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Breaking Through

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The citizens of Montreuil sur Mer referred to her as Monsieur Madeleine, even though she arrived at the town in skirts and, after changing to a man's dress, did not bother to bind her breasts or obscure her hips. It was a matter of friction with some number of the citizens—only, however, when Madeleine was in view; it was easy, after all, to forget that M. Madeleine was a woman when her prosperity so often hid under dishes on tabletops and when her factory grew to accommodate not tens, but hundreds of workers. So she was Monsieur Madeleine in public and in conversation around more conservative gentry, and Madame Madeleine behind locked doors, whispered fondly and with some measure of awe when from the lips of young grisettes.

As for the Madame herself, she did not care to know what the society that had damned her thought of her or what they called her—she had certainly been called crueler things than Monsieur—and cared only for her work, which was primarily charity and secondarily the duties of her burgeoning factory. She kept dresses in her closet and wore them when there was not hard work to be done, but as those days were rare, it was a matter of convenience to wear trousers instead and keep her waistcoat neatly buttoned.

The King, for his part, only heard of the impressive work of Monsieur Madeleine, and it was in this peculiar way that he appointed a Monsieur Madeleine to the position of mayor of Montreuil sur Mer, twice.

Inspector Javert, expecting to arrive in Montreuil and work under the supervision of an influential M. Madeleine, was furious at this oversight. Javert wrote to Paris, and in the meantime, deferred to Mme. Madeleine with respect and watched her bitterly when her back was turned. Six weeks later, Mme. Madeleine left for Paris in a carriage, taking her finest clothes—notably her finest dress, but also her best menswear. Javert, satisfied that justice had been served, awaited the appointment of a new mayor.

A month later, Madeleine returned to Montreuil sur Mer; she arrived late, and went immediately home, though Javert watched her carriage pass by with great interest. The next morning, she returned to her duties, still wearing the mayor's chain about her neck and trousers on her hips.

Javert shook with anger at their next meeting.

This was in part because Mme. Madeleine's ascension spit in the face of everything Javert had known to be true about women and their place in society—that is, akin to a slave or a prisoner—and in part because Inspector Javert saw in this casual forgiveness of Madeleine's sex a personal slight.

For Inspector Javert was also known as Monsieur—and this had been hard-won, hard-earned, and a constant struggle; it was as if Javert walked on a knife-edge every day, every time she bound her breasts and hid away in her forgiving trousers and greatcoat. There were some things in her favor—her relentless nature, her slim hips, her low-pitched voice that could go lower with ease. Nothing frightened Javert except the possibility of being discovered, disgraced, and thrown to the streets, forced back into skirts and marriage and the swollen belly and the undignified early death of womanhood.

Yet if the government had seen the truth of Mme. Madeleine and accepted her with open arms, Javert could not fight it. It was right. A woman could become a magistrate—if she had enough wealth and influence, if she opened her wallet with the quickness of a prostitute opening her legs.

Javert bent her head to Mme. Madeleine, and was angry, and awed, and afraid all at once, and shook as she addressed her.

This transparency effected a change upon Javert. She wanted vindication. She could not want vindication, as to make herself wronged when the government had not been was to elevate herself above her masters. She wanted Mme. Madeleine's fear, but more than this wanted her respect. The night after Mme. Madeleine's return, Javert dreamt of strange things—a corset tightening at her ribs, Mme. Madeleine's hand on the back of her neck, the slide of her hair slipping over her bare shoulder, the salt of the sea.

This dream, and others after, followed Javert in her waking life. Javert began to avoid Mme. Madeleine as much as her duties allowed. It seemed that every meeting brought on a fresh wave of need, one that bordered on obscene in its intensity—she needed to know that Mme. Madeleine had indeed earned this strange station, needed to know Javert herself deserved to work under such an imposing woman, needed concrete answers to her doubts. What she received, during these meetings, was a courteous facade, knowing eyes, and new details she had not noticed about Mme. Madeleine before and which Javert carried in her breast when she retired to her room at night.

