Though love and light have long since returned to the world, there are nights when Lily's dreams are dark.
Tonight she is dancing through halls of dark stone, moving as though her feet are possessed. She knows where these halls lead, for she has been here before, and she tries to run, but she cannot. All she can do is follow the enchantment through to the end and hope she is still clever enough to escape when the chance arrives.
The room at the end of the hall is made of the same dark stone, but it is grander, somehow. Smooth black pillars support the roof, which seems to be stories above her head. The walls glitter as if stardust were intertwined with the stone they are carved from. There is a fire in the fireplace, though it burns low. The room is lit beyond the small fire, though she cannot find the actual source of the light. If there are torches, they are hidden from her. Her feet stop here, and become her own again. She turns and looks behind her, but now she cannot find the hall that led her here. She is no longer enchanted, but she is not free. For the time being, perhaps because it is a dream, she accepts this, and contents herself with wandering through the room.
A table, carved of the same glittering stone that the walls are, waits in the center of the room. Unlike the last time she was here, there are no jewels, no strange foods. The table is bare save for an elaborate candelabra, worked in dark metal to match the stone, that remains unlit. Tall black candles sit in the holders, waiting for a flame to light them. There are chairs, but she does not sit.
The mirror, too, is as she remembers it, though the placement in the room is different. It occurs to her that this is not, precisely, the room she imagined that it was. This is a different place, perhaps a different world. It is a dream, she tells herself, though she cannot quite convince herself of that as she stares into the mirror. She sees herself reflected darkly in the glass. She is clad in her nightdress, and it floats around her as if in a breeze. She is a light spot in the darkness of the room, and her reflection captivates her for a moment, as if she is Narcissus looking into a pool. Though she knows what will come next, she cannot look away.
Her reflection does not so much change as it is suddenly replaced. It is as if the mirror has been removed, and something else, something less tangible, has been put there in its stead. She cannot see when the switch is made. She is aware only that she is no longer looking at herself. She tries to tell her legs to move, to run before its too late, but it is already too late. Anyway, her legs do not obey.
Darkness steps out of the mirror, as he always does in these dreams. She is mere feet away from him, and she trembles, but still she cannot run. By the time he has emerged fully, she realizes that her desire to run has started to leave her.
He stalks toward her, cloven feet sounding the rhythm of his walk on the floor. He turns at the last second, circling around her. Her body is still, though she follows him with her eyes as best she can. He stands behind her, towering over her, taller and broader than any mortal man. Her heart beats too quickly, but still she cannot – or maybe now it is just that she does not – run from him.
“Have you missed me, Lady?” he asks her, his voice ringing a little off the mirror and the stone.
Goosebumps rise on her skin, as if his very voice chills her. The truth, however, is quite the opposite.
“It would please you to hear me say I had, would it not?” she says, sounding braver than she feels.
He laughs a little at that, more of a chuckle than an outright laugh. Still, he is amused. “Well enough,” he says, “Though I do not need to hear aloud what I know to be true. I hear it in the way your breath sticks in your throat. I hear it in the way your heart races in your chest. Do you think you can hide the darkest parts of yourself? From me?”
He places one hand on her shoulder, and she jerks away from him, almost violently. She whirls around to face him, and it is only then that she meets his eyes. She did not dare to look directly at him before, and now she cannot resist the urge to.
His eyes are like burning coals in his face, staring down at her with their strange pupils. They are predator's eyes, there is no mistaking that. He is hunting her now as surely as he was the first time they met. And here in this dream, on the edge of the waking world, Jack will not come to save her. She is alone with him here, and she feels like his prey.
“Will you sit with me now?” he asks. She is less naïve than she once was, and she hears the underlying threat.
“I told you once,” she says, raising her chin in defiance,” I do nothing for your pleasure.”
She expects his anger; she is inciting it on purpose. Yet that is not what she finds. Instead, he laughs again, louder this time.
“Is that so? You are here, are you not? You came when I called you here. Is that not for my pleasure?”
Uncertainty replaces defiance on her face for a moment. She schools herself, but it is a moment he does not miss, and she knows it. “I did nothing of the sort,” she insists, but the uncertainty in her voice is obvious in her own ears; surely in his, it is even more so.
