A Collection of Sapphic Domestic Discipline Stories

“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.

“Did she?”

“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….”

“Xanthippe.”

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.

“Well?”

“Uh…”

“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?”

“Please…”

“Xanthippe?”

“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!”

“No!”

“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.”

“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…”

“It’s okay.”

“Didn’t know you were such a pampered little princess you’ve never washed a dish!” Elpis bellowed with laughter.

“Why you..you..!”

“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.

“Ooops!”

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.

“Charis?”

“Mmm?”

“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.

“Um… Charis?”

“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.

“But.”

“But?”

“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.”

“Finished what?”

Charis recounted their adventure and Xan rolled her eyes.

“Little brat!”

“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?”

“Oh, around.”

“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?”

“What?”

“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.”

“What?”

“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?”

“Um…”

“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.

“Kalli! Kalli, wake up!”

“Go away.” Kalli mumbled turning over.

Hypatia sighed at shook her again.

“Come on! I already bought you an hour but if you don’t get up now Xanthippe is going to lose her temper. We’re already late in setting off.”

“Don’t care…. tired.”

“Oh for the sake of Olympus! We have to go!”

“Leave me alone, flower!” Kalli chuckled sleepily.

Suddenly, a voice sounded from behind Hypatia making her jump.

“Kallikrates! Get up!”

As soon as she heard it Kalli woke, eyes wide and jumped to her feet her mouth hanging open in shock.

Hypatia had wheeled around to see a extremely angry looking woman who was only vaguely familiar to her. She was a little older than Eudoxia and had sharp alluring features. Her black hair was very long and had silver strands throughout that made it gleam in the light of the morning. Even in her angry state she was devastatingly beautiful.

“Oh!” Kalli squealed before trying to force her voice to be calm and failing miserably. “Ambros wh…what are you doing here?”

“I? What am I doing here?” Ambrosius snarled slowly approaching her. “I am here because I received word from the High Priestess of Athens telling me that one of my juniors had decided that she knows better than I. That she is an unruly little whelp who does not listen to her teachers nor sees anything wrong in going off with someone who is obviously a dangerous brute!”

As Ambrosius reached out towards Kalli, Hypatia was sure she was about to hit her but the young woman did not flinch. The High Priestess caressed her face looking for any signs of bruising. Kalli kept her eyes downcast and meekly allowed herself to be examined. Ambros’ delicate fingers traced the light bruising on Kalli’s face and she then inspected the dark bruising on her arm. With every mark she discovered she made a pained noise in her throat. She took a deep breath Hypatia assumed was to calm her temper. Instead the woman began to scold once more.

“How dare you!” She hissed “How dare you, Kallikrates! I finally give you the responsibility of delivering the offering, something I was not sure you should do but you begged to prove yourself and what happened? I get word that you made the offering and slunk out the back without talking with the Priestess as you had been told to do. She followed you. Did you know that?”

Kalli shook her head, eyes still firmly on the floor.

“Oh yes. She saw you go off with that animal and sent word to me straight away. I had to ride through the night to reach Athens! Then when I get there I am told you have not returned. Next thing I hear you have been beaten and are staying here. The pain you caused me that night! You are the most ill behaved little Priestess I have ever taught!”

Now Kalli flinched for those words came down upon her like a strong blow. Hypatia felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to see Xan looking a mixed of grim and slightly amused. She felt bad for her old friend but it was true that she did disobey one of the most fundamental rules of her position.

“Kallikrates, do you wish to be a Priestess?” Ambrosius said sharply.

“Yes, I do! I so do!” Kalli cried kneeling as she made her plea.

“Very well. This is your last chance. To repair your hubristic slight upon me and the temple will not be easy.”

“Please! I will do anything. I’m sorry!”

“I am glad to hear it, Kalli.” Ambros said her tone softening slightly. “I love you very much and it would rend my heart in twain to see you go from me in shame. You have been marked by Aphrodite and for you to waste this blessing would be terrible. Kallikrates, you shall consider yourself bound to me. You will take no lovers, you will stay by my side and you will learn to behave with the respect the Goddess deserves. Do you consent?”

“Yes, Priestess!” Kalli responded at once as tears trickled down her face.

Hypatia was surprised to hear such elation in her voice where before there had been much despair. She felt awkward witnessing such intimacy but she was hesitant to move at Ambrosius’ power was quite startling. The Priestess bade Kalli to rise, kissed her sweetly and whispered softly to her. Kalli smiled weakly and nodded.

“Xanthippe?”

“Yes, Priestess?”

“We shall be returning with you today. Charis kindly gave me use of a horse. We should set out soon. Please ready the mounts. Kalli and I will be down after I have seen to her disobedient behind.” Ambrosius said calmly as she removed her belt.

“Of course, Priestess. Come along, Hypatia.”

“But…” Hypatia said softly worried for her friend

“Come along. It’s alright.” Xan said softly as she took her lover’s hand and lead her from the room.

As they descended the stairs the noblewoman thought she heard leather on flesh but figured she might have imagined it.

They waited at the front of the house for the servants to bring the horses chatting with Eudoxia and Timo. Hypatia took a large satchel of scrolls from her Mother and upon hearing that they were for furthering her business education Xan let out a little moan. The only one who heard this was Timo and he laughed and clapped her on the back with a commiserating wink.

Shortly there after, Ambrosius strode from the house followed by a very subdued looking Kalli.

“I thank you both again for caring for my Priestess. I offer you both a blessing.” Ambrosius said impressively to Eudoxia and Timo as she held both their hands in hers.

Her words were like music as she recited her blessing of love and prosperity. When she was done they thanked her and bid them a fair journey. Kalli thanked them as well and apologized for bringing the man to their home before hurrying toward the horses blushing deeply. Hypatia hugged and kissed her parents and Xan shook hands as they made their goodbyes.

They mounted their horses and set off. Both Xanthippe and Hypatia led the new animals, who were laden with their saddle bags behind them. Ambrosius rode side saddle leading the last horse that bore a rather miserable looking Kalli. As they reached the gate they turned and saluted before rounding the corner. Hypatia slowed and flung her leg over so she was astride the beast. She took the chance to fall back to have a word with Kalli. The young Priestess had donned a himatari before they left. She had pulled it up into a hood that obscured most of her face. From what Hypatia could see of her she was frowning deeply.

“Psst! Kalli.”

She did not respond.

“Kalli! Hey! It will be….”

But Kalli peeked out from under her hood and shook her head at her. Her eyes were red and a few tears still trickled down her face. She retreated under her hood almost immediately. Hypatia’s heart went out to her. The fact that she had wrapped her himatari in such a way showed she was either ashamed or very emotional, as was the custom. She made another attempt to let her know it would be alright.

“Kalli, don’t be ashamed! I get it all the time and trust me….” Hypatia hissed but before she could finish she was interrupted by Ambrosius.

“Young Lady, come here please.”

Hypatia gulped and urged her horse forward. Xan moved over to let her ride up alongside them and Hypatia could see she had a slight smirk playing about her features. The apprentice gave a nervous sidelong look at the powerful woman beside her.

“Yes, Priestess?”

“I ask that you not speak to Kallikrates. She has expressed to me she feels great sadness and that she needs time to feel these emotions. I have bid her to be silent to help give her structure while she thinks.” Ambros smiled before turning her head so he voice would carry behind her. “While she has been very good to avoid the temptation of answering you I think it would be hard for her if you continue to try to speak with her.”

Kalli bowed her head in the affirmative and Ambrosius turned back to face Hypatia. For the first time the apprentice saw that her almond shaped eyes were a golden yellow flecked with rich brown. Her body was covered with freckles that were lighter than her olive complexion giving her a a stunning network of unique markings. Captivated by her beauty, she did not answer right away but as the woman’s slender eyebrows sought and answer, she stammered her reply.

“Oh! Uh.. of course, Lady! I mean Priestess! I…I will! I mean, I won’t!”

The woman chuckled softly her face glowing with amusement.

“Oh my, Xanthippe! I think I may have frightened your young apprentice!”

“You are quite scary when you are in a mood, Ambrosius.” Xan laughed.

“Yes, I have been told that before.” she said smirking as though she thought the idea to be both comical and ludicrous. “I suppose I can get a little loud when I’m voicing my displeasure.”

“Nothing compared to how loud she is when she voices her pleasure.” Xan whispered daringly to Hypatia who giggled.

“What was that, Xanthippe?”

“Nothing, Priestess!”

“Mm-hm. Mind your manners, little Mistress. I may be older but my hearing is fine!” Ambros admonished, shaking her finger but her eyes held the warmth of humour in them. “I remember teaching you to unleash your pretty voice in a song of pleasure. More like a growl than a melody but still…. very pleasant none the less.”

“Oh! Is that why you are so loud Mistress? I wondered where you learned to bellow like that!” Hypatia teased. “I’m sure everyone knows when we lay together!”

“That is good! Sex is a celebration of the body and soul. One should rejoice without reservation!” Xanthippe shrugged slightly pink in the face.

“Very good, Xanthippe! I’m surprised you recall my words so well.”

“Thank you, Ambros! Such lessons are a joy to recall.”

“Mistress! Did you have ideas of being a Priestess?” Hypatia asked excitedly.

“Oh, no! Not I.”

“Well, then why would you have lessons…”

“She chased my juniors so much and was at temple so often I decided to offer her some of my insights.” Ambrosius smiled impishly and when she saw Hypatia’s confused expression she continued. “I trained her to be a good lover. Is she? Does she bring you pleasure often, Hypatia?”

“Oh…uh well we…. I mean, she….”

“Oh dear, Xan! That’s not a very good review!”

The Mistress pulled a face at the older woman’s teasing tone.

‘No! It’s just…. a delicate subject.” Hypatia said blushing deeply.

“Why?”

“What?”

“Why would talking about sex with me cause discomfort? It is my role in the world, you know? I help people from all walks of life have good love and good sex.”

Hypatia mulled the thought over for a while. It did seem to make sense if there was anyone who would be comfortable talking about love making it would be a High Priestess. She felt the heat leave her face and she felt more at ease.

“Xanthippe is a kind and caring lover. Passionate and always attentive. I always achieve pleasure, although…”

Hypatia gave Xan a cheeky look.

“I often have to wait until it pleases her to give me release.”

“Oh, really!? That’s interesting!”

“Oh yes! I wonder where I learned that, Ambrosius?” Xan laughed rolling her eyes.

“I always thought you would be the take charge sort. You certainly didn’t learn to obey in my bed. It’s nice to be on Top, isn’t it?”

Xanthippe smiled and nodded her eyes slightly out of focus as though she was looking into past sexual adventures. Ambros laughed and spoke again, waking Xan from her memories.

“See the mate you have chosen, though? Hypatia is anything but meek and mild as she has proven by rescuing my little Priestess here. This woman is strong, and independent and yet she can submit. I told you long ago one must be strong to submit to another. Now do you believe me?”

“I do. I finally understand what you tried to teach me.” the Mistress beamed as she reached out and caressed her lover’s face. “Still, I just can’t bring my self to be meek in the bedroom. I suppose I am not as strong as I thought!”

Hypatia smirked and kissed her hand. She then had a thought. It seemed a waste not to take advantage of the opportunity to seek advice from a High Priestess. After quietly asking Xan what she thought of the idea, Hypatia turned back to their companion.

“Um… Ambrosius?”

“If you seek my advice I would be very happy to give it to you. However, I request you come and pay tribute at the temple in return.”

Ambros chuckled at their surprised faces.

“I have been doing this for 40 years, remember?”

“Oh yeah!” Xan laughed. “But we just made tribute! A whole goat!”

“Ah, ah! Don’t play games with me! That was a offering to thank her for your love and you know it. The flesh of the beast was owed to repay the blessing. I ask you to come and offer your power at the altar.”

“In front of…. everyone?” Hypatia said hesitantly.

“I… uh..” Xan stammered.

“I’ll shoo the priests away for you. Only Priestesses.” Ambrosius tutted.

“Oh wonderful!”

“Oh well, that’s different!” Xan laughed. “Set the date and we’ll be there.”

“Uh, better make it before the moon wanes, Mistress. Our courses are due then and I don’t like making love with cramps.”

“It helps ease the pain you know?” Ambros offered conversationally as she stretched. “Xanthippe, is good at easing them if I recall. Anyway, what did you want to ask me?”

The young couple shared a look and Hypatia spoke.

“Well, last time we made love Xanthippe was really dominant and I found it very exciting so I kinda….”

“Want more?” Ambros smirked and they nodded. “A fairly common issue. What did you say Xan?”

“That we have to talk first so neither of us gets hurt or scared.”

“Good girl!”

“But I don’t know how to do that really.”

“Me either.” Hyaptia added.

“Lucky for you, I know all about it!” The Priestess grinned proudly flicking her hair slightly. “It’s fairly simple. First, you talk about what you like and what you don’t like. Fantasies, erogenous zones. Talk, talk, talk, talk! You’ll have to get over your shyness, little Noble.”

Hypatia snorted derisively and began to roll her eyes but stopped quickly when the Priestess fixed her with a stern look.

“I have no patience for sass when I am teaching, Hypatia.” Ambros said in a tone that reminded the apprentice of her earlier mood.

“I beg your pardon!”

Ambrosius nodded approvingly at the improved respectful tone but, as Xanthippe began to giggle at Hypatia’s mistake, the Priestess leaned forward and narrowed her eyes. The Mistress hurriedly adopted a look of pure innocence but it didn’t seem to work.

“That goes double for you, young lady!”

“Yes, Priestess!”

“Better! Now, secondly you’ll want a word that means stop….”

“How about stop?” Xan said sulkily.

She did not like how many times in the past two days she had been told off in front of her apprentice and the thought was making her moody.

“Last warning!” Ambrosius said tersely before she continued her train of thought. ” …because “stop” comes out in places where you don’t want it to be. It is foolish to think one can know when every ‘don’t’, ‘ow’, and ‘no’ is a genuine request. Choose a word you are unlikely to scream in ecstasy, ‘tree’ for example, and if it is said by either partner you stop. Do you understand thus far?”

“Yes” they answered together now quite interested in her advice.

“But?” Hypatia began. “I trust her. She would never hurt me. So is it really necessary?”

“You trust Xanthippe more than yourself?”

“Yes!”

Hypatia turned to smile at her lover but she took a sharp intake of breath instead. Upon hearing her answer, Ambrosius had reached out and given her a sharp slap to the back of the head.

“What was that for!?” Hypatia yelped rubbing her scalp more from shock than pain.

“For being a fool! Never trust anyone more than yourself! You are the only one who knows your mind. Always trust yourself, always listen to you instincts, always keep yourself safe. Relying on others is fine, but you know you. They simply know what you show them. Shall we continue?”

“Wait just a minute! Mistress, do you trust me?”

“Of course, my dear!”

“More than yourself?”

“Oh, well no!”

“Well!” Hypatia huffed.

“Look, it’s like Ambros said, you have to take care of you…. oh don’t be upset, my love!”

Hypatia was riding with her chin tilted up at an angle that clearly showed she was offended. She had just turned to say something scathing when the Priestess cleared her throat loudly.

“Now, now that’s enough. If Xanthippe told you to never speak to your parents again, would you obey?”

“No! But that’s…”

“Join the army?”

“No, but…”

“Asked you to slay your horse?”

“No, but I…”

“You see! You don’t trust her more than yourself so don’t allow love’s spell to make you think otherwise!” Ambros said with an air of a woman who had had this argument many times.

Hypatia frowned and realized what she said was true. When it came down to it she would trust her own judgement over any one else.

“I see what you mean.”

“Good. Most importantly….”

“I still don’t think it should have earned me a smack!” Hypatia scowled.

“If you interrupt me again you’ll earn yourself another! Now hush!” Ambrosius chided, her voice stern and yet still full of warmth. “As I was saying, upon hearing it you must always stop and never be angry the word has been used. It’s not for either of you to decide why the other used it. It simply must be. There! I told you it was simple. Now quickly, let’s review.”

Hypatia was surprised by how fast she had finished but Xanthippe, having studied this way before, was ready. She sat up a little straighter and began to repeat what she had heard.

“We must talk. Discuss our desires and things we do not want.”

“Good. Hypatia?”

“Uh… Choose a word that means stop and always stop?”

“Are you asking?”

“No! That’s what we do.” Hypatia said more confidently and when the older woman appeared to be waiting for more she searched her mind. “Oh, and trust yourself to know what you want and… and who you are.”

“Well done, Ladies! You are fine students, even though you are both a little mouthy.” Ambrosius beamed at them her golden eyes flashing pride and amusement. “There is more for you to learn but that will have to wait. I must tend to Kalli.”

They had almost forgotten Kalli was with them. She had been trailing behind in silence, her hood still drawn. Ambrosius stopped her horse and drew Kalli’s mount up beside her. Xan and Hypatia finally saw Kalli’s shoulders were heaving gently and realized she must be crying. Ambros adjusted her chiton and threw her leg over so she rode astride as she pulled Kalli’s horse closer.

“Hypatia come, take the beast.”

The apprentice sidled over until she could reach the lead line and hold the horse steady. She could hear the two Priestesses talking as she waited.

“I’m fine, really!” Kalli hiccuped.

“No you’re not, you are sad. Come on, come to me.”

Ambros helped the young woman up onto her horse. She adjusted them until Kalli sat in her lap the same way Xan had held Hypatia on the way back from the races. The young Priestess let out a sob and cuddled close to the woman’s chest. Hypatia couldn’t see her face as it was still obscured but she could hear her mournful voice. The sound made her heart ache. She had never heard Kalli be anything but confident and bubbly.

“I am bad! I’m sorry. I should leave the temple.”

“No, that’s not true. You’ve just made a mistake. It will be all right. I won’t let you run away.”

Kalli seemed to be saying something but her sobs made it incomprehensible.

“Poor Kalli. Poor little dove! I know.” Ambros cooed softly kissing her forehead.

Hypatia didn’t realized she was staring until those golden eyes flicked in her direction.The Priestess fixed her with an admonishing look that broke her out of her daze.

“You may take the beast now, Hypatia.”

“Right! Of course! Sorry, Priestess!” Hypatia blushed as she hurried to obey.

Xanthippe and Hypatia took the lead allowing the Priestesses to have their privacy. They rode along in silence for a while. Hypatia took a glance behind them and saw Kalli’s hood had fallen down and she had drifted off. Ambrosius had closed her eyes and allowed her horse to fall in step with the other two freeing her arms to hold onto the slumbering woman.

“Mistress, will Kalli be alright?” Hypatia whispered.

“Yes, my dear. She’s always been impulsive and she tends to be very hard on herself when she feels as though she has hurt people she loves. Ambros will take care of her. She may be rather strict but she is one of the most loving people I know.” Xan smiled.

“I can see that. She is unlike anyone I’ve ever met. I find her personality very attractive.”

“You have no idea. To be made love to by her is truly a religious experience.”

“She is very beautiful.” Hypatia shrugged.

“Mm-hm.”

“We’re you lovers long?”

“Ummm… that’s not really what I would call it. To be with her is…different. Amazing, mind numbing, incredible and yet…”

“Well you sure know how to make a girl feel special!” Hypatia grumbled.

“Oh, my love, I’m sorry! Have I made you jealous?” Xanthippe sighed, angry with herself for being tactless.

“It doesn’t matter! I’ve had a fair few lovers in my time!”

“I should have explained better. Unless you are one of her Priestesses, Ambrosius does not hold a place in her heart for you. She can adore you, befriend you, teach and guide you but she reserves her love for those marked by Aphrodite. When you lay with her you are a cherished instrument she plays with skill but one must always be ready for the day she chooses to play another. That’s why I said we couldn’t call ourselves lovers. You and I on the other hand…”

“Yes?”

“Well, I love you. Your love feeds my mind and body. When we make love…” Xanthippe smiled and closed her eyes looking for the right words. “You sate the thirst I have in my soul. No one has ever done that before.”

“Oh….” Hypatia said softly. “Well, aren’t you the charmer! That was beautiful. I love you too!”

They rode along for a while in happy silence. Just after noon Ambros called up to them causing Kalli to stir.

“Just a short way ahead is a small stream. We will stop to eat there.”

Xanthippe frowned and squinted up at the sun.

“We should press on. At the speed we’re going it will be the middle of the night when we get back. There is some food in the saddle bag that we can eat as we ride. Help yourself.”

“It’s just around the bend here.” Ambros smiled as though she had not heard. “Kalli, come on little dove, wake up.”

Xanthippe’s shoulders squared with frustration and she turned her head around.

“I said we should….”

“I heard very well what you said. It is what I say that will be obeyed today, little Mistress!”

Xanthippe opened and then closed her mouth. She did not trust herself to speak as her irritation at being delayed and the rising heat of the day threatened to have her lose her temper. Taking a deep breath she turned back around and stared forward. Ambrosius wasn’t going to let her avoid the situation, however.

“Xanthippe?” she purred drawing her name out in a tone of warning.

With only a slight grimace to her apprentice Xan sighed and answered in a respective tone.

“Yes, of course, Priestess.”

“Good girl. Ah, here we are!”

They had rounded the bend and came across a small clearing by the side of the road. It was quite a beautiful little place. There were wildflowers all about and a babbling stream running through. A large elm tree cast a wide circle of inviting shade. It seemed as though it was a popular place for travelers to stop and rest. Someone had built a small rail to tie horses to and there was even a rough stone fire pit under the elm tree. The group moved off the road into the shade and dismounted.
Hypatia retrieved the saddle bags and Xan gathered up the horses and took them to drink from the creek.

“Oh wait just a minute!” Ambros called to Xan as she cracked her back. “Kalli, my bag.”

Kalli hurried over and took another saddle bag down and returned pulling her hood up as she came. Ambrosius tutted and began to remove items from the bag.

“Hood down, Kalli. I’ve given you long enough. Besides, you’ll make yourself sick wearing that in this heat! Now go on. You know what to do.”

As she spoke, the older woman handed Hypatia a pot to hold and then handed the bag to Kalli.

“Yes, Priestess.” Kalli replied meekly as she removed her head covering and hurried off towards the tree.

