The Bargain (S2, E8)

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Season Content notes: con noncon*, pain play, sexual contact, trauma reactions, verbal assault, mind control, reference to suicide attempt, coming to terms with kink (badly), avoidance as coping strategy, unintentional emotional harm, NOT a HFN season ending, mind fuck

Mattin stood by the door of the glamourhame and watched the lady play with Jaffrey. It wasn’t the second time he had been there, or the fifth. Each time had been a little bit easier. And a little bit more disturbing.

This had been a long session. The longest Mattin had witnessed. He swayed on his feet, and fought to keep his thoughts under control. When did he stop finding the lady’s hunger terrifying and start finding it… entrancing? God and Mare, he was disgusting.

Jaffrey got down from the cross, covered in sweat and blood, stinking of pain and arousal. Mattin had a nearly overwhelming desire to throw himself at her feet and beg her to let him serve her as Jaffrey did. What demon was she to do this to him?

Jahlene was flushed and breathing hard; her body glistened with sweat—she was beautiful. Mattin wanted, more than he would have imagined possible, to have her look at him with that hunger—and know he would be the one to sate it.

A sound, a moan, escaped his throat, drawing Jahlene’s attention.

She looked him up and down, and saw… he didn’t know what she saw. But she strode up to him, grabbed his hair, pulled his head down, and kissed him. Hard.

Stunned, overwhelmed, he wanted nothing more than to melt for her.

Horror and revulsion welled up. He shoved her away, tripping over his own feet in his desperation to get away.

She approached him cautiously, eyes narrowed, “Mattin, are you alright? I thought-”

“Alright?” his voice was a squeak, “This… it’s… it’s disgusting. It’s monstrous. You torture people, and they…” he turned on Jaffrey, “How can you do this? How can you let yourself be used as a- a toy, to be hurt and broken for no reason other than someone’s degenerate pleasure? How can you want this!”

Jahlene slapped him.

It shocked him back into control of himself. Tears poured down his cheeks. He fell to his knees. Tried to gather his wits, to babble out an apology.

“Be silent.” Her voice sliced like a knife. “Jaffrey, please wait for me outside.”

Jaffrey shook his head, “Mistress, I need—”

“I’ll be with you shortly, love. I know you need care. Please wait outside.”

“Mistress, you—”

“Now, Jaffrey.” A long moment of silence and then footsteps walked past him, the door opened and closed. It was a relief. Whatever happened now, at least no one else would witness it.

“Stand up.”

Without even thinking, Mattin found himself on his feet. Her voice took over his thoughts, his will. When he raised his eyes to look at her, she was overwhelming. She filled his vision, perfection given form. She was magnificent. And he had failed her. He wanted to beg her forgiveness, to grovel at her feet. She did not allow it.

She reached up and ripped his collar from his neck. The leather pulled away so easily. Like cobwebs.

“You are not mine. Get out.”

His hands grasped uselessly, and tears poured down his cheeks. And his feet turned and led him from her presence. He walked in a womb of cotton, forced on by her will. Somewhere nearby, he heard voices. Something that might have been his name. It didn’t matter. He had to leave. His feet carried him down the hall and out the door. He kept going until he was out of sight of the manor.

His body returned to his control. He lowered himself to the ground and buried his head in his hands.

~~~

Brit was coming in from the stables when he saw Mattin walking down the hall. One look at his face, at the way he moved, and Brit felt the pulse start pounding in his head. The betrayal hurt more than he’d ever imagined. He swallowed the fury down and fought to maintain control of himself. He had to help Mattin before he could seek out Jahlene and give in to the anger.

As he forced the rage under control, he became aware of Jaffrey: naked, bleeding, and a disgusting mess, trailing after Mattin, trying to get his friend’s attention.

“Jaffrey?”

“Mattin!” Jaffrey called again.

Brit put a hand on Jaffrey’s shoulder, stopping him. “He can’t hear you, lad. She glamoured him.” Rage tried to flare as he spoke the betrayal out loud. He held onto an icy calm, praying the facade would hold up. “Tell me what happened.”

“He needs help. He’s breaking and he doesn’t understand.” Jaffrey turned to Brit. “Please, just…”

Brit growled. He didn’t like Jaffrey, didn’t trust him, but the boy deserved better than this. He needed help too, and Brit didn’t know which way to go. Motion caught his eye: Jaffrey was rubbing his wrist. Over and over and over. That motion… Brit grabbed Jaffrey’s hand and saw for the first time the scar, running from his wrist up his forearm. The boy had tried to kill himself. When?

“Damn it Brit, he can’t be alone right now. Let me go!”

Jaffrey had once tried to kill himself. Now he was terrified of Mattin being left alone. The blood drained from Brit’s face. “Get a hold of yourself. I’ll go after him. But you need help too. Go back to the…” He trailed off. No, the boy couldn’t go back to the glamourhame and Jahlene. Not when that treacherous bitch…

Jaffrey’s words echoed his own thoughts. “I can’t go to her, I can’t… I—I’ll get help! Crait and Joth… I’ll be alright. Just, please, go!”

Brit didn’t wait any longer. He ran. Running through the door, he yelled to the guard, “Tell Parlen to get to the mistress and stay with her ‘til I come back!” He didn’t wait for an answer. Parlen had survived Erebeth. Even at her worst, she could deal with Jahlene and keep everyone else away from her. His heart broke a little more, that he needed to think such a thing. But…

Thank the Mare, he found Mattin not far off, sitting in the middle of the roadway. Which was… not nearly as bad as he had feared. Mattin looked up when Brit stopped beside him. The boy wasn’t wearing his collar. In a dizzying sensation the world dropped out from under Brit, even as the pain in his heart eased. Whatever else came of this mess, Jahlene had kept the letter of her word. The letter, but not the spirit. Fucking fae.

Feeling like a shaky old man, he sat down next to Mattin and forced himself to focus.

“Care to tell me what the hell happened?”

Mattin swallowed and rubbed at his throat. “Does it matter? I… I’m not your trainee anymore… Not anything anymore.”

Brit cuffed the back of his head. The glare he got in return was… pitiful. “Boy, whatever is going on, I will, by the Bloody Mare, be the one stuck cleaning it up. And I can’t help you if you won’t talk to me.”

The boy hunched in on himself, “I screwed up. I lost control, forgot every damned thing you taught me. Failed Marta, failed the lady… Jaffrey…”

“Is fine.” Brit cut him off. “He is upset with Jahlene and tending to himself. I will deal with that when I get some sense out of you.” Brit was about ready to strangle the boy if it would get him some kind of straight answer. Unfortunately, when he strangled people, they stopped being able to talk. Not helpful.

He tried a few more times to get a coherent tale from the boy but didn’t have much success. Not knowing what else to do, he stood up and pulled Mattin to his feet. “Sitting in the road isn’t doing either of us any good. Let’s get somewhere private.” Somewhere he could pour enough uisqe bache into Mattin to pry open his fool mouth and get some information.

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