Javert was not a babe; she had felt moved by women before, though her disdain for them never allowed her to act on this. But she did not feel disdain for Mme. Madeleine. Occasionally, she felt wearied by her naïveté; she disagreed with the mayor on many matters of mercy, and was grateful that their relationship was too professional to warrant any discussion about God. But it was the fragile respect that overwhelmed these feelings which frightened her—it allowed for the development of want.

Her feelings did not change her actions. She worked tirelessly, and spent most of her days either fiercely bored or fiercely pleased; she went hungry between paychecks and was grateful for the loss of weight because it made it easier to bind her breasts. When she was forced to report to Mme. Madeleine or ask for her judicial advice, she spoke with a distant respect, wavering between Monsieur le Maire and Madame, neither address coming from a hesitant tongue.

Some days she felt a spike of fear that Mme. Madeleine knew her secret. The woman had a keenness about her that was not softened by her gentle smiles, and sometimes she glanced over Javert in a way that made the skin at the back of her neck sensitive. But there was no way she could know, and she always referred to Javert as Monsieur, never slipping over it.

Then, Mme. Madeleine asked if Javert would not mind giving her next report at her home.

Once Javert had processed the surprise at being asked, she bowed stiffly and said, "Forgive me, Madame, but I do not think it would be proper. If it is all the same to you." A man should not intrude upon a widow's hearth.

"Pardon me?" Mme. Madeleine said. "It is a matter of business. I wouldn't expect you to be nervous about gossip, Monsieur."

"I am not," she said, "but..."

Mme. Madeleine raised her eyebrows.

It was only a matter of business.


Her home was sparse and clean, and there was no porter in sight as Inspector Javert tapped dirt off her boots on the threshold. Smoke and burning oil tickled her nose as she followed Mme. Madeleine into her living area, and there they both stood, Javert stiffly, Mme. Madeleine with one hand on the back of an armchair. Before Mme. Madeleine could invite her to take tea or some other such frivolous nonsense, Javert launched into her report, speaking to the chair, careful to not let her eyes stray aside.

The brown fabric of her trousers was taut over her thighs, something Javert did not usually see, thanks to Mme. Madeleine's propensity for wearing her coat.

Her hand against the chair was tan.

When she was finished, and they had talked over the necessary business, Javert attempted to make her exit with a deferential bow and farewell.

"A moment more, Javert," Mme. Madeleine said. Javert froze. "I want to speak to you about one more thing. If I may."

Javert inclined her head.

"You are a commendable Inspector," she said, and the hand on the chair slid down, and she took two slow steps toward Javert. "I want you to know that I appreciate your dedication to your duties."

"Thank you, Madame."

"And," she pressed, delicate, "if there is anything you should ever need to confide in me—any troubles you might have—you are welcome to come to me." Mme. Madeleine took another step, so that they were an arm's length away. Javert, not willing to focus on her face, watched instead as she tucked her hands into the pockets of her trousers, stretching the fabric.

"Thank you," Javert repeated. She would not do such a thing in a hundred years—a thousand—a hundred thousand.

A half-step brought Mme. Madeleine closer. Javert glanced down into her face, glanced at her broad, strong shoulders—and focused again on her face, thinking of how a proper man would behave in this situation, of the space he might put between himself and Mme. Madeleine, of the firm way he would excuse himself. She prepared those words, those gracious motions. She did not move.

"I appreciate it, Madame," Javert said.

"You are a good man," she said, and took Javert's hand in both of hers, and held it firmly. Javert should have been protected by her glove, but a spark went through her all the same, lit a fire in her belly. Her hands slipped away, and in Javert's hand was the crinkle of paper; Javert did not dare to look at it, and instead tucked it into her pocket. "You may return to your post."

