In a few days under the determined tutelage of Queen Morgan le Fay, I learned more about sex than I had in the first forty-five years of my life. In one stolen afternoon with Princess Elaine, I easily doubled that knowledge. And if I didn’t even get to use any of the tricks Morgan had taught me—well, there would be other days.
The single biggest trove was a thorough understanding of what I’d first glimpsed at Morgan’s: nothing increases sexual enjoyment as much as being in love. Youth and vigor, a comely partner, great tits, raging horniness, all the tricks of the trade, even a lover who’s bathed recently—all pale in comparison. Apparently there is an emotional aspect that I’d only now begun to suspect. I guess that’s why the bards call it ‘making love’ when they’re telling the great love stories like Tristan and Iseult.
Or maybe it’s magic. Although you’d think if that was true, sex with Morgan would be the best. So maybe not.
Here are some of the other things I learned.
- A determined woman can accomplish a lot, even when her man can’t move.
- There’s really no way for a man with broken ribs to have his explosive ending without pain.
- Pain and pleasure are not totally unrelated.
- You’d think sex was the realm of the young, and the older you are, the less interested you get. That had certainly been the case for me, at least up until this point. Apparently, for women that’s not true. Or at least for Elaine; I didn’t have enough evidence to generalize.
- There’s nothing quite like having something to talk about afterward (or in between, if we’re being totally honest here).
“So, what do you think Arthur’s answer will be?” Elaine was cuddled in beside me with her nose nestled into my neck. I was lying flat on my back, thoroughly sated and utterly exhausted. There wasn’t a chance in Valhalla or Hades either that we were doing it again anytime soon. An assessment I’d shared with Elaine, less she be disappointed in my limitations.
“Arthur’s pretty wise. It only took one legendary bad meal for him to learn that there’s nothing worse than having a pissed off seneschal.”
“Ooh. Sounds like a delicious story, even if the fare was foul. Tell or I’ll tickle.” She gave me a warning wriggle of her finger under my arm at the top of my ribcage, just where the bandage ended.
“I’m not sure I should give you any details. Otherwise, when you’re running my kitchen, you might be tempted to try the same thing.”
“Running your kitchen?” Did somewhere along the line I indicate that I was willing to run your kitchen? Sleeping with you any time you wish, I remember offering that. Treasuring every moment we spend together. Drowning myself in your words and wit. Did somehow you infer kitchen duty from that?”
“But isn’t that what a wife is, Elaine? Keeping her husband’s household and warming his bed? That and raising the kids, but I’m assuming we shan’t be having kids. So even running the kitchen, you’re getting off lightly.”
“Perhaps. But I was planning on making up for any shortcomings by doubling up in the ‘sleeping with you any time you wish’ department.’ Certainly not doing scullery work. Not to mention that Arthur would never agree to that, even if hell froze over and in a weak moment I consented.”
So I related the tale about how Arthur had refused my quest and I had gone on strike. The Princess was delighted. “A true hero is my love. Any boneheaded knight clad in metal can face an ogre. My knight faces down kings!” She rose up on an elbow and clapped her hands lightly, taking time for a kiss on the way back down.
“The problem’s not likely to be Arthur, you know. It’s Guinevere. The Queen has a personal bee up her arse over Morgan, so I’m not sure how she’ll react. Will she associate the two of you and extend her enmity toward you? Or if not, will she decide that having the king’s half sister marry a mere knight, practically a commoner, would lower her own standing? Merely to guess would require an understanding of women far beyond my own.” I reached over with my good hand and idly brushed a nipple that was keeping me aware of its presence, even through Elaine’s gown. “Hey! I just remembered! You’re a woman! What do you think she’ll do?”
“You just remembered I’m a woman? Knave?”
Fortunately I’m not particularly ticklish, else I might have re-injured myself more than I already had. I managed to catch her hand before any damage was done.
“Ah, now you’re my prisoner. I shall hold this hand hostage against your good behavior. If you continue molesting my presence, I shall just have to bite a finger off.” I held the hand to my mouth and nipped it gently, then soothed any perceived damage with a few light kisses.
