Like a Moth to a Flame by Oshun

An interminable delay met us when we arrived at the inn. The owner had waited up for us, his royal guests. We had not expected that. He had a dozen questions and unwanted offers and explanations: would we like tea, or wine, or ale brought up to the room, perhaps the bath we had rejected earlier, or a light meal before we retired? Etc., etc. The inadvertent torture of his courteous solicitations bordered on the hilarious for us before he finally allowed us to escape. We vaulted up the stairs at last trying not to break down laughing. Our previous mood had been broken for a moment, but we were young and randy. As soon as we shut the door behind us and FindarŠto slid the bolt into place, our desperation returned.

The walls that separated my thoughts from his collapsed without me consciously willing it. I was flooded with his sensations and impressions. It surprised me to discover how good-looking he found me. In his eyes, I was muscular and strong, mysterious, and magnetic. Surprising as it still seems to me, clumsy, defensive Carnistir, the least attractive of my brothers, was seen through his eyes as handsome, compellingly so even. While I had thought it transparent, obvious, why I found him so appealing—he was famed for his blond beauty— I had not appreciated the extent of his attraction to me. I was pleased and yet a little self-conscious. Seeing myself through his eyes made me feel exposed. I barely recognized myself, but was in no mood to question his appraisal, ready to accept it with gratitude.

I pushed him up against the door and pressed my body against his. He arched his groin against me, increasing the delicious pressure. The sensation overwhelmed me. He was somewhat shorter than me, more slender, yet muscular, athletic, lithe rather than bulky. Holding his broad shoulders taut against the door, the momentary sensation of control felt like I had imbibed a heady wine. Findarato demonstrated, if I had not suspected as much already, that he would be no passive lover, neither needing to be wooed nor willing to be plundered, willingly offering himself, but demanding as much as he gave. He pressed his tender mouth against my own, opening his soft, sweet lips against mine, commanding a response and receiving it. His tongue tasted sweet and fresh, intoxicating. The warmth of his thigh moving against my crotch electrified me. I could hear my frantic groans as though they belonged to someone else, plaintive, yet animalistic and insistent.

“You are really, really something else,” he said. Findarato could perhaps never be at a loss for words but—and I smiled smugly against his mouth at the thought—with the right stimulus, he could be rendered nearly as inarticulate as me. I only managed graceless grunts in response, trying to grind my erection harder against his slim, muscular thigh.

“Yes. Yes,” he said, his voice filled with joy and a need equal to my own. We kissed as though we would never stop. “Wait! Wait!” he moaned. “We need to get undressed.”

“You’ve seen me naked before—at the beach in AlqualondŽ and only a while ago in the baths.”

“Ah,” he whispered, “but I never truly allowed myself a good look at you either. I didn’t trust how I might respond.”

I laughed, joyful and relieved. “The same for me! I was mortified at the thought of sporting an erection while the attendants walked back and forth with their stacks of towels and you were only interested in bathing.”

“You could not have thought I was only interested in my bath, with you, gorgeous and naked right next to me. You already knew I wanted you, Carnistir!”

“I watched you out of the corner of my eye,” I said. “What I did see was unbearably lovely.” He pushed me gently away from him, looking as pleased as I felt at what we were about to do, and more than a little endearingly vulnerable. He toed off his low boots without any difficulty and started unlacing his shirt, never taking his eyes off me. Unfortunately I wore almost new riding boots, higher than his and still stiff, not yet broken in at all. I hopped around on one foot, struggling and failing to get even one foot free of its boot. I finally hobbled to the bed and plopped down on it.

“Let me,” he insisted, kneeling before me and pulling them off easily. “Nice boots,” he said grinning.

I sighed, blushing to the roots of my hair. “I got them from Atar’s favorite cobbler in Tirion the day before we left,” I stammered. How outrageous I sounded—as though he were interested in my footgear. Strange the things one remembers of such moments. I think I babbled about those details because I was beginning to become conscious of how he was only a little less overwhelmed and shy at that moment that I was.

“Very nice boots actually,” he ventured, looking up at me, his pupils dilated and his breath coming in short gasps. “I want you so much.” We both laughed. I bent down and took his face in my hands and kissed him again, but did not linger, so intent was I to unlace and remove his tunic.

