Hilda flew all day safe in the circle of Claude’s arms, high over Fódlan’s Locket, across pine forests and plains. Fódlan was mostly gray and brown and green. Almyra—a place that had always seemed exotic and dangerous—was all greens and golds. When Claude surveyed the land, he saw home. Would she, someday, if they made this work?
That night, they made camp in a clearing next to a stream. Everyone helped set up—even Hilda, once Claude guilted her into it. How strange to hear Almyran come from Claude’s lips as easily as her own language. Only then did she realize that he would likely be one of the few people she could actually talk to during this trip.
Nader and Claude sat her between them at the fire as they traded stories across her. One of the soldiers made dinner, distaste on in his expression as he handed it to her. She blinked at him in shock. Never before had she been on the receiving end of prejudice. She’d tried to be better about her own ignorance since the unfortunate interactions with Cyril, but the look on the soldier’s face really drove it home. Was this how Claude had lived his entire life? No wonder he wanted things to change.
She took a bite of the lentil stew and choked as unbearable heat flooded her mouth. A coughing fit seized her. Claude put his hand on her back, brow furrowed.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“May I taste your dinner?” she replied.
The soldier who’d cooked the meal smirked.
Claude’s expression changed to confusion as he fed her a bite of his stew. The spices were still strange, still strong, but nowhere near the levels of her bowl. She smiled sweetly at Claude then fixed her gaze at the cook. Her food was too spicy to eat out of spite—she didn’t want to delay them tomorrow because of wrecked intestines. But she could choke down a few more mouthfuls, so she did, making eye contact with the cook the entire time. Going to bed hungry for once in her life wouldn’t kill her.
Still, she couldn’t let it go unpunished. Claude would undoubtedly do something if she went to him, but then aggression against her would increase, especially when he wasn’t around. That would be even more work than just taking of this herself. She sighed. Almyrans respected strength, as far as she knew. Perhaps it was time to put that knowledge to the test.
Hilda waited until everyone began to clean up. When the cook went to pack the supplies, she followed, mostly full bowl in hand. He turned, spotted her, and smirked again. She grabbed his sash, since he was much taller than she was. He frowned and tried to peel her off him. His eyes widened when he failed. She lifted him onto his toes then off the ground. He grabbed her wrist, jabbering at her in Almyran.
“I don’t know if you can understand me,” Hilda said sweetly. “But if you ever mess with my food again, I will end you.”
She gave him a little shake with each of her final words. By the time she put him down, the color had drained from his face, and his knees shook. She patted him on the shoulder with a smile and dropped her bowl at his feet. Then she turned on her heel and strolled back to Claude’s side.
“What was that all about?” Claude asked as she took his arm.
“The cook seemed to think I needed my dinner extra spicy.”
Claude glanced at the dumbstruck cook. The other two soldiers looked between him and Hilda. Nader tried to hide a smile behind his hand.
“I love you,” Claude said with a grin.
Hilda couldn’t help but smile in return. “Besides strength, what else do Almyrans respect?”
There was no way of knowing if he was telling the truth, but no matter. Their tent was already set up. Hilda didn’t usually like showing off her strength, but that’s likely what these soldiers would respect. She bent and swept Claude off his feet, holding him like a bride. He raised his eyebrows. She marched him inside their tent and tossed him onto the cushions that would serve as their bed.
Claude grinned as he reclined. “I like it when you have something to prove.”
Hilda pounced on him and pulled open his jacket. Her fingers tangled in his chest hair as she kissed the side of his throat. He exhaled long and slow. She worked her way down his chest until she could circle his nipple with her tongue. The sounds he made, the way he tipped his head back, ignited a fire within her.
She freed his cock as he removed her clothes with deft fingers. The sight of his swarthy hands cupping her pale breasts always turned her on. She stood just long enough to get rid of the rest of their clothes.
“I hope you’re prepared, al’Amir Khalid,” she purred as she crawled back on top of him.
Claude’s cock twitched. “What?”
“You thought I wouldn’t figure it out? It’s how the soldiers have been addressing you all evening.”
“You’re so sexy when you’re smart.” He pulled her down for an openmouthed kiss. “Hearing you say my Almyran name is way more arousing than I thought it’d be.”
Hilda danced her fingers down his washboard stomach and fondled his stones as she went down on him. He moaned and curled his fingers in her hair, but soon he pushed her away so he could put her nipple in his mouth and his hand between her legs. She gasped and writhed as he fingered her. As amazing as it felt, this wasn’t going to plan. Time to get things back on track.
A moment later, she had him on his back. She guided his shaft inside her as she straddled him, gratified by his full-body shudder. The tincture she’d been taking for the last couple of weeks would prevent pregnancy, which meant she was free to do as she liked. As she began to move, it quickly became apparent that one of the things she liked was riding him. The way he looked—his eyes squeezed shut, his head thrown back, his hands clamped on her hips—was delicious. He began to tense, but instead of going faster, she stopped.
Claude tried to keep thrusting. Hilda settled her weight upon him, pinning him to the cushions, and pushed his legs straight so he couldn’t find purchase. He moaned, straining. She slowly rose up his shaft and just as slowly descended.
“Hilda.” He panted, looking up at her with glassy eyes. “Hilda…”
“I know you’re close, Khalid,” she said, drawing out his name.
Claude shuddered and moaned again.
“But I’m not.” She put on a fake pout and moved again so slowly her thighs shook with the effort. “What are you going to do about it?”
“Anything you want.”
Hilda dismounted and changed position so her vulva faced him and she still had access to his cock. He went to work on her with his mouth and fingers as she continued to tease him with her hands. By the time she pulled away and mounted him again, she was soaking and swollen and ready to burst into flame.
And still Hilda teased them both. Claude’s noises, the feel of him inside, his hands on her—if there was a heaven, this was what it had to be like. She bit her lip and finally increased her tempo, which forced a strangled sound out of Claude.
He shouted as he came, gasping and trembling. Goosebumps broke out all over him. He moaned as she fondled his hard nipples, and then she turned her attention inward. A few more strokes and she shattered with a cry, her palms pressed against his stomach as she arched backward. Spasm after spasm racked her until she thought her bones might rattle apart.
Hilda gazed down at Claude. His hair curled against his sweaty temple, his eyes closed and body limp. So beautiful. She collapsed onto his chest with a sigh. Take that, Almyrans. Hilda Valentine Goneril always came out on top.
A soft snore came from Claude. Rats, she wouldn’t even have an opportunity to gloat. Oh well, that could come tomorrow, in the light of day.
Hilda pulled the blankets over them, curled next to Claude, and quickly fell asleep.