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The Orchid's Unfolding

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***

Once a young woman asked me,
“How does it feel to be a man?”
And I replied,
“My dear, I am not so sure.”
Then she said, “Well, aren’t you a man?”
And this time I replied,
“I view gender
As a beautiful animal
That people often take for a walk on a leash
And might enter in some odd contest
To try to win strange prizes.
My dear,
A better question for Hafiz
Would have been,
‘How does it feel to be a heart?’
For all I know is Love,
And I find my heart Infinite
And Everywhere!”

— Hafiz (version by Daniel Ladinsky)

***

Naked, Jaffar lays himself down on the bed theatrically, letting his arms flop on either side of his head.

"Go on, then," he says, smiling, swaying his hips enough so that his erection, too, sways; "have your wicked way with me."

Yassamin undoes the last of her braids and kneels at the foot of the bed, stretching, groaning in delight; like a cat beside a fire, she warms herself in the heat of Jaffar's gaze.

"And what if I should not?" she purrs a coquette, and there, with one flick of her eyes from right to left, she has bound her husband's wrists to the bed.

Jaffar's eyes fly wide; in a moment's panic, he tosses his head from side to side, tugging at the invisible bonds around one wrist, then the other, over and over. "But that's impossible!" he cries, unable to believe his eyes. Yet when the bonds refuse to give, he huffs and lets his head fall onto the pillows. "When I last saw you, you could barely recite the invocations of Mars. How did you develop this skill, overnight?"

Yassamin laughs, massaging her breasts in a tease. "I studied the magics of Venus instead."

Jaffar grumbles still. "It took me three years to learn that binding-spell."

Yassamin raises her eyebrow. "And you were the one who invoked Ishtar into me. She never left."

And she speaks the truth: whatever name the unbelievers will have called Love by, Ishtar or Venus or Anahita, she had entered Yassamin body and soul, giving to her of her magics. Yassamin had been terrified of this at first, despite Jaffar's insistence that this force was but one aspect of the One God, an attribute of the All-Highest: simply the name and form the pagans had called this part of God by. At times, despite Jaffar's reassurances, she still feels this is blasphemous, knowing that should anyone find out, she and Jaffar would both be put to death, be forever damned for the one sin God does not forgive: idolatry.

Yet in her heart, she knows Love and God to be one, and that it is the Divine Jaffar now contemplates through her form; he has said as much. And in equal measure, she, too, has felt the hand of Providence in Jaffar's touch, his guidance; until she had married him, she had not truly known what Grace meant. And just as God's revelation and creation are continuously unfolding miracles, so has their marriage been one revelation after another: one continuous stream of miracles, rebirths, each day a new happiness unveiled. Each day, she finds a new beauty, a new majesty in her husband, and for these, she thanks the Almighty each night in her prayers.

"Show me, then, my Queen of the Night;" Jaffar whispers, his voice husky from adoration, tenderness. "Show me how they danced in Babylon."

She has not had a drop of wine, not a grain of opium nor a whiff of camphor, yet underneath Jaffar's gaze, she reels intoxicated, drunk. Again, she stretches, adorning herself in his lust; the silks of his desire gliding down her breasts, the jewellery of his want a soft tinkle about her ears, the flutter of his eyelashes a daub of perfume across her sex. Even if he is not touching her, he is taking her, loving her ardently with his mind and his gaze: she can feel his will rippling against her skin so that she has to make a conscious effort to move her hands according to her own desire, and not that of his. Thus, she combs her hair out with her fingers, filling the velvet-enclosed bed with its rich scents of jasmine and oudh; only after does she take her hands to her cunny, stroking its lips, relishing the way they have filled out, massaging them to even greater a fullness.

Control, control; it is what excites her the most about him, and it is what he has taught her in turn. He is a man of such power she has never known the like, and what makes him so irresistibly attractive is the mastery he wields over his senses, his skill of self-discipline second to none. She has seen so many princes, tyrants--her own father among them--run amok with their power, wreaking destruction in their wake, uncaring of the damage done to innocents, family, friends. She has heard tales of how before her birth, Harun had been the worst of them all, and has always wondered if it weren't because of him that Jaffar had learned to rein in his desires and rages so utterly.

