It started with a cave. The kings were wintering in Ios, and had gone riding on one of their familiar routes, where Laurent would have sworn on his life that there had been no cave before. Except he was seeing it with his own eyes.
“Hold my horse,” Damen said.
“Damen,” Laurent began as his husband swung down from his mount and picked his way across the scrabled rock slope between the trail and the cliffside. “Damen!”
At the dark cleft in the rock, Damen poked his head inside and Laurent heard the faint echo of Damen calling into the cave. Damen was going to get killed by lions or bandits.
Laurent swung down from his mare as Damen disappeared into the gap in the cliff and started hobbling the horses. He heard a yelp from inside the cave and swore, abandonning the horses loose and scrambling over the rocks.
Before he reached the foot of the cliffs, Damen came staggering out of the cave and Laurent gaped. It was definitely Damen, but he was… different.
His jaw was rounded, softer, and he had, under his rumpled chiton and cloak… Laurent blinked. Those were breasts. Definitely breasts. He was still broad shouldered and taller than Laurent, his curls falling into his unchanged eyes. Laurent stared. “What happened?”
“It felt like something stung me.”
“Stung you? Where?” Laurent looked for a welt, eyes catching on the changed parts of his body.
Damen rubbed the back of his neck “Like my whole body, at once?”
“And it…?” Laurent gestured up and down Damen’s body.
“Wha…?” Damen looked down and froze. “What?” He grabbed his chest. “ What ?”
They both stared at Damen’s crotch as Damen yanked up the hem of his chiton. Laurent felt a bubble of hysterical laughter rise at the horrified look on Damen’s face.
“My cock!” Damen yelled, and Laurent clapped a hand over his mouth. “Don’t laugh!”
“I’m not!” Laurent choked. Damen looked so genuinely stricken that Laurent had to turn away, and found himself facing the mouth of the cave.
“Don’t go in there.” Damen grabbed his arm. There were still sword calluses on his palm.
Laurent sobered. “Let’s go home, then.”
They rode into the courtyard with Damen’s cloak wrapped tightly around him. He looked enough like himself that no one looked twice as they left their horses with the stable hands. Back in their rooms, they stared at one another helplessly, and then Damen started yanking at his clothes. His chiton fell to the floor.
Damen was a woman. Or at least, woman shaped. He had broader hips, to match his square shoulders, and a softness to the shape of his muscles. His breasts were large and heavy, swaying a little as he moved, his nipples still the same shade of brown. His thighs were still thick and strong, and between them was nothing but a thick patch of familiar curls.
“I don’t like this,” Damen said, grimacing.
“How are you feeling? It could have dangerous side effects.”
“Besides missing my cock?” Damen scowled. “Fine.”
They both contemplated that in silence for a moment. Laurent felt to urge to reach for his own cock, just to be sure it was still there, and suppressed it. Damen looked unhappy enough as it was.
“How long do you think…?” Damen began.
Laurent shrugged, trying not to think about the fact that Akielon caves were notoriously fickle, and there was no telling if he would ever turn back. His head ached when he considered that. “Have you ever heard of something like this?”
“There are lots of myths about shapeshifting. Nothing specific.”
Laurent ran his fingers through his hair, distracted. “We should tell Nikandros.”
“We can’t tell Nikandros!”
“We have to tell Nikandros! Before he hears that I’m sleeping with some strange Akielon woman and comes in here to disembowel me.”
“He’s going to be furious,” Damen sighed, slumping down on a couch and reaching for the pitcher of wine on the table.
“You should have thought of that before you went exploring strange caves,” Laurent said darkly. There was still a throb of panic under his breastbone whenever he thought of what might have happened worse than an inconvenient transformation. “Put on some clothes, and I’ll send someone for him.” Normally he would simply call for the guard on duty to come in, but instead Laurent went to the door and poked his head out. “Send for Nikandros. Tell him it’s urgent. Huet, you’re to stay here on guard, no one but the kyros or myself is to go in or out without orders from me. Atkis, come with me.”
“Wait, where are you going?” Damen called. The timber of his voice was subtly wrong and Laurent grimaced when he saw Atkis frown.
“To the library, to research.”
Damen pouted, and it made his face look disturbingly girlish. “And leave me to deal with Nikandros?”
“Yes, I’m sorry to miss it,” Laurent said, deadpan. “I’m sure it will be entertaining.”
Laurent spent the whole afternoon in the library, until the shadows began the lengthen and turn blue in the corners. Servants came in to light the lamps, and he dragged the heavy tomes he was perusing closer to the light.
His eyes hurt by the time he returned to the royal chambers, but he was walking more lightly.
Damen and Nikandros were sprawled out on opposite couches, drinking wine and looking grim. They both looked up when he came in. “Well?” Damen said. He had put on a chiton, at least, although his breasts moved disconcertingly under the fabric when he sat up.
“There’s good news.”
Nikandros dropped his head in his hands and mumbled something like oh thank the gods .
