A/N: Zethoa was one of the winners of the SoS contest, and requested a Blued Moon/Red Ivy short. The following story is rated M for Mature (and possibly S for Silly.) You have been warned.

A Most Incorrigible Spell

"We are right to note the license and disobedience of this member which thrusts itself forward too inopportunely when we do not want it to, and which so inopportunely lets us down when we most need it; it imperiously contests for authority with our will: it stubbornly and proudly refuses all our incitements, both of the mind and hand." --Michel Montaigne, Sex At Dawn

It was nothing more than a whisper—a joke—a passing fancy, at best. I could not be ensnared. I choked on the bitter tang of the very thought. And yet.

For a moment, there had been grace leaning against that railing. That perfect bend of neck, baring skin like golden sun-warmed sand, the promise cool relief beneath. That draping mass of hair the same sweet scarlet of those curved lips, that quick glance of tongue. Those tilted hips I could pull against mine, those staircase legs I could endlessly tread.

And then he opened his stupid mouth, and I could just suppress the all-compelling urge to hurl myself from the roof.

The base emotions that I had left behind in the dredges of childhood made themselves all too clear. My stomach twisted with revulsion, my mouth flooded with the taste of disgust. I, who had mastered my body and its reactions, found myself a bumbling student of incompetency. Only divine intervention stopped a breakout of spots from spreading across my face.

Diamond always had said Red Ivy could diminish the intelligence of all nearby, but I had not thought this foul misdirection applied to myself, not this way. That he could reduce any scholar of the arts to tears with his bumbling questions, yes. That he could solely disprove the progressive evolution of the species, yes.

That he could make me lose every principle and natural compulsion—no.

Thankfully, I wallowed only an instant before my rational mind rescued me from the depths of incompetency. I knew well the magics of the Crowned Jewel, as well as what idle tricksters its members were. That petty crowd would find it all too amusing to affect my senses, wreaking dear havoc upon the mind they could not touch in any other way.

Had they slipped the love potion into the very air itself, or the drink in my hand? I glanced at the wine, stomach twisting, and considered casting it away. But no, for that would draw attention.

It would be much better, I decided, to play their game. Those who thought to fool me surely deserved recompense in return. I would act, yes, as if their immature spell had caught me unawares, take this to some crucial level, and then prove my superiority.

I did not like men, those stubborn, ugly creatures of insipid bravado and bumbling incompetency. Their stick-straight hips, unsightly bulges, and mold-creeping hair revolted my senses. Give me a woman's mind, able to skim across philosophy and psychology like a swan drifts upon a lake, threading multiple skeins of thought upon the same cloth. I longed to gaze upon her curves and unmarked skin, bear the weight of arching breasts, and enclose my fingers and tongue and groin in a wet warmth of pleasant nature.

And this man's mind—what little remained—and this man's body—bony, limp, and ungainly—could bring tears to the eyes of any right-thinking person. No doubt such a pretended seduction would take every ounce of muster within my body and soul, but it would be a thousand times more unthinkable still to fail this test of wills.

I swirled my drink, put on a smile, and let the poison slide down my throat. I would win their little game.

He had an appointment scheduled for the next morning, in, of all undignified locations, the rose garden. I rose earlier still, my newly acquired scroll of Cantrell's latest Mirror for Nobles in hand, and selected a secluded bench from where I might spy. It was counter to my plan, yes, to be hidden in such a manner, unwatched by any trickster eyes for me to catch plotting. But it would do little for me to act without information, and little more for me to be caught unawares.

Truth be told, I did not know much of the fellow, preferring to walk a road as far from his as 'twas possible to travel. Observing his rendezvous would bring certain enlightenment.

Or so I had hoped, until I realized I must position my scroll strategically to keep from losing my breakfast. The sight of so much male flesh—and putting that—there—and twisting like that—even the Mirror seemed to blur in disgust, each word dripping with reprove. I learned little more than that my subject was flexible. He had found a distressingly undignified position which placed his knees in the vicinity of his ears.

