paid attention to the thrust of the agiel. It was a reflex, anger, when there was something that you could not dominate, could not control.
“'But who will come to you now?'” she whispered through the pain. “'Whose will people say you are? Who will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?'”
Raina jerked the agiel away, letting out a repressed scream of rage and frustration.
“'But I am resolute. I will stand fast.'”
And Raina caught her firmly by the back of the neck, jerking her forward, and met her lips with a bruising kiss. She kissed like fire, overwhelming and furious, and she bit, and Berdine knew that she was falling apart. “Shut up,” she hissed, breath buzzing between them. And then she sealed her lips once more, teeth and tongue wounding the already injured flesh, and Berdine let her in, and was broken and unbroken at the same time.
* * *
Miserable Catullus, cease your folly,
and what you see is lost, regard as lost.
Once the sun shone brightly on you,
when you came often to where the girl led,
she who was loved by us as none will ever be loved.
Then and there many joys with us occurred,
which you wanted and your girl didn’t not want.
Truly the sun shone brightly on you.
Now she desires you not, and you, powerless, wish not for more.
Do not chase her, nor live in misery,
Harden your mind, endure.
Goodbye, sweetheart. Catullus now stands fast:
he will not seek you out, nor beg your company against your will.
But you will be sorry when no one asks for you.
Villain, poor you! What remains in your life?
Who will come to you now? Who will think you beautiful?
Who will you love now? Whose will people say you are?
Who will you kiss? Whose lips will you bite?
But you, Catullus, be resolute and endure.