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Graham Norton was blaring up through the house from the living room below, Maddie's mum laughing at things every now and then. Maddie tried to tune it out as much as possible and make it regular Friday night background noise. Freya had her eyes closed, face turned to the window. The bedside lamp threw strange shadows across her and her bare stomach, the t-shirt rucked up a bit, swell of her breasts underneath. Maddie mushed the polka dots on Freya's knickers into a giant pulp of colour as she inched the fabric down Freya's hip, baring the first curls of pubic hair and more skin.

Awkward pretty much didn't begin to cover it, awkward with a hint of expectation of something great.

Maddie ran her fingers through the curls of hair and lower, tips inching closer to damp heat, and Freya opened up to that touch, her splaying legs pulling the fabric tight around her thighs.

So they'd kissed after hours of staring at one another, stupidly laughing half on and half off Maddie's bed, waiting for the other to make the first move, like every time, and now when Maddie inhaled it was Freya's scent, the dampness under Maddie's fingers.

"This okay?" Maddie asked as she brushed her fingers back and forth through the hair then made to pull the knickers off.

Freya didn't say either way, only nodded and lifted her hips to help.

The studio audience on the television downstairs laughed, Maddie's mum along with it, and Maddie's heart gave a double beat. She scooted down, her fingers pushing damp curls out of the way as Freya opened trembling legs, leaving Maddie to look down at slick folds. Everything was flushed dark pink and hard to see with the light coming from the wrong angle. Maddie put thumb and finger to the folds of skin and pushed them apart a little, drew her index finger down along the slit to the slick opening, mostly hidden.

Freya's breath hitched but she had her arm across her eyes, the other hand loosely clasped in the sheets.

Maddie's bedroom was nothing like a porn set and Maddie felt nothing like a porn star either. She moved a hand into her pants, just cupped herself and rocked into the touch, pressed her clit to her palm as she fingered at Freya's clit and kept watching what she could see of Freya's face. Freya moaned, legs splaying wider and she got slicker. Maddie moved her thumb up and down over Freya's clit, looking to do something that would make Freya moan again, her legs jerk a bit. When the tip of Maddie's finger circled Freya's hole, Freya's hand flew down, fingers closing around Maddie's wrist.

She still had her eyes closed tight, hips moving in little jerks, with Maddie's finger barely a centimetre inside her.

"Good," Freya bit out.

"Good," Maddie repeated.

Maddie leaned in, past their joined hands, and licked across Freya's clit, dragging her tongue in a slow circle around it. Freya bucked up into the touch, Maddie's finger sliding deeper inside at the same time.

"Fuck yeah," Freya said, head falling back as she let her hips thrust her crotch against Maddie's tongue and hand, bringing herself off.

Maddie rubbed her face on the sheets after, laughing, laughing harder then Freya joined in, and drew her close and had them curl up on the bed, Graham Norton fake laughing in the living room below.

"I think Jaz knows. She pulled me aside Friday during lunch..."

Freya was sticky and sweaty, but Maddie just laid her head on Freya's shoulder. "How'd she say it though? Like she knows? Or..."

"She was just saying how we're always together and seem so close and share something."

Maddie hid her laughter in Freya's shoulder, skimming her fingers down Freya's side to her thigh. The books Freya had brought were still in the tote bag with the stack of DVDs, porn on the bottom because apparently it was hard to get good lesbian porn and Freya felt responsible for sharing and educating.

"She said how it makes sense, like, it's like on television how with lesbian couples you always got this butch one and the femme one."

Maddie's fingers stilled and she propped herself up on her elbow. "She said I was butch?"

Freya tugged at Maddie's hair, shoulder-length and all, then ran her palm down Maddie's chest, over the bumps of her breasts, down her stomach to her knickers and inside, rubbing over her pubic hair. Maddie twisted away and sat cross-legged next to Freya, glaring at her reflection in the mirror, trying to see the butch behind the 'just the way she was'.

"She said dykey, actually," Freya said, fingers pulling at the band of Maddie's knickers, pulling them away from her body and letting them snag back again.

"I'm not a dyke!" Maddie brought out, everything in her protesting the notion as not right at all. She stood from the bed and walked to the long mirror, studied herself in it, face and hair and breasts and the curve to her hips.

"Haven't ever seen you in a skirt, or a tight top. You didn't even wear bras til last year, Mad." Freya was leaning half over the bed, sorting through the DVDs she'd brought, half-absentminded as she read the description on the back of one.

"It's just not me," Maddie gave back, her reflection blurring before her in strange way, overlaying what everyone else saw with what she saw.

"She thinks you'd make a cool bloke though."

Maddie pinched at her nipples, rolled them between her fingers and squeezed at her breasts, shoved them up and together and made an exaggerated kissy face at the mirror.

"Don't worry, I think you're all woman. I'd know, huh?"

Maddie squashed the niggling something at the back of her mind, the dreams of fucking into people. "Yeah," Maddie said over Freya's triumphant whoop as she held up one of the DVDs.

***

The moans came tinny through the speakers, barely loud enough to be audible over the whirr of the laptop's fan. Maddie balanced the laptop on her chest, breasts squashed underneath, head propped up enough to see the video on the screen. Her mum had gone to bed hours ago, turned off the light in that bedroom down the hall thirty minutes after closing the door. Maddie had waited in the dark for more minutes, breathing quietly and listening for noises outside her door before she'd lifted her laptop off the floor and pushed in the DVD, hit play.

Her bits were slick under her fingers as she circled her clit, then her opening. Maddie scooted lower on the bed. The laptop shifted with her, the fan blowing hot air into the covers, heating everything. On the screen one girl was holding the other's hair back to watch a tongue dragging over her clit and along the lips. Moans, heads thrown back, and Maddie arched her own hips into the touch, eyes closed to slits, as she imagined a tongue worming its way into her, fingers holding her apart to push deep.

The girls on the screen mouthed at breasts and nipples, hands roaming.

Maddie thrust her hips up, imagined curling her fingers into soft hair, have her dick disappear in a mouth and-

Maddie opened her eyes to the screen, scissoring fingers and a tongue pushing between them, the wet, warm moans of the girls on screen, imagined the same against her clit and her hole, hair dragging over her thighs until it didn't, her bits morphing into cock and balls while the bloke was moaning as he sucked her down.

