The Cell

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Aemilia looked up at the new girl as the guards threw her face first into the cell. With a yelp, she landed rather ungracefully on the stone floor. The guards slammed the door behind her and chuckled to themselves as they walked back down the long corridor.

“Are you ok?” Aemilia asked, rising from the bed to help the girl up. She let out a muffled sob – streaks of black ran down her face as her wet eyes ruined her makeup.

The girl shook her head.

“Come here,” Aemilia said, and she pulled the girl onto a bed and wrapped her arms around her.

It took several hours for the girl to speak, but when she finally did, Aemilia realised why she was so upset. The girl’s name was Julia. She was the daughter of a minor noble, the kind that spent their days reading in the shade outside their modest manor houses. The inside of a cell seemed quite a fall for one such as her.

“What did you do to get in here?” Aemilia asked.

Julia shook her head. “I don’t want to talk about it,” she said quietly.

Aemilia raised an eyebrow. Even as she withdrew into herself, Aemilia had to admit, Julia had a noble beauty to her. Light brown, shoulder-length, hair curled in matted ringlets as it fell against her smooth skin. Aemilia tried to imagine what she had looked like just hours before, beautiful, probably in one of those styled dresses that young rich girls liked to wear. Now, all she wore was a white shift and pants that were too small for her. They had already been stained with a mix of tears and dirt from the floor of the cell.

It was the kind of clothing Aemilia was more used to. She and Julia looked the same age, true, but a world of wealth divided them. Aemilia wondered what the poor girl had done to see it all thrown away.

The two of them said very little for the remainder of that day. Things grew a little awkward as Aemilia lay down to sleep. It was a single bed, and there was only one in the room. She looked at Julia, silently asking if she was going to share the bed, but the girl’s mouth opened as if she were about to speak. She said nothing, then settled herself on the dirty floor.

The next morning, to Aemilia’s surprise, a guard brought a large tub to the cell. The wooden door clanged open as he brought it inside and set it on the floor. “For your bath, my lady.” He smiled at Julia, then looked at Aemilia. “Would the lady’s friend wish to bathe too? I can fetch another tub for her, if you wish.”

Julia rose groggily from the floor. “She’s not my-” Julia started curtly, before stopping herself. Aemilia watched her shoulders relax. Julia lowered her voice. “But, yes, fetch her a tub, thank you, Vetyr.”

Aemilia said nothing as Vetyr brought hot water and filled the two tubs. Slipping out of her gown with the finesse of one used to bathing every morning, Julia dipped her toe into the hot water. Waiting a moment, she finally lowered herself into the bath. She let out a sigh of relief as the water soothed her dirty skin. A few minutes later, Aemilia got into the tub beside her.

“An admirer?” Aemilia asked.

Julia’s head snapped around. “Whatever do you mean?”

“My lady,” Aemilia said, not trying hard to hide her sarcasm, “I’ve been in this cell for over a month now, and I’ve never had a young man bring me hot water and a scrub. He looked as if he was about to offer to scrub you down himself.”

Julia went red. Aemilia had to stop herself from laughing; the girl’s face turned nearly scarlet. “He’s a friend,” she said, after a moment. “He’s always been good to me.”

“I wonder why,” Aemilia said, flashing a glance at Julia’s chest. The girl’s breasts weren’t large, but they were shapely and firm, bigger than Aemilia’s own.

Aemila didn’t think it possible for Julia to blush any deeper, but she somehow managed it, splashing as she raised her arm. “If you don’t stop that this instant, I’ll have you-“

“You’ll have me what, your grace? Thrown in a cell? Drawn and quartered? I don’t know if you happen to have noticed, but you’ve squandered daddy’s privilege quite thoroughly.” Aemilia was common, true, but her mother had taught her to read. She’d formed a habit out of learning big words. Maybe that was just part of her tendency towards sarcasm. Besides, she did enjoy putting a rich girl in her place. “What did you do, steal some makeup? Ask for one horse too many?”

Julia seethed. “I will not share my ill fortune with one as low as yourself. Even if we share a cell, you watch your tongue, or I’ll have the guards cut it out. They might not give me any authority now, but I’m still their lady, and I’m sure they would enjoy watching you squirm.”

“You might want to be careful,” Aemilia said. “A lot can happen before they come to find out why you’re screaming.”

That shut Julia up.

