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Smoke and Mirrors

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The streets were nearly empty. A solitary car was driving towards him, its headlights shining on the rain-slick street. Charlie ducked into the doorway of a building, pulling out the packet of cigarettes from his jacket pocket; tapping one out he waited for the car to pass. Cupping a match with his hand, he struck it against the brick and quickly lit the cigarette. The first hit of menthol hit his lungs and he closed his eyes, relishing in the burn. He only ever smoked when he came to Paris.

The car came to a stop in front of the club entrance, a black taxi cab, and let off its passenger. Charlie caught just a glimpse of the man’s face as the street lamp cast light on his face as he turned to look up and down the street before hurrying up the stairs and into the unmarked entrance of the club. He was unfamiliar to Charlie, but then most of the club members were, Charlie only visited when he could no longer stay away. This was the longest he’d ever gone between visits, four months.

He finished the cigarette, taking long drags and releasing the smoke slowly, still disoriented from the series of apparations that he’d needed to get from the dragon reserve to Paris. He’d rested in the hotel room, but hadn’t been able to sleep, the call of the club was too strong--he was so close to finding the release that he needed.

Stubbing the cigarette butt out against the doorway, he flicked it into a trash bin as he made his way across the street to the club. The door swung open before he reached the top step and he was in the small entranceway where two wizards in dark suits stood waiting. “Bonsoir, Monsieur,” the man said politely as he extended a silver tray. Charlie pulled a small scroll of black parchment out of his jacket pocket and lay it on the tray, before starting to take off his jacket. The scroll contained his preferences and membership information.

The man waved his wand over it and a spray of gold sparks burst from his wand. Charlie looked at the gold color, his jacket still only half off, there should have been purple sparks. The man did it again with the same results. “Pardon me, sir.” The man walked quickly down the corridor and into an office, and Charlie felt a tremor of fear that he might be denied entry.

“What’s wrong?” Charlie asked the remaining wizard who was guarding the exit. The man shrugged, and shook his head. Charlie ran his hand through his hair in frustration as he waited.

The man returned with the club manager, a short robust man whom Charlie had met for the first time the last time he was there. The manager said in accented English, “Good evening, monsieur. I apologize for the delay. There is, of course, no problem with your entry, but an opportunity has arisen for you.”

Charlie stared at him in disbelief, he only wanted to get into the club. “Do I have to? I just want to get in--”

“It will just take a moment and I think you may be interested.”

Charlie turned to look at the blue door that led to the preparation rooms and back at the man. Forcing himself to take two deep breaths, he nodded his consent. “Fine, just don’t take too long.”

“Of course, not. This way.” He led Charlie down the corridor and into a small, modern office. Motioning for Charlie to sit down, the man went around the ornate wood desk.

“To not, as you English say, beat around the bush, one of our priority members took notice of you during your last visit and requested that you be offered the liberty of his suite, and the opportunity to see if the two of you could come to an agreement.”

Charlie sat back in surprise. He knew that the more exclusive members of the club members had rooms, for those who wished to take their pleasure privately, but had never been in one.

“Is he here?” Charlie stalled as he considered the ramifications of such an agreement. He hadn’t been a sub to anyone regular since Remus. Instead, he’d come to the club where he never knew who’d take an interest in him for the night, and the results had often been unsatisfactory. It was one of the reasons he stayed away so long between visits.

“Non,” the man said but hastened to say, “We are sending him word that you are here. He left instructions, that if you agree, you be brought to his suite to wait for him. It will be a matter of a half-hour, or less.”

“What if I say no?”

“You are of course welcome to the club, but he will not seek you out on the floor. He prefers the privacy of his suite.”

Charlie lit another cigarette as he debated. He wanted it, but didn’t understand why he’d been selected out of all the subs that were on the floor. He was far from the most attractive and he wasn’t at the club enough to become a favorite of any of the regular doms.

“The gentleman in question is most trustworthy. We’ve never received any complaints.” Sweat was beading on the man’s forehead and Charlie realized how important the mystery client must be. “He understood that you might be hesitant, since you haven’t yet met him, and wished that you be assured that he would just like to talk to you, if you say no, then no harm.”

