“Well, you certainly had a lot of adventure for such a short trip!” Charis laughed as she poured them more tea.
Xanthippe and Hypatia had only seen her briefly when they had arrived the previous night. She had waited up for them but as soon as they got home she retired, as did they. Charis had come to wake them up later than usual and they were now talking about their trip and finishing breakfast. Xan yawned widely and thanked her for the tea.
“Why were you so late anyway?”
They both laughed and Hypatia began to recount their journey home. When she got to the part about talking to Ambros, careful to leave out any specific details as to the content of their questions, and how they were to make tribute, Charis wrinkled her nose in a disapproving manner.
“She’s amazing! We are meeting with her at noon to discuss the ritual. I’ve known a lot of High Priestesses but Ambrosius is incredible!” Hypatia said wistfully.
The only response was from Charis who blew a raspberry. Xan laughed knowingly but Hypatia looked at the older woman in surprise as she had not expected such a review to come from her.
“Well! I take it you don’t agree?”
“I certainly do not!” she replied haughtily. “She’s a horny old goat and a busy body as well!”
Hypatia look even more scandalized but Xan, still chuckling, made to explain.
“Ah, Charis has a bias view of Ambros. I think she never really appreciated her attentions towards me.”
“No I did not! Worship is one thing but her teachings, if you can call them that, had you running wild! I didn’t know what to do with you after you started in at that temple.”
“I wasn’t wild!” Xan grinned rolling her eyes. “I was just…. enjoying my body.”
“And every female body from here to Athens!” Charis snorted.
“Oh, you have no idea! Barely a day went by I wasn’t chasing her and her girlfriends out of the chambers or the hayloft…” Charis scoffed and began to tick off on her fingers. “…behind the goat shed, in the river, back field, front field, store room and even the andron!”
Xanthippe had gone slightly pink in the face by this point and Hypatia was thoroughly enjoying hearing about her lover’s past.
“It wasn’t that much! Charis you exaggerate!”
“Hardly! I thought you’d never settle down into a good match and look! As soon as you stopped spending every spare moment at temple you’ve found yourself a proper mate. Just like I said would happen.” she finished looking smug.
“Do you think your aversion to her has something to do with a more personal feud?” Xan said cheekily.
Charis looked at her, raised an eyebrow and feigned ignorance.
“I have no idea what you mean!”
“I mean the fact that I heard from some strong sources that you and she have had at least three shouting matched since you came to know each other.”
“Oooh really!” Hypatia said excitedly. “What about?”
“The first was about Ambros wanting to marry her and Archippos….”
Xan only flicked her eyes toward her and continued, too focused on getting her back to hear the slight tone of warning.
“The second was about Charis never paying tribute with her body at temple…”
“Xanthippe.” Charis warned again drawing her child’s name out into a low growl.
Xan still did not heed. She was now laughing as she revealed her last bit of information.
“And the last one was where she went down there and told Ambros off for keeping me all night without sending word.”
“Why didn’t you send word?” Hypatia laughed.
“I was a little tied up!”
They were both so wrapped up in their revelry neither of them noticed Charis was rather cross. Hypatia had a million questions.
“I didn’t know they were in a relationship!”
“They weren’t! That’s why they never wed.”
“Why didn’t you take part in ritual, Charis?” Hypatia said turning to her only to finally see a thoroughly unimpressed woman beside her. “Oh dear…”
“Charis doesn’t lay with anyone because…” Xan laughed and finally looked over at her. “Because…uh-oh! Oh well, nevermind. It’s not for me to say.”
An uncomfortable silence descended. Xanthippe tried to give Charis an apologetic smile but it had little effect.
“What my daughter was going to say is I do not lay with anyone because I am a follower of Artemis. Something that is not a joke but a very important part of who I am. I never wed Archippos but we were partners and I loved him very much. I still feel his loss every day.” Charis said softly her tone cold as ice. “Young lady, you have hurt me.”
Hypatia sat stock still hoping to simply disappear from what was clearly a tense moment between them. As soon as Xan heard those words tears sprang to her eyes. It reminded the noble woman of the time her lover had thought she had bruised her. This time she did not try to hide them. She let them trickle down her face as she struggled for the right words.
