No matter how many times Morgana got Elena in trouble, Elena always came back for more. Like that time with the hobos in the railcar (which had been nice up 'til they'd had to walk five miles home in the dark and got caught climbing back in the window). Or the time Morgana dressed like a boy and pitched half a game two towns over, until one of Mr. Pendragon's associates recognized her from the stands.
This time, Elena wasn't worried.
They borrowed Mr. Pendragon’s automobile, bumping along the road, kicking up dust like a small twister. Elena let her hair down so it would blow into an impossible mess, just the way she liked it.
They parked in the pecan orchard by the creek. Leaving the picnic basket and their shoes in the car, they picked their way over the sharp-shelled ground and down to the water.
“Are you sure the fellas are playing ball up in the hayfield?” Elena asked, unbuttoning her dress.
Morgana nodded. “It’s a rematch with the Cook County boys. It’ll probably take all day.”
They slid into the water one after the other, cold making Elena hiss. The water in this small pool was clear, spilling down over the dark rocks above. If they were feeling adventurous later, they might slide down the rocks on their naked bottoms, bouncing along until they dropped three feet into the water. A girl had to get her thrills somehow.
After a few minutes of splashing, Elena crawled out onto a granite slab and flopped down to bask in the sun.
“Do you really think Arthur and I will get married?” she asked. Her hair was dripping over her nose, tickling.
“Well, you are engaged.” Morgana emerged, twisting to sit on the boulder beside her, dark hair trailing down like a modern Eve. Elena licked her lips.
“I don’t think we love each other, though.” She stretched until her hand could fit itself at Morgana’s waist, palm cupping her hipbone. “I don’t really want him to touch me. And he’d rather play with the boys than walk out together.”
“Your both still young,” Morgana suggested, but she shuddered slightly as Elena leaned forward and mouthed her way up the knobs of her spine. Elena felt goosebumps soften under her tongue as she went, until she rested her cheek against Morgana’s shoulder blade and simply breathed.
Morgana’s belly growled. She blushed down to her nipples, and Elena laughed.
They gathered their clothes and wandered back into the field still naked and shameless, tip-toeing over pecans.
“My father says when I am married I’ll have to wear shoes.” Elena’s nose wrinkled up as she helped shake out the blanket over a shell-free patch of grass. “Do you think Arthur will care?”
Morgana squeezed the water from her hair with two hands, then reached into the picnic basket and pulled out a bottle of store-bought whiskey with a few mouthfuls left. Elena’s eyes widened.
“I think,” Morgana said primly, “that we are entirely too sober to be talking about my cousin.”
The bottle lay empty between them. Even in the shade, Elena felt tingles of heat along her shoulders, a sign of freckles to come. Did it matter, though? Freckles or not, she was to marry Arthur, because he’d asked. Never mind that he’d asked her the way most boys asked a girl to the school dance after their papa’s told ‘em to. He’d asked, she’d said yes.
“I s’pose I’ll learn to cook,” she thought out loud. “You could teach me, ‘Gana.”
Morgana rolled her eyes. “Will you stop with the marriage bit? It’s all you’ve talked about all day. Come here.” She rolled over and put her face on Elena’s belly, pressing her lips then tongue into Elena’s belly-button. Elena squealed and pushed her away.
“Don’t tickle!” she cried, but Morgana was already moving down, diving between Elena’s legs. Elena moaned and lifted her hips, spreading easy as butter melting.
Morgana’s tongue teased her, swiping over her inner folds in quick strokes. While Elena was still twisting and pushing her hips up, Morgana raised her head with a wicked smile and grabbed the whiskey bottle.
“Hush, baby,” she murmured, stroking Elena’s thigh as her breath hitched. “It’ll be better than my fingers.”
“Yes,” Elena hissed.
It was different. Not better. Hard and unyielding, the bottle’s neck forced her wide, stretching her like she imagined a man would. Arthur would. She gasped, clutching at the blanket under her.
“Do you like it?” Morgana asked, moving it slowly in and out.
“I-“ Elena squeezed her eyes shut. She liked it and she didn’t. She wanted to know what it would be like with Arthur, and she wanted Morgana’s fingers back, familiar and comforting. She wanted-
She cried out as Morgana’s thumb swept her clit again, leaving her clenching and coming in waves around the hardness inside her. The sound she made was raw, not anyone’s name at all.
The day of the wedding, Elena could not find her shoes. Her Nan ran about in a tizzy, looking under every piece of furniture and in every bin and basket. The whole house was in uproar, Freya trying to fix Elena's hair while someone else went on about her corset and how it wasn't tight enough, and Nan scuttling in and out of rooms, muttering frantically.
In the midst of it all, Elena sat down at laughed.
The movement around her slowed the longer she laughed, so she let herself go and go until tears were tracking down her face and she didn't know if she was laughing or crying in truth. And then she hiccoughed, and blinked, and wiped her whole face on the sleeve of her dress.
"I'm not getting married today," she said, more to herself than anyone else. The words felt strange in her mouth, but they lifted her heart right up into her throat.
Louder, she repeated, "I'm not getting married today!"
After that, the wild bustle came roaring back, but for an entirely different reason.
Freya gave a tiny smile as she unbound Elena's hair and let it go wild and free.
Morgana was sitting in the treehouse they had built with Arthur when they were eight, before he decided boys were more fun than girls. Unlike most of their adventures, this one had remained a secret. Coming out of the cornfield and into the patch of sweetgum trees, all Elena could see were Morgana's feet dangling over the edge, kicking back and forth and wiggling her toes like she was little again.
Elena climbed up careful-like, mindful of falling.
Once she was up, she sat down at the edge and let her feet dangle over too, a matched set, equally barefoot.
"I ain't getting married today," she said, by way of jumping in all at once, like one did with a cold creek on a hot day. "Nan's furious. Won't speak to me."
Morgana's feet stilled, then kicked again. "What about Arthur?" Her voice was all gravel under rain.
"He ain't too broke up," Elena admitted. "The boys're taking him out for a night of whiskey, cards, and rough-housing. I reckon he'll be happier there than he would've been with me."
"Don't-" Morgana said, breath drawn in sharp. "Don't say that about yourself. Nobody thinks being with you is a hardship."
Greatly daring, Elena tilted her head to rest her cheek on Morgana's shoulder. "I didn't say it were. Just that he'll be happier."
Morgana's arm came up, almost like it had a mind of its own, and circled Elena's shoulders, pulling her close. Elena smiled.
"And I'm happier here," she said, and felt Morgana's answering squeeze like a blessing.