Notes: This is actually meant to be read independently from "Origins of the Kingdom", but as they both center on Princess Aghamay I decided to put them in together.

Anyway, a romp through a night with Aghamay and Elin. I also got the crazy idea, for this story, to try and not use their names. It seems to've succeeded well enough.

(On a personal note, I'm still bouncy with joy about "Origins of the Kingdom" getting mod's choice on Elfwood last month. It takes so little to make Neffy happy. :D)

Anyway, my world, my characters, all rights reserved. Rated R for sexual situations.

Poison Love

"Sometimes I think I love you."

There are awkward silences, and then there are frozen silences. This was distinctly of the latter.

"You're not allowed," she responded. She didn't move from facing him, pressing against him in all her naked splendour, but somehow she managed to give the impression of turning away.

He closed his eyes and smiled ruefully when she ran a slender hand through his hair. "I know. Believe me. That's all this is, anyway, right?"

"Hm?"

"A relationship of convinience - we're merely using each other. You for my knowledge and my ruthlessness, and I for your power. Once you sit on the throne, and I wear the Lord General's uniform, it will be over."

"Probably. At that point I must find a husband."

They lay together on her lavish bed, sated and skin still flushed, clinging to the last vestiges of the pleasant afterglow. The sheets were in disarray around them, but cool, and the sheen of euphoric sweat had all ready dissipated from their bodies into the cool night air.

She shuddered briefly and pulled close. "Maybe we should have closed the balcony doors."

"Then it would have been stiffling hot," he said with the sensibility of a peasant's son.

"I suppose..."

He opened his eyes, beautiful hazel orbs that they were - in the candlelight they reminded her of sunlight flickering down through the trees of summer. "I'll kill him."

"Who?" she asked, voice tinged with confusion.

"Your husband."

She laughed briefly, then hesitated when he showed no indication of joking. Then she laughed again, mocking. "Try it. He will be emperor when he wed me. Even the Lord General will not be allowed close enough."

"But--"

She cut him off sharply. "You've never been to an audience. Only I am allowed within arm's reach of my brother. Even Semlit, good and loyal Semlit, is kept back."

He frowned and turned from her, looking at the transluscent drapes hanging over her bed.

"Don't be this way," she sighed, holding close against his back, her hand playing across his chest and abdomen. For a civilian he would have been considered in good shape, if skinny. For a soldier, he needed training.

He sat suddenly, looking pleadingly at her. "I do love you!" he swore fiercely. "I thought I didn't, that I wouldn't, but..."

She watched him look away uncertainly. "That is the wine speaking. You're more used to thin beer than fine drinks such as I have. Please, darling, calm yourself."

He looked unconvinced, but lay back down, letting her take him in her arms. "You don't love me."

"Of course not," she said, not unkindly, "I merely desire you." One hand strayed down past his abdomen to offer proof.

He didn't respond, staring blandly at the sky of the bed. "Desire is worthless. You love him."

She winced slightly. They both knew well enough what was implied. "Maybe, on some distant level, yes."

"Yes," he answered darkly, suddenly swivelling into motion and pinning her to the bed with a scowl. "You've all ready proven that you're enough of a slut to take a man to your bed without love."

She glared back daintily, letting her body go limp. "Why limit it to men?" It worked; his fury dissolved in the temporary confusion and shock. She pushed him away. "I do what I do because my body is worthless in face of what I wish to gain."

"Anything for power," he said bitterly.

"As if you've any moral highground in that regard," she hissed back, golden eyes narrow.

He conceded first, looking away. "Forgive me, higness."

She sighed and sat, reaching for her robe. "I'm hungry. You?"

He shook his head vaguely, still staring at that spot of thin air.

She stood, wrapping the silken garment around her and heading from her bedroom. Their half-drunken glasses of wine still stood on the low table by her sofas, and she picked up one along with an apple from the fruit bowl. She bit into it with a satisfying crunch, putting out the candles that they in their want had let be. She had no wish to start a fire.

The soft pat of bare feet alerted her to the fact that he was up, and thus she was not surprised when a pair of arms snaked around her waist. "Forgive me," he murmured, laying his head on her shoulder.

She smiled gently and briefly pressed her cheek against his temple. "All forgiven. You're tipsy; you can't be counted as responsible." She dutifully continued putting out the lights. It was a servant's job, really, but she had no interest in gossip of her newest lover spreading throughout the palace.

"Aren't you tired?"

"Aren't you?"

He chuckled. "I was. Then I got up and saw you." He slipped a hand inside her robe, laying his hand on her breast and merely holding it there.

She kissed his hair and reached up to pat his hand. "Get somehing to eat."

"Mmph," was the response, burried in her neck.

"I mean it. When was the last time you ate? At sunset?"

"I know, I know, don't drink on an empty stomach." He let her go, gracing her neck with a short kiss. "Anything that isn't poisoned around here?"

She bit into her apple as a means of answering.

He chuckled and picked out an orange. "I hate fruit," he said, but began peeling none the less.

She smiled, putting out the final candle. "I don't. I greatly prefer it to yams or whatever you people eat."

"'You people'?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. "Well, aren't we high and mighty?"

A smirk crossed her delicate features, and she threw the inedible remnants of the apple in the smouldering fireplace. "I am. You, peasant, are not."

His smile turned dangerous and he stepped closer, threatening or seducing or both. "I could be."

She returned the expression and let her robe slide to the floor. "I will always rule you."

He licked his suddenly dry lips, smile softening. "So I may not love you. But you are still the most magnificent creature I know."

"Flattery will get you nowhere."

"Power hunger will. It's gotten me this far."

She wrapped her arms around his neck and rubbed against him. "Enough business. That sort of thing belongs in daylight."

He smiled and pulled her closer. "You make bureaucracy sound good." They kissed frantically and sat heavily together in one of the futons.

"You're more intent on what I'm doing than what I'm saying, and we both know it." Another kiss. "And darling?"

"Hm?" He bit gently at her lower lip.

"I did poison the oranges."

He froze for a second, looking at her. Then laughed, calling her bluff. "Well, I'm not dead yet. So let us spend the time I have well."

She smiled and - laying back, savouring his weight on her - agreed, "Plotting and loving, my darling, as poisonous as both activities are."

end