Fair Trade 2.5 Twelve Hours: Photography

She checked the buffet table, visited the kitchen so she could restock a few things that were particularly low, circled around the salon collecting used dishes to take to the kitchen, unloaded the dishwasher, all with no one paying any attention to her. That was a relief, since it was allowing her to calm herself again, but she found herself wondering what next. Not that she would have anticipated anything so far, so guessing was probably a lost cause. She was pretty much on her own at the moment, since when she looked around for Flair, the girl was now apparently doing for Dagrun what she'd been doing for Sigrun earlier, and with equal enthusiasm.

“Mortal. Come here.” Eluned, the female of the tiny pair, beckoned imperiously from the tower structure she and Owain were reclining on.

Okay, whatever she does, I can handle this. I've gotten through everything else.

Jewel approached and, just in the interests of not looming over them, knelt. Everything so far suggested that her best bet with these fae was to say nothing until asked a question.

Both Eluned and Owain looked her over critically.

“What can you do, mortal?” Eluned finally asked.

“I'm sorry? In what context? I'm afraid I don't understand.”

Owain heaved a theatrical sigh. “Can you sing? I highly doubt you can dance, since you're built like a cow. Which lets out several other possibilities that all involve having the self-respect and decency to stay fit. Can you be entertaining? Do you have any talent at all?”

Jewel blinked, taken aback. No matter what Nikandros and Henry had done, no matter how embarrassing it was, she'd had no sense that it was malicious rather than mischievous and good-natured. Nechtan had been nice to her. The giants were invariably kind. This, though, coming from a pair that were unnaturally skinny in a way no human ever could be, struck her as simply petty.

Not that she dared lash out at them.

“My skills are in accounting and some clerical work, not in entertaining or the arts.” It was an effort to keep her voice humble.

“Oh. A secretary.”

She'd heard that before. She still hated the dismissive tone in which it was always delivered, with now no exception. Correcting them wouldn't help, so she stayed silent.

“Then what use are you?” Eluned said. “Not young, not pretty, no interesting skills. Just a generic mongrel. The tacky outfit is appropriately bland and pedestrian. Go fetch us each a drink. And be sure you keep your proper place in mind when you get back. Mortals with talent have some value. Yours lies purely in Madame Min taking a fancy to you for some inexplicable reason of her own.”

“Oh, go sit in a rosebush,” Henry said, laying both hands on Jewel's shoulders from behind. “Keep to your shallow little fashion girls. Wishes about being so skinny can count bones. Too obsessive to be interesting. Too fragile to be a challenge. Would rather have a gourmet meal than a salad.”

“Go find some straw to spin,” Eluned hissed.

Henry just chuckled. “Never been into babies or wannabe princesses. Be nicer to Jewel. If you're going to be nasty, say nothing at all.”

The two small fae eyed him warily. Jewel couldn't see him behind her, and had no idea what he was doing, but apparently he won.

“Fine,” Owain spat. “We have nothing to say to her anyway, she's not worth it.”

Henry let his hands fall. “Go get them that drink, pretty thing. Ignore anything they say that isn't a direct order.”

Mutely, Jewel nodded and rose, perfectly happy to be away from the spiteful little pair and wondering how she could thank Henry for the rescue. Filling two of the tiny glasses from the bottle labelled 'honeydew' and returning to deliver them took only a moment; neither one acknowledged her existence in any way.

Mistress waved a hand, drawing her over.

“You can sit on the edge here, dear. How are you doing?”

“Much better, Mistress.” She'd been so busy she hadn't actually been close to Mistress in more than fleeting moments. That immense snake tail, flattened perceptibly at her hips and narrowing smoothly to a more cylindrical shape that was still of a girth comparable to two legs together, seemed to go on for miles. While the scales shimmered, they didn't look slimy.

“Eluned and Owain said something cruel, didn't they?”

Jewel bit her lower lip, reluctant to speak ill of Mistress' guests.