Javert did not touch her coat for several more hours, carrying the paper with her as she patrolled. When she came home, she locked the door to her room, hung the coat on the back of her chair, and began to write in her journal by candlelight. The paper, whatever it might be, waited in the pocket of her coat, at the back of her mind despite her focus on the task at hand.

Only after she finished her writing did she begin to undress; removing the binds always left her sore and vulnerable, too much herself. She massaged under her breasts and sighed as the tension and pain eased away into a dull throbbing, then stepped into her nightclothes. The paper waited for her.

She read for half an hour.

Then, she reached into the dark pocket of her coat, slipped out the paper, and unfolded it under the candlelight.

It was a hundred-franc note.


"I will not take it," Javert said. "I do not want or need your charity, Madame."

Mme. Madeleine was pained; she ran a hand through her curls and shuffled her feet. "It's nothing, Javert," she said. "I only noticed that you had become thinner recently, and thought—"

"Madame, I do not want it. Take it back." The depth of Javert's anger was evident in this interruption; she thrust the hundred-franc note at her.

"It's yours," Mme. Madeleine insisted.

"I earn my money, Madame, and not through pity. There is no work I could do for you worth a hundred francs—take it back!" The banknote shivered with her anger.

Mme. Madeleine's face turned to stone; her facade fell, leaving a cold woman with the strength of a man. She stepped forward and took Javert by the arm. "If you do not want it, then give it to the poor. I bequeath it to you, and I will not take it back."

When Javert spoke, it was very quiet, hardly a murmur. "Do not touch me."

Mme. Madeleine dropped her hand. She turned her back to Javert, and paced slowly toward the window—and it was obscene, the way even her coat could not hide her body, her hips, her broad shoulders; the curl of her hair about her shoulders made a fit of want come over Javert, so that she clenched her fists, crinkling the banknote. "Give it to the poor," she muttered.

"M. le Maire," Javert said. She inclined her head. The anger had not abated, but the lust in her tempered it, made it something to avoid at all costs.

"Is that all, Inspector?"

"Yes, Madame."

"About your next report," she said, without turning. "You may give it here."

Javert bowed. Her heartbeat pounded between her legs.

The following Sunday, she gave the note to the church without hesitation—but she could not give away the memory of Mme. Madeleine's touch.


A month passed, and then another, and the roiling waters within Javert did not ebb. Mme. Madeleine invited Javert to her home, initially to apologize for their argument—and then again, later, for convenience's sake, and again, for the company, and again, without offering a reason. Each time, Javert prepared to deny Mme. Madeleine, to insist that they do business in the factory, and each time it was harder to even consider saying it.

It could not go on. Javert knew she must act as a proper gentleman would, that she must put her foot down and remind Mme. Madeleine of her place in life, of propriety, of good sense; it was this, or she must act on her urges in the hopes that they would be purged from her—and to do such was impossible. Not a soul alive knew that Javert was a woman, and she refused to change that, not even for a woman powerful enough to become a mayor, powerful enough to wear a man's clothes and work as a man and still wear her hair long and loose.

No. It could not go on.

It was a tired day in fall, overcast, with wind that knocked politely on the window, waiting to be let in. Too cold for a walk, it was still only the afternoon—but it was a Sunday, and Mme. Madeleine had invited Javert over for tea, and before she could find it in her to decline, their feet had turned down familiar streets to Mme. Madeleine's hearth.

No one knew anything about Mme. Madeleine's dead husband. Inspector Javert's mind was half on the curious untold story of him and half on Mme. Madeleine's lips, which curved around the edge of the teacup. They were not talking, having expended the conversation with a polite commentary about that morning's sermon. Her husband would have known those lips, Javert thought. Perhaps he was a lenient man, who would have admired his wife's dress now—or perhaps he was a cruel one, whose viciousness in life had lent Mme. Madeleine such gentleness now. Had she had children, Javert wondered? Had she loved and been loved in return? For a moment, Javert envisioned the night of Mme. Madeleine's wedding, with a strange man's hands on her thighs, with her breast exposed, with her hair flowing across a pillow—

—and Mme. Madeleine chose that moment to ask, "What is on your mind, Inspector?"