Aemilia grew annoyed. She’d helped this girl, comforted her after seeing her sob her eyes out, offered mersin escort to share her bed, and she’d refused every ounce of kindness Aemilia had tried to give. She was a stubborn silver spoon, and nothing more. All the pity Aemilia had for the girl seeped away with her anger.

The two of them bathed in silence. Shortly after, the guards brought round the morning slop, or Aemilia expected that they had. It seemed Julia’s special treatment extended to food too. Vetyr laid a fine tray with silverware cups of tea and sweet cakes on the side table. He nodded to Aemilia as he stepped back out. She folded her arms and stared at the wall, hearing Julia tuck in beside her.

A few minutes passed. Aemilia clearly wasn’t getting any.

“Do you want some?” Julia asked. “Here, I’ve saved a pastry for you.”

“I don’t want it.”

“Why?”

“I don’t accept pity from people I don’t respect.”

Julia hesitated for a moment, drawing her lips to a line. “You need to eat,” she said. “Look, forget about before, please? I shouldn’t have snapped at you. I’m sorry.”

Aemilia looked into the girl’s blue eyes and found, irrationally, that it was really very difficult to stay angry at the girl. Saying nothing, she cautiously picked at the plate offered to her. Julia went on. “I’ve had a terrible week. I’ve lost my father’s love and I’m to be kept here like… this… until my betothed gets off his pimply arse and arranges the wedding. Here’s me being honest with you.

“I’m not good with new people. I never have been, and you insulted me. I was embarrassed that you talked to me the way you did, especially since I’ve never met you before.”

Aemilia sighed. “You have, actually. And for my part, I’m sorry too.”

“What, when?”

“Six months ago, at your engagement party. My mother sent me to offer her thanks for your endorsement of our venue.”

“Your mother owned those gardens?”

“Yes,” Aemilia went on. “My father left them to her after he died. She worked for ten years against all the scrutiny of being a woman and owning property. She dreamed of turning those gardens into the most profitable alehouse in the city. She was so happy when your family decided to have their engagement feast there. She went on about it all day, every day, in the weeks leading up to it. She’s always loved your father, your brothers, and you. I’ve never known a common more caring about their local nobility than her.”

“I remember,” Julia said. “You were the girl who offered me that goblet.” She paused, thinking for a moment. “I remember how pretty you looked in that dress.”

Aemilia blushed. She grew annoyed at herself for that, but her annoyance only deepened the shade of red now spreading down her face. “It was my mother’s dress,” she said simply. “It hadn’t fit her for years and she wanted to see it being worn again.”

“I wish I could have a dress like that,” Julia said.

“Are you joking? I’ve never seen one so well embroided as the one you wore that day. The silver lace tied through it in patterns of flowers, the frills, the… What does it matter, anyway. That day is long passed.” It almost felt like a lifetime, those six months.

They were quiet for a moment.

“I think you would look wonderful in my dress,” Julia said. She cringed and looked at her fingers when Aemilia met her eyes. “I-I mean, you have the right figure for it.”

Aemilia smiled at the noblewoman’s embarrassment. There was something endearing about how shy she was. At once, Aemilia realised that all the bluster and pigheadedness was just a mask that Julia was required to wear. Aemilia felt like she was seeing the girl underneath, and she liked that. “Thank you,” she said, scooting to the edge of the uncomfortable bed. “I guess there’s more to you than I thought. Tell you what, want to trade?”

“What do you mean?”

“What did you to get in here,” Aemilia said. “Seriously, I’m not going to make fun like I did earlier.”

Julia hesitated. “I’m not sure I want to say. It depends how bad what you did is. Could you tell me first?”

“Do you promise?” Aemilia asked.

“Yes.”

“Well,” Aemilia said, fidgeting for a moment.” I sort of… got caught stealing something from Tellegrave’s.”

Julia perked up. “That clothes merchant on Spire’s Avenue?”

“That’s the one,” Aemilia confirmed. “Look, I’m not exactly proud of it, but, well, I thought it was pretty.”

“What was it?”

“A set of underwear,” Aemilia said.

Julia blinked. “Oh… That’s… very daring of you. I’ve seen some of my serving girls accused of being… promiscuous. It didn’t end well for them. Why did you steal them?”

Aemilia sighed. “I thought I looked good in them,” she said. “There was someone I wanted to impress.”

“Who?”

“Nevermind,” she drifted off. “Anyway, Tellegrave was nice to me. He told the guards I’d stolen some boots. They mersin escort bayan just beat me and threw me in here.”