“Fine.” Charlie stood up and stubbed the cigarette out on the ashtray on the man’s desk, “Where do I go?”

“This way, monsieur.” The manager led Charlie up the staircase three levels to a hallway with dark wine colored walls, lit only by sconces. At the far end of the corridor was a gold door. The man tapped his wand to the door and it sprang open. Charlie walked through the doorway and stopped short as he saw the room, it wasn’t anything that he expected to see in such a club.

The suite was sparsely furnished, with modern black leather furniture. The dark wood floor gleamed in the light of the wall sconces. Facing them was a wall of stone with iron rings, another wall was covered with floor to ceiling chocolate brown velvet drapes. No bed, not that that was needed or expected, but none of the typical equipment was anywhere to be seen. The entire room spoke of understated wealth and the random thought went through his head that it was a good thing he’d worn his best ‘city’ clothes to the club.

“The gentleman had the suite decorated to his specifications.” The manager gave a flick of his wand at the far wall and the curtains opened. Charlie stepped forward, he could see the entire exhibition area.

“He wishes his identity to remain a secret, he will be wearing a mask when he arrives.”

“Is he someone famous?” Charlie wondered more and more about who this mystery man was, some on the floor wore half-masks to conceal themselves, most did it for effect rather than to actually conceal their identity.

“I cannot say.”

“Very well.” Charlie was frustrated and vexed at the turn that the night had taken, “How long did you say he will be?”

“Within a half hour. A bell will be rung before he enters, so that you have warning.”

“Thank you.” Charlie turned his back dismissively towards the man. He needed time to think, to settle himself. He closed his eyes and gave a sigh of relief as he heard the manager leave. Running his fingers through his hair in frustration he looked more closely at the room, there was no equipment laying out, most doms proudly displayed their favorite toys. Eyeing the large wardrobe against the far wall, Charlie walked over and pulled the doors open.

The wardrobe was filled with narrow drawers, he pulled out the first one, it was filled with handcuffs, some of leather, others of metal. Charlie picked up a leather one that had metal d-rings sewn into the leather. His cock started to fill as he thought how he could be bound by such cuffs and have the ropes run through the rings, stretching his body taut. Hastily, he set the cuffs back down and opened the next drawer.

There were four bullwhips, coiled and nestled each in its own velvet rest. Charlie picked up the whip closest to him. It was probably a six foot length, not including the cracker and fall. He ran his fingers over the black leather, high quality kangaroo, with a twelve strand overlay that was expertly plaited. The whip was broken in, Charlie thought as he felt the leather, it could take many months, years to get a whip this supple, the whip in his hand had seen much use and had been well cared for. The owner of the suite obviously spared no expense in his equipment, and liked to use it. Setting down the whip in its holder he slid the drawer closed and opened the next.

It held the smaller signal whips of the same quality of the previous drawer. Charlie groaned at the sight of them and had to press his hand against his erection. It really had been too long, if just the heady smell and feel of the oiled leather was getting him hard.

The other drawers contained floggers, cat o’nine tails, crops, and finally, rulers. Charlie laughed when he saw them--simple, wooden rulers that any child had in their school kit. He picked up one up and slapped it against his palm, the sting made him wonder about the man who was comfortable enough to include five knut rulers alongside the more exotic equipment.

Closing the doors of the wardrobe, he paced the room, examining the metal rings that were mounted on the walls, resisting the temptation to run his hands through the loop to test the fit. He was on edge enough without making his need any greater. Next to a small drinks area was a closed door and he put his hand on the doorknob, but stopped himself. Whoever the mystery client was, he might not appreciate a sub who was too forward.

Eyeing the bottles of alcohol he instead poured himself a glass of sparkling water and went to sit on the sofa. He could see clearly what was happening on the floor and his body ached to be down there. He didn’t need some wealthy dom, he just needed relief. Resolutely he pulled the curtains closed and slowly began the deep breathing technique that Remus had taught him long ago.

It was how Remus had started each of their sessions. The whispered strength of his voice had never failed to arouse Charlie as Remus taught him how to control and feed his desires. To find the release that always eluded him before Remus came into his life. It was that release, to be able to completely let go, that he had lost when Remus died.

