"The first glance from the beloved is like the Spirit that hovered over the face of the deep, out of which came heaven and earth;
The first glance from the companion of life's way is as the word of God when He said: "Be.""
"It does wonders for bringing one back down to earth," Jaffar says as he dangles a piece of string for Mustafa to swat. The little black cat leaps a full two feet into the air over and over again, his mouth open as he attacks the string with teeth and claws, purring from the sheer delight of the play.
"What does?" Yassamin asks, not looking up from her book.
Jaffar chuckles and dances around the study, Mustafa following his every movement; now Jaffar hides the string behind his robe, now drags it up a seat for Mustafa to chase. "This!" he laughs. "The utter joy he takes in but a piece of string--look at that abandon! If we could all be as content with simple things the way children and animals are, the world would be much happier a place, I'll wager."
"Always the dreamer," Yassamin says, closes the book and comes to hug him from behind, kissing him on the cheek, Jaffar never ceasing his playing with the cat. "But that's why I love you, my sweet fool of a husband."
"Father!" Salsabil cries out from the corridor. "Father! Where on earth did you put The Book of Ingenious Devices? I can't find it anywhere!"
"So much for children and simple pleasures," Yassamin laughs and peeks past Jaffar's shoulder, crying out into the direction of Salsabil's voice. "It's here in the study, Salsabil. But you can't have it yet. Your father and I need it for the new automatons we are building."
"But not yet!" Jaffar cries, turns around and plants a big, wet kiss on Yassamin's mouth; she stumbles back and accidentally steps on Mustafa's tail. The cat shrieks in agony and Yassamin staggers as she steps out of the poor cat's way; now, both she and Jaffar fall onto the cushions she had been reading on, Mustafa leaping away as fast as his little legs can take him.
Salsabil peeks in through the door and immediately, rolls her eyes at the sight of her parents entangled in an amorous embrace. "Not again."
Jaffar pins Yassamin down playfully and rolls his hips into her, mimicking a wild, animal rut. "Quick, daughter! Plunder away while I hold back the enemy. Take the book while I still have your mother prisoner."
"I only need it for a few hours," Salsabil says as she picks up the book. "I've copied all but the last ten pages; I'm nearly finished."
"See?" Jaffar asks Yassamin, not looking up at Salsabil. "I will keep your mother busy while you do the copying," he says and begins to nip at Yassamin's neck until she yelps. "And you, my dear woman, should be proud of having a daughter who has copied an entire book on engineering at the age of seven!"
Yassamin moans in mock-indignation. "Mohammad won't like it," she mumbles. "He said he wants the fountains done in time for Nowruz. That's only seven weeks away!"
For it is indeed a set of magical fountains Mohammad has commissioned from them, renovating as he is the gardens and the courtyards of the Afrasiyab palace complex to display his might and magnificence. He is, in fact, desperate to show the people of Samarkand he is still Sultan, especially now that Jaffar and Zainab's more modern palaces threaten to overshadow his own, admittedly ancient castle. Therefore, he has asked for an entire series of fountains to be built in this new garden of his, functioning not unlike waterwork versions of music boxes; wind them all up and each will gush out a sequence of flower-shaped sprays, so that visitors will be treated to a spectacular show of water-flowers as they walk through the garden. Lilies, lilies-of-the-valley, orchids and of course, jasmines are all on Jaffar's to-engineer list: however, refining the mechanisms for spraying out even one single flower-shape will take weeks. And to think Jaffar, in his madness, had promised Mohammad and Latifa two dozen of these things!
Jaffar raises his eyebrow. "We have djinn. I can have the fountains ready in a month from now," he murmurs and continues to kiss Yassamin's neck. "Salsabil, you can go now," he says and turns to look at his daughter over his shoulder, but Salsabil has already disappeared with the book.
"What will you do if, one day--hypothetically speaking," Yassamin says and blows Jaffar's hair out of her face, "the djinn decide to one day leave us?"
"I have made sure they won't," he says and undoes the buttons on Yassamin's jacket, lifting out her breasts from the confines of her silken undershirt. "And I do not need the help of djinn to make sweet waters flow, now do I?" he leers and slips his hand between Yassamin's legs, stroking her cunny through her shalwars. "Waterworks are my middle--wait, first name," he chuckles.
Yassamin groans. "You'll need more than just appalling jokes to irrigate your wife's furrow," she says and squirms in his embrace. "Bed."
Jaffar but picks up the piece of string he'd been playing with and swiftly ties Yassamin's wrists with it, dropping a kiss on her nose. "Cushions. I insist."
Yassamin shakes her head. "Next, you will be in and out in five minutes and then tell me I should be content with the simple things in life."