Julia was silent. Aemilia knew she was coming to terms with the fact that the extent of guards being ‘nice’ to a common was a good beating and a jailing, nothing more.

“Well,” Aemilia asked, “what did you do?”

“It’s… kind of embarrassing,” Julia said in a tone usually reserved for asking a question. “You have to promise you won’t tell anyone. I mean it.”

“I’ve told you my secret. If you wanted, you could go to the guards and tell them. They’d probably throw me downstairs.”

Julia shuddered. Both of them knew what was downstairs, and neither needed to mention it. The girl looked at her for a moment, as if appraising how trustworthy Aemilia was. Then, she said: “I got caught kissing a girl.”

Aemilia’s lips parted. “That’s… bad,” she said. Very bad, she added in her head.

“Yes, I know.”

Such a thing was strictly not permitted under the tenets of their faith. “I’m assuming nobody else knows about this,” Aemilia said. “Your father put you in here, probably inventing some excuse, so that he wouldn’t have to tell anyone what his daughter had really gotten up to, otherwise you would’ve been…”

“I know,” Julia said. “I was stupid, so very stupid.”

“Who was it?” Aemilia asked.

Julia blanched. “Princess Catherine.”

Aemilia’s jaw dropped. “What? Weren’t you supposed to-“

“Marry her brother, yes I know. I’m well aware. Don’t get me wrong, the prince is nice, but, I can’t love him like that. Believe me, I’ve tried. I just don’t feel anything beyond friendship for him. But, I grew so close with his sister. She’s so sweet to me, and kind. I started to spend a lot of time at their palace under the presumption that I was being courted by the prince, but I always ‘took ill’ whenever I’d visit. Catherine would visit my rooms often. She’d talk to me, she’d get me talking, and believe me, until recently that’s not something I did a lot of.

“One time we were sitting next to each other on the floor of my rooms and her shoulder brushed against mine. I’d been feeling strange for a while, but I’d never acted on my feelings. I knew I cared about her, but I also knew what would happen if I did. I couldn’t help it, though. She was just so… beautiful. The next thing I knew, her lips were on mine and we were kissing each other. She was so soft. Her hand held my cheek as she kissed me, and it felt wonderful.”

“How did you get caught?”

“A maid saw us. She was spying through the door lock, must’ve suspected us because of how often I got sick during my visits, and how much time Catherine and I were spending together. When my father found out, he was furious. He said he couldn’t bare to look at me. His own daughter… And then he threw me in here. As you said, he didn’t want anyone else to know. He plans to leave me here until my wedding, when I will be the prince’s business and not his. How thoughtful of him; all I am to him now is a scandal waiting to happen. I should never have-“

She trailed off, looking as if she were about to cry.

Aemilia didn’t know what to say. Before she could think, she found herself talking. “Well, I think you’re very beautiful, my lady. It doesn’t surprise me that a princess would find you attractive.”

Julia looked up at her, but didn’t say anything, and Aemilia spent the rest of the day hating herself.

Eventually, afternoon turned into evening and evening turned into night. They’d passed the hours lazily exchanging stories about their childhoods. It was so distinct to hear how a noble was brought up, even if Julia hadn’t had everything Aemilia would’ve expected for a girl of her status. Julia was quiet, always speaking softly, even when angry. It was strange, but Aemilia found she liked the sound of her voice. It relaxed her, somehow.

A lull grew in the conversation, and Julia made to lie on the floor again, but Aemilia stopped her. “You either lie in the bed or I take the floor. It’s only fair.”

The girl looked surprised at the offer. “Why?” she asked, flicking a loose strand of hair back over her ear. Her servants had brought a brush and she’d spent nearly an hour running it through her hair after their supper. Aemilia had to admit, the effect was… noticeable.

“It’s not fair for you to sleep on the floor again,” Aemilia found herself saying. “It will give you bruises, and you wouldn’t want to ruin your skin, would you?”

Julia eyed her. “Since when did you care about my skin? If you want me to share the bed with you, just say.”

Reluctantly, Aemilia nodded.

The bed was cramped, but fortunately, in the middle of winter, you wanted someone to sleep next to. Julia’s warmth radiated from her as she squeezed up against Aemilia. The girls hugged to stay warm. The blanket was so thin, and Aemilia had escort mersin shivered the night before. Nothing but bars occupied the window that separated the cell from the frigid night air.

Aemilia slept fitfully. Despite having Julia to warm her, she was still freezing.