Maddie came with a grunt she muffled in the pillow, hips pushing up as she imagined the feeling of come shooting from her dick.

When she opened her eyes the two girls on the screen were still getting each other off.

Awkward.

***

"Are you sure Freya's parents don't mind you staying over again?" Maddie's mum was turning their Sunday roast in the oven, the kitchen hot with steam from the boiling potatoes, the windows fogged up with the heat inside the house and the remnants of winter outside.

"No?" Maddie rolled her eyes and stole one of the green beans from the pot, still half raw, as she leaned against the table, sweat pants and loose t-shirt, woolen socks. "Ben's been texting me about doing the band now. It'll be good fun, I think."

Maddie's mum set plates on the table. "So what will you be doing in the band? Is this Freya's idea?"

"I'm writing the lyrics- and Freya sings and Ben plays drums and Freya plays guitar, she learned, like, five years ago and I'll play bass." Maddie said the last in the rush, hoping her mother wouldn't want to see the songs or ever hear them or ever come to any of their, well, gigs if they ever played.

"Who is Ben, again?"

"We've got English together." Maddie leaned over the pot with the potatoes, willed them to boil faster when her stomach growled.

Her mother clattered with the roast, cutting it up into slices as Maddie drained potatoes and beans and filled portions on their plates.

"Have I met Ben?"

"Probably at the fair thing," Maddie said as she sat at the table, cutting up the roast into bite sized pieces, mashing the potatoes and smooshing it all into a big pile of mush before digging in.

Her mother shook her head at her but Maddie just grinned back.

The television was running in the next room, ITV news reporting on the latest gossip as they ate.

"- constitutes the singer's lesbian coming out. She told Entertainment Weekly in the States that she wanted to control disclosing her sexual orientation under threat of papers to release photos, but that she realizes the responsibility she has to young people out there and wants to advocate for gay rights in the States as well as all over the world."

Her mother craned her neck to catch a glimpse of the photo on the television. "Hm, everyone's gay now it seems," she said with a small laugh. "You never used to hear of it."

Maddie's throat tightened as her grip on her fork did. She swallowed the potato mush in her mouth, suddenly without appetite. "Yeah," she replied.

***

"Stayed at Freya's!" Maddie called as she ran up the stairs to the room, her mother's reply getting lost in the sound of her steps and the doors. She looked at herself in the mirror on the back of her door, brushing back the hood of her jacket to bare her neck and the lovebite in vivid red.

The curtains were half drawn behind the bed, the bed unmade, her laptop and books and films occupying half the mattress.

Maddie pulled the hoodie over her head and dropped it on the floor, dropped onto her desk chair and turned on her computer. She swivelled on the chair as it booted up and picked one of the books from the stack of lesbian activism books that Freya had brought over and demanded she had to read right that very second.

Two dykes were snogging on the cover, short and muscley and pretty much all kinds of not Maddie's type. Her swivel brought her to face herself in the mirror again, flannel buttondown she'd grabbed years ago from Dad's clothes since her mum had never put those away and jeans, hair hanging into her face. She looked back at the book cover, then at herself and pushed her hair back, holding it away from her face and tried to squint to imagine it short.

She didn't want to be that! She tossed the book back on the stack. The books toppled and crashed to the floor but her computer was booted up and she brought up her feeds for updates: Dashboard and Timeline and the RSS feeds she was following, her Twitter for a quick glance over people she couldn't care less about.

Freya had posted a ♥ and Maddie stared at it grinning for a few moments before she closed the tab.

The gifs slowed down everything but when they did load (girls kissing, girls holding hands, girls naked with hands on each other's parts), Maddie reblogged everything she liked for whatever reason, the positioning of their hands or when it seemed like they weren't posing. Some of the others she was just staring it, watching it loop and repeat from the beginning, a slide of a hand down someone's hip and into her jeans. Maddie leaned back in her chair, one foot on the chair, and rocked against the heel pressed to her crotch as she scrolled down, the opened another tab for another feed, MISC.

Missing you already appeared in the chat window

Me too, Maddie typed in reply as she saved another gif to her computer, folders carefully titled and sorted. She clicked through her faves, a girl who looked a bit like Freya fingering herself and on further.

One folder, tucked in a folder in a folder in a folder and one feed on her computer had cocks brushing along girls' thigh and boys' thigh. MISC it said in Maddie's bookmarks, mocking her as she opened it over Freya's declarations of lesbian pride. On the computer girls were still rubbing off against one another in one tab and then not when Maddie opened the other tab.

MISC and GAY.

She bucked against her foot when a cock slid down someone's throat, lodged deep and came back out again glistening with spit.

Want to kiss you again
touch you
, Freya typed

Maddie pressed the heel of her hand to her crotch, closed her almost all the way and wondered what it'd be like to have a cock. Thick and hard and red, to push into someone.

Love you, Freya typed.

Maddie closed the cocks down and looked at the soft, soft girls again, but somewhere in the back of her head and her reflection in her mirror and how looking up and seeing curves startled her every single time, cocks were still lurking.

See you tomorrow, Maddie replied, underwear soaked but at the sight of tongues circling clits not really satisfied.

***

"I don't know if that's really- it probably sounds stupid," Maddie said.

Freya's lips were pressed to Maddie's cheek, warm breath sneaking into the neckline of Maddie's shirt. Freya brushed her knuckles up Maddie's stomach, just underneath the fabric. Freya's parents were outside, every now and then her mum shouting something about cutting grass or carrots filtered through the window but otherwise it was them in the semi-darkness of under-the-blanket.

"Hm?" Freya asked and shifted, her knees knocking against Maddie's. They both shuffled until Maddie's leg was caught between Freya's, everything feeling hot and sticky and like there wasn't quite enough air.

"I guess maybe it's normal? That you- I think it's normal that everyone's got feminine and masculine parts, right? And that some people have a bit more masculine or a bit more feminine parts."

"Mm-hm." Freya puckered her lips to a kiss against Maddie's jawline, tickling, and Maddie promptly laughed and pushed at Freya with her shoulder.

"I don't, it's like, I don't wear these tops and the skirts and make-up and it'd be weird to do it." Maddie picked at the seam of Freya's jeans, playing with the thread.