~|~|~|~

A chime sounded and Charlie stood up, wiping his hands nervously on his trousers as he turned to face the door. The door opened quietly and the man entered, he was dressed in a black shirt and trousers. A black leather half-mask covered his upper face, Charlie appreciated the look against the man’s tan skin. His mouth was attractive with the hint of dimples. The man had a dark five o’clock shadow that made Charlie wonder what it would feel like against his skin.

“I apologize for keeping you waiting.” His voice was deep, and English, Charlie realized with surprise and dread. If he was English there was a possibility that the man knew him, or would recognize his trademark Weasley looks, the English wizarding world was a small one.

“It wasn’t long,” Charlie responded. “I wasn’t expecting to be brought here. I just wanted to be out on the floor.”

“I hope they didn’t pressure you to come up. What have they explained?” The dom asked as he walked towards Charlie. He was slender, Charlie thought, his clothes fit snugly and there didn’t appear to be an inch of fat on him.

“That you have an interest in...me.”

“I saw you the last time you were here. I had hoped that you would return sooner than you did.”

“I only come when I must.”

“I’d like to have a session with you. If you don’t want to you are welcome to go to the floor.”

“Do I know you?” Charlie decided to get the question out there, he didn’t want to expose himself unknowingly to someone he knew.

“I am known by many.”

The man hadn’t answered his question and Charlie was tempted to challenge him, but his body was already aching and he just needed the release, it didn’t matter if it came from this man or a Dom on the floor. “Okay. We can do this.”

“Look down there.” The curtains covering the large window opened. “What did you come here for tonight?”

Charlie walked to the window and his eyes went automatically to the flagellation ring. There were three subjects tonight, two bound naked to the circular wall, next to each other. The other tied to a rack in the center of the ring. Two of doms were shirtless, the third was dressed in leather vest and pants, he had a bullwhip and was giving precision flicks to the back of his subject’s legs. Charlie’s cock swelled at the sight.

“Put your arms against the glass.” There was a sharpness to the man’s voice that told him that they were starting. Charlie obeyed the command. He widened his stance and the man was behind him. “Look down at them. Where would you be?” He gripped Charlie’s wrists tightly against the window, as his body pressed in, forcing Charlie’s erection painfully against the glass. Charlie could feel the man’s own hardness pressing against his buttocks. Charlie gave a deep breath that misted on the glass at the relief that the constraint gave him, it wasn’t nearly enough, but a start. “Answer.”

“The blue ring.” He could feel the man’s breath on his neck. The man’s hands tightened on his wrists, his arms pressing against Charlie’s.

“Tell me what you want.”

“To be tied.”

“Like the one on the left?” The man on the left was tied by his arms alone, with enough slack that he could pull away.

Charlie shook his head. “No, tight like the one on the right.” The subject was tied hand and foot to iron rings, his arms stretched above his head, his legs apart. The bright red marks from a crop clearly visible, criss-crossing the sub’s naked back and thighs.

“Crop?”

Charlie closed his eyes as he thought of the crop striking his own skin, it would work but it required the wielder to be so close, he prefered the distance from the person who would be administering the blows.

“No. Whip.”

“Stop word.”

“Bogart.”

“Slowdown word.”

“Doxie.”

Charlie said the words automatically, but the routine made him miss Remus with a pain that cut through the defenses he’d built up since Remus had died. Every time he came to the club, he had to negotiate the same things, he craved to have a partner that knew who he was, understood his body, his needs. What he’d lost ten years ago: the whispered, intimate discussions when they would share their fantasies, the comforting touch of Remus’s hand against his skin as they lay together in bed afterwards, sated and exhausted.

“How do you like it?”

“Unpredictable, never knowing when and where the next strike will hit.”

“There is a bedroom en suite through there.” The dom pointed towards the door that Charlie hadn’t opened. “Prepare yourself, and put on the blindfold that is on the bed. Let me know when you are ready.”