She opened her eyes and saw the outline of the girl’s face in the darkness. She looked so sweet as she slept. Her eyelashes fluttered prettily. Her red lips were slightly parted, warm breath pushing softly against Aemilia’s nose. Aemilia felt a strange feeling, one she hadn’t felt for months, but she couldn’t place it. She couldn’t help but notice how the lady’s body felt against her, what it was like to be held again after such a long time without another human being.

In that moment, Aemilia felt terribly alone. She longed to go back to her mother, longed to get out of this cell. She had no idea how long her imprisonment would last, however, and it was likely that when her time was up, the guards would ‘forget’ and she’d have to sit here for another eternity. She felt a warmth in her eyes as tears brimmed. Foolish girl, she thought to herself, willing the tears away.

At that moment, Julia opened her eyes. She blinked as they gradually adjusted to the darkness. When she saw Aemilia’s tears, she wiped them from her face. She didn’t speak, she just looked at her. Aemilia saw something in her eyes, something comforting. Something right.

Aemilia remembered where she had felt that same feeling before. In the arms of someone else.

If you’d asked her after the fact, she wouldn’t have been able to say who initiated the kiss.

Her lips smacked softly against Julia’s as both girls leaned into the kiss further, pressing their bodies against each other in the cold. Aemilia’s fingers caught the ringlets in Julia’s hair and tugged lightly. Her free hand trailed lazily down the barely visible curve of the young noblewoman’s exposed hip. The skin was smooth and soft. Aemilia reached her hand under Julia’s shift and ran her fingertips up the girl’s spine. Julia shuddered and gasped, hugging her more closely. She brought her hand up and it met Julia’s palm. Their fingers touched gently and interlocked. Aemilia couldn’t help it. She looked into Julia’s eyes, black orbs surrounded by a sea of white in the darkness. She kissed her again.

Aemilia’s hands were now moving of their own volition. Playfully, she cupped the girl’s butt. The flesh was soft, but firm. Toned, as if Julia often practiced horse riding. That was a popular hobby for young noblewomen. Aemilia remembered teasing Julia for it earlier that day.

She couldn’t stop herself from pressing her lips firmly against Julia’s mouth. She planted kisses all over her face, neck, chin, and collar, before coming back to her lips. Aemilia felt the hot breath in her mouth, saliva in her throat. Her fingers found their way to Julia’s crotch and came away slicked with wetness. Blueish orbs looked back at her, begging in the darkness.

They were wide.

She slipped a finger into Julia and thrust it around with a gentle grace. She had done this before. And she was very lucky to not get caught that time.

Julia stifled a moan. The guards were asleep, but the wooden door and stone walls only blocked so much sound. “We can’t,” the girl said, suddenly. “If we’re caught…”

“Ssh,” Aemilia whispered. “We won’t be caught, not if you’re quiet.”

Julia said nothing.

Aemilia knew the risk. She was aware of it last time she’d done this, although the setting was entirely different. She’d supressed this part of her, deep down in her mind. She knew it was wrong.

But it felt so right.

“You want this, don’t you?”

She saw the girl nod timidly.

Aemilia fingered her. The soft slicking of wetness around the girl’s sex sounded in the night, punctuated with the smacking of lips. Aemilia kissed her to muffle her moans. Julia’s skin felt amazing against her own. Aemilia could feel the girl’s hips thusting in little arcs around her finger. Without a word, she brought her finger out and slipped it upwards to the girl’s clitoris. At the same instant, she felt the sound from Julia’s moan fill her mouth.

Aemilia flicked three fingers around the girl’s clitoris, playing with her, teasing her, as she brought her to her climax. Beads of sweat formed on Julia’s forehead, protesting against the cold. Aemilia could see her face contorted in pleasure as she bit her own lip so hard she drew blood when her orgasm hit. Her hips bucked wildly, thrusting her crotch against Aemilia’s fingers. Julia writhed in the bed, unable to control her body’s movements under the influence of such pleasure.

They cuddled and kissed for what felt like an eternity afterwards. Aemilia could taste the blood on Julia’s mouth, but she didn’t care. “Has anyone ever done that to you before?” she asked.

“No,” Julia said.

“But you enjoyed it?”

Reflexively, she bit her lip again and nodded. Julia paused for a momet, then looked up at Aemilia. “Can we do it again? Can I do it to you? Please, I want you to feel what I just felt.”

Aemilia nodded.

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