Ambrosius smiled to herself and began to stretch. Hypatia was impressed by how limber she seemed to be as she watch her bend double and straighten up.

“Pretty one, that kettle won’t fill itself!” Ambros chuckled warmly.

Hypatia giggled and went off to fetch some water. On her way back she helped Xan tether the horses and they made their way up to the tree. Kalli had already swept the debris from around the hearth and started a small fire. She took the kettle with a nod of thanks to set it amongst the flames. She then stood and peered around looking for something. She apparently saw what she needed as she strode off a moment later.Ambrosius settled her self against the base of the tree as Xan and Hypatia brought the food out and lay it on a piece of cloth.

By the time Kalli returned, the kettle had began to steam. She knelt down by the fire side and deposited a few apples on the cloth before tending to the tea. Hypatia began to help her but as she reached for the apples Kalli pulled them away and shook her head. The noble woman thought she was being rather possessive but, as Ambros began to mutter prayers over the fruit, she realized they were an offering.

The young Priestess handed them each a cup of tea and then poured one for Ambros. Hypatia watched out of the corner of her eye as Kalli sat on her knees in a serving position holding the cup in offering to the High Priestess. Ambrosius did not even look at her as she continued to speak. When she had finished she took the cup, downed it quickly and handed it back to Kalli.

“Pour for yourself.” Ambros said softly as she felt the weight of each apple as though trying to determine something from it.
Kalli sipped her tea slowly eyes fixed on the apples. Hypatia followed her gaze and tried to see what was so interesting but they just looked like plain apples to her.

“What are you looking for?”

“Shhhh.”

“I just….’

Xanthippe put her hand on her arm and shook her head with a small smile. She then gave a quick glance towards the Priestesses before chancing a roll of her eyes and a wink. Hypatia smirked and shrugged.

Ambros held out her hand and Kalli immediately handed her a knife. She delicately peeled the skin off one of the apples so that it was an intact spiral. She lay the skin on the hot rock, watched it for a second and then began to cut slices. She showed the first slice to Kalli who smiled and nodded.

“No surprise there, eh Kalli?” Ambros chuckled as she transferred it from the knife into her mouth.

She cut a second piece and looked at it before showing Kalli who frowned a little.

“Mmm, well Xan lucky and unlucky as always. Great loss, great gain.”

“Yeah, just my luck.” Xan sighed sadly.

“Better than the other way round! Here.” Ambrosius smiled as she held the fruit out but when Xan tried to take it with her hand she added “Ah, ah! You know better.”

At this Xanthippe made noise between a groan and a laugh and allowed the Priestess to place the fruit in her mouth. Ambros cut a third slice, squinted at it, frowned and then showed it to Kalli who also looked confused. Hypatia held her breath.

“Hmm… I don’t know what it’s trying to say. What do you think Kalli?”

“Me?” Kalli stammered her eyes wide with disbelief.

“You are a Priestess after all! What say you?”

“Oh, well… forgive me, but I think the message is upside down, Ambros.”

Ambrosius stared at her, turned the slice over, and laughed heartily.

“Very good, little dove! The wisdom of youth. Hypatia, you can’t do anything easily can you?”

“What does it say?” Hypatia asked nervously.

“Patience, now. Hmmm…. oh yes! Obviously! Walks between an image and the true self.”

Hypatia let out a sigh of relief and leaned forward to accept the fruit.

“Had you worried did we?” Ambros winked as she cut another piece. “Ok Kalli, your turn! Oh ho! What’s this!?”

They all leaned closer. Kalli was slightly pale and seemed to be hovering between looking and hiding her eyes. Xanthippe and Hypatia had no idea what Ambros had seen in their omens to give her answers but Kalli’s was clear as day. In the center, where the core piece shone light green, was the shape of a small clam shell. Kalli beamed when she saw it.

“You see! She marks you again! My my…” Ambros purred lustfully. “I’ve never know one to have so much favour.”

“Thank you, Priestess.” Kalli blushed as she ate her slice.

Ambrosius picked up another apple cut it in half and handed them to Xan and Hypatia.

“What do these say?” Hypatia asked excitedly.

The Priestess paused and fixed her with a confused and slightly condescending look.

“Nothing. It’s just an apple, silly girl!”

Hypatia’s turned to Xan looking puzzled and quite disgruntled at being chided in such a manner. The Mistress couldn’t help but laugh at her scandalized expression and eventually Hypatia shrugged and joined in with her mirth.

They continued with their lunch. Hypatia noticed that Kalli would serve Ambros first and then wait for the Priestess to offer her bits of her food. They rest of them lounged comfortably but Kalli continued to sit on her knees, back straight, head held high. The noble woman realized Kalli had been telling the truth when she said being a Priestess wasn’t as easy as it seemed.

Xanthippe was anxious to get back on the road and she kept stealing glances at the sun. Noticing this, Hypatia cleared away the leftovers expecting they would depart soon. However, when Xan saw Ambros lean back against the tree and called Kalli into her arms, she sighed quietly and stretched out on the grass. Hypatia cuddled up beside her.

“I thought we were going?” she whispered.

“Yes, well…. best just get comfortable. It will be a while longer now. Try to have a little rest, my love.” Xan yawned.

“Why?”

“It’s mid-day.”

“And?”

“And…” the Mistress smiled with a little nod toward the tree. “Come mid-day, Ambrosius is always hungry.”

“But we just…” Hypatia began but when she glanced towards the Priestesses she gave a small laugh of understanding. “Oh, I see!”

The pair were kissing passionately. Well, from what she could see, Ambrosius was doing all the kissing. She had laced her fingers in Kalli’s hair and was positively devouring her mouth with her own. Hypatia looked up at Xan to see she was laying with her eyes closed and decided she could risk admiring their technique a while longer.

What surprised her most was how passive Kalli was. She didn’t seem to make a movement without Ambrosius guiding her in some way. This was contrary to what the apprentice had heard from Elpis. According to her friend, Kalli was very much the one to make the first move.

Hypatia swallowed hard. Her throat suddenly felt dry. It truly was something to behold. At one point Kalli ran her hand up to cup between Ambrosius’ thighs. The reaction was immediate. The high Priestess stopped her kissing, grabbed Kalli’s wrist, and bit her cleavage. Kalli yelped. It was a pleasurable sound but it had a firm under tone of pain that indicated that the bite had been more corrective than playful. Hypatia jumped as she heard Xan’s deep rumbling laugh.

“She shouldn’t have done that, I guess.” she said softly, her tone amused.

“My Goddess! I see what you mean now.” Hypatia hissed back.

“Just wait. They haven’t even started…”

Just then, Ambros stopped kissing once more and turned her head toward them.

“You two either come over here and be of service to me or stop with the commentary!”

“Sorry!” they answered quickly.

“Well? What is it to be?”

“We’ll be quiet.” Xan blushed.

“Pity! At least, pay attention. You might learn a thing or two!” Ambrosius quipped causing Kalli to let out a laugh that quickly transitioned into a gasp as her lover slipped her hand under skirt and entered her.

Soon the meadow echoed with the sounds of Kalli’s appreciation. Hypatia peeked over at them and saw Kalli looking quite spent. Ambros, on the other hand, seemed relaxed even well rested. Kalli propped herself up on one arm and flicked her hair alluringly.

“May I give you pleasure?”

“No, little dove.”

“But…”Kalli stammered before her tone took on a pleading quality. “Please? I need to….”

“No, you want to. For now, you may take pleasure but you will not give it. Not until I think you are ready.”

“Priestess, please! I have been giving to you for years and I think that I should at least…”

“Hypatia?”

“Yes?” the apprentice answered slightly startled thinking she had been caught eavesdropping again.

“Go and fetch me that rose over there.”

Hypatia hesitated.

“Better go quick, little apprentice!” Xan chuckled sleepily.

When she had returned with the flower, Ambrosius took it from her with a smile. She looked up at Hypatia and flicked her eyes back toward Xanthippe, and though the apprentice didn’t know how, she knew she had been dismissed with a thoroughly imperious and yet utterly pleasant gesture.

When she had sat down and looked back at them, Ambros was braiding Kalli’s hair with enough force to show she was displeased but not enough to be painful. When she had finished she threaded the rose behind Kalli’s ear and held her chin. Her voice took on a very serious tone, and yet, still it still sounded like a loving caress.

“Do not argue with me, Kallikrates. You have lost the privilege of pleasuring me but don’t worry…” she smiled as she gave her a gentle kiss. “I will make sure you earn it back.”

“Yes, Priestess.” Kalli answered wistfully as though under a spell.

“We are going!” Ambros said suddenly as she rose and headed towards the horses.

They all gathered up the saddle bags, put out the fire and hurried after her. When they reached her she was already astride her horse and heading out to the road. Hypatia helped Kalli sling the saddle bags onto the other horses and chanced a whispered conversation.

“You’re right about one thing. It’s not all flowers and orgasms, Kalli!” she said looking at Ambrosius as she halted at the road.

“That’s true, flower.” Kalli beamed at her and her hand caressed the rose in her hair. “But when it is mmmm…. it’s magic!”

They put their heads together and giggled quietly until they heard Ambros call out to them.

“Well, we haven’t got all day!”

They made up the time by riding at a canter for a while. By the time they reached the temple it was just becoming dark. As they said their goodbyes Ambrosius turned to Xan.

“If you are going to pay tribute in the next week we should discuss some things. You will meet me for lunch here tomorrow. That should give you time to practice. Thank you both once again for all your help. Come Kalli!”

“Tomorrow? But we have work to do and the….” Xanthippe began but stopped as the Priestess turned around and fixed her with a sly smile.

“What was that, little Mistress?”

Xan smiled as she shook her head.

“We look forward to seeing you at noon tomorrow. Thank you, Priestess and good evening.”

“Good evening, ladies.” Ambrosius purred appreciative before turning and entering the temple with a flick of her dappled raven hair.

As they set towards home neither spoke until the were sure they were out of ear shot. Xan let out a low whistle.

“So what do you think of Ambrosius, my dear?”

“What a woman! What a marvelously, intelligent, erotic, confident and incredible…” Hypatia said in an awed voice before adding in a whisper with a mischievous grin. “… pain in the ass!”

They both burst out laughing as they made their way home.

As the small group began to discuss what had just happened, Hypatia watched Kalli go. She was only half listening to thier congratulations at handling the situation as she had a tense feeling in her stomach. She barely excused herself as the feeling intensified. She moved across the room quickly and with determination. When she reached the foyer she saw them.

Kalli looked angry and scared. The man had a hold of her arm and was pulling her toward the door. They were arguing quietly as not to draw attention and as Hypatia approached he hit her across the face. She did not think she only acted. His back was to her and as he raised his arm again, Hypatia seized it and twisted it behind his back.

“Let her go or I will break you arm.”

He still held on to Kalli as he hesitated. He shouldn’t have. Hypatia twisted until she felt his wrist break. He let go of Kalli and tried to dislodge her. She knew she didn’t stand much of a chance unless she moved quickly. Hypatia wrenched his arm further up his back. The pain made his knees buckle and she kicked his legs out from underneath him.

It took all her strength and focus to hold him down. When she felt someone’s hand on her shoulder she was so full of adrenaline rolled off quickly and turned to fight the newcomer.

“Woah there! It’s alright, it’s me!” Timo said softly.

“He hit her! He hit Kalli! I broke his arm, Father.” Hypatia panted dazed slightly by her combative state.

“Did you?” Timo said as casually as though she had just told him she had received high marks on an assignment. “That’s my girl! Are you hurt?”

“No. He never got the chance.” she smiled as he embraced her.

“Well done!”

It was only when they broke apart that Hypatia noticed that the whole guest list was watching from the door of the andron. The men had begun to break away from the group and moved towards the man on the floor. Xanthippe made to join them but she stopped when she felt Eudoxia’s hand on her arm.

“Best let them deal with it their own way.” she said quietly. “We have our own way of doing it. Besides, she’s looking for you.”
Hypatia spotted her at that moment and made her way through the throng.

“Are you alright?” Xan asked as she embraced her.

“I’m fine! Where’s Kalli?”

Xan nodded toward a circle of women and Hypatia made toward them. Timo came over to speak with his wife.

“Xanthippe, who is Kalli to him?” he asked privately.

“She is a Priestess of the temple of Aphrodite. They have no connection.”

“Is she now? Well, that will make things more interesting! Excuse me, won’t you?”

Xanthippe watched him leave as casually is if he were going on an evening stroll. When she returned to the andron the room was a buzz of conversation. No longer stuffy and polite the voiced were united with a purpose. Small groups were formed and women flitted between them sharing information. As she made her way towards Hypatia and Kalli she could hear snippets of conversation.

“What’s his standing?”

“Who’s his mother?”

“Amyntas of Athens!”

“No! Not the commander in the army?”

“The very same!”

“He better pray they kill him before she finds out!”

“Who is she?”

“I don’t know her bloodline. They call her Kalli but that can’t be her full name.”

“I heard Hypatia’s new lover say she was a Priestess.”

“By the Gods! What temple?”

“Aphrodite!”

“Ooooooh! He’s doomed!”

Xan marveled at how fast the information could fly between them. She didn’t quite know the point of it but she had more pressing matters to attend to. She had expected the gossip to continue when she reached Kalli and Hypatia but there was none here. In fact, those who surrounded them were quite calm and attentive to the pair. They were both sitting and sipping hot wine. Eudoxia was standing behind her daughter and gently running her fingers through her hair while Kalli was having some sort of oil applied to her face by a wisp of a woman.

“There that should help the pain and minimize any bruising.”

“Thank you, Doctor but honestly, I’m fine! I’m tougher than I look!” Kalli smiled and turned toward Hypatia. “Not nearly as tough as this Lady here though! My hero!”

“Well… if I hadn’t antagonized him then…” Hypatia began but she was cut off immediately by many different voices.

“He would have anyway!”

“It’s not your fault!”

“He’s a pig! He’ll get his, just you wait!”

“Speaking of which….” Kalli said slyly looking to Xan. “How’s it going out there?”

“Where? Outside?”

“No, I mean the talking. How goes it? Is he ruined yet?”

Xanthippe didn’t know what she was talking about but Eudoxia answered.

“Just about. We’re just waiting for… ah here it is.”

Someone had just handed her a scroll and she signaled to a servant.

“Take these to the messengers at once. Tell them to ride. I want them delivered quickly.”

As soon as one servant disappeared another arrived and spoke softly to Eudoxia.

“The men are finished now.” Eudoxia spoke to the circle and, as few more people broke off to inform the others, she spoke directly to Kalli. “Do you wish to stay here or retire before they return?”

“I think I’ve had enough excitement for one night.” Kalli laughed.

“Xanthippe, Hypatia? Please show Kalli to the upstairs.”

“Of course.” Xan replied quickly glad of having something to do.

As Hypatia stood to leave her mother whispered some advice as they walked across the andron.

“Stay with her but also let her be alone if she wishes it.”

“Yes, Mother.”

Hypatia lead the way upstairs and decided her room would do until the servant made up another. As soon as the door closed behind them Kalli let out a low whistle.

“Well! That was one hell of a party, huh kids?”

She frowned slightly, shook her head as though ridding her mind of thoughts and then pulled at her chiton.

“Hey hero girl, do you have anything I could wear? I feel dreadful in this thing!”

Hypatia began to pull out different garments and Kalli chose a soft pepalos.

“That’s a good idea. I’ve been bound since sun up.” Xan groaned as she began to undo her chiton but stopped as she asked. “I’m assuming you want us to stay with you?”

“Of course! I much prefer company….how do you get this stupid thing off?… especially if it’s with two lovely ladies…. oh fuck it!”

After struggling for only a short while Kalli pulled the whole thing over her head and threw it in a heap on the floor.

“Ha!” she said triumphantly as she shook her hair so forcefully pins began to fly everywhere. “and that takes care of that stupid hair do! Now for the makeup. Where’s the basin. Oh I found it!”

She poured the water into the basin, slopping quite a bit over the sides in the process, and began splashing it over her face. Meanwhile, Xan had removed her chiton and bindings, threw them on the floor and was wrapping herself in a thin pepalos. They were chatting disparagingly about formal attire and neither of them noticed Hypatia until she cleared her throat irritably.

They both looked up from their tasks to see her still fully dressed with her hands on her hips and frowning.

“What’s the matter, pretty flower?”

“You two are the limit! Look at this place! Barely in the door and it’s a shambles!”

Kalli laughed but Xan began to pick up the various things that had been strewn about the place.

“Well, well! It seems your love has gotten through to you about cleaning up where no one else could Xan!”
Xan shrugged and chuckled as she wiped up the spilled water.

“I’m just glad of something to do. Tonight I’ve felt about as useless as Hera’s tits to Athena!”

As soon as it was said, Kalli lay a hard slap on Xan’s prone posterior. Xanthippe stood slowly and turned to face her looking thunderous.

“Ooooooooh, Kalli!” Hypatia squealed half amused, half warningly.

“Don’t give me that look! How dare you say such a thing in front of a Priestess! Just because I’m your friend doesn’t mean I’ll stand for such talk!” Kalli scolded wagging her finger and looking just as irate.

After a moments pause, Xan sighed, crossed her arms defensively and adopted a hang dog expression.

“Sorry.” she muttered.

“What was that?”

“I said sorry, Kalli.”

“I should hope so.” Kalli nodded approvingly as she began to braid her hair.

“How did you do that!?” Hypatia goggled at her.

“Easy. I can teach you if you want.”

“That would be…” Hypatia began excitedly but upon seeing Xan’s eyebrows reach for her hair line she switched her tone quickly. “Ahem… completely unacceptable. Right, Mistress?”

Xanthippe couldn’t help but laugh at Hypatia’s winning smile and fluttering eyelashes.

“Right, brat!”

Hypatia giggled, removed her chiton and folded it neatly. When she felt Kalli’s eyes upon her she looked up. The woman smiled kindly at her.

“You are very beautiful.”

She said it such a sweet and conversational way Hypatia didn’t know if she was expressing desire or simple admiration. Either way, it made her feel nice.

“I am, aren’t I?” she smiled back. “Thank you.”

“Confident. That is good!” Kalli grinned before turning to Xan who had been sitting contemplating quietly. “Still pouting or lost in thought?”

“Hmm? Oh, no. I was just thinking about tonight. Never mind. You probably don’t want to talk about it.”

“Talking is good. Let us talk.”

“Well, what was that all about?”

“What?”

“When everybody split up and then the message that was sent and the gossip…”

“Oh that wasn’t gossip!” Kalli grinned.

“It wasn’t?”

“That was war!” Hypatia laughed and when Xan look puzzled she continued. “That was a social blood letting. By this time tomorrow he won’t be able to show his face anywhere without people talking. I doubt he’ll ever find a mate after this which is good as his blood should not muddy the lines.”

“Really? It will happen that fast?” Xan asked impressed. “Well, good! Though, I doubt Aphrodite would favour him after tonight anyway.”

“She certainly didn’t favour me tonight.” Kalli said softly, feeling her cheek absentmindedly as she continued. “I don’t know what I have done to upset her.”

Her eyes brimmed with tears as she finished speaking. Hypatia got up and held her tightly. Xanthippe was quiet for a short while. She then stood up and came over to stroke Kalli’s hair as she spoke.

“I think you might be looking at it the wrong way because you are upset.”

“What other way it there to see it? I didn’t defend her honour from that idiot and so she didn’t help me when I needed it!”

“Hypatia was there though.” Xan pointed out as she stroked her lover’s hair as well. “She helped you. Then everyone came together to cast out violence to protect love. I don’t know, Kalli but I think you were just part of a plan here.”

Kalli was quiet as she thought. Eventually she gave a small hiccuping laugh and dried her eyes on her pepalos.

“Just my luck!” she smiled weakly and then her eyes filled with tears again. “I wish I was at the temple. I wish I was home.”

“We’re going home tomorrow. You are more than welcome to come with us! In fact, that would be a great help since we have three extra horses to bring back with us.” Hypatia smiled. “Oh, you do know how to ride, don’t you?”

Kalli smirked slightly as she spoke.

“Well, yeah! It’s kinda my job, flower!”

“What? Oh! Kalli!”

They all shared a good laugh and when they were through Kalli seemed more relaxed but she still chewed her lip nervously.

“Where am I to be sleeping?”

“I think the next room over. They’re just making it up now. I can tell them to hurry if you are tired.”

“Oh no. No rush.” Kalli said her eyes darting slightly. “Is it a private room or..”

“Of course!”

“Oh. Lovely.”

Upon hearing Kalli’s somewhat saddened tone, Hypatia gave Xanthippe a questioning look. Her Mistress was smiling knowingly.

“She doesn’t like to sleep alone, my dear. Kalli is afraid of the dark.” Xan chuckled.

“I am not!”

“Are too!”

“I just don’t like to be alone!” Kalli pouted.

“I should have guessed!” Hypatia said knowingly. “You all sleep in a heap at the temple.”

“How do you know that?” Xan asked her eyebrow raised.

“How do you?” her apprentice countered with the same look.

“Fair enough, my dear!”

“May I join you tonight?” Kalli asked flirting expertly.

Before she spoke, Xanthippe looked to her lover who nodded.

“You are most welcome but only for sleeping.”

“Oh you are no fun little Mistress! Here you have two beautiful women panting over you and you only think of sleep!”

“Wouldn’t be the first time!” Xan winked. “And I bet it won’t be the last!”

Kalli and Hypatia shared a look and spoke at the same time.

“Showoff!”

They sat around talking good-naturedly for a while until the conversation was interrupted by the growl of Kalli’s stomach. Hypatia opened the door and stopped one of the servants. Soon after they were supplied with food and drink. As they placed the food on the table Kalli began to bless the wine. It wasn’t until she finished that Xan realized what she had done.

“Kalli! Did you just bless all that wine?”

“Yes. There’s not much here it just…. oh this is rather fancy pottery, Hypatia. Where is it from?”

“Lesbos, my mother’s birth place. It is very thin so…”

“Oh, so the weight is…”

“All wine, yes!” Hypatia giggled.

“Oops! Well, there’s nothing for it we’ll have to try to drink it!”

