The Boy-Toy Wife

3. In Which Something Dear Is Lost

by gargulec

Tags: #cw:noncon #D/s #dom:female #f/f #humiliation #pov:bottom #sub:female #bondage #f/nb #fantasy

3. In Which Something Dear is Lost

Not long after the wedding night, when Miria had first started taking the wife-medicine, she’d been pulled aside by Mażin, the third wife. Then, over a few glasses of sickeningly sweet coffee liqueur, the older women had quickly explained to the newly-wed what effects the medicine would have. At first, it had been mostly a cordial attempt to dispel some common, lowland superstitions, but it had not taken Mażin long to notice that the sixth wife needed no such reassurances. Instead, Miria showed disappointment when Mażin informed her that many of the changes would not be the instantaneous transformation that lowland broadsheets warned against, but rather be subtle at first, and take long to fully manifest. And so what was meant to be a consolation quickly turned into more matter-of-fact advice: warnings that Miria's muscles would weaken, that she would get strange cravings and new kinds of morning sickness, and that she should probably accept the fact that some days, she was going to find herself crying for no good reason at all.

Today was one such day. The boy-toy wife stood bent and stuck in a pillory, unable to look away from the statue of Want filling her vision. Blood, drool, and someone else's ejaculate dripped from the sides of her body, now joined by her tears.

Miria could not entirely explain why she was also sobbing. Was she unhappy? Unfulfilled, perhaps. Or just plain unfilled—she’d wanted Luna to drive into her, to make her squeal and moan like when the Lady Governor took her in possession on the night of their marriage. But the frustration did not hurt; it knotted her insides and made her try to rub her thighs together around her nethers, so warm and flushed. There was nothing she could do that could bring her past the peak and relieve the desire, and to realize how much this pleased her made her wince in shame and bite down on the gag, which only made it feel better.

When she closed her eyes, she imagined a hydra of hands reaching from the braided wall of limbs that ringed the shrine. They captured her, pried her open, and made such use of her—and each left a coin in gratitude, until Miria's feet sank into gold. Far away, the city's bells sang praise of this sacrifice.

Were the tears streaming down her cheeks joy, then? She did as she was told, and let the great, formless want fill her thoughts. The heat of the shrine, the play of shadows, desperate, helpless arousal all invited the same thing: surrender. This had to be the lesson Luna left her to learn, and she was so very grateful for the shrine-keeper's wicked pedagogy.

Metal scraped behind her; a cold gust blew as the door opened. For a split second, Miria wished for nothing but to see another piece of gold roll next to the lonesome thaler. Someone would come and grip her by her hips, no matter how unfeminine, and then make use of them as if of a wife. Her mouth tensed around the metal ring, face burning scarlet with eager shame.

But it was not to be.

"Young lady?"

Miria recognized the voice—it was Mariś, one of her chamber-maids. Nervous footsteps clacked on the basalt floor, way outside her field of vision; she tried to twist her head to see the woman approach, and got only to look at a hand nervously approach the padlock keeping the pillory shut, then withdraw. But the boy-toy wife did not need more to feel the weight of someone's gaze settle on the drying pattern sprayed over the small of her back. Shame curdled into sheer humiliation; without meaning to, Miria strained against her bonds; her reward was the sound of a woman stepping away.

"Uh," Mariś hitched audibly. "The Hofmeisterin, uh—says you have to—I'm so sorry! I didn't meant to—The Hofmeisterin says you need to return to the palace immediately!"

What rang in the maid's voice was neither desire, nor admiration, but sharp embarrassment. A tension lifted off Miria's back as the illicit stare moved aside; Mariś was looking away, trying desperately not to see the sorry display in front of her. Of course. What else could the sixth wife have expected?

"Ah," she tried to speak through the gag, "han't fhee myhelf."

"Young lady?" the maid asked, clearly and desperately wishing to be anywhere else but here.

"Ah!" Miria chewed on the metal ring, "Han't! Fhee! Myhelf!"

"I'll get the Hofmeisterin!" Mariś cried out in panic, and bolted, running away fast enough to forget to close the door behind her.

The warnings that the third wife had delivered to Miria, punctuated by quick sips of a tar-like drink, went into great detail. She did not limit herself to letting Miria know that she should be ready for unexpected tears. Mażin had made sure that the newly-wed, newly-wifed girl was also aware of the fact that the medicine would sometimes also lead to times when everything abruptly started tasting of shit.

