For the child so desperate for love

They once called me Claude.

I was raised in a charming orphanage surrounded by heavenly jasmine that reminded me of snow and the heavens. The scent of jasmine was always sweet and the children often plucked the small flowers and made jewellery out of them. Just like the lovely jasmine, the people around the orphanage were delightful. The children were always smiling despite knowing that they were orphaned and abandoned like dogs. We were taught to always hope and believe that the future was beautiful. So I dreamt of the day that I would be taken out of the orphanage and welcomed into a family who would hold me through my treacherous nightmares.

I always smiled upon seeing new faces enter the orphanage. For me, they were butterflies looking for the brightest roses in a garden. I prayed that they would notice me since I would hear them exclaim over my blue eyes, saying they shone like sapphires and my golden hair which was always soft to touch. I was hopeful and continued to act like the other children, playing in the streets and helping with the chores. I did my best to show that I was a kind lad, too.

During the day, the orphanage was full of visitors. I would often hear someone asking if they could adopt me. But then I would hear the women who ran the orphanage say, “No. Claude cannot be adopted, but you can have any of the other children.”

And so I found out that I was forbidden to be adopted. I felt like a prisoner within the walls of that peaceful orphanage despite being surrounded by happy children. And I was an envious prisoner. I would quietly watch my friends run into the arms of their new parents while I sat alone in the corner.

Bitter and hurt, I frequently hid so that none would see that my heart that had been broken and shattered repeatedly. My chores became a burden and I was, honestly, tired of slaving the days away. I wondered if I would ever belong to a family. It was time to search for the truth, I decided.

One of the volunteers of the orphanage was a woman named Beatrice who visited us once a week. Amongst all the people I knew, I was closest to her. She was a beautiful woman with high cheekbones and full lips. Her eyes were blue, and her hair shone like the sun. Her smile reminded me of the stars. She brought inspiration and hope wherever she went, and she always spoke to me with a gentle tone. I trusted her. Curious and desperate, I pulled her behind the orphanage one spring morning. The scent of jasmine pirouetted like ballerinas dancing through the air. Beatrice ruffled my hair and asked, “My dear child, what is it that you wanted to ask me?”

I looked around. The garden was filled with people, but none were close to us. I was certain that no one would hear my question. I asked, “Why am I not allowed to be adopted?”

Beatrice drew back and stared at me as if I was about to attack her. And her face grew pale with what seemed like fear. She suddenly turned and left me in the garden alone with the jasmine and the butterflies.

Beatrice stopped visiting the orphanage, and I grew guilty. I wondered if my question hurt her but I could not understand why. I grew even more desperate to know the truth. I discovered that I was small enough to crawl into the window that led to the vault where records were kept. During the night, once everyone was asleep, I would go through the documents that were kept by the women in the orphanage.

After days of searching, I found a parchment which revealed to me my real mother. It was Beatrice! Supposedly, Beatrice gave me to the orphanage when I was just a few days old, and an agreement was signed between her and the owners of the orphanage. In their agreement, the orphanage was to take care of me, but I was not allowed to be adopted because I was still Beatrice’s child. Also, I was to never learn the truth. Beatrice paid the owners a hefty amount monthly, and Beatrice was given the rights to visit me whenever she wanted. She was also the only person who could take me out of the orphanage.

I was only eight that time, so I cried. I have been looking for a mother for years, but, apparently, my mother never left me. Why must Beatrice keep it a secret? Why could she not take me home? Those thoughts wounded me greatly. Was I not enough for Beatrice?

I hid the parchment beneath my bed and patiently waited for Beatrice to return because I wanted to embrace her and call her my mother. However, she did not come back, and I grew even more desperate. I looked through more documents to learn who my father was. And I found him. His name was Oliver Winterman. He was a man who I was not familiar with, but I often heard of the name Winterman.

Before I fell asleep that precious night, I whispered to the jasmines, “Claude Winterman.”How it felt divine. I was a Winterman. I belonged somewhere.

I needed to find my father. I decided to run away.

As I wandered throughout the town, I learned that the Wintermans were a powerful family in the kingdom, and Oliver was a lord. Aside from their royal blood, the family also participated in trade.

I jumped for joy, thinking that I was royalty. But I was happier when I learned of where my father lived. Since I was naive then, I continued walking throughout the town whilst imagining a wonderful future with my real family.