“What a hardship!” Xan laughed and Kalli joined in but Hypatia chewed her lip.

“We can possibly drink all of it without becoming…” she paused and looked around before lowering her voice to barely a whisper “…drunken.”

Xan and Kalli look at her and then at each other and shared a laugh. Kalli began to pour the wine and began chatting without a second thought.

“I’m serious! We cannot get drunk in this house!”

“Why?”

“Because… well just because! It’s not done! It’s never been done!” Hypatia hissed still keeping her voice low. “It’s barbaric!”

“Are you telling me you’ve never been intoxicated!?” Xan smiled at her incredulously.

“No! I… what kind of a girl do you think I am!? Have either of you? I mean what would people say?”

“Well, as I am a whore…” Kalli laughed.

“And I am a run about thief….” Xan added with a smirk.

“We don’t really care what people think! Cheers!”

“Well, I do! Xanthippe, if Mother thinks you are a drunk there will be nothing I can say to stop her from going on the war path. Please!”

Xan stopped half way through downing her drink and frowned. She set it down and pulled Hypatia over to sit on her lap.

“Alright, my dear, alright! For you, anything!” she said as she sweetly nuzzled her neck.

“I can’t drink all this by myself!” Kalli pouted, sighed and walked over to the door. A servant followed her back into the room. “Here, take this down to your Mistress and tell her it is a gift of blessed wine from the temple of Aphrodite. Oh wait a minute! Top us off won’t you?”

Kalli watched it go almost longingly.

“What a waste of a good night!”

“You’re just put out because you always go wild in Athens and since we’re going back tomorrow you’ve missed your chance!” Xan teased.

“I would think you could do what you want where ever you are, Kalli.”

“Ha! You two have only ever been to temple for a short worship session. Believe me, being a Priestess is not all orgasms and flowers! Having Ambrosius as High Priestess is no festival. She’s quite strict. That one night I stayed at the Estate instead of going back to temple…”

She gave a little shudder and continued.

“I thought the roof would cave in she yelled so loud! If she ever finds out that…. oh well never mind!” Kalli stammered quickly popping a date into her mouth.

“Finds out what?” Hypatia smirked narrowing her eyes.

“Nothing! The dates are delicious I wonder if I could get the recipe?”

“Kalli?” Xan purred dominantly. “Please, tell me Ambro knows where you are.”

“Of course she does! She would have sent out a search party by now!”

“Then why so evasive?”

“Maybe because you two won’t mind your own business!” Kalli laughed and stuck out her tongue at them still looking for a way to redirect the conversation. “Besides, it’s not that big of a deal! I’m more educated in the matter than most of the older Priestesses and much more than the Priests so…”

Xanthippe groaned and placed her hand over her eyes.

“Kalli, you didn’t!” Hypatia gasped.

“I don’t know what you think I’ve done so I can’t answer that.”

“Stop playing games! Did you get permission to be a Temple Hetaera?”

Kalli looked away and turned slightly pink.

“No.”

“I thought you were being trained to be a Hetairistriai.” Xanthippe said incredulously.

“I am but…”

“How did you end up working tonight then?”

“I was sent to Athens to pay tribute and when I was coming out of the temple I kinda… thought I’d give it a whirl.” Kalli shrugged her blush deepening. “But it doesn’t matter because she’ll never find out about it will she?”

“But she will! Mother would have sent a message to the Temple in Athens and they will have sent one to Ambrosius and by the time we get back tomorrow…Oh, Kalli! You are in soooo much trouble!” Hypatia sniggered.

“Hypatia, that’s enough. You don’t have to rub it in.” Xan said quietly.

“I think Kalli will be the one doing the rubbing when she gets home!”

“Hypatia! She feels bad enough.”

“I’ll bet! I would if it were me!” Hypatia threw her head back and howled with laughter.

“Oh shut up, will you!” Kalli growled her eyes bright with tears.

“Oh come on it’s funny!”

“Alright, little apprentice…” Xanthippe said firmly as she lifted Hypatia off her lap into a standing position. “If it’s so funny, I’m sure you won’t mind giving us all a laugh.”

As she felt her Mistress begin to pull her over her strong thighs Hypatia locked her legs and struggled to avoid being up ended. Kalli had let out a gale of laughter at how quickly her expression had changed from goading to shocked.

“Okay! Okay! I get it! It’s not funny!” Hypatia squealed still struggling.

“No?” Xanthippe smirked.

“No, Mistress!”

“Are you going to stop teasing and do as your told the first time?”

“Yes, Mistress! I’m sorry!”

“Hmm, I don’t know.” Xan smiled impishly still half halfheartedly trying to pull her lover over her knee. “What do you think Kalli?”

“Hmmm…” Kalli giggled.

“Oh for heaven’s sake Kalli! I’m sorry!” Hypatia yelped half amused, half desperate.

“Alright! I accept.”

“You got lucky, little brat!” her Mistress purred as she released her but not before landing a firm swat. “Alright, you two we are going to bed.”

“Xanthippe, the sun has barely set!”

“Yes, but we shall be preparing to leave before it has barely risen. As neither of you are a joy to deal with when tired, we are going to sleep.”

“What!? I am expected to be up early as well?” Kalli moaned. “Listen, let’s just stay up a bit later and leave a bit later.”

Hypatia, who had already begun to lay bed mats on the floor chuckled and shook her head.

“What’s so funny now?”

“Best just give it up Kalli. That’s the “I will be heard and obeyed tone”. It won’t do any good to argue you should know.”

“She never had that tone when she was with me! You’ve given her a swelled head by doing as you’re told all the time.”

“Oh, I had this tone before you just never listened, Kalli.”

“Well what makes you think I’ll listen now, oh all powerful Xanthippe!” Kalli scoffed folding her arms petulantly.

Xanthippe turned away from making the bed and stood with her hands on her hips.

“Either you behave yourself and come to bed with us or you bed alone. You know what I expect of you, Kallikrates.” Xan said in smooth clipped tones.

Hypatia had already stretched out on her side and was watching their conversation with mild interest. Kalli continued to look sullen as Xan lay down beside her apprentice. After she had adjusted the blankets so they were covering the whole bed the Mistress folded back one side and fixed her friend with a look that was firm but not unkind.

“When you’re finished pouting, Kalli, blow out the lamp and come to bed.”

Sighing deeply, Kalli stomped over to the lamp, blew it out and thumped back towards them in the dark. Hypatia, head resting on her lovers chest, could see her outline in the soft glow of twilight as she flopped down beside them with a snort of frustration. The woman tossed and turned for a while before letting out a irritated, rather loud, growl.

“Kalli! Enough! I’m surprised at you!” Xan said sharply.

Silence and then a soft sigh.

“Sorry. I’ll be good, petal.”

“Petal!?” Hypatia giggled.

“Well, what do you call her?” Kalli laughed.

“Mistress.”

“That’s so kinky!”

“Mmm, isn’t it just?”

They were quiet for a while until Kalli began to fidget once more. Xan made a sound between a chuckle and a groan and lifted her free arm.

“Come here then.”

This had apparently been what Kalli had been waiting for as she immediately cuddled up to lay her head across from Hypatia’s place on Xan’s chest. Hypatia’s free hand was resting across her lovers strong hips and she felt Kalli hesitantly brush her fingertips across it. It was such a brief gesture but she knew it was a movement that asked permission. She took the woman’s hand in hers and squeezed it gently.

“This is really nice.” Kalli whispered and they could hear her smile in her voice.

“Mmhmm.” Xanthippe responded sleepily.

“I haven’t slept this way since I had two lovers when I was at school.” Hypatia grinned.

“Sounds like my kind of school! Where’d you go?”

“Lesbos.”

“Sappho’s?”

“Yeah. She’s my aunt.”

“Lucky girl!”

“Shhh.” Xanthippe muttered stirring slightly.

A few moments passed before Kalli whispered again.

“How long did you study there?”

“Only a few months. I was bored and oversexed. Besides, I missed riding too much.”

“I’d take being oversexed over riding any day!”

“I bet you would!”

The both began to giggle quietly. They had just resumed their whispered conversation when they both felt Xanthippe growl and pull them tight to her body with each arm.

“Ladies… go to sleep!”

They tutted in unison and fell silent while listening to Xan’s deep sigh of satisfaction.

“Hypatia, are you sure about this?”

“Trust me! I’ve done it a hundred times! Besides, we are doing business.”

“But, is it sporting?”

“Oh, you worry too much! Of course it is!” Hypatia laughed rolling her eyes and dragging Xan into the stables. “Come on!”

They were now standing in the large stables beside the track. Hypatia struck up a few conversations with the trainers and jockeys. At first, Xan was uncomfortable but talking about horses was her element and she relaxed as she examined the animals. Hypatia had discovered that a few of the owners were not pleased with their trainers. The noble woman flitted about finding out as much gossip as she could.

Eventually, she brought three nobles over to Xanthippe and they began to negotiate. By the time they left the stable they had three new contracts and were rather pleased with themselves. The chatted happily as they made there way over to the betting tables. After a quick scan of the standings and some deep discussion, Hypatia lay her bet across the board. Ignoring the subtle jibes about her choices she simply grinned and handed over a large amount of drachma.

When they arrived at the stadium, Xanthippe pulled Hypatia away from the nobles area and led her towards the lower classes. There, they met the fellows who had been saving a spot for them right up against the rails. The atmosphere here was loud and boisterous. Hypatia was used to the suppressed and stuffy people in the higher class seating but she began to enjoy the excitement. She remained stoic for the first race but by the third she was cheering just as loud as the rest.

“Can you believe it? We’ve won every bet so far!”

“Hush, my love.” Xanthippe said quickly, her eyes darting around.

“Why? We make a great team and with the amount we’ve won we could…”

“Hypatia, obey me and hush! I’ll explain later.”

“You’re being a spoil sport!” Hypatia said huffily as she turned back towards the race pouting furiously.

Xanthippe wrapped her arms around her waist from behind and quietly spoke into her neck.

“If you keep shouting about how much money we’ve won we are sure to be robbed on our way home. Do you understand now, little apprentice?”

Hypatia turned around and looked fearful at the thought.

“Oh! I didn’t… I mean are you sure? What will we do?”

“Shh, it’s alright! I’ll protect us. Watch the races and relax.” Xan smiled and gave her a peck on the cheek.

Hypatia tried to enjoy the rest of the afternoon but every win made her more nervous. She was afraid she had put them in danger and cursed herself for being so naive. When it was time to collect their winnings Xan noticed her lover was very tense. She gave her a squeeze and told her to go and collect her drachma. Hypatia’s heart beat fast as she took the four bags that were bulging with coins from the disgruntled looking clerk. She hurried back to her Mistress who was not looking at her but past her. Xan let out a laugh and waved to someone. The man approached smiling also.

“You old dog! How are you!” Xan grinned as she shook hands with then man.

“Not bad, still working. How about you?”

“I’ve gone straight. My lover and apprentice, Hypatia. Hypatia this is Ampelios.”

“Nice to meet you. Congratulations Xan. If you’ll excuse me, time is of the essence you know!” he smiled as he slunk back towards the table.

“Who was he?”

“A thief. We used to work together sometimes.”

“What!? So he was going to rob me?” Hypatia spluttered.

“Well… yes. He didn’t though because you were with me.” Xan shrugged.

“I’m going to go give him a piece of my mind!”

She started to march towards him but Xan held her back.

“Now now, no harm done! Besides we need to get home. Come along and say goodbye to the fellas.”

Tutting, Hypatia allowed herself to be diverted from her path and led over to the group. They spent a while chatting. So long in fact, that on the third round of goodbyes Xan looked up at the sun and cursed.

“Oh damn! We’re going to be late!”

“I don’t mind! Why don’t we just stay….” Hypatia began but upon catching Xan’s disapproving look she added. “Oh, well… yes we should be going.”

They hurried over to the stables and arranged to take one of the horses with them that evening. The others would follow in the morning. Xanthippe climbed up on to the animal and Hypatia made to get on behind her.

“No, I want you up here.” Xan smiled as she patted her lap.

“Tsk! I can ride in back just fine!”

“I know, I just want to hold you. Come on up you get!”

Hypatia relented to being lifted up to sit side saddle in her Mistress’ lap. They set out at a walk as Xan had to take care not to knock anyone over in the crowd. Once they reached the road she spurred the animal into a trot.

“Stop squirming!”

“I can’t! I’m sore from last night. I’m trying to get comfortable!” Hypatia giggled.

“Is that so? Poor apprentice! I’m afraid it can’t be helped we need to get back quickly.”

“Not this quickly! Go at a walk and we’ll be back in plenty of time. You’re just trying to tease me!”

“I am not!”

“You are too! Admit it! You are just as naughty as I am!”

Xanthippe tightened her hold on Hypatia and gave her a kiss on the cheek.

“Oh, you think so? Well, I’m not but I can be!” Xan laughed as she urged the horse into a canter.

Hypatia groaned as her discomfort increased with the speed of the animal. Xan laughed at the pout that was forming on her lover’s face and when they were half way back she slowed to a walk.

“That wasn’t funny!”

“It was too! Besides now we can walk back and protect your tender rear! I only think of you, my love!”

“Really? I thought you did it to have me squirm in your lap.” Hypatia purred in her ear. “I’m sure you found it exciting.Considering the state of your bosom, I don’t suspect you are cold, Mistress.”

Xan gave her a surprised look and then grinned.

“I can’t help it if Eros decides to cast his spell!”

“Hmmm, maybe I’ll have to send you on another hunt tonight?”

“That’s very sweet but no, my dear. We shall be staying the whole evening.”

Hypatia sighed dramatically and pouted the whole way back but did not argue. When they arrived they were hurried inside by an irritated Eudoxia. In record speed they groomed and dressed and just made it out front as the guests began to arrive.

Hypatia’s face began to hurt from holding the polite smile she donned to receive so many people. Xanthippe marveled at her ability to remember everyone’s names and how she always added something personal to her greetings. They were both becoming rather bored and had just put their heads close together to share a small conversation when they heard a melodic laugh that made them look round.

“Kalli! This is a surprise!” Hypatia beamed a genuine smile at her.

“Greetings to you both. I hope you are well.” she responded demurely.

Hypatia and Xan shared a slight glance at the tone Kalli had adopted. She seemed different. Her chiton was wrapped rather stiff and formal instead of seductive and free flowing as per usual. Hypatia noticed she was trying to convey something with her eyes but the expression was unclear to her. Xan however seemed to understand at once and, as a man walked up and escorted Kalli inside, Hypatia began to cotton on.

“Is she working tonight?” Hypatia whispered.

“Yes, I believe so. It would be best if we didn’t speak to her more than anyone else. She needs to focus.” Xan smirked and wiggled her eyebrows suggestively causing Hypatia to giggle.

They both jumped as Eudoxia swept down upon them interrupting their stifled laughter.

“Do you have any idea what it looks like when you hold whispered conversations and laugh while greeting guests!?”she hissed from behind them. “I expected a bit more decorum from you, young lady! What would your Mother say?”

Xanthippe blushed and stammered to answer. She had been under the impression that the scolding tone had been meant for Hypatia.

“I beg you pardon, Lady.”

The apprentice giggled at her Mistress’ flushed features and submissive tone but stopped quickly as Eudoxia addressed her.

“And you, child! You know better! We will discuss this later but for now, behave yourself! Honestly!”

“Yes, Mother! Sorry!” Hypatia said quickly as more guests approached and Eudoxia hurried to greet them.

Once more they shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. As soon as there was a lull in the procession Hypatia chanced another hushed conversation.

“Now look what you did!”

“Me!? You started it!” Xan hissed back.

“I did not! I just asked a question. You’re the one who was pulling faces and…”

“I just wanted to make sure you got my meaning!”

“Very subtle, Mistress! I think even the statue here caught your meaning!”

They both began the chuckle despite their best efforts to suppress it. As it often happens, they found the more they tried to be still the more funny it seemed. Hypatia let slip a snort of mirth and Xan had to turn away lest she burst out laughing. When she turned back the look they both received from Eudoxia put an end to their revelry.

Finally, everyone was present and the welcome party entered the andron. Hypatia began trying to slip out unnoticed early in the evening. The third time Xan spotted this behaviour she decided to put an end to it.

“Enough, my dear. Do as your told and stay put.” she purred quietly.

“Fine.” Hypatia sighed. “I suppose I’ll go talk with Kalli. I’ve been trying to get her on her own but she’s stuck like glue on that bore of a man.”

“I don’t think that’s the best idea. She seems to be having a hard time of it and you might say something to make her job even harder.”

“I will not! I’m smooth as silk!”

“Hmmmm.” Xan smiled as she made towards the food table.

She tried one of the spiced dates and upon finding it very tasty turned to speak to Hypatia only to realize she had not followed. Just as she was scanning the room for her wayward apprentice Eudoxia came over and began to orchestrate a conversation between Xan and a woman interested in starting a stable. Not wanting to be rude, Xanthippe began to chat and eventually became distracted in the woman’s ideas which she found quite interesting.

Meanwhile, Hypatia had taken her chance to try to strike up a conversation with Kalli. She was standing amongst a group of young men and women all roughly the same age. Hypatia grimaced inwardly as she realized that they were the young aristocratic sort. Still, she was sure she would have a much better time talking to Kalli and she entered into the circle seamlessly.

She tried to catch Kalli’s eye but her friend seemed determined to pay all her attention to the man she was with. The fellow was speaking to two other men and as Hypatia looked around at the women she realized they were all simply listening to them talk. She had seen it before, partners who were content to simply support their mates idea without ever adding any of their own opinions. She didn’t see anything wrong with it, she was just surprised to see Kalli behaving this way.

“Well, I suppose she’s different when she’s working.” Hypatia shrugged mentally. “Well, that’s not for me anyway.”

“I just think it would be easier that way. Why should we have to run all over Athens to pay tribute. I mean if they can all share the libation why not one temple?” Kalli’s date laughed pompously.

The women around Hypatia gasped at his audacity but looked rather impressed as though he were being brave in some way. Kalli, who previously had been listening with a glazed over expression, seemed to become more stiff at his words. The man continued.

“Personally, I think to much funding goes towards temples. There’s hundreds between here and Sparta and they won’t do us any good if the Spartan army comes calling. Better to put the money toward the war machine. Don’t you agree?”

“Too true!” Agreed the others all but Hypatia and Kalli.

Hypatia looked to her friend wide eyed as Kalli’s smile became more fixed and she nodded slightly. Shaking her head at Kalli, Hypatia spoke.

“I disagree wholeheartedly!”

“Oh, really?” the man smirked patronizingly.

“Indeed! Firstly, even a babe just off the breast knows the Gods don’t share anything well. The Earth would be a shambles if we tried to cram them all into one building. Secondly…”

“I guess you have a point there. At least, the lesser Gods could be consolidated…”

“Who decides which Gods are lesser? You? Ha! Best check your mortality, good fellow! It’s not for us to say!” Hypatia chuckled as she took a drink from a passing tray. “As I was saying, secondly…”

“Of course not. I assume the Assembly could…”

“Could what? As you put it funding is already wasted on temples. Now you expect them to waste time discussing things they have no place deciding?”

Kalli laughed quietly at Hypatia’s statement. Hypatia winked at her but the man shot her a dark look. He looked around apparently not at all pleased that the group was now agreeing with her just as much. Squaring his shoulders, he spoke again.

“Come now! Everyone pays tribute equally but we all know who are most powerful!

“Oh yeah? Which ones?”

“Well… Zeus, of course, and Poseidon, Hades, and Ares!”

“Boys club, is it?” Hypatia snorted derisively. “Can you believe this guy, ladies?”

The women all giggled demurely and seemed to be more on her side now. Kalli was beaming at her.

“Who would you pick then?” he spat.

“I? I would never be so vain. Besides, if we take money…” Hypatia began and as he made to interrupt her once more she held up her hand. “Now, now! I’ve heard you out! At least be sporting in debate!”

She returned his angry look with a sly smile. The other men were now looking at him with less admiration as it was bad form to speak over another in debate. He nodded curtly and fell silent.

“Very good. If we reduce funding to our cultural centres and re-route it into the war chest in order to fight Sparta then they have already won. I mean, isn’t that the difference between us? They revel in war and we in higher learning? Where would you all prefer to spend an afternoon, crushed against the bloody bosom of Ares’ battle field or enveloped in the folds pleasure Aphrodite has blessed us with?” Hypatia said with a suggestive look that caused all but one to laugh at her double entendre.

“You honestly think Aphrodite is more powerful than Ares!?” he asked incredulously.

“I never said that. I do know that I prefer making love more than fighting. Though, now that you mention it… love can stop a war but war cannot end love. Just look at all that business in Troy!”

Hypatia knew she had won it. Her opponent was too emotional to offer any real challenge and the group had reacted to her statements much more favourably. He, however, did not seem to think it was over. He struggled for some sort of argument but could not seem to come up with one. Hypatia waited patently but her smug look of mild interest seemed to push him over the edge.

“Well, Aphrodite, like most women, is only good for a fuck!” He muttered darkly.

Those closest to him heard and stepped away from him looking angry. Hypatia, however, continued to study him as though he were an interesting insect she had found under a rock.

“I’m afraid I will have to ask you to leave as you disgust me. Can you find the exit or shall I call a servant?” Hypatia said as simply as if she were discussing the weather.

The man shot her a fierce look and turned to leave but not before growling “Come!” at Kalli. As she made to follow him, Hypatia touched her arm gently.

“Don’t Kalli! Stay, please?”

“I’ll be right back. Don’t worry, sweet flower.” Kalli smiled as she squeezed Hypatia’s hands before squaring her shoulders and striding out of the andron.

Part 17: Still in Athens

Xanthippe awoke the next morning after trying to cuddle into Hypatia only to find she was not there. The Mistress sat up yawning as she looked around the room. After they had finished making love, they had quietly snuck back into the house as not to be discovered by the stable hands in the morning. Xan smiled remembering their night of passion as she dressed.

As she descended the stairs she wondered where her lover could be but she did not wonder for long. She could her Hypatia in the andron and she sounded quite angry. Xan made her way towards the door when someone called to her.

