341: Choices

on January 16, 2009 in Book 12

In Which The Black List Is Thrown Out

Our heated exertions led to a hot shower, from which we proceeded to a warm embrace under the covers. Sleeping with Amaranth was among the better perks of, you know… “sleeping with” Amaranth.

It felt so good to press my body up against hers in the darkness, to be able to look a tiny bit to the side and see her beautiful face, to feel her warmth upon me and to fall asleep surrounded by her love. It felt so good to wake up in the morning beneath her.

She always seemed so peaceful when I first woke up, so secure, and I just knew she’d slept soundly the whole night through. Amaranth could be naive, maybe even pointedly so… but even if it was rooted in that naivete, the fact that she could feel so secure with me felt like a vote of confidence. It made me feel secure with myself.

All good things must come to an end, though, and eventually we had to get up. I expected Two to come in and start her morning preparations, but apparently Hazel had made sure she had everything she needed and would not disturb us. Trust a shireling to think of comfort… the fact that she was putting ours over hers was, I figured, a pretty big sign that she wasn’t just “Two’s friend” Hazel.

It was Amaranth waking up that ended the idyllic spell.

“Good morning, baby,” she said with a yawn. “Did you have a good sleep?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said.

“Oh, and you woke up ‘in the mood’,” she said, giggling. She gently shifted me aside so she could sit up. “That’s good… we do have a little matter to discuss from last night. You did the best thing under the circumstances with Steff, which is good… but you were very rude about Hazel’s secret. If you hadn’t been so nosey, I could have approached her in private like I wanted to, and then maybe she would have been more receptive to the news. Possibly. We’ll never know.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was just… mad. I didn’t understand why you couldn’t tell me.”

“I’m pretty sure I told you it was none of your business,” Amaranth said.

“But I didn’t know why it…”

“Oh, baby, don’t make me try to find your lips in the dark,” Amaranth said. “It wasn’t any of your business because it was her business. That doesn’t need any explanation, and anyway, if I’d told you why it would have been pretty much the same thing as telling you what it was.” She frowned. “Not that Ian wasn’t able to work it out. I thought I was being pretty discreet.”

“Everybody has different strong points,” I said. “Maybe subtlety’s not yours.”

Her frown turned into a scowl, but she brushed it off pretty quickly.

“Anyway,” she said, “I should have corrected you last night, but I had other needs that needed seeing to. We’ll make up for that now. Get out of bed, baby.”

She gave me a little push and I slipped through the blanket curtains. As soon as I’d swung my bare legs out, the cold air outside our little enclosure rushed inside.

“Oh, shit, it’s cold,” I said.

“And you could have stayed in bed all cozy with me if you’d been better last night,” Amaranth said, giving me another nudge that got me out of bed and onto my feet. “Don’t worry, we’ll get your butt at least warmed up pretty quickly here.”

I stood in the center of the bare space between the bed and the desks, shivering while Amaranth walked a slow circuit around me. She reached out and pinched my adamantine-hard nipple between her long nails.

“Can we please get this over with?” I asked.

“Shh, baby,” Amaranth said. “Is this a punishment or a reward?”

“A punishment.”

“A punishment what?”

“A punishment, ma’am,” I said.

“Good,” she cooed, and I felt a momentary and entirely inadequate flush of warmth at her praise. “You know, you’ve been getting more independent lately, and I think that’s a good thing… mostly. It’s like how Two picked up some less pleasant habits when she first started developing towards her own independence, you know? So, I think I’m going to have to keep a shorter leash on you for a while, until you learn what to do with that independence.”

The word “leash” sent a tingle down my spine.

“You haven’t been carrying your paddle all the time, have you, baby?”

“Um… no, ma’am,” I admitted. I had been told to, but even ignoring my date with Ian, I’d been a little bit lax about that, bringing it along some times and not others. Wearing my coat every time I went out made it easier to forget what was supposed to be on my belt.