Javert swallowed thickly. "Did your husband treat you well?" she asked.

She expected for Mme. Madeleine to avert her eyes, as she often did when the subject arose, but she gazed frankly across the table at Javert. "Have you ever been married, Monsieur?" she asked.

Javert flushed and scowled. "I have not. Forgive me my question, M. le Maire. I know his memory still pains you."

At this, Mme. Madeleine did drop her gaze. She took a sip of tea, and tasted a drop of tea away from the rim of her cup after, her pink tongue flitting out. Javert swallowed, the sound audible in the quiet after. For several minutes, they did not speak; Javert took quicker drinks of her tea, hoping to excuse herself soon. At length, Mme. Madeleine looked up from her tea, and said, "Stay for dinner, Javert."

Dinner would not be for many hours more. Javert knew she must decline. "Yes, Madame," she said.

When they had finished their tea, Mme. Madeleine led Javert to her study, where they read side-by-side on the couch there, so close that Javert could not focus for the warm promise of Mme. Madeleine's body. When the light faded to the point that they could not read together, Mme. Madeleine touched her knee, gently, and asked her to take a walk with her.

The wind had not abated, and they turned their collars up against it and bent forward as they walked; Javert was forced to keep a hand on her hat as they went. At length, they took shelter in an alcove of Mme. Madeleine's factory, standing close together there. Mme. Madeleine's face was pink from the wind, but she did not smile as she peered up into Javert's face; there was something sad, there, and old, and Javert found her hand and pressed it. Mme. Madeleine turned her wrist so her open palm faced Javert's fingertips—the moment was as fragile as spun glass. Javert tried to grasp at the bitter anger in her at Mme. Madeleine's social coup. It was gone, leaving nothing but its husk behind, a sort of helplessness.

Mme. Madeleine leaned forward. "May I trade one secret for another?" she asked.

Javert nodded.

"I've never loved anyone," she admitted.

"Ah," Javert said.

Mme. Madeleine lifted her hand and brushed her fingers against Javert's hip—the touch made her stomach lurch and chased away the brisk coldness of the wind. "And yours?" she prompted, gently. "Monsieur?"

Javert stepped away from her, back into the harsh onslaught of wind. Without a word, she turned and began to trek back to Mme. Madeleine's home, heart pounding, face flushed, beyond thought, knowing only that the time for action had come and that she must act without hesitation—in that touch, in that pointed question, Mme. Madeleine had removed the terror of choice from Javert's burdened heart, and now there was only the long, long fall before her.


By the time they made it back to Mme. Madeleine's home, dinner was ready; Javert stood by the table and tried not to listen as Mme. Madeleine thanked her housekeeper and excused her, giving her the night off—and several francs, if the profuse way the woman thanked her was any indication.

They ate in silence. Javert's heart hammered away in her chest.

Javert helped Mme. Madeleine clear the table, and once that had been done, Mme. Madeleine led her wordlessly through her home, blowing out candles and dimming lanterns as they went until the house was cloaked in darkness and the only light was from the candle in Mme. Madeleine's hand. She took Javert to the door to her bedroom, and stopped, turning to look at Javert.

"You do not have to do this," she said.

Javert nodded.

They went inside. Javert sat in a chair, straight-backed, wondering if she looked as small and girlish as she felt. Mme. Madeleine lit several candles, so the room was warmed by their flickering glow, and sat on the edge of her bed.

"I was the one who wrote to Paris," Javert said, suddenly.

"I know."

"That does not bother you?"

She shrugged. "It was a long trip," she said. "That is all." She leaned her elbows on her knees and gazed calmly across the room at Javert. "As you will."