“Lying does not become you, Lady,” he says, somewhat smugly. He takes a step toward her, and her feet remember how to move. She half-runs, half-skips away from him. It is a game, she knows, though she does not really know the rules or how to win. She knows only that she cannot give in so easily, dream or not.
He is already on the other side of the table when she runs to it.
“This is my domain, Lady,” he says, in response to the surprise on her face. “There is nowhere you can go that I cannot follow, nothing you can do that I cannot predict.”
“What do you want from me? Sit, and talk?” she says, and she is mocking him.
He is not amused.
“I think you know better than that,” he says.
She does, but she does not want to admit it to herself. She shakes her head, though whether she is denying his words or trying to banish her own thoughts, she could not say.
He is behind her again. She does not jerk away now when he places a hand on her. One clawed finger runs along her skin, tracing a line down the side of her neck, along her shoulder, and down her bare arm. The goosebumps return, rising in a line that seems to follow his touch. Her breath catches audibly. His hand runs back up to her neck again, and his thumb brushes her cheek. She turns her head away, somewhere between embarrassed and coy, but he will not have it. His hand twists in her hair instead, and he pulls her head back. She cries out, and struggles then, but struggling only brings pain. He holds her until she stills, and her eyes burn angrily up at him.
“Yes,” he tells her, simply.
When she tries to jerk away from him again, he lets her. She bolts, seeking the door that she knows must be there somewhere. Her heart pounds in time with her footfalls on the stone floor.
She reaches the end of the room, where she is sure she first entered from. There is no door there, but there is Darkness.
He stands as if barring the way, and she nearly skids to a stop, feet sliding on the smooth, polished stone. She stops inches from him and looks up at him. Defiance has left her, and she is afraid. Her heart refuses to stop pounding.
He laughs at her, and the sound is not amused, but cruel. His hands are on her again, gripping her shoulders and pulling her close to him. She fights him, swinging futile fists at his chest, trying to kick her legs at him vainly. They are more the struggles of a small, frightened child than a woman grown, and it galls her to realize that. His laughter continues, and he does not let her go.
She stops her tantrum, forcing herself to play at calmness, and he finally releases her again.
“Where will you run, Lady? I have already told you, there is nowhere you can go. I can play this game all night. And all the next night, and the next. I have eternity. There is no time in dreams. I can be patient. Can you?”
She shakes her head, again not sure what the meaning in the gesture is. He is quiet, studying her, holding her captive with that predatory gaze. His eyes travel up and down her form; there is no reason for him to disguise his desire, so he does not bother.
She is the one who drops her gaze first. She can practically feel him gloating above her, though he does not speak.
He reaches for her again, and she does not run this time, but she also does not raise her eyes.
His touch is gentle, at least for the time being. He brushes her hair back over her shoulder, baring her neck to his touch. This time, his touch does not run down her arm, but rather follows the curve of the nightdress's collar toward the front, then continues down her chest. She is bare underneath, and suddenly she becomes very aware of that fact – as does he. Her nipples harden as his fingers brush over her breast. He does it again, circling her nipple with his finger through the thin fabric, careful not to hurt her with his claws. After a moment of this, she can bear it no longer and steps away from him again, crossing her arms over her chest protectively.
He laughs, and steps toward her again. He takes her wrists and pulls them away from her chest.
“Come now,” he chides her, “Do you plan to pretend at refusing me all night? I already know of your desires. You would not have come here otherwise.”
She shakes her head. “No,” she whispers, as she allows herself to realize his meaning.
“Yes,” he insists, and draws her closer to him. She resists, but only a little. He pulls her nearly against him, then stops and turns her around so she faces away from him. His hands grip her shoulders hard enough to threaten, but not enough to hurt. He moves his hands down, then, to cup her breasts with them, again playing with her nipples through the fabric, pinching them until they are even harder. She clenches her jaw, not wanting to make any sound, but it is a fight she can already feel herself losing. As his hands fondle her, her will to fight him off drains away, and she leans back against him. She nearly stands on tiptoe, pressing her breasts up into his hands, even as his pinches become harder.