"No one's making you, that's- you have to read the books I give you." Freya huffed a sigh, and Maddie had her eyes closed but she could virtually see the eye roll. "All those things, they're just stereotyping and patriarchal bullshit. Not doing that, that's exactly what we have to do. We shouldn't let men dictate what we are supposed to wear and what is supposedly sexy."

Maddie shrugged and buried her face in Freya's chest, breasts squashed up to her cheeks. "But it's the bitches at school who say."

"They're just the product of that system."

Maddie fell quiet and breathed in Freya's scent of washing powder and deodorant and an afternoon spent under the blankets fully clothed. The books were stacked on her desk, somewhere under all the other junk and the bit of lesbian pride and feminist stuff that seemed like it was trying too damn hard (like Lady Gaga, even if Freya didn't like hearing that either).

"I'm probably just weird," Maddie said, her voice muffled in fabric. "But when I, when I touch myself, sometimes I think about having a dick, and having someone suck it, and it's good."

"They just make you think you want a dick because dicks have the biggest mouths."

***

"They'll change it before school's out anyway," Maddie said as she portioned up the spaghettis, drizzled sauce over them.

"It's still important though?" Her mum slid the sliced bread onto a plate.

"It's some kind of updated version they want us to pass." Maddie shrugged. English shouldn't be the issue. Math was a bit tricky but it was the GCSEs, not that big a deal if your brains weren't scrambled mush. "Ready?"

"Ready." Her mum nodded at her and they took their plates to the living room, set them on the table as they settled on the sofa, the BBC news morphing into the Sunday night film.

"It's totally him!" Maddie pointed the fork at the screen.

"He wouldn't though, he was the one who called it in. No one would call that in."

Ten minutes later, Maddie's mum screeched when the window opened to a darkened room and a woman's scream filled the air.

"Told you it was him," Maddie said, laughing. Over munching spaghetti then some ice cream they both turned out to be dead wrong.

A documentary followed the film, running as they were already beginning to clear away the dishes.

"I tried to kill myself. I used drugs, alcohol and weed at first, then other stuff, and for a while it was fine, it went away and I wouldn't think about it, and then I'd wake up and see myself and see my penis and potbelly and stubble on my face, and I had to start all over again just to not break down crying every second of every day," the man on the screen said, wig ill-fitting, features too large and the voice too high to pass for a woman. Ina, 47, post-operative male-to-female transsexual it said on the bottom of the screen.

"I always knew I wanted to be a girl, and my mum would laugh and let me dress up in the clothes until I was maybe 7 or 8, when I came to school, and the teachers probably took her aside and told her that that wasn't appropriate and I remember, every morning, I'd wail and cry and tell her that I didn't want to wear these stupid trousers and she gave in eventually when I was 10 maybe." The girl laughed, Tara, 21. "We had the biggest rows but since then, it made everything easier. I can't say I've ever had issues, not really, there wasn't much you could say really when I looked that much like a girl from the get-go."

Maddie put her plate back down and sat on the edge of the couch, watching.

"I always knew it wasn't quite right and so I slept with women and it didn't really work, and then I married and had kids because it's what you did, but I always knew that I couldn't really be that woman, that that wasn't me. That I was a man, it took a while to sink in. Now I don't know how I ever doubted myself but I did, for a long time," Thomas, 35, said, ankle on the knee, smiling as he looked at the camera.

The voiceover took over from there, spewed statistics of transsexuals in Britain, transsexuality at the far end of the spectrum of gender dysphoria and gender identity disorder, but Maddie wasn't watching for that. It was nothing she'd not seen before, words that didn't quite seem to fit things just being wonky in her head. She watched for everything else, the glimpses of the hospital, of people in it, the mishmash of genders and sexes and everything in-between.

"I didn't even hear the word transsexual until one of these public cases and suddenly everyone was talking about it. It clicked then, that that is probably what I was and it gave me something to work from. Finally it made sense in my head, there was a word and it was not me being crazy and there were things I could do. Hormones, changing my name, surgeries. Things I'd never though possible, and it made it easy, then," Thomas said in a voiceover to a shot of him injecting testosterone into his leg, bare-chested, then pulling on a shirt that hid the scars across his chest where his breasts had been. "I'm happier now, I never thought I could be this happy, to be honest," he told the camera.

Maddie scraped her fork along the crusted sauce on the plate. She pushed her arm against her breasts, felt the fullness and thought how Freya could never get enough of seeing her breasts through tight tops and how it felt strange and not-right. How nothing felt right and how she didn't feel like all the other girls she knew.

The documentary went on to explain surgeries and Maddie blanched when they went into detail of what would be cut up how and to what effect, crossed her legs at that, but couldn't stop watching. It wasn't that she wanted to be a boy, like that, not really, like that. Girls could not like make-up and stuff.

"What are you watching?" Maddie's mum asked as she came to clear away Maddie's plate. She stopped to watch for a few moments, eyebrows raised, then went back into the kitchen; the water ran.

"I would have killed myself when I was 17 or 18, I stood on the bridge and was ready to jump because I didn't know how to live with all that inside me, and then I couldn't because I thought there had to be something for people like me, and there was. I'm glad I didn't jump that night."

Maddie tried to imagine what it had to be like to be that desperate, that helpless but whatever she was, she wasn't that.

***

Maddie pressed stop on the screen as the credits were still rolling, the music playing, the freeze frame awkwardy caught on Brandon Teena and Hilary Swank. Her face was wet, throat raw and the sobs still stuck in her throat and chest, and it wasn't anything she could even explain. Nothing made sense in her head, why it hurt so much to see it, why it made her retch dry sobs, why it made her want to throw up right there and then, and still she couldn't stop watching for Brandon's hair and the way he lived his life and then how he died, just like that, and before that how everything else happened.

The house was quiet, night outside and everything in her body was tense and wrong and hard and full of feelings. She sobbed again, drew a ragged breath and another, then pressed her fist to her mouth to keep from making the stupid noises that would wake her mum.

***

Past Wikipedia, the number of websites grew exponentially, and after thirty minutes Maddie's head was swimming with terms, explanations and diagnoses and none of them seemed to talk about people being just fine with staying how they were and still knowing they were different.