“If this was going to be permanent, you’d likely have already been abducted by a lustful god,” Laurent said. “It’s definitely temporary. The bad news is that there’s a number of different things that could have caused this, so it’s hard to say for sure, but given the setting, I would say that it was probably the site of some kind of sex ritual and we disturbed residual magic.” Akielon cult-worship, he thought sourly. Causing trouble for more than just the cultural integration of Artes. “There were a couple of accounts in the library of similar transformations, and none lasted more than a week.”
“A week?” Damen exclaimed.
Nikandros got to his feet. “I can deal with this for a week. We’ll tell people you’re sick. Now, I’m going to bed.”
Damen flopped back on the couch as he left.
“How bad was it?” Laurent asked, beginning to unlace his jacket. He was still in his riding clothes, and the stress of the day was catching up to him. Bed sounded like a good idea.
“He was so shocked that he forgot to yell at me for a while. So not that bad.” Sighing, Damen got up and disappeared to the washroom. He returned some time later looking frustrated. “I have to sit down to pee,” he complained. “For a week!”
Laurent ignored him, and pulled his nightshirt over his head. Behind him, he heard the rustle of fabric as Damen undressed and crawled into bed. With the sheets pulled up to his bare shoulders, he looked almost like he always did.
Damen reached out for his hand when Laurent slid in beside him, tugging him closer. It was very strange to be pressed against an unfamiliar body - it fit differently in his arms and was soft in unexpected places. Damen still smelled the same though, and Laurent buried his face in Damen’s curls and breathed in the familiar scent, letting it calm him. Damen smelled of horses and leather and wine, and of sun-warm skin, even in winter.
Nuzzling under his chin, Damen asked, “Can I kiss you?”
It had been years since he heard that kind of uncertainty in Damen’s voice about a question like that. “Of course you can kiss me,” Laurent said. “You’re my husband.” Hearing Damen sigh, he tilted his head down to be kissed.
His mouth was the same, although his cheeks were startlingly smooth and downy. The clever movements of his tongue were familiar, and Laurent felt a spark of interest alight in his body. He buried his fingers in Damen’s hair and kissed him deeper. Damen squirmed a little, meaningfully. Wine always made him affectionate, eager. His breasts pressed against Laurent’s chest, in the way.
Leaning back, Laurent touched one, just an experimental caress, and then, when Damen made an encouraging noise, more firmly, hefting it in his hand.
It was soft, squishy, unexpectedly heavy. Laurent’s fingers dimpled the flesh as he pressed in gently, and Damen made a noise in his throat. “Do that again,” he said, voice sounding a little hoarse. Laurent squeezed again and Damen let out a heavy breath. “That feels good.”
Curiously, Laurent thumbed his nipple, which was significantly larger than usual, and hardened under his touch.
Damen was wide eyed. “Do you like that?” Laurent asked. Usually his nipples were not a sensitive spot - he didn’t enjoy playing with them nearly as much as Laurent did.
Damen nodded vigorously and Laurent felt a jolt of anticipation in his gut. He rolled the nipple between his fingers and pinched lightly, and Damen said, “Oh,” in a startled voice.
Propping himself up on his elbows, Laurent began to try all the things that he loved which had never interested Damen before - pinching and tugging, light teasing, all combined with that gentle kneading of the flesh that made Damen shiver. His breasts were unwieldy in Laurent’s hands, bouncing and shifting when he changed his grip. When Laurent bent and licked his nipple, Damen threw back his head and moaned.
Pleased, Laurent teased with his tongue, first one nipple, then the other. When he finally sat up, Damen was panting. The sheets had gotten kicked down to their knees, and Laurent paused, looking down at Damen’s naked body.
“We don’t have to do anything,” Damen said. He was breathing fast, nipples hard and cheeks flushed. “Nothing you don’t want.”
Laurent made a noncommittal noise in his throat, and slid a hand down Damen’s belly. Damen’s breath hitched, and he rocked his hips up as Laurent ran his fingers through the familiar texture of the curls between his thighs.
Laurent let his fingers curve over Damen’s mound, exploratory. At the top of the cleft in his flesh was a distinct little nub that made Damen gasp when he touched it. Laurent looked up at him. “Good?”
Damen nodded, and said a word in Akielon that Laurent vaguely recognized. He moved his fingers absently, trying to remember where he’d heard it before. A song that the soldiers had been singing one night, he realized, and frowned. He’d thought that song was about getting lost in the countryside while drunk.
Pushing Damen’s thighs apart, Laurent scooted down the bed to look. It was like a tiny cock, almost lost in foreskin, crowned with dark curls. Laurent considered it. He’d seen women with their pets, of course. He knew you could use your mouth on a woman just like a man.
There was something appealing about the thought of sucking someone off when they couldn’t grab you and choke you on their cock. Lowering his head, Laurent dragged his tongue over the tiny exposed head, where the slit would be if it really were Damen’s cock.
Damen yelped, and his whole body jolted. That was even more satisfying than his reactions when Laurent sucked him normally. He did it again, and Damen shuddered, hips bucking against his mouth. It gave Laurent the warm glow of pleasing Damen that he always got from sucking his cock, without the edge of fear in the back of his head. Until it was gone, he had hardly realized it was still there, even after years together, when Damen was the safest thing in the world. Licking him like this, making him writhe helplessly beneath Laurent’s mouth, was pure power.