He was reminded with a rush that he wasn’t allowed to see the man’s face. It was difficult trusting someone whom he couldn’t assess what he was made of. He’d never walk into a corral with a dragon without being able to see its face, and now he was going to allow himself to be strapped to a wall and whipped by a complete stranger.

“The door is open, if you’ve changed your mind.”

Charlie opened his eyes and looked down at the arena, anonymous men that he knew no better than the man who was standing behind him. God, he missed Remus. Taking a deep breath, he made his decision.

“Let’s do it.”

~|~|~|~

Ten minutes later he was pressed spread-eagle and naked against the wall, blinded by the cloth tied tightly over his eyes. His left arm was already buckled and the man was fastening his right wrist into the leather cuff that was mounted to the wall. He heard and felt the leather tongues sliding through the metal buckles, three times. Another cuff was fastened around his biceps.

There was no space between him and the wall. Firm hands spread his legs apart farther and he sucked in his breath knowing how exposed his balls and cock were in this position. The man fit the leather cuff around his thigh. With the tightening of each buckle Charlie felt his tension easing. He closed his eyes behind the blindfold and fell into the darkness of this other world, where he could just let go. The loss of his sight heightened his other senses. The cold grit of the stone against his cheek, his stomach, his cock. Through the wall he could hear the faint sound of water, a drain from the roof, perhaps, dripping from the rain.

In contrast to the coldness of the stone, the temperature in room had been raised, Charlie could feel beads of sweat trickling between his shoulder blades.

The sharp sting of a slap on his left buttocks brought him back into the room as the man’s hand slid from his ass, up his back to the nape of the neck. Strong fingers gripped the back of his neck and as the man leaned into Charlie he realized that they were skin to skin. He must have taken off his shirt but left his trousers on, the coldness of a metal belt buckle pressed against his lower back.

“Okay?”

Charlie tested the restraints and he couldn’t move except his head. He nodded his assent.

“I”m going to warm you up with a flogger. Then the whip. Can you take fifteen lashes of the whip?”

Charlie shook his head, “More.”

“Hmmm. Twenty. Then a break, maybe change things up.” Charlie nodded again, taking a deep breath to calm himself.

He heard the pad of the man’s bare feet as he crossed the wooden floor and the sound of the wardrobe opening and a drawer being pulled open and closed. The man walked back across the floor and Charlie took another deep breath and held it.

“Doxie, I ease up. Bogart, we stop.”

Charlie didn’t bother to nod, just turned his face to the wall and braced himself. There was a soft swoosh and the flogger struck him low on his back, it wasn’t nearly enough and Charlie held back a groan of disappointment. Too gentle. The dom was obviously cautious--or experienced--enough to not start too harshly before knowing Charlie’s limits.

He struck again. A little higher, a little harder and Charlie pulled as little he could against the tight bindings, wanting to get closer to the strikes. Then the blows came on top of one another and he gave a sigh of relief as he felt his skin start to tingle and burn.

There was a thud on the ground and then Charlie felt cool hands running along his back. “Yes, I think that will do quite nicely.” Charlie shivered in anticipation, his eyes still closed underneath the blindfold as he heard the sound of the man walking a few steps away.

“Twenty lashes. Count.”

It was the only warning before the crack of the whip split the air. There was hardly time to brace himself before the burning sting hit him between his shoulderblades. “One,” he gasped out, as the sting faded replaced by a lingering burn, he took in a deep breath as the next crack sounded. Placed perfectly to cross the first mark the whip barely touched him before it was recoiling back. “Two.” Charlie flexed his shoulders as he heard the man walking towards him.

“Beautiful.” The man stroked the marks with his thumb. Charlie flinched away from the touch, it felt comforting and he didn’t want comfort, he needed to be pushed. The man gave a deep rumbling chuckle, “Right. Let’s get into it.”

The third flick came without warning across the back of both his thighs, Charlie gritted his teeth and ground out, “Three.” The strikes continued one after another, and he felt himself falling into the darkness, his mind focusing not on the pain that lit his back, legs, arms on fire, but at the grunt the man made as he unleashed the whip, the crack, the movement of air before the leather cut across his skin, the whisper of the leather as it slid back across the floor. True to his request, there was no steady pattern, strikes came from the left, right, straight on.

