Mithrellas had always thought that water made a music like Nimrodel's song––or perhaps it was the other way around, and Nimrodel had learned to harness the music of the river with only her voice. And so it was that when Nimrodel sang to the tune of the falls, Mithrellas often had a hard time distinguishing the one from the other.
Now, for instance––Nimrodel was perched on a rock beside the falling water, damp dress clinging to her skin, hair beaded with diamond spray, singing to the sky as though she had forgotten Mithrellas was below, watching her.
Come to the waterfall, Nimrodel had invited, a wide, open smile on her face, and Mithrellas had acquiesced because that meant she could sit and watch Nimrodel sing. Watch her and drink her in and pretend that it was only the song that captivated her so, and not the way Nimrodel seemed to glow in the sunlight, the way she closed her eyes as she hit the highest notes, something unnamable crossing her face as she did so.
Yes, she loved hearing Nimrodel sing. It had been a long time since she had been forced to start pretending that there was nothing more to this––desire.
And if there is? Perhaps Nimrodel would not be as averse to that as you would imagine––
She came back to herself to find Nimrodel's eyes on her, dark and amused, and hastily rearranged her face into an expression of polite attention, instead of––whatever it had been before.
Nimrodel stood abruptly, a playful gleam in her eyes. "Do you wish to swim, Mithrellas?"
"Swim?" she repeated, as though she had never heard the word before. Nimrodel smiled.
"Below the falls. The pool is deep, and wonderfully cold." And before Mithrellas could protest (if she had even intended to), Nimrodel was shrugging off her dress, stepping out of it and leaving a pile of white fabric on the rock. Mithrellas thought she should look away, though there was no real reason for her to, not if this was a swim between friends, but...
...but there was a look in Nimrodel's eyes that was decidedly not friendly as she stepped to the edge of the rock, toes curling around the stone lip, and Mithrellas couldn't tear her eyes away from the smooth movement of muscle under Nimrodel's skin.
"Join me," Nimrodel shot back as she lept from the rock, splashing into the water below. Mithrellas undid the buttons on her dress with suddenly numb fingers, mind buzzing with anxious anticipation.
Just a swim, she tried to remind herself, just––swimming, in a waterfall.
She tore free of the last few fastenings and launched herself into the air. There was a brief, heartstopping second of rushing wind, and then the shock of icy-cold water. She surfaced, gasping, to Nimrodel's clear laugh, and responded by splashing in the general direction of the sound. By the time she blinked the water out of her eyes, Nimrodel had swum closer.
"I did tell you it was cold, you know."
Mithrellas spat out a mouthful of water. "As cold as a mountain spring, I suppose."
"Technically speaking, it is a mountain spring." Nimrodel flipped her soaked hair out of her eyes, and Mithrellas barely had time to catch the twinkle in her eye before she went under again, Nimrodel's legs twisting in hers and dragging her down.
They surfaced together, and Mithrellas halfheartedly splashed Nimrodel, trying to pretend she couldn't feel her cheeks flaming, and something curling in her stomach at the way Nimrodel's skin brushed hers under water.
Nimrodel noticed. (Of course she did.)
"Come." She swam over to the edge of the pool and pulled herself up onto the rock. Mithrellas followed, feeling as though she ought to avert her eyes––that perhaps Nimrodel should not be sitting quite like that, with her legs spread slightly, and––oh.
"Is there something––"
"You've been watching me lately, Mithrellas." She didn't look angry. Looked, in fact, like she wanted something.
Nimrodel, what–– "Would you rather that I not?"
Nimrodel smiled, tapping a finger against her chin thoughtfully. "No, I think I rather like it. Much as the river loves my song, because I admire its beauty. They are much the same things, are they not?"
Mithrellas braced her hands on the edge of the pool, fingers slipping in the gritty pebbles, and froze at the touch of Nimrodel's hand, gently but insistently pushing her back down.
"Stay there," Nimrodel said, a commanding note entering her voice, and Mithrellas slid back into the water, toes curling in the muddy bottom.
"Do you think me beautiful, Mithrellas?"
It was suddenly hard for Mithrellas to draw in a deep enough breath.
Nimrodel laughed, running a finger down the side of Mithrellas' jaw, and Mithrellas couldn't help the soft noise that escaped her mouth. She clamped her lips together, blushing, and Nimrodel laughed again, a sound like the tinkle of falling water.
"Let me explain something to you, Mithrellas." Her hand cupped Mithrellas' chin, tilting her face upwards. "I sing to the river because I admire its beauty. It is a way of declaring my love for this land. Now, tell me, Mithrellas, if you so admire my beauty––"
Her hands ran upwards, tangled in Mithrellas' hair, pulling her closer. Mithrellas felt a tingle race down her back, across her skin, and the river was suddenly cold against her skin, her heartbeat racing wildly.
"––what song will you sing in my praise?"
Mithrellas' hands moved upwards without her conscious thought, dancing across Nimrodel's bare legs.
"Whatever you wish me to, Nimrodel," she whispered, and saw the flash in her lady's eyes.
Nimrodel tugged her closer and Mithrellas pressed a kiss to her stomach, feeling the flutter of muscle there. Her legs fell open further and Mithrellas planted a soft kiss just above her hip, trailing her fingers along the skin of Nimrodel's stomach. Her mouth drifted lower, and she felt Nimrodel tense, tasted something sweet and strange on her tongue––
She pressed her face to Nimrodel's warmth, breathing in the smell of her and reveling in the sounds that escaped Nimrodel's lips, the way she clenched her legs around Mithrellas' shoulders and whimpered and shuddered. (The way she was the one drawing those noises out of her lady, with nothing but her tongue and the soft brush of her fingers, and that knowledge made something in her glow.)
The river's noise mingled with Nimrodel's cry as her fingers tightened around Mithrellas' hair, body trembling under Mithrellas' hands.
Mithrellas pulled back and caught the flush that stained Nimrodel's cheeks, the wild look in her dark eyes.
"Did my song please you, Nimrodel?" she whispered, and Nimrodel only nodded and smiled, as though her words had fled her for a time.