Jaffar makes a mock-croon as he pulls his robe off over his head. "Never, my sweet, never. I intend to give Salsabil plenty of time to finish her work, you see," he says and pulls off Yassamin's shalwars, sighing happily as he settles to lie down on top of her, taking her breasts in his hands. "You know one should always encourage one's children in their learning," he says, kissing one breast, "and to keep one's wife satisfied in bed," he murmurs against another.
She twiddles her toes and grins. "And upon cushions?"
"Even more so," he laughs and kisses his way down her belly, tickling her all over as he goes.
"Stop!" she wails; she has always been ticklish, and Jaffar knows exactly how mad this drives her.
"I thought you said you didn't want a five-minute affair!" he says and lifts his head up from between her legs, his hair having escaped his ponytail almost completely by now. "I was but warming you up."
She caresses his bare back with her foot. "You're almost in the right place to do it," she grins. "Just a little lower."
He closes his eyes and inhales from her sex, his nostrils fluttering from delight. "Mmm. You're right; my senses tell me there's water vein near. Now, if I but perform the right rituals--" but then he is kissing her cunny and neither of them can speak no more.
With another Nowruz, arrives another new year: and with it, their eleventh anniversary. Eleventh! Yassamin thinks to herself, dizzy from it all: for she still feels as if she is only just learning the life of a wife and a mother, every new day a bewildering wonder to her. But then, is this not what every woman feels? It's not as if--despite what the pagans would tell her--one gets several lifetimes during which to learn how to manage husbands and children. And hers are the most extraordinary husband and children of all: no old wife of her father's harem could ever have advised her on how to be wife to a sorcerer, and how to rear children who were not only exceptionally intelligent but magically gifted as well.
She and Jaffar must celebrate this extraordinary love with something special, the way they do every year; yet this spring, the hustle and bustle of Mohammad's renovation project has overburdened both her and Jaffar with work. There would be no sense in them having a day off all to themselves if they were but plunged back into the chaos of Afrasiyab straight after: therefore, they agree to celebrate only after Nowruz, when they are truly free to let go.
"That, and I want several days off," Jaffar murmurs into Yassamin's neck, holding her from behind as they gaze down into the garden from the gallery outside her quarters. "A week. Already I ache all over. We'll leave the children with Latifa--"
"What makes you think she'll have them?" Yassamin laughs, hugging his arms around her waist.
"She owes us a favour--no, several by now," he grumbles. "I made sure to start the construction work from near the harem, so she would be free of the noise quicker."
"And now you'll saddle her with this racket," she says and nods towards the children. They're now chasing each other around the garden with wooden swords and shields in hand, imitating Northmen, shrieking out the berserker war-cries Zainab had taught them.
"Don't be silly. She has four hundred serving-maids, and besides, the children love it there. I'm sure Salsabil will have to be dragged kicking and screaming out of the library again, and Anwar can hide from his cousins among the elephants. And before you say it, there is no need to feel guilty about it either, my love. You've deserved a holiday from mothering, too."
"You have got something special planned," she smirks flirtatiously and turns around in his embrace. "But no orgies. I want it to be just you and I."
He kisses her nose. "Just you and I, celebrating our journey together. In fact, it's going to be very much about our journey indeed--I might as well tell you now. For I've been studying the art of spirit-memory for quite a while now, the way our experiences and our memories, everything we say and do, are imprinted onto the fabric of the spirit world, remaining there for all time."
She raises her eyebrow. "Is this one of the Dakini's teachings?" For it sounds exactly like the concept the pagans call karma--just when Yassamin had been thinking of reincarnation, too! She must have been picking up Jaffar's thoughts again, to have even thought of the concept.
"It is in line with the Prophet's teachings, too. Only we think of it as angels writing down all our actions in God's books. Whichever way you look at it, it is a very real phenomenon, and that is what I want us to explore. Now, the Dakini taught me a trance technique by which one can experience specific events from one's past very vividly, in order to learn from them. The followers of the Buddha use this technique to examine the actions they believe themselves to have committed in past lives, but you and I would only be looking back at our own pasts. In short, I believe there is a way for us to... return, as it were, into our minds as they were when we first wed, yet carry into this experience the wisdom and the experience of our current selves."
Her heart leaps. "So that we would come to each other as bride and groom once more?" she says, searching Jaffar's eyes, excited. "Is that what you mean? So that we could live again our wedding night?"
He beams as he nods at her, his eyes glowing a bright blue in the setting sun's light. "Aye. You got it right the first time. Although I promise not to take an entire week to deflower you this time," he chuckles and rocks her in his arms. "I mean but the novelty, the sense of wonder we possessed then--when we were learning each other for the first time. The love-games, I would have be something entirely new, not merely us going through the exact same things we did before. Who knows, we might even learn things we never knew about each other--simply because we forgot to mark them the first time!"