I arrived at my father’s home at night just when the wolves were howling. Their noise, surprisingly, did not frighten me despite my young age. I was too excited to see Oliver, and the wolves stayed in the forest near the neighboring kingdom of Sanborne. The wolves hardly entered the town.

Excited and with nowhere to go, I slept on the streets. Once the bright morn came, I approached the gates of Oliver’s home which were guarded by large, stocky men who quietly looked down at me. They were intimidating, but I gathered the courage to ask for my father. I even told them, “His name is Oliver Winterman.”

The guards looked at each other, and I took a step away from them because their blue eyes were frightening. They asked who I was, and I simply said that I was his son because I did not know what else to say.

“Wait here,” they told me. One guard entered the large chateau, and the others stayed by the gates with me. I held my hands together and stared at my father’s charming home. The walls were as white as the jasmine of the orphanage. The roof was as blue as the morning sky. A large lake gleamed behind the chateau, and the stars seemed to drown in the water.

The guard who entered my father’s home returned and asked me to follow him. Trying to behave, I quietly nodded and followed him inside. He led me down the pathway of the gardens where the brightest red roses shone like rubies and the loveliest butterflies danced the way fairies would. It was my first time being in such a majestic place that I stared at the roses. I was only familiar with the jasmine in the orphanage.

The guard halted, and I almost collided into his back. I moved to the side to see what startled him, and I was taken aback. My father stood before me on the porch that led to his home, and he looked older than what I expected. Most of his blond hair was already white. A thick moustache sat upon his thin lips, and a messy stubble covered his jaw and cheeks. Nevertheless, he was a handsome man. We had the same nose, and we shared the same thin lips. My stomach fluttered. He was the man responsible for my life, and I was grateful to have found him.

Then I saw that my mother stood by his side. She looked frightened as she rubbed her hands together. My father was frowning, too, but it did not matter. He was there. My mother was with him. We were together as a family for the first time that I almost cried. I finally belonged somewhere. Farewell to the days when I would watch the other children with envy! Farewell to the days when I prayed to find a family for I finally found them!

I opened my mouth to greet Oliver, but he glared at my mother whilst he played with the tobacco pipe in his hand. The smoke from the pipe flew to his face, and he said, “I told you to kill him.”

I was speechless. The beauty of my father’s home faded and became an image of hell. Mother bowed her head and said, “I’m deeply sorry, my lord.”

Their words cut me like a knife made from the ice of the deepest winters, and I desired to return to the suffocating walls of the orphanage.

“I already have enough sons,” father looked at me disdainfully. “I do not need another pathetic little bastard walking through my home. Besides –” he looked at mother, “– did I not tell you that you are nothing to me? Why insist to have a child? You are a courtesan, a woman for my companionship and nothing more. You are not my wife. You are not my beloved. And I warned you. Yes? If you were to have my child, I would not want it, and he shall be killed. We had this discussion numerous times before. And you told me that you killed him. Yes?”

Mother covered her face and nodded. And I, crying, stared at her. I just wanted a family. Why must the heavens curse me with such parents?

Oliver pointed to me and asked, “Then why is he still alive?” I quivered with fear and mother apologized. Why was my own mother apologizing for allowing me to live? Was I such an abomination for them? Father turned to the guard and ordered, “Throw him out. Make sure that he does not disturb me again.” He turned around and walked into his home, and Beatrice stared at me whilst she cried and watched the guard pull me to the gates.

I wanted to shout her name because I was not used to calling her anything else but Beatrice. However, she was my mother. So I yelled, “Mama!” whilst I tried to free myself from the guard’s gruesome grip on my arm. “Mama! Mama!” That horrid word and my pained voice echoed throughout the heavenly garden, yet, no matter how much I screamed, nothing happened. I was just taken to the gates and thrown to the ground while my mother stood on the stairs leading to my father’s home.

The gates were quickly shut, and the noise thundered like the falling of a great tree in the forest. I crawled to the gate and grabbed its iron bars. Since I was so little then, I thought that I could squeeze through the bars but I could not get in. I could not get to my mother. So I pushed both of my arms through the bars and screamed for her. “Mama! Mama! Please!” I did not know what I was begging for, but I knew that I wanted for her to save me from everything because she was my mother. I needed her. But she did not seem to want me for she covered her face and walked into my father’s home.