Scant more success was had in the break-room. I had retreated there to the couch by the fire, hoping to absorb a few more chapters of the Mirror surrounded by the pleasant scents of pine and wood-smoke. He had limped in afterwards, and, as luck—and careful positioning—would have it, only the spot beside mine was empty.

Though the way he threw himself beside me, his lips stretched into a boisterous grin and his limbs flung out in space-absorbing abandon, immediately dissolved my sense of success.

"That sure is a thick scroll!" he chirped, birdbrained in a way that set my teeth on edge. Would that I could use them to snap his stupid neck in two.

But it would not do to throw in the towel so early in the game. "It is," I replied in a tone so amiable flowers ought to have sprouted from my lips. "I trust your night was pleasant?"

Those red brows swooped downward into perplexity, his teeth drawing inward his lower lip. "You should know better than me if you trust my night, right? Oh, look, pastries!" And up and away he had bounded, caught up by the surprise that the ever-present pastry table was, indeed, constant in its ever-present nature.

With monumental effort, I resisted the urge to loft my scroll at the back of his head—Canrell's masterpiece did not deserve such treatment—and instead drove my gaze about the room. Ours had been a shorter conversation than I'd hoped, ill-suited for catching which foolish-minded courtesan had baited me. Indeed, none in the room were even looking our direction, suspiciously, surreptitiously, or otherwise.

Yet there it was again, in the instant before his departure. The doorway had framed some rare creature of desire, a sculpted arm thrown backwards, each perfect finger outstretched and waiting for an absent grip. My own hand, en-spelled, twitched.

I thought blasphemy and went back to staring at the Mirror as if it were more than ink strokes on parchment, meaningless as the drift of stars in the sky. I had learned nothing.

For lunch he ate only a roll and spread of cheese. It was not the insipid cream pie I had suspected, but no doubt the reason for the clear bone arches of his wrists and cheeks. I slid onto the bench at a nearby table and pretended to be engrossed in a bowl of pheasant stew.

He was dining with my prime suspects: Lavender and Diamond. They had the means, if no obvious incentive. I thought my aid in their foolish plan to ensnare a prince had earned their neutrality, if not respect, but we had never become boon companions. Perhaps some unknown transgression of mine had evoked their ire.

"If only the young man showed any interest in learning, we would teach him," Lavender was sighing, her dark lips pursed. Now there was all one could want in the body of a woman: skin like perfectly brewed tea, endless waves of night-black hair, soft skin enough for any searching hands.

"But a Westar with an interest in the customs of nobility would not a Westar be," Diamond replied. And there a mind: quick and hidden like her smile, twisting endless depths to plumb and mine. If these were my opponents, I would have true competition.

"I like him!" the stupid man between them grinned.

Oh, if only the vegetables now ground between my teeth were his skin. It reassured me to know that I loathed him with every fiber of my being, because it meant this spell could be defeated with willpower and constant vigilance alone.

He glanced out the window, flagging attention caught by a passing bird. It struck me that his eyes were the exact shade of a tropical sea, a parrot's gleaming feathers, a pirate's turquoise earring. Anyone caught would be swept away on a sea of adventure—but I would not be so foolish.

Before the evening's planned festivities, he took a dip in the hot spring. As he dropped the robe from his bare skin, it was all I could do to keep my gaze on him, mouth twisting in disgust. Those skinny ribs and flat rear; it was fortunate that he kept his hair long enough to cover them both. At least his slide into the water blocked any other unsettling details from my sight.

"Something wrong?" Fawn murmured at my side. So unsettled was I, even from what little I had seen, that I had not noticed her approach. Suspicious—but I could not imagine the shy, distant courtesan to have pulled this particular trick.

"Merely contemplative," I replied. "Is the turnout for this evening expected to be high?"

"Capricious Rose has ordered three extra barrels of ale," she said, curling a hand against her chest. Though not my preferred type of woman, it was difficult to overlook her dark, almond eyes or quiet reserve. There was no contest between her and the brash man splashing in the pool. "I suspect so."