“I know them,” Mistress said gently. “They are here because I owe them a debt of a different sort—incurring and repaying debts can be a complex matter for fae. Whatever they said, it was probably the opposite of what most of my guests would say. Nik and Henry and Nechtan, the giants and Sati, who are my good friends, are all pleased with you and like you. Alkippe informed me that you are respectful and efficient and you act with honour and courage, and for a centaur, that's about four stars out of five. Eluned and Owain are not close friends.” She smiled. “In the human world, they live within the fashion industry. So consider the source as far as anything they say.”

“Yes, Mistress.” That seemed like an appropriate setting for them. They'd probably fit in perfectly.

“You're doing very well. I'm glad you've gotten into a better headspace.” The smile came back. “It's all right to touch me, dear. I don't mind. Your eyes keep going to my tail, then away like you aren't even supposed to look. It's always more comfortable to be in my own form, no matter how accustomed I am to having legs at times.”

“I don't want... I don't like being rude.”

“It isn't rude if I understand and give you permission. I would prefer that you do anything you need in order to feel at ease with me.”

Hesitantly, Jewel laid a hand on the nearest coil. It felt dry and smooth, so she stroked gently. Not scary. Not disgusting. Interesting, actually. Surprisingly firm, and she could feel muscle flexing underneath.

“I think I feel more comfortable with you than with anyone else, Mistress.”

“I'm very glad to hear that, and I hope it continues to be true. You have roughly six hours left, you've lived through about half. It looks like Dagrun and Flair are done. Give her a moment to catch her breath. Could you fetch me a glass of wine? Then the two of you can check that everyone has a drink at hand. I don't expect you to have memorized everything.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

The party went on in much that vein. Nikandros and Henry, in particular, wasted no opportunity to get under her skirt or to grope, fondle, stroke, or otherwise touch her, but she found it more flattering and fun and playful than distressing. Nechtan had her serve as eyes and hands for him again, praising her for her cooperation—though she did it, she had to admit, at least in part because there was something so compellingly arousing about being used that way. It was easier to be brave with her inner thighs wet and her clit throbbing and her vagina aching to be filled. Without Mistress' rule, she was sure she'd have been acting much more like Flair, who irregularly but frequently could be found with her face between someone's legs or with a penis inside one opening or another, always showing every sign of bliss. It was deeply and maddeningly frustrating. On the other hand, since Flair was so often occupied, keeping the fae supplied with refreshments and monitoring her own need for elixir and food kept her busy enough for time to pass quickly.

“Will you indulge me in an obsession, Jewel?” Sati asked, while she took a glass of wine from Jewel's hand.

“Of course.” As eerie as Sati looked, she had been kind to her so far. Mistress had named her as a good friend. It was unlikely to be anything terrible. “What would you like me to do?”

“Step up on here.” Sati rose and offered a hand to help Jewel mount a low broad table. That hand kept her from falling when the table trembled and grew to the height of Sati's knee. From somewhere, maybe hidden in her sari, the fae produced a smartphone, which looked highly incongruous in her night-black hands. “I'm not going to freeze you. That would be too much for you right now. But I would love to get a few pictures. They will not find their way to Facebook or my gallery site or otherwise be released onto the Internet in any form, I give you my word.”

“I don't know how you want me to pose.” The odds of anyone recognizing her were pretty thin anyway, but fae didn't lie. “I'm usually bad at pictures. They always look forced.”

Sati smiled. “Just work with me and trust me.” She set the phone down and wrapped both hands around Jewel's leg, one above her knee and one below. “Bring this leg forward, just a little, just like that.”

Sati's hands felt wonderful, cool and sure and soft, and she touched a lot more than strictly necessary. At least one hand was always in contact except when she was stepping back to pick up her camera and take pictures of whatever pose she'd arranged Jewel into. A couple of times, she walked in a full slow circle all the way around her model, holding her camera steady. Sati could talk with her hands, Jewel realized dizzily: she never had to wonder whether she was doing it right, because somehow, the way Sati touched her had more information than words ever could. The stroking all over was soothing and sensual both at once.

“I think I'd best let you get back to your other duties,” Sati said finally. “Thank you. I'll send the best ones to your mistress, you can ask her for them if you want them for yourself.”

“I... thank you.”

Sati nodded and went back to her seat and her wine. The outside of the glass frosted as she absently picked it up, scrolling through images on her phone with the other hand.