It cannot have been easy for him to learn this craft: to so consider his each and every action and word, all the ways in which he expresses his feelings, his thoughts, his logics, whether it be in politics or love. His each word so carefully spoken it becomes poetry, his each letter so exquisitely penned so that even mere notes to his secretaries become calligraphic masterpieces, his each caress carrying behind itself decades of learning. And not only from love manuals, but from having made love to boys and girls, women and men and eunuchs; from all his studies in mechanics, physics, medicine.

And behind all of this, power, a power that seems to have tapped into that of God himself, greater than that of many so-called holy men, so-called saints; she has seen thousand-year-old ghouls less powerful. In his eyes, the blue fire of djinn and angels burns bright; like the All-Highest himself, he deals mercy with one hand, but swift and terrible justice with the other. Men had feared him long before he had become Caliph, long before he had become Vizier; the older women of the harem said he had nearly been exposed as a child because he had been born with such evil eyes.

Yet his mother had insisted the opposite, Jaffar had told her: that her son was blessed, to have been born with those exact eyes of turquoise and lapis people warded off evil with. He'd joked that this was the reason his bed had been placed on a step higher than those of his siblings; so that Jaffar's eyes could watch over them, and frighten away any demons that would have wished to harm them. Whereas other children had asked for their mothers to blow on their wounds to heal them, it was Jaffar the other children had asked to glance at theirs, in order to stop bad spirits from entering them and infecting them.

He smiles; he has been listening to her thoughts. "You do know that the hand of Fatima, with its eye in its palm, is a symbol heathen, my love? I have seen it upon a relief of our very own Ishtar, with mine own eyes."

"That is very apt, then," Yassamin says, leaning down to kiss his toes; "that you should belong to me thus," she says, kissing, tickling Jaffar's feet with her lips until he shrieks, wails, kicks.

"Stop it!" he laughs, panting, squirming upon the bed. "Continue the dance."

But she is lost staring at him, adoring him like this: the way his eyelashes are fluttering with excitement, the way his hair has already escaped the little tie he had gathered it back with for love-play. She reaches down to undo the tie and tosses it aside, spending long moments combing Jaffar's hair out with her fingers, nuzzling his face. "I like seeing you dishevelled," she explains. "Debauched."

"It's not difficult!" he laughs onto her lips, light and gay from his love for her. "The moment I so much as think of you, my love, I lose myself."

"Try and hold back a little longer," she says, now opening his legs and kneeling between them. At a cruel whim, she turns around and bends over on all fours, arching her back like a cat, presenting her cunny to him. See what you have done to me in turn? she tells him with her hips, and she knows he must see the way her cunny clenches now--she is so aroused from the mere sound of his breath hitching in his throat. This was something he had told her he had never seen or felt on a woman before, either: that she would lust for him so violently that it showed even on the outside of her sex, whereas with other women, this pulse always remained secret, hidden inside the body. Yet in the minute movement of her vulva's lips, he had said he could see and feel the echo of her womb curling up in its heat to make way for penetration, see and feel as her vagina tightened and pulled itself up, making love to his prick before it had even entered her. And neither had he known that a woman's orgasm, so subtle in its flutters, could even be felt around the cock, when he had previously only recognised it by other signs, psychic reverberations, moans, sighs.

But now it is he who moans, sighs like a woman; he who grows as wet as a woman, he who sighs a houri as a drop of Yassamin's arousal falls from her cunny over his cock. Yet she does not touch him, no, not even as his thighs tremble around hers: again, she rocks her hips and pushes her cunny out, the thick sweetness of her scent now drowning out that of the jasmine and the oudh, of the ambergris candles.

The candles' flames flicker, flicker; his cock shifts and rises off his belly, gleaming, glittering, sweet from their twinned fluids.

His cock slaps back onto his stomach; he draws in a shuddering breath.

"Please," he rasps.

"I have barely even started yet," she murmurs and rolls the muscles of her belly, rolls between his legs, curls; demonstrating how she would move when riding him. It is he she has learned this restraint from, this capability to ignore the pounding, now painful ache of arousal in her cunny; oh, she can barely look at the length and the width of his cock, so much she needs it to push inside of her, to rub this ache out, to pound it out of her.