There was nothing to fear; Mme. Madeleine would not expel Javert, would not throw her to the dogs, would not betray her. Javert took a steadying breath, stood, and began to unbutton her coat. She shrugged it off, folded it, and laid it on the armrest of the chair, and then began to unbutton her shirt. Mme. Madeleine's gaze was a lead weight in her chest. Her heart had begun to beat between her legs, slow, steady.

The air was cool on her skin as she exposed the truth of herself to Madeleine.

The bindings alone were damning enough. Javert did not need to go further than that—yet she found the metal pins and began to undo them. She could not hide, anymore. She would not. The bind loosened under her touch as she unwound it, turn by turn, methodical.

When she looked up, Mme. Madeleine's hands had closed into loose fists, and her lips had parted.

"Does it hurt?" she asked. "To always bind them?"

"Sometimes it is sore." The final turn of cloth fell away, and Javert lowered her hands; her breasts hung heavy and sore. She knew that her nipples were hard, and wanted to cover them, to press until they were flat and calm. Instead, she watched as Mme. Madeleine drank in the sight of her, her gaze raking over her exposed chest and down her ribs, down her stomach. Javert shifted under that steady stare. A wetness was evident between her legs.

Mme. Madeleine licked her lips, an unconscious gesture; her fists tightened, but she did not move otherwise. Javert began to roll up the strip of cloth, unable to look at Mme. Madeleine any more, unsure if it was nerves or lust that made her guts shrivel and her fingers tremble on the rough fabric. "Are they now?" she asked. When Javert nodded, she held out a beckoning hand, and still she was calm as Javert approached, the ball of cloth forgotten in her grip.

The first touch was tentative, a light brush over the button of Javert's nipple—but even that made Javert clench between her legs. "Madame," she said through gritted teeth. Mme. Madeleine cupped her breasts, gently, and as she did, she studied Javert's face. Her palms were dry and cool against Javert. It was difficult to not arch into them, difficult to remain still when the heartbeat had become an insistent throbbing and her body buzzed with interest. Mme. Madeleine traced a slow circle with her thumbs—and whatever she saw in Javert's reaction made her hesitate and draw away. "Madame," Javert repeated, edging on desperate.

Mme. Madeleine took her by the arms and guided her onto the bed—it was not plush as Javert expected it to be, but firm, and Mme. Madeleine was as well as she laid Javert down. Javert feared that she would kiss her, but she did not; her lips brushed once at Javert's collarbone and did not move higher or lower. Once satisfied with Javert's position, she moved to sit beside her and smoothed her hands across Javert's ribs, a paving, trading skin for skin. Her hands slid up to her breasts and rolled them in her hands, a gentle kneading, and when Javert's back arched in response, she began to massage them in earnest, not shying from touching Javert's nipples but also not paying them any special attention.

It was a unique torment, to be handled with such kindness after a lifetime's drought. Perhaps if there were some chasteness in this—but Mme. Madeleine's lust was undisguised in her face. She dipped down and mouthed at Javert's breast, then flicked her wet tongue against her nipple, sending a shock through Javert that made her moan—she slipped her fingers through Mme. Madeleine's curled hair and drew her up for a kiss. Instead, Mme. Madeleine took her by the wrists and pinned her hands over her head. Javert instinctively pushed against it, but Mme. Madeleine was strong enough to hold her down with ease. Javert found, as she relaxed under that power, that to supplicate herself in body was a simple thing when she had already bowed to Mme. Madeleine's will.

But Javert wanted to touch her. She craned her head to the side and mouthed at Mme. Madeleine's arm, and watched hungrily as goosebumps prickled along her forearms. "Madame," she murmured, hoping that her voice would affect Mme. Madeleine as much as her touch affected Javert.

Mme. Madeleine shifted Javert's wrists so she could hold them both with one hand. Fine—if that was what she wanted; whatever she wanted, Javert would give, anything for this master of hers. It took her a moment of fumbling through the sheets before she found the ball of cloth again, and as she began to unfold it, Javert sucked in a sharp breath. The pulse between her legs was heavy and fast. When Mme. Madeleine leaned over her to tie her hands to the bed, Javert reached up and mouthed at her clothed breasts; the shocked gasp it elicited gave Javert a grim satisfaction.