Maddie pushed away from the computer, the desk chair rolling to the middle of the room, stopped by a heap of clothes. She cupped her breasts through her shirt, pulling the fabric tight, then glanced back at the computer screen where scars on chests after surgery stood out in garish red.

She rolled her chair back to the computer and clicked on more links; support sites, FAQs, chats, forums, groups.

***

"Right but I think we shouldn't play that here, but here..." Maddie indicated where on the sheet, drawing a D instead of the original G above the text while Freya hummed the line to herself.

"Pretty in ocean futures
pretty in coloured glass
pretty in-
"

"-diamond sutures, remembering... daylight's... cast," Maddie sang under her breath as she played out the chords with it. Freya stole a kiss from her lips, then sprang back then the door opened and they both laughed, flushed.

Ben raised his hand in hello and waded across cords to the drums, oblivious and lost in whatever was playing over his earbuds. Ben was one of the good guys, someone who who shouldn't be hanging with them but didn't give a fuck either way if he got to play the drums. They were defying the hierarchy of the school, really.

Maddie could still taste Freya on her lips (bit of lipgloss or something) and smell her hair. Nice, made her feel warm, too, with the promise of more kisses later, Freya's hand under Maddie's shirt, touching her.

"Are you coming over to do the Shakespeare thing?" Freya asked when they were packing up, after they'd nodded their goodbyes to Ben. Freya had her fingers hooked into the beltloops of Maddie's jeans, playing with the hem of Maddie's buttondown.

"'Course," Maddie replied, grinned and leaned in to kiss Freya slowly, tongue swiping over Freya's bottom lip then dipping inside. Freya's fingers clenched on Maddie's hip, crotch pressing close, and even through the jeans it was all hot. She moved her hand up, under Maddie's shirt, her fingertips playing over naked skin. Maddie shifted her thigh to have Freya's leg press to her crotch, rubbing up against it for just a moment, when Freya's tongue tangled with her own. Freya looked a little dazed when she pulled away, grinning, both of them wiping their lips and shooting glances and stealing kisses as they grabbed the last of their stuff.

They held hands in the deserted school corridors, Maddie's heart beating fast as her eyes skated around.

Maddie laughed when Freya pulled her into one of the bathrooms, high pitched and silly and stupidly giggly with a bit of relief at having come across no one, when she hit the wall. The tiles were cold through Maddie's thin shirt, but Freya stood close enough to be all warm, her fingers playing with Maddie's hair.

"I love you, you know," Freya said.

Maddie closed her eyes and let Freya kiss her, kissed her back. The words there were in her head, i love you and I love her, it was in her fucking tumblr for the rest of the world to see but she couldn't quite squeeze it out.

Freya didn't push, just kissed her, let Maddie suck on her bottom lip until they let go with laughter and just stood there, with Freya's arms around Maddie's neck, hand smoothing down her back, and Maddie hugging Freya around her waist. Maddie had her face buried in Freya's neck, breathed her in. She repeated I love you in her head.

"Let's go then?" Freya took Maddie's hand again and they took the long way home to Freya's, through the park and watching a few fish break the surface of the water, blowing bubbles at them.

"I just don't know if you can have circles of identities that don't touch." Freya kicked at a pebble on the path. It rolled into the water ahead of them.

"No, but-"

"No, I mean, sure there's circles of identity and there are separate entities within those but they share the person as the common element. You can't be two people."

Maddie picked a stick up from the side and drummed it against her thigh. "You can present images of these two people though, you can- I'm not saying it's fluid but you can be more than one person to different people."

"Not at the expense of entirely hiding one aspect and that's, that's what they're saying, you'll always have to sacrifice who you are then by hiding and just projecting a different image to the world."

Maddie bit back, but what if you don't know any other way? and just harrumphed in Freya's general direction, then laughed and shrugged. "I just don't think it's that simple."

"I just don't think that you can just flip and switch and if you do, well, it's a bit cowardly, that's all. Hiding is, it's cowardly."

A group of guys, roughly their age, came their way and they dropped their joined hands without comment. Maddie eyed them, was eyed back.

"Whatchya looking at?" one of them hissed.

Maddie didn't reply anything, waited for the insult, but they were already past and none came. They didn't join hands again, didn't talk about it either and walked side by side to Freya's house.

"Mum, Maddie's staying over. School stuff. Kay?" Freya didn't wait for her mum's reply from somewhere in the house, only started up the stairs and Maddie followed her up, their steps thundering through the corridor.

Freya's room was a bit of a mess, clothes strewn around, but Freya only added to it when she dropped her bag on her desk chair and drew the blinds, shoving a few pieces of laundry and school books aside with her foot.

Maddie stood just inside the door and closed it and leaned against it, dropping her bag at her feet.

"Hey," Freya said and walked back over to Maddie. She lifted her palm to the side of Maddie's face, turned it up a bit and kissed her. She was palming Maddie's breast with her free hand then moved the hand down to the waistband of Maddie's jeans.

Maddie sucked on Freya's tongue, relished her laugh and couldn't help the whimper when Freya palmed her crotch through the denim, made her spread her legs to it and ride the touch.

"Let me, yeah?" Freya asked.

Maddie nodded and watched as Freya sank to her knees and opened Maddie's jeans, dragging jeans and panties down Maddie's legs. Maddie tensed and relaxed, feeling wet and aroused, and she jerked at the first touch of Freya's fingers to her bits, pushed into it and pulled away until Freya pushed her hips flush to the door and shhh-ed into Maddie's crotch.

Freya's lips were hot and soft and wet on Maddie's clit, sucking. Maddie spread her legs to that as much as she could with the jeans around her ankles, bowlegged and awkward with Freya's arm across Maddie's hips to keep her in place as she dragged her tongue across Maddie's clit and down to where Maddie was all slick and hot, before Freya went back to Maddie's clit and sucked.

"It's like a little cock," Freya said as she brushed Maddie's hair away, freeing sight of Maddie's clit. Maddie glanced down and Freya glanced up as she extended her tongue and swirled it around the prominent bit of flesh. She laughed. "You're so big it's crazy." She sucked Maddie's clit in between her lips, sucked it like she would a cock as her fingers rubbed along Maddie's slit then slowly pushed one inside.