Alkippe the centaur beckoned Jewel over to her and Nechtan and Roshanak.

“We could each use a fresh drink.”

“Yes, of course. I'll be right back.”

Roshanak gazed at her coolly. “Of course you will, that goes without saying and therefore didn't need to be said. Don't start getting ideas, human, just because some of those here find you entertaining. You are not the reason for this gathering, nor are you the most important part of it. Some of us do not forget that humans are little better than animals.”

“I... I'm sorry,” Jewel stammered. Where had that come from?

“Unnecessary, Roshanak,” Nechtan chided. “Jewel has been nothing but respectful. And you speak half-truth. The timing of this gathering is certainly about her, and for at least some here, she is the primary reason to attend. You might keep in mind that Min will be less than pleased if you frighten her pet.” He smiled at Jewel. “Go get drinks for us, please, and after that, we can fetch another snack for me from the tables, perhaps?”

Jewel nodded mutely, though the smile was reassuring. She hastened to fetch drinks for them. Away from Roshanak's irritated disdain, it wasn't hard to let herself relax into Nechtan using her eyes and hands, and she didn't have to linger there past delivering it and receiving his thanks in return. Avoiding looking at Roshanak, because the response to Nechtan being thoughtful was probably not something she wanted to see, she left them to their conversation, retreating to the calm safety of checking on the two giants.

Once she knew they were taken care of, and with the bitter sting of Roshanak's words greatly reduced, she sank down on the edge of a chair. She wanted sex, with someone, anyone in reach would do. But she couldn't, because of Mistress' ruling. Any other reason currently felt very remote and of much less importance than her own frantic need. She'd never really considered being excessively aroused to be so serious a problem.

A touch on her shoulder; she identified Nikandros' musky scent, and whimpered. “Please...”

“Please what?” He squatted in front of her, an interesting manoeuvre on his goat-like legs. “Tell me.”

“I want... I've been so turned on for what feels like hours and hours, and I can't do anything about it... I don't know how much more...”

“Hm. Well, obviously I can't help with that directly, although under other conditions I'd be more than willing. Even asking Flair would be breaking the rules. But we certainly need to do something. We've been mercilessly teasing you, getting you all hot and bothered, playing with you and enjoying watching your reactions, and hardly giving you any time to yourself. And you've been a very good girl for us. So how about this. You know where the dressing room is, right?”

“Um. Yes?” Hadn't Flair said other fae couldn't come there?

He chuckled. “I'm the one other fae who has free access to your mistress' villa, and she has free access to mine. There's a door linking them. I know her villa better than you do. The dressing room is the first private place that comes to mind that's more comfortable than the bathroom. Don't worry about Echo, she won't show up unless you sit at the vanity and look in the mirror. Take your time, do what you need to feel less frustrated. I'll even make sure there's a brand new toy there waiting for you. I give those to all my pets, they usually need them after a day or so in my villa. As soon as Henry finishes having Flair prove her lack of a gag reflex—again—I'll ask her to take over with the refreshments. So you don't need to feel bad.”

She found a slightly shaky smile. “About wanting to go feel good?”

“Exactly. Away you go. Don't hurry. Leave the toy there when you're done. I'll make sure your mistress knows where you are, and I promise, she won't mind.”

Jewel nodded. “Thank you.”

He only smiled, straightened up, and walked away.

Okay, being given time to masturbate in privacy was an odd sort of gift, but it was at least one solution.

She went through the bathroom and slid the door closed behind her.

Lying on the vanity was a glossy bubblegum-pink dildo, on a folded dazzlingly-white towel. Cautiously, she picked it up.

Printed on the pink in cherry red, near the base, was her name. On the flat base was was an embossed iridescent-black symbol she didn't immediately recognize.

It was shaped like an anatomically correct human penis of moderate size, nothing extreme. A tag on a string looped around the base said, Talk dirty to me.

There was no reason to doubt that it was for her—it even had her name. Nikandros' own peculiar form of kindness at work again.

