|A Study Of Stars|
|Summary:||Nicodemus and Day both go swimming at the same time.|
|Date:||14/01/12 (OOC Date)|
|Related Logs:||Meeting On The Road|
|Mill Pond — Kingsgrove|
There is hardly any moon, tonight, which means that the stars are out in blazing brilliance, spread twinkling across the night sky. It's such nights as this that Nicodemus is sometimes inclined to steal away for a midnight swim in the mill pond where Septa Day's wit has gotten her dunked a time or two. Not expecting any company, the young knight peels out of his clothing, leaving it in a pile on the shore. Quietly, he dives into the water, surfacing amid a rippling reflection of a million stars all around him.
If someone happened to ask Day how long she'd been floating there, her shift and hair billowing around her in the perfectly still water, she wouldn't be able to say. She's lost in the contemplation of an indigo so deep that most eyes never see it as anything other than black, the way some points of light sparkle and some shine steadily, the faint but exquisite differentiation in color, how some are larger and some so tiny they trick the eye into believing they're not there are all. Soon, she can almost believe she's perceiving a depth of field, and if some are closer and some further away, how far does it all go…?
So entranced is the young septa that she barely registers the initial splash as Nicodemus enters the pond. When he surfaces, however, she rights herself with a gasp, treading water and staring into the dark. She must see him even more clearly than he does her, for her eyes have had all this time to adjust to the faint silver light, but still she whispers, "Who's there?"
He swims for the middle of the pond, though he stops short at whispered words. "Septa?" he queries beneath the whisper of treading water. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize… it's me. It's Nicodemus. Forgive me, I'll go."
"Nic…" She breathes out, shutting her eyes a moment and letting the start of adrenaline pass. "No, no… it's fine," she says, still whispering, but less tense now, warmth returning. "I've been out here…" she looks up, drops of water on her face, shoulders and eyelashes. "A long time, probably. Anyhow, you've more right to be here than I."
"More right?" Nicodemus asks with a laugh, his feet kicking and his arms moving so that he can tread water and remain in place. "How do you figure that?"
Day raises her eyebrows a little, choosing to swim idly rather than simply tread water. She circles him at a modest distance. "This is your home," she replies.
Nicodemus huffs a small laugh, turning as Day swims so he can keep watch of her shadowy, star-kissed form. "But not yours? I should hope, after more than two years here, you'd feel differently."
She lowers her lashes, dipping her chin just a touch in assent. "I… do," she admits, with some reluctance. "Perhaps too much."
Nicodemus tilts his head in that way he has, when he hears something that doesn't quite make sense, but feels like it should. "Are you thinking of leaving us, Septa? You'd break Rosanna's heart."
"Oh, Goddess, no!" says Day, shaking her head quickly. "No. Not unless someone marched me from the house at swordpoint." She shrugs a pale, smooth shoulder, searching the reflected stars for a way to explain. "Everything changes. Day to day, moment to moment. Attachment is inevitably sorrow because ownership and belonging are illusions." She looks up again, smiling wryly. "I know these things. But… I'm a fool, like most people are fools." A beat. "I love your family."
Nicodemus's lips part in a warm (wet) smile. "Day to Day," he repeats, "ever shifting, ever changing. Always something new and clever with each lift of the sun. I'm glad you're a fool, septa. You are loved in turn."
It's a very clever play on words, and she blushes accordingly. It's impossible, really, to see that faint pink tinge in the starlight — but it's all told in the quick look down and away, the visible flutter of the pulse in her throat. "Rosanna — I loved her the instant I met her, really. She knew she was getting a new governess, and she had a list of requirements which she presented to me on my arrival. Precocious and bossy." There is immense fondness in her smile and her voice. "She'd written, among other things, 'Cookies.' Four different times."
"Rosanna shall never lack for confidence," Nicodemus says, daring to creep a little closer to the Septa, "…or for demands. She is utterly spoiled, but it's impossible to do otherwise, isn't it? She'll make a spectacular head of house some day. All shall tremble in fear and cookies shall rain wherever she walks."
Day moves her arms in the water as though she might mean to propel herself back a bit, maintaining the distance between them… but she remains where she is, the movement somehow becoming a neutral one, keeping her afloat but stationary. Despite her best intentions. And better judgment. "I mean to make sure of it," she smiles. "She shall never have to outrun or outfight what she can out-clever."
"Good, because I suspect with you as her tutor, there will be very little she'll be unable to out-clever by the time she's grown. She's very fortunate to have you."
She ducks her head and utters a soft laugh, blinking as she summons the courage to meet his eyes again. "You're very kind," she murmurs, when she finds her voice. "You always have been. I… I've never thanked you, really. For how welcome you've made me. I — you didn't have to." She takes a breath. "So. Thank you."
"I wanted to," Nicodemus answers gently, creeping a little closer, again. "It was a pleasure. Your company is always a pleasure."
"So is yours," whispers Day, shivering slightly, though the water's not at all chilly, and the night is warm. "I — I try not to trouble you. I know — I mean, I've noticed that you… value time to yourself."
