catherine's corner

knight errant

The street is dark. Courfeyrac trips once on the uneven pavement, would fall if it were not for the arm around his waist. He smothers a curse, but the other man neither laughs nor commiserates, merely steadies him and continues on. It is already apparent that he's not a talkative sort.

That's all right. Conversation can be had anywhere.

So can a warm body, as a rule. But the women tend to want money, of which Courfeyrac is short at the moment. He's long since discovered that this is cheaper and just as easy, and gets him through the night just as well.

A breath of foul air wafts from the alleyway that branches off to the right. He coughs, even as his companion steers him in that direction, down a paved passage more like a tunnel than a street. Briefly he wonders if he is about to be murdered.

But then a key rattles in a lock, a door opens on dim candlelight, and he is drawn inside.

There are a great many stairs, dusty with cobwebs; then a dark hallway, and a door that opens onto a moonlit attic room. Courfeyrac blinks in the sudden glow, and leans on the wall with his heart pounding, very, very glad of the support, while his companion shuts the door on the blackness outside, and locks it.

"Pretty one." The voice, deep and resonant, sets something in him quivering.

He laughs, breathlessly. "You insult me so."

That wins a halfway grin. The fellow's not much to look at, stocky and ill-shaven, and the grin reveals bad teeth. Courfeyrac embraces him recklessly. "Mind the dark?" that voice demands, in his ear.

"No," he lies, and heavy hands pull him close for a kiss that drowns the darkness and the moonlight alike. Lost in it, he hardly notices as the other pushes him down on the rickety bed and tugs his pants open. "Talk to me," he murmurs, fumbling to return the favor.


"Talk to me." He slides a hand under the coarse shirt, over sweaty skin. "Let me hear you."

But the stranger only snorts, unfastening the rest of his clothes with surprising dexterity, and shoves him back against the pillow. His hands are warm, the night air is cool, and Courfeyrac shivers between them, knotting a fist in the untidy hair.

In the end he has his way, as he's wont to do in such matters, when his fingernails elicit a startled curse. And later, with his face buried in the pillow and his blood pounding, as the other lets out a half-coherent oath that dissolves what's left of his self-control.

He wakes sometime later to a scratching at the door and a voice hissing, "Claquesous!" His companion rolls over with a growl, and stumbles to unlock the door.

"What the hell d'you want?"

A rapid exchange of whispers. Courfeyrac struggles to sit up, his heart beginning to race again.

"You had to bother me tonight," Claquesous' voice says from the doorway.

The visitor makes a hissing noise, eloquent of impatience, though his face is concealed in the shadows. "You can stand to leave your fancy boy for a night. It won't wait. Are you coming?"

They go out without a backward glance, shutting the door with a thud. Courfeyrac rubs his eyes, still dazed from dreams. Outside the narrow window, the sky is dark. It will be hours yet till dawn.