She removed the tag, and took toy and towel to the long bench, eyeing the vanity mirror cautiously for a moment but her reflection didn't do anything strange. Just in case, she spread the towel and stretched out with it under her hips, her legs on either side of the bench. This wasn't quite ideal as a position, but it would do, and she wasn't sure the heels would have let her brace her feet comfortably with her knees raised. The discomfort in her guts and in her feet and legs reminded her that she should have stopped in the kitchen, but she could live with that for the moment.

Actually, it was a constant reminder of how she was dressed and her own inability to change it, which was, well, arousing. Just like everything else, it seemed like.

She wriggled around to get settled, then, a bit nervously, pulled enough layers of satin out of the way that she could reach between her legs. Her outer lips were so engorged the skin felt tight and fever-warm, wet with sweat and lube, but that was nothing compared to what was going on between them when she parted them with two fingers. She felt her breath catch as her index finger touched her clit. Everything was slippery-wet, no friction at all, but that was all right. She ran her index finger along the side of her swollen clit, not sure she could tolerate anything beyond the lightest of touches.

It would feel good to have something inside, something for her eager vaginal muscles to squeeze around. With her other hand, she positioned the toy at the mouth of her vagina and wiggled it back and forth, pressing inwards.

Nothing in her life had ever slipped inside of her so smoothly and easily. Her muscles clenched around it, and she sighed deeply in contentment. Yes, that felt wonderful.

What did it mean, talk dirty to it? Did it do things? It had showed no trace of physical controls, but that didn't mean much.

“Vibrate?” she said tentatively. Nothing happened.

Then again, considering the source...

“Fuck me?”

The final vowel trailed into a whimper, as it began to pulse, rippling from base to tip and back again, over and over. It didn't actually move in and out, though, she still had two fingers pressed against the base keeping it inside.


The speed stayed the same, but the sensation became more pronounced.

“Oh god. Stop!”

It went still instantly.

Well. This was going to be interesting.

Already overstimulated, with the toy pulsing inside her and a thousand remembered sensations and a million forbidden fantasies in her mind, it didn't take long. Jewel moaned, shuddering, as an orgasm even more powerful than the ones she'd had an eternity ago in the bathroom rippled through her body, a surge of overwhelming pleasure set off by her fingers fluttering on her clit with swift light strokes, but radiating outwards all the way to the fingers that had done it. She could feel the muscles of her vagina contracting repeatedly around the toy, which kept right on doing its thing until she gasped, “Stop!”

Panting for breath, she left her hand where it was but stopped moving, letting her body go wonderfully limp as she waited for the aftershocks to pass. After a moment, she let go of the toy, and it slipped out to land on the towel with a squelching noise that made her giggle to herself. She needed a word that went beyond 'wet.'

That helped clear her mind and blunt the hunger, though she concluded in resignation that she remained aroused. On the other hand, that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. It was making it easier to deal with what was happening to and around her.

She'd have expected her clit to be starting to feel sore from the repeated orgasms, but maybe the elixir worked on that too.

Regardless, she didn't think trying for another was a good idea. A substantial amount of time must have passed since Mistress had said she was halfway. She just needed to keep herself together a bit longer. She could have hysterics once she was no longer trapped.

She stayed where she was for a few minutes more, letting brain and body cool down. But it seemed unfair to take too long a time out, and Flair was on her own, and it was probably a good idea to use a bit of her break to have more elixir and a snack.

She pulled a fold of the towel over the toy and, as instructed, left it there, not without misgivings.

Flair came into the kitchen just as Jewel was contemplating getting back to work.

“Hi!” Flair greeted her, setting down a tray of empty glasses. “Feeling better?”

“Much. I wonder if I could convince my office to have masturbation breaks?”

Flair giggled. “Makes sense to me. Things are going to wind down now. Eluned and Owain left, and good riddance. I think Roshanak and Alkippe and Zipporah and Taiki will soon. It'll be nicer once there are half the number of people here and once they're all close friends. But even they won't stay too much past that, so we can start clearing the tables soon and just getting special requests if someone asks. Mistress is going to want time with you before the clock runs out, so she can make sure you'll be okay. So, not much longer. See? You got through the worst of the party, it's all downhill from here.”

“Oh, good. Because I really don't know how much more I can handle. This has been just so much...”

