They say the body can get accustomed to nearly anything after enough time has passed. After nearly a year and a half in the bitter, bitter cold and vicious, howling wind, Leo was loathe to believe that old wive’s tale. His shoulders ached from chopping wood outside in the freezing cold. Despite the cold, he had been running with sweat after a half hour, and it was cooling on him now, uncomfortably cold and sticky. He threw two newly split logs into the roaring fire and watched the sparks fly up, wiping the dripping sweat from his forehead before seizing the huge iron kettle next to the fire.
Malkyn glanced over from where she stood preparing the night’s stew. A half-chopped onion remained clutched in her fist as she watched her older brother with idle curiosity.
The only sound in the small cabin was the crackle and spit of the fire as Leo moved about. He pulled the copper bath as close to the door of the cabin as he could and unlatched the door. Immediately, the whistling of the wind was upon them. Quickly, he filled the iron bath up about a foot with snow and took a bucket’s excess, pouring all the water in the kettle over the snow and filling the kettle itself with more snow. Malkyn wouldn’t need any more hot water for the night’s supper; all she needed was already in the large pot hanging bubbling over the fire.
“You’re bathing?” Malkyn’s voice was surprised. Leo nodded, beginning to loosen his clothing and pulling the bath close to the fire. He heard his sister sigh. “I’ll have to, too, then,” she said resignedly.
The water, although only lukewarm, felt wonderful on his skin as he sank into the iron tub up to his waist. It didn’t matter if he had to sit in it. The sweat and grime of a week’s work sloughed off. For a moment he only sat, leaning back and feeling the flickering warmth of the fire on his bare chest and face, sitting with his eyes closed, and then he sat up to wash himself.
“Malkyn! Bring me a cloth, please,” he called to her, when he realized he’d forgotten two of the most important bathing tools. “And a bar of soap.”
Wiping her hands on her apron, Malkyn came, bearing soap and cloth. She tried not to look at him, tried to resist, but even so, her gaze flickered down, and when she saw his manly parts, the blood came to her cheeks. She turned away abruptly without saying anything.
When they were small, when their mother and father had still lived, they had bathed together, and neither had been concerned about the differences in their bodies. Now, while Leo struggled to remain disinterested in his sister’s changed, womanly body, she blushed and grew strange, barely letting their fingers touch when passing a soup bowl.
They were less than a year apart in age, and most strangers had difficulty discerning which of the two was older.
The pleasurable experience of bathing had caused him to harden, and Malkyn had seen it. It was difficult, too, in this cold, to find privacy to relieve himself of his natural desires alone. He was forever with Malkyn, and while Leo loved his sister, the pent-up desire raging inside him wished for an outlet.
Oh, how he wished and longed for a smooth, warm, naked woman beside him beneath the soft furs on the coldest nights, a woman who was not his sister. One who he could pull to him, one he could kiss and fondle, one who would welcome his cock inside her ... just as he had heard the men at the tavern speak and jeer about. It was an experience, and a longing, which he had yet to fulfill.
Malkyn watched him bathe out of the corner of her eye. He could feel her gaze on him and wondered why she was watching him. When he rose to wash his legs and feet, she turned away at that, pretending she hadn’t been looking.
“You’re sore,” she said finally, when she had finished stirring the stew. “I could bring you some herbs for that.” Before she had died, their mother had begun to teach Malkyn the way of the herb woman, or healer. What she had learnt helped supplement their meagre earnings, as the people in the surrounding area came to her for their ailments and illnesses, and she had attended many birthings now, as well. She was good at what she did.
“No,” Leo said. “But I thank you for thinking of me.” He paused. “There is something else you might do for my soreness, however.”
“What is that?”
“You could rub my shoulders and back,” Leo suggested. “You have always had great success doing that for sore joints.”
Malkyn hesitated. He was still naked, in the bath.
“All right,” she assented, after a moment. “Sit forward.” She came to him and knelt by the tub, gently pressing her hand over all his back and shoulders first to see if there was any injury or particularly tense spots she needed to be attentive to. Satisfied, she began to knead at his skin. Her touch was gentle but firm, and whatever she was doing was working wonders. Leo let out a contented sigh as the pain and tension dissipated. He began to relax, to the point of even being sleepy, but was startled out of sleep when Malkyn spoke.
“Does it hurt?” She asked softly.
“No, it helps,” he replied. “It feels a lot better.”
“No,” she said. “Down there. Between ... between your legs. You’re all swollen. Does it hurt?”
He was hard again. Her touch had been, and still was, so sensual.
“No,” he said, matching her seriousness. “That’s just what’s supposed to happen. Don’t worry.”