“Well, forgetting it is going to be considered a serious infraction now,” she said. “Because I’m going to want to have it available. I’m going to be a bit more… on the spot… with your corrections. Not in public, but if I have to take you out of the lunchroom or the library or wherever we are and give you a spanking, I will, and if anybody works out what’s going on, that can’t be helped. Do you understand me, baby?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. There was actual irritation in her voice, and I knew I’d earned that, but my body seemed to think it was supposed to be excited by this promise of more frequent, quasi-public punishments. I did my best to squash that feeling down… this was correction, not fun… but the deeper I tried to bury it, the stronger the feeling seemed to grow.

“I’ll be hushing you, too, if I feel I have to,” Amaranth said. “If I’d stuck closer to you at the party last night, I might have been able to keep the cat in the bag. Of course, you can understand my disappointment that I’d have to stay by you every moment, can’t you?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said, dropping my gaze.

“Very good,” she purred. “And now, I think… because you were so rude about it a few moments ago, you should ask for your punishment. Politely.”

A lot of submissiveness seemed to come naturally to me, but outside of sexual excitement, begging on demand took me a few moments to work up. Amaranth was patient with me, though.

“Please… please punish me, ma’am,” I said. “Please spank me.”

“Why?” she asked. “Why do you want me to punish you?”

“Because I was nosey and rude,” I said. “Because… because I didn’t listen to you when you told me it was none of my business.”

“And what happened because of this?”

“Hazel’s secret got blurted out in front of everyone, and she ended up not wanting to listen,” I said.

“Good,” she said again. “That is why you should be punished. But I don’t think it’s the real reason you want me to, is it?”

“It is, ma’am,” I said.

“Are you?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said.

“Are you sure it isn’t just because you want to get dressed and get out of the cold?”

“No, ma’am!”

“You don’t want to get dressed?”

“I do!” I said. “But not… just.”

Fuck, it was cold… how could I not want to get out of that frigid air?

“Okay, I believe you,” Amaranth said. “And I’ll think about punishing you while I go and take a quick shower. You can stand right there until I get back, and you can think about what you did, and what it must have felt like for Hazel, who is from a fairly conservative background, to have her private business shouted across a room like that.”

“It was Ian who said it!” I said.

“Ian’s not my responsibility,” Amaranth said. “And maybe it won’t be such a quick shower, after all.”

I bit my lip. Don’t make it any longer.

She had a point about Hazel. It was obvious she was the raunchier and more worldly of the two burrow gnomes, but she’d seemed just as uptight and cloistered in her worldview as Honey when they’d first arrived. She still wore very modest, old-fashioned dresses with no cleavage and hems down to the floor. She was obviously having sex, but I didn’t think I’d ever heard her talk about it. Why would she? It was nobody’s business. Attitudes like Amaranth’s and Steff’s had become normal to me, but I had to remember they were not quite the norm, even in college.

What would Hazel do? I didn’t consider it likely that Amaranth was wrong… not that she was right about everything, but female fertility really was her area.

She almost seemed to be afflicted with horror at the thought of being pregnant, which was something I could sympathize with… that could explain why she was so insistent that Amaranth was wrong, but being insistent about something and actually believing it were two different things. Had she been up all night thinking about it, consumed with worry over something she couldn’t bring herself to admit?

I felt very bad about the situation, even though it wasn’t my fault she was in it. She shouldn’t have found out like that.

If dwarves really were pregnant for twenty-one months… I recalled reading that gnomish mothers carried their children for eleven months, so, a hybrid child would be somewhere between there. Maybe sixteen months, if it split the difference. Amaranth would probably know how that worked. With dwarves being so much bigger than gnomes, I had to assume it would be pretty damn uncomfortable for her. Could she keep up her schooling while lugging around a boulder in her womb? And what about after it was born?