All for the better. The more individuals in attendance, the greater the chance that I would observe my coworkers unobserved, to spy who planted this cruel trick upon me.

Ivy rose and arched skywards until the tips of his hair met the water. The flat plane of his stomach, like cream-drenched coffee, sweet on the tongue and infinitely fulfilling—I narrowed my eyes against the assault.

"Are you certain you are fine?" Fawn asked.

"Never better."

The ball indeed consumed the roof in a riot of noise and color, every finger-width of space occupied by some laughing noble or coy courtesan. I was displeased by the evening's required uniform; only a distressingly unrefined twist of cloth lay between the men and almost certain disgrace. Red Ivy weighed his enthusiasm enough to counter my own feelings, spinning in delighted circles and showing off his bare torso to any man who glanced twice his way.

His flirting was enough to put anyone off their dinner. Absent of all dignity and discretion, he would press himself against any potential patron, or kneel at their feet like a dog seeking treats. Those who found such behavior as appalling as myself were encouraged to shove him bodily aside, and even then he would not take offense, but merely grin and skip to the next likely victim. My stomach twisted in ill anticipation at each figure he approached.

"Brighter minds than yours have sounded the trumpet message that your job is forfeit if you ruin his."

And so the primary culprit showed his hand. I swept my eyes over Jade, taking in his stiff pose, the too-casual tilt of his wine glass, the storm rustling his unnatural green gaze. Some aspects of Jade I respected, nay, admired: he knew the earth-moving levers of subtlety and decorum—when one dismissed the distracting tactics of his cosmetic choices—and he had fine taste in women. But when suspect circumstances were in the air, Jade was always the first suspect.

"I do not know of what you speak," I said, watching for any clue that he had cast this cruel curse.

His eyes narrowed. "You may think no one has spotted your tracking, but you are no spotted leopard enough to hide from me—or the boss. She says to leave Ivy alone, or you'll be hunting solo for a week."

Alas, for Jade's anger seemed genuine. I could not imagine this, too, was part of an infatuation plan. The suspect pool was dwindling most disturbingly. "You are mistaken," I said mildly. "I have no intentions to disturb Ivy, or otherwise. I would rather have nothing to do with him, if I could help it."

Whatever retort he had prepared died on his lips as he stared over my shoulder. I followed his gaze to find the scruffy boy whose name had been on everyone's lips lately, accompanied by a pair of girls far too young for my tastes, and the royal couple themselves. Who knew what had caught his eye.

But, Sebastian—now, there was a likely suspect. His plot would have to have been enacted from afar, but it was not beyond him; childish, yes, but nothing of which he was not capable. I nodded to Jade's muttered excuse, plucked a raspberry from the table at my side, and bit into it thoughtfully. Yes, perhaps Sebastian.

But no amount of contemplation would have distracted me from the sight of Red Ivy slipping down the patron staircase without a patron in sight. What mindless thought had captured his fancy now? I hesitated only for the briefest of moments, weighing my plan of discovering my prankster with the necessary appearances of enthrall. I determined that it would doubtlessly be more fulfilling to satisfy my curiosity, and treaded carefully after him.

The fool had stepped out for fresh air, as if unaware that the roof, too, was open to the heavens. He was leaning against a sculpted horse centered in the west courtyard, smiling up at the sky.

"Blued Moon!" he cried when he saw me. "Isn't it pretty out here?"

I had not meant to be caught by the man or his lines of questioning. "Lovely, I'm sure," I conceded. "Now, if you will excuse me..."

"Oh!" He darted forward and grabbed my hand before I could maneuver myself away. "Do you want to sleep with me? It might be kind of weird, but no one seems to want to tonight, and I'm supposed to have some customer. Is it weird, to ask that?"

Outrage warred with revulsion and stilled my tongue. He dared ply me with the same unconcerned sensuality he used on the masses, squeezing into my space so firmly that I could feel his erection against my thigh! And there, in one movement, he encapsulated all I despised about men and treasured in their fairer counterpart. Even the most unabashed woman would rather wield her mind, dance graceful linguistic leaps around the subject of sexuality, then do this.