Flair just smiled. “All depends on what you're used to. I bet I'd find a day of your regular life pretty overwhelming, and probably not in a fun way.” She shrugged. “I know it's been rough on you, but it's been kinda nice having company. I get less time around other humans since Maggie died. Not Mistress' fault, by the way, Maggie was at least a hundred years old, and she was with Mistress for well over half of that. The humans Nik brings home, well, he usually doesn't keep them around long and they tend to have trouble thinking about anything but sex. Anyway. You have as long as you need, but I need to get back to this.”

“It's all right. I'm done.”

Taiki departed next, then Alkippe.

Jewel took a pair of platters to the kitchen, left them on the counter so the remaining food could be collected and put away, and started back towards the salon.

In the hallway between the lounge and the salon, Zipporah stepped out of the guest bathroom, feathers rustling as she settled her wings into place.

“I'm sorry,” Jewel said automatically, falling back a step with the intention of going around her.

“Wait,” Zipporah said, holding out a hand. “Come here.”

Wondering what it would be this time, especially from someone who had watched her all night but said little to her, Jewel obediently moved closer.

Zipporah wrapped her hands around Jewel's wrists, pinning them to the wall. She hadn't really noticed before, but the eagle-woman's fingertips resembled the talons on her feet more than a little. She squirmed a little, carefully, but froze when the sharp tips of those talons pricked against her skin.

“Do you know what humans are most useful for?” Zipporah murmured.

I know what Nikandros thinks humans are most useful for. I don't think she has the same thing in mind. Jewel shook her head.

“Prey, little rabbit. Quarry to hunt.” Zipporah's beautiful wings spread, curved partway around them. “If a bargain protects from a true hunt, then the experience of the chase can still be some satisfaction. Some humans impress us and win great rewards that way. Look me in the eyes if you have the courage.”

Jewel promptly squeezed her eyes closed. That did not sound like a good thing at all. “I'm sorry, but I think Mistress wouldn't like me to do that.”

“Your mistress is distracted and you are not in her line of sight. A dream chase can last subjectively much longer than the time that passes objectively. And if you can impress me, you'll never need to make a bargain with another fae.”

I have no intention of ever making another bargain, ever! “It wouldn't be right to try to deceive Mistress. I'm pretty sure she'd know anyway. Or find a way to make me tell. Or something. I don't think I can keep secrets from her.” In fact, the right/wrong voice in her mind, which had offered her nothing but reassurance and validation since she'd come to terms with her role, was awake and making it very clear that secrets were bad, everything about this was bad.

An enormous hand in a red leather fingerless glove closed around Zipporah below her wings and, with total disregard for her raptor-like cry of protest, pulled her back from Jewel; a matching hand kept Jewel in place so she wasn't dragged along. Talons scraped across her wrists painfully, but that seemed relatively unimportant. Those hands scooped Jewel up gently and bore her into the salon. It was all so sudden that Jewel didn't feel any sense of panic, only of astonishment, and an incongruous annoyance over the graceless awkward position she'd more or less fallen in.

Dagrun was on her knees on the floor, the only way she still fit in the salon, and even at that, she had her head bowed. Hands cupped protectively, she raised Jewel up to where she could see her.

“Are you all right, little one? Did she hurt you?” Her voice sounded a little deeper, but not unrecognizably so. She was, Jewel thought, being very careful of her volume.

Jewel squirmed a bit, and found that she could sit up with her legs crossed, secure on Dagrun's leather-covered palms with the giant's fingers around her like a security rail. Early in the night, she might have felt some fear, just from Dagrun's sheer impossible size, but it was hard to be afraid of one of the people who had been the most considerate all along. The giant's hands were very warm, but then, she was a fire giant, right? Maybe Sigrun's would be cold.

“A little, just scratches on my wrists.” She inspected them. “A couple are bleeding.”

“We can fix that up. That was not well done, what Zipporah did. Sigrun is helping your mistress and Nikandros with speaking to her and making her leave. Little one, you should have called for help. We do not want you harmed. We do not even like having you frightened. We would not leave you to face trouble alone. That is not how this works. Min is responsible for you, and by extension, her true friends are as well.”