"Oh. Well…" Nicodemus studies the water and the stars wobbling and swaying on its surface. "I suppose I do, at times. But, not always. Not usually. You needn't feel as if… as if you have to keep away."
"I don't," whispers Day, then frowns. "I mean — I do." She sighs, concluding with some reluctance, very softly, "I should."
"Ah," Nicodemus murmurs with a small nod, using one hand to cup water and watch the reflections he holds. "I understand."
Her brows draw together a slightly. "You do?"
"There are things you want, or think you want, that it would be better not to have. Better for yourself, better for others, but…" there's a soft sound as his bare shoulders lift and fall, "still, you want them."
Day is silent for a long moment, not quite breathing. "Do you?" she asks, at last.
"Oh yes," Nicodemus confesses softly, the word a shuddering sigh.
She swallows, a flash of her slender throat, and again that visible flutter of her pulse. "What… is it? That you want?" She sounds terrified by the question, but somehow aching for the answer.
"I don't know," Nicodemus confesses softly, "something I haven't found, yet." And perhaps that might have been all, except, "Though sometimes it feels as though I'm closer to it when I'm with you."
Day lets out a breath she wasn't aware she was holding, smiling in tenderness and compassion. "Nic…" She closes the distance and embraces him, a simple and warm hug, one which wouldn't be untoward at all except — well. He's naked and she's quite nearly so. Something she's obviously overlooked.
It's not overlooked by him, or certainly not by his body, though Nicodemus is a knight to the last, ignoring the way her sudden closeness makes his breath catch and bits of him stiffen. He curls is arms gently around Day, resting his cheek on her hair.
And that shift against her belly, the heat and hardening, makes her breath catch in turn. She doesn't move right away — on the contrary, she goes very still, but her hot flush is easily felt against his neck and shoulder. "I. Uh." She giggles, a nervous and girlish sound. "You're — not wearing any clothes."
"No," Nicodemus agrees around a tight swallow. "I'm swimming." Duh, woman. He doesn't move away, either, but there's a tension starting in his body. A readiness to retreat.
"Goddess, I'm sorry," mumbles Day, mortified. She draws very carefully back, as though a sudden move might harm him in his… delicate state. "Of course you are. I just. I didn't think." She's wearing her shift, after all.
"I would have kept trousers on, if I had realized… I'm sorry, Septa. I didn't know you were here until I was in the water." And now Nicodemus and his delicate man bits are backpedaling a little. Not fleeing, but regaining that polite distance.
"No, no — of course," Day stumbles over his backpedaling. "That — entirely my fault. Truly." She clears her throat and places her hands against the sides of her neck and cheeks. "It's. You know." She nods. Obviously. "These things happen. You're — healthy. And that can happen to young men. It doesn't — you know. Mean anything." Convent raised, she is quite the expert on penises. She nods sagely.
"Yes, I confess I do have some small familiarity with the bodies of young men," Nicodemus points out around a faint, slightly embarrassed smile, "Being one, and all. Still, I apologize. This is a bit of an awkward situation." He blinks over at her in the starlight, watching as she presses her palms to her throat and cheeks.
Day grimaces. "Of course you do," she agrees, then hides her face in her hands, laughing. "Sorry!" she hastens to apologize. "Nervous laughter — not at you." She takes a deep breath. "You're a man, not a boy. A knight. And I'm sure you've — had — experience. Warriors are initiated into such things almost ritualistically, aren't they? Rites of passage. I should stop talking now."
"Well, we don't chant or thump drums or anything," Nicodemus says, his tone faintly insulted at the idea, "but it's… I suppose it's a rite of passage most squires discover before they're knighted." He swallows, clearing is throat before he asks, "And, um, what of septas?"
"Do we have sexual rites of passage?" Day asks, to be clear. She laughs again. "Goddess, no. It's just not… really… addressed." Which gives her a moment of intellectual pause. "Perhaps because most women are expected to remain virgins until they're married. So sex is considered taboo for all females. Septas don't marry, but I don't think anyone's ever thought that it relieves us from that particular obligation." She pauses, then clarifies, "Chastity, that is."
"So, then, do you mean to say you've not… you've never… you'll never…" Nicodemus breathes out a weak laugh. "You know, up until this moment, it never even occurred to me, one way or the other."
Day blinks, then frowns. "Never?" she asks, stung. "You've never, in all this time, thought that — of me as — " She looks quite beyond mortified, now. "Well," she huffs delicately. "Now you know. I'm a girl. Woman," she corrects herself. "With woman parts." She turns to swim away.
"No, I… no, the other way around," Nicodemus confesses with a nervous laugh as she turns away. "Robes and all, I suppose this is the first time I've ever really properly thought of you as a septa."
Oh. That's different, then. She stops and turns just a little, looking back at him over her shoulder. "Really?" she asks, cautiously mollified.