"Have you no shame?" I hissed, employing his grip to wheel him away from me. "No sense of decorum? How could you think to ask such a thing, in such a way?"

And yet, was his behavior not more suspicious than any other I had yet seen? What he had asked of me, surely it was not the fool himself who had tricked me so—but no, there was only a furrowed frown of puzzlement before a smile wiped his face clean.

"Oh," he said. "Okay. I'll find someone else!"

He pranced away, the flick of his bare feet like a dove's flashing wings—I ground down on the feeling until it was little more than ash floating on the wind.

"I must confess, I don't understand," Ash Star said to me the next day in the break-room. She pressed her chin against her fingers, drinking all of me into her cool regard. "Why are you stalking Red Ivy?"

Damned if the room didn't fall silent, every head tilted our way. "Of all the preposterous accusations," I said, matching her tone with equal ice, "I believe I've heard none greater." I let my brows lift in utter scorn at her theory.

"I would not say stalking, precisely," Diamond drawled from her spot by the fire, unconcerned about an accusation of eavesdropping. "But a certain increase of coincidental meetings, perhaps."

"None accuse you and Lavender of dalliance, though you scare leave her side." My limbs were itching in their eagerness to carry me out of the room and away from this situation, but I bid them to be still.

"Perhaps we would have reason, had we never been seen together before," Ash Star, never one to appreciate interruption, snapped. "But I do not recall the truth of this, in your case."

Now, facing another accusation, I could bid my leave without drawing suspicious attention. "A stalker and a liar," I murmured. "What must you think of me?"

I did see a flash of shame cross Ash Star's face as I swept out an exit—but none of guilt. It was not her plan.

But whose, then? Sebastian had left with moonset, escaping any opportunity for questioning. He was still a suspect, though an admittedly unlikely one as I reflected the idea in the morning light. His mother? The very thought left me chilled. I would have no hope, pitched against her steel-trap mind and power. But no, Jade had settled that the previous eve. She would scarcely bespell me to desire the man and then order me from his side, even for an unusually complex machination.

The sooner I obtained an idea, an identity, the sooner I could be free of this damnable madness.

Ivy walked through the garden again that afternoon. I watched him pluck a rose from a bush, its stem balanced carefully in his grip as he lifted the blossom to his face. It shone the same shade as his hair, and for a moment, so did the air about him. His smile, the epitome of grace; the half-hood of his eyes, twin pools of endless depth; the tilt of his head, charming and inquisitive.

Then he leaned forward and bit off a petal. I groaned in deep disgust, spun on my heel and stalked away. This foolish—asinine—unbearable spell!

"You know, I wouldn't have suspected this of you," Fled Iris said as she matched my hurried footsteps, following at my heels through the side door.

"I am not following him!" I snapped at her as I blew by. Only as I caught her faintly voiced "You aren't usually late," did I slow and begin to believe I may have made a slight error. Late?

I was, for an assignation with a beautiful noblewoman in whose wit and charm I was able to lose myself for a fleeting hour. Yes, I reassured myself, it was simply a spell; this was what I endlessly preferred. This wicked magic compromised only my aesthetic sense, not my very mind. I could observe Red Ivy's negligible appeal—his femininity, if anything—without having to admire his dimwitted lack of mind.

But there was still the matter of the tricksters, and the discovery thereof. It was time to devise and enact a plan that would trap them irrevocably, and then force them by any means necessary to remove the damned spell.

And then, oh yes, some truly fitting punishment. If only I could imagine some fate worse than my current predicament.

I approached Red Ivy that evening as per my plan, tracking him through an abandoned hallway on his way to the rooftop. He had seen fit to clothe himself only in a pair of ill-fitting trousers, and I forced myself to snag the back of them to halt his advance. "I have reconsidered your offer," I forced out.

"Oh?" He turned his blank smile towards me.