“Psst! I wouldn’t if I were you. Best just to leave them at it.”

Xan turned to see Timo giving her a knowing look.

“What?”

“When they spar off, it’s best not to interfere.”

“She is upset! I will go to her.” Xanthippe frowned at him as thought it was the only logical course of action.

“Well, I warned you!” he chuckled. “Actually, I think I want to see this!”

The scene Xanthippe walked in on was one of pure tension. Eudoxia was sitting stiffly her expression an unreadable mask. Hypatia on the other hand was standing pacing angrily as she ranted.

“You are the most egotistical, arrogant, self absorbed son of a….eep!”

Hypatia had stopped speaking as a familiar hand grasped her belt and pulled her around so she was face to face with an angry looking Mistress. The apprentice could not break eye contact she simply waited. Xanthippe spoke in a calm, firm tone that brooked no argument.

“You will not speak to anyone that way, especially your mother. Get yourself under control before I haul you upstairs and make it so you can’t sit down for a month!”

“I’m angry!” Hypatia responded her voice shaking with the effort to stay calm.

“I know you are! Deep breath and out. Good. Now tell me, what’s wrong?”

“She is pitching a fit because….”

Hypatia who had begun to calm herself tensed up immediately and made to turn to resume the arguement but Xan held her still.

“Eudoxia, I am speaking to your daughter right now. Please, be quiet. Thank you.”

Xanthippe spoke with determination but was still polite never taking her eyes off of Hypatia.

“Hypatia, what is wrong?”

Hypatia started to speak loudly and quickly. Her Mistress reached up and held her under the chin they she always did to ensure eye contact. Every time Hypatia began to yell or rage Xanthippe would give a gentle squeeze and her lover would relax slightly.

“She wants us to stay on and go to more dreadful events!”

“And?”

“And well she didn’t ask me! She never asks me! We have plans and the renovations but does any of that matter? Of course not!” Hypatia growled.

“Alright, my love, alright. I want you to stay calm.” Xanthippe said softly rubbing her back.

“Will you talk some sense into her Xanthippe?” Eudoxia sighed.

“Did you ask her nicely or did you just tell her to do it?”

“I simply informed her of her duties to her family!”

“Well, they are in conflict with her duty to herself so I suppose she will have to choose. I think you would have a better chance if you asked her properly.”

“Duty to you, you mean! To your estate, to your plans! It is not I who should be asking it is you, Xanthippe!”

“Very well, Eudoxia, I shall! Hypatia, what do you want to do?”

“I want to go to the temples, we promised we’d visit the fellows and we can’t miss the horse races. There is so much business to be done there. Then we really need to be getting home because…”

“Home? You are home!” Timo interjected.

“My home, Father. The home I am building for myself. Where people actually see me and not just noble daughter.”

“That is who you are!” Eudoxia snorted.

“That is who I have been molded to be and I don’t think I want to be that person anymore.”

Eudoxia looked as though she had just been slapped in the face. Her well refined mask slipped and her eyes flashed pain and anger. She glared at her daughter and then at Xanthippe.

“So you will let another mold you now? This woman, one who has only know you a short while, you’ll let her control you? You do all of the work and change who you are and for what? What is your station? To be considered her pet by a bunch of servants?”

“That’s not…”

“What will come of it? Where is your security? Tomorrow she could decide to take another lover and then what of you? This estate you have worked so hard to save from ruin is gone, she is gone, and you have losts your standing in the noble community? You should be building your own estate!”

“I am! I own forty five percent of the Estate! I have built business relationships and personal relationships. I have spent a large amount of money improving the property and I have projected an increase in profits that will triple my investment in three years! I am not her pet! I am her partner!” Hypatia spat venomously, as though she had been holding back.

Xanthippe was confused by her tone but she quickly understood the intent as soon as she saw the look her parents gave each other.
“How much have you invested?” Timo groaned.

“All of it! Everything except my holdings in your companies.”

“You are a fool! How could you do this without talking to us?” Eudoxia said with a pained expression as the ran her fingers through her hair. “How in Tartarus did we not know about it!? How did you make sure we weren’t notified by the accountant?”

“I saw him at Aphrodite’s temple screwing one of the priestesses and told him if he didn’t want his husband to find out he better keep his mouth shut.” Hypatia smiled darkly.

“You little wretch! I …”

“Do not speak to her that way!” Xanthippe said sharply glaring at Eudoxia. “Calm down and speak respectfully or not at all!”

Hypatia gave her lover’s hand a gentle squeeze as a thank you. Eudoxia returned Xan’s glare three fold but she did calm herself before speaking again.

“All right woman! Since all of this is your doing what have you to say? What do you make of this rift you have caused?”

“Have you finished, my dear?” Xan asked politely and Hypatia nodded.”Very well. What I see is two women who are both feeling threatened and worried. Hypatia does not want to continue on the path you have set for her. She wants her own choice now and she should have it. She is wildly intelligent and amazing at social situations. Her investments are her business. I assure you that Hypatia is the one who makes the financial decisions. She is so highly skilled at all matter of business we would be fools not to listen to her.”

“They won’t listen! They treat me like a child!” Hypatia snorted.

“You are their child. That the way it’s going to be so you might as well get used to it, Hypatia.”

The apprentice gave her a “who’s side are you on” sort of look.

“Oh come on! Charis still calls me “young one” and the only time Alcaeus calls me “Mistress” is when she is mad at me. They are always giving me advice and harping on about it when I don’t listen!” Xan laughed. “Everything we are is because of what they taught us you need to respect that, Hypatia. If that means we have to sit through boring parties then we shall. However, since we have done that and the fact we have other things to do should at least cause you to want to ask her instead of telling her, Eudoxia.”

“Oh for heaven sake! Hypatia will you please do as I have asked?” Eudoxia sighed exasperatedly.

“No, I have things to do. I’m sorry, Mother.”

Eudoxia took a deep breath and turned back to Xan.

“Now what? I suppose you’ll have to tell her as she only listens to you now.”

“I believe the answer would be the same for me. After all, if she won’t do it for you what chance do I have?”

“That’s not true, she listens to you more than anyone!” Timo pointed out “You have her wrapped around your finger!”

“I assure you, I have just as much control over her as she has over me, Father!” Hypatia snorted and Xan laughed and nodded.

“In fact, when Hypatia became our investor she flat out stated she would be in control of the finances because… how did you put it?”

“I don’t take losses lightly”

Eudoxia smiled at her daughter when she heard that and looked as though she was slightly more assured but she still had reservations.

“I still think you moved to fast on this… this well the whole thing, Hypatia! The romance, the money, the apprenticeship.” Eudoxia sighed as she took a seat.

“It’s my damned life!!!” Hypatia shouted and turned to leave.

Xanthippe pulled her back by her belt once more and had her sit down.

“That’s enough, Hypatia!” she said matter of factly as she sat beside her. “Stop stalling. She’s right we have moved fast and that worries them.”

“It’s none of their effing business!”

“Hmm, funny. That’s exactly what I said to Charis when she brought it up and she didn’t appreciate the response as it did nothing to calm her fears.”

“What!? Charis thought we were moving fast too?”

“She did and so she offered me advice.”

“And did you listen to her?” Eudoxia smirked.

“Uhh…not at first.” Xan blushed. “I was stubborn and wouldn’t listen to her until she made herself painfully clear I was going to hear her. Which I did but I still chose my own way.”

“I though Charis liked me?” Hypatia pouted.

“She does but she had the same fears your parents have. Well mostly, I mean she’s not worried I’ll listen to you and ignore her advice.”

“And why is that, Xanthippe?” Timo asked suspiciously.

Xan cleared her throat awkwardly and then shrugged at Hypatia.

“Because if I ever dared to ignore or insult my mother she would tan my hide, Timo.” Xan blushed with a wink to Hypatia who giggled.

Timo laughed and Eudoxia looked at Hypatia as though she wished to do the same as Charis.

“Trust me, you have much more influence over Hypatia than I. She reads everything you send her and even asks for time off of horsemanship lessons so she can do it all. Also, there is the fact that the last time you came for a visit I foolishly referred to your formality as being cold and the look she gave me was positively startling! Said she would never speak to me again if I ever said a word against you. Whew, and Alcaeus! Remember, my dear?”

“Oh, yes! I thought she would die of shock!”

“What did she say against us?” Timo laughed.

“Well, no you two just against nobles in general.” Hypatia shrugged. “I told her to shut her face as she didn’t have any idea what she was talking about.”

“Hmmm, and now you say the same things against our class.”

“I am not! I just want to be a little different. I mean, I can’t tell these people I’m an apprentice. They look down on me and you when I say it.”

“Who did?” Eudoxia said sharply.

“Oh, that timber merchant and his wife and the other one.. you know he does the olive groves. Anyway, I’ve just been lying and saying I’m still doing nothing with my life because an idol noble is better than one who works below her birthright, apparently.” Hypatia said sadly. “I didn’t want it to get around and damage our standing.”

“That bastard! His son is so stupid all he does is fell trees!” Timo grumbled.

“If they have a problem with what you are doing tell them to talk to me, darling.” Eudoxia said her eyes glinting with protective malice before she continued in a sharp tone “Don’t you ever change how you feel for other people, young lady!”

“Except for you of course!” Hypatia muttered but upon recieving three disapproving glares she gulped and continued. “Sorry! I won’t, Mother.”

There was a slightly awkward silence that followed. They were still angry at each other but the protectiveness of her parents and Hypatia respectful tone had calmed the room a bit.

“Well, how’d you and Charis resolve your issue?” Hypatia said eventually.

“Mmm, well she told me what she was worried about and then I told her how I felt and then…yeah that was it.” Xan shrugged.

“So what would make you two more comfortable with Hypatia’s choices? Hypatia what do you want from them?”

“I want them to listen to me and let me make my own choices!”

“You should have told us about the investments instead of sneaking around and only telling us because you needed a weapon! How do you expect us to think you’ve done this properly when you hide it from us!?” Eudoxia scolded.

Hypatia began to argue but Xan cut her off.

“She’s right, Hypatia. You know how I feel about power games and underhanded actions. I thought you had told them before you suggested it to us. In fact, you led me to believe there would be no issue with you doing this but now I see that is not the case. You have been obscuring the truth again, my dear. You and I will discuss the consequences of that later.” Xanthippe finished with a significant look at her apprentice who frowned slightly.

“Fine! What do you want to know?” Hypatia said sulkily.

Eudoxia and Timo shared a glance wherein they had a whole conversation with out ever speaking.

“Very well, you two!” Eudoxia began her tone formal. “We will listen but this is business, Hypatia. If you lose your temper we walk.”

“Same here!” Hypatia said calmly “I have the notes upstairs. Shall we begin?”

“I’ll get some supplies.” Eudoxia nodded as strode towards her office that was adjacent to the andron.

“I’ll order some refreshments.” Timo said as he too left the room.

“Be right back!”

“Oh, I’ll… wait here.” Xanthippe said softly to the empty room as she marveled at how quickly they had dispersed.

Soon, they had all returned and started their negotiations. Xanthippe had intended to be a part of it but she soon found she was in way over her head. They spoke so quickly and used terms she did not understand. This caused her to realize how Hypatia had used simple language when explaining her ideas at the estate. The other thing that struck her was how seamlessly Eudoxia and Timo worked together.

At one point, Eudoxia had stopped in the middle of her sentence to sip her tea and Timo instantly picked up where she left off. They moved through the negotiation as one intimidating force. Xanthippe was impressed and wished she could offer such support to Hypatia. Not that she seemed to need it. She answered their questions with ease and presented her plans determinedly. The Mistress simply tried to keep up.

“Massive increase in revenue is possible here.” Eudoxia said pointing at a list of rows and columns.

Hypatia shook her head and took the paper.

“Nope. Non-negotiable. It stays as is.”

“Why? It’s the best course of action. The workforce is doubled, the cost is half. It’s the right move.” Timo shrugged.

“Mistress?”

“Yes?”

“Tell them why it’s non-negotiable.” Hypatia said expectantly as she searched for another scroll.

Xan cleared her throat, blushing.

“Umm… may I see the notes? I’m slightly lost. You are all rather talented at a subject I obivously need more study in.” she grinned sheepishly.

“Tsk! Slaves. You should buy some slaves and you will be more prosperous. There are other dealers you won’t have to buy from Carpus. We could even sell you some of ours.” Eudoxia smiled.

“No!”

Xanthippe had answered sharply and glared at the woman. Eudoxia and Timo both stiffened and Hypatia nudged her under the table.

“Easy! They’ll walk.” Hypatia hissed to her.

“I apologise to you both. I will never keep slaves. Ever.”

“Ideologies are fine but this is business. It is better to prosper and then try to change it.” Timo said shaking his head.

“Don’t be stubborn.” Eudoxia laughed.”We can give you a good price on four decent slaves. Their Greek needs improving but as you speak their language they should transition quickly.”

They began to discuss the arrangements as though the matter was settled and Hypatia chewed her lip. Xan saw the hesitation in her eyes and how she seemed to be searching for the best way to address the situation. The Mistress cleared her throat and spoke in a relaxed yet formal tone.

“You have convinced me.” she began causing the pair to smile triumphantly. “I can see how owning a person would have it’s benefits. I will take two slaves and how much would it be for your daughter?”

“I beg your pardon!?”

“Your daughter. How much? What is her worth? To me she is invaluable. I love her, I teach her, I need her for my finances. I’ll teach her to speak Persian and I see no reason why you two should ever have contact with her again. After all, my opinon will be the only one that matters because, regardless of what she thinks and feels, she will be an object. Shall we strike a deal?” Xan smirked.

Hypatia was trying to stifle her laughter at the shocked expression on her parents faces. She had never seen them falter so much during negotiation. The apprentice gave her lover a look that clearly said “you must be out of your mind!” to which Xan grinned and winked at her.

“Oh very clever, Xanthippe!” Eudoxia smiled. “It’s not the same thing and you know it!”

“Why?”

“Because she is our child!” Timo blustered.

“We are all someone’s child.” Xan chuckled. “It is the same thing to me. Which is why I will never own slaves. But thank you for your offer.”

Eudoxia and Timo shared another silent conversation. When they had finished they both laughed and shrugged.

“Alright, it’s non-negotiable. That was a strong move that could have backfired and closed the table but you took the risk. Well done.” Eudoxia said with a sly look at Xan. “Perhaps you know more about business than you let on.”

“She is very good at reading people and conveying ideas. Once she studies up a bit she will be quite the force to be reckoned with.” Hypatia giggled. “Only, I’m not looking forward to teaching her as she fidgets and I have no way of correcting her.”

“I was the same way. Your mother made me write lines!” Timo laughed. “Remember Dox? You were such a strict teacher!”

“She used to make me do the same but I never thought she would do it to you, Father! I would run wild most of the time but not when you were teaching me!”

“Oh please! My tutors used to strike me across the shoulders with a switch if I even dared to slouch! Look I still have a scar on my hand from when I refused to stop using my left to write!”

“You were left handed, Mother?”

“Yes, before my shrew of a teacher took a lash to it so many times I could only use my right. So consider yourselves lucky to have me instead of her.” Eudoxia smirked.

“Oh my goodness! What a horrible thing to do! You’ve never told me that before!” Hypatia frowned.

“Mmm, well it’s not a time I like to remember. Indecently, it is why I have never struck you, my darling. It would make me feel like I was the same as them. However, I have noticed…” Eudoxia grinned as she gave Xan a small wink. “that you seem to benefit from a firm hand. I’ll admit I was very close to doing it myself before you became an apprentice.”

Hypatia blushed crimson while the other three shared a laugh that was not unkind. The apprentice pull a face at them and then giggled as well.

They returned to their negotiations but the tone was less formal. After going over every aspect of Hypatia’s plan they had finally gathered all of the information they needed.

“Excuse us, please? We will take time to discuss our findings and return shortly.”

Xanthippe watched them go into Eudoxia’s study. She leaned back in her chair casually and grinned at Hypatia.

“Whew! Well, I guess we just wait then?”

“Are you mad!? We need to talk strategy! Pay attention, please. Here we go!” Hypatia said firmly as she organized her papers.

Xan sat up and tried to follow along with Hypatia’s rapid explanations.

“We must be united. If we don’t present the same response we will have lost before we started. Don’t react to their response. No matter what they say we must react as though we had always expected them to say it. The first to show emotion is the first on the defensive. Maintain eye contact but don’t stare them down unless, of course, you’re laying the final line. Also….oh damn! They’re too fast!” Hypatia hissed as the door to the study opened. “Just follow me, alright?”

“Of course!” Xan answered her head spinning from how fast it was all moving.

Once everyone was seated Xan had thought they would start right away but the simply sat in silence. No one said anything, they sat casually as though this was completely normal. The Mistress wanted to say something but when she turned to Hypatia the woman shook her head ever so slightly. This went on for quite a while before Hypatia smirked and stood. She poured her mother some tea a sly look playing about her features.

“Thank you.” Eudoxia said automatically before rolling her eyes and laughing.

“Come on, Dox! That’s the oldest trick in the book!” Timo teased.

“I know! She obviously takes after me which is why she would use trickery to take the first point! Well done, darling.”

Xan had missed the joke and she looked to Hypatia questioningly.

“First to speak loses the advantage.” she shrugged. “What say you both?”

They shared a glance and the Eudoxia spoke.

“Your plan is solid. There is room for improvement but we think you have been wise to take it the way you have so far. You must have a personal accountant to review your choices. To continue without one is reckless and we will choose a proper one for you. Still, your Father and I feel you have moved too much into this venture too quickly and we have a way to fix that. Your response to what we have said so far?”

“Thank you. Your thoughts are important to me. You may provide a list of accountants and we will choose one from it. I think I am moving at a reasonable pace and so I see not need for you to fix anything. I will, however, listen to what you have to say out of respect or you.” Hypatia countered in a blend of professionalism and familiarity.

“Before we tell you our idea I wish to remind you and I want you to heed.” Eudoxia said firmly. “If you had come to us in the first place we would not be as uneasy as we are now. In fact, your deception has caused us to question other aspects of you life as well since we are no longer sure you will come to us for help if you need it. If you wish to restore our trust in you then you will take our advice and follow through with our next suggestion.”

“Oh shit!” Hypatia thought to herself. She had never faced this type of negotiation before. She tried desperately to think of the last time her Mother tried to teach it to her but remembered she had skipped out on that lesson to go riding. She looked at her mother to see a self satisfied smirk creeping across her face. Hypatia groaned inwardly as she realized Eudoxia remembered as well.

“One day, you will be sorry you did not learn this from me.” Hypatia echoed what her mother had said long ago. “I guess I’ll have to learn it now, Mother.”

“Indeed! I told you this would happen and now here we are!” Eudoxia laughed. “We have decided that to undo the haste in which you have invested that you father and I will take on half of your shares. You will be our representative on the estate and therefore the balance of power will stay the same.”

“I can’t agree to that. We don’t have all our members present.”

“It is our only offer.” Timo said simply.

“That changes nothing, Father. We simply cannot make a decision without a vote. We have come to an impasse. The only thing we can offer is when we return to the Estate we vote and send you the results.”

“Unacceptable. We will have no power to over rule.” Eudoxia sighed.

“You do not have that power now, Mother.” Hypatia said slyly.

Xanthippe had expected anger at those words but both parents chuckled.

“Damn! We’ve taught her too well!” Timo sighed. “We shall not budge, nor I suspect will you and so we are stuck! Xanthippe what do you think?”

“I…uh” Xan said with a sideways look at her lover. “I agree with Hypatia.”

“Hmm, you coached her before we came back. Another smart move, darling.” Eudoxia smiled. “Just tell us what you honestly think.”

Hypatia was shaking her head at her again but this time Xanthippe spoke.

“Honestly? I have no idea! I’ll admit it freely. My knowledge is based in horsemanship, basic haggling and…” Xan smiled at Hypatia before continuing. “Dealing with my bratty apprentice. The only thing I can offer to you is the fact that this woman could outsmart me any day. I hope that assuages your fears. So when I tell you I agree with her I am being truthful. She is my partner and I will listen to her above any other.”

Hypatia squeezed her hand under the table. They were all quiet for a while. Hypatia slammed her hand down on the table excitedly making them all jump.

“I’ve got it! We can’t give you shares but you need to retain power. My counter offer is I sign the ownership of my horse over to you both. Then you will have a hold over for when I won’t listen to your advice. It’s worked before.”

“Hmm, that’s not a bad idea.” Timo mused and Eudoxia nodded. “But still, it is just a horse and though you love the creature you may part with it. Also, you are the only one who stands to lose there. What about Xanthippe? We need hold there too.”

“Besides, I had hoped you would listen to our advice without the need for emotional blackmail.” Eudoxia said huffily.

Hypatia made to speak but Xanthippe stood up.

“I offer my vote. I will always vote in favour of Hypatia’s financial choices, only excluding slavery. She will consider your advice, I will make sure of it. Thus I see no need for you to take ownership of her horse.”

“Done!” Eudoxia and Timo said in unison and stood to shake her hand.

“Not done!” Hypatia yelped as she too rose. “You are trading your power over your Estate, Xanthippe. You can’t!”
Xan turned to her and smiled lovingly.

“Why not? You have offered your power to me, my dear. As have they by allowing you to be taught by me. I am only providing a balance. I too must give.”

“Oh! I… you… I love you!” Hypatia stammered as she kissed her sweetly.

“And I you!” Xanthippe blushed as they broke apart. “So it’s a deal?”

Hypatia nodded and they all shook on it.

“That was fun! We haven’t done that in ages!” Timo smiled.

“Oh, I know! I’ve missed it.” Eudoxia grinned as she signaled to a servant.

“What’s fun?” Xan asked the room.

“Negotiation, of course. It’s a grand game! We used to play it all the time.” Hypatia giggled at the puzzled look Xan was giving her.

“Oh yeah, loads of fun! I thought I was going to go cross eyed my head was spinning so much!”

Eudoxia dismissed the servant and fixed Xan with an amused look.

“Hmm, yes I suppose you prefer hide and seek, Xanthippe? At least, I assume that’s where you two where when you both left the party early.”