“I’m sorry! It’s not funny. Such disrespect is shameful especially to one’s mother. I’m so sorry.”
Charis let the silence stretch for a while before she stood up and approached Xan who also stood. The older woman brushed her tears away with her thumb before she embraced her.
“Okay. It’s alright, young one.” She said softly and when she continued she gave Xan a hard swat. “Next time you don’t mind your manners what do you think will happen, eh?”
They broke apart and the Mistress was blushing furiously and avoiding her mother’s eye.
“I know! You’ll get walloped just like me!” Hypatia giggled.
“Excuse me, little Lady? I believe you were just as eager to listen and ridicule as this naughty one here. I don’t think you should tease anyone about being mouthy considering barely a week goes by without you having a sore bottom because of your lip!”
Hypatia’s face now matched her Mistress’. Charis had never really spoken to her that way before and it reminded her of her own mother.
“I’m sorry.” she stammered looking anywhere but up.
“Hmm, I hope so. As for you, I asked you a question, Xanthippe. What will happen?”
Xan grimaced. She had hoped Hypatia would have caused enough of a distraction but Charis had not forgotten.
“Um… I’ll be in big trouble?”
“You bet! Now sit down and finish your breakfast.”
They were quiet as they ate but not uncomfortably so. Both younger women were pouting but Charis seemed to be enjoying their company regardless. Hypatia tried to think of something to lighten the mood.
“You must be tired of getting told off, Mistress. Now you know how I feel!” she smiled at her lover.
The smile was not returned. Instead, Xanthippe gave her a slightly incredulous look and then tried to look as though her comment meant nothing. Charis on the other hand had perked up at this and narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
“Why would you be told off, young one? And by whom?”
“Oh! Uh…” Hypatia stammered realizing she had just thrown Xan to the wolves. “I was just joking.. nevermind.”
“Don’t lie. You are worse at it than Xanthippe.” Charis smirked before turning back to her child. “The truth, please.”
Xanthippe sighed, shot Hypatia a look that said ‘thanks a lot!’, and cleared her throat.
“Well, Hypatia and I were not greeting guests properly and Eudoxia was upset.”
“Mm-hm. Too much whispering and giggling perhaps?”
Their surprised faces told her she had guessed correctly. Charis raised her eyebrows expectantly and Xan continued.
“Also, Ambrosius scolded because I was a little rude when she was teaching.”
“Hmmm. You’ve always been mouthy during lessons. Well, not mine, of course. Still, I thought you knew better by now.”
It seemed to Xan that Charis was enjoying herself. The horsewoman was even more surprised to find, even though she was in trouble, a comforting feeling had settled in her chest. She had been trying to be in control for so long she had forgotten the safety that comes from being held accountable by someone familiar. The feelings were slightly overwhelming and she nibbled the edge of a pita absentmindedly.
“Is that all, dear?”
“No.” Xan answered softly, frowning. “I said something blasphemous in front of Kalli and she was rather upset.”
“As she should! What did you say?”
“I said I felt useless and insulted Hera and Athena in the process.”
“Learned from Alcaeus perhaps? As if I need to ask! I’m going to have a serious talk with that woman!” Charis muttered as though making a mental note. “But right now, I think you and I need to have a little talk. Hypatia, take the dishes down to the kitchen, please.”
“Oh but… I don’t think that you should…”Hypatia began but stammered to a stop.
Charis, who had realized what Hypatia was about to say, fixed her with a look that she had seen Xanthippe don many times. It was a look that came right before she ended up staring at floor boards with a sting in her rear. She changed gears quickly.
“Uh… waste food. So I’ll just save this for lunch then? Okay.”
Hypatia hurriedly gathered the trays, whispered an apology to Xanthippe and left the room.
Xanthippe stared at the floor. She was resigned to her fate and expected Charis to start scolding at any moment. When the older woman got up and went to sit on the bed Xan gulped and thought perhaps she misread the situation. She didn’t look up but as soon as she heard it she gave a small sigh and stood. It amazed her that, even after all the time that had past since she had been spanked, she could still recognize the summoning sound of Charis patting her lap.