"My God!" she laughs, resting her hands over his heart, casting down her eyes. "I am terrified. I was so awkward, so clumsy, so frightened of you..."
"Already you are reverting to the mood of a virgin, then!" he laughs and claps his hands over her buttocks; she knows exactly how much the idea of a quivering virgin arouses the beast in him. "And it would indeed be a great pleasure, not to mention an honour for me, to undo all your fears once more, to enfold you in my love once more..." His voice lowers into a purr and he picks up her chin with his hand, his eyes glittering from wickedness. "And to conquer you once more."
She shivers, from both terror and arousal; already it is as if eleven years were nothing and she were but the maiden in her father's harem, being whispered to by her djinni in her mirror. Oh, but she loves this, adores this, adores him, never not in awe of Jaffar's erotic creativity and his passion, the sheer depth and the sheer vastness of his love; already she feels as if two different Yassamins are moving within her at the same time. Deep within her stirs the innocent, yet eager virgin with a world of perversities budding within her, awaiting for her dark lover to nurture them into bloom; and around this maiden, Yassamin the mature wife and wise witch, the woman who enjoys the deepest of spiritual communions with Jaffar her husband, the one whose love she knows to be as strong and as true as that of God himself.
"What say you, my sweet?" he says, smiling; for he has heard her thoughts, but would hear her voice them out loud. "It would please me greatly to at least try."
She takes his hand and kisses his palm, leaning her cheek into it, sighing in adoration. "And you know that your pleasure is always my pleasure also. However, I have one condition."
"And that is?"
"You said we should not repeat what we did before, and I agree... but for one thing." She closes her eyes and flashes him the memory of that night in his tent, the first time he had taken her like a boy: the sweet terror and the sweeter arousal she had felt then. The shock of pleasure his cane had brought her, the sheer intensity of being sodomised for the first time--oh, my love, I truly thought I would die--but most of all, the ecstasy she had felt in surrendering herself so completely unto him and being rewarded so utterly; of being able to so trust her body into his hands, plunging into the deepestmost, darkestmost abyss of helplessness only to be caught by him, carried to safety in his embrace.
That is what I would again feel from you, beloved, she now whispers into his mind, too shy to put it into spoken words, the shock of her own perversion still making her shiver from its vastness; to play the slave girl to your master once more. So that I might surrender myself unto your love as completely and as utterly as the believer's soul surrenders unto God.
And he is there to catch her: with a moan, he captures her in the deepest of kisses, his tongue trembling against hers, his spirit rushing into her so that she can feel the tears prickling underneath his eyelids as her own. I had hoped you would say that, he laughs into her mind with the delight of a little boy. But then, the little boy is gone and his majesty, his lordship, his puissance ravishes her once more: he crushes her in his embrace, just as he had crushed her against his chest that first night, and she moans into his mouth in sweet terror and delight.
When Jaffar pulls back, his eyes are heavy-lidded from desire, and he is erect against her belly; just as her cunny is now tightening, aflutter between her legs. With a hiss, he pulls upon her lower lip with his thumb, his erection pulsing against the heat of her body; his eyes flash with a light so pale his irises become as glass. When he speaks, his voice is dark and sticky and coarse, pouring into her ears a black honey.
"Trust, wife, that I shall endeavour to master you until you lie at my feet weeping, hoarse from screaming, dripping with my seed from every orifice, begging me for mercy."
She cannot bear it any longer. With a great cry, she falls to her knees and presses her face to his groin, kissing his erection feverishly through his silks. "I love you," she moans, wetting his silks with her saliva and her tears, laughing at the madness of it all, her cunny so hot and so wet between her legs that she aches. To hear him use that voice with her--it's been so long since she had last heard it, the commanding cadence of her Jaffar the beast, the one to tear all her sorrows to pieces, the one to swallow her sadnesses entire. "Say that again."
He but groans as he can smell her cunny, laughs and cards his fingers through her hair, yelping as she gropes for his prick. "I love you, too, and there's more filth where that came from. But come, my sweet, get up; the children will see us."
"I don't care! Cast a spell."
"I cast twenty-five at the palace today!" he laughs. "I'm too tired for magics. But I think I just might have the energy for--" he groans and picks her up in his arms and begins to carry her to the bedchamber, "at least a minor ravishment," he says and kisses her nose, she screaming and giggling in his arms, twiddling her feet so that her slippers dangle off her toes. "Perhaps even a medium ravishment, if my slave girl prepares me a cup of wine I can fortify myself with."
"To hear is to obey, my lord and master," she simpers at him with the sweetest of croons and wraps her arms around his neck, planting a kiss on his nose in turn. "To hear is to obey."