Both Xan and Hypatia blushed and looked at each other nervously.

“How did you know about that?” Hypatia groaned.

“Next time, don’t shack up so close to where the guests wait for their horses. You could almost be heard in the foyer!” Timo teased and then joined in his wife’s laughter at their reaction.

“Oh gods! Excuse me while I find a hole to crawl into, won’t you?” Xan joked, her face now crimson with embarrassment.

“So, considering you only went to half of the event and that it is past noon I have a request.” Eudoxia began.”Go to the temples today and then come back here for a meal with just the family. Then tomorrow you can go see your friends, go to the races and return here for another small event. It will only delay you one day.”

Hypatia let out a dramatic sigh as she threw her head back to stare at the sky, praying for patience. Xanthippe laughed and held her hand in hers.

“We would be delighted. Thank you.”

“Mistress! The first thing I said was we need to be united! We’ve just lost the game!” Hypatia said exasperatedly but still good natured.

Xanthippe looked around to see Eudoxia and Timo shaking hands looking triumphant. With a sheepish grin to Hypatia she shrugged.

“Ooops! Sorry, my dear.”

“Tsk! Well, it’s done now. I’ll just send a message to Charis so she doesn’t worry we’re late a day.”

“Oh, no need. I’ve just sent one.” Eudoxia grinned

“Of course you have.” Hypatia chuckled. “Why did I think I could win? I should have just given in, in the first place!”

“Never give in.” Xanthippe said softly earning herself a smile from Eudoxia before she spoke.

“Exactly! Besides if you hadn’t fought me on that then we would have never found out about the finances and we would not have fixed it. It seems the only way to get the truth from you was to draw it out!”

“I suspect that won’t be necessary in the future, Mother.” Hypatia said with a sheepish grin to Xanthippe.

“No, it most definitely will not, my dear.” Xan purred dominantly as she gently pushed an errant strand of hair back behind her lover’s ear. “I’m sure of that.”

******

Later that afternoon, Xanthippe and Hypatia were walking back down the road to the house. They had spent the day visiting different temples and making offerings. Hypatia was chattering on but Xan was quiet. Eventually, the apprentice noticed and asked her what she was thinking about.

“I guess, I am sort of distracted. I keep thinking about the negotiations this morning. I wish I could have been more helpful to you.”

“You were helpful!”

“Not really. I mean you did everything and I couldn’t even keep up. Also, I forgot everything you told me to do and I probably looked foolish and… well, I’m sorry.” Xan sighed.

“Mistress, do you remember the first day we rode out together?”

“When you flew through the air and then fell like a stone? Yes, reminds me of Icarus!”

“Very funny! I meant when we were talking about horsemanship. You told me I had plenty of knowledge I just didn’t know how to apply it yet. The same is true of you. You argued well and came up with the perfect solution. My parents are known for their plans but even they did not come up with one that could resolve the issue. Not only that, but you kept Mother and I from having a shouting match. Father still doesn’t know how to do that!” Hypatia chuckled “You are gifted with business sense. I see no reason why you should belittle yourself so much in future.”

Xanthippe looked at her when she heard the dominant tone to give her a disapproving glance when she noticed Hypatia was sporting a sly grin. Something stirred in her memory and the Mistress laughed as she realized she had said the same thing to Hypatia months ago.

“You’ve got me there, my love! Will you teach me when we get home?” Xan asked still giggling at Hypatia’s well timed sass.

“I can but you will have to take it seriously. I don’t have time to do my lessons, the finances, the expansions, and chase after you to focus. It is a tedious subject at times and there is a lot of reading. I will need to know you will pay attention and do the work. Can you do that, Mistress?”

Xanthippe sighed and rolled her eyes imitating Hypatia.

“Is it that hard to obey, Xanthippe?” Hypatia giggled.

“…..Yes!” Xan winked at her. “But I promise I will be a good student. After all, you are and you are a brat. It would be a shame if I could not show you I too can behave!”

“Good! Then I am excited to start! Oh, what shall I do if you are naughty? I could make you write lines!”

“You just try it and see what happens, little apprentice!” Xan smirked as she patted her lover’s bottom possessively.

“Hmmm, I suppose that won’t work.” Hypatia mused. She thought a while and then exclaimed, eyes flashing with mischief. “Oh, I know how to make sure you study!”

Xanthippe gave her a look that was half questioning, half warning. Hypatia could tell she seemed to think nothing could change her mind. Grinning broadly, the apprentice voiced her idea.

“If you shirk on your studies, I’ll tell your Mother on you!”

Xan’s calm exterior was interrupted by a look of shock and apprehension.

“You wouldn’t!”

“I would!”

“Tattletale!” Xan teased sticking out her tongue.

They continued to tease each other as they walked. Eventually, Hypatia said something Xan found too cheeky but took off before her Mistress could get a hold of her. Laughing, Xan chased her but she had trouble keeping up to the spry woman. When she finally caught her they were both out of breath from sprinting and laughing. They kissed and carried on down the road arm in arm.

That evening Xan and Hypatia entered the andron chatting casually. Eudoxia and Timo where already there and the food had all been assembled on a long table. Eudoxia cleared her throat loudly and the servants hurried to put the finishing touches on the feast. When they were done they all left, pulling a curtain across the door as they went.

“Ah, privacy!” Timo sighed as he slouched in his chair.

“Indeed!” Eudoxia smiled as she removed a few pins to let her hair down.

“I must say parents, if you would just relax a little then you could be yourselves around your servants all the time!” Hypatia laughed.

“I don’t know, Hypatia. Would they really be themselves then?” Xan pondered aloud. “I think the way in which we where our masks is part of who we are. Don’t you think?”

“I suppose that’s true. But if it’s a mask then who we are underneath would be the true self and the outer visage would be….”

“You kids and your philosophy! By the gods, Dox did we ever sound like that?”

“I don’t think so, Timo. We were more interested in pleasures of flesh, not the secrets of the mind.”

“Oh ick!” Hypatia joked. “Not before I eat please! Mistress, remember Charis and Alcaeus at the temple. I now see why you retreated so quickly!”

“Don’t remind me!”

“Since you are a servant now Hypatia, we figured you could serve.” Timo grinned teasingly.

“I am not!”

“You very much are, darling!” Eudoxia laughed.

“Mistress! Say something! Tell them I’m not!” Hypatia whined comically.

“We all must serve someone in some way and so all of us are servants at some point.” Xanthippe smiled wryly. “We shall both serve tonight, Hypatia.You may use my proper name, my love.”

“Which one?”

“The Greek one, brat!”

“You have two?”

Xanthippe discussed how she had come about her second name as she and Hypatia prepared the libation. No one was paying attention to what Hypatia was doing with the urn as they chatted. When they all stood to make the offering Xan saw her lover give her father the smallest of winks before handing the chalice to her mother.

“I offer this libation to Zeus and the Goddesses and Gods of Olympus.” Eudoxia recited elegantly before taking a deep drink.

Her eyes went wide and then narrowed as though against a strong wind. She swallowed and shuddered pulling a face. Timo and Hypatia both burst out laughing as the formality melted away to reveal a thoroughly disgusted woman.

“Hypatia! This is vile! What did you do to it?”

“Nothing, Mother!” Hypatia gasped between giggles.

“Come now! Timo, honestly, get a grip!” Eudoxia tutted at her husband who was red in the face from laughing. “It burns! I barely managed to swallow it. You must have done something.”

Xan took the urn and smelled the contents. Smirking and yet raising her eyebrow at the same time she explained.

“She is telling the truth, she did nothing to it. It is simply undiluted wine.”

Eudoxia gasped and fixed her daughter with a look that was half amusement, half disapproving.

“Young lady! Are you trying to make a barbarian out of me? I gave that as a tribute, now what will happen?”

“I don’t know perhaps Dionysus will show up and bless you by making sure your parties are no longer boring!”

Both Timo and Hypatia fell against each other positively roaring with laughter. Xanthippe had begun to chuckle as well but she quickly stifled as Eudoxia turned to her blushing slightly.

“Xanthippe, when you are taking my ill behaved daughter to task tonight, would kindly impress my displeasure at being fooled and ridiculed upon her backside for me?” Eudoxia said loud enough to be heard by Hypatia, who stopped laughing at once to stare open mouthed in surprise. “Oh, not so funny now is it, darling?”

“Mother! I’m in enough trouble without your help! It was just a joke!” Hypatia pouted.

Eudoxia’s only response was to join Timo in laughter. Xanthippe gave Hypatia a sly grin as she prepared the libation properly. Once they had all settled down they did the tribute properly. The apprentice was still slightly flushed from the previous comment and Xan could sense she was thinking of a way of causing more trouble.

“Oh my gods! I haven’t seen you look like that since I put Laconia oils in your tea when we were first wed, Dox!” Timo smiled mischievously.

“So it was your idea then?”

“No, I got it from Pamphilos the other day. He did it to me and I thought it might loosen you up a bit!”

“Who’s that?”

Xanthippe saw the small flicker of rebellion in her lover’s eye. She tried to give her a warning look but Hypatia was focused intently on her mother. Waiting until she the woman had taken a sip of wine the apprentice revealed the answer.

“He owns the brothel that we visited the other day.” Hypatia said with an impish grin.

Just before Xan closed her eyes and prayed for patience she saw Eudoxia choke on her drink slightly.

“What!? What brothel? What on Earth were you doing at such a place?” Eudoxia said incredulously.

“She’s just joking!” Timo scoffed before asking hesitantly. “You are joking, aren’t you?”

“No I…”

“No she is not. Hypatia, in her haste to cause you both to react, has revealed a rather delicate subject about my past.” Xanthippe sighed giving her apprentice a disappointed look. “The men there are my family. They took care of me and protected me when I had no one and I wanted her to meet them. They are good people and I assure you we went when they were closed. I’m sorry you found out this way but I never suspected…”

“That she would be a spoiled little terror!? Hypatia, we have taught you better than to…” Eudoxia began to scold her daughter.

As she went on Hypatia sunk lower in her chair and looked rather uncomfortable. Xanthippe was reminded very much of Charis and she grinned as she remembered something. Peeking out from around Eudoxia’s back, Xan pulled a face at, the thoroughly embarrassed, Hypatia causing her to let out a snort of laughter.

“Do you think it’s funny, Hypatia!?”

“No, Mother I…”

“It certainly looks like you do!”

Hypatia was still smirking as Xan was still making faces. Eudoxia turned around to say something to the horse woman and caught her making a rather grotesque face. Throwing her hands up in the air, Eudoxia returned to her seat looking unimpressed.

“Honestly, am I the only one who knows how to behave around here?”

“Oh come now, Doxi! Firstly, you did the same thing to me when I spoke in the assembly and secondly shall I bring up how we met?” Timo grinned.

“No you shall not!” Eudoxia said sharply but then smiled as she shrugged. “Well, I suppose you are right husband. I’ll leave them to deal with it on their own.”

“How did you meet?” Hypatia said eagerly, embarrassment forgotten.

“Never you mind!”

The apprentice tutted but decided to let it drop as her Mother’s tone seemed quite final. She rose to help Xan serve the first platter. When they were at the table Hypatia put a hand on her shoulder.

“I am very sorry, my love. That was foolish of me. I was not thinking and I hope I did not hurt you.” she said softly and earnestly.

“Thank you. It was rather uncomfortable but I don’t think any way we told them would have been easy. Next time, think before you speak, please.” Xan said with a mild swat to her lover’s behind. “Besides, I finally got you back for making faces at me when Charis scolds!”

They both giggled and brought the plates over to the dining table. The conversation returned to being light and comical. Xan found Timo’s tales to be very entertaining. Although, when he started telling one particular story, Hypatia groaned.

“So the little idiot though he was the best thing to hit Greece since Athena and he went around telling everyone he was going to marry Hypatia. She told him to get lost but he didn’t listen. I was going to intervene but Dox said the girl could handle it and boy did she!”

“Must you tell this story to every one? I wouldn’t be surprised if it becomes my legacy in life, Father!” Hypatia tutted.

“Don’t be silly, I haven’t told that many! Anyway, the boy wrote all this dreadful poetry about how women were delicate flowers and soft creatures and…”

Eudoxia picked up the story smoothly.

“How we are so perfect that we should simply bask in the attention of men.”

“And…” Hypatia added. “What was it? Oh yes, we could never do anything bold or brave as it wasn’t in our nature! The nerve!”

“So he’s reading this crap poem in front of a whole group of nobles and when he finishes Hypatia walks right up to him and starts telling him off! I thought she was going to loosen some of his teeth!”

“What did you do?” Xanthippe asked eagerly.

Hypatia rolled her eyes and motioned to her father.

“The darling child! She says, Oh yeah? You think I’m all soft and sweet? You obviously have no idea how strong women are!. Then she reaches under her chiton and pulls out her linen phulakia and threw them at him!” Timo roared wiping tears of mirth from his eyes.

“You didn’t!” Xan squealed with delight.

“She did!” Eudoxia laughed. “He went pale and flat out fainted! Apparently, he couldn’t handle a little blood.”

“What a baby!” Hypatia scoffed. “To think a grow man not being able to handle a woman’s courses! He left me alone after that. So did all the boys, actually, much to my relief! Honestly Father, you tell it too often! Besides, half the nobles in all of Greece saw it for themselves!”

“You didn’t complain when the word reached Aunt Sappho!” Eudoxia grinned. “She bought you your horse to show her support for your cheek!”

“She said it was because I was born blessed by Aphrodite and Artemis like her!”

“Sappho? As in Sappho of Lesbos?” Xan asked excitedly

“Ah, do you admire my dear sister, Xanthippe?” Eudoxia smiled slyly.

“I do. Her writing is amazing! I borrowed a scroll from my first lover and painstakingly copied it so I could have my own version. She had been a student at Sappho’s school and she…um… well she stole one of her scrolls before she left.”

“Oh, she probably didn’t steal it!” Timo snorted. “Sappho tends to give them out as tokens to her bedmates. I bet half the women in Greece have one now!”

“No way! She was only twenty when she left and Sappho must be much too old to… to…”

Xanthippe looked at Hypatia who was stepping on her foot rather firmly and shaking her head. Looking back to Eudoxia she saw the woman was giving her a slightly scathing look. Realizing her mistake, the horsewoman spoke quickly.

“Oh you misunderstand me. I just meant she would be far to sophisticated and worldly to be wooed by a twenty something country noble! I mean if she was capable of impressing Sappho, why would she want to chase me?” Xanthippe offered trying to sound truthful.

“I see, I thought you meant…. well, as she is my younger half-sister I just…. nevermind, shall we?” Eudoxia smiled as she stood to retrieve a small scroll from the other side of the room.

“Smooth recovery, young woman!” Timo whispered with a wink as Xan breathed a sigh of relief.

They enjoyed a pleasant evening in conversation. Xanthippe learned a great many things about Hypatia’s wild youth. It dawned on her how submissive her lover had been when she came to the estate considering she had previously seemed to do what ever she wanted. Eventually, it was time to retire and Hypatia went to the kitchens to tell the servants to come and tidy up. Xan took her chance to speak to the pair.

“I wanted to let you know I took your advice and made a large tribute to Aphrodite. It was accepted. I want to assure you that I love your daughter very much. Our relationship is based on trust, and though I do physically correct her, it is by her consent. I give you my word that I would never hurt her.”Xanthippe said respectfully.

“We know.” Timo smiled.

“Oh, I just wanted to be sure.”

“And we thank you for that. It must have been difficult to say. However, if Hypatia did not consent to you she would make that very clear. Forcefully, vociferously, and most likely, painfully clear to you.” Eudoxia smirked her voice brimming with pride.

Xanthippe smiled and gave a small bow of her head. Hypatia came back into the room and they all bid each other goodnight. As they climbed the stairs Hypatia was going between yawning and bubbly chatter.

When they reached their room, Xan noticed her apprentice was moving a little faster than usual when it came to preparing for bed. Hypatia unwrapped her chiton and folded it neatly before fixing the bedding. Smirking, the Mistress walked over to the small table that held the grooming supplies and began to look for what she would need. When she turned around Hypatia was climbing into bed.

“Oh no, naughty girl! If you think I have forgotten my promise you are very much mistaken. Come along.”

The apprentice groaned but stood and approached her lover pouting prettily.

“Tell me why you are in trouble tonight.”

“Um… because I was shouting at Mother?”

“Yes, and?”

“I didn’t think before I spoke about the brothel?”

“Mm-hm, what else?”

“I sort of….uh… obscured certain facts that maybe I should have given more detail on?” Hypatia said softly looking anywhere but up.

“You mean you lied, Hypatia. You obscured the truth from me and your parents. In fact, the only reason you told the truth today was to have the upper hand in an argument. How long would it have taken you to come clean if that had not happened or would you have done so at all?”

“Maybe?”

“Ah but you see, my love, that is something you should be sure of. I am about to make sure we are both very clear on the consequences of such behaviour.” Xan said sternly as she lifted Hypatia’s chin. “I told you I would punish you if I caught you sneaking around like this again, didn’t I?”

“Yes, Mistress. I really am sorry! I won’t do it again! Maybe, this time, we could just forget …”

“Are you attempting to wriggle out of your punishment right now, young lady?”

“I..uh… no I just thought…”

“The only wriggling you will be doing tonight is over my knee! Also, I have something here to make sure you don’t forget this lesson in future.”

Xanthippe picked up a small bottle of Laconia oil from the table and pulled out the stopper. She dipped her first two fingers in and coated them with a liberal amount of the liquid. Setting the bottle down, she then reached out with her free hand and laced her fingers through Hypatia’s hair at the base of her neck.

“You will not lie to me or to your family. Open up, little apprentice!”

Hypatia made to protest but as soon as she opened her mouth her Mistress had pressed her fingers inside. She was now, rather forcefully, coating every inch of the noble woman’s mouth with the foul tasting oil. As soon as she was released, Hypatia spluttered and coughed. Xan chuckled as she wiped her hands on a towel.

“Oh Mistress! That’s vile!” Hypatia wailed as she made towards the water jug.

She didn’t get far. Her Mistress seized her by the arm and led her towards the bed. Seconds later, Hypatia found herself draped across those strong thighs. Her bottom was bared with ease as she was only wearing her thin shift and she groaned as the first hard swat fell.

As her Mistress had predicted, the apprentice had begun to squirm from the start. The was no warm up and the pain was building rather quickly. Trying to take her punishment properly became more and more difficult as her Mistress kept up a forceful tempo on her hind quarters. The sting and the acrid taste in her mouth made for one sorry woman so that, by the time her lover stopped, she breathed a sigh of relief as she was lifted into a standing position. The relief was short lived, however, as she was led towards the corner.

“Please! I’ll be good!” Hypatia whined as she was placed with her nose touching where the walls met.

“You seem to listen best when you are over my knee or facing the corner, naughty girl! Now, listen. You only hurt yourself when you lie and you know this. You are a very honest woman but you have cast doubt down upon yourself and this is shameful. I do not want to have to worry that you are telling me the truth, ever.”

“I won’t do it again!”

“Ah, but how can I believe this? Before, I would have, but now?”

Those words struck deep with the noblewoman. She bowed her head as much as the wall would allow and felt rather sorry for herself. One of her most valued traits was her word and she realized she had sacrificed it for almost no reason at all. Tears pricked at her eyes and she let out a small sob.

Xan turned her around when she heard this. What she saw was a very guilty looking woman and her heart went out to her. Hypatia looked up at her eyes swimming with tears.

“Will you ever trust me again, Mistress?”

The horsewoman’s heart swelled with sympathy. She cooed and pulled her lover into an embrace.

“Oh, Hypatia, I trust you. You’ve just made a mistake and we’re going to address it. I’m going to make sure you think about the consequences before you make such a mistake again and then it will all be done with. Alright, come with me.”

Hypatia nodded sadly as she allowed herself to be led back toward the bed. Releasing her lover’s hand, Xan crossed the room to another table and picked up a solid wooden brush. When she returned she saw her apprentice was eying it nervously but was not resisting.

Xanthippe sat on the bed and patted her thigh. Hypatia immediately resumed her previous position sniffing slightly.

“Good girl. Are you ready?”

“Yes, Mistress.”

Xan rubbed the smooth surface of the brush against the beautiful bottom before her that was already blushing from the previous punishment. Her apprentice yelped as the first swat descended and Xan began a steady rhythm. She delivered five swats to the right side making sure to overlap and give enough time in between so the woman could feel each one. She then moved to the other side and repeated the process.

Hypatia, despite her efforts to remain still, had begun to drum her feet on the floor. The pain was stinging and deep both at the same time. Her yelps became more drawn out as her Mistress focused her attention on where she sat. Sure that her behind must be on fire the noblewoman began to struggle a little more forcefully.

“Settle down.”

“I can’t! It hurts!” Hypatia pouted with an petulant kick. “No, wait I didn’t mean….ow!”

Xanthippe had begun to spank her thighs. It hurt much more even though the force was almost half of what was used on her bottom. She squealed and tried to remove the sting by wiggling.

“Please!”

“Please what, Hypatia?”

“Not there, please! I’ll be still!”

“Tell me where then” Xan smirked as she continued to pepper her lover’s thighs with brisk smacks.

Hypatia groaned and fell silent. Eventually, when the heat in her thighs increased past the point of pride, she spoke.

“Ow! My bottom, please!”

“Gladly, my dear!”

Xanthippe delivered the last ten swats hard and fast. Hypatia arched her back but true to her word she did not try to avoid her punishment. When Xan stopped and threw the brush on the bed her lover relaxed over her knee, panting slightly. The Mistress made comforting noises as she rubbed the repentant woman’s back in wide circles. Eventually, she guided her up to stand in front of her.

“That wasn’t pleasant was it?”

“No, Mistress! That brush is wicked!” Hypatia pouted submissively.

“I know. I think we should bring it with us. I certainly does the trick!” Xan chuckled as she stood and wrapped her arms around her lover. “I think you have learned you lesson hmm?”

Hypatia nodded.

“And we won’t have to revisit this any time soon?”

“No we won’t, Mistress.”

“Good girl! I forgive you.” Xan said gently as she kissed her sweetly.