"First you were covered in blood and cursing like a stablehand," Nicodemus points out, "and then you were blushing, and then we set fire to dollhouses and chase each other around trees and play at being beasts and villains to amuse and teach my little sister… I'm afraid that in my experience, none of that is very septa-like."
Day's faint, wry smirk concedes that point. So she answers the earlier question, turning to face him again. "It means I haven't," she says. "It doesn't mean I can't or won't. Or that I don't want to. I just can't marry."
"I always thought septas weren't supposed to get such urges. Or, at least, not admit to them. They always seemed so removed from the world," Nicodemus confesses.
"There's a difference between celibacy and chastity," Day says, shrugging. "It's a delicate distinction, but it's…" she grins wryly. "It's definitely a distinction. It might be different for — you know — there are orders and sects within the faith. The Silent Sisters, Begging Brothers, the old Orders Militant. I think each septon and septa is guided by their own affinity. Mine's for the Crone."
"And the crone doesn't mind?" Nicodemus queries, "if you're celibate without being chaste?"
Day laughs, bright and lovely, a silvery sound in the silvery dark. She shakes her head. "No. She doesn't. She's the apotheosis of what it is to be a woman. She's been the Maid and the Mother, both. She's wise and wonderful and… of the earth."
"Then, you should really be… not chaste… all the time." Nicodemus clears his throat again. "In homage to her. And the earth."
"All the time?" asks Day, eyes alight, the tilt of her smile all mischief. "Isn't that a little impractical?"
"Piety is not always practical," Nicodemus sniffs, speaking as if he's reciting a tidbit oft-quoted to him, "but is always essential."
Grinning, Day replies, "Who says I'm not always not-chaste? In thought, if not in deed?" She glances aside, then back at Nic. "I could be being not-chaste right now, even."
"With a perfectly respectable looking naked fellow in the water across from you, I should hope so," Nicodemus points out with a soft laugh. "But, if it's not against your vows and you've thought on it, what's kept you back from having the experience?"
Day considers this only briefly, then answers simply, "Opportunity?" She shakes her head, laughing lightly. "I lived all my life in the Motherhouse, and then I came here."
"We don't… permit you any time to yourself, where you might go into town or meet a man you'd choose for such?" Nicodemus asks, frowning a little at the thought.
She blinks. Several times. Then laughs again. "That… actually never occurred to me," she admits. "But it seems — rather contrived, doesn't it? One should be… moved. There should be a… pulling. Temptation. Anticipation…" her voice grows soft. "Hunger. Need."
"Well, you're talking to a man," Nicodemus points out with a soft laugh. "After the start of our fifteenth year, we're pretty much built of anticipation, hunger and need. We don't need to seek it out."
"Ha! Excellent point." Day grins, looking down a moment, then glancing at him through her lashes. "I can satisfy my own needs, when I feel… restless. Until there's a man with enough sense to kiss me, and a kiss that curls my toes."
"Temptation," Nicodemus murmurs, smiling softly. "You make it very difficult to resist the challenge, septa."
"It would be the first time I kissed a man," Day murmurs, her gaze tracing his lips. She touches her bottom lip with her tongue and draws it through her teeth. "Something for us both to think about."
He watches her lip, the slide of her tongue, the white of her teeth in the dark night. "Would you hate me for it?" Nicodemus whispers.
She tilts her head, puzzled by the question, but no less fascinated with his mouth. "Why would I?"
"I don't know. Regret. Shame. Perhaps you do not wish to kiss somebody belong to a family you've no desire to leave," he murmurs. "It could create complications."
Day nods. "It could," she agrees. "There's nothing without risk."
He's silent, now, reaching out to see if he might touch her cheek with the roughened palm of his hand.
She closes her eyes a moment as he touches her, then opens them again to watch him, vivid blue eyes appearing black in the starlight, like the sky.
He's watching her back, the green-blue of his own eyes lost in shadow but not quite so dark as Day's. Drawing in a quiet breath, Nicodemus lowers his head, pressing his lips softly to hers.
A soft, sweet sound escapes her lips as he touches them and she shivers, a palpable thrill running through her from head to toe. Her arms twine slowly around his neck and her tongue shyly tastes him, lips parted in invitation. For a maid who's never kissed a man, she knows a thing or two what she's doing.
Maybe she's very studious or maybe she's a liar. Nicodemus doesn't seem much to care, either way, and with a soft groan, he deepens the kiss, accepting that invitation and letting his tongue slide against Day's.
She answers his groan with another shiver, welcoming him into the sweetness of her mouth, tongue stroking his then delving to explore him in turn. Finally, she draws back, capturing his bottom lip between her teeth and suckling lightly before slowly releasing it. She drifts back in the water, breathless, lashes low. For a moment, she simply looks at him, then groans and laughs and floats on her back. "My toes did curl," she reports blissfully, then rolls over and strikes out for shore.
Which leaves Nicodemus in the lake, treading water. He waits until Day leaves and then waits a little while longer, before he swims for shore and gets dressed so that he can creep quietly back to bed.