"I will sleep with you, as you requested." It was an event no prank-puller would want to miss, the moment of their victory and, if I succeeded, demise.

"Right! Sorry," he said, his shoulders raising in a shrug to match his grin. "Now there are new customers, and I haven't seen if they want to sleep with me yet. I really should talk to them first or else the boss will be mad. Maybe you can get a customer to sleep with you, too. Why don't we go see?"

Once again I found myself speechless. My body, still under control, was forced to tighten its grip on his pants simply to keep him from charging away, twisting him into the bend of my arm.

"That isn't—" I was driven to an impasse in the face of his absurd but unreasonably sound reasoning. What drove him to show a glimmer of intelligence now? "Perhaps afterwards," I conceded. And yes, that would be ideal, allowing the one who had caused this greater opportunity to attend the moment of their pending victory and, thus, be caught. "In the morning, when all of the customers are gone. Would you consider that time?"

He giggled and twisted away from me. "You're so silly! We'll all be tired in the morning. Now, it's time for work. Let's work!"

It was all I could do to keep the most undignified shrieks from spilling from my mouth. So close to the completion of my goal, and now the only certain aspect was slipping away. Of all the times for him to discover coyness!

"But I guess you know that, so why are you asking me?" He was before me again, the changeable imp, now wide-eyed and parted-lipped. His hand lifted to my face, his fingers just ghosting against my skin, and damned if that didn't light every ounce of passion in my soul. I wanted to suck those fingers into my mouth, twist my tongue against the creases between each one until he panted with desire.

I wanted to drive my fist through the nearest window and use the glass shards to stab every foolish thought from my mind.

But his fingerlight touch reminded me that we were, after all, performers. He encouraged the baser instincts of mankind, channeling the urge to hurt, to force, to assert dominance by displaying a realistic act of one who deserved such wrath. Something in those sea-green eyes seemed aware at a deeper level, shone with something more than vapid foolishness, and damned if I did not want it.

His lip had sneaked between his teeth again. "Did you mean it? Or were you just being mean? Because everyone said you were just being mean, but I'll believe you if you say you weren't."

His hand had landed upon my face fully, the palm just resting at the edge of my lips. The spell gave me no choice but to turn into it, bringing my mouth to bear against his skin. He did not move as I traced my tongue along each fold of it, and he was blessedly silent while I shamefully, sickeningly kissed every inch. If I made a noise—a gasp—or heavens forbid, a moan—I did not have to listen.

"I mean it," I murmured, dark and low.

He said, "If you're hungry, I think they have food upstairs."

I choked.

He laughed and leaped away nimbly once again. "Silly!" he repeated. "We're going to be late." A brief moment in time held the grace of his smile, as his gaze found me over his shoulder. "Maybe later, if I'm not so tired, okay?"

I followed, as inexorably as the moon seeks the tide, cursing every step of the way. I was truly as much a fool, if I thought there lay anything behind this man's mind but cotton fuzz.

For the first night since I had carved the looping scrawl onto my contract, I did not choose a patron. I watched him seek many, but, cutting suspense to the last moment, always turn them away. Sometimes he would wink at me when he did so.

I wanted to seize and shake him for such outlandish transgression, all but shouting our clandestine meeting to the world. But surely my own staring was as stark and obvious, just as unnatural a cry.

Years had surely passed when he at last paused by the staircase, met my gaze, and slipped inside. I caught him before he even reached a courtyard, pinning that ungainly body to the wall and devouring his mouth as if it were my last hope of sustenance.

With no breasts for which to strive, my hands sought instead the less pleasing curves of his arms, his hips, so tightly I feared I was leaving marks upon his skin.

"Oh, yes," he gasped against me. "You could fuck me here, if you wanted to. That'd be nice."

I tried to recoil in revulsion at the very idea of even touching him, but parts of me were disturbingly reluctant to agree. "No," I growled. "We will do this properly, in a room."

A benefit of a magical brothel revealed itself when the courtyard door swung directly to one, a space with a bed and nothing more I could care to observe. I knocked the door shut with an ill-graced kick.