Maddie clenched her fingers in Freya's hair and thrust her hips forward into the suction and the slide of Freya's finger inside, teasing around the rim and crooking. She squished when Freya pulled her finger free, laughed at how stupid it sounded but Freya only used her tongue on Maddie's clit, fast, hard licks and pushed her finger back in. Freya's hair fell into her face where she had it buried against Maddie's crotch and it wasn't a stretch to imagine fucking a cock into Freya's mouth, having a cock to fuck into Freya's mouth.

"Can you come like this?" Freya asked when she came up for breath, panting into Maddie's pubic hair. Maddie couldn't look away as Freya looked up. "Shhh," Freya said as Maddie felt another finger at her entrance, slowly pushing inside and stretching her. She gave an aborted cry but Freya only soothed her again, never looked away as she pushed both fingers deeper. "I can still feel it, all tight," Freya said and Maddie could as well, skin tight and not stretching around Freya's fingers.

"Don't," Maddie said because it hurt a bit and because, just because, and Freya nodded and slid one finger out, then put her face back to Maddie's crotch. "Can you- this is rubbish," she said a moment later and motioned Maddie to step out of the jeans, then led her to the bed and made her sit down, pushed her to lie back as she knelt between Maddie's spread legs on the floor. "Better," she whispered and licked across Maddie's hole, traced her tongue around it and then pushed the tip of it in.

So weird and foreign and bloody good that Maddie canted her hips up to it, thrust against Freya's face. Freya rubbed Maddie's clit between her fingers, jacking it like a cock, while she fucked her tongue into Maddie's hole.

"Fuck, I'm-" Maddie pressed out between moans into the back of her hand, hips moving of their own volition now as Freya brought her mouth to Maddie's clit and pushed a finger into her, fucking her. "Fuck, I ... fuck!" Maddie bucked her hips and then held them tense, while she clenched and unclenched on Freya's finger, the smallest thrusts of her hips until everything went tense for a long fucking moment, exploding into rolling pleasure down her body. She pushed into the touch a few more times, moving through the aftershocks, then sank back down into the pillow, head lolling to the side as she exhaled shakily.

"So hot," Freya whispered. She pushed the shirt further up Maddie's body, drew circles and lines over Maddie's bare skin as she moved up on the bed.

Maddie's legs were shaking and a bit stiff from being stretched and she jerked again with a small flare of arousal when she rolled onto her side and Freya fitted herself in behind her.

"So fucking hot, I love you so much," Freya said into the back of Maddie's neck, nosing through her hair, and just breathing in and out.

Everything in Maddie's bits was pulsing and hot and sensitive. She reached down and cupped herself, feeling her clit brush against the palm of her hand. Like a cock, she thought through Freya's whispers of love, and she wasn't sure where that feeling of glee in her chest came from or what exactly it was doing there.

***

The website with the mangled dicks looked pretty impressive on her desktop monitor, pretty gory and DNW as well. Maddie picked up her mobile when it vibrated, glanced down at Freya's text, you busy? bored, then set it on the desk again.

Maddie placed a hand over her crotch, imagined feeling a bulge underneath, imagined her breasts being flat and not sticking out in her reflection in the mirror of her wardrobe that she could just see from the corner of her eye.

She clicked on further past the surgery and the hormones, past the legal implications and gender recognition things she only half understood to the forums and the livechat.

Adrian, 17, had posted an intro in one of the forums. Juuuuust about starting on T. Excited!!!!! was the last line and Maddie scrolled through the rest of the youth section, people her age talking surgeries and identities and seemingly knowing much better what they were all on about.

She clicked on the chat and it popped open and connected and the list of users ran down the side.

Maddie's fingers hovered over the keyboard but before she could type anything,

Seahorse: hi Merlin

popped up.

Maddie did a doubletake at the username she'd logged in with, one of dumb, randomly generated ones, along with some other people's MrPeppy and Dragoon. She wrote a quick Hi in reply then sat back, only watching.

I've always known, Seahorse typed in chat, apparently referring to whatever had been said upthread. Every1's cool w/ it now.

Gettin ladies? one of the other guys replied.

Oh yeah baby

Maddie snorted laughter and had another sip of coke as she watched the chat go on, talk about binding, stand to pee devices and packers, hormones, surgeries, people.

Some cunts talk bullshit but let em, yknow, fucking let em

Pisses me off every time to see them just staring at me, and they walk past and whisper and you're like I'm fucking here, I'm not deaf

Always good for a joke but it's not like I chose it wankers

Maddie hesitated, then typed, How would I know for sure I'm trans?

Youd just know, one of them replied. Like how you want a dick and your breasts suck and you want to jump off a bridge every month when you bleed down there.

Maddie hesitated, then closed the tab, quickly, logged out, and sat in the quiet of her room.

***

"You have one here and one here," Freya said as she leaned across and kissed the freckles either side of Maddie's right breast, nuzzled against the skin. "They're keeping it safe."

Maddie curled a few strands of Freya's hair around her fingers. Some shitty film was running on her laptop, and they'd both tuned out hours ago.

Frey's breast dragged along Maddie's stomach, warm and heavy, their legs tanging halfway off the bed. Freya pressed her lips to Maddie's nipple and gave slow suck, making Maddie grin.

"They're perfect, you know." Freya pushed up on her elbows and looked down at Maddie's breasts.

Maddie looked down herself and dragged her fingers over the curve of them. "You think?"

"They're round and full and just the right size." Freya kissed the underside of one and licked a line along the crease underneath where they were stuck to Maddie's body. "S'why I like girls," Freya said with a hidden grin, laughter in a her voice.

Maddie looked down at her head, the hair dragging over Maddie's bare skin, and Maddie twirled her index finger around the other breast, watched her nipple pucker up, then reached down further and cupped Freya's breasts. She brushed the palm of her hand around it. Logically she knew that Freya's breasts and hers were just the same, that Freya brushing kisses over hers was the same as Maddie kissing or fondling Freya's breasts. Logically.

In all other ways there were her breasts as part of her body and Freya's breasts as everything feminine and soft. Not logically, they were completely different.

"Mm love you like this," Freya murmured and snuck her hand into Maddie's jeans.

Maddie opened her legs to the touch and closed her eyes at the finger just barely playing with her opening.

"Such a good girl," Freya whispered.