Xan wanted to drag her feet or protest but she had learned long ago that was not a wise plan. When she was standing beside Charis she reached our her hand passively. Charis took hold of her at once and pulled her until she was in the desired position. To Xanthippe’s surprise she was sitting on her mentor’s lap instead of over it. When this surprise showed on her face, Charis laughed and held her tight.
“Had you going there didn’t I, little Mistress?”
“I’ll say!” Xan smiled relieved “But it can’t be comfortable, Charis. I’m too big now!”
“Oh, hush you are not! Now, remember we used to talk like this when you were younger?”
“Well, yes but I usually wasn’t sitting so comfortably!” the younger woman giggled.
“I can fix that for you if you want.”
“No, no! I’m fine. Never mind!”
Charis laughed warmly and shifted so that Xan’s head now rested on her shoulder. She ran her hand over Xan’s head in a comforting way. The sat quietly for a while.
“So how was Athens?”
“What? We just told you what happened.”
“Yes, but how did you feel about what happened? You went through quite a few emotional ups and downs while you were there. So I want to know how you are feeling.”
Xanthippe sighed as she ran over everything that happened. Properly meeting Hypatia’s parents, seeing Papak again, not to mention that horrible woman. The boring parties and the wildly exciting chase Hypatia had sent her on. What happened to Kalli and how she felt so unable to help. The feeling of joy she felt as her former lover and her current partner clasped hands across her, sharing a laugh in the gathering dusk. Then the journey home, the advice and the omens, the upcoming tribute. Suddenly the magnitude of her shifting emotions settled upon her like a storm.
“I’m feeling…everything all at once, to be honest. Angry, happy, worried, hopeful and..”She took a deep breath. “Sad.”
“So lots of changes and lots of feelings, huh? Poor girl. You’ve been getting tense lately, and I didn’t know for sure, but I didn’t think Athens would give you much of a vacation.”
“Then why did you let me go?” Xan pouted, now feeling rather hard done by.
Charis laughed and patted her bottom.
“I don’t think that would have been a good idea. You are pretty stubborn, my girl!”
“Well…. I’m like you!”
“I suppose that’s true enough. Unlike me however, you tend to bottle your feelings until they burst. I’ve noticed you are getting a bit of a swelled head as of late.”
Xanthippe sat up and scowled at her.
“I am not! I…since when….how do you… oh forget it!” she snorted as she stood up suddenly.
“Come back here!”
“Xanthippe, you either come here and sit on my lap or I shall take you over it and remind you who you are talking to right now!” Charis said sternly.
With a dramatic sigh Xan begrudgingly sat, arms folded and her head turned away. It was only when Charis took hold of her ear and pulled her around to face her that Xan looked into her eyes. Her angry glare was met with a determined one.
“If you don’t believe me just look at what happened there. You would have never done that before. You do not get up until I say, young lady!”
Xan tried to keep up her scowl but it had begun to falter as she realized Charis was right. She had never done that before, she wouldn’t have dared. Still, her wall was up and she didn’t want to let it down. She responded with a undefinable grunt.
“Do you need further proof? How about what happened over breakfast? You didn’t even hear me when I was warning you to stop, did you?”
Xan shrugged. She hadn’t heard. She was too wrapped up in the power game she was trying to play. She unfolded her arms so she could pick at her nails nervously.
“I seem to remember, not long ago, seeing a certain young Mistress reprimanding her apprentice for the same type of behaviour. Interesting conflicting messages you seem to send to her. One would think the rules did not apply to you.” Charis said mater of factly as she began to rub Xan’s back in wide circles. “Is that true? You think that you are in charge and now you make the rules?”
The horsewoman made a quiet noise in her throat that sounded like ‘I don’t know’. She felt like she was seventeen again, not twenty seven and the Mistress of an estate. She had though she had everything in control, that she knew just what to do. Now she wasn’t so sure.
“I see you and Hypatia have taken up your room together.”
“So what?” Xan grunted a little more aggressively than she had meant to.
“So, that is the first time in twenty five years anyone has ever tried to organize my house without talking to me about it first.”