Sixteen…seventeen…

The last five were always the toughest, the pain was no longer individual lashes but as if his back were on fire. It took all he had to focus to remember to breathe, to count...

Eighteen…nineteen…twenty...

Charlie’s head fell back in relief and the man was there, supporting his head. “You did it. You were magnificent…” Charlie rested, his body letting go, sagging as much as the bindings allowed. He was glad that the man wasn’t trying to undo them as he fought to find his center again.

“Here.” A straw was put against his lower lip and Charlie realized how parched he was, he sipped eagerly, coughing when the ice water went down wrong. “Slowly.”

The man carefully avoided touching Charlie’s back. He heard a clink of ice against the glass and a gasping scream escaped him as the ice was put between his shoulder blades. “Shhhhh… let it work.” Charlie felt the burn as ease as the man slid the ice across his shoulders. “You didn’t make a single noise before, and you scream when I try to ease the burn,” the man chided him.

“We aren’t done. I’m not--”

“No. Just taking a break. I’m going to reposition you.” He waited until Charlie nodded his agreement and then the man kneeled down and started to unbuckle the buckles on his legs, moving quicker than he had buckled them. The relief of the cuffs coming off felt almost too good, he had the urge to move his legs but he stayed in position and waited.

“Good. You were trained well,” the man stood up, sliding his hands along the back of Charlie’s legs as he did. “You may move your legs.”

Charlie pulled them together, the stretch of having them so far apart made the muscles painful to move. He clenched his thigh muscles to try and stop the shaking. “Let them relax, they will be bound again soon enough.” The man ordered as he started to undo the arm cuffs.

“Turn around,” he said as soon as the last buckle was undone. Charlie stiffly turned, feeling vulnerable as he exposed his frontside to him. He was grateful for the blindfold, not wanting to watch the man studying his body, the tattoo, or the burn marks on his arms, his cock jutting out from his body.

There was a murmur of incantations and Charlie heard the cuffs sliding into new positions on the wall. He leaned back against the wall, the rough stone stung his bruised skin, waiting impatiently for the man to get things ready for the next go.

“Bend your arms.” The man buckled his arms to the wall so that his elbows were bent to a 90 degree angle, hands facing up. He fastened Charlie’s legs closer together, in a more natural stance. His cock that had sagged during the break was hard again and the man gripped it with his hand, feeling Charlie’s balls, that were drawn up, tight and aching. “Cock ring?”

Charlie hesitated, but shook his head. He was close, but the first lash would take the edge off. The man let go of him without any further comment and Charlie willed him to start again. There was a gentle brush of material against his cock, a flogger again, he realized but a different one, and for an instant he regretted turning down the offer of the cock ring as the metal beads at the end of each strand of the soft suede leather brushed against his sac.

Closing his eyes he braced his head against the wall as the touch of the flogger disappeared. There was a whoosh and a strike against his upper thigh. More stimulating than painful, the man was was teasing him with it, or trying to get him to come, or to simply testing the effect.

“Count.” The man prompted him.

“One.”

The next ones were stronger, never in the same place, and after ten the man stopped, Charlie could hear his strained breathing. Charlie let his head sag down, his chin touching his chest. Immediately, there were fingers on his chin, lifting it. “No.”

There was a flick and the flogger struck him between the legs, licking his balls and perineum, the feel of the softness of the silk and the bite of the metal beads making him cry out, the sound reverberating in the room. “E-lev-en,” he gasped through the pain.

“Good boy, Red.” The man as he struck again, a lash against his sternum, and then the balls again. Charlie could no longer hold back, as the strikes came one after another, and blissfully he fell into the place he had to be, where there was no noise but the whoosh of the flogger, all there was was the spinning freedom as he let go of the pain and finally felt alive.

Then it stopped, slowly he came to be aware again. The rasps of his own breath as he came down. The thud as the flogger dropped to the ground, an incantation was spoken, and he was free, the cuffs falling away. He flailed his arms out to catch himself as he fell forward, but the man caught him, supporting the full weight of Charlie’s body without even a grunt as he lowered him to the floor.

