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"It will never work," the fat king declared melodramatically.
He stood and paced back and forth, ignoring the sumptuous appointments of the duke's private rooms.
"Your majesty, we must have an accord with the Russians," his Foreign Minister smoothly interjected.
"But how? The Prussians will never allow a diplomat across their territory, nor will the Hapsburgs, they are too suspicious. The English will deny us a sea route. Russia would make a fine counterbalance, but how to approach them?"
"We'll find a way, but for the evening, just enjoy the ball and let us worry about it," his chief advisor, the Duke De Fleury, said.
Once the hapless monarch nodded and waddled off with the rest of his retainers, the powers behind the throne waited for a signal that his majesty had left the small building. When it came, the Duke D'Orleans immediately poured himself a stiff drink from a crystal decanter.
"Must we put up with that idiot?" the foreign minister, Clemenceau, asked rhetorically.
"If only he would father a child so we could do away with him. A regency would be so much more useful," the Count De Raven observed.
"Peace, gentlemen," Grand Marshal Bell-Isle said.
Although he was the lowest born of the council, his voice was strong and commanding, and the various noblemen all ceased their complaining.
"He's corpulent, perverse, cowardly and stupid. What better ruler could we ask for? Anyone with a hint of the greatness of his forebears in his blood would have hanged us all for conspiracy long ago."
"The worst of it is the fat bastard is right this time. I don't see any way to get a diplomatic mission to Elizabeth's court," the Duke of Normandy said.
"Nor do I, and the military situation is grave. Perhaps we could use a courier who would attract no notice?"
"Unlikely. Any nobleman could of course travel to Russia, but our last emissary didn't make it across the frontier before he was assassinated. We have at least one, if not many spies in our midst," De Fleury said.
"That's likely. Perhaps we could send word by sea?"
"No. If the English find out, it would be far worse than no help at all, and if they could prove to Fredrick we were plotting against him it would be disastrous. He would surely see any overture to Russia as proof or our ill intent..."
"Are you sure about this?" Charles asked, using both hands to cover his privates.
"Of course I am," his sister, Julia, responded from within her closet.
"It's just so embarrassing," the small man replied.
"Have no fear, dear brother. When I am done with you, even Ma-ma would not recognize you."
The small man nodded, but his expression remained dubious as he nervously glanced around his sister's room. As usual, it was a mess, his sister never being one to keep things orderly and the maid being nowhere to be found. Unless one looked in Pa-pa's study of course.
Charles De Locke was a short, thin man, with a sallow complexion and dark eyes. His body was trim, almost waifish, and softly rounded in all the wrong places for a man. Teased unmercifully about his girlish figure and pretty face, he had taken up fencing at a young age and had become so proficient that no man dared make fun of him now. He also began Greco-Roman wrestling and had become an adept in the arts of using his opponent's body against him. A stint in the cavalry had hardened his body but done nothing to remove the soft curves he had hoped the harsh life would destroy.
His family was minor nobility and the education that had afforded him also made him stand out. Few men of the court were as well read or wrote the kind of voluminous correspondence he did. He spoke several languages in a soft contralto that had become well known among the courtiers and scientists of Louis's court.
Julia flounced out of her closet with an old corset, stays and a pannier set. She tossed these on the bed and from a small, ornate box she produced a slightly sinister looking garment and held it up, smiling at her obviously embarrassed brother.
"What is that?" he asked.
"I had the tailor make it. I do not think it probable that a state of even intense arousal would give you away, but I know how much you fret," she said, stepping behind him.
She held the small garment and Charles hesitantly stepped into it.
Julia pulled it up his nearly hairless legs. She enjoyed his embarrassment greatly. It wasn't that she did not love her brother, nor that she wished him ill in his enterprise, but merely that she enjoyed tormenting him, as siblings often do.
"Push your prick back between your legs."
"Oh stop. I know what a prick is. I've probably seen more than you have."
Charles, now red from head to toe, obediently pushed his semi-erect cock back between his legs. Julia pulled the garment up and laced it tightly. The thick satin covered his hips and the crotch formed a sheath that pushed his cock back and flat against his cheeks. It was open in the rear and he could feel that his cock head was unobstructed.
"There, now you will have no worries and should nature call, you will be able to answer."
She rose and hurried over to the bed, grabbing the thin white chemise she had chosen.
"Arms up," she called.
"Is all of this really necessary?" Charles asked testily.
Once Julia had the chemise over his head and down she eyed him critically for a few moments. He looked as feminine as he had when they had both played together as children. Her mother had kept him in petticoats until he was nearly twelve, relenting only when father had returned from the wars and put his foot down.
"I am not the one of us here who wishes to bed Monsieur De Baldavere's pretty wife. Nor am I the one who has been moping, pining and wailing about not being able to get near her. If you don't like my idea, fine. Just go back to daily abusing yourself and scandalizing Father Abruzzi each week at confession!"
"I'm sorry, dear sister," he cried.
"You should be. I am going to all this trouble and all you have done is whine."
"It's just so very strange, but I promise not another complaint will pass my lips."