“I didn’t think it would bother you so much.”
“Or maybe, you wanted to test out how much power I’ll let you have before I put my foot down?”
“Tsk. No! Besides, wouldn’t I have done that from the start instead of nearly a year later?”
“At the start, you were so run off your feet and overcome with grief you had no energy for games. But now things are brighter and you want to stretch in your new role. I’m telling you to mind your manners and not to overstep, little Mistress.”
“Well then, why don’t you take the title!?” Xan pouted furiously.
“Not my style!” Charis laughed. “Never was. Arch was the head of the business and I ran the home. And you….”
She paused here to wrap her arms tightly around the young woman and kissed her cheek.
“Were a wild ball of trouble we found in Athens. Brave like him and stubborn like me. Getting in scraps and always kissing all the girls, though you didn’t learn that from either of us!”
“Must have been the fellas!” Xan giggled even though a moment before she was so determined to stay cross.
“Probably. But you were ours. Our little yellow horse. It was the fates. We built all this for you and you should be Mistress.”
“Then what are we talking about?” Xan sighed her temper returning.
“That you run the business and I run the home.” Charis said patently before her tone took on a stern note. “And that, no matter how high your station, I will always be your mother and you will mind me or I will tan your hide!”
Xanthippe gulped. She was embarrassed but she felt the feeling calm begin to grow in her chest. It didn’t feel like she had to be in charge of everything anymore. She could have her responsibilities but Charis was there, as she had been for years, to make sure that when it all became too much Xan would have someone to help her wade through it. Whether it was through a conversation about her feelings or correcting her when she was out of control the calm constant was there. Her eyes felt wet with the relief that accompanied this realization.
“Thank you. I’m sorry I forgot myself for a while there.”
“Good girl.” Charis smiled as she patted her bottom and held her for a while before continuing. “Now, I have some work to do and you have some thinking to do. Up you get.”
“I will. I have to get ready to go soon but tonight I’ll….” Xan shrugged as she made her way toward her wardrobe.
“Oh no, young one! You are staying here.”
“What!? But we have to go to temple!”
“Tough! Did you think I’d let you get away with running around sassing everyone in Athens or the amount of attitude you’ve shown me this morning? Guess again! You are to stay in this room until tomorrow, little girl!” Charis smirked still exuding an air of authority.
“But..but I can’t! I have to go! Ambros is expecting us!”
“Well I guess she’ll be disappointed then, won’t she? I will simply send her a message explaining you have been sent to your room for being a smart mouth! I’m sure she’ll approve!”
“No! Charis! C’mon, please?”
“Has that ever worked before, Xan?” Charis chuckled.
“No, it hasn’t. Now I expect you to think about everything we’ve talked about and to stop running from those feelings. I will come have supper with you tonight and we will talk then.”
Charis stroked her face and began to leave when Xan let out a frustrated growl.
“On the other hand…” the older woman sighed as she turned around and strode purposely toward her daughter. “If you continue to act the brat then I shall just have to…”
“No, no! I’ll be good!” Xan said quickly as she sat on the bed trying to protect her rear. “I promise, I’ll be good and stay put!”
Charis stood with her hands on her hips looking down at the young woman. Xan had adopted her most repentant, pleading look and seemed to be working. Her mentor smirked and ran her hand over her head once more. She nodded and made her way towards the door before stopping once more.
“Oh, I almost forgot. You’ll need this.” She smiled as she opened the wardrobe and took out a bore bristle brush.
“What for?” Xan said nervously.
“Your hair. It’s a mess!”
Xan frowned and ran her hand over her head. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t noticed the fairly thick growth that now covered her head. She looked up at Charis sheepishly wondering if she had caught her marveling at her own cluelessness. The woman gave her a smile and a wink before leaving her alone to sort her emotions.
Meanwhile, Hypatia was in the kitchen. Everyone else was doing a mid season cleaning of the chambers and the outside so she sat alone. She felt guilty for getting Xan in trouble but she wasn’t worried about her.She knew Charis would never harm her.