She closes her eyes, braces her hands on the mattress and sits astride his cock, dragging her cunny across it once, twice, thrice.

And it is he who cries out, again, the noise of it mercifully masking the one she lets out, too; as she rubs her clitoris against his prick, seeking friction, satisfying herself with him, he sobs, moans.

"Take me, Yassamin. I am begging you. I am praying."

But she has to wait a little longer, she must. She glances at him over her shoulder, dips her fingers into her cunny to wet them and pushes two into her arse, keening through her teeth as she continues to masturbate with his body. "It is I who demand to be taken, husband," she groans, pausing enough to gift him with the sensation of her flesh, to transmit to him both the thrusts and curls of her fingers, of the way her cunny squeezes in desperation at being neglected so. If she were to rub her clitoris now, she would come immediately, and she knows it, and she cannot go on touching herself, no, not any longer.

Thus, she takes her fingers out and lifts them to his mouth, gleaming wet. "How hard would you take me, if I let you go now, husband?" she asks, sliding her cunny against his cock, then lifting so that the tip of him nestles against her entrance. "Tell me."

Jaffar makes to bite her fingers, his teeth snapping around empty air, his knuckles white as he tugs on his bonds, thrusting with his hips in vain as she lifts out of his reach. "So hard no tart of Ishtar ever got fucked so," he hisses. "I am going to drive that demoness out of you, send her crawling, begging for mercy," he growls and rolls his hips, thrusting between the lips of her cunny with his prick, as hard as a weapon, made to wound. "So that you wished you were still a virgin when I'm done; after I've fucked that little slit into a cunt!"

"Shut your mouth," she hisses, but with a smile, smearing her hand over his mouth and taking his cock deep, deep, deep into her cunny, into the very root of it, drowning out his scream with hers, a lioness's roar of delight. "Fuck me," she commands, now turning away from him, bracing her hands on his legs and slamming her hips down onto him, rubbing at the ache in her cunny with his heat and his width, barely feeling him because she is so wet, too wet. "Fuck me!" she groans, taking him, taking him roughly so that this wetness would be rubbed off a little; she needs the friction, needs it--she rubs her clitoris with her hand and keens through her nose, letting go of the binding-spell.

With an equal lion roar, he is upon her: he hurts her, pulls on her muscles, makes her head spin as he throws her face down onto the bed and takes her. Deep into the mattress he presses her, slamming so hard into her her breath is blown out of her lungs. "Take it," he growls, yanking her head up by the hair, hissing in her ear, gesturing for her to ride her hands. "Make yourself come." Let me feel it.

"Jaffar!" she howls into the sheets, her ululations swallowed up by the mattress as he fucks her and he fucks her. She can barely clasp her hands together for his thrusts, slipping before she can trap her clitoris between her pubic bone and the ball of her thumb. But once she does, she goes noiseless, each and every one of his blows striking home perfectly, perfectly, each wave of her orgasm cresting between his thrusts, as if the head of his cock itself were the last peak of it as it pushes ever deeper into her, pushing her higher, higher, up, up, higher--and she is but a scream--

And he swallows her release from her, drinks it greedily, howling and then gulping for breath, sucking her orgasm from her psychically; each one of her ripples and convulsions he pulls over himself a garment, pours over himself a perfume until his teeth rattle from its force. As her womb sucks, so his body thrusts, and he sends it to her, the white surge from his spine to his prostate to his balls to his cock, shooting out of him, obeying her body's need, her need become his impetus, his motion. Pure, shining, frantic from his love, he buries himself into her over and over, now losing control completely, splashing into her rich and white, his teeth sunk into her shoulder. He judders on top of her, ripples on top of her, coming so violently it is as if his life-force is sucked out of his very fingertips, his scalp, his nose, every hair follicle on his body; a spark from each cell of his body rushing into the river of his ejaculation, continuing on and on, he spinning out his orgasm into that of a woman's, greedily prolonging his pleasure by wearing hers, swimming in hers.

Underneath him, she flutters, flutters, her spine, her cunny so overloaded, full of cold, white sparks; the quick, white sparks struck off the fur of a cat in the dark or off amber, the sparks they call djinn-light. Her body cramps with fatigue; she wants to go on, wants to go on throwing herself onto the bliss of Jaffar's cock, wants to never stop these floods of ecstasy brought each and every time the head of his cock meets the back of her womb, but she cannot go on, cannot. With a quiet sigh, too quiet to even become a whimper, she falls lax underneath him, motionless in his arms.