Beatrice chose Oliver over me, and I felt useless and alone. I always desired my own family, but maybe I was not fated to have one because my own parents did not even want me. Mother probably just visited me in the orphanage because of guilt and nothing else because, if she loved me, she would have protected me.

The guard who threw me out stared at my pathetic form whilst I begged and cried on the ground. There was sorrow in his eyes, but he was powerless against his master’s orders.

I wondered; was that how mother felt? Did she feel powerless against my father’s words? But she was my mother. The guard was not. Why did she not do anything? I grew up believing that parents would risk their lives for their children. Was I wrong?

I ran down the streets and refused to stop even when my legs started to ache, even when my heart threatened to explode. I just ran hoping that I could get away from it all, that maybe my precious dreams could still come true.

I stopped running when my legs finally gave up. I fell on my hands and knees and scraped my skin against the paved road of the town. Since I was only a child, the harrowing pain caused me to cry further. I looked at my hands, and there were cuts on my palms. The blood spilling forth from it was bright, and I screamed whilst the people on the streets watched my honest performance.

A young man kneeled before me, and he looked truly worried. His blue eyes were vivid, and his blond hair was short. He looked like Oliver, and, somehow, he looked like me.

“Boy, are you all right? Would you want me to take you to a doctor?” he asked when he saw my bleeding hands.

Frightened, I pushed him away and ran. I did not want a family anymore. I did not even want friends. I did not want anyone. I just wanted to be alone, and I did not want to hope anymore. So I started living in the streets. I did not want to depend on anyone any longer. Also, my foolish dreams would not be stepped upon any further, and none would be able to hurt me again.

Over the next few months, I grew adept to sleeping in alleyways, starving for days, and stealing food from people. There were even some bakers who felt sorry for me that they would give me bread so that I would stop stealing. A few even offered to take me as their apprentice so that I would have a home. However, I rejected all of their offers because I feared creating a relationship with anyone. So I continued to sleep in dirty alleyways and steal from innocent people. But I should have taken the offers handed to me and changed the direction of my life because I stole from the wrong man one day.

That man wore the most elaborate garbs that I have ever seen, and the air around him was unfathomably regal that he was obviously a royal. I did not care for his riches, though, I just wanted food and maybe some gold coins so that I could buy something to eat. The man did not seem to be carrying any bread, but a pouch was hanging from his belt that I ran and bumped into him. He gasped, and I kept running.

Upon reaching a distant alleyway I believed to be far enough from the man, I hid. I pressed my back against the rough wall and, with my chest rising and falling dramatically, I slid to the dirty and wet ground. I gripped my heart and tried to calm myself. On my lap was the heavy pouch which seemed to have coins inside it that I smiled. I would be able to feed myself for days, maybe even months.

The alleyway was already dark, then it grew darker as shadows covered me. I clutched the pouch to my chest believing that one of the other beggars on the streets wanted to steal it. However, as I looked up, I saw the furious Royal Guards of Benfield, the personal guards of the royal family. I recognized them from their blue uniform adorned by gold, and the symbolic three sprigs of jasmine stitched unto the breast pocket of their jacket. It was the emblem of the kingdom’s royal family.

“Do you know who you stole from, boy?” one of them asked.

My dirty and oily hair sticking to my face and neck, I shook my head and clutched the pouch tighter as if it was my own life I was holding in my hands.

“You stole from the prince,” said he.

My eyes widened. I did not know that it was the prince. If I did, then I would not have stolen from him. I stood and clumsily handed the pouch to the guard whilst shaking with fear. “I beg for your mercy!”

I apologised profusely, but my pleas for forgiveness were unheard. The guards took the pouch and grabbed me by my arms. They pulled me out of the alleyway towards the town square, and I was screaming, crying, begging for them to release me. I also struggled against their hold, but I was powerless against them. The townspeople even watched, and they whispered. Just like my mother, they did nothing.

The guards pushed me to the floor of the town square’s stage as another guard suddenly appeared before me with a whip. That guard, short but with strong, broad shoulders, demanded, “Remove that dirty shirt of yours, boy.”

“Please!” I raised my hands. “Please! I did not know that he was the prince!”

“Silence!” he raised the whip in the air.

“Stop!” Another voice thundered, and the prince appeared before the stage. The townspeople stared, and the guards quickly stood at attention. And I, ashamed and already on my knees, pressed my nose and hands to the floor praying for mercy.