With great care, Dagrun set her down on one of the raised platforms. Somehow, every time Jewel's eyes blinked for an instant, the giant seemed smaller, and in the span of a few rapid breaths, she was back to being only the size she'd been all evening. She stayed between Jewel and the entrance, however. From that direction, Jewel could hear Mistress' voice, and Nikandros' and Sigrun, and they all sounded extremely displeased; Zipporah sounded angry and defensive.

“Show me your wrists,” Dagrun said. When Jewel offered them, one broad finger ran very slowly around each. The fiery stinging of the scratches faded away in the wake of that touch.

“Thank you.” Jewel rubbed her wrists, where no trace of the damage remained. “For rescuing me and for this.”

“You are very welcome.”

Jewel looked up at her—a long way from her current low seat, with Dagrun standing, though less than when Dagrun had been larger. “Would it... would it be all right for me to ask you something? It might sound disrespectful, but I don't mean it that way.”

“I do not think you are disrespectful, Jewel. Ask what you wish.”

“It feels like Mistress' other close friends have all had something they wanted to do with me or to me. The ones who haven't, I don't think they like humans much. Or maybe not for anything Mistress would let them do. You and Sigrun don't seem to be on either side.”

Dagrun chuckled. “We have been enjoying your company and are pleased you feel safe with us. We have been watching you, as much to take pleasure in your pleasure as to make certain that no harm comes to you. All fae interact with humans in different ways and find different rewards in it, and it is often difficult to define it clearly in human concepts. Sigrun and I have had as pleasant a time with you as Nik has. And we both hope to see you again, though we will understand why if not. To accept pleasure in lack of control is difficult for many humans.”

“I... oh. Thank you.”

Dagrun's body blocked the view towards the entrance, so Mistress' appearance around her was startlingly abrupt.

“Thank you for being observant and reacting so quickly,” she told Dagrun. “I shudder to think what Zipporah might have done if she'd had time to force eye contact. Jewel, were you hurt, dear?” She slithered past Dagrun and up onto the edge of the platform, wrapping an arm around Jewel's shoulders. Jewel leaned against her, the last of the stress from the encounter melting away.

“Dagrun fixed it. It wasn't bad.”

“And you didn't look into her eyes at all once she seized you? She didn't drop any images or sensations into your mind?”

“No, Mistress, to all of that.”

“You're absolutely certain? That's much easier to fix now than it will be in a couple of hours.”

“Absolutely sure, Mistress.”

“Good. For the record, Zipporah broke several courtesy rules when she tried to do something to you that she knew I would object to.”

“She told me you wouldn't know, or at least implied it, and she said that she could reward me.”

“I might not have known until she'd had the opportunity to make you experience very unpleasant things. As for rewards, her kind do so occasionally, so it is technically true, but the odds are rather like those of winning a lottery. Why she did so... perhaps her hunting instinct finally got the better of her, perhaps she hoped to make quite sure you reject everything fae, I don't know. I'm just glad you're all right. I'd feel terrible if you had to go through that.”

“All good, Mistress. Should I get back to helping Flair clean up?”

“If you think you can.”

“My guardian angel stepped in pretty fast, Mistress, I barely had time to realize I was actually in trouble and needed help. I'm okay.” She wondered whether the description would be heard as an insult, but Dagrun just chuckled.

“Then yes, please help her.” Mistress helped her sit up, then stand.

Roshanak was gone when Jewel next returned from the kitchen. Nechtan lingered long enough to thank Jewel for humouring him, before hauling himself out of the water, heading for the lounge, and simply vanishing.

With only six fae remaining, and those six all forgiving, the atmosphere changed dramatically, far more casual and informal. Jewel and Flair finished cleaning up and put the leftovers away, but the pace was unhurried.

With less stimulation, other than the usual opportunistic touches and even those were fewer, Jewel found some of the heat beginning to soften into something more manageable.

And, after a little longer, even those left, not one without telling Jewel how much they'd enjoyed her presence and her efforts to play along. Nikandros was the last, and he gave Flair a deep sensual kiss, gave Jewel one on her cheek and one at the top of her cleavage, and caught Mistress' hand to press a gallant one to her fingers, before he sauntered into the lounge.

Next: getting back to being Jillian isn't quite as simple as just declaring it's over.