When she is flush against him, she can feel his cock, already unbound from what little clothing he bothered with, hard against her back. She finally gasps aloud, and her eyes flutter closed. His fingers close again on her nipples, and he twists.
She cries out, though she cannot say it is only because it hurts, and stiffens under his touch, ready to fight again.
Before she can really think to escape though, he picks her up in his arms and carries her. The voice in her mind that tells her to fight him, to struggle, to get away seems faraway and unimportant. Instead, she clings to him, as if she is afraid he will drop her – or as if she wants to feel more of him against her.
He lays her on the table, and there is nothing gentle in his face as he looks down at her, nothing gentle in his hands as he reaches for her. He tears her nightdress away without ceremony or restraint, baring her to his eyes and hands. She moves to cover herself again, but he stops her, grabbing her wrists in one hand and pinning them to the table above her head. She fights him on instinct then, suddenly afraid in a way she was not before.
Her wrists are small in his hand, and she feels as if he could crush her bones without trying. He does not, though his grip on her wrists is painful. She writhes, but cannot escape him. Rather than look at him, she turns her face to bury it against her arm, ashamed that she had started to give in to this.
He cares nothing for her struggles or her shame. He runs his free hand over her again, though he does not stop at her breast. His hand moves lower, dragging claws along her belly. Again there is the feeling that he is threatening her, and she freezes, afraid he will really hurt her.
Her legs part for him despite how ashamed she is, and when his fingers part her lips, he can tell how much she desires him. He laughs, and she squeezes her eyes shut as if that will shut out the sound. He will not have that, however. He pulls her hair again, forcing her to look at him.
“Will you deny me still?” he asks, and she hears the anger in his tone. “Lying wet and open beneath me, you still tell yourself that I am not what you desire. You are fooling no one.”
Her mouth opens, as if she will say something, but in the end she cannot find words to argue against what he says. It is not precisely what he wants, but he accepts it and lets her hair go. She does not bury her face against her arm again.
His hand moves back down between her legs. He traces her lips with one clawed finger, and her goosebumps return in full force. She gasps again as the tip of his claw brushes over her clitoris, sending shocks through her body. She cannot be sure he doesn’t plan to hurt her now, and that thought is too much to bear.
“Please...” she says. Her voice sounds small and afraid in her ears, and she wishes she could find her defiance again. It is hard to be defiant, though, when her body trembles with fear and desire.
“Please?” he repeats, and trades his claw for the pad of his finger, rubbing against her hard little clit. She moans, and her legs part further. She cannot make herself speak again.
He is less than satisfied with her silence, and he punishes her for it, pushing one finger somewhat roughly into her waiting hole. It slides in easily enough, but he does have claws, and she feels them. He does not hurt her, exactly; he has more control than that, but the threat is more real now.
“Please, you beg me, yet you turn away when I am gentle. Tell me, Lady, is it something more than gentleness that you desire from me?”
“I desire nothing from you,” she says, finding her courage unexpectedly, and spitting the words at him.
“Is that so?” he asks, with barely-restrained anger in his voice. His mood is unpredictable, and she should have known better.
He pulls both of his hands away from her. She tries to move, but she finds her hands are chained to the table. She is not aware of chains being put on her; either way she is still a prisoner. This is his domain, as he told her, and he can do as he pleases. She is more aware of that fact now, as she lays all but helpless before him.
“If you're so convinced I want something from you, why force me?” she asks, but it is anger and not fear that drive her words.
“Do you think I will take you by force?” he asks. “I do not think I shall need to.”
She glares at him, but it does not matter.
He leans down, and she thinks he will kiss her, though that seems somehow ludicrous at the moment. He does kiss her, but not her mouth. He focuses immediately on one nipple, kissing it open-mouthed and swirling his tongue over it. She gasps, and her gasp becomes a moan as he begins to suck. He sucks hard enough that it starts to hurt. As her moan becomes a cry, he bites down – though not with his fangs, only with teeth that are unsharpened. Her cries echo off the walls around her – feeding her ears the sound of her own pain and pleasure mingled. That excites her further, though she would never say so.