The cold weather seeped past the ajar door, pushing past the hellfire's heat and setting Miria to a shiver. Moments ago, she’d fancied herself everyone's desire, and now was forced to reckon with what really stood bound before the effigy of Want: an unfinished, patsy body, stripped of everything that could make it passable. If she had been laid bare it was not to be admired, but rather so that she would never forget what anyone with a pair of eyes could see her for. Those thoughts were, of course, nothing but another hysteric bout, a spasm of a body slowly morphing into a new shape: but knowing was a small reprieve at best. Besides, she was no longer crying, and quite clear-eyed about the matter.

The banging of rushed steps snapped her out of the spiraling train of thought. Before she could realize what was happening, the pillory's lock clicked open. Careful hands wrapped a thick blanket around her chest, and helped her up, the light and dark staging a brief dance before her eyes. Through a nauseating vertigo, the sixth wife glimpsed Mariś, trying to be tender, and the towering lilac shape of Luna. Without thinking, she reached out, trying to come into an embrace; she desperately longed to be reassured in the demoness' warmth.

"Not now," the priestess of Want pushed her back, voice vibrating a wire about to snap.

Mira stumbled; Mariś caught her under the arms, then quickly brought up a handkerchief to wipe drool from her lips. The sixth wife blinked, feeling another tremble go through her. Luna was already disappearing in the door, taking great, unfeminine steps. The bells of the city had not stopped ringing.

"I—" Mariś muttered, guiding Miria down onto a pew, "I brought you fresh clothes. It's—"

Her voice faded briefly; the young woman let herself be vested, limp in the maid's experienced hands. Consciousness, in the full sense of the word, was slow to return.

"The Hofmeisterin?" she finally managed to ask.

Mariś did not look up from the floor, fingers struggling with the laces on the freshly-lacquered shoes fitted to the sixth wife's oversized feet.

"Tending to matters," the maid replied, quivering ever so slightly. "She said, only the shrine-keeper can touch…"

She threw an uneasy glance at the restraint, trying not to look at the statue beneath. Miria felt bad for the girl. The Lady Governor made a point of taking lowlanders into service, and not interfering with their worship of the Holy. But they rarely ever returned that grace and tried to see what the infernals brought as anything but filth and defilement. Miria thought back to her brother, pounding the table back home, because he believed that no amount of occupier's favour could justify sacrificing his brother to the monstrous Want. She thought of how she’d looked away then, so that he would not have to see into her eyes, and realize how the marriage was nothing how he had thought it like.

The truth, of course, would have only made it worse.

"Let me wash your face."

With a damp cloth, Mariś wiped away the last of makeup from Miria. And then they were done; the sixth wife, in a fresh white dress, and the shrine in disarray. There was no reason to torture the maid by forcing her to stay here any longer; and besides, there was a clear urgency to whatever matter had made the Hofmeisterin summon her so far ahead of the schedule.

Or maybe it was not urgency, but something far worse. Each step Miria took through the rainy afternoon, towards the pillared front of the Lady Governor's palace, seemed to suggest as much. The place was out of joint. An unfamiliar cart, covered in stained canvas, stood parked near the front door. Servants rushed through spring mud, heedless of the dirt staining the once-spotless white of their liveries. They were not alone; house soldiers, in their blood-red jackets, flocked to the courtyard, rifles at the ready.

"What's going on?" Miria asked the maid, feeling a terrible, shapeless worry swell in her stomach.

Mariś waved her shoulders in helpless confusion. But what the girl did not know, other things betrayed. They entered into the palace's great hall, and passed by its previous owners’ pride: a great, free-standing clock, ornamented with gold leaf and ivory. Now, a pair of servants worked to stop it. One held the pendulum still, the other set the hour to a motionless twelve. White splashed the walls; white veils and white blindfolds to install over the eyes of the old aristocrats staring from countless portraits. The time was to be stilled, and the eyes of the dead turned away from the living. The furious tolling of hundreds of bells no longer penetrated past the thick walls, but Miria knew they had not stopped. Though the wailing was yet to start, it was only a matter of time. Death had come to her wife's home. The question remained: for whom? In its wake, there was fear.

Please, don't let it be my wife.

They met the Hofmeisterin on the stairs up. The old servant caught a glimpse of Miria and approached, for once without a reproach. There were no comments about Miria's gait, and not even a demand that she should be ashamed of the way her beard shadow peered from under the removed poudres. In fact, the Hofmeisterin herself seemed ashamed, constantly picking at the sides of her black dress, standing out like an ink-spill against the backdrop of mourning white. Before she spoke, her hands opened and closed a few times, struggling to catch a semblance of collected calm.