Julia smiled and turned back to her bed.
Poor Charles, she thought. It was just too easy. It wasn't that he was weak willed; in fact he could be ungovernably stubborn. But underneath the bluster, she knew his nature was submissive and he was so naïve. Unable to recognize when he was being manipulated, he was often caught in embarrassing situations not of his own design. Time and again, his skill with the blade had been the only thing that kept him from real trouble as no man at court wished to test him.
Putting her musings aside, she gathered up the complicated black corset she had chosen for him and approached. She pressed it to his chest and moved behind him.
"Hold it to your body, like that. Good," she said, as she began to work on the complicated lacings.
Julia took great pleasure in tightening the laces, pulling, pushing and eventually placing her knee in his back to take out slack. True to his word, he didn't utter a single complaint, but from his breathing and hisses, she knew he was getting an idea of what it was like to wear one. When she was done she tied it off and moved around to inspect him.
The corset pushed up and flattened his chest. Charles had always carried some fat around his breasts. No matter how much weight he lost or how fit he became, it seemed to linger. The corset did a marvelous job of sculpting this to give him a small but admirable bust. Next came the stays, also in black. Once the stays were in place, she helped him into the white stockings. These she covered in lacy pantalets. When Charles realized that all of the clothing he wore would still leave his crotch open he blanched.
Julia noticed his consternation but refused to say anything, and so he stood there in embarrassment as she attached the panniers. Over these went several petticoats, which she also tied down. She was sweating by the time she finished and silently cursed her father for hiring his doxy as maid.
Charles stepped easily into the blue damask shoes and dutifully held up his arms when Julia presented his dress. It was also blue, with a heavy brocade bodice and plenty of lace. It fell almost perfectly and Julia only had to do a tiny bit of tugging and pulling to make sure the full skirt completely covered her brother's petticoats.
"Now, go sit on the bed."
Julia gathered up her makeup and gave her brother a critical once over. She patiently plucked his eyebrows and about three quarters of an inch of the hair from his head, to give him the fashionably high forehead needed at court. His skin was so pale, he almost didn't need the ceruse base, but she dutifully applied it from his head to his bosom, making sure to smooth it until his skin was flawlessly white. Once she was done, she broke an egg, carefully separated the yolk and used the white to glaze his skin.
Next came vermillion for a rosy blush and a cute puckered smile. She used kohl to outline his wide eyes and make them seem slightly farther apart. Next came a drop of belladonna in each, to give them that sparkle women so craved.
His hair was already fashionably red and it took her only a few minutes to put it up.
Smiling as she surveyed her handiwork she added the finishing touch, a small black mask decorated with white feathers.
"Who is that enchanting creature?" the king asked his foreign minister.
"I'm sure I don't know, your majesty," he replied, giving the petite woman in the stunning blue dress a long, measuring gaze.
"Well, find out."
Clemenceau sighed heavily and slowly framed his reply, watching Louis's face to make sure he was correctly gauging the king's mood, which was always a risky undertaking. Louis's temper was legendary.
"It would seem, your majesty, that the entire point of a masked ball is to try and guess who is hiding behind the mask."
"Of course, of course," Louis said with a broad smile.
At least he is in a good humor, the rail thin minister thought.
"Go to her, Clemenceau. Let her know I wish the honor of the next dance," he said, his little pig eyes sparkling.
Cursing under his breath, Clemenceau made his way across the crowded floor. Of all the men on the secret council, he hated Louis most fiercely. Acting as nursemaid was bad enough, but panderer was almost too much for the proud nobleman to stand. As he neared the woman he swallowed his anger and put on his best face.
"Good evening, mademoiselle. His majesty wishes to have the next dance with you," he said smoothly as he bowed and kissed her hand.
When she did not respond he wondered if perhaps she had not heard him. He cleared his throat and repeated his greeting.
"Forgive my sister's reticence, m'lord," the taller woman near her said.
She gave the woman he was addressing a sharp look, but even then, she seemed incapable of speaking or moving.
"She is only lately arrived from a very provincial rearing and is, I am sure, overwhelmed that his majesty would even notice her here among so many of the kingdom's greatest beauties. Please tell his majesty she is deeply honored," the taller girl said.
"Of course, mademoiselle," he replied, bowing again.
This time both of them curtsied and he stalked back towards the king's throne.
"Are you trying to get us both executed?" Julia whispered.
"I...I must go..." Charles stammered.
"You must not! What are you thinking?"
"I can't dance with the king!" he whispered urgently.
"Of course you can. You know how to dance, and if Clemenceau didn't recognize you there is no way Louis will," she said reasonably.
"But..." he began as the dance ended.
"No buts, here," she said, shoving a fan into his hand and deeply curtsying as the king approached.
He bowed deeply and Charles almost bowed as well, remembering to curtsey only at the last instant. Superlatively aware of his condition, he moved to the king's right side as the music began. He carefully extended his hand and took the king's proffered arm, reminding himself to keep his grip light. They turned towards each other and began to dance.
