Choosing Sides

They made love slowly. Jaheira’s hands caressed her lover’s back as the young woman moved rhythmically above her. Arryn was thin and muscular, with strong shoulders and small breasts; her skin was slick with sweat and her shoulder-length hair damp from exertion. The human’s eyes were closed, her pale pink lips slightly parted, and her face completely consumed with the intensity of the moment.

Jaheira closed her eyes as well. The woods around them disappeared, replaced by a melody of the senses. The late spring grass was cool and prickled against her back; Arryn’s skin hot against her flesh; the soothing glow of sunshine gentled by a cool northern breeze. She could taste the mingled salt of their sweat and smell the rich earth mixed with the raw scent of their bodies. Hidden beneath their panting breath were the songs of nearby birds.

Arryn’s hips rocked against her with slow, strong strokes, and her hand between Jaheira’s thighs transformed the motions into deep and powerful thrusts. The pure passion on the younger woman’s face, the intensity of her need, always stole Jaheira’s breath. Arryn gave that same devotion to everything in her life, cautious about committing but committing absolutely when she did; it was that which had drawn her to the half-elf’s attention to begin with. It was so different than Khalid – sweet, stuttering Khalid, who waivered like the wind and jumped at his own shadow. Arryn and he were nothing alike, save the color of their hair and choice of lovers.

Arryn buried her face in Jaheira’s neck. Her breath was coming harder, her fingers more insistant. The energy inside her, the divine blood that could heal or harm, thrummed just underneath the surface. Jaheira could feel it tingling against her skin: a hidden current of electricity that made her flesh prickle. In her more intimate regions that prickle turned into a spike of exotic sensation. A low moan of pleasure escaped her lips.

Another thrust; Arryn’s fingers slid deep inside her, withdrew, slid in again. Jaheira spread her legs wider in unconscious encouragement. The ragged panting of Arryn’s breath was interspersed with small, wordless sounds of desire. They moved together seamlessly, slick with sweat and sex. Arryn’s shoulders and back were taut; the flat plane of her stomach clenched and released in time with her hips. Jaheira’s muscles clenched and released as well, each time rising and opening up to the strength inside her, then tightening in protest, reluctantly left empty, only to be filled and taken again and again.

The sensation built. Arryn’s form over hers, flowing, claiming, wet and raw, pulled Jaheira ever closer to her climax. The druid slipped her hand down between their bodies and into the juncture of her lover’s thighs. She brushed through the short, damp curls and pressed between Arryn’s sex-slicked folds. The woman above her shuddered and drew a trembling breath, but her rhythm never faltered. Her hips continued their motion, but now each press, each roll, ground her clit against Jaheira’s waiting fingers.

Each woman’s excitement fed the other’s. Arryn’s wetness, her unmistakable lust, her inability to control it, invoked in Jaheira a sense of both power and submission. Of the former, that she could drive the Bhaalspawn to such heights, that Arryn desired her so strongly that it wiped out all other concerns; of the latter, that Arryn could dominate her so, claim her, master her in such a base and primal way. The swirl of emotions drove her higher, and soon she could do nothing but cling to her lover as her climax took her. She came with a long, loud cry, muffled by her mouth pressed against Arryn’s shoulder, and held on tightly as her body shuddered and submitted to the waves of pleasure and release.

Arryn was not far behind. Sometimes she would stop after pleasuring her lover, needing no further satisfaction than the exhausted smile on Jaheira’s lips; sometimes, though, stopping was no option. Once the need had seized her, once her blood was thick with it, she was lost with no hope of return. Her body was in control, her mind overwhelmed, and the movements were instinctive and automatic. She panted with exertion, straining, rocking her hips between Jaheira’s thighs, thrusting, every muscle in her body trembling as the druid stroked her fingers against her clit. At last she reached the edge and tumbled over with a tremendous shudder and a short, primal groan.

Jaheira held her, one hand resting in Arryn’s choppy brown-blond hair as they both recovered their breath. They were sweat-soaked, bodies thrumming; Jaheira felt infused with warmth, and the small aftershocks still made her lover quiver. Arryn’s fingers were still inside her, a delicious reminder, but Jaheira slowly drew her own hand away.

“Why do we keep doing this?” she asked with a sigh.

“Because it feels good.” Arryn’s reply was muffled and tickled her neck.

“We should get dressed.” Jaheira’s tone made it clear that she wasn’t amused. She gave Arryn a small push; the latter obediently rolled off of her and sat back in the grass with a sigh. Jaheira rose and immediately started gathering her belongings. They were supposed to be on guard duty, but more and more often the hours of watch turned into moments of passion which were increasingly hard to control. Tonight it had been less than an hour before the temptation had become reality.

Arryn sighed as well, levered herself up on one elbow, and returned the half-elf’s exotic green gaze.

“When are you going to tell Khalid?”

“Put your clothes on.”

“When are you going to tell Khalid?” she repeated.

“I don’t know,” Jaheira said irately as she pulled on her pants. “I don’t know that I will tell him. I shouldn’t be doing this. It is a mistake.”