"Young lady. The Lady Governor is in the Star Chamber," she announced finally, grief drowning everything else her voice might have carried. "Make haste."

Her mouth moved as if to add something. Miria pushed past her, and to the stairs, almost tripping over her feet, only holding herself up by a hand clutching the railing. Each half-run, half-rush carried her two, maybe three steps up, until she found herself in the wide hall that had once served as an audience room for generations of magnates. Now, white cloth blinded the gallery of their portraits so that they would not look at the bier erected in the center. Its sight drew a stifled sigh of relief from Miria. A shape of a body unmistakably peered from under the snow-white shroud—but of a body too small to be Asha. The Star Chamber waited beyond; she rushed forward. If not the Lady Governor, then who?

Luna, the first? Visza, the second? Mażin, the third? Czewa, the fourth? Stava, the fifth?

The ceiling turned blue and studded with gold. The scent of incense filled the Star Chamber, mixed into the overpowering warmth of hellfire cupped in Luna's hand. The first wife sat alone at the side, at some distance from the short, stout Mażin, appearing even smaller for the oversized saber she clutched in her hands. To see her perform the role of the third, of the arms-bearer, was rare, and an awful omen for what was to come. Czewa and Stava stood not far, hands and fingers wound tightly together. In mourning whites, they seemed older than usual, their faces icons of rough-hewn handsomeness, as if taken from the stained-glass portraits of episcopal holy men.

A few eyes turned at Miria's entrance, but all the wives remained focused on the demonic women in the center of them—the only one wearing not the white of lamentation, but the red of war. Silver medals glinted from the Lady Governor's chest, her colonel's uniform giving a new sharpness to her silhouette. She acknowledged her sixth wife's entrance with a tip of her head, and motion at the third.

In a slow, careful motion, Mażin came closer, and knelt before her wife, offering the sword and the scabbard up. In that moment, watching the Lady Governor's hand close around the hilt, Miria realized that her wife came not to grieve, but to avenge.

"They," she announced, "murdered Visza."


It would take Miria hours and days to patch together—from hushed gossip, aborted half-statements, and overheard shreds of conversation—an explanation of what had happened, even if only an incomplete one. There were certain facts, however, that she could establish beyond dispute.

On the day of her killing, Visza attended a service in the Overwhelming Grace. It was a temple her great-grandfather had founded, during the last flowering of the late kingdom of Leshia. To sit in its front pews, among the aristocrats of the old realm, was therefore more than a privilege for her: it was her birthright. As always, she had a seat reserved to the left of the altar, among women. It was a minor holy day, and the temple was packed, especially since a famous itinerant preacher was visiting to address the congregation. According to ritual order, Bużan, the city's old episcopal, administered the first rites, and yielded the pulpit when it was time for the sermon.

The visiting preacher—a man by the name of Striczyk, distantly related to the cadet branch of one of the Leshian royal houses—based his sermon on the popular parable: that of two medicines. He followed its beats faithfully, telling of a physician who had two powerful medicines, one to cure plague, and one to cure cholera. Unfortunately, his foolish wife assumed that if the medicines were each strong on their own, then they would become even stronger when mixed. But they turned into a deadly poison, and brought great misery to people instead.

Striczyk needed not to explain much further, for the point had to be clear to all in attendance. Morbidly, Miria could not help but to wonder what Visza had made out of it; how she had felt as the eyes of holy men turned to her, and the beautiful dress she wore, a gift from the Lady Governor's own hands.

As ever, when the sermon finished, so came the time to administer blessings. Visza had put herself in line with other women, waiting patiently for the old episcopal to lay his hands on her. It was at that point when some man shouted—from the back pews, from among the young noble sons—a question. Allegedly, he wore the colours of the old kingdom on him, and a brooch with the Leshian griffon. "Who," he asked, "is trying to poison us?". The second wife had shouted back, calling on the provocateur to stay silent. No one would repeat his response to Miria, and she was glad for it. The old episcopal had asked for peace. His voice went unheard.

Past that point, the exact sequence of events became harder to reconstruct. It also didn't, exactly, matter. The stories Miria received grew scattered and incomplete, comprising mostly of sudden silences and voices breaking on single word shoals. But she learned enough: that Visza had made an attempt to defend herself, that it had not worked, that it was hard to say exactly who did what, and how much, and that the Lady Governor would not allow anyone to see what they had done to the body.

But the temple and the crime were not the first place Miria's thoughts went to when she learned of the murder.