As she sat contemplating, Elpis came in from the front of the house. They hadn’t seen each other since Hypatia had left and they hugged in a jovial way. They began to talk about what had happened. Elpis was a great audience and was eager to learn all about it.
“Listen, I want to hear more but we should take care of these.” She said motioning toward the breakfast things with a tut. “I don’t know who’s fool enough to have left them laying around. Help me will you?”
“Hey! I left them there!” Hypatia chuckled.
“Oh! I should have known. What can’t do your own dishes?”
She had said it in a friendly, teasing way but Hypatia’s cheeks went pink and she looked away. Elpis seemed to understand and adopted a kind tone.
“Aww sorry, Hypatia. I didn’t know…”
“Didn’t know you were such a pampered little princess you’ve never washed a dish!” Elpis bellowed with laughter.
“Can’t even swear right!”
They stood across the table from each other both smirking and eyes flashing as they prepared for friendly combat. Hypatia moved first. She picked up a handful of barley from breakfast and threw it. It splattered across her friend’s face as though in slow motion. The next second they were shrieking with laughter as the threw the contents of the leftover breakfast at each other. Hypatia ducked a crust of bread but didn’t miss the porridge and she too became covered in it. With nothing left to throw they started to rough house.
The were laughing wildly as the shoved and grunted trying to get one up on each other. Hypatia had just given Elpis a firm bump with her hip when she felt her seize her leg and then go stiff. Turning to see if she had inadvertently hurt her she saw what had caused her to freeze and she followed suit. Charis was leaning against the door way of the kitchen, arms folded and her eyebrow arched. They couldn’t tell if she was angry or amused as she seemed a little of both.
They seemed to realize at the same time that Elpis was still holding her friend’s leg awkwardly. Releasing their holds, they both stood up and looked at each other to see who would speak first. After a brief argument using only their eyes they determined neither of them were willing to make the first move.
“Mind telling me what you have done to my kitchen?”
Her tone was light and sounded only mildly interested but it held an undertone that did not bode well for the pair. They looked around and saw that they had overdone it a little. There was barley everywhere. On the floor, walls, and flecked across the surfaces and table tops. They looked at each other and saw they were relatively unscathed which explained how the porridge had gotten so far in such a short time.
They had said it together, looked at each other in surprise and giggled nervously.
“I can’t say I mind, really.” Charis smirked as she came into the room careful not to slip on the mucky floor.
“You don’t!?” Elpis said shocked, barely willing to believe it.
“No. I wanted the kitchen cleaned but everyone is too busy today but now…”
Charis paused and flicked some barley off her shoulder that had fallen from the ceiling.
“You two are going to scrub every last inch of this place until it gleams. If I find one grain of barley you will be sorry, indeed. Well, hop to it!”
“All of it?” Hypatia groaned. “Just the two of us!? It will take all day!”
“Do you have something else planned?”
“We have to go to temple!”
“Well, consider your appointment cancelled! The broom is over there. Go on!”
“But..but you can’t just…”
Hypatia’s defiant tone was not well received. Charis spun her around and gave her bottom a resounding smack towards the cleaning cupboard. The sting from it convinced Hypatia to drop the subject immediately and she hurried out of swatting range.
“And you, Elpis? Have you have anything else to do?”
“Uh…maybe just one thing…” Elpis said her voice higher than usual.
“Did you water the goats like I asked?”
“Not yet. I kinda forgot. I’ll do it right now and come straight back!”
Another loud smack and a yelp from Elpis told Hypatia her friend had received the same treatment as she hurried toward the goat shed. The noblewoman began to get out the supplies as Charis began to fill a bucket with water from the sink. Hypatia heard her mutter something that sounded like ‘kids today!’ but she couldn’t be sure.
Elpis returned shortly and began to clean as well. When she walked over to Hypatia, she stared at her for a moment frowned and let out a groan.
“Oh, Charis! It’s going to take forever! She doesn’t even know what she’s doing!”
“Excuse me! I can use a broom!”
“Yes but there’s no point sweeping the floor until you get it off the walls and ceiling first!” Elpis sighed.
“Don’t blame me. She your partner in crime! Teach her how.” Charis chuckled.