The alternative… getting rid of it… didn’t seem likely. I didn’t know much about the little folks’ religion, but their social values seemed in line with those of humans a few generations ago. Would she even know that this kind of option existed? I supposed Amaranth would let her know, if she got a chance to talk to her… but my guess, too, was that Amaranth might have strong views on the subject, which she would push while denying she was favoring one side or the other.

In the end, Amaranth only left me stewing in my thoughts and the cold for a couple of minutes before she came back in. I don’t think she’d even actually taken a shower.

“I’ve thought it over and I have decided to go ahead and punish you now,” she said. “Are you ready for it?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said.

“Bend over the desk,” she said, and I did so, with gratitude.

I was getting numb with cold, but Amaranth stroked my ass gently with her fingertips, up and down, then kneaded it back to life, her thumbs trailing through the cleft. After massaging it for a minute or so, she stepped back, and said, “Brace yourself, baby.”

She meant it.

Whack!

“I have confidence in you, baby,” she said, “and so I’m confident that you understand without being told why this is a hard punishment. Is that correct?”

“Yes, ma’am,” I said. I nodded, picturing Hazel lying awake in her little bed… hands on her stomach, maybe… eaten by doubts and worry and not having anybody to talk to. “Please, continue.”

“Oh, that’s very good,” she said, and she gave me another hard slap. She was using as much force as she could, putting all of her strength into it and really winding up… but she was using the flat side of the paddle, letting me know that it could be worse. “I want you to keep doing that. Keep asking.”

“Please,” I said.

“Please what?” she asked, giving me a lighter spanking with the studded side.

“Please more,” I said. I started to add, “Ma’am,” but she’d already given me another taste of the studs. This one came in low, as much across the tops of my thighs as my ass, and catching a good bit more than that. I shrieked and jumped.

“Bend back over,” Amaranth said. “And try it again.”

“Please give me more, ma’am,” I said, and I heard the whoosh of another full-force crack right before it landed across my bottom.

We continued like this until my backside was on fire and my arms and legs were blocks of ice. Every time I was too slow or less than demure in my request to continue, I received a couple hits with the studs, harder each time. I couldn’t begin to count how many strokes we did… if I tried, I lost focus on my requests, and the switch-ups made it even harder to keep count. It might have been the longest sustained punishment she’d given me. When I started coming, about halfway through, it was pure joyless reflex.

She ended it without any sort of a climactic flourish. After the last resounding crack, I said, “Please, ma’am, keep going,” and she simply said, “No. I’m done,” and that was it. I slumped forward on the desk, and a few seconds later, her warm arms were enfolding me.

“You did good, baby,” she said gently. “Just remember that this wasn’t a game. Hazel’s life is going to be different, no matter what she does, and that’s not your fault and it isn’t anything that anybody can change for her, but it’s off to a rougher start than it needed to be, and that’s an honest shame.”

“I know,” I said. “I’m sorry.”

“I know you are,” she said. “And once Hazel has come to terms with this, you’ll apologize to her. I hope Ian will, too. And now, I’ve got something I want you to do before we go to breakfast.”

“What’s that?”

“Your boundaries have been moving a lot lately,” she said. “I can tell, because… well, because I can tell, and I know you’ve been doing different things with us. I want you to sit down, right now, and revise your lists, so we have them in writing.”

“Can’t I…” I started to say, wanting to get dressed.

“Baby, I think you’ve put it off a few times already” she said. “Sit down right now and do it.”

“Okay,” I said. “Yes, ma’am.” I took a wincing step towards my desk. “Um…”

“What?” Amaranth asked.

“May I please stand and write this?”

She giggled.

“You may.”

With some effort, I got out the notebook with my lists in them and a pen. I started with the easiest ones: the rules about penetration of orifices. They were pretty much dead and buried. It seemed like I couldn’t really deny Amaranth her desire to explore any of my passages orally since I let Ian and Steff fuck me in them… and the mermaids had had oral contact of a sort down below. At the same time… I wasn’t ready to white list that. I considered writing it in as explicitly gray, putting in writing that I’d try it but I wasn’t making any promises. Or just leave it both lists and add it to the black one if I tried it and we had to stop?