He could smell the musk of Damen’s arousal, different somehow from his male scent, sharper and stronger, but basically familiar. Curious, Laurent trailed his fingers down through Damen’s damp curls to the shocking wetness where the root of his cock should be, and Damen moaned when he touched him there. It felt intricate and delicate, but it was surprisingly easy to find the warm opening.
Laurent licked him one last time and sat back to watch the glistening folds part around his fingers. They slid in easily, more easily than he’d ever entered Damen’s ass, and Laurent thought, hazily, he’s meant for this . The inside walls were slick and velvety, with a texture like the inside of someone’s cheek. Damen squirmed a little.
“How’s it feel?” Laurent asked, lifting his head. He could taste Damen on his tongue, salty and sour, more pleasant than the taste of semen.
“Different. Good. So good, don’t stop. You can give me more.”
A third finger felt a little tight, and he eased it in gently, until he could pump all three in and out steadily. Experimentally, he curled his fingers toward the front of Damen’s body, the same way he would to hit the sensitive spot inside his ass, and Damen gasped, clenching down around his hand. Laurent pressed against the spot again, and listened to Damen moan.
Every time Laurent thrust his fingers inside, Damen whimpered. Laurent himself was half hard from listening to him, only a little distracted by the strangeness of it all. He bent his head and licked at Damen again, teasing the small head with the tip of his tongue as he worked his fingers steadily. Damen cried out, body tensing, and Laurent felt him clench hard and rhythmically around his hand. He was so wet that it was dripping down Laurent’s hand, getting him slick to the wrist.
“Did you just…?”
Damen groaned and nodded. “I think so. Don’t stop.”
He shuddered and shouted when Laurent put his mouth back on him, convulsing again. Laurent had seen female pets come over and over, sobbing from the stimulation, so he was gentle with his tongue. His own erection was pressed against the bed, becoming unexpectedly insistent.
“More,” Damen gasped. “Fuck me. Do you want to fuck me? Please , I want you to.”
Laurent paused - did he want to? He’d never had any interest in fucking women, but this was Damen. It wasn’t like he’d never fucked Damen before; he wanted to pleasure him every way he could, and his hard cock was telling him that there was nothing wrong with getting to fuck someplace warm and wet. Damen was very wet, and warm around his fingers.
“Yes.” Sitting up, he pulled his nightshirt over his head. He knelt between Damen’s spread thighs and then wrinkled his nose, looking down at Damen’s strange body, his breasts and pubic mound. “Can we… not face to face?”
Damen huffed a laugh and rolled over. From behind he was still noticeably different in the width of his hips, but his strong shoulders and tight, round ass were the same. There was a little awkward shuffling as neither of them could figure out what angle Laurent’s cock needed to be at for penetration. Everything was so soft and yielding when he pressed, until Damen said, “Ow!” and pushed him away to readjust. They tried again, with Damen’s fingers around his cock, the other hand spreading himself open, face buried in the pillows. Once they got the angle right, Laurent’s cock slid in easily, far more easily than he ever had before, and he pressed in all the way to the root, till his hips were flush against Damen’s ass.
Damen groaned, arching his back, and Laurent leaned forward to drop a kiss on his shoulder. The change of angle made Damen whine. Laurent curled his fingers in Damen’s hips, and thrust against that same spot that made Damen gasp into the pillow.
Instinctively, Laurent reached around where Damen’s cock would be, and found Damen’s hand already there, curved over the mound of flesh between his legs, fingers working wetly. He seemed to have figured out what he liked, and Laurent was only in the way, so he pulled his hand back.
His fingers were glistening wet and Laurent looked at them consideringly, and then spread Damen’s ass with his other hand, and ran his fingers teasingly down his crack. Damen bucked and shouted, throwing his head back in a toss of dark curls, and came again. Laurent felt the delicious fluttering tightness around his cock, and closed his eyes briefly.
When Damen could speak again, he gasped, “Please,” and pressed his ass back against Laurent’s hand.
Feeling heat building toward a peak in his own stomach, Laurent pressed in with his fingers, feeling the familiar resistance and then give. Damen groaned, an aftershock twitching through him. He was so tight around Laurent’s fingers, completely full. Laurent could feel his own cock moving through the warm walls of Damen’s body. It was strange and intoxicating, especially since Damen was making low, urgent whimpering sounds in his throat. Laurent pushed his fingers deeper, trying to find a rhythm with the strokes of his cock.
Damen made a strangled sound, and clenched down again, and Laurent felt his own balls drawing tight. Clutching Damen’s shoulder with his free hand, he thrust hard, fucking Damen through his orgasm until he couldn’t hold his own back any longer. Gasping, he pressed his forehead against Damen’s sweaty neck, and came inside him.
They lay tangled together until their skin began to grow chill and sticky. Extricating himself, Laurent got up and fetched a damp towel, grounding himself in the familiar routine. When he crawled into bed, Damen rolled against his side, slinging an arm over his waist.
“So…” he mumbled, and his voice on the rough edge of sleep and exhaustion sounded normal. “A week, huh?”