Elpis tutted irritably and whispered to her friend.
“Way to go!”
“Uh, I think you helped a bit!”
“You started it!”
“Oh yeah, well….”
“Stop bickering and get to work! Honestly! Is there something in the water? Every young person I’ve come across today is trying my patience!” Charis scolded from across the room.
“It’s just going to take forever is all!” Elpis pouted as she began to wipe down a wall.
“Count your lucky stars, Elpis! When I was your age and I wasted food in such a way I had to clean it up, go without supper and I had my tail tanned! You are getting off easy!”
They were quiet after that as they realized it could be worse. Hypatia was using the broom to get the grain off the ceiling when something occurred to her and she stopped.
“Does that mean you had a food fight when you were younger?”
Charis paused in looking over her shopping list. Elpis had peeked out from behind a counter and was watching her, smiling slightly. The older woman seemed to be thinking back and then laughed.
“Yes, a few times actually! Got away with it twice but the third time me and my two friends got caught. Never did it again after that!” Charis smiled reminiscently before going back to her list. “Maybe that’s why I’ve let you two off so easy. You did look rather funny when I caught you. Besides, as I recall, these things tend to happen before you have time to think it over.”
Both young woman laughed and tried to imagine Charis being young and wild but somehow couldn’t quite figure it. After what felt like ages Charis called Hypatia over to her. She handed her a note and told her to take it to Cyrus to deliver to the temple. She then went to fetch something else. Hypatia looked at the note and marveled at how beautiful Charis’ writing was. Even though it seemed to be a quickly jotted note the form was exquisite. Hypatia realized Charis must be high born to use such penmanship.
“Hypatia! What do you think you are doing?”
The noble woman jumped, realized what it must look like and hurried to explain.
“I didn’t read it! I swear! I just… your writing it’s beautiful!”
The older woman looked at her suspiciously, one eye narrowed. Eventually she nodded as though determining something and spoke.
“Alright. Don’t make a habit of that since most people wouldn’t believe you even though you were telling the truth. You don’t want to end up labeled a sneak.”
Hypatia shook her head vehemently and hurried towards the door but stopped when Charis called out to her.
“Thank you, by the way. It was very nice of you to say.” she smiled warmly.
“Welcome!” Hypatia grinned back and then went off to find Cyrus.
Xanthippe stood up and walked over to the window. She looked out for a while, sighed and turned back toward her room. She looked around trying to think of something to do. So far she had reorganized the wardrobe, wiped down the walls and swept every inch of the floor. She was so bored she had even propped up a small mirror and tried a few different hairstyles not that she had much to work with. She had finally decided on brushing it along her natural hair line and then twisting the fringe so it lifted up a little with a slight swirl. She didn’t look as tough as before but she thought the effect was rather dashing.
She was just about to lay down on the bed when Charis came in with supper. Xan jumped up and cleared the mirror and brush from the table.
“Oh now that looks nice! Much more feminine.” Charis smiled looking at Xan’s hair.
“Ya think?” Xan smirked as she looked in the mirror. “Thanks! It’s pretty simple too.”
As they ate they talked about what Xan had thought about during the day. She confessed to feeling overwhelmed and worried about having to be in charge but also how that made her feel strong. They also discussed how much happier she had been feeling lately, ever since Hypatia had come into her life.
“And to think, you didn’t think anything good would come of having an apprentice!” Charis teased.
“You know? You are right so often you should put in to be an oracle!” Xan grinned. “I really love her, Charis. Now, whenever I think about the future she’s there with me. I’ve never had that before.”
“That’s wonderful, young one! I always liked her but after really getting to know her I am very impressed by her. She’s a good girl and she adores you. You are both so happy together.”
“Yes, we are happy.” Xan said wearing a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.
“Uh-oh. What’s that look about?” Charis cooed her face lined with concern.
“Oh nothing really. It’s just…sometimes I feel guilty.”
“About what? She’s happy here and I don’t think she cares about class as much anymore.”
“Hmm? Oh, no. Not that. I feel bad for.. you know… he never met her and well…. being happy when he’s…”
She couldn’t say it. The lost of Archippos still hurt her heart too much.