Later that night with Freya gone home, Maddie stood in front of the mirror in the bathroom, freezing on the cold tiles. She pulled her t-shirt off and her boxers down and looked at her reflection, the love bites and the too pale skin, the awkward face and the weird hair hanging to her shoulders.

She cupped her breasts, one in each hand, squeezed at them with her fingers, and while she knew this was her, it wasn't. The breasts looked stuck on like bad photoshop and like they didn't quite belong there.

"Maddie, will you be long?" her mother shouted through the closed door.

"Just a sec," Maddie shouted back and put her t-shirt on again, the bumps even more grotesque now, pulled her boxers on and flushed the toilet for good measure.

She sat at the computer back in her room, bringing up some of the blogs from transguys, guys her age no less. I couldn't wait to chop it all off and finally look like I should. I was devastated when they first grew and every single day wished they'd just go away.

Maddie cupped herself through her shirt, rubbed a thumb over her nipples. Something had to be wrong with her if she didn't even feel that. They were still hers, but that didn't make them female.

***

Freya brushed her thumb over Maddie's knuckles and leaned in to kiss her, their feet dangling in the stream. Maddie brushed her lips over Freya's, eyes closing, when a few shouts and laughter down the path made Maddie shrink back, pulling her hand from Freya's.

"I wish we didn't have to hide, you know," Freya said, splashing up water with her foot, then she stretched out on her back, fingers tugging at the hem of Maddie's buttondown.

Maddie shrugged. She reached up to pull one of the twigs from the nearby bush, painting small avoidance runes onto her thigh.

"Seriously."

"Yeah," Maddie said. "Would be great." The blokes were still loud in the distance, and the idea of them knowing, people knowing, made things clench in Maddie's stomach.

"We should. No one's out at the school and whatever they'd say it's not as bad as giving in to being oppressed and silenced."

Maddie trailed the twig over her soles in the water, scratching the tip over her skin.

"It's not the dark ages anymore. Just because I want to kiss you and hold you and do things to you, that's nothing bad. I shouldn't have to hide that. We shouldn't have to hide who we are. It'd be like that article, I sent you the link, that girl in the States at her prom. We could be like that."

Freya's voice carried over the clearing and Maddie fought the urge to shush her and nodded. "It'd be great, yeah," she echoed and clasped her fingers around Freya's when Freya's hand slid into hers. Freya scooted closer and hugged Maddie's legs, pressing her face to Maddie's thigh. Maddie brushed the hair from her face.

"What if we're not though?" Maddie asked, heart beating in her throat. "What if we're not lesbian and it's just a phase and we're- just, what if we're not really?"

"I read it's normal to be scared and think the worst," Freya replied after a moment. "And that in most cases it doesn't happen and everything's fine and at least we can be ourselves then and not always have to do this."

The group of guys passed again and even though everything in Maddie tensed and wanted to push away from Freya she stayed where she was.

***

Thirty minutes to go on the mock exam, and Maddie was dragging out the answer to the final question, the significance of Hadrian's wall to Roman strategy and politics. Everyone else was still scribbling furiously, huffing deep breaths every once in a while.

The end of the year was looming with the summer break and too much time to think, too much time to worry about starting college, new people and some of the same old.

Hadrian's Wall seemed like a good place to go to and get away from it, but Freya would want to spend the afternoon, and Maddie figured it was nice, at least, comfortable. Maddie doodled a cock on the draft sheet, then blacked it out firmly.

She closed her eyes and the gifs and photos immediately came to mind: hard cocks sliding against one another and then Freya's figure of breasts and hair and wet, slick stuff that made Maddie pull a face involuntarily, then quickly smile at it.

The scratch of chalk on the board made Maddie snap back to the exam and the task at hand, the wall and keeping everything secret and locked away.

***

"Do you want Coke or Pepsi, Mad?" Freya asked as they walked up to the sodas in the Tesco aisle, their basket already bursting with too much bad food for a night at Freya's.

"Either's fine?" Maddie was studying her shoes instead, shrinking back when highpitched laughter carried around the corner, voices just a tad too familiar.

Someone whistled, and Maddie dropped Freya's hand, glanced up at the group of people from their school.

Freya looked up as well, studied them for a moment, then brushed past them for the frozen food section, Maddie trailing behind.

"Everyone knows you're in each other's pussies."

"Yeah?" Maddie bit off. "Piss off."

They catcalled after them but didn't follow.

"They're just talk," Freya said, giving Maddie a small smile. "Just wish you wouldn't..." She looked down at her dangling, unjoined hands, then shrugged. "Pepperoni fine?"

***

90 / 10
80 / 20
75 / 25
60 / 40

Maddie carefully struck out the last of the numbers and wrote

50 / 50

underneath. She could reverse the symbols at top now and it would still mean the same. How could you be male and female at the same time?

***

"They do a festival, it's only lesbians, meeting just to exchange thoughts and ideas on lesbian pride where they can be heard and hear each other for once without being shouted down."

They were holding hands in the village, and Maddie kept her eyes on the ground, tried not to flinch every time people passed by them, hand clammy while Freya was talking, laughing, and everything in Maddie clenched when people looked at them, took in their joined hands, then how Maddie looked, caught on her breasts and hips and every single thing felt wrong about it and not how it should be.

"I signed us up. They especially invited young lesbians from the country to bring their complaints about invisibility to the forefront."

"I don't know if I'm lesbian," Maddie pressed out on an exhale.

Freya's steps slowed but she just shrugged. "You love me though, yes?"

"Yeah," Maddie replied even though everything was jumbled in her head. "I like you."

"And you like touching me and kissing me. That's just your internalized homophobia and especially lesbophobia talking. That's just society trying to make you think you're all wrong, but you're not. We're not wrong." Freya grinned at her, low cut dress showing the swell of her breast and her curves. She was as far from dykey as Maddie was close to it, and when another of the villagers studied them carefully and went on to raise his eyebrows, Maddie just felt dirty and wrong.

"So we're going. It'll be good. It'll give us a chance to meet others and not keep it a secret and then, after, you can tell your mum and we'll be great."

The sun felt too hot on Maddie's skin and her stomach rolled just at the thought. "Sure," she said though.

***

"Mum, so.."