"I've wanted that for months," Javert informed her curtly.

"I know.” Mme. Madeleine tightened the knot with a little tug. "God. I shouldn't." She bent down, cupping her breast with one hand and mouthing at her neck.

"You should," Javert said.

The cloth was still warm from her body, and she twisted her wrists against it—the knots did not yield.

"I shouldn't," Mme. Madeleine murmured again. She sucked at the hollow of Javert's throat, and she brushed at Javert's nipple—then, just as Javert attempted to reply, pinched it lightly, teasing the nub, and Javert found that words had been ripped from her.

Javert swallowed and squirmed, arching into Mme. Madeleine's touch. It was not until Mme. Madeleine released her to palm at her breast that she managed to say, "As if that's ever stopped you."

Mme. Madeleine scraped her teeth down the length of Javert's neck. Javert shut her eyes.

They lapsed into silence, Mme. Madeleine massaging Javert's breasts, easing away the painful ache, replacing it with a burning one that grew with each moment until Javert had begun to sweat and her thighs trembled; when Mme. Madeleine's mouth worked its slow way down her neck and along her chest, she began to wonder if she would lose herself before she had even been touched between her legs. Though Mme. Madeleine had been generous with her hands, she avoided kissing or licking her nipples, instead teasing her wet tongue close to them and sucking at the pale expanse of her chest. She dipped her head lower, kissing Javert's ribs, one by one, and she flicked her thumbs against Javert's nipples, rhythmic and steady; Javert's cunt clenched and she bit her lip to temper the sound at the back of her throat.

She tugged at her bonds—they did not give.

Soon, Mme. Madeleine's hands followed her mouth's example, palming down her torso, dipping along the sharp lines of Javert's body—her fingers found the buttons of Javert's trousers and began to work at them as she kissed along Javert's smooth belly and hips. She traced a wet line from her bellybutton to between Javert's breasts, and then, meeting Javert's eyes, slid a hand in her trousers, brushing against her pubic bone and teasing close to her folds without sliding between her legs. Javert groaned and tried to grind her hips against her, but it was no use; Mme. Madeleine held her down with one hand on her hip, the other caressing the outer folds of her cunt so that they rubbed at her clit without actually touching the thing herself, and, just as Javert was sure she would go mad, she pressed her mouth to Javert's breast and licked a slow line up to her nipple, and teased it with that wet tongue. Javert shuddered and moaned and jerked her arms without meaning to, so the cloth chafed at her wrists.

Mme. Madeleine's face was flushed in the low light, and she sat back, palming herself through her trousers. "Javert," she murmured, "you..."

"Don't stop," Javert snapped.

Mme. Madeleine's obedience was a gift; she tugged Javert's trousers down over her slim hips until they were pooled about her knees, and Javert spread her thighs, giving her space to work—Mme. Madeleine bent over her again, kissing and sucking at her chest, breasts, neck, shoulders, and one hand pressed steadily against the inside of Javert's thigh as the other went to stroke slowly along the edge of her cunt, not touching the wet folds, just taunting her. What little room Javert had for thought was dedicated to wondering if Mme. Madeleine had ever done this before, and if not, if that was why she refused to just touch her—or if this was deliberate, a play to show Javert how she could find order and truth by Mme. Madeleine's gracious hand, to show that supplicating to Mme. Madeleine, to her authority, was its own reward.

She wondered if Mme. Madeleine would make her beg.

So what if she did? Javert trusted her wholly, would never have let another soul tie her up as such, and she proved this trust by bucking her hips against Mme. Madeleine and refusing to struggle against the bonds, though she turned her wrists against them to feel that slight burn, so that her muscles would stretch and ache with it, so her body would stay long and lean as it trembled under Mme. Madeleine's touch. She was close, very close, straddling the edge of her orgasm as Mme. Madeleine palmed her cunt with fingers that were slick and wet.