In an instant, he had dropped to his knees before me and yanked my robes apart with an undignified thrust. Caught in the material, I half-fell forward, and he chose that moment to take me down into his throat.

There was nothing on which to cling, no wall nor post upon which I could regain my balance. There was only his body supporting mine, the swift movements of his head alternately steadying and displacing me. I cursed him as I gasped, swaying, unable to remember if I had ever been with someone who could suck so deeply or strongly. Then I cursed myself for thinking of a word so undignified as suck.

Copulation was supposed to be elegant, a beautiful dance, not him braced moaning on the floor and me swaying like a sailor. "On the bed!" I managed to direct him at last. "Properly!"

He tore himself away with a wet popping noise I expected to hear again in my nightmares and threw himself bed-wards on his hands and knees, arse waving in the air near my hips. I should not have expected otherwise from the cretin. It seemed a shame that all that perfect skin, beseeching eyes, and supine grace should be wasted on someone fundamentally unattractive.

I grimly surveyed that eerily bare stretch of skin between his legs and the red, ugly, wrinkled appendages underneath. It took all my will to force myself to bend over him and take his erection in my hand as I traced his spine, from nape to coccyx, with my tongue.

"Please fuck me," he gasped.

If he was challenging my body, my control, his success could only be as diminutive as his mind. I was going to send him to the moon.

"No!" I glared at his quivering back and amended, "Not yet." I pushed against his side, and he rolled over with disheartening obedience.

Now, sprawled across a bed, his scarlet hair flowing in every direction, his lips dark and parted, his limbs gracefully askew—no, still unappealing. It was surely a favor I did the world when covered him with my own skin, thrusting my tongue into that mouth to hide it, gathering his groin in my hands so no one else need see. The mewling noise he made was clearly rotting away my soul.

He was thrusting up against me, voice sharp with daft pleading, and I was forced to pin his hips down with my hands. "Properly," I insisted once more.

I did what I had been so longing to do these last days and sunk my teeth into his neck, to which he arched his back and screamed. If it left a mark behind, he would deserve it, if he didn't bring the whole house down upon us first.

"More!" he cried. I would have objected simply on principle, but my mind was fully, unfortunately, aligned with his, so he had bought my compliance. I bit his chest, the too-hard nubs there, the tender skin of his belly, thinking to repay him for each time his voice had personally hurt my head, moving onward only as I realized I would be at this until he cried.

I licked a line up his erection—disgusting—and slid my mouth over the top—worse. The taste, the rancid smell; how could he enjoy this? If he thought the view from here was beautiful, gazing across tracts of smoothly muscled stomach and chest, to lock into gaze that seemed focused entirely on myself alone—surely it was not.

I dug my tongue against the crest and glared at his lack of dignity when he screamed again.

I was beginning to suspect he wielded his voice in bed as he did at any other time: stupidly. Of course. As if to show its fluid support for this dismal observation, my blood was rushing to leave the room and my body by any means necessary, currently by filling my groin—it being the closest in location to the door, of course.

He thrust his hips upwards into my mouth, bringing tears to my eyes and forcing my restraint of him once more.

I disentangled my face, pressed his legs apart, and dragged my tongue at the pale flesh there. My eyes were shut, lest I be blinded both through the view and his inopportune thrusting, but I could navigate my way via his yelps. There was no quivering warmth or advancing wetness by which to gauge my successes, but a hand laid on the twitching member above my head served well enough in its stead.

Apparently, he enjoyed this a great deal. I could only imagine I would have bruises on my cheekbones and perhaps broken eardrums to show for it later.

When every possibility there was exhausted, I contemplated my natural continuation of series. It was not that I had an outright objection to the rear courtyard, as some baser types dismissively referred to the area, a feature with which women also were endowed—merely his. Who could imagine what had trespassed, nay, been invited to rest there? Ugly male parts were surely the least of sinners.

"You really could just fuck me," he panted.

