Title: Cassiel's Choice
Pairing: Faith/Joscelin, Phedre/Joscelin
It was in the pearl-grey light of dawn that I saw Joscelin kneeling in our gardens at Montrève. Twice before had I seen him kneel so, keeping Elua's vigil. Once, in the Skaldic snows, in the white bone-cold of winter, he prayed thus to Cassiel for his broken vows and betrayed honour. And again, in these very gardens, on the night I told him I was returning to the Service of Naamah. Each time, I felt the shame of Kushiel's Chosen--shame that it was I who asked more than a Perfect Companion could freely give. Shame, hot and burning, that curled between my legs and left my center weeping.
That is what it is to bear the scarlet mote of Kushiel's Dart, when humiliation is a greater pleasure than honour could ever be.
How it pierced my heart to see Joscelin kneel again, vambraces crossed, in the bitter chill of morning. Worse still was knowing that it was, this once, no action of mine that caused his grief.
Do not think that I was all-unknowing, like some maiden betrayed by a cruel lover's careless abandonment. Far from it. Not for nothing am I Naamah's Servant. Not for nothing have I studied the ways of the adepts in each of the Thirteen Houses.
Had I not seen Joscelin teaching the art of the Cassiline Brotherhood to Faith, these weeks past? Had I not seen the endless grace of the outlander girl, learning all that Joscelin had to bestow as though she was born to the blade? Faster than any ten-year-old middle son, sent to the Cassiline's disciplines, Faith absorbed every form, every fluid move. With vambrace and dagger, I saw her best Joscelin--he who has drawn his sword to kill, he who prevented Ysandre's assassination twice over--Faith won every encounter, in the blood-red sunset light.
And then? I know not, though I imagined a thousand endings. I could not watch. I turned away, took myself to the library and forced my eyes to read Raziel's runes.
When I returned at last to my bedchamber, Joscelin was not there.
And now he kneels, and for how many hours he has remained unmoving I cannot say. I am an anguisette and twice-dedicated to Naamah. Perhaps I know better than any the pain of Elua's words, Love as thou wilt.
Only for Joscelin, the Perfect Companion, who gave me his service and his vows for the breaking, who gave me the gift of his chastity, could I ache so. He is my consort, my lover. Ten years we have known each other's minds and hearts. He has never known another. Until now.
Why do I hurt so? Why, for once in all my life, do I feel pain without the flush of pleasure? I, Kushiel's Chosen, the first such in all the memory of man; I weep and feel no joy.
In Kushiel's eyes, even the glimmer of tears on Joscelin's cheeks is a beauty beyond knowing.