You are unbelievable, the thought swirls between their bodies, flitting from mind to mind, a soft laughter purring from his chest to hers and from hers to his, but neither can tell who thought it first.

"And you are a thief," she purrs, jiggling her buttocks, knowing how much he loves it, he still firm within her.

"Mm," he says, resting his head beside hers, completely relaxed with his full weight nestled into her. "One day I am going to give myself one of these little cunnies. And you a prick."

"God forbid!" she says, yet her cunny clenches at the idea, not once but twice, squeezing around his length.

"I felt that," he laughs, ruffling her hair, thrusting into her a little. "Don't think I don't know you've been thinking about it. It was you who suggested it, that night I first took you like a lad."

She grumbles a little underneath him and wriggles some more. "I know what's behind this. It's you who want to be taken, that's all. I should never have started playing with your arse; I've created a monster!"

He pulls back and smacks her buttocks, then pulls out and begins to push himself into her arse. "I'd say we were both of us monsters," he laughs, ignoring the way she stiffens and gasps as he slides inside of her with ease, she so relaxed from her orgasm, so slick and wet all over. "Wouldn't you agree, my little sodomite?"

She tries to breathe; she wants to rub her cunny but cannot; she had only just pulled her hands out and they still ache. She tries to clutch at the sheets, but is not capable of even that, all of her but twitching white flesh, pale flesh, the sparks now become her entire being with just a few of his thrusts.

And he can tell, he can feel this; she can feel him fighting the stiffness so that it will not consume him, too, him slipping his hand underneath her so that he might rub her clitoris to ease her discomfort.

"'s not discomfort," she mumbles when he begins to rub, right there, just at the right spot, right over the hood of her clitoris, the pressure of his hand meeting the rolls of his hips in time.

"I know," he chuckles and nuzzles wet hair from her neck. "Overwhelmedness? Is that a word?"

"It is now," she sighs happily and finally, clutches the sheets; she moves her hips a little, but makes no further effort, letting Jaffar pleasure her, knowing how much delight he derives from demonstrating his skill in such a manner. He need not send her his thoughts: she can tell he is calculating the angles and the speed of his thrusts, the circumference of the circle of his hand, of how to vary the pressure to pleasure her the most. She leaves him to it and but melts underneath him, dissolved as she always is by the intensity of anal penetration. She cannot even tell when she begins to trickle onto his hand, but nearly throws Jaffar off herself once she comes, so fast her pleasure peaks: so fast he cannot even ride it. She howls from the bottom of her lungs, her eyes rolling back in her head, but the pleasure disappears as fast as it had arrived; in moments, she is again a boneless heap underneath him.

"Oh, God," she groans, her cunny still pulsing, pulsing.

"Cheat," he grumbles into her neck, then pulls her into a spooning position.

"Not at all," she smiles and turns her head to kiss him. "It's only that you are too skilled."

"Mm. I will not argue with that statement. Few men can last long inside a tightness as delicious as this," he hisses, rolling into her.

"I wonder how long I would last inside you," she laughs.

"Now, you're just taunting me," he laughs and pulls back the hood of her clitoris. "And I will have none of it," he murmurs, and then his words become some ancient language, no longer Arabic or Persian, and her clitoris swells, swells--

She screams so loudly the entire room rings with it, shrieks so that they can hear the eunuchs' weapons rattling outside.

"Change it back!" she screams. "Change it back right now!"

"Why?" he laughs, holding her tight against himself, clasping her fresh new prick in his hand. "Don't you like it?"

"Jaffar!"

"Mistress, is something the matter?" one of the eunuchs calls from behind the door.

"It's all right, Sonbol," Jaffar cries. "Your mistress had a nightmare, that is all. Go back to your position."

"I will kill you for this!" she shrieks, this--this mass between her legs, this organ that once was her clitoris now wilting in his hand. She is terrified, utterly terrified, staring at it, the pink, swollen thing now protruding out of her cunny.

