Trigger warning: Sexual assault, abusive relationships. If you or a loved one need help with any kind of abusive relationship, call 1800 RESPECT or visit Relationships Australia at https://www.relationships.org.au/
Continuation of Rivalry: A Tale of Two Spies – work in progress but hopefully one day going to be a whole book xo
I am sorry you are disappointed in me and that you think you can’t trust me. I’d be lying if I said that I never felt relief now that the High Council has sentenced you and my name is cleared. A flush of victory crosses my cheeks, but it doesn’t stay long and always it is marred by tears and the heavy sadness of knowing that you will never again share that joy of winning with me. Because we did win an awful lot of the time, no? Instead of you lying next to me in silken drapes, I now write to you as you are imprisoned behind the walls of the Black Tower and I worry for you.
Are the guards kind to you? Do they let you leave to visit your friends occasionally? Do they let you wear those bright clothes you loved so much? Can you still sing behind bars?
I just worry about you so much, even though logically, I know that you probably have them all eating from the palm of your hands, just as you had me once. That small scratch I left in your ruby red nail polish when we shared chocolates – I suppose it’s worn right out and there have been a fair few colour changes since – but when you left that day there were little scratches on me from your hands to match the ones on your fingers.
Do you remember the second last case that we worked together? Right before you were pulled for a different assignment. I imagine this is what you were talking about when you said that I had weak points in my armour. I don’t understand, to be honest, how it was that we came across the exact same Lieutenant Jaques as had investigated my case, all those years ago. Just another coincidence, I suppose, to add to the ever growing list of coincidences in our time together. That list is too long, and the spy in me wants to investigate further, but I think that will be better left in the hands of the gods now. May Friye and Vulpan bless our past union and leave it where it belongs, in the past.
Well, perhaps you think what happened between Flint and I is a weak point, but I very much do not. You didn’t understand back then, you only saw it as Flint having polluted me, sullied me. You’ve had natural intercourse, you used to taunt me with it. As though it were some great shame wrested from my heart and to be held over me. Yes, I love a man and he has done horrible things to me. The city watch weren’t interested, particularly. My word against his, wasn’t it? Seeing as how I was madly in love with Flint at the time it had happened, I wasn’t even that convincing of a witness.
But after your letter of last cycle, I decided to go back and find that report. Unearth those memories, now mixed in with your terrifying and beautiful smirk at me while we walked under the fire trees in bloom, cups of rakta in hand and watching the lizard’s lights flicker in the twilight. On and off in bittersweet symphony, the faint scent of hot corn cobs in the air and the laughter of fellow lovers behind us. You pushed me up against you and tried to frighten me, then when I wouldn’t kiss you, you leashed your inner demons once more. The perfect lady, for another few hours. But you couldn’t help but remind me of what Flint said and you echoed his words cruelly as you led me down those garden paths. I could be taking you anywhere you said to me and watched for my reaction.
But you heard my cleaned up, censored version of the story. Because as much as I love you, Valerie, and always will, so too do I love Flint, and will always love him. So when you heard that story, that I had natural intercourse with a man many times and that he had held me down once, you knew almost none of it. Even though I know full well that it is not the done thing to fall in love with or sleep with men these days, let us not forget our anscestresses did so all the time. Underneath all your cruel teasing, I actually think you were a little jealous of me. I don’t think you quite believed me when I said it how bad it was, and that it had affected me so deeply. But it did, all the same.
I found the original report that I made to the city watch years ago. You never let me tell you the full story, so read it now and decide whether it is really a ‘weak point in my armour’ or a weapon I chose very intentionally not to wield in all the cases we fought against Raiva in general and the Queen specifically. He was the Queen’s ward, after all – telling the story would have destroyed all credibility she had in the High Council, and I could have spoken of it years ago.
I attach a copy of the report it to this letter, and you can read it and decide for yourself whether it is really the great crime and shame of my life – or if it is my greatest strength that I survived it and continued to love wildly and live freely, despite great suffering.
As far as you coming for me, I’d welcome it for the chance to see your smile again, Valerie. I love you, and I hope that you are okay.
May the days of your sentence pass quickly for you,
Attached is a rakta and tear stained piece of parchment, which appears to be a copy of a statement made several years earlier to the city watch by one Joie Be Lafleur, noblewoman regarding her relationship with Flint Tally Lafleur, whom was at the time well known as the Queen’s favoured ward.
26.3.3033.13 in the reign of Queen Lafleur
Statment taken by Lieutenant Dresha Pi Jaques, with Captain Ella Ki Jaques also in attendance
- I refer to the incidents of the 19.3.3033 as stated earlier in the investigation. Wherin I described my sexual and romantic relationship with Flint Tally Lefleur. I made a statement saying that he held me down while pursuing intercourse with me in the natural, historical manner. While I realise that this is cause for great shame to both of us, it must be understood that this seemed at the time an expression of care and love between us and I do not regret loving or caring for him.