“Oh Xanthippe!” Charis sighed and then chuckled softly as she grasped her hand and squeezed it tight. “That’s just silly! He always wanted you to be happy! It’s alright to be sad and miss him but if you really want to remember him then be happy! You just have a good time, don’t worry about the little things, and fight for what’s right and you’ll be just like him! He was always laughing and joking sometimes at the worst moments. Used to drive me mad!”
Xanthippe beamed as she remembered.
“Like that time when you were complaining about the heat and he poured a whole bucket of water on you!”
“Oooh I could have killed him! What about when you complained about having to search for duck eggs every morning…”
“And when I woke up the next day he had put fifteen ducks in my bedroom?” Xanthippe roared. “He always used to make the things we despised doing into a joke or a game. It wasn’t so bad after that.”
They reminisced happily for a while. Xanthippe was feeling a lot lighter but she still had a nervous feeling in her stomach and she figured now was as good of time as any.
“Yes?” Charis answered wiping her tears of mirth from her eyes with a serviette.
“Do you think it would be okay if… I mean, I’d really like it if… Can I please share a room with Hypatia?”
“Ah, now there’s my sweet girl. I guess being cooped up for the day did the trick, did it?”
“And then some! I was bouncing off the walls and I didn’t feel so tough anymore.” Xan blushed. “You didn’t tell anyone I’d been sent to my room did you? Well, Ambros I guess but anyone else?”
“I didn’t even tell Ambrosius, young one. Your reputation is intact.” Charis winked. “As for your question. I think it would be fine for you two to share a room….”
Xanthippe perked up and looked elated.
“You two had better be committed to each other. I don’t want to have to chase another dozen women out of here!”
“You won’t!” Xan giggled. “I promise.”
“Good. Well, I should go see if Hypatia and Elpis have finished yet.”
Charis recounted their adventure and Xan rolled her eyes.
“Look who’s talking! Remember you are to stay in tonight. I’ll send her up when she’s done.” Charis smiled as she gave Xan a tight squeeze.
Not long after, Hypatia came into the room and flopped onto the bed dramatically.
“Everything hurts!” she moaned.
“Poor apprentice! Do you want a massage?”
“Not yet. Come down to the river with me? I’m all dirty and hot.”
She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively and then blushed.
“Uh.. no, my dear.” Xan said trying to sound casual. “I’d rather stay in tonight.”
“Oh come on! I’ll make it worth your while.”
Her lover stood up and began to lay sweet kisses on her neck and chest. Xan sighed happily at the gesture but did not answer. Hypatia kissed her lips passionately still trying to convince her between smooches.
“Mmm, I’ve missed you…..where were you today?”
“I like your hair! Very cute but still tough. Just like you!”
“Thanks.” Xan smirked and kissed her back still trying to avoid her questions.
Xanthippe had closed her eyes but when she looked at Hypatia through her eyelashes she could see her lover giving her a searching look. She was still kissing but her eyes were narrowed suspiciously. They broke apart and Xan gave her a quizzical look.
“What’s going on?”
“You sound funny and you won’t look at me properly. Are you mad I made us miss our appointment?”
“No! I mean it wouldn’t have mattered since… well I didn’t feel like going anyway!” the Mistress grinned leaning in for a kiss but Hypatia stepped back and fixed her with the same look.
“Are you sure your not mad? Elpis and I were just fooling around and things got out of hand.”
“No I’m not mad, my dear. I’m sure Charis made you sorry you ever dare to mess up her kitchen.”
“Then why don’t you want to come to the river?” Hypatia said sadly, her eyes downcast.
Xanthippe sighed and decided there was no getting around it. She wrapped her arms around her lover and pulled her close.
“Because… I’m not allowed to.”
“I’ve been sent to my room for being rude.” Xan muttered and closed her eyes waiting for what came next.
Hypatia looked up smiled and then began to giggle. When she saw Xan wasn’t joking she really started to laugh, stepping back and hold the chair for support. Her blushing Mistress tried to give her warning look but it only made her laugh more. Xan made a sound between a laugh and a growl and advanced toward her. Hypatia yelped comically and began to retreat.