He pinched one of my nipples between his fingertips, grinning as me as I panted uncouthly and whimpered. “Hmm. Like that do you?” he asked, with a wicked smile. “Such a body you have. You are one impressive specimen of Eldarin young manhood. And you are all mine now.”

“Fool! Don’t tease me,” I insisted. “You’re the beautiful one. You know you are.”

“I have wanted this so much. Stop denying what you are doing to me, Carnistir!”

I responded to him by pushing him down onto his back and scooting up between his legs. At that moment, we connected mind-to-mind again and stayed linked for might have been hours. The last thing I recall sensing independently of him was the openness he projected in that moment and his smile when he said, “Yes! Like that!”

Much, much later sated from lovemaking, we lay in bed intertwined, exhausted and happy. I could hear the distant sounds of the same plangent flute I had heard earlier and faraway voices lifted in an unfamiliar song. “Are you happy now?” FindarŠto whispered and my traitorous cheeks burned. But I was growing accustomed to how he affected me and could not be arsed to feel seriously embarrassed. I only chuckled and pulled him into a near-smothering bear hug. I was happy at that instant, but still anxious. If I could only hold onto him, I thought, then I could be happy. But if he slipped away, as I was certain he would, would I not be even more bereft than I had been before?

FindarŠto had found a giddy release in our loving making, even while my melancholy threatened to wash over him. He recognized my motley emotions and tempered my tenacious sadness with his equally determined joy. I tortured myself by thinking that coming together like this had been not the careless sexual romp that he might have assumed it promised to be. The golden aura of my most beautiful cousin flowed through me with wave after wave of tenderness and reassurance. Even at that age, there was a unique kindness in FindarŠto, a deep well of empathy. Nevertheless, youthful selfishness and a desire to learn from one another outweighed any true altruism on either of our parts. Certainly there was no meanness in either of us but a surfeit of tenderness tempered by self-doubt. Of course, I thought the insecurity belonged to me alone. The curse of youth is to believe one’s suffering is unique.

I suspected that his desire for me had been physical in large part. Or, more precisely, that it had been but lighthearted play for him, until my own nervy pain altered it. For me, the solace of the physical still strained against my wounded spirit, not entirely able yet to find a balance which would allow it to overtake the mental anguish that had been my constant companion since earliest childhood.

He touched my mind at one point, “Let go, sweet, tortured cousin. I am sorry if I’ve been insensitive in pushing past your barriers. Let me hold you and then we will try other ways of pleasuring one another later. For now, just rest. I have you. I’m holding you. You are safe here. I know I can do better.

No. No,” I responded. “It was perfect. You are perfect. ” I moaned aloud, hoping he could tell how desperate I was for this not to end, to feel him, to share this exclusive experience, intensified by our particular talent. But I was afraid that I had walls as thick as solid rock and knew not how to lower them.

“Oh, Carnistir, please relax. You cannot fool me.” Gentle irony threaded his voice. “I knew you were dying to be in bed naked with me. You think I was not aware of all of your elaborate prevarication, mixed with your planning and plotting?”

And it was painful to think about the warring want and fear I had projected, at that moment still held onto. What if it made him change his mind and turn away from me and my anxious broodiness? It was painful to gaze upon his outrageous, unconscionable golden beauty and underneath it all touch his untapped power.

He showed strength in his sometimes disturbing but awesome gift of mind-touch. Suddenly I knew why he was drawn to me. I didn’t have much else in the way of natural talents besides our one shared skill. Well-favored as I was as a youth, I had nothing of the heartbreaking perfection of feature and form of my brother Nelyo, or FindarŠto’s lithesome grace and incomparable face, or the iron nerves, bold vigor, and joy in life which made our cousin FindekŠno so irresistibly appealing rather than simply another handsome cousin amongst a fine-looking family.

But I had a superfluity of the power which informs and enables mindspeak. And added to that I had the ability—albeit uncontrollable—to see fragments of others’ past, present, and, sadly, their future as well. Divinatory cards indeed, I scoffed to myself with the all of the heightened indignation of the offended vanity of youth.

“Where have you gone, Carnistir? It’s unnerving when you float off like that.” He chuckled softly, a nervous, hopeful laugh, tightening his arms around me. “I did tell you before that I knew you would be a challenge, but one I am determined to meet!”
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