“Alas, my womanly strength is insufficient to resist. I yield, and shall give you my promise of good behavior.” I released her hand, to which she responded by saying, “Just not yet,” and immediately resuming her tickling. But only for a moment, as if to make a point. Then she sighed, dragged my hand back into contact with her breast, and settled into my neck again.
“I have an idea. Perhaps you can embroider The Queen a gift that will put her firmly on your side. Something like those tapestries that Maleagans displays so proudly.”
“Embroider! And worse, embroider something tasteless? You are a despicable fiend. Summon Oswald. I’m going to pledge myself to marry him as soon as he’s old enough. He may not be as urbane as you are, or as witty in twisting the King’s tongue. But he loves me and respects me too much to ask me to embroider.”
“Alas, my love. Oswald has his heart set on another. I fear you may be disappointed in your lofty expectations. Better you settle for this tired, old, broken-down bird-in-the-hand. Embroidery and all.”
“Marrying you is not settling, dear Kay. But just know that I don’t embroider. And I don’t cook. What I do is teach. It’s what I’m best at. Or maybe second best. Hard to say for sure, I’m pretty rusty after all these years. Do you have an opinion, love? Hmm?”
“Can’t say that I do, dearest. I’ve never seen you teach.” I grasped her hand as I answered before she could start tickling again. “Here, quit tormenting me and teach me something. Then perhaps I can judge for myself.”
“You’re such a slippery devil. As soon as I teach you something, you’ll want a fresh sample of the other to compare with. Although, I suppose that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Je t’aime vraiment, mon cher amour.”
“Wait. You speak French?”
“Mais oui, monsieur. Mais je n’ai jamais brode.”
“What’d you just say?”
“I said, ‘I never embroider.’”
“Oh Kay. And before that?”
“I truly love you, my dear love.”
“Teach me to say that.”
And so she did. It took a half dozen times before my pronunciation was satisfactory. French words flow like spring water from the mouth, unlike the comparatively ugly language we normally spoke.
Using my good hand and one of hers, I showed her what multiplication meant, and how to multiply the numbers one through five by two.
“That’s amazing, Kay. You should be a teacher, too. Although it doesn’t pay as well as being a Knight of the Round Table, I can promise you that.”
It hit me like a sack of grain thrown from the parapet.
“That’s it, Elaine. We’re going to open a school. Just like where they teach young boys how to fight. Except instead of how to use a sword and ride and fight in a shield wall, we’re going to teach reading and writing and mathematics. And then later, how to be a seneschal. Our students can practice under my tutelage at the court, and will thus be in high demand everywhere!”
“Even in the courts of the French Kings, since they’ll all be able to speak French.”
“Arthur’s sure to agree, since his influence will spread through the continent.”
“And some of the seneschals can be women.”
That stopped me in my tracks, but only for a moment. That’s what I’d signed up for, and that’s what I was going to do. Help Elaine change the world, one girl at a time. “In ten years I can retire because nobody will want me anymore. Having a woman seneschal will be all the rage.”
“Nah. You’ll still be the best. But you can retire anyway. Hilda and Glenda will be gone by then. We’ll buy a little manor all our own, and only accept the best students who are willing to cook as part of their training.”
“You can retire as well. We’ll only accept girl students who are willing to warm the lord’s bed as part of their tuition.”
“Beast. Knave.” She tried to tickle me, but I pulled my arm down tight against my side, trapping her hand. “Cheater. Oswald! Come save my honor from this fiend.”
Needless to say, Oswald was far too smart to answer that call. Or perhaps too far away to have heard it.
“Well, if cheating is involved, a woman must do what she has to do.” Elaine wrenched her hand free, reached under the covers, and grasped my rod. Which to that point had been just lying around minding his own business, with no particular interest in the proceedings. But his response to Elaine’s warm, soft hand was to give a little twitch and lift his head to see what was going on. Traitor.
“Huh.” Elaine’s tone of voice was totally different than it had been moments before. “I thought you told me you were done. Weren’t those your words? ‘Not a chance in hell?’ Are you now to be proven a liar as well as a knave?”
“Would you possibly settle for merely mistaken?”