“You did good.” The man’s hands were stroking the top of his head, fingers running through his hair, pushing Charlie’s head forward to rest against his bare abdomen. The man’s skin was slick with sweat and Charlie was struck by the urge to lick, taste the salt on this stranger’s skin. His own body was trembling, shaking and he couldn’t control it.

“You’ve earned your reward,” the fingers that had been gently stroking, gripped his hair tightly and pulled back Charlie’s head so he was looking blindly up at the man, “Are you ready?”

Unable to move his head, Charlie licked his lips instead, opening his mouth. There was a low chuckle, “Good boy, Red.” He must have scowled at the nickname because the man murmured, “Not a fan of the name? Maybe you’ll like this better.”

His head was free as he heard the slide of leather being through a buckle and his cock gave a jump and he almost came just from the sound. A rasp of a zipper coming down and Charlie felt the nudge of the cock against his lips. He opened his mouth wide and the man pushed his cock in, Charlie slid his tongue along the underside of it as he curled his lips around his teeth, giving a moan as he tasted of precome on his tongue.

Charlie lapped at the cockhead before taking the cock into his mouth and back out again, stroking it with his tongue as he did. The rough fabric of the man’s trousers hit his cheeks as he took him into his mouth. There was a grunt and then the man was gripping the back of his head and Charlie’s mouth was being fucked, he gagged, his eyes watering and the man slowed for just three beats, letting Charlie adjust, before starting again, and then he was coming, and Charlie swallowed down the bitterness, his mouth gently working all of the come from the man as his movements slowed.

The cock slipped out of his mouth and Charlie sank back down on his knees, his own still aching with need. The man kneeled down next to him and Charlie started as he felt two licks on his chin, then realized the man had just cleaned his own come off of Charlie’s face.

A hand gripped his cock, not stroking, just holding, squeezing. “Come.” Charlie thrust into the hand, it only took a few strokes and he came. Stars burst behind the blindfold as he pulsed into the man’s hand, unable to hold back a cry as he spent himself.

“Lick.”

Charlie licked his own come off the man’s hand, the taste was mixed with the tangy scent of the leather. As his tongue licked between his fingers, he heard a sharp intake of breath come from the man, and he tucked that little bit of knowledge away and finished the job. As he sat back on his heels, Charlie wanted the blindfold off, it had been fine why they were at play but now he wanted his sight back.

He was trembling, the pain from the lashes had set in, and his muscles were spasming. There was a touch of a hand on his elbow, pulling up. “The bath is ready.”

He was guided into the en suite bathroom, and the smell of the bath scent was powerful almost too strong floral scent. “Calendula, it helps heal, you get used to the smell,” the man said. Charlie wondered how he was supposed to take a bath while wearing a blindfold, but the man was already untying the blindfold. Charlie blinked as his eyes were suddenly uncovered. There was the flicker of candlelight on the walls but the room was nearly dark. The bathtub was in front of him. A sunken tub that looked large enough for four men. “Need help getting in?”

Charlie didn’t bother to answer just took stepped forward and down the steps into the tub, the water was warm and felt slightly oily, more healing agents, he supposed. A hiss escaped his lips as the water hit the first of lash marks.

“Sit down.” Charlie obeyed, gritting his jaw against the burn and sting of the water. He was only half submerged in the water when the man sat down on the edge of the tub behind him. Charlie started to turn his head as he felt the sponge on his back. “Don’t,” the man said. He started to sponge Charlie’s back, gently squeezing the sponge to send trickles of water down his back. Charlie closed his eyes and allowed himself to imagine it was Remus, and not some anonymous stranger.

The man’s arms reached around Charlie and did the same to the marks on his front. Then they were out of the bath and Charlie sat on a stool as ointment was spread on the lash marks, the ointment contained more of the calendula and he wrinkled his nose when the jar got too close to his face. By the time all the marks had been coated he was nearly asleep, and the man nudged him to get him to stand up, he was enveloped in a toweling robe and led to the bedroom. “Rest.” The man said and Charlie didn’t argue, climbing into the bed his eyes were already shut. The weeks of tension and sleepless nights coupled with the exhaustion of the apparations to Paris and the session had him ready to collapse.