“Oh.” She didn’t press him, and he didn’t elaborate.
When she felt she was done, Malkyn passed him a cloth to dry himself with and began to loosen her stays, turning away from him until only her shift remained. Leo averted his eyes out of respect for her, sensing her uneasiness at the prospect of being seen by him, and looked away until she had lowered herself into the bath. He, too, could not resist a small glance, and was rewarded with an eyeful of her breasts. They were firm yet soft-looking, the size of apples, tipped with small pink nipples.
He looked away quickly, fighting back the wave of arousal and fetching himself some clothing. “When will the stew be ready?” He asked Malkyn.
“It won’t be long now,” she replied. “We can eat as soon as I’m done washing.”
She was brief, yet thorough, her chestnut-coloured locks darkened by the water, and soon stood to dry herself, replacing her shift to eat in. She quickly ladled out two bowls of stew, and passed one to her brother.
They sat, in quiet content, staring into the fire, until Malkyn suddenly made a small anguished noise. Leo looked over. There was a dark, spreading stain from a spoonful of stew on her shift.
“Oh, now what will I do?” She said desperately. “This is my only shift!”
“Wash it,” Leo suggested. She gave him a withering look.
“Yes, of course I will wash it!” she snapped, “but what will I sleep in? This is my only clean shift, and I can’t go to bed in a wet shift. It will only make everything colder. Neither of us can afford to get sickly at this time.”
She was right, Leo mused. He hadn’t thought of it that way.
“Well,” he said, tipping his bowl up to gulp down the remaining stew broth, and wiping the back of his hand over his mouth, “why don’t you clean the spot now, and before you go to bed, take the nightgown off and hang it up to dry? I promise I won’t look,” he added quickly.
Malkyn hesitated. “Well... “ she said, “well ... yes. I can do that. But only if you really don’t look.”
He repeated his promise that he wouldn’t, and they finished their stew and cleaned up in peaceful silence.
Leo removed his shirt before slipping beneath their furs after adding two more logs to the fire. He watched Malkyn brush her hair methodically, the long, lovely tresses growing well down her back. When she stood from her seat the fire, he didn’t roll away, but instead buried his face into their pillow. He felt her look at him and decide it was safe to take her shift off ... and promise be damned, he was looking! His curiosity got the better of him!
She was standing with her back to him, her long hair trailing down her bare back as she hung up the shift. Her backside looked exceedingly luscious and round and soft, and just gazing at her there made him begin to harden again, surprisingly fast. When she began to turn, he closed his eyes quickly, and felt her slip into the bed beside him, not quite close enough to touch.
They were quiet and still for a long time, and Leo thought she had fallen asleep when she spoke.
“I don’t know if I can go without clothes, Leo,” she said in a quiet voice. “The furs are very nice like this, but I still feel a chill.”
“Move close to me, then,” he suggested, and she scooted backwards until her back was pressed up tightly against his front. He put his arm around her waist so his hand rested on her bare stomach. He could feel how tense she was. His cock was beginning to poke at her soft bum.
“Don’t be afraid of my body,” he murmured. “It’s a natural response for a man. I won’t hurt you or touch you in any way you don’t want, all right?”
“I’m not afraid of your body,” Malkyn said in a small voice. “I’m afraid of what it does to me.” She took his hand and put it up, on her chest, where her heart beat away quickly, like a scared rabbit. “See?” She whispered. His hand was less than an inch from a sweet breast. “And I sweat, too,” she told him. “My stomach gets all funny. I fear it to be an illness, brother.”
“Your stomach?” He repeated, surprised. “How do you mean?”
“I get all fluttery inside,” she said. “And warm, too warm. And ... no. Pay it no mind.”
“And?” He pressed. “What else? Malkyn, what else?”
She paused. He could hear her breathing, deliberating.
“My womanly parts ... they get very warm and odd. They feel almost itchy.”
His hand yearned to trail down her stomach to find out. “May I touch you there?” He asked softly, “so I know of what you speak?”
There was a long pause, and then she gave him the smallest of nods.
His hand trailed down, down over her soft, smooth stomach and through the hair between her legs, down to her most private place. She was right, it was very warm down there, and slippery too. He moved his hand a little and suddenly found his fingers in between two smooth lips, and much warmer and wetter there, too. It made him want to move up against her--move his hips up to her, and do ... something. He couldn’t quite say what. Something animal. Something good.
“I don’t think you need to worry,” he said, after a moment. His voice was gravelly, and he took his arm away and began to move back from her.
“No!” She said, when she realized he was moving. “Don’t go, Leo. I’ll be cold without you.”