A second later, the Mistress’ eyes snapped open and she made a face.

“Oh! I forgot about the oil!”

“Lucky you!” Hypatia giggled.

Xan laughed and led Hypatia over to the water jug and let her rinse out her mouth. Hypatia felt a strong comforting feeling deep in her chest. Her tension that had hounded her recently was slipping away and she wondered why she had not noticed how much it had been affecting her until it was gone. She helped Xan undress in a fog.

“What are you thinking about so deeply, little apprentice?”

Her voice drifted through Hypatia’s thoughts rather slowly. When she finally realized her Mistress was talking to her she looked up biting her lip. The feeling in her chest intensified as she looked into those strong bronze eyes. She felt like her heart was about to burst but when she spoke her voice came out barely louder than a whisper.

“I’m sorry I lied!” She whimpered her voice cracking. “Thank you for…for caring. For taking care of me!”

Xanthippe held her close as stroked her hair. She could feel her lovers tears fall against her naked chest as she finally released her stress. Hypatia smiled as those strong hands caressed her bringing her so much comfort so shortly after they had caused her bottom a great deal of discomfort. The broke apart and Xanthippe lifted her shift over her head. She then cupped her face with both hands and kissed her before speaking.

“Thank you for letting me care for you, my love.” She said her eyes brimming with tears.

They climbed into bed and snuggled close under the covers. Xan began to rub some of the sting out of the well punished bottom. Hypatia yawned and felt herself begin to drift off smiling as she was massaged and doted upon. She rolled over and brought her face to rest against her lover’s bosom laying sweet kisses on the olive skin. They lay blissfully entwined, listening to each others heartbeats as they fell asleep.

Part 16: Athens

Author’s note: Posted early for Monica because she is awesome! 🙂

Hypatia groaned and stretched atop her horse. They had been riding for hours and the day was becoming hot a sticky. Xanthippe was also beginning to feel the heat since she had donned a chiton for the ride. They were finally on their way to Athens.

Everything had been sorted at the estate and the renovations would be finished by the time they returned. As they were only going to stay for a few days they did not bring much with them. Hypatia knew there would be plenty of clothing at her parent’s Athens house and so they only brought a few essentials.

“I’m looking forward to the festival! I never noticed how much I’ve missed worship until recently. I mean, I’ve only given to Aphrodite lately.” Hypatia said as they trotted along.

“I haven’t often been to temples. Did you worship Aphrodite often?”

Xanthippe’s tone was casual but it didn’t fool Hypatia. Raising an eyebrow at her Mistress, the apprentice tutted.

“If you wish to know about my sexual past you only need to ask me. Not here, of course. Tonight, we can share if you wish.”

“I’m sorry, my dear. I should know better by now then to try to be coy with you.” Xan laughed.

“Yes, well I am skilled at being coy.” Hypatia winked. “To answer your previous question, I used to go to many temples. When we are in Athens we should go and make tributes at all of them. It is unwise to favour one Goddess over the others of Olympus.”

“I guess.”

“No, really. They are just like people except much more dangerous. Jealousy is a real risk we run at not appeasing them all. It is wise to avoid their wrath.”

“That’s just ridiculous! Why would they care so much? I mean I know they are all powerful and to be respected but what’s the big deal if I give to one and not the other?” Xan scoffed as she lifted a low hanging branch over her head.

Just then, a bird flew down, obviously agitated by Xanthippe’s disruption of her tree and began to dive bomb the woman. Xanthippe ducked a weaved as the little creature did her best to fight off the invader. Hypatia was beside herself with laughter at the scene. Eventually they had to gallop away from the bird. The creature sat on a fence post twittering madly at them as they retreated.

“Now, what do you say about favouring one god over the other, Mistress?”

“What? That was just some mad bird!”

“Not any bird! It was a Cuckoo. That’s Goddess Hera’s bird and I think, it’s safe to say, she just sent you a strong message!” Hypatia said dissolving into giggles once more.

“Really? Yikes! I think you are right, my dear. I would not want her wrath upon me. She is as fierce as they come. I’ll give a libation to her tonight. I just hope it’s soon enough!.” Xanthippe gulped.

“We probably won’t be there until after the evening meal but they will be ready for us. Are you excited about the festival, Mistress?”

“Oh yes. It’s one of my favourites. I used to go every year. I prefer the Great Panathenaea to the Lesser. There is more to do.”

“Every year? Did Charis and Archippos take you?”

“No. I haven’t been since I moved to the estate. I was born in Athens.” Xan said casually.

Hypatia felt silent. She had just realized she had never really asked about Xanthippe’s childhood. The stories her Mistress offered were always about the estate and so Hypatia just assumed she had grown up there. The more she thought about it the more she came to see that all of Xanthippe’s stories took place after she was 15.

“Ummm… Mistress?”

“Yes?”

“Who were you before you came to the estate?” Hypatia asked hesitantly.

Xanthippe sighed. She had been avoiding this conversation. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to share with her lover, it was just that she had always tried to forget who she was.

“My love, that is a very long and difficult story. I don’t know if I am strong enough to tell it from start to finish. I don’t want to lie or keep things from you. It’s just… not a very happy tale.”

“Oh! Well you don’t have to I just wondered…”

“You misunderstand me. I want you to know I just don’t think I can tell you everything all at once. I intended to introduce you to my first little family when we were in Athens. Perhaps, I can tell you about it before we go to see them.” Xan smiled.

“How many families have you had?”

“Those who I was born to, those who helped me to survive, and then the estate. So three, so far.”

“So far? Are you looking for another?” Hypatia laughed.

“I think I may have found her.” Xanthippe grinned and Hypatia blushed.

“So I will be meeting your blood family?”

Xan’s joyful expression was replaced by a dark look.

“No. You will meet decent, loving people, not the scum I am born from.”

Hypatia cleared her throat awkwardly and did not press for more info. Xan gave her an apologetic look and seemed to be struggling for something to say. Hypatia decided to change the subject much to Xan’s comfort.

“Oh, I forgot to tell you and I suspect you won’t be happy about it but it can’t be helped. We most definitely will be in for the full grooming treatment tonight.”

“Oh no! Why?” Xanthippe groaned dramatically.

“Just the way it is, Mistress. You will have to get used to it!” Hypatia giggled.

“I will never get used to it. I despise being groomed!”

“My my, Mistress! Are you pouting? Tut tut!”

“Watch it, my dear.” Xan said warningly.

“Watch what? Your lip stick out like that or how you now sit slumped over as though you were sixteen again? What would Charis say?” Hypatia laughed brazenly.

Xanthippe pulled her horse right up along side her apprentice and laced her fingers through her hair. Hypatia was forced to halt her horse lest she be pulled backwards by the firm grip. Her Mistress leaned in and spoke gently into her ear.

“If I didn’t know better I would think you were trying to force my hand again.” Xanthippe growled, smiling at how Hypatia’s eyes widened at the thought. “Luckily for you, I know you are teasing your Mistress to take her mind off her troubles. Though it may endanger your backside, it is very sweet of you.”

Xanthippe began to kiss and nibble at Hypatia’s neck lovingly. Though she enjoyed the feeling very much, the apprentice could only think of how they were standing in the middle of the road necking.

“Well, I can see it did the trick! We should carry on, Mistress. We have to keep moving if we want to get there before dark.”
Xanthippe did not release her she simply turned her until they were face to face.

“When we arrive, you will be the one who grooms me and I you. I expect you to make that clear to your mother.” Xan said firmly as she unlaced her fingers and carried on at a walk.

“But… uh Mistress?” Hypatia stammered.

“Either you make it clear or I will. I think you would do it more diplomatically than I. Do I make myself clear, young lady?”

“Yes, Mistress.”

Hypatia’s parents lived just outside of Athens. Both women were tired as they traveled down the side road towards the house. Just before they rounded the bend, Hypatia sighed and flung her leg over so she was riding side saddle. Xan smirked at her and the apprentice stuck out her tongue.

Xanthippe admired the smooth white stucco and the wide open plain of the building. There were beautiful gardens all around and in the far fields there were rows of matching servants quarters. Their quarters were almost as big as the main house and seemed to be surrounded by vegetable gardens. As she took everything in Xan heard Hypatia let out a little snort of laughter.

There was a boy of about seven sleeping on a large rock beside the road. Xan gave Hypatia a puzzled look but she just shook her head and called to him gently. He stirred, yawned and looked up in surprise. He didn’t move he looked too embarrassed to think. Hypatia giggled and nodded toward the house. Quick as a flash the boy jumped up and ran as fast as he could down the road.

“What on Earth?” Xan laughed as she began to move forward.

“Oh, wait. Give him a minute to get through the gate.” Hypatia smiled and then explained. “He’s the one who announces the guests to give them time to come and greet us formally. If we wait for a moment they won’t know he was asleep. Mother doesn’t like to be rushed.”

When they rode into the courtyard, many people greeted them. As when Eudoxia had come to the estate, two men formed a step for Hypatia and she stepped down elegantly. This was also available to Xanthippe but she shook her head before they had clasped hands and they simply stood to the side as she dismounted. They walked over to where Eudoxia and Timo were waiting and made formal introductions.

They went inside to have tea and supper. Xanthippe admired the house but was more interested in the number of servants milling about. It was almost like a party. They were ushered into the andron. Hypatia was talking a mile a minute and, unlike the first time, Eudoxia was not reprimanding her. Hypatia made a joke and Timo laughed loudly, picked up his daughter and spinned her around.

“By the Gods I’ve missed you!”

“I’ve missed you too. I’m so glad we are staying here. It’s so much nicer than the in town house. More comfortable.”

“Timo, do you hear that? I can’t believe she likes this place more now? She used to despise being out of the city. Well, now you truly have a servant girl for a daughter.”

“What!? I never even looked at that woman! Oh, you mean Hypatia? Whew, thought I was in trouble for a minute!” Timo joked with a wink to Xan who had a hard time stifling her laughter.

To her surprise, both Hypatia and Eudoxia chuckled heartily at the joke. In fact, everything about how they behaved when together was calm and relaxed. Eudoxia was lounging on a settee, Hypatia sat on the end of it talking to Timo who was relaxing in a large chair. Xanthippe sat across from them happy just to listen to the familiar babble.

A short while later, a group of servants arrived with food and drink. One of the women placed a small table in front of Xanthippe and a platter of food upon it. The Mistress was listening to a story Timo was telling and she thanked the woman absentmindedly. The three nobles looked at her in surprise as did the servant.

“You speak Persian?” Timo asked

“Oh, did I? I didn’t notice but yes I do. Almost fluently.” Xan shrugged as she tucked in.

“Why?” Eudoxia asked suspiciously.

“Tsk. Mother!” Hypatia hissed. “Honestly, what’s wrong with speaking another language. You do.”

“I speak another dialect of Greek, thank you very much.”

“I speak Persian because when you are raised by slaves you tend to pick it up. Hypatia you must know some as well.”

“Not really. I never listened when they spoke it. When they spoke to me it was in Greek. They used to call me a nickname. Now what was it…”

Hypatia tried to remember as she popped a grape into her mouth. When she told Xan what they used to call her, the Mistress choked slightly on her drink. A smile crept over her features and she had a sparkle in her eye. All three looked at her inquiringly.

“Oh well, I can see why they would call you that. Not that I would. It’s a little harsh.” Xan smiled.

“What does it mean?”

“Spoiled little terror!”

“The nerve!” Timo scoffed.

Hypatia burst out laughing as did Eudoxia. He looked at them as though they were mad.

“Come now Timo, they have a point!” Eudoxia giggled. “She is a bit of a terror when she wants to be.”

“I beg your pardon! I used to be but not anymore. Isn’t that right Mistress?” Hypatia said with an air of humour but her eyes were slightly pleading.

“You are a treasure, my love.” Xanthippe said adoringly.

Hypatia beamed at her. Their conversation shifted to the renovations of the estate. Xanthippe could see how much her parents wealth of knowledge had shaped Hypatia’s abilities. The discussed the reading they had sent and when Eudoxia asked Xan about the etiquette scrolls the Mistress smirked slightly.

“I read through them and your daughter was a tireless teacher. It had been a while since I have been versed in the upper class rituals but I was surprised to find I still remember after being a trades person for so long.”

“Did you serve in a noble house when you were young?” Timo asked without judgement.

Xanthippe stiffened slightly and took a drink to avoid answering right away. She could feel Eudoxia’s eyes studying her intently. She was just about to answer when the woman answered for her.

“No, husband. She was born into it.”

“What line?” Hypatia asked casually.

“Hypatia, use your eyes before asking such a question.” Eudoxia chided gently. “She does not wish to discuss it and that is her right.”

“Of course, I’m sorry.”

“Thank you.” Xanthippe smiled at Eudoxia.

The subject was changed almost seamlessly and they all talked happily for a while. Eventually, Hypatia had begun to yawn more frequently and was growing less talkative.

“I think we should prepare for bed. You have been awake since before first light, little apprentice.”

“How on Earth have you managed to get her up before noon, Xanthippe?” Timo laughed.

“I’m fine. Really.” Hypatia said sitting up a little straighter but her eyes remained heavy. “Besides, we can sleep in tomorrow.”

“Mm-hm. What of the preparations for the party, and our grooming? Not to mention, the temples you want to visit.”

Xanthippe watched as a flicker of rebellion shifted across Hypatia’s face. It was subtle, brief and ended in a small smirk settling on her features. The Mistress had expected something like this. She figured her lover would need to test the waters now that they were on her home turf. Hypatia stood up and came over to sit on her lap lovingly.

“Our servants are fast. Grooming will be done quickly and the preparations have all been set.” Timo offered.

“Oh, we won’t need them. We groom each other.” Hypatia smiled as she ran her fingernails down Xan’s neck.

Although Xan knew her apprentice was testing her she was surprised to find that she was also testing her parents. Timo seemed slightly uncomfortable at the closeness she was displaying but Eudoxia was calm and calculating as ever. She and Xan shared a brief look. Hypatia, not quite getting the level of tension she was angling for, decided to escalate her actions.

“Unless you wish to go to bed for something other than sleep, Mistress?”

When she had spoke, Hypatia had not bothered to lower her voice. She had also applied a playful bite to Xan’s now clenched jaw line. Hypatia had succeeded in controlling the atmosphere but she did not expect what came next. Xanthippe quickly lifted her from her lap, looking immovably firm.

“That is enough, young lady! I have made it clear what I think of these little games. Apologise for your unacceptable behaviour immediately!” the Mistress said dominantly.

Hypatia blushed crimson and looked as her lover pleadingly. She was met with an impatient and warning arch of the eyebrow. Stammering an apology as she stared at the floor, Hypatia wished she had held back a bit.

“Good girl. Now go upstairs and get ready for bed. I will join you shortly.”

“Yes, Mistress. Goodnight Mother, Father.” Hypatia said softly as she hurried to obey.

“I’m sorry that the evening was cut short so suddenly but I find if I don’t correct her behaviour immediately then she will continue to act out until she becomes…”

“A spoiled little terror?” Eudoxia chuckled.

“I was going to say unhappy but I suppose when Hypatia is unhappy she tends to vent her frustrations on those around her.” Xanthippe winked.

“That is because she is just like her mother!” Timo teased earning himself a disapproving look from his wife.

“I should go to her. Which room is hers?”

“Second on the right.”

“And where am I to be staying?”

“Second on the right, of course.” Eudoxia chuckled

Timo gave his wife a subtle look that told Xan this was a new development. The Mistress looked to him and he shrugged and smiled.

“Thank you, for a lovely evening and for being so welcoming. Goodnight.” Xan said politely.

They bid her goodnight and waited until she had gone up the stairs to speak.

“You weren’t kidding, Dox! That woman has our child under a spell. I can’t believe she did what she was told!”

“Really? Why not? You were twice as wild as Hypatia and I tamed you!” Eudoxia smiled.

“You did not! I’m still half man, half beast!” Timo growled comically as he lifted her from the setee to hold her in his lap.
Eudoxia laughed and kissed him passionately.

“My minotaur!”

Meanwhile, Xanthippe had found their room and entered to find Hypatia sitting on the bed in her shift looking sullen. Chewing her lip, the apprentice looked up nervously and stood to help Xan undress. She sighed and made to speak a few times before falling silent with a frown etched upon her features.

“Why so sad, naughty girl?” Xan smiled as she wrapped her arms around her lovers waist.

“Because I was a brat and now you’re mad at me.” she pouted. “And I’m embarrassed that I got in trouble and sent to my room.”

“Poor apprentice! I’m not angry. I would like to hear what you thought you were doing.”

“I don’t know. I guess I’m tired and grumpy.”

Xanthippe kissed the top of her head and gave her bottom a firm squeeze.

“Are you trying to lie to me or are you just trying to wriggle out of having to explain yourself?”

Hypatia’s answer was to put her head on her lovers chest and squirm in her arms. Her Mistress laughed and held her close. She then led her over to the bed and pulled her down until she was sitting on her lap.

“Perhaps, you thought you would show off a little bit?” Xan purred into her neck as Hypatia shrugged and wiggled closer. “I think that was a yes. Maybe, you just needed to know if I would let you get away with being a brat now that we are in Athens?”

“Maybe” Hypatia whispered.

“Mm-hm. And what did you discover from your little test, my dear?”

“Umm… that you will chase me regardless of which city state we are in?”

Xanthippe chuckled and kissed her on the cheek.

“Mistress?”

“Mmm?”

Hypatia swallowed and forced herself to look into those strong brown eyes.

“I’m sorry. I’ll try not to do it again.”

“Good girl. I want you to know that no matter how many times you test my resolve, I’ll be there to show you when you cross the line because you are mine.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too. Now into bed before I change my mind about spanking your naughty bottom!”

“I wasn’t that bad!” Hypatia giggled as she crawled into bed.

“That is for me to decide, brat!” Xan smiled as she crawled in beside her and gave her a playful swat. “Mmmm. This bed is lovely! We should get one for our room.”

“Our room, Mistress?”

“I don’t sleep as well when you aren’t there. When we get back I want you with me.”

“Oh, well..” Hypatia yawned and snuggled closer. “it’s a good thing I ordered a larger bed for us before we left, then”

Her Mistress looked at her in surprise and laughed heartily as she pulled the blankets over them.

********
Xanthippe was bored. She had never really enjoyed large formal gatherings but she had always been able to find people to have an interesting conversation with. This party, however, was full of the type of people who were so focused on presenting a good image that they very rarely said anything of consequence. Hypatia seemed in her element as she flited from group to group. Occasionally, she would introduce Xan to another dull person and they would go through the motions of discussing business.

Despite her internal mood, Xan was pleasant and charming. Though, it felt endless she was pleased by how capable Hypatia was at securing new contracts. Once again, her lover went off to bring another potential client over while her Mistress finished a conversation with a man that was very dense. Xanthippe sighed as she was left alone for a moment. A servant came to refill her goblet and the horsewoman couldn’t help herself.

“I will give you everything I own if you will trade places with me.” Xan whispered in the other woman’s language.

“You’re on your own, Lady.” she breathed back trying hard to hide her smile.

The horsewoman was just about to say something else to her when the woman’s eyes widened in terror and she beat a hasty retreat. Xan looked over her shoulder to see Eudoxia and Hypatia leading a woman towards her. Her stomach clenched and her heart beat fast. She would like nothing more than to turn tail and follow the servant girl into the kitchen. Instead she held her ground taking a sip of her drink to try to relieve the sudden sensation of ashes in her mouth.

“Xanthippe, this is Carpus…” Eudoxia began but the woman cut her off.

“We have met before.” she said her voice conveying disgust. “I’m surprised to see such filth in your company, Eudoxia. I thought you had better taste.”

As soon as she spoke, Xanthippe felt her fear vanish. A cool, calm flood of anger replaced it.

“I surprised to find you alive Carpus.” Xanthippe said forcing herself to sound casual. “I had hoped.. I mean, I had heard you had died. What happened, did Hades send you back because you terrified the creatures of Tartarus too much?”

“It was my husband that died.”

“Lucky man. The pits of hell will be a welcome change after living with you.”

The two women smiled darkly looking as though they were about to tear each others eyes out.

“I shall take my leave now. Good evening, Ladies.” Carpus said to the other two women coldly before turning back to address Xan. “I would rather not spend time with a creature I should have killed when I had the chance.”

With that she turned and left. As she watched the woman go Xan felt powerful. All the times she imagined how awful it would be to face her again seemed foolish now. She smiled as she realized she had finally faced her and won. Her thoughts were interrupted as she realized Eudoxia and Hypatia were looking at her.

“What’s wrong? Didn’t you enjoy our little family reunion?”

Xanthippe had said it with a chuckle but she was soon having trouble stifling what was sure to be a bought of hysterical laughter. Eudoxia smirked at the reaction but Hypatia looked upset.

“Are you alright, Xanthippe?” the apprentice said softly.

Her Mistress nodded still trying to hold it together. Her eyes were now watering from her efforts.

“Why don’t you two go for a walk?” Eudoxia suggested with a shadow of a wink. “Go on Hypatia, your Mistress looks positively bored to tears.”

That did it. Xan let out a snort of laughter that caused a near by group to look their way. Hypatia lead the way to the back garden where her Mistress finally could act normally. The Mistress sat down on a stone bench holding her sides and giggling. When she had finally caught her breath she saw Hypatia still looked rather worried.

“Oh, come here, my love. Everything is alright!” she cooed putting her arm around her.

“It is not! That was horrible!” Hypatia said sadly. “Are you sure you are okay? Who is Carpus to you?”

Xanthippe sighed and pulled Hypatia to sit on her lap.

“She birthed me.”

“That was your mother!?”

“No, Charis is my mother. That thing just bore me.”

“Hmmph! Well, I don’t think it’s funny at all! How could she say such things to you?” Hypatia growled her anger growing fast..”Well, it doesn’t matter why! I’ll make sure she never sets foot here again! How can you be so calm about it? If I ever see her again I’m going to…”

“Relax, my dear. I don’t care what she thinks. Well, I thought I did. I was so frightened to see her again that I have avoided Athens for years but now… it just seems silly! I guess my memory of her was scarier than the real thing.” Xan shrugged.