"In cold blood, in broad daylight, they murdered my Visza."

Desperately, Miria tried not to think on the way that a part of her felt a sudden burst of relief that it was the second that died, and not anyone closer to her heart. She could only pray to the Holy—for one ought not to implore Want for such things—that the emotion did not show on her face, that nothing betrayed her.

Around her, the Star Chamber erupted into words. There were a lot of them, and most failed to find purchase in the sixth wife's memory, being meant to offer shallow consolation or express the still inchoate grief. What she did remember was more scattered, a series of images and sounds impressed themselves into her memories as dim snap-shots.

She remembered the first wife's free hand gripping an edge of a table tightly enough for her claws to dig deep trenches in the polished walnut. She remembered her refusal to join the explosion of voices, and her mouth instead moving to the shape of a question—how could they?—and a curse—episcopal brutes.

She remembered the third wife offering her a hug, her large hand and spacious body drinking each other's sadness. She remembered feeling vaguely sick as she heard a "no need to hold back tears" whispered into her ear, for she was more startled and terrified, rather than desolate.

She remembered the fourth and the fifth wife holding together, arguing quickly, their voices low and burdened by all the different kinds of fear. She remembered seeing the fourth push herself away from the fifth's forceful hold, and approach the Lady Governor in utmost deference, to beg her for mercy for the city of Karsz.

But most of all she remembered hearing her wife's claws grind around the steel of her saber's scabbard, before her words cut through the cacophony to announce:

"The fault is with me. I should have protected her."

Miria remembered that most of all, because it was when she realized that something was out of joint.


Years before Miria's marriage was even a consideration, her father had been working to raise her the way a burgher's son ought to be raised. He’d made her accompany him to the smoke-filled coffee-houses of Karsz, to there learn the twinned patterns of commerce and politics. It was in one of those dark, loud rooms that she had first heard of Visza. Of course, her father and his allies—doctors, lawyers, professors, distinguished burghers all—referred to her by another name, and with ruder words. But their concern was always her safety.

A lawyer complained how the episcopacy was badgering him to find a law to bar Visza from the temple, and stop the scandal of her sitting with women. In response, her father banged the table, spilling the coffee all over. The myopia of his fellows frustrated him to no end. So what, he kept asking, that she—he did not use that word—provokes the faithful? So what that the old clerics complain? He made them remember what the infernal guns could do, and how much they all owed to the regrettable overthrow of the old order. And so, word by word, they came to an agreement that there should always be a handful of broad-shouldered and small-minded men not far from where Visza sat in the temple, just so that they would be insured against the youth's folly.

Where were those men, when a dozen cruel arms dragged Visza away?


Eventually, the first wave of shock and grief receded, and a choking quiet settled over the Star Chamber. Only then did the Lady Governor speak at more length, in clipped words that each fell like a piece of flint.

"You will hear soon," she announced, "that the men who did this have claimed sanctuary, and that this puts them out of my reach."

All the wives but the first startled at that. The episcopacy had long mandated that the grounds of their temples were supposed to be sacred beyond the reach of any temporal power. Any and all could find shelter within them, no matter the severity of their crimes. As long as they were ready to renounce their life and remand themselves into the care of the episcopacy, they were supposed to be immune from prosecution. Every child in the lowlands knew that the name of King Piszan the Apostate was to be spoken as a curse, for he had dared to violate the holy custom.

"I will not allow it for long."

The pronouncement carried a terrifying implication, and Miria shuddered. The Lady Governor had carried her rule with a soft hand, and her soft hand was what kept the lowlanders at peace. There was no way a sacrilege of such proportion would not shatter it all and vindicate everything the old aristocrats suggested about Her Infernal Majesty's purported true nature. If Miria had been braver, and not a boy-toy wife, she would have opened her mouth to protest. Thankfully, someone else did it instead.

"Please," Stava whimpered, again close to falling to her knees. "Lady wife. Don't."

"I will tear the walls of the Overwhelming Grace with my bare hands, if it is what justice takes," she replied without reproach, and without reprieve.

"You must not act in a rush," Miżan joined the voice of protest. "Consider what you have built!"

"Consider what she has lost," Luna snarled behind her, the table coming apart under the tension of her touch. "Do you really think that those brutes," the word was a slur, was a curse, "would show you the same kind of loyalty that you still pile at them?"


The saber smashed into the floor, loud enough to make the window-panes ring in their frames. The Lady Governor's voice cut through the noise, and silenced everyone.

"This is not for you to debate! This will be done."