Freya was pressed to Maddie's shoulder, half-hiding behind her, her fingers clammy in Maddie's. Three candles were burning on the cake on the kitchen table, the stack of presents around it.

Maddie swallowed hard once, glanced at Freya, willed everything to stop being surreal but her oice sounded strange when she opened her mouth, like it wasn't even coming from her.

"I just wanted to you to know that-" she stepped aside to free the view of their clasped hands. Freya was quiet, eyes nervous but there was nowhere to go but forward now. "It doesn't mean anything like that is what- that I'm lesbian now I just wanted you to know that I'm with Freya now and that this, right now, well, that we're together."

Her mouth had gone try somewhere halfway through that, heart beating high in her throat, breath caught in her chest. Freya squeezed her fingers.

Her mum looked from Maddie to Freya and back, then shook her head. "No. You can't- Does anyone else know?" Blood rushed in Maddie's ears when her mum laughed, then didn't, her knuckles white on the back of the chair.

"What? I-"

"Have you told anyone else? Are you planning on telling anyone else?"

"We haven't. I just thought that you should know that we're together, just that because I didn't want to keep it a secret from you and... yeah."

Dread settled in Maddie's stomach, cold sweat down her back and if she could take it back now, right about now and curse this stupid idea of honesty and sharing and coming out big style she would.

"It doesn't mean anything other than that we're together."

Her mum just shook her head and shrugged and looked at the birthday cake. "Tell me you won't tell anyone, not when you don't know what could happen, Maddie."

Maddie's heart thrummed. "But this isn't- it doesn't mean that I'll only like girls, it just means that right now that Freya and I-"

"Don't make your life hard for yourself... yourselves," her mum interrupted, including Freya in a glance. Her eyes dipped down again, taking in their joint hands and she just shook her head again. "How can you even know that-"

"I just know," Maddie replied, tears rising in her throat because this wasn't supposed to happen. This isn't happening, she told herself, but it was, right here, with her chest tight and her toes curled on the linoleum and she opened her mouth to say something else but couldn't think of anything.

"Do your parents know?" her mum asked, addressing Freya.

Freya shook her head and Maddie's mum gave a strange little laugh and looked at them again. "Don't tell them, don't- just keep it a secret."

Then it was only the silence between them and the birthday candles burned down and out on the cake and Freya tightened her cold fingers around Maddie's.

"Let's have the cake then," Maddie's mum said with a tight smile and cut cup the cake, portioned it up into neat slices and set them on plates. She went to pour the coffee and sat at the table.

Everything was quiet and loud at once as Maddie sat and Freya sat across from her.

"Happy birthday," Maddie's mum said and began to eat, lips tight.

Maddie's stomach rolled, ready to throw up, but she picked up the fork and brought the bit of chocolate cake to her mouth and chewed. The kitchen radio was playing in the background.

"What about that new teacher you have? Do you like him?" Maddie's mum asked five minutes in, and Maddie couldn't look at her, couldn't look at Freya either, just wanted it to be over, but the minutes just kept stretching.

***

The light was out, and any moment now lying there with her eyes closed would get a reward of sleep. Her head was replaying her mother's words, her mother's face, Freya's cool hand and the way nothing could be taken back in a 'no wait, sorry, actually' or a 'joke, really' kind of way. Dread sat in her stomach as she turned in her bed and turned the story over in her mind to start from the beginning once more. The PFLAG website was still open on her computer on the desk with the advice not to choose significant dates.

Maddie leaned over the side of the bed, dryheaving, and curled her arm around her middle. Even behind closed eyelids everything swam in a repeat of the words, her heart beating faster, chest choking in dry sobs. She slid out of bed, freezing with old boxers and t-shirt and sat at her laptop. Teeth shattering she brought up the screen with a few clicks, kept one hand wrapped around her middle.

It had been a stupid idea, and when her folder with all the photos loaded, breasts and hips and spread legs, black and white and colour photos, it took only a few clicks and shifts until it was gone. She moved through all her folders, the surface ones with photos of Freya they'd taken goofy on the webcam and silly in bed, kissing up close and their hands tangled, and moved them to Trash, systematically erasing everything that was balled in her chest and had never sat quite right anyway.

MISC and GAY sat in the middle of the screen, and Maddie opened the folder up to images of thrusting and fucking and stubbled-chin kissing.

When her laptop was clean her fingers were stiff with cold, her body shaking non-stop, and Maddie crawled under the covers and pulled the blanket over her head. She pushed her hips to the mattress, rutting against it, imagining it was an ass she was pushing against and into, her cock hard and her breasts gone, and the thought of someone kissing her, all big hands and broad chest and just holding her tight.

She fell asleep. She woke up, and it only took a few seconds for the choked feeling to settle back in her throat, only a few moments more to find her crotch bare to want to hate the world a bit more.

"Tea?" her mother asked as Maddie sat the table, throat tight, toast too dry.

Maddie nodded and watched her mum pour the tea. She didn't look up at her face, only forced more of the dry toast into her mouth until it was all crumbs, she took a sip and it was all mush, then forced herself to swallow. The radio was playing a pop tune over their silence. Maddie's heart was beating hard in her chest, pumping against her ribcage. Knuckles white and palms sweaty she lifted the tea cup to her lips again for another sip, another swallow, just to do something.

"Well, I'll be working late tonight," her mum said as she cleared away her plates.

Maddie stared down at the half slice of toast and nodded at the table top, only breathed a little easier when her mum left the room. She rubbed her hands over her eyes and stuck her fist to her mouth to keep the stupid sobs inside

***

"You okay?" Freya asked at the gates, the sun already too bright.

Maddie shrugged, feeling a bit sick to her stomach.

"She'll come round. They do. It's the initial-"

"-right," Maddie cut her off.

"She didn't kick you out and if she had, we could stay at mine."

Maddie shook her head, wrapped her arms around herself. "It's fine," she said. Catcalls came from further down the street and Maddie felt like getting sick again, felt like going home too, if not for everything in her protesting going home.

Freya took Maddie's hand and Maddie gave her a small smile and didn't pull away then, just walked into the building with her.

***

MERLS! Seahorse greeted Maddie in the room. The others joined in with cheers and Maddie crouched forward on her chair, grinning like an idiot at the screen.

And then I got piss everywhere, on my jeans and the floor. At school! AT FUCKING SCHOOL!