"You don't mean it," Jaffar murmurs, hurt, now wilting himself, slipping out of her. "I can change it back any moment, trust me--"

"Do it now!" she shouts, regardless of the fantasies she had had, regardless of her curiosity: he has pushed her into it too soon, too fast, without her permission. "Or I will cut yours off. I will, Jaffar, I--"

"I am sorry," he murmurs, failing to mask the disappointment, the hurt in his voice. He murmurs a soft spell and the penis sinks back between her cunny's lips, become a clitoris once more. "Did I hurt you?"

She pulls back to inspect herself, to feel herself, now feeling a strange hollow space where her prick used to be, a hollow ache remaining behind her womb--had he given her a prostate as well, for her to feel such a ghostly emptiness there, too? She does not know what to think, her mind a chaos; she is terrified. "Don't ever do that again, or I am divorcing you," she says through trembling lips, then bursts into tears.

"My child!" he cries, then hugs her; despite her protestations and squirmings, he holds her fast. "I thought of but our mutual pleasure, you must know that. I would never force you to do it, nor for the sake of my own pleasure alone. I truly am sorry, my love. I am. Please forgive me," he murmurs, his own voice wavering from shock. "Please."

He kisses her tears away, hugs her so tight her bones creak; she hates how well he does this, hates his tenderness, hates how she can never hate him for long, no matter how stupid he has been.

"You just scared me, Jaffar, that is all."

And she remembers how scared she had been of men when she had been a maiden, before marrying Jaffar; how her father had painted all of them as beasts, and how she had had little reason to suspect otherwise. The only man she had ever loved had been the djinni in her garden, the dark lover in her mirror; Jaffar had never forced her, then, had only caressed her with his thoughts, had been gentle, kind. It has never been like him to rush her into extreme pleasures in this manner, so the suddenness of it all was what had shocked her. To have her body taken from her in such a manner, to have it change shape like that according to someone else's will, to lose control of it, to have appendages grow out of it--she shudders at the memory. Why, she is still scared of even pregnancy, and Jaffar had not forced her into that either. She had felt monstrous, misshapen just now, too much like the masculine Halima and her kind; not like herself at all.

"Jaffar, I am sorry. I am not sure if I could play the boy to you--in that manner, that is."

He cups her head and kisses her. "If you should ever change your mind, just ask. I promise not to do it again without your permission."

"I am sorry. I would take you. I--I have thought of it once or twice, and it's not a thought unpleasant. I just never realised--"

"It was too soon. Again, I am sorry," he says, then slides down between her legs to kiss her cunny in apology. "Let me make up for it, and prove to you how much I love you, just as you are."

And while he is brilliant with his mouth, tender and sweet, he does not let Yassamin enter his mind: she knows that she would find disappointment lurking within, that sodomite part of him that has long dreamt of being taken by Yassamin the husband.

And pray, who was it who had put the thought of Yassamin the husband into his head in the first place, if not Yassamin herself? All those times she had taken him with the jade phallus, all those times she had taken him with her fingers, had rejoiced in having other men take him--now she feels as if there is something wrong with her, and not him. And as he pushes three fingers inside of her cunny, pushing against her pleasure-centres with his mind, it feels as if he is urging her to forget, urging her to choose pleasure instead of anguish: she relents and lets him push her into orgasm, knowing him to be right. She shudders onto his hand, tears still clinging to her eyelashes as she comes onto his mouth; never, ever would she want to be angry with him, nor would she want him to be angry with her.

After, she offers to take him with her hand and her mouth, but he declines, telling her he is too tired, and that he would rather sleep.

Guilty, she curls up in his arms, staying awake long into the night, drifting in and out of dreams of eunuchs, of tomboys, of sodomites. When she wakes up to relieve herself, she almost urinates standing up; the ghost of her prick remains, hanging heavy between her legs. Again, she sleeps, dreaming of delivering ravishments to men and women, of driving herself into Jaffar's body, of having him scream underneath her, not having realised what he had started.

When she wakes up, Jaffar has already left: this is not unusual of him. He has so many duties at court that each hour they spend together, he has had to fight for tooth and nail, has had to arrange for days or even weeks in advance.

She lies long in her bed that morning, caressing herself, stroking her invisible prick and she dreams, and she dreams.