He kisses and sucks his way down her body, and when she guesses at his aim, she squeezes her legs shut. Still, when he kisses just above her mound, she cannot help but open her legs again anyway. His breath is hot against her already fevered flesh, and his tongue is hotter still. He ignores her clit for a moment, instead running his tongue along her lips. They are swollen with desire, and part open for him. He moans against her as he tastes her wetness, and she can feel his low laughter as her hips rise to meet him. He fucks her with his tongue, pushing in and out of her hole, drinking her juices right out of her.
She moans and bucks wantonly. It is only when he is convinced of her surrender that he turns his attention to her clit, sucking on the hard flesh. He recalls the way she reacted to his claws, and so now he teases her with the edges of his fangs. He is careful not to hurt her or scratch her. He could pierce her skin easily if he wished; that he does not speaks volumes she will still refuse to hear.
The orgasm takes her all at once. She cries out, again hearing the sound echoed back at her, and her hips move up toward him again. Her muscles clench, and she feels his tongue inside her again. He eats her greedily, all the way through the orgasm.
She is half-mad with desire for him when he rises. She finds her hands unbound, and she reaches for him without hesitation, drawing him do her. He cups her cunt with one hand, squeezing briefly, causing her to rock her hips against his touch. When he finally kisses her, she tastes herself on his lips and it sends fire through her veins.
His cock is like an iron rod as it enters her, and she feels as if he will burn her from the inside. The second orgasm hits her almost immediately, and her legs come up to lock around him as he pushes into her again and again. He is as much beast as he is man, and the way he fucks her demonstrates it. He is rough, and cares nothing for her enjoyment or comfort once he has begun. He pounds into her over and over, and when it is too much to take, she starts to scream.
Her screams are still echoing when he finishes, sending his seed into her like liquid fire. She comes again, in spite of the pain or because of it, before finally going limp under him.
There are tears on her cheeks when she comes back to herself, though she does not remember crying. He is standing there, watching her. There is something she is not sure she likes on his face – something possessive. Or perhaps she does like it. At the moment, it is hard to decide.
She moves to sit up, and he offers her a hand to help her. She accepts it, and he supports her until she can steady herself.
“Have you taken what you wanted?” she asks him.
“I have taken only what you have given me,” he answers, though the answer does not satisfy her. He helps her to her feet regardless. The room is spinning around her, and she sees - or thinks she sees - the star-like glitter from the stone swirl in patterns in the air for a long while before she can focus.
He is no longer holding her. She looks for him, suddenly panicked that she is alone.
He is there, however, at the edge of her field of vision.
“Is there something else you wish of me, Lady?” he asks her.
“No,” she says, and they both know it is a lie.
“You are free to leave,” he says, dismissing her more than granting permission. She looks toward the wall, and the door she was so sure of is there, hanging open as if it has been there the whole time. She does not want to think too long on whose will it was that kept the door shut and hidden from her until now.
“I will see you again, Lady,” he says from behind her.
“My name is Lily,” she says. She does not look at him, however, afraid of what she will see in his eyes, and instead moves toward the door.
“Lily,” he repeats, savoring the word as if it is the sweetest thing he has ever tasted. Hearing her name from his lips thrills her, and she does turn to look at him again, but he is gone, and she is left with her thoughts and her aching body.
She looks down at her hands, and there are marks that look near to burns, where the chains bound her to the table. She is cold, all of a sudden, and her clothes are still gone. She turns and runs anyway, back down the corridor she came from.
She wakes suddenly, and it alarms her. She sits straight up in her bed, pulse pounding in her ears. The bedsheets feel wet beneath her, though she knows it cannot be sweat alone. As the sleepy haze disappears, she realizes she is naked, and the realization chills her. She does not see her nightdress anywhere nearby, and that chills her, too.
She cannot bring herself to climb out of bed just then. She lays back again, ignoring the feeling of the damp sheets, and forces herself to breathe. She drifts off to sleep again, and if she dreams she does not know it.
It is only when the morning comes to chase away the night that she wakes again. When she rises to dress, she notices faint lines on her wrists, as if they had been burned by something. As she stares at them with disbelief, she can hear the voice of Darkness cutting through the bright morning.
Lily, it says, and the word is a promise.