Maddie added a LOL with the others. She had one of the little paper triangles tucked away in her jeans pocket as well but she'd never dared to use it.

Have you told your gf yet Merlin? Seahorse asked in a lull in the conversation.

Maddie swivelled around and leaned forward to type, her phone with Freya's latest 'love you' text on top of the 'love you' lesbian literature that didn't feel right any more now than it did before.

I don't even know what to tell, Maddie wrote. She'd flip anyway, even if it's only me saying that it's just how I feel right now or whatever.

Tell her you're trans.

Maddie bit at the side of her thumb, then put the fingers to the keyboard again. Not sure I am though. She grimaced. Not sure I'm not either.

***

Freya fucked back on Maddie's tongue, her legs crossed behind Maddie's, hand in Maddie's hair pressing her against her crotch. Maddie's face was slick, tongue and jaw a bit numb, and the charts update on the radio was still only just barely within the top ten.

"So good, just a bit more," Freya said with her hands clenched in Maddie's and Maddie stabbed her tongue at Freya's hole, breathing through the taste and smell and waiting until the song was over and the next one had started, calculating the minutes she'd spent on her knees, then slowly pulled out from the cross of Freya's legs. Maddie pressed a few kisses to the insides of Freya's thighs and crawled up on bed with Freya, curling up behind her.

"Jaw hurt," Maddie said over the announcement of the new top entry for the week.

Freya had a hand between her own legs, rubbing at herself, and entwined her free fingers with Maddie's, cuddled close even as Maddie was staring at the ceiling.

"I've got homework at home," Maddie said. She rubbed the back of her hand over her mouth. "Will miss you though." She turned to Freya, kissed her and Freya smiled into the kiss, pressed her lips to Maddie's and Maddie had her eyes closed for it. A kiss to the corner of Freya's mouth and the centre of her lips.

"You'll be fine at home?" Freya asked when Maddie pulled her shirt from the chair, slipped it on and a hoodie over it.

The radio was playing the current number one. "Yeah," Maddie replied, leaned down to kiss Freya again.

***

Her pee was trickling down the triangle and came out in a stream as she stood in front of the bowl, knickers down and legs bowed a little. Her phone was ringing in the other room, but once she was done and rinsed and clean and dry, it only showed up as a missed call from Freya.

It worked, Maddie typed into the chat window.

Seahorse gave her the thumbs up, was typing, then stopped, typing then stopped, and Maddie raised an eyebrow at the screen until the message finally came through. Your gf?

Maddie hesitated. She wouldn't get it.

Maddie stood and locked her door, drew her shirt over her head and stood in front of her mirror. Bandages in one hand and some tape in the other she layered the bandages tight around her breasts, pushing them up and to the side, then fastened everything with the tape. She put on her shirt again, slicked her hair back and turned sideways to look at her profile.

Her reflection felt right like it hadn't in as long as she could remember.

***

They ducked out after school, went to the woods behind and the stream that ran along through it. Maddie tried to breathe through the unease in her chest. She kept waiting for it to stop being the stomach-clenching reality, but when she opened her eyes it was still there and no amount of wishing for it to be not there helped. Her mother's words were replaying in her mind.

"Why did we do it?" Maddie asked as she dropped one of the rocks into the stream, watched the water splash up.

"Hey," Freya said, and "hey," again as she hugged Maddie, arms around her waist, face buried in Maddie's neck and hair, and when it had been nice before it felt too close and too soft and too much now.

Maddie felt so stupid and angry at herself and stepped from Freya's embrace, ignoring the hurt look in Freya's eyes.

"Madd-"

"I'm not a lesbian," Maddie said, staring down at the stream, water brushing over pebbles. "I think." The pamphlet's little advice bubbles stood out stark in her mind but the words were stuck on the back of her tongue.

"Is it your mum, did she say something?"

Maddie snorted, as if her mum was saying much at all at the moment. Her reflection in the water wavered and still painted her hips and curves and the hair brushing past her shoulder. "It's not my mum, or you, I don't know." She turned to Freya and shrugged and turned back to the water. "I don't mind doing stuff with you but I'm not, I don't think I'm like that." Her heart was pounding in her throat, her fingers cold. "And-"

"You didn't mind last week." Freya's hair blew into her face before she brushed strands of it behind her ear.

Maddie stared at the stream, focused on the water, anything to not look at Freya. "I'm not, I don't think I'm- I mean, I don't want to be..." She trailed off, scuffed her trainers into the forest floor. "I'm just not."

A group of blokes from the school was laughing in the distance. Freya shifted, looking at them.

"I think I'm... fuck-" Maddie picked up a pebble and pitched it into the water. "I don't want to be a... I don't think I'm, well, like-" She gestured down her body. "I don't think it's me, being-, having breasts and shit, it's not-"

"You said you'd come with to the camp, and we'd meet-"

Maddie shook her head, feeling like she was standing outside her body. "I thought I wanted it, with you and that I wanted you and I... I don't think I even want to be a woman or do anything with women or..." Maddie shook her head. "It's not you, you... sorry, I, I don't know, I didn't know how to tell you."

Freya didn't say anything for long enough that Maddie looked up, saw Freya just looking at her.

"Sorry," Maddie said again. "I know I should've said something before and-"

"You'd have never said if your mum didn't know, would you?"

Maddie shrugged. The memory of her mother's face still made her stomach sink.

"I thought you liked me," Freya added, voice faint and surprised and hurt enough that Maddie wanted to take this whole stupid confession idea back. "I thought you liked me enough that it wouldn't matter that she's-"

"It's not about my mum-"

"You talking about not being into girls, about not-"

"It's not about my mum," Maddie shouted and wanted to tell Freya to shut up and shove it and not make everything more complicated and confusing. Now that it was out, the balance had almost shifted back to a maybe I'm just imagining it and taking it all back was on the tip of Maddie's tongue.

"You should have told me sometime before eating me out, you know," Freya said as she turned to walk away.

"I didn't know," Maddie said to her back, vaguely, but didn't bother following. She crouched next to the stream, listened until Freya's footsteps were all gone.

Nothing felt better now, and everything hurt. She crossed her arms in front of her chest and stared at the water's surface long and hard enough until the tears stopped threatening to fall.