“It’s not a mistake.”

Her voice was exasperated. “Arryn, don’t be difficult.”

“We fit together, Jah. Why can’t you accept that?”

“Because I should know better. There is absolutely nothing right about this relationship and we both know it.”

You know it,” Arryn countered.

“So do you,” Jaheira shot back. She scooped Arryn’s pants up and threw them over. “I am married.”

Arryn got to her feet. “You love me.”

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Jaheira stated firmly. “I am married, and of all people, I should not be involved in an unnatural relationship.”

“Because I’m a woman,” Arryn asked bitterly, “or because I’m a Bhaalspawn?”

“Both.”

The blond ranger had pulled on her pants as well and now approached the half-elf while buttoning them shut. “And those are the same reasons why we connect the way we do. We understand each other. I know what it’s like to be part of two worlds and yet belong to none. I know how it is to have people damn you just because you’re a half-breed.”

“You know that I hate that word.”

“Half-breed,” Arryn repeated. “You can pretty it up any way you want, but it’s true. We both are. And both women, both tied to Silvanus. I understand you better than Khalid ever could.”

Jaheira slipped her tunic over her head and began working her arms into the sleeves. “Khalid is a marvelous man. You underestimate him.”

“No, I don’t. He is marvelous. He treats you like a queen. He does anything that you ask him to, and that’s the problem, Jaheira.” Arryn reached for her arm; Jaheira tried to turn away, but she was easily caught and drawn back into her lover’s embrace. “He doesn’t understand you,” she insisted. “He can’t be the strength that you need, can’t know what you go through. He can’t be your shelter in the storm.”

Jaheira turned her eyes away. “Arryn–”

“I can be, Jaheira.” She cupped the half-elf’s cheek in her hand, stroking her thumb against the soft, tanned skin. “Just let me,” she whispered.

Jaheira’s gaze searched hers, green to green. A small tremble of her lip gave away the struggle in her emotions, but as much as she would have loved to give herself over to Arryn’s embrace, her strength, the comfort that her arms promised, she was too strict on herself to allow it. It would only lead to more trouble, and to an acknowledgement that she agreed.

“I don’t know, Arryn. This is not easy,” she admitted, speaking the words as she pulled far enough away to look the younger woman in the eyes. “I lov– I care for you,” she corrected. “But I have never felt so confused. I am supposed to know these things – I am supposed to know what is right and what is wrong. And I must do what is right.”

“Then you should tell Khalid.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“Why not?”

“Because he is my husband, Arryn,” Jaheira said, exasperated. “We have been together for seven years. What do you want me to do? Walk up to him and say, ‘I’m sorry, Khalid, I’ve met someone else?’”

“Yes! And that it’s me, and that as much as you tried to fight it, you couldn’t. That you had to follow your heart.”

Jaheira shook her head. “My heart leads to Khalid.”

“Then why are you here with me?” Arryn challenged her. “Why does this keep happening?”

“It is a mistake–”

“No, Jaheira. One time is a mistake. Two months is something else. Every time you look at me you smile. Every time we talk it’s like the world goes away. When was the last time you and Khalid made love? Did you feel half of what you feel with me?”

“That is none of your business!”

“It is completely my business! I love–”

The sentence stopped. Jaheira looked up in confusion. Arryn’s face had gone blank and her eyes were focused on something beyond the woman in front of her. Jaheira reflexively looked over her shoulder and suddenly felt sick as she recognized the figure there.

“Khalid…”

The name was barely a breath on her lips. Jaheira pushed Arryn away from her, but the move was too late, and the scene too damning. She had donned her pants and shirt, but the lacing was still undone, and her boots and armor lay on the grass unattended. Arryn was barefoot and topless, clad only in her leather breeches. There was no way to interpret it as anything other than suspicious, and with the words they had just spoken–

He stood there for a stunned moment, the expression on his face indecipherable. His eyes went from his wife to the woman she had been embracing, back and forth, over and over again. Jaheira’s face had gone white in panic. Arryn stood silently.

“I-I-I-I–” His stutter choked his words. His jaw clicked audibly shut, and he turned without further speech and walked away.

“Khalid.” She started after him. “Khalid, wait!”

“Jaheira.”

It was Arryn who spoke. Jaheira looked back over her shoulder. The younger woman still stood where she had, regarding her with sadness mixed with compassion. She didn’t have to ask her to stay; the request was visible in every line of her body, every detail of her face.

Khalid hadn’t stopped; she could hear him moving through the woods, trampling leaves, snapping twigs underfoot. Arryn watched her, unmoving. She couldn’t be with both. She couldn’t be a part of both worlds.

“Arryn, I–” She didn’t know what to say. She didn’t know what she wanted to say. “Wait for me.”

“I won’t wait forever, Jah.”

“Please, Arryn,” Jaheira pleaded. Khalid was leaving; she had to catch him. She had to have a chance to explain. “Just– please.”

Hesitation, then a nod. Jaheira instantly broke into a sprint in the direction he’d gone.

“Khalid!”

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