~|~|~|~

The room was in dark when he woke, the only light coming from a flickering wall sconce. Where he was came back with a rush, the man wasn’t in the bedroom. The other pillows on the bed showed no sign that someone had slept next to him,which filled him with relief. He was willing to suck off someone, let him whip him, but sleeping in a bed was not something he did with one-night encounters.

He stood up, wincing as his muscles protested. More carefully, he stretched, forcing his body to move, knowing it was the quickest way to recover from the session. He looked down at his chest, There were faint red marks but nothing significant, he knew his back was likely covered with lash marks, the whip not being as gentle as the flogger, but he welcomed the pain, it would have to last him until the next time he could get away to the club.

His clothes were folded at the end of the bed, he dressed and opened the door to the main room. The other room was completely dark, except for the faint light coming from the open curtains that had the light from the arena. He could see the man who was standing at the window. He turned to face Charlie, his body a silhouette against the light from the window. He had broad shoulders that tapered down to a fit waist. That he was strong was clear in how he’d wielded the whip and flogger.

“I thought you would sleep longer.”

“What time is it?”

“Just past four.”

“Oh, well.” Charlie fumbled for something to say, “Thanks. I’ll be going now.” He turned to leave and hadn’t gone three steps when the man spoke again.

“Stay,” The man commanded and Charlie cursed the obedience of his body as it stopped mid-step. “I have a proposition.”

Charlie turned to look at him again.

“I would like to come up with an arrangement with you.”

“What kind?”

The man laughed, “Exclusive rights to flog you, and, if you agree, to fuck you, but that isn’t a requirement.”

“I don’t live in Paris. I don’t even live in France.”

“Neither do I. Portkeys can be arranged.” The man said it dismissively, whoever he was, the bureaucratic and costly complication of international portkeys was an insignificant one.

“Why?”

“Why portkeys? Because appara--”

“No, why me?”

“Because I know what you need...I can give it to you.”

Charlie shook his head, not believing him, “How could you possibly? Tonight was good, you know your way around the whip, better than some of the bădăran down there. But you don’t know me.”

“I’ve been where you are. The need to be broken down, the frustration of being with those who didn’t understand. The crippling need for the pain to make everything alright.”

Charlie snorted and started to leave.

“I also know the challenge you present to the doms on the floor. They judge you by the size of your muscles, your obvious strength, and make the assumption that you must be broken by force. Or that you deserved to be punished for what they don’t have.” The man’s words were like the velvet curtains and Charlie bit his lip, tasting the blood. “They see you and they don’t know that the lick of the whip in the right place is more effective than a blunt hit with a paddle. They seek to break you.”

“And you won’t?” He didn’t try to keep the cynicism out of his voice.

“I didn’t tonight, and I think we can do better, as I get to know your body, learn how to push you. I want to use the ropes on you, bind you tight, see the black ropes knotted against your skin, and see you acquiesce, give yourself, surrender.” The man spoke as if he’d already fantasized about it.

Charlie closed his eyes against the image, to keep from wanting it too much. It was impossible.

“How long?”

“I prefer no less than six months, minimum of two sessions a month, more, if possible.”

“I can’t, not that often. The apparations--”

“As I said, portkeys. I don’t want you exhausted by apparating across the continent.”

Charlie took in his words, he knew how far Charlie traveled. Who was he?

“How can I trust you, if you don’t let me see your face?”

“You don’t want to know, Red.”

“Don’t call me that.”

“I like it, it is what I first saw four months ago when I looked out the window and saw you down on the floor, your red hair. I wanted you. Wondered what it would be like to grip you by that red hair of yours and fuck your mouth.”

“Now you know.” Charlie said dismissively.

“Now I want more.”

“What do I call you? Shadow?” Charlie waved at the man’s silhouette.

There was another chuckle that sounded oddly familiar to Charlie, “If you let me call you Red, you can call me Black, in addition to sir.”

“How would it even work. How--”

“Do you agree?”