Everyone in the chamber had to understand what that meant. Miria could only bow her head in shame that it made her stomach twist more than the murder itself did.

"Until then, I will mourn as the Want demands."

Miria bit her lip; the other three human wives froze in place, giving the Lady Governor troubled looks. Only Luna seemed to relax at the announcement, shaking stray splinters away from her claws.

"I make no demand that you join me," the Lady Governor continued, "but leave the door to my chamber open, if you so wish."

The blob of hellfire dissipated as Luna closed her hand around it. She pushed herself up from her chair, and then across the floor, next to where Stava had knelt.

"I offer my body to our grief, lady wife."

Another knotted thought wound itself around Miria's throat, making it hard to breathe. So it was true, what they said about how demons grieved for their dead. She should be appalled—and a part of her was. And yet, what she felt more as she looked at the lilac demoness offering herself for this task was not revulsion, but the familiar tug of desire. How had she herself longed for those mighty red hands.

Before she could join Luna in supplication, the Lady Governor looked down at her first wife, and a brief shadow flitted through her face.

"Visza will be buried according to her rites."

The first wife's head shot up in shock. She bit down on a word. The other wives sighed in something akin to relief.

"Thank you," Stava whispered, returning to Czewa's embrace.

"Finally," exhaustion seeped into the Lady Governor's voice, softening its edge, "I have to ask you not to leave the palace grounds. Not until justice is served."

Her eyes stopped on Miria as she said that, and the sixth wife knew exactly why. Her visits to her family had not gotten unnoticed.

"Leave now. Only Miria stays."

For a moment, as the other wives passed her in a flurry of white cloth, Miria found herself choked by panic. Had the Lady Governor noticed her absence of tears? Had she remembered the lie from earlier today? Was she about to blame her for not loving Visza enough? Was…

"There is something you must know," the demonic woman whispered, trying for softness.

She put a hand on Miria's shoulder, and guided her to a chair, so that she could sit. It was a warm gesture, and in spite of everything, the boy-toy wife found reassurance in it—reassurance and comfort. She waited until her wife also settled into a chair, deflating ever so slightly. Fury took its toll on even the fiercest of infernal flames.

"Sixteen men," she began to explain, "scurried to the Overwhelming Grace. They were the… the mob."

Miria nodded slowly, not sure where this was headed, and trying not to imagine what the pious mob had done, with a hymn of worship on their lips. They were the kind of people she grew up learning to fear, for more reason than one. The moment she thought of that, an awful premonition speared her straight through her heart. She desperately did not want it to come true.

"Your brother was among them."

Come true it did.

"Did you know anything about it?"

"No," Miria replied, blunt and automatic.

Something softened in the Lady Governor's face. She extended a hand, then withdrew it, strange awkwardness guiding the gesture.

"I'm sorry," she said, not insincerely.

In a way, it was lovely to be addressed like that, to be seen, to be cared for. Had she not asked for this earlier today? But it was only one way, and the others led to blunt pain.

"Was he the one who…?" Miria asked, unsure if she wanted to learn.

"I don't know. It doesn't matter. There are no degrees of guilt here."

For a moment, Miria could only dwell on that new, throbbing hurt. It took the shape of the memory of her father's pen, shaking as he signed her marriage contract, the first document to bear the name "Miria" on it. It sounded of her mother's promise that she would always be welcome back home, no matter what the demons did to her. It was not the truth, of course—Miria knew what lay at the limits of that love—but an honest lie at least. And her parents deserved better than to lose both their children.

But then, a sharp realization pierced through the thick haze surrounding Miria's mind. What had her brother even been doing in the Overwhelming Grace? It was not a burgher's temple; for him to show up there would be a scandal to say the least. The aristocrats loathed Her Infernal Majesty's power the most, but they were never short on contempt for their old inferiors. Even the thugs Miria's father hired—the thugs that for some reason remained absent from all the mentions of the crime—belonged not to the criminal order, but to the ranks of the dispossessed nobles who clung to their titles and privileges all the more fiercely as their wealth was bled from them.

For a moment, she readied herself to ask the question; but her lady wife seemed so exhausted, and so filled with fire, that the words burnt out on her tongue, though she greedily allowed herself to receive a few more moments of the Lady Governor's comfort. But when she finally left the Star Chamber, leaving the demonic woman alone, her mind was already starting to wander. Something was out of joint, and if her parents were to be spared the grief the palace groaned under, then she would have to find out what it was.

For the first time since she was married, Mira started to consider a way to disobey her wife's commands.

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