“You know, come to think of it, I believe it was you who landed me in this predicament!”
“Uh-uh! You were naughty, not me!”
They were now standing on either side of the table. Every time Xan made to grab her lover Hypatia squeaked and skittered around to keep the table between them.
“When I catch you, little brat, I’m going to pay you back!”
“Oh yeah!” Hypatia grinned wickedly as she bolted towards the door, threw it open, and crossed the hall. “Now what, Mistress?”
Xan stood with her hands on her hips looking bemused. She crooked her finger at Hypatia but the apprentice just laughed and leaned against the wall.
“Come here, my dear.” Xan purred her tone sharpening slightly.
“Uh, nope! You think I’m crazy?”
“Very funny. Now come on.”
Hypatia’s eyes gleamed with mischief and she stuck her tongue out by way of response. Xanthippe’s eyebrow rose but she was still smiling in spite of her increasing annoyance at being taunted.
“Perhaps I’ll just have to go find someone else to go with me on an evening swim?” Hypatia said loftily looking at her fingernails.
At this, Xanthippe actually came right up to the threshold but stopped short before crossing it. She reminded Hypatia of a lion in a cage she had seen once.
“When I get a hold of you, little apprentice!” Xan chuckled darkly. “You are going to be sorry!”
“Come and get me then, my huntress!”
“I can’t! But if I do…”
Hypatia turned when she heard someone coming up the stairs. Charis took one look at Hypatia’s grinning face and Xan standing in the threshold and laughed.
“What’s going on?”
“Xan wants to go for a swim but I told her she should stay in and be good!” Hypatia giggled.
Xanthippe looked shocked for a good ten seconds before she shook her head disbelievingly at her lover.
“Really?” Charis smiled and, as Hypatia approached her careful to stay out of Xan’s reach, she put her arm around her waist. “That’s interesting. Funny how she’s in there and your out here though? By the looks of her, she really wants to get a hold of you, so why doesn’t she just come out then?”
“Have you been teasing again, Hypatia? I warned you not to do that this morning, didn’t I?”
“Oh, yes I suppose you did. Um.. but”
“It only leads to trouble but I think you should find that out for yourself.” Charis laughed as she gave Hypatia a push towards the door.
It wasn’t forceful but since the apprentice wasn’t expecting it she had to move forward to regain her balance. In the blink of an eye, Xanthippe had reached out and seized both her wrist and began pulling her back into the room with a triumphant grin on her face. Hypatia yelped and tried to pull away. She was torn between giggles and genuine concern for her behind.
“Thanks, Charis!” Xan laughed.
“Yeah, thanks a lot!” Hypatia groaned to Charis’ casually retreating form.
Still holding on to her lover, Xan pushed the door shut and then began to pull her towards the bed. Hypatia was laughing and twisting but she couldn’t break free. Xanthippe wrapped her arms around her and flexed her muscles. The noblewoman stopped laughing as she felt the air being forced from her lungs by Xan powerful arms.
Her lover relaxed slightly but still held her tight as she leaned down and ran her teeth across Hypatia’s throat. She growled as she did this and Hypatia wondered if she might have gone too far. When Xanthippe reached down and grabbed her bottom hard, she gulped and felt sure she had.
“Sorry, Mistress?” Hypatia panted trying to catch her breath.
“Too late! You are going to get what you deserve, naughty girl.” Xan growled as she began to pull Hypatia’s pepalos off. “Lay on the bed.”
Hypatia obeyed quickly. Xanthippe seemed rather angry and she didn’t want to upset her further. Her lover walked over to the table and picked up a hairbrush. Hypatia let out a little whimper but lay still. Xan patted her bottom possessively.
“What I want to know right now, young lady, is…” Xan said darkly as she straddled her lover and took on a much lighter tone. “Do you want your massage first or shall I do your hair? What is this barley?”
Hypatia blinked as the word sunk in.
“Xanthippe! You nearly made my heart stop!” Hypatia said incredulously.
A flurry of kisses and that deep rumbling laugh caused Hypatia to forget her outrage at being tricked. She relaxed and let her Mistress take care of her.