And thus he took the decision from me. Branding him with the darkest of glares, I lowered my head again. The unmanly shriek he wielded to deafen the ears of any in the surrounding countries was little deterrent against my resolve.

Tongue, fingers, until his breathing was a continual litany of moans, his limbs limp and plaint on the bed. Ivy's erratic breathing made the entire surface tremble.

"Please?" he whispered between gasps.

Perhaps—but! I had not forgotten my missive entirely. Now, at the moment of my triumph, was the time to sneak from the room and catch the interloper spying at the door, or bring down the spells between us and the watching room. I would turn away from the man on the bed, sashay from the room, and show the spell caster the folly of their plan, no match for my mind.

But. There were his lips, wet and dark from kissing. There were his sea-green eyes, fixed on my face with a glow akin to awe.

There were spells that would tell me afterwards every person who had spied upon us or stopped to listen. These could be cast some other time.

I planted my hands aside his shoulders and thrust into him, one inexorable movement that wrenched forth a moan from one more mouth than his.

"Yes," he cried, "oh, yes!" His legs twisted around my back, somehow, his heels catching against the material of the robes I had not bothered to remove. His hands were in my hair, pulling me into another sloppy kiss.

I clutched at his back and tried to remember how to be silent.

He may have stolen my mind, but never my stamina. I thrust slowly, in and out, ignoring his pleas to take him as was my wont. I would have it be proper or not at all. Let him try every trick, rippling his muscles, twisting to the side in a manner to bring starts to my eyes, even wantonly calling my name, but I would move no faster.

Only when I felt him tense and gather did I drive forward, striking his tempo to a fever pitch. He came with a soft, shuddering cry against my shoulder, the only quiet noise he had made all evening and possibly all through his life; though not for lack of passion, as his distasteful effluence hit the bottom of my chin.

So off-put was I by this that I believed I might not reach peak at all, were it not for his voice, pleading even through his throes of release, for me to fuck him harder. I accomplished this admirably.

I fell atop him afterwards, and would have rolled more politely to the side except that his arms crept up to hold me in place. I rested there until my gasps and shutters subsided.

In the glow of triumph that I might have my cake and eat it too, I cast the spy-seeking spells around the room. And they found no one. No one had spied upon us, or followed us, or even sought out our whereabouts. No one had even noticed our absence.

I stared at the thatch of red hair before me and tried to think placid, ordered thoughts. I had just stuck that—in there—and twisted—this man—Red Ivy—one of my coworkers, I would be thrown out onto the streets in disgrace—risked everything—for no reason. There was no spell. I had just fornicated a moron because my penis wanted it.

The gibberish vomit that was my mind threatened to spill outwards onto the man, the bed, and perhaps the entire world, until Red Ivy ran his finger down my chest and said, "I knew it would work."

I almost greeted—no, I embraced—his statement with relief. No matter that I would shortly be murdering him for this, since making the cretin lust for himself was not a possibility. For now, I could only wallow in the knowledge that my mind was not lost. "Why?" I croaked.

He held up his wrist before my eyes, which focused, uncomprehending, on his copper skin. "I wore my lucky bracelet!" he chirped. "Something good always happens when I do that. I got lucky—and so did you! Hah hah!" He collapsed onto the bed in giggles, obviously overcome by his great wit.

Had I been mad to imagine there something behind his grin, watching me in true amusement? I could not spot a mind lurking inside this vapid fool, nor see its wink.

If this was his doing, I would take the time to come up with a suitable punishment and every pleasure in seeing him suffer. I would learn of him, find his weaknesses, and exploit all he would give me. No matter how long I would have to follow the fool about, I would have my revenge.

"This was fun!" he said. "I liked it. We should probably get back to the party before we get in trouble now. But we should do this again sometime!"

Of all the asinine comments Red Ivy had made in his life, that last utterance may have taken the prize. "No," I snapped.

His smile let up his whole face. "Or we could do it again now."

I disagreed by yanking him downwards and thrusting my tongue into his mouth. Of course the idiot misunderstood my intentions. But, really, what could one have expected?