Charles was accounted an accomplished dancer, but he seemed very unsure of himself to those who danced around and watched the couple. Everything was backwards and he was concentrating so hard on it that he missed Louis's first words.
"I am sorry, your majesty," he murmured.
"Not at all, mademoiselle. I said you look particularly lovely this evening."
"Your Majesty is too kind."
"Not at all. You are by far the most attractive woman here tonight," he replied with a lecherous grin. Charles forced a smile and lowered his eyes.
"Who is she, Clemenceau?" De Fleury asked.
"I know not, but I wonder," he said, stroking his beard.
"Well, the king seems quite taken with her."
"Yes, Madame Pompadour is already staring daggers at her, the poor dear," Marshal Bell-Isle added.
"Odds that he tries to steer her to the balcony after the dance?" De Fleury said casually.
"With Pompadour watching? I'll give three to one," De Raven said.
"One hundred francs?"
"Two, if you please."
"I'll take two as well," Bell-Isle added.
The secret council watched as the dance ended and the king steered the obviously hesitant lady towards the balcony. As soon as they disappeared from view Bell-Isle and De Raven both cursed.
"Will you two never learn not to bet against that pig's depravity?" De Fleury laughed.
It was cool on the balcony, also darkly intimate. Far too intimate for Charles.
The king's hand had already strayed to the small of his back, and was now inching lower. He bit his lip and stiffened when Louis's hand caressed his hip. He silently thanked God he had on so many petticoats, as it was sure to keep the king from further depredations on his flanks.
"So tell me, my dear, what do you think of the palace?"
"It's beautiful my lord. Never could I have imagined such wonders."
"You've only seen a small bit. Perhaps you would like to see more?"
Charles knew he had to do something; he had no illusions about what parts the king wished to show him. Louis's hand closed over Charles's and pulled it gently from the railing. In disbelief the petite man felt the king guide his hand to the bulge in his breeches.
"Perhaps this will persuade you?" Louis said.
"Your majesty!" Charles blurted out, hiding his face.
"Massive, is it not?" he chuckled.
"Umm, yes, your majesty."
Actually, Charles's own prick, while nothing noteworthy, was larger, but it hardly seemed politic to point that out.
"I'm sure you want to see more," he whispered, his tongue darting to Charles's ear.
Poor Charles was beside himself. The slight thrill of his clothes had kept him in a strange, semi-randy state since he first dressed. He was mortified by the king's advances, but even more mortified to find his prick straining at its satin cage and butterflies of desire in his tummy. He was petrified, caught between arousal and fear as Louis quickly unfastened his pantaloons, freeing his shaft.
The amorous king guided Charles's delicate hand to his erect cock. Charles felt his hand close around the warm flesh involuntarily.
"Stroke it, my dear," the king commanded.
Charles hesitantly pulled at it, feeling the silky smooth skin moving with his hand. The thick head was uncovered as his hand slid to the base and recovered as it moved towards the tip.
In his many moths of pining for Mary De Baldavere, Charles had become quite adept at bringing himself pleasure with his hand. He began to use his wrist more, adding a twisting motion to the slow stroking.
Louis groaned and tightened his grip on her waist.
"That's it, my dear," he growled. Despite his fear, Charles suddenly saw a way out of his predicament. He quickened his pace and gripped the king's prick more firmly. Soon the king's hips began to buck gently and his breathing became labored.
"Perhaps we should retire to..." he began.
Charles had been expecting that, knowing the king's reputation, and he turned from the rail to face him. He quickly licked his free hand and brought it to the crown of the king's shaft. He pushed the head into the hollow of his palm and began to squeeze in time to the stroking of his other hand. He could feel the slick wetness and within a few seconds, the warm spurts of the king's seed. Charles continued to milk the head, feeling the thick juice squishing between his fingers and running off his palm to fall to the marbled floor.
The king shuddered and pushed Charles's hands away. Charles quickly wiped his hand on the balustrade, shuddering himself in confused revulsion. He steeled himself for his getaway.
"Thank you, your majesty," he said with a forced smile.
He stood on tiptoe and brushed his lips over the still florid sovereign's and hastily returned to the ballroom.
Julia smiled at the look on her brother's face as he unsteadily made his way to her.
"I was beginning to worry. I thought to come rescue you, but could think of no way to part you from your lover's grasp," she joked.
"That isn't funny," he said with a petulant little frown.
"Oh, come now. You managed to escape on your own. It wasn't so bad was it?"
"For all I am worth, I cannot imagine how women deal with such men," Charles said indignantly.
"Of course you can, my sister. I am sure you figured it out all on your own. Tell me, did you use your hand or mouth?"
When he began to sputter in scandalized shock she laughed and placed a finger over his lips. The king breezed by and they both curtsied deeply. He nodded to them, and gave Charles a big smile.
"As you have no doubt begun to suspect, there are many skills a lady at court must have," she whispered as a new dance began.
"I had never imagined."
"Half the ladies in this ball room have satisfied the king's lust, in one manner or another. The social climbers have probably satisfied half the gathered nobles. It isn't something to be embarrassed about. A girl does what she must."