The first time they met, Freya was calling herself a lesbian and Merlin was calling himself a dyke. (He was also calling himself Marilyn, the name his mother gave her).
They weren't lying at the time. At that first meeting of the Campus Queers they were both high on the thrill of telling that truth, speaking those words out loud, without shame or scorn, the way you just didn't do in the places they came from. Freya's natural shyness and the awkwardness Marilyn acquired in her presence were minor obstacles in the face of all that pent up joy and lust. Two weeks later Freya was eating pussy for the first time in Marilyn's dorm room.
"This is real," she murmured, kissing Marilyn's mouth, her chin still wet with Marilyn's juices. "God, how can this be real."
The first time Freya helped bind Marilyn's chest it was for a laugh. They'd decided to dress up as a straight couple for the Halloween dance, Marilyn in an old, ill-fitting tuxedo and Freya in the frilliest princess dress the thrift store had to offer. Freya didn't expect the velvet and lace to affect her but they did, especially with the touch of Marilyn's hand at her back. At the dance she let him spin her around until she was dizzy and then pull her safe and close. She pressed her lips against his, her hard nipples against his flat chest and her warm cunt against the bulge in his pants.
When they got back to her room that night she sat on top of him with her skirt spread over the bed. They rutted against each other until they both came without taking off their drag.
"Was that okay?" Marilyn asked a long time later.
"It wasn't weird?"
Freya had to think. "Weird, maybe, okay. The good weird. The best."
"Okay," Marilyn said, with a deep breath Freya hadn't realized she'd been holding. "That's…okay. I've been wanting to try something like that for a while."
It was an occasional thing until it wasn't, an on-and-off thing until it was everyday. Freya started calling herself femme and Merlin started saying stud. They started avoiding pronouns; later on they started using new ones. Campus Queers started to seem like less of a friendly and accepting group than it used to, but they had other friends by then, started finding out who their real friends were.
The first time she called him Merlin was an accident, slurring her words after a few drinks and a lot of dancing. She laughed at herself and promised they'd come up with a more plausible boy name later, but he said no, he liked it. She wouldn't find out until years later, after the first surgery, helping change his bandages at the house in Ealdor, that Merlin was the name Hunith had first planned on giving him, before she'd been surprised by a baby girl.
Before surgery there was T, but then it wasn't so much a question of first times, but of perfecting. Fucking with a strap-on was old hat for them by then, and yet every time, every time, they seemed to fit just a little bit better. She wouldn't have cared about his deeper voice if it weren't for the new assurance in his tone, wouldn't have liked helping him shave (or letting his stubble scrape against her hands, her cheeks, her thighs) if it weren't for the goofy grin he couldn't keep off his face. The doctors had warned that his sex drive would increase, but they didn't say anything about hers.
"Again," she said, her own blood still pounding in her ears, her thighs still trembling, her clit throbbing and her insides aching, "Merlin, don't stop, do it again."
The next time was better. The time after that Freya screamed, "I can't, I can't believe this is real," only now she knew it was.
At commencement, Hunith took pictures of them in cap and gown, then with Freya in her sundress and Merlin in his suit. They hadn't called it drag in a long time.