Suddenly, she swung her leg over Javert's thigh so that she straddled her, and began to grind down against her through her trousers, a hesitant thrusting; Javert whimpered and bit her lip—God, how could even that make her burn?

And there, she was going to—she was almost—but just before her orgasm broke over her, Mme. Madeleine stopped kissing her; her palm went flat against Javert. "What do you want?" she asked.

Javert cursed loudly.

"Tell me," she insisted, grinding faster against Javert's thigh. "I want to hear it." Mme. Madeleine braced her hands on either side of Javert and leaned over her, and when Javert could not look into her face, she cupped her chin in her slick hand and flitted kisses across Javert's high cheekbones until she returned Mme. Madeleine's gaze.

"Do it already!" she snapped. Mme. Madeleine pressed her open mouth under Javert's jaw, but did not resume her work; her clothed breasts almost touched Javert's, a faint brush that Javert arched against, needing contact, buzzing between her legs. "Touch me—there—or take me, or anything. Madame, I..." She sucked in a sharp breath when Mme. Madeleine tasted at the crook of her shoulder and neck. "Madame," she pleaded.

Mme. Madeleine's desperate rutting slowed, and she slipped a hand between them, running the very tips of her fingers along Javert's stomach.

She paused at the soft junction between Javert's legs; even her slow thrusts stopped, and for a moment they were suspended, the room silent as an empty church—and then the window shook with the wind, and Mme. Madeleine pressed her fingers against Javert, and dipped lower, and her fingers brushed, perhaps by accident, against Javert's clit. She teased along her clit, against the wet inner folds of her cunt, rubbing her slit without pushing in, and Javert clenched around nothing and arched and gave up dignity, panting and bucking her hips against Mme. Madeleine, trying fruitlessly to speed her touch, to encourage her, to bring herself off quick and hard when the woman was so dedicated to making this a glacial affair. As she stroked Javert, she undid the ribbon at Javert's hair one-handed and ran her fingers through her long hair, spreading it across the pillow, tugging lightly at the thick strands and then again, rougher, when Javert gasped. She pressed with more force against Javert's folds, ground quick circles on Javert's clit, and the pressure built and spread through Javert, her orgasm closing in again; her thighs trembled, sweat collected at the back of her knees; when Mme. Madeleine brushed the hair away from her face, she turned into the contact and kissed at her wrist. Again, Mme. Madeleine took her right to the edge, so close that Javert began to feel light-headed and dizzy, and then she stopped, and sat back, and gazed down at Javert impassively.

Javert thought she might cry. "Madame," she moaned, "oh, God, Madame, don't stop. Not now—Madeleine—" She tugged helplessly at the cloth, but the knot did not give—she could not force Mme. Madeleine's hand and could not bring herself off. But it was too late; the pleasure ebbed again, leaving her frustrated. "This is not fair," she growled, squirming. "You—you aren't playing fair."

In response, Mme. Madeleine ground one slow, slow thrust against Javert's thigh. She bent down and flicked her tongue against Javert's nipple. Finally, she said, "Then we are equal in that," and her voice was husky with lust. She slipped a hand through Javert's hair and caressed her skull, then tightened her grip sharply, so Javert's head jerked back—she moaned and bucked her hips. She traced the inside of Javert's thigh, up and down, long swathes that made Javert squirm.

Javert could not take it anymore. She had to have this thing finished—she had to submit and be done with, had to know Mme. Madeleine in this way. "Madame, please," she moaned. "Please, God, have mercy."