“Your Grace,” I heard a guard say, “this is the boy who stole from you.”

The prince was quiet, but the townsfolk whispered noisily to one another. Since I could not see anything, I grew nervous and continued to pray as heavy boots padded against the stage, its noise heavily ringing in my ears. I squeezed my head with my hands expecting that the prince himself would whip me to teach me a lesson.

A gentle hand touched my back, and the tenderness baffled me. “Lad, stand up. I forgive you.”

I looked up. The prince was kneeling by my side. His hand was on my back, and he was staring at me. He was a handsome man with deep blue eyes and long blond hair which he pulled from his face. And I stayed still for I did not know how to act around royalty. Was I supposed to stay on my knees? Was I supposed to look away? Was I supposed to shake his hand? I did not know. I did not even know how to read.

“What is your name?” He asked me, and I was taken aback. No one has called me by my name since I left the orphanage. People just called me lad, boy, child, and sometimes rat.But I could never forget my name.

“Claude, Your Grace.” I wanted to tell him my father’s name, too, Winterman, but I could not say it. My father did not recognize me as his child, so I had no right to use his name.

“Hello, Claude. Come.” He gave me his hand, and I stared at it because, yet again, I did not know what to do. Was I even worthy enough to touch a prince’s hand? The prince laughed and asked, “Where are your parents?”

I looked down and drew back. That was a question that I constantly heard, and it was a question that repulsed me. I answered, “I do not know. I do not know them.”

“Oh, dear,” the prince honestly looked saddened unlike the others who have asked that question, and I felt a small flame of hope light inside of me. The prince asked, “Do you have a home?”

I could feel the people’s eyes on us, and it felt as if the heavens were judging me that I cried again. “I am sorry. I am so sorry, Your Grace.” I sat on the heels of my feet and clutched my dirty and torn trousers. The only trousers I possessed. The trousers that I wore when I still burst with hope and dreams of finding my family. The trousers that I wore when my faith in life disappeared as my father openly confessed that he wanted me dead. And my skin, which used to be pale, was dirty and dark. Being beside the clean prince, I felt and looked like dirt which made me cry even more. Maybe that was why my parents never loved me. It was because I was meant to be a dirty soul destined to steal and be alone. I told the prince, “I was just hungry.”

The prince took my hand, and I tried to pull it away for he was too clean. His hands were as clear as the sky while mine was dirtier than the streets. And his palms were as soft as the winter snow while mine felt like the surface of rocks. But the prince did not seem disgusted for he pulled me to him and whispered to my ear. “You can live in the palace, Claude. There, you shall be fed, and you shall have a home.”

I stared at him, and my gut twisted from the harrowing hunger gnawing my stomach. “Is this true, Your Grace?”

“Yes, Claude.”

Claude. To hear my name be spoken felt divine. The small hope inside of me burst, and I felt the angels smiling down at me. I covered my face with my hands and said, “Thank you.”

The prince pulled me to my feet and brought me to his palace where he gave me a bedchamber, tutors, food, friends, and a new family that I adored. He treated me like his son, and I looked at him as if he was my father even if I called him by his name: Sevrin.

Living in the palace, I felt loved. I ran in the gardens and played with the other children. I was given books to read and encouraged to write. I even learned how to paint and draw.

Whilst I was painting the yellow roses in the palace’s central garden one day, I grew guilty because I had not told Sevrin the truth about my family. So I stopped painting and stared at the roses.

In the peaceful silence of the garden, I realized that I trusted Sevrin. That night, I confessed the truth to him.

Sevrin was outraged, and he promised that he would avenge me. I was still young then and I was confused. However, I did not dwell on it because I was happy living with Sevrin and the royal family. Nevertheless, a week after my confession, Oliver Winterman came to the palace that I hid in my bedchamber because, despite spending a few years away from him, my father frightened me, and his words still haunted my dreams.

I planned to hide in my bedchamber the whole day until Oliver left, but Sevrin came to me and asked that I sit with him in one of the drawing rooms with my father. I wanted to say no and beg him to let me be, but Sevrin has always been so kind to me. I let him lead me to the drawing room where my father waited.

When Oliver saw me, he glared. He sat on a red sofa, and he was alone. I was hoping to see my mother, but I should have expected that Beatrice would not be present for Oliver openly spoke of her as his whore and nothing more.