Really, I was realizing that my hard limits were more about context than anything else. I still didn’t want to have sex in public… I could acknowledge the excitement that was part of the embarrassing aspects of that, but it was only part of it… and really, if I set out to get off on the disapproval of random strangers, wasn’t that kind of like grinding against a stranger on a crowded coach? There was at least an element of something ugly in involving passersby in something sexual in a way that made them a party to it just by being there.

After trying to figure out how to best articulate these things… my willingness to try things with my chosen lovers and all the rest… I decided to just pitch the old version and start over.

I wrote:

BLACK:

Sex or sexual play in public places, with or in front of strangers.
Anything that causes permanent harm or requires healing.
Anything that breaks the law or university rules.
Anything that interferes with my school career and other obligations.
Anything involving blood.

After a few moments of thinking, I added “Anything with a magic item not intended for sex play.” I was thinking of Steff’s exploits with Callahan and the mockboxes when I wrote that, but then I realized Steff’s borrowed knife fit the description, too.

Then I wrote:

WHITE:

Any sexual contact I have previously enjoyed.
Any punishment or order that doesn’t violate the black list.

GRAY:

Any new sexual experience with any of my owners, if done slowly and carefully and not as an order, and with any indication to stop accepted without a safeword.

That seemed the best way to do it, to me. Listing specific things I liked on the white list would be mostly superfluous… completely so, for Amaranth… and might take away from both the spontaneity and my nice, secure feeling of submissiveness if the others started treating it like a checklist. On the other hand, no specific acts were listed on the black list because I didn’t have a real objection to any one act so much as what could happen as a result of them.

I finished and handed it to Amaranth, who looked it over and slowly nodded.

“That’s good,” she said. “Not what I expected, but a good way to handle it. Maybe better… maybe. Make sure you show it to Steff. You know, when she’s up for stuff.”

“Amaranth?” I said when she handed it back.

“Yes, baby?”

“What does Mother Khaele think of abortion?”

“Her creatures regulate their own reproduction in their own ways,” she said. “Some of them even terminate their own pregnancies. She facilitates reproduction for the other gods’ creations, but she leaves it to them to regulate themselves.”

“‘Them’ being the gods, or the creations?” I asked.

“I don’t think that would be for her to say,” she said.

“So… is there a right answer?” I asked.

“There’s a best answer, maybe,” she said. “For each individual question. But I don’t know who’s qualified to give it.” She cupped her hands beneath her own stomach. “I know what mine would be… or I think I do, but it’s not something that will ever come up, so I guess I’ve got the luxury of being able to say what I’d do without ever having to stick to it.” She sighed. “I don’t know if I should envy mortals or not… well, generally, I mean. I don’t envy Hazel. Maybe a little,” she admitted. “I want to know what it feels like… not necessarily to have a half-dwarf.” She shook herself, then kissed me on the cheek. “Sorry, I’m rambling while you’re patiently freezing. Get your robe and we’ll go shower and see who’s up for breakfast. Oh, and don’t forget your paddle.”

“Are you going to spank me in the showers?” I asked.

“I think that’s a public place this time of morning,” she said. “But always have it with you means always have it with you. Let’s get off to the right start here, baby.”

“Yes, ma’am.”


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3 Responses to “341: Choices”

  1. pedestrian says:

    contractual obligations – a blending of Anglo-American pseudo-legalism and Japanese social bindings.

    Current score: 0
  2. Arkeus says:

    So, Amaranth is getting a tiny bit better, but then she is also getting worse. Old habit of “not realizing her punishments being reward might not actually help Mack thinking of them as things she doesn’t want” are now coupled with “need to control everyone so they fit the patterns she approves of”.

    Current score: 2
    • Athena says:

      Yeah… that’s still totally not how punishments work and you’re still totally not actually paying attention to Mack in the story.

      Current score: 3