- I did not realise the effect that such an experience was likely to have on both my own mental health and his career should I need to seek support for understanding and making sense of the experience. It is a chaotic and often highly emotional experience, having natural intercourse, at the best of times. As you will hear me speak of, this was most certainly not the best of times.
- During the month of 3033.13 I was engaged in my usual work as the Queen’s clerk, during the course of which it was not unusual for Flint to summon me and share with me the goings on of the court and for me to soothe his aches and pains. He had been in the habit of meeting me at my quarters, removing his clothing and engaging in intercourse in the historical way with me for some weeks at this time. Which was an arragement I found suitable, for although stressful and shameful I loved him deeply and it was mutually enjoyable.
- In his usual manner, despite Flint being partial to natural intercourse, he was otherwise a competent and thorough lover who did not rush and always prepared me for the same with care and affection. As a general rule, he used skill and patience in matters of the bedroom, just as he did in his regular work at court.
- On the day of 19.3, I was expecting a message from Flint asking me to come on horseback to the other side of the palace and pick him up. When he did not reply, and the usual time had elapsed, I thought that perhaps he had been caught up watching the theatre rehearsals and instead went home to bathe. I checked for falcons and pages in the maildrop, but seeing nothing went to bathe.
- After my bath I realised I had missed a page by about half an hour, who had left a note from Flint asking me to come retrieve him from the other side of the palace. I immediately sent a falcon in response, to say that I was sorry but he would need to make his own way to my quarters as I had just been bathing and was now starting on an important transcription.
- Flint arrived at my quarters some time later, and his mood was foul. The money spent on a carriage was so prohibitive, he said. Why must my quarters be so far away from the West Wing? But I did not realise the danger I was in. I had been gently and properly raised as a lady, you see, and although I had heard stories of men’s anger and the dangers posed by them in the way of natural intercourse I did not recognise the vulnerable situation I was in.
- Flint removed his clothes and I tried to soothe him with words, but he lay down on my bed when I said perhaps he should rest and I lay down next to him. In a manner significantly different to past and future natural intercourse encounters with him, he quickly removed my clothes without speaking to me and pushed his member into me with no preparation, which made the experience painful as well as shocking. Instead of giving me any pleasure, he took it from me in rapid and aggresive strokes.
- I looked up at his face, unusually cold even in the flush of passion, and I said but three words “this is different”. But instead of replying to me, he merely pulled his arms in so that he was holding me still and he used his legs to likewise steady me in place. I tried to struggle for maybe ten seconds or so, but was so surprised that I inevitably accepted that this was what was happening and tried to enjoy it as I had previous times.
- At some point he may have kissed me during the act, I no longer recall. I recall that it was painful intercourse and that I felt that I couldn’t stop him from continuing as he was much stronger than me and I needed to wait it out.
- After he ejaculated and orgasmed, again in the natural fashion and not as gentleman do with each other normally, he climbed off me and went to bathe. I followed him, and he spoke to me then, for the first time since he had started what had felt like an assault. One of the things I like best is how casual it is to have sex with you.
- I do not believe that he demonstrated any regret or understanding of the seriousness of his actions. Although it was normal for us to have natural intercourse and there was a priori permission for him to do the same – I did not consent to be used in such a manner, barely more than a breeding mare in a stable and with less ceremony.
- I now understand more fully the dangers of men, and why natural intercourse is widely advised against by all authorities on the subject. I am incredibly regretful that I was led by my passions to permit such a thing to happen to me.
- Almost immediately following the assault, I started having nightmares and flashbacks to the event. My fear of Flint and his bodily strength as a man grew from a background concern to an all-absorbing obsession and I wanted to cease the relationship but did not know how to do so without risking his anger. It was complicated by the fact that I loved him, and at the time I had believed firmly that he had not intended to hurt me and that the assault was an innocent mistake made in the heat of passion. I now realise that this was unbelievably naive of me, and he was punishing me for not coming to get him from the West Wing on horseback before I returned home.
- I still love Flint, and this is a complicating factor as I do not wish to pursue any criminal charges. We are both needed in the service of the Queen, and as long as he avoids natural intercourse with anyone else and instead takes his pleasures in the manner of gentlemen in the future I am hoping that the risk will be sufficiently reduced.
- I acknowledge that the city guard have offered me their direct assistance, referred me to Friye’s templewomen for counselling and support for victims of natural intercourse and that at this time I do not wish to raise a criminal suit with the High Council.
Signed by Joie Be Lafleur, Dresha Pi Jaques and Ella Ki Jaques 30.3.3033.13
If you or a loved one is struggling and needs help with any kind of abusive relationship, call 1800 RESPECT or visit Relationships Australia at https://www.relationships.org.au/