“I can’t believe you came from someone so wretched! You are so sweet and loving. How long did you live with her? I mean if you want to tell me.”

“I never really did. I mean she was there but I was just another asset. Carpus is a slave trader. People are just things to her. I was raised by servants. When I was twelve I left for good.”

“Why?”

To Hypatia’s surprise Xanthippe smiled broadly.

“Because of Papak. He was a slave at the house. We used to spend so much time together, he and I. When I was twelve it had been decided that I would be sent away and eventually married off. I ran to him and begged him to help me. She caught us speaking Persian. Oh gods, it was awful. I thought she would beat him to death.” Xan shuddered and Hypatia grasped her hand tightly. “I took everything I owned and sold it. The next day, I went to her and begged her to sell him to me. She did but that she was finished with me. She saw me as no better than a slave but since she could not sell a citizen, she threw my papers at me and told us to get out.”

“That’s.. horrific! I’m so sorry!” Hypatia choked as tears threatened to fall.

“Don’t cry, my love! That was one of the happiest days of my life! We were finally free. Just me and Papak. We set out together and well… it all turned out fine.” Xan smiled as she brushed a tear from Hypatia’s cheek. “Better than fine. We both found families and love. I can’t wait for you to meet him. He is going to be so excited to see us!”

They sat in silence for a while both deep in thought. After a while Hypatia broke the silence.

“So that’s why you were so upset when I said I was your slave, Mistress?”

“Yes, my dear. I should have explained much sooner. I’m sorry. Do you want to go meet Papak and the fellas tomorrow?”

“I’d love to! Wait, what fellas?”

“Oh, you’ll see!” Xanthippe smiled impishly.

******

“Uh… Mistress? Are you sure this is the right way?” Hypatia asked for the third time.

“Yes! Goodness, I know where I’m going Hypatia! What’s wrong?”

“Nothing!”

Hypatia linked her arm and continued down the road. She had never been to this part of the city before and she was slightly nervous by how loud it was. Everyone was celebrating as the festival was in full swing but they were of a different sort than the noblewoman was used to. There was very little divide between the classes and she could hear many different languages spoken around her. Children and dogs ran about the place and when she saw a group of men drinking wine without diluting it she moved even closer to her Mistress.

“Relax, my love. We’re almost there and, though they are a boisterous bunch, they won’t hurt you.”

“It is barbaric to drink wine straight.” Hypatia scoffed.

“You should be watching one such as these, more closely.” Xan said as she caught hold of a young boy and held out her hand to him.

The boy put something into her out stretched palm, looking scared. Hypatia wore a puzzled look as Xan bent down to talk to him.

“What did you take it for?”

“Food.” he trembled.

Xanthippe sighed and opened her palm. Hypatia saw it was her purse and her hand flew to her belt. Her Mistress pulled a couple drachma from her own purse that hung around her neck and handed them to the boy.

“Next time don’t get caught, alright?” she smiled. “You may not escape with your life. Are you a fast runner?”

He beamed and nodded.

“That’s good. Remember if you get caught drop the money and run. They’d rather pick up the purse than catch the thief. Go on then!”

He ran off into the crowd. Hypatia turned to her Mistress with a raised eyebrow.

“You seem to know a lot about thieving, Mistress?”

“Hey, girl’s gotta eat!” Xan laughed.

“I never would have believed it! After all that talk about proper behaviour to find out you are a scofflaw!” Hypatia teased.

“That’s how I always know when you are up to no good, brat! Oh, just down here.”

Hypatia was about to make a quick retort when she noticed where Xan was leading her. She hesitated looking scandalized. Her Mistress chuckled and pulled her down the road and knocked on a door.

“Eff off we’re not open yet!” someone yelled from inside.

Xan laughed and replied with a rhythm of knocks. Hypatia gave her a questioning look but she only smiled and waited. Suddenly, the door was flung open. The man stood and stared for a moment before letting out a joyful yelp and flung his arms around Xan’s neck. He was speaking rapidly in Persian and Greek and Hypatia only caught a few words.

“Where have you…. your hair….. he’s here…. come in, my darling!”

They followed him inside. Hypatia was surprised to find that the dwelling, although plain on the outside, was quite beautifully adorned within. There were silk curtains for doors and intricate mosaics along the walls. Hypatia looked around feeling both interested and nervous. She jumped when the man loudly called up the stairs in Persian.

“Pamphilos! They are going to be sore at me for having them all woken up!” Xan giggled.

“They should be up by now anyway. We have a meeting before we open tonight. Hello, who’s this?” he smiled as he seemed to notice Hypatia for the first time.

“Forgive me! This is Hypatia. Hypatia this is Pamphilos. He took me in when I….”

Xanthippe suddenly stopped talking as she saw someone come down the stairs. Hypatia turned her attention to the new arrival to find one of the largest people she have ever seen. He was lean and muscular and so tall he had to duck to come through the door. When he saw Xanthippe he looked shocked as though he couldn’t believe his eyes. They hesitated for only a moment before embracing each other so tightly it looked as though they were afraid the other would slip away.
Hypatia felt awkward witnessing such a display. They were speaking in rapid whispers and both were teary eyed. When they finally broke apart Xan led him over to where Hypatia stood and introduced them.

“I have heard a lot about you.” Hypatia smiled.

“I wish I could say the same but since this little Tahmasp never comes to visit me…” he laughed as he began to rough house with Xan. “Isn’t that right? Where have you been? Huh, horse girl?”

“I write and…hey ow no fair… you know where I live too ya know!” Xan giggled trying her best to overpower him.

“You are so much stronger now! I don’t know if I can hold you off. Oh wait, of course I can!”

Papak pivoted slightly and put her in a hold. Xan tried to get free but it was no use since he was so large could hold both her wrists easily in one hand.

“Do you give in?” he laughed.

“Never give in!” she grinned back.

“Good, you remembered!”

Papak let her go and they continued to chat for a while. More men came down the stairs, and upon seeing Xan came over to hug her. Hypatia was introduced over and over. Pamphilos led them all into the andron where the chatter continued. Papak and Xanthippe were deep in conversation so Hypatia chatted with the other men. They were not shy people.

“So are you two in love or only making love? Is she good in bed? Are you?””

“We’re in love…”

“Why do you call her Mistress?”

“I’m also her apprentice and she told me to.” Hypatia blushed as they giggled.

“Oooh! Tahmasp takes after you Pamphilos!”

“How do you mean?”

“She lays with the help!”

“Help?” Hypatia scoffed.

“Hey, fellas lay off!” Xanthippe whined at them and they all laughed. “Come here, my love. Sit with me and I’ll protect you from their wild ways. You all be nice!”

Hypatia felt more at ease sitting on Xan’s lap but it did not stop the questions.

“Sooo, did she make you her apprentice because you lay with her or do you lay with her because you’re her apprentice?”

Hypatia sat up a little straighter and fixed the man who had asked with a sharp look.

“I lay with her because she a kind and wonderful person and I love her.”

The man let out a laugh and winked at Xan.

“This one’s a keeper, Tahmasp!”

Hypatia began to listen to how they were all talking to each other. Gentle teasing seemed to be a sign of affection. When someone would joke back the atmosphere grew happier and more jovial. Eventually, the apprentice had listened to them enough to try it for herself.

“How did you ever manage to get yourself a noblewoman?”

“She traded six horses for me!” Hypatia giggled.

“I did not!” Xan said incredulously to the teasing crowd.

“You did! Then you seduced me and now you have brought me to a brothel! Only the gods know what you will do to me next!”

Her Mistress blushed as the men chuckled and continued to rib her. She gave Hypatia a stern look but the apprentice simply giggled and kissed her. She was enjoying herself more and more. Everywhere Xan went she was on top but here she was very much a little sibling and Hypatia liked to see how she interacted with them.

“Oh come now Tahmasp let the girl talk! Is she this tough in bed too, Hypatia?”

“No she is gentle as a lamb unless I try to take control then she pounces like a lion. So naturally, I do that often!”

“Hypatia…” Xan growled warningly.

“You seem the sort that could run circles around anyone. You must keep her busy!”

“Indeed, but I let her catch me every once in a while otherwise she would lose interest in the hunt. That’s the best thing about being a noble, you learn to wrap people around you finger!”

As the group tittered at her statement, Hypatia felt her Mistress lace her fingers through her hair. Xan turned her until their eyes met and Hypatia saw the all to familiar look of disapproval.

“Little apprentice, you are testing your limits again and you are close to crossing a line. Behave.” her Mistress purred dominantly.

“Yes, Mistress.” Hypatia pouted submissively.

Xan smiled at her tone and then addressed the room.

“The rest of you behave as well! I don’t need you corrupting my sweet woman with your roguish ways!”

“You’re one to talk!” Papak laughed. “You used to be completely wild! Sneaking out all hours and getting in fights!”

“You stole so much even I was offended!” Pamphilos joked as he handed them each a glass of wine. “I bet you’ve lost your touch for thieving now that you’re a Lady.”

“You think so? Then how’d I get this?” Xan smirked as she held up a ring.

Pamphilos looked down at his hand in surprise, laughed and snatched the ring back from her. Hypatia giggled and took a drink. A second later she choked and barely managed to swallow the burning liquid. She tried to conceal her shudder at the taste but her Mistress noticed.

“Pamphilos, you old trickster, that wasn’t nice! She’s never had it before, let alone undiluted!”

“What is it?” Hypatia gasped her eyes watering.

“It’s a strong wine Egyptians developed that we’ve brewed. Here let me mix it for you.” Papak smiled as he took her glass and added water and honey to it.

Hypatia thanked him and hesitantly tasted it. This time she found it was quite nice. She turned to Xan to comment of the flavour but instead marveled at how her Mistress had taken the whole glass in one go. Hypatia raised a disapproving eyebrow at her.

“Don’t give me that look. That’s how you are supposed to drink it!” Xan grinned at her. “Honest! Papak, tell her!”

“Maybe it is how we drink it but you are of a different class now, Tahmasp.”

Xanthippe tutted and asked that her next drink be diluted with water.

“Why do you all call her Tahmasp? What does it mean?”

“Strong horse. I gave her that name a long time ago. Do you remember?” Papak asked Xan who smiled.

“I do. It was when I found out that the name you were called was not your own. First, I begged you to tell me your real name and then I asked for my own Persian name.”

“But Xanthippe is such a beautiful name. Why change it?”

“That’s what I said.” Papak smiled. “She told me that Greeks could rename Persians then it should work the other way as well. I thought, even though she was only seven at the time, that she was as strong as a horse, so that’s what I named her.”

They spent the rest of the afternoon chatting happily. Hypatia learned a lot about the person her lover used to be and thoroughly enjoyed the company of the raucous men. Around four, Xanthippe announced that they should be going.

“Oh why? It’s still early.” Hypatia pouted.

“It is time for them to get ready to open and we are expected for supper at your parents house, my dear. We will come back before we leave.”

They said their goodbyes and made their way back up the street arm in arm. The walk felt shorter than it had that morning and Hypatia’s mind was buzzing. Before, she saw the streets they walked through as crowded and potentially dangerous but now they seemed full of life and happiness. As they walked past a small restaurant the heavenly scent ensnared her senses.

“Oh, let’s sup here instead.” Hypatia said as she moved to enter to shop.

Xanthippe tutted and pulled her back on course. The Mistress intended to keep walking but Hypatia resisted by stopping dead.

“Come along.”

“Why? I would rather eat here. I’m sure there will be more boring people at the house tonight and that I will be expected to be the charming daughter as always.”

“All the more reason to go. We made a commitment to your parents, Hypatia. Now come along or we’ll be late.” Xan said firmly.

Hypatia sighed dramatically and allowed herself to be lead away from the lively atmosphere. She continued to see places she would much rather be and no matter how convincingly she pleaded to be sidetracked her Mistress would not allow it. The further they walked the more petulant Hypatia became. When her last effort to avoid their engagement was firmly denied the apprentice let out a growl of frustration and resigned herself to brooding silence.

Xanthippe decided to give her a chance to cool off before speaking to her about her resistance to going to supper. Even though her lover had not been out right rude or disobedient, Xan could sense an imminent tantrum. When Hypatia seemed only to be working herself up more the Mistress finally addressed the behaviour.

“All right, what’s wrong?”

“Nothing. Just forget it!” Hypatia snipped.

“I will give you one minute to get your attitude in check, young lady. I suggest you use it and then I will ask you again.” Xanthippe said sharply.

As they walked along Hypatia tried to rein in her mood but she was failing. It felt like only seconds before Xan asked her again even though they had almost walked the length of the side road.

“I’m sorry. I’m just tired and I don’t want to spend my evening with a bunch of bores. It’s all I’ve ever done and I was hoping I could convince you to sneak off somewhere with me.”

“I see. You are frustrated and that is fine. It is not alright to take your frustration out on others, however. Truth be told I find such events boring as well but it is important to business and to your parents so I am pleasant while I’m there.”

“You haven’t had to go to thousands of them!” Hypatia muttered sullenly.

“No I haven’t, Hypatia. I can’t imagine how you deal with it. Tell you what. If you are a good girl and suffer through supper, without the attitude…” Xan smirked as Hypatia rolled her eyes. “I will sneak off with you to some secluded place and reward your efforts.”

“Really, Mistress? Oh, thank you! Can we leave right after the meal? We should go for a swim or maybe a moonlit ride.” Hypatia bubbled.

“Hmm, perhaps.” Xan grinned at how quickly her apprentice’s mood had changed. ” This isn’t a promise. It all depends on your behaviour, remember?”

“Don’t worry, I will be good as gold!”

Xan wasn’t too sure about that last statement but she hoped her suspicions would not be confirmed. She smiled and gave Hypatia a firm kiss before she spoke.

“We’ll see.”

******

As it turned out, Hypatia was right. The supper was another dull affair and though her apprentice squirmed impatiently throughout the meal, she was pleasant. Xanthippe was having a conversation with Eudoxia and a insufferable merchant when a servant came and delivered a note to her. Eudoxia gave her a surprised look as it was odd anyone should know to send her a message there. Xan opened the note to see Hypatia’s neat handwriting.

“Come and find me, Mistress. If you are successful in you hunt I will yield to all of your desires. If you are not successful then you will go wanting. Good luck!”

“Excuse me won’t you?” Xan said politely. “Something important has come up.”

She left the party careful to avoid Eudoxia’s suspicious glance. She went up stairs to their room but Hypatia wasn’t there nor was she in the back garden. Xan smirked and went into the kitchen. There were many servants bustling around and one woman giving the orders. The horsewoman approached her and was about to speak when the woman smiled and handed her another note.

“Naughty Mistress! You are not supposed to ask for help! Find me by your own merits or go without.”

Xanthippe laughed out loud and shrugged. Just as she was about to leave the servant woman she had whispered to the night of the first party cleared her throat. Xan looked at her inquiringly. She did not speak she simply opened a jar and pulled out a handful of barley. With a wink she poured it back into the jar and then walked away.The Mistress turned around and went into the kitchen store room. It was dark and she lit a lamp so she could look around. On top of the sacks of barley she found another note.

“Servants are such gossips! You are close and yet so far. By now I have started without you. I suggest you hurry before I finish without you as well!”

Returning to the kitchen, she blew out the lamp and scratched her head. She knew the servants were watching her as she thought. Looking around for anyone who could give her another clue she received only sly looks.

“Spoiled little terror!” she chuckled in Persian causing a giggle to pass around the room.

“Psst, the Mistress is looking for you and her daughter. She’s coming this way! Go out the back.” another woman whispered and Xan beat a hasty retreat.

Xan stood in the moonlight trying to think of where her lover could be. At first she was a little disgruntled that Hypatia had left without her permission but she was finding this little game very enjoyable. She began toward the stables when something caught her eye. A glimmer of light shone from under the door of a small stone structure. It looked like a the feed shed they had at home. Xanthippe tried to open the door but found it was stuck fast. She knocked.

“Who is it?” Hypatia’s voice rang out with sultry tones.

“Your Huntress, open up!” Xan laughed.

“Which one? I’ve had many!”

“Hypatia open the door.”

The only response was a soft giggle and she tried the door again to find it was now open. She stepped inside to find Hypatia laying naked on a bed she had arranged using feed bags and blankets. Xanthippe secured the door behind her and approached her lover slowly. Once again Hypatia was reminded of a large cat stalking its’ prey and her breath quickened in excitement.

“It seems you have caught me again, Mistress.” she purred.

“I have and now you will yield to me.” her Mistress growled dominantly as she picked up a length of leather chord. “Give me your hands. I have no more patience for games tonight.”

So many sensations flooded Hypatia’s mind at those words. Excitement and hesitation, longing and apprehension but overall complete arousal. Her Mistress bound her hands together and lifted them above her head before tying the chord thorough the handle of the bin behind her. Hypatia tested her bonds and found they were very secure. Xanthippe smiled and began to run her hands along the woman’s beautiful form. She used her mouth to alternate between firm bites and soft kisses. She continued to tease this way until Hypatia was writhing and panting.

“Stop teasing and get on with it!” Hypatia growled impatiently. “Ow!”

Xanthippe had been kissing her upper thigh and as soon as she heard the commanding tone of voice she bit much harder than before. Hypatia watched as her Mistress ran her tongue over the spot she bitten. Xan looked up with a dominant glint in her eye.

“Do not tell me what to do, Hypatia.” she said in a low warning tone as she slowly mounted her lover. When they were face to face she continued. “You will submit to me. That is what I desire. Do you trust me?”

“Yes, Mistress.”

Hypatia had barely finished her sentence when Xanthippe slid her tongue into her mouth and began to kiss her passionately. Her Mistress’ hands began to massage her breasts and she could feel her nipples growing hard. Just as Hypatia began to feel short of breath, Xanthippe stopped kissing her and took her right breast in her mouth. She bit down gently and flicked her tongue hard before moving to the left and repeating the technique. Hypatia groaned and was just about to speak when Xanthippe returned to explore her mouth.

Her Mistress repeated this technique many times. Each time Hypatia began to plead with her she was silenced with her kiss. Xanthippe stopped to give her a chance to breath. She place a finger on her lips and gave her a meaningful look before she stood up. Hypatia was silent as she watched her shed her clothing and untie the cord from the handle. Her lover then allowed her to bring her arms down to rest on her stomach while she massaged the ache from her shoulders.

Hypatia sighed and smiled at how gentle she could be while still being so forceful. Xan gave her a soft kiss before grabbing her legs and pulling her down the bed slightly. Her Mistress mounted her again but this time she knelt over her face. Hypatia moaned her desire as she could smell her lovers scent as she pressed herself down on top of her.

The noblewoman had never had her mouth taken this way and she found it rather challenging to preform her usual technique. She soon realized, as Xan thrust against her forcefully, that she was only meant to offer herself fully. Hypatia allowed herself to revel in the feeling of her lovers sex pressed into her mouth and the power of her movements. Soon could hear her Mistress’ moans becoming louder and the way her body shuddered. Xanthippe growled as she came and Hypatia felt the sweet nectar flood her mouth. Her mind was spinning so much she barely felt Xan get up. Her lover slid her back up the bed and she smiled as once more her arms were lifted about her head and secured.

When Hypatia felt those strong hands part her thighs she grinned down at her Mistress longingly. Xanthippe put her thumbs on either side of Hypatia vulva and spread her. She slowly ran her tongue from just above her opening up to her clit with firm strokes. The Mistress focused her attention on the woman’s clit with soft writhing flicks as she reached down to coat her fingers with her own juices.

Hypatia gasped and looked down as she felt her Mistress enter her. Bronze eyes flashing with power Xanthippe gently but unyieldingly pushed until her first two fingers were fully inside of her lover. Her tongue never stopped moving as she withdrew and entered again. She could feel Hypatia’s body moving to her rhythm and the thought caused a new flood of sweet juices to burst forth. Wishing to enjoy the feeling for longer the Mistress sat up and focused purely on penetration.

Hypatia was using all her will power to stay still. Xanthippe was fucking her so expertly that though she longed to climax she could tell it would only happen when her Mistress allowed it. Her lover’s fingers moved in and out of her slowly. She loved that each time, Xanthippe pulled all the way out and entered her anew. The apprentice whimpered and tried to push herself down onto the strong hand only to be rewarded with a hard slap to her inner thigh. Pouting slightly she tried to catch Xan’s eye to try to entice her to give her release but she was focused on her task.

Xanthippe was waiting. Waiting for Hypatia to stop bucking and trying to wiggle around her fingers. She was waiting for submission but her lover was stubborn. Once again Hypatia tried to fuck herself on Xan’s hand and once again the Mistress corrected her. This time with a number of stinging swats on each thigh. She was impressed that her apprentice had kept quiet for so long but she would only give her pleasure when she accepted her place.

Xanthippe withdrew her hand and gather more of her own fluid. She noticed Hypatia had stopped writhing and pulling against her restraints. Her body was quivering and her breath was heavy but she lay still. As the Mistress circled her opening Hypatia moaned her pleasure but did not try to force more stimulation. Xan smiled and rewarded her immediately with long fast strokes. Hypatia voice began to reach it’s crescendo and the Mistress could feel her vagina begin to contract around her fingers.

“Not yet! Don’t you dare! You must ask me for release.”

Xan expected her to have trouble with submitting so fully. She was sure the Hypatia would scoff at the idea. She was wrong. Her lover’s eyes snapped open to gaze at her lovingly and with deep longing. Her hair was sticking to her face and her cheeks were flushed pink for exertion. Xanthippe had not stopped her thrusting but Hypatia seemed to be holding back from the edge of pleasure. The apprentice licked her lips and swallowed.

“Please, Mistress? Please allow me to come by your hand. I am yours. Please?”

“Good girl. You may.”

Xanthippe brought her mouth down upon her and continued thrusting. Hypatia had been so close before that it did not take much to bring her to orgasm. Her voice was usually high and melodic but this time it came as a deep growl of satisfaction. Xan delighted in the sound and feeling of her lover’s pleasure. She slowed her movements as Hypatia finished and gently pulled out.

