An hour later Yvain and her Seigneur kelt facing each other on the bed, a tray of food and two cups of wine between them.
The Seigneur held up a small, hard sweet roll, and Yvain reached to take it.
“No,” he said. “Not with your hand. Eat from my fingers.” Yvain smiled at him, and bit off a chunk, drawing it into her mouth without using her fingers. Then she leaned forward for another bite, but this time made sure to kiss and suck his fingers. Not an hour ago she ha swallowed his come and cleaned his cock without losing a drop. She was proud of herself and knew he was pleased with her.
“Good and clever girl. And one third less virginal than you were at the beginning of this day. Which would you prefer to lose next?”
Yvain smiled wider. She knew what she was about to say was the right thing for a serf to say to a lord, but it was also the truth. She liked knowing that she’d please him.
“I do not know, my Seigneur. I have no experience with a cock in my, ah, womanhood, or up my arse. But in any case I know that the decision is not, and should not be, mine. You will decide, my Seigneur.”
He pressed his thumb against her mouth, fondly. “Still good and clever. Of course the decision is mine, and I’ve already decided. You need have no fear that any preference expressed by you will affect what I do with you. I asked for information only.”
Yvain bowed her head. “Then this virgin does not know. That’s all I can tell you.”
“Yes. About these virginities of yours. Matteo is not your husband, you know.”
“But, my Seigneur, I have married him!”
“And that marriage is not yet consummated. So for now it is in Limbo. It is no marriage.”
Yvain thought, then nodded. That was the law. She said nothing.
“He – he respected me, my Seigneur.”
The Seigneur stared at her for a long time. Eventually she blushed and turned away. He said, “Look at me, girl. I’m not in a mood for punishing you at this moment, but I will if I have to. His “respect”, I take it, took the form of not attempting any kind of sex?”
“Yes, my Seigneur.”
He nodded. “You begin, I think, to know that you are beautiful. And to realise that your are passionate, that you have wild and strong desires.”
Yvain nodded. What he’d said was true, but she was still too shy to say as much. Fortunately he nodded too, showing he understood her.
“So in keeping pleasure from you, by withholding the light and warmth of desire, do you think that was respecting you?”
“I now know that it wasn’t, my Seigneur. I wonder now why he wooed me.”
“He misunderstood himself, and he failed to even perceive you, let alone understand you. You hid your desires because you were sure they were wrong. Even sinful or perverse. But he was fooled: he thought you had no desires. He didn’t want you: he wanted to be married to you. Without sex.”
“I don’t understand!”
“There are men who prefer men to women. Outside of this castle they are rejected, often hated, for no fault of their own. But in the castle there are men who are couples, like man and wife except they are man and man.”
Yvain was silent. She had not thought of this before. But a lot of things Matteo had said and done made sense in that context, where they had in no other.
“There are men like Karl, who train women into obedience and service. But only where that woman knows that is what she wants. Do you think Gizela goes to Karl unwillingly?”
Yvain shook her head. She had seen Gisela serve both Karl and her Seigneur. She had not seemed unhappy: far from it. She would have to talk with Gisela, later.
Her Seigneur said, “There are other men, who do the same for men who want to bow their neck and give service. There is a man called Peter, whose lover recently left him to study in the capital. He will not return. Do you think I should give Matteo to Peter?”
“My Seigneur! Perhaps Matteo is not the husband for me, and I’m grateful to you for showing me what I do want. And for giving me that which I desire. But I wish Matteo no harm!”
“No harm will come to him. He is to report to the castle tomorrow. Clad, as you were, in nothing at all. Peter will take him in. Matteo will not meet you, because your marriage is not even over: it never existed. But you will see him in a week, and after that meeting, if you wish him released from Peter’s custody, then it will be so.”
“My Seigneur!” But Yvain could think of no comment. She had less power, less freedom, than she’d had before, but she was starting to realise that she had more self-knowledge, and with that came more power and freedom to act as herself than she’d ever had.
She lowered her head till her nose touched the sheets. She choose to give him and show him her deference.
At last she said, “You are leaving me to judge. Very well, my Seigneur, I will observe him and speak with him, and I will make that decision.”
“Good little piglet! I think you may be more intelligent than me. And I am very clever.”
She smiled at that. Then a thought struck her. “Then, my Seigneur, if I decide I am single again, then what happens? What about me?”