Sevrin sat on the other red sofa in front of Oliver, and Sevrin had me sit beside him. I tried to look directly at my father, but it was difficult that my eyes moved throughout the drawing room. Sevrin, however, was smiling at Oliver who seemed to be sneering at me. I moved closer to Sevrin and held his arm.

Sevrin said, “Do you have anything to give to Claude, Lord Winterman?”

Father scowled. However, he stood from the sofa and approached us. I moved even closer to Sevrin, and I was baffled when Oliver handed me a piece of parchment.

“Well?” Oliver frowned. His voice still sounded exactly as how I remembered it, but his anger towards me seemed larger. “Do I have to read this bloody–”

“Oliver.” Sevrin interrupted him.

Oliver sighed, and he forced himself to smile. “I have something for you, Claude. He narrowed his eyes when he said my name, and I refused to take the parchment from his hands.

“Go on,” Sevrin whispered. “Take it. I am just here, Claude.”

I glanced at Sevrin. He was smiling softly at me that I felt encouraged. I felt safe. So I took the parchment and read what was written on it.

I was bewildered. Oliver named me his heir, and I could finally carry the name Winterman. But I did not know how to feel. I always wanted my father’s name, and I always wanted his love. But, because of Oliver, I learned to loath myself because I believed that I was not worthy enough to be alive. I even learned to hate the heavens for letting me live. I did not want his name anymore. I did not even want to be associated with his family. I already had Sevrin. Although I did not carry Sevrin’s family name, I was Sevrin’s son and not Oliver’s anymore.

I looked at Sevrin and felt lost. Sevrin looked so proud of himself. He believed that he was helping me, and I did not want to upset him for he saved me from the streets and took me away from hunger. So I smiled and said, “Thank you.”

Since then, I had power over almost everything. I had an unlimited amount of gold, personal guards, and my own servants. I could go to the Winterman estate and demand anything I wanted because the people always gave me whatever I wanted. They would even sacrifice their own lives if I asked for it. And, sadly, they learned to fear me even if I was a child who did nothing but accept Sevrin’s kindness.

On my first visit to the Wintermans, I was reunited with my mother, and she begged for my forgiveness. It made me uneasy. I could not even look at her despite my own desire to fix our relationship. Unlike how I felt towards Oliver, I did not feel any anger towards my mother. There was just pain. Unfathomably harrowing pain that made me desire death. I told my mother that she was forgiven, but, despite that, I still could not look at her. I could not speak to her. I could not even be in the same room as her. So I always avoided her presence, and I avoided the Wintermans including my innocent half-siblings who were innocent of my father’s sins.

At the age of fourteen, I became attracted to one of the children of the queen’s handmaidens. She was around my age, kind and patient. Though I could not remember her face, it was the tender tone of her voice that I could not forget. I found her beautiful.

Since I trusted Sevrin, I told him that I was attracted to that young lady, and Sevrin was not pleased. He even avoided me for an entire day. I was hurt because I did not know what I did wrong. Nevertheless, I tried to apologize, but he still would not talk to me. I returned to my bed with a bleeding heart.

Whilst I slept, someone snuck into my room, and I was awakened. It was Sevrin, and he was still angry.

“What did I do wrong?” I sat on my bed and watched his blue eyes glow in the darkness. The moonlight gently cradled his face, and he lit the fireplace in the chamber. The light spread against the golden walls, and the shadows danced like the gypsies. I shouted, “Sevrin, please, say something! What did I do wrong? I could not understand!”

Sevrin approached me, his shadow shaking against the golden walls. Then he suddenly reached for me and tore my nightshirt apart. I screamed, and he pushed my face to the soft mattress. I lay on my stomach, and Sevrin pulled my hips up and spread my ass cheeks apart, exposing me to the cold night and his ravenous eyes, to his hunger that burned deeply in his loins as he breached me with his thick, heavy cock.

I cried and screamed until my throat bled. Sevrin filled me with his seed that night, and he forced me to finish by fondling my cock. I begged for him to stop, and he bit my shoulder until he drew blood. He whispered to my ear, “I want you to feel pleasure, too, Claude.” His breath was warm, but I felt no pleasure. Instead, I felt violated and dirty, and betrayal sang to my ears.