“This arrangement would be for six months?” He could easily get the time away from the reserve, especially since they were heading into winter when most of the dragons hibernated.

“Yes. And you would be mine. Exclusively.”

“What do you mean?”

“Exclusive. No one else. And, if I so decide, no wanking or fondling yourself, without my permission between visits.”

Charlie gave a half-laugh at the thought of abstaining except at this stranger’s command. Remus had challenged him similarly, but they were lovers, not two people who had only met a few hours earlier. What this man was offering, not having to walk onto the floor of the club with the feeling of dread because the didn’t know what kind of dom he would get, was something he’d wanted, needed, for a long time.

“I’ll do it.”

The man straightened, as if he’d not expect Charlie to accept. “We’ll need the manager here to witness the contract, but before I summon him you should know that one of my terms will be that you will not attempt to see my face. If you do, either deliberately or by accident, the agreement will be void.”

Charlie shifted his feet uncomfortably, that Black was so adamant about concealing himself was the one reason he should just walk out the door and never look back. He was English, it could be as simple an explanation that the man had a position high up in the Ministry, and could be vulnerable if his secret got out. Maybe even the Minister of Magic. Charlie considered what he remembered of Kingsley’s body shape, and almost laughed, it obviously wasn’t him. Conversely, he could be one of the dozens of Death Eaters who had fled to the continent after Voldemort fell. The thought of being fucked by a Death Eater made him sick.

“Shall I summon the manager, or did you change your mind?”

“Let me see your left arm.” Charlie said flatly.

“Smart, Red.” There was an approving sound in Black’s voice and he walked towards Charlie, rolling up his sleeve. He was wearing the mask, Charlie realized as the lighting in the room suddenly brightened. The man held out his left forearm, it was free of any marks. It could be concealed by a charm though, he started to reach for his wand but hesitated.

“May I?”

“Be my guest.”

Finite Incantatem.” Charlie pointed his wand at Black’s exposed arm and nothing changed, no tell-tale shimmer of magic. He gave a sigh of relief. “Okay. What other conditions? How will you let me know when we are going to meet?”

“On the table you’ll find a lacquered box, you will take it with you. I have the only match. It will allow me to send you instructions, and the portkeys when they are needed. When there is a message from me the box changes color from black to red. If at anytime you change your mind, you can let me know by placing a letter in the box and turning the dial.”

“What if I can’t meet when you--”

“I’ll send the dates that I’m available, you respond back with the date that works for your schedule. They will be long sessions, I’ll expect you to stay in the suite to be available to me. On the date and time specified, you will be on time. You already explored the wardrobe.” The man stated it as a fact and Charlie nodded, he hadn’t been told he couldn’t and refused to feel any guilt for going through the man’s things.

“You may pick out up to three items that you want used in that evening’s session and put them on the table. If I expect you to dress or prepare yourself in a certain manner, you will find the things on the bed, along with your blindfold. You will have a half hour to prepare yourself and then I will arrive. If something arises and you must cancel you will send notice via the box. If you cancel twice, then the arrangement is broken.”

“What if you miss twice?”

“I won’t,” Black said firmly. Charlie wished he could see his face, see if the man looked boastful or just straightforward. In the end thought, it didn’t matter. He wanted this.

“Send for the manager.”

The wizarding agreement was done with minimal fuss, although Charlie had never gone through the process as the club, he’d seen others doing it. They both stated their limits and preferences in front of the manager. Charlie noticed that the flustered manager kept glancing at the man as if he was intimidated--or scared--of him. Who was this stranger?

The manager held his wand over their joined hands. They repeated the terms and the manager cast the spell. Charlie looked down at his wrist. The two thin circular bond marks were red and black, just like Black had requested. The marks would be there as long as the agreement was in place.

After the manager left, Black turned to Charlie. “I have to leave, I’m afraid, I hadn’t planned on this diversion tonight, welcome though it has been. You are welcome to stay, sleep in the bed, if you wish, rather than go back to your hotel. Don’t forget the box when you leave.” Black held out his hand to Charlie, “I’m looking forward to our next session.”

Charlie shook his hand, hoping he wouldn’t regret promising Black the next six months of his life.