The apprentice, who had been lost in a fog of endorphins, eyes closed, jumped when she felt Xan’s fingers touch her lips. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled up at her lover before feeling her fingers slide into her mouth. Hypatia sucked obediently savouring how their combined flavours danced across her pallet. With her free hand Xanthippe untied the cord and brought Hypatia’s arms down gently. Removing her other hand from her lover’s mouth earned her a soft pout and she chuckled as she picked her up and sat down with her in her lap. Xan released the woman’s wrists and examined them. She tutted when she saw that they were slightly chaffed. As she spoke she place tender kisses along the lines left by the chord.

“Poor woman! Your huntress should have been more gentle with you. Although, the bonds were not tight. I wonder how this happened?”

“I liked the feeling so I twisted and pulled, Mistress.” Hypatia whispered abashedly.

“Ah, I see. Well, I will have to find something softer to bind you with next time I catch you.” Xan laughed softly. “Did you enjoy being caught? I enjoyed your game very much, my dear.”

“Oh it was wonderful!” Hypatia sighed and looked up hesitantly. “It’s just… I love how dominant you are only.. um..”

Xan’s heart beat fast, worried that she had been too forceful.

“You could be more rough if you want to, Mistress” Hypatia blushed and, as she buried her face into her lover’s chest, she could feel her deep rumbling laugh.

“How deliciously naughty you are!” Xan purred with a small nip to her neck.”I could never be rough with you, my love. I can, however, be more forceful but we will have to have a talk first.”

“About what? I trust you.”

“Mm-hm but if I am to be more dominant then we must talk in order to protect your power and mine. So we shall have to discuss what we both want.”

“But I want you to do more tonight.” Hypatia pouted.

“No, Hypatia you will wait.”

“Please, we could just….”

“You have two options, my love. Keep pushing and I will spank you. Submit to me and I will give you pleasure. Which will it be?” Xanthippe simply stated one eyebrow arched in warning.

A sigh, a squirm and a pout were the only answer until Xan gave her lover’s bottom a squeeze prompting her to speak.

“I’ll be good, Mistress.” she sighed.

“Is it that hard to obey, Hypatia?” her Mistress chuckled.

“……Yes!”

Xanthippe smiled and kissed her deeply. Hypatia purred as she felt her lover’s strong hand enter her again. Her Mistress spoke in a lustful growl.

“Well, then I will just have to help you learn to love to submit to me because you will obey me, Hypatia.”

“Mmmm, yes Mistress!”

Part 15: In Need.

“Again.”

“You can’t be serious!”

“I am. If you had not been stalling all morning, we would be done by now. Again!”

A sigh, a groan, and a dramatic roll of the eyes was the only response.

“Keep it up and I’ll have to make you stand in the corner!”

Xanthippe narrowed her eyes, stood up slowly and approached Hypatia. The apprentice bit her lip, her smile barely contained.

“I beg your pardon, my dear?” Xanthippe said in that low warning tone that always made her lover squirm. “Do you think it is appropriate to say such things to me?”

“It was just a joke, Mistress! Besides, you’re such a naughty student! What am I supposed to do with you?” Hypatia giggled burying her face into the woman’s strong chest to avoid her eye. “Oh no! I didn’t mean it!”

Xanthippe had taken hold of Hypatia’s arm, spun her around and swatted her towards the corner of her room. Once she had made sure her apprentice had her nose in the corner she gave her bottom another few swats.

“You have been dancing on the line all morning and you have just crossed it, my dear. Perhaps a few minutes here will remind you who is in charge.”

“Well, this is a funny turn! I thought I was the teacher today!” Hypatia pouted.

“I am always the teacher. You just happen to be teaching me something. That is what this lesson is about, my dear. I want you to stay here, no fidgeting, until I tell you may come to me, understand?”

“Yes, Mistress. Can I ask that you at least read over the scroll while you wait? You should have finished them all ages ago!”

“My my, you are full of sass today! Right now, I suggest you focus on how close you are to getting a spanking and not how close I am to finishing reading. Now hush!” Xanthippe chuckled with a light slap to the prone backside.

Xanthippe returned to her seat and began to read a tedious scroll about proper party etiquette. After about five minutes, she noticed Hypatia had begun to squirm.

“Be still!” Xan said casually still reading.

“My nose itches!”

“Yes well, my palm itches! Which one would be more unpleasant for you?”

Hypatia tutted but settled down. Xanthippe smirked as she continued to read. It had been a while since Hypatia had been in trouble and Xan was starting to recognize the signs of impending mischief. Hypatia would become a combination of flirty and bratty. Often, when she acted this way, she would come very close to getting in trouble but back off as soon as Xan gave her a warning. The more warnings she got, the more subtle her teasing but it was still noticeable that she seemed to be playing a power game. Usually, Xanthippe would suspect Hypatia knew exactly what she was doing but this pattern seemed unbeknownst to the apprentice.

Xan’s suspicions were provided with more evidence later that day when she saw Hypatia and Elpis having a discussion in hushed whispers. When her apprentice saw her she quickly said goodbye to her friend and came over asking what their lesson would be, in a forced casual tone. The Mistress did not address the conversation wanting to give Hypatia the benefit of the doubt but also knowing, if there was trouble afoot, she would be sure to find out about it sooner or later.

They made their way over to the stable and led Hypatia’s horse to two small trees that stood close together. Xanthippe told her to tie him between the trees, one lead on either side of his halter. She then proceeded to run a sharpening stone over a pair of large clip pliers while explaining her actions.

“Today I’m going to show you how to maintain their hooves. Alcaeus did most of them but she left five so I could show you. So first…”

“Why don’t you just use a farrier?”

“That costs money. It’s best to learn to do it yourself that way you can always tend to a cracked or spilt hoof without having to wait. So…”

“What’s this?” Hypatia interrupted holding up a long piece of metal.

“It’s a rasp. That’s for later. First you have to…”

“What does it do?”

“Hypatia!” Xanthippe growled. “How am I supposed to teach you if you won’t pay attention?”

“Oh. I’m sorry. It must be frustrating to have to teach someone who won’t listen properly.” Hypatia said with a meaningful smirk and a cheeky wiggle of her eyebrows.

Xanthippe place her hands on her hips and scowled but as soon as she caught her meaning she relaxed and chuckled.

“Alright. Point taken, my dear. You listen to your lessons and I’ll listen to mine.”

Hypatia giggled and was quiet from then on. Xanthippe taught her how to clip the hoof even, taking care to follow the natural form of the foot. Hypatia was only half listening as Xanthippe switched from the clips to the small hooked knife. The way her Mistress held the animals foot between her legs caused her to have to lean forward. The apprentice couldn’t help but admire the woman’s firm thighs and bottom. She was so caught up remembering the last time they made love she didn’t notice Xan was speaking to her. When Xanthippe sighed and released the animal’s foot to stand up Hypatia realized she had been caught.

“What is this called?” Xan said holding up the clips.

“Ummm… pinch thingy?”

“And this?”

“A knife?”

“And the object I just asked you three times to pass to me?”

“Um… the rasp?” Hypatia smiled weakly.

“Lucky guess! Now, my dear…” Xanthippe said seriously as she looked around and picked up a small flexible branch. “Do you know what this is?”

“It’s a stick.” the apprentice snorted offended by the perceived insult on her intelligence.

“Wrong. It is a switch and, if you don’t stop acting up, I will use it to give you a licking you won’t soon forget!”

“Yes, Mistress!”

Xanthippe nodded at the submissive tone and placed the switch against the tree as a reminder. It seemed to work, since Hypatia was attentive for the rest of the afternoon. By the end of the lesson, she could identify all of the tools and describe the right method of tending the hooves. Xanthippe untied the last horse and told Hypatia to pick up the larger pieces of the leftover clippings. Her apprentice did so but she was not above grumbling about the futility of such a task.As they passed where the dogs were tied during working hours Xanthippe told Hypatia to toss the clippings to them.

“Why?”

“Because they love them! Watch.”

Hypatia threw the pile to the dogs and they instantly began to chew happily. Hypatia gave Xan a surprised look and the Mistress shrugged.

Xanthippe did not see Hypatia for the rest of the afternoon but she did hear about her. First, Alcaeus had come to tell her Hypatia had mouthed off about her horse being moved to a smaller stall.

“I told her that the pregnant mare need more space and she got all snotty about it. Then, when I went to reprimand her, she just stormed off in a huff.” Alcaeus tutted. “She’s been tense as a cat lately!”

“I know. I’ll talk to her about it.” Xanthippe sighed, shaking her head. “I think it’s all of the renovations.”

As Xan went to look for her lover, Charis had come to speak with her. As it turned out, she had caught Hypatia and Elpis talking behind the goat shed.

“I wouldn’t mind except Elpis hadn’t finished milking and now supper is going to be late. I gave them a bit of a talking to. Elpis was sorry but Hypatia nearly bit my head off. I don’t know where she is now. Is everything alright, young one?”

“Something is going on but I don’t know exactly what the issue is. She’s been on edge and she’s picking fights all over the place. I’ve warned her she is on the fast track to ending up over my knee but she doesn’t seem to heed.” Xan said scratching her head.

“Hmmm. When was the last time you punished her? Before she got the letter from her mother?” Charis said pensively.

“Yeah. Well, I put her in the corner this morning for being a brat but that’s about it.”

“How did she act after that? Was she calm or more agitated?”

“Calm but then when we did our lesson she was acting up again and I had to give her another warning.”

“And after your warning?”

“She settled down but obviously she’s at it again. Why all the questions, Charis?”

“That girl is a ball of stress. She’s probably nervous about the trip and all of the work she’s in charge of. Remember when she first came here? When Hypatia is nervous she acts out. When she thought things had changed between you two, she acted out. That’s what this is. She doesn’t have control of her emotions to the degree she usually does and so she is trying to find control elsewhere.”

At first, Xan scoffed but then she remembered something Hypatia had said recently.

“Finding order in chaos…hmmm maybe you are right.”

“Of course I am!” Charis laughed. “Find her, restore order, and for heaven’s sake don’t push her to talk. You can’t force that, just be there for her when she’s ready.”

“What am I meant to say if I don’t ask her what’s bothering her? I mean I can’t just punish her without a reason!” the Mistress said chewing her lip.

Charis laughed and gave her a small squeeze.

“Between, her smart mouthing everyone with authority and whatever her and Elpis are planning, I’m sure you will have more than enough reason to give her a smack or two!”

As per usual, Charis was right. If Xan didn’t know better, she would have though Hypatia was avoiding her since she could not find her. However, she did find where she had been by the number of riled people she had left in her wake. It seemed Hypatia had told off the builders, two stable hands and when Alcaeus had told her Xan was looking for her she had told her to mind her own business.

“Well, where is she now!?” Xan sighed.

“I don’t know. She rode off at a gallop fifteen minutes ago.” Alcaeus shrugged. “Why don’t you go after her?”

“No, I will wait for her to come to me.”

Xanthippe went about some business as she waited. She had expected Hypatia to come back shortly but as the sun set she began to worry. Her nervous energy caused her to abandon her studies and proceed to the courtyard to pace. People gave her a large birth for they could tell when she was agitated. When darkness had fallen, Xanthippe strode toward the stable absolutely fuming.

“Cyrus, my horse!” she barked and as the boy jumped and hurried to obey she spoke more gently to him. “There’s a good lad.”

She was just about to head out to find her wayward lover, when she heard hooves on cobblestones fast approaching. When she looked out into the courtyard she saw Hypatia dismount, hair wind swept, and a frown etched upon her features. Cyrus went out to greet her and Xan could hear them talking as they approached.

“Umm…Hypatia?”

“Whew! That was a wild ride! I tried to make it back before dark but oh well!” Hypatia laughed.

“Uhhh… Hypatia.”

“I was expecting to be the only one at the stable at this hour. Why are you still here?”

“I was…”

“They work you too hard! I’m surprised Xanthippe isn’t pacing about waiting for me to…oh! Good evening, Mistress.” Hypatia said softly as she spotted Xanthippe waiting beside her horse’s stall looking grim. She gulped and muttered to her young friend. “Thanks for the warning, Cyrus!”

“I tried!” he hissed back.

“I wouldn’t have made a difference. Cyrus, could you please put the horses away? I need to have a discussion with my apprentice and I’m afraid it cannot wait.” Xanthippe said as she took Hypatia firmly by the arm and marched her towards the house.

Hypatia’s stomach was filled with butterflies as she was led across the courtyard but as Xanthippe began to ascend the stairs they were quickly replaced by dread. On the landing, Hypatia resisted slightly only to be pulled in front of her Mistress and rewarded with a hard smack toward Xan’s room. She hurried forward, silently breathing a sigh of relief they had not gone into her own bedroom.

As soon as the door closed behind them, Hypatia made to speak but she didn’t get the chance. Her Mistress seized her once more, led her over to a chair, place her foot on it and lifted Hypatia over her knee. The apprentice only had a second to comprehend the new position before the first swat fell. Her whole body was balancing over Xan’s thigh and her Mistress had wrapped her arm around her waist to keep her from falling off. Her head and feet hung down towards the floor which forced her bottom into the perfect position. It all happened so fast that she didn’t find her voice until her bottom had been bared and her Mistress had begun to deliver a very through spanking.

“Ow, oh! I’m sorry! Mistress!” Hypatia panted through gritted teeth, a second later wishing she had kept quiet as Xanthippe began to scold.

“Oh you are going to be one sorry brat when I’m through with you! I don’t even know where to begin!” Xanthippe growled her arm keeping up a steady swing. “You were rude to everyone you came in contact with! With me, Alcaeus, Charis, the builders and hands, Alcaeus again! You’ve been sneaking around with your partner in crime. Don’t think I haven’t noticed and you will be telling me what that is about! But not just yet.”

Hypatia tried to squirm away from the deep sting in her behind but she had no where to go. In fact, the only thing her wiggling accomplished was to offer more of her thighs up to be punished. Her bottom was heating up fast and her pleas seemed only to make things worse. Soon, she had resigned herself to simply making non-verbal protests, not that she could have held them back if she wanted to. The spanking stopped for a minute and Hypatia hoped it was over. She peeked over her should to see Xanthippe shaking out her hand.

“Little apprentice, you are wearing my arm out! I see I need to build up more stamina if I am to take care of you.”

Her voice was firm but held a slight bit of humour. The apprentice initially took this as a good sign but she yelped as her punishment continued now with firm measured smacks.

“You have been almost impressively naughty today! I want you to think about every smart mouth, sassy, disrespectful thing you have said and know I will not tolerate such behaviour!”

“I know! I’m sorry. I won’t do it again!” Hypatia wailed.

“I’m sure you will do it again, my dear. You are human after all. I’m going to be here to correct you every time.”

Even though Hypatia was rather uncomfortable, those words made her feel safe and secure. The stress she had been carrying began to leave her as all her attention was focused on her behind. Once more, Xanthippe stopped and lifted Hypatia up to face her. Her apprentice tried to speak but Xan held up her hand, silencing the stammered apology.

“What have you and Elpis been up to? I want the truth and I want it now!”

“I don’t want to…”

“Is it something private conversation between friends or is it mischief?” Xan said dominantly holding Hypatia’s chin up so she was forced to face her.

“Ummm…both?”

“Is it something you had to carefully plan out so you wouldn’t be caught at it?”

“Maybe?”

“Tell me.”

“Please, I don’t want her to get into tro… noooo!”

At her lover’s response, Xanthippe had growled and turned her back over her knee. After about twenty hard smacks she returned Hypatia to a standing position.

“I am not playing around, Hypatia! I want to know right now!”

Pouting furiously, Hypatia only tried to flirt her way out for a second. As soon as she started, the thunderous look she was given put an end to her evasive plans.

“I told her that she could use my room to lay with Kalli tonight, since she got in trouble last time.” Hypatia whispered.

“Is that all?”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“And you felt, instead of coming to me and telling me this, you two would hatch some silly plan? I have no issue with them using your room, in fact, that is very kind of you to offer!”

Hypatia looked up wearing a shocked expression.

“But… but Elpis was in trouble last time and you were mad at Kalli and…”

“Because they woke up the whole estate and caused me to leave my warm love nest in the middle of the night. Not because they were making love!” Xan chuckled. “Besides, if you two thought for a minute Kalli is the type of woman to sneak around, you are mistaken. She will walk into this house like she owns the place and welcome as many lover’s as she desires. Such is Kallikrates.”

“Oh. Well, we didn’t think of that. So, you’re not mad about our plan?”

“On the contrary, I am rather concerned that a woman who is as honest as you cannot see when she is lying.”

“I didn’t lie!” Hypatia hissed angrily.

“Sneaking around is wrong in it’s own right. Deliberately manipulating events to hide something is the same as lying, my dear. If you obscure the truth then you are lying. Whether through your words or your actions, it is lying.” Xanthippe said firmly.

Hypatia opened and closed her mouth a few times. Xan knew she was struggling with the concept and gave her time to grasp it fully. The apprentice looked up her eyes wet with tears.

“I’m sorry!”

Xanthippe pulled her into a hug and stroked her hair. She knew that Hypatia’s fierce sense of honour and truth would provide enough of a lesson for her and so she did not feel she need to press the issue further.

“I know, it’s alright. Now that you know, I don’t want to catch you at it again.” Xan said softly and Hypatia nodded. “There is one other thing we need to discuss, my dear.”

“I went out and no one knew where I was and I didn’t come back until late.” Hypatia murmured sadly.

“Mm-hm. I’m glad you know and that you admitted it. Good girl.”

“I don’t know why I did that. I just went for a bath. I could have told Alcaeus and…oh she must be pissed with me. We were just starting to get along too.”

Xanthippe felt her resolve weaken slightly as she felt her lover’s tears begin to fall.

“I’m sure Alcaeus understands people have bad days. She is often in a mood herself, after all. Maybe you stayed out so late to see if I would wait for you or come find you?”

“That makes me sound pathetic!” Hypatia wailed.

Xanthippe turned her around, delivered a very hard smack, and pulled her into a tight hug.

“I don’t ever want to hear to talk about yourself like that again, young lady!” she whispered with all the softness of a lover. “You are wonderful.”

“Thank you.”

They held each other for a while. Xanthippe was thinking about what her next move should be when Hypatia spoke.

“Are you going to use the strap, Mistress?”

It was said quietly, guiltily and almost pleadingly. Xanthippe realized her apprentice was still in need but she wanted to be sure.

“No, my dear.”

“Oh.” came the disappointed response.

“I’m going to do what I promised would happen to you if you misbehaved again today. I’m going to switch you.”

Hypatia gasped slightly and looked up in surprise.

“Did you think I had forgotten? Perhaps, you did not think I was serious? Well, I do not make empty threats, little apprentice. Pass it to me and lay down on the bed.” Xanthippe purred dominantly.

When Hypatia turned around she saw it laying there and wondered why she had not noticed it before. She picked it up and handed it to her Mistress before putting herself in position. She bunched the blankets up and held them tightly, breathing in the familiar scent of her lover. Xanthippe swished the implement through the air a few times to feel how it moved. Hypatia looked at her just in time to see Xan test it on her thigh. A thin red line appeared on the olive skin just beneath the Mistress’ skirt. The horsewoman bent down and spoke softly into her lover’s ear.

“You scared me this evening, Hypatia. I was worried something had happened to you when you didn’t come back. I want you to know, if you need me to discipline you, you only have to ask and I will help you relieve your stress. Alright?”

“Really?”

“Of course, my love.”

“Thank you, Mistress.” Hypatia said choking back a sob.

Xan kissed her gently and then stood. She lay the switch across Hypatia’s bottom, waited for her to relax, took aim and brought it down with a snap. Her apprentice reacted to the sound first but, as she felt the pain blossom, she lifted herself up on her elbows and looked at Xan in shock. Smirking, the Mistress indicated she should lay back down and she did, pouting deeply.

Xanthippe lay another two in quick succession and once more Hypatia made to rise but quickly flopped back down. Xan, taking pity on the woman, placed her hand on her back and used the switch to lightly deliver a series of stinging licks. By the time she was through, her apprentice’s bottom was red with a few lines from the harder swats. Xanthippe ran her hand over it to feel for any welts, relieved to find very few.

“Up you get, my love.” she said gently before placing the bedding on the floor. “Come to me, my good girl.”

Hypatia cuddled into her at once. Xanthippe spoke to her comfortingly, holding her close and stroking her hair. When she felt her apprentice quiver slightly, she looked down to see she was crying softly.

“If there is anything you want to talk about, I’m listening, my dear.”

Hypatia gave a small sob and everything that had been worrying her tumbled out. She spoke of her fears about the festival in Athens and the stresses of the renovations. Xanthippe said very little, she mostly listened. When Hypatia had talked herself out, the Mistress kissed her forehead and sighed.

“Well, that all sounds very stressful. No wonder you have been tense lately. Poor little apprentice! Do you feel better now?”

“Mm-hm.” Hypatia yawned. “Thanks for listening to me carry on.”

“My pleasure. I will always listen if you wish it and I hope I can ask the same of you.”

“Of course! I can listen now if you want.”

Hypatia sat up a little trying to shake the sleep from her mind. Xanthippe laughed and patted her bottom.

“I’m good tonight. Come on, it’s time for bed. Help me with my bindings?”

Hypatia yawned again and began to unwrap the cloth when she stopped suddenly. Xan turned to see she had a mischievous glint in her eye.

“I hope you’re not thinking of causing more trouble…”

“Shh! Listen!”

Xanthippe listened, frowning slightly. As soon as she heard it, she laughed.

“Oh well, that’s the other thing about Kalli. She’s a moaner!”

“Maybe we should give them a bit of competition, Mistress?” Hypatia giggled suggestively.

“Into bed, brat!”

“Please? Just a little, Mistress? It’s so early yet!”

Xanthippe tutted and undressed her pouting lover. The Mistress spooned her, enjoying the warmth of her freshly spanked bottom against her.

“If you’re good, perhaps I will help you start your day in a most pleasurable way.”

“Mmmmm.” Hypatia smiled as she had already started to fall asleep.

Author’s Note: To love in whatever form it takes. Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! May your orgasms be plentiful and numerous! 😉 ❤