I stained the white sheets with my seed and wept. Sevrin lay down beside me and pulled me on top of him. I was crying, and I wanted to run away from the man I thought of as my father. But my body was in tremendous pain. I could not move, so I just let Sevrin hold me as I clutched his arms. I wanted to ask him why he did that to me. I wanted to ask him how he could take me in such a manner. But I could not stop crying.

Sevrin combed my hair back and lovingly held me against his strong chest. He kissed my temple, and I smelled mead from his breath. He was inebriated, and I thought that I could forgive him. However, no matter how foolish drunkards could be, they always speak the truth. And Sevrin confessed, “I have wanted you for such a long time now, Claude. I was waiting for you to grow older since you are so skinny and small and innocent. I believed that I could wait for you, but that little whore is taking your attention.”

I cried harder and felt dirtier. The man who I looked up to as a father has always wanted to have me in his bed. How should I react to that? It was repulsive. How could Sevrin look at me in such a way? He treated me as if I was his child. He held me through my nightmares and had given me a home, a place by his side. Also, I held no physical desires for men that I became confused. I spilled my seed from a man’s touch, but why?

Sevrin soon fell asleep, and I was awake for another hour because of the deranged, thoughts floating in my head. I still felt dirty, and I could not push those feelings away since I was pressed against Sevrin’s body. And Sevrin’s seed was still warm inside of me.

Sevrin broke me that night. I had thought of Sevrin as my beloved father, yet he and used me like a common whore, unworthy of sympathy.

The following day, I woke up to an empty bed and the warm, comforting touch of the morning sun. I tried to stand, but the pain tearing my flesh was strong. Nevertheless, I forced myself to stand. My sheets were stained with Sevrin’s seed and mine, and my blood was also painted upon it. However, I did not know that I bled that, upon seeing the stark crimson shade, I rushed to my private bath to inspect my body. And, yes, there was blood between my legs.

Sevrin tore me. I cried in my bath, believing that I have served my purpose, that Sevrin would throw me out of the palace already. I have sated his lust and his desire for the flesh of a young man. Therefore I was of no use to him anymore. However, I was still called for breakfast, and my personal servants prepared me for the day. They had to pull me out of the baths, though, because I refused to move. And they said nothing about the blood on my sheets. They just dressed me, and their hands upon my body shook whilst I wanted to run. I did not want anyone’s hands on me anymore.

I was brought to the dining halls for breakfast, and I tried to act normal. However, I did not want to eat that I forced myself to swallow the food placed on my plate. I also tried to act normal, but I found it difficult to smile. Since Sevrin sat beside me, I could hardly move, and Sevrin did not acknowledge me. I felt even more worthless.

After breakfast, we were separated as I had to attend my lessons. However, I was having a difficult time concentrating because I was thinking of Sevrin. My tutors could not scold me, though, because they feared of what Sevrin might do to them if ever they raised their voices at me.

During lunch, I was made to sit with the royal family and Sevrin once more. Like breakfast, Sevrin and I were quiet. I believed that Sevrin was struggling with his guilt, and I decided that I would forgive him because he was still my father. However, after lunch whilst I was having my art lessons, Sevrin called for me. He brought me to his chamber and breached me again whilst he pressed me to the golden walls. He said that he could not control himself, that he was sorry, and that he loved me. And I felt powerless. I let him take me repeatedly against my will. And so our affair began.

Our affair was not a secret. No. It was known by all, and I always screamed for mercy every time Sevrin would spread my legs to sate his desires. But none helped me. They merely listened and watched, and it reminded me of my mother who did nothing to save me from my father. Even when blood was running down my thighs, I knew I would just be told to behave and be a good little boy for Sevrin because he was the crown prince.

I did not desire what Sevrin was doing to me. I wanted him to stop, but he would always tell me that he loved me. And I loved him, too, though not in a romantic manner. For me, he was still my father, and I felt so desperate to keep his love that I became accustomed to spreading my legs for him and giving into his desires.

Then the day came when Sevrin had to marry his intended, a woman named Abigail. I grew frightened of being alone yet again. I started to become jealous of the people around Sevrin, and, after what seemed to be a lifetime of loathing it, I began to crave his touch.

The night after Sevrin’s marriage to Abigail, I begged Sevrin to use my flesh for his pleasure. I remember him whispering, “You finally love me,” because I did not scream for him to stop anymore.

They once called me Claude. Just Claude. Now, they call me Lord Claude Winterman.