That was enough. Mme. Madeleine bent down and lavished Javert with hungry kisses, first on her shoulders and chest and neck, and then higher, along her jaw, and then on her lips, which were sensitive, and Javert kissed back desperately as Mme. Madeleine's hand returned to her slit and rubbed her clit in earnest, as Mme. Madeleine resumed her thrusting against Javert's thigh—she was quick with it, circling her clit with her calloused fingers, occasionally dipping her finger down toward her entrance to slick her finger again and stroke the sensitive flesh there, to tease at the folds that were swollen and aching, and Javert's hips canted up. She twisted her wrists against the cloth without thinking, and the pain-pleasure mounted until her body was wracked with it, every nerve alive, until everything about her was burning away under the fire of Mme. Madeleine, until she was consumed—

—and then the orgasm broke like a wave over her, so intense that it nearly hurt, and her muscles locked and shook with it and she could hear herself moaning over the ringing in her ears. Mme. Madeleine rubbed her through it, so that each time the wave began to abate a fresh one came over her and she jerked again with pleasure, babbling and begging helplessly.

When it passed, she sank down against the bed, loose and relaxed, a faint buzzing pressure behind her eyes and the echo of her heartbeat still pounding between her legs. Mme. Madeleine was panting, and her legs were clamped tightly against Javert's thighs.

Mme. Madeleine untied Javert's hands; her body was still taut and tense over Javert. Had she followed Javert's example? Javert did not think so, and the moment she was free, she groped Mme. Madeleine's breast through her waistcoat and thumbed at her thigh, and Mme. Madeleine shuddered. For a moment neither of them moved; Mme. Madeleine seemed startled, but then it slipped into want and she crawled up Javert's stomach, and Javert led her further up, hastily undid her buttons and helped her yank down her trousers. Mme. Madeleine straddled her face, bracing her forearms against the wall, and Javert began to lap hungrily at her slit, not knowing exactly what to do but wanting the taste, wanting to bring her some measure of bliss, and the heavy weight and scent of her flooded Javert, set her heart to flight with desire.

Mme. Madeleine bore down on her face; it was difficult to breathe, but Javert would not wish it different—she gripped her bare hips and tongued at her entrance, sought the small button of her clit, mouthed and licked and marveled at the way her hips rolled in response, demanding more. The muscles of her thighs stood out sharply with each downward thrust, and Javert allowed herself to grip the back of her thighs, to hold that strength and feel the muscles there work. Mme. Madeleine's power of body may have been nothing compared to her power of will, but it was a wonder; Javert suspected she was stronger than most men. And now this beast of a woman was laboring over her, was panting and grunting as Javert mouthed at her cunt, as her wetness dripped down Javert's chin and cheeks and into her mouth.

Mme. Madeleine's orgasm was quiet and quick, seizing her in a brief fit, a sudden arch of her back, a bitten moan.

At length, she slid away from Javert, lying next to her. She rested a hand over Javert's breast, the act strangely chaste. Javert merely looked at her in the low orange light and awaited her judgment.

They came back to themselves in increments; the wetness between their legs became a discomfort. The sharp taste in Javert's mouth went dull and strange. Her hair was tangled.

"I prefer you as a woman," Mme. Madeleine said.

Above all, that acceptance, that want, was dangerous—she could not stand for that. Javert frowned. "I should leave."

"You may use my wash room."

"Thank you." Javert meant to climb out of bed, but she could not quite manage it, and so stayed, and told herself that in just another moment, she would rouse herself and slip away, become Inspector Javert once more, hide what she was, what she had done.

As the minutes ticked past and she did not move, Mme. Madeleine insinuated herself closer to Javert, nestling her face against Javert's shoulder, sliding her hand down to wrap her arm around her waist. She could feel Mme. Madeleine's eyelashes flutter against her skin, then come to rest. Her breathing evened out. Even then, Javert had not moved from her post; somehow this was too peculiar a thing to break, so long as the darkness of the night blanketed them. In the morning they would return to themselves, she thought. In the morning she would wake purged and calm, would resume her duties without lust burning her whenever Mme. Madeleine was in sight.

That hesitant thought was her last before she drifted into a dreamless sleep.