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Afterwards she blamed the serpent.

It wasn't a lie, really, because the serpent had been there, and the serpent had encouraged her. In fact it was quite possible that the serpent had arranged the whole thing. But, truthfully, it was not the serpent's urging that made her lips part uncertainly and her teeth slice into the skin of the fruit.

* * *

She heard singing, although she didn't know it was singing then, and the sound stopped her in her tracks. It was another perfect day, as all days were perfect in this best of all possible worlds, and Eve was on her way to gather windfalls for their mid-day meal when she heard an unfamiliar voice lilting on the breeze. It wasn't Adam's voice, to be sure - it was deeper than her own but far lighter than his. Perhaps it was the Lord's voice? But the Lord did not speak to her, and Adam had never mentioned this strange music. Curiosity prickled on her skin, and she knew too little to recognise temptation. She followed the sound, and the branches moved aside lest they scratch her tender skin, and at last she found her way into a sunny unknown grove.

Astonishment was another new sensation. The singer was neither bird nor beast, and surely it was not the Lord. The singer was like her, or Adam - something smooth and smiling, standing proud on two long legs and leaning against the bark of an unfamiliar tree with arms stretched high above its head. Its eyes were closed, and Eve stared and stared at the way it moved as it sang. Truly, it looked like Adam, or like her. More like her, though - curved where her body was curved, flat where her body was flat, smooth where her face was smooth. It looked like the shape that she glimpsed in the surface of the water sometimes - the face that wasn't Adam's, that moved as she moved. Perhaps it had grown tired of waiting in the water.

Greener than leaves with the sun shining through them was the serpent that curled around the trunk above her head. Its tongue flickered in and out, tasting the air as if it could taste the music, and its little claws flexed against the bark. Eve glanced at it curiously, and then stared back at the singer. She took a step forward, hesitant but irresistibly drawn, and the eyes opened, and the music stopped.

"Go on," said Eve unthinkingly. "Please. Don't stop." But her reflection only smiled. "Who are you?" The singer stretched languidly, her breasts moving on her ribcage in a way that made Eve want to reach out and stroke them as she did the tiger's thick fur.

"You. Or - not you. I'm the other one. The first one. The wrong one. Lilith."

"Oh." Eve frowned. Adam had never mentioned that there was another one like them. "Do you live here?" At this Lilith made another strange noise, not so musical this time - a sound that seemed torn out of her curving mouth. Her whole body shook with it and the corners of her eyes crinkled. Eve was fascinated.

"No. I live - well, I wander. I came for the other fruit, but I don't know whether I want it. Forever seems a very long time."

"I don't understand." Lilith smiled.

"That's the point, isn't it? That's because you haven't tasted the first fruit. They don't want you to understand. He doesn't want you to understand."

"We must not eat from the tree of knowledge," Eve recited. "We must not eat from the tree of life." She looked up at the tree before them and a thought struck her. "Is this…?"

"My old friend. This is the tree of knowledge," said Lilith. She rubbed her back against the sun-warmed bark and smiled. In the leaves above her head, reddish fruit hung just within reach. They looked sweet and ripe and firm and heavy as Lilith's swaying breasts. "I am debating the merits of tasting the other fruit," said Lilith, and she pointed at a second tree.

"Oh." There really was not very much one could say to that. Eve looked around uncertainly. "Are there more of you? Do you have - do you have another one? Like Adam?"

"There is only me. I had Adam, before you were made. So I had you, I suppose - little rib creature. Before you were you."

"Oh!" Eve blinked. "But - do you not miss it? Miss him? How can you be alone?"

"Easily. He didn't know how to touch me, you see. I knew. I understood, and it was so much better when I touched myself that there were no words - but he would not taste the fruit and he would not do as I asked. I came to him afterwards and I wanted to press my mouth to his, let him lick the juice from my tongue, but he would not. I was brimming with delight. He let me kiss his throat and his chest, he let me take his flesh into my mouth and make it swell under my tongue. He let me touch him in places I had not thought to touch him before, and join in ways we had not joined before, and he enjoyed it, but he would not kiss me back, and he would not touch me as I asked. Here." Eve watched Lilith's long fingers dip towards the junction of her thighs. She shivered, although it was not cold - indeed, she did not yet know the meaning of cold. Her breasts felt strange, and when she glanced down she saw the tips had tightened. She looked up again, and saw Lilith's mouth open as her fingers slipped between her thighs.

"Does he touch you here?"

"No. Only - you know, when the Lord makes his body change. Then he covers me and enters me there. It is nice." She watched Lilith's fingers move and was astonished by the look on her face. "But not like that. What are you doing?"

"I can show you, if you like. Come here." The grass was soft under her feet as she stepped towards the tree, and Lilith's breasts against her own were softer still. Lilith took Eve's hand in her own and pulled it down to rest upon the triangle of dark hair, and Eve stroked it curiously. Lilith pushed her fingers a little further down, and Eve gasped.

"But you are wet! How - that only happens when Adam enters there." It felt strange, knowing that Adam had been inside this other her. "I don't understand." Lilith said nothing. Her lower lip was trapped between her sharp white teeth and she was breathing so hard that her nostrils flared. Under her questing fingers, Eve found a small, hard bump between the folds of Lilith's skin and she rubbed it curiously. Lilith moaned and pulled her closer. "This feels good?" Eve asked uncertainly. She felt very strange. She shivered again, and then exclaimed as Lilith's clever fingers burrowed up between her own thighs and touched her as Adam never had. There were no words for this. Lilith smiled.

"Let me show you what he could do for you, little rib. This is nothing." Eve shuddered. Nothing? "Don't you want to understand? Don't you want to know? Just a little bite of the fruit would be enough."

"I don't - we must not," said Eve, without so much conviction. Adam had never touched her like this. Her body had never felt like this. The world was full of secrets that nobody would share - except this Lilith, this other her. She looked up at the serpent and it seemed to smile at her. "I should not taste the fruit, should I?"

"Why not?" asked the serpent reasonably. "It has done Lilith no harm. It is not poison; it is power. But do what you will."

"I could stop," said Lilith softly, her breath warm against Eve's skin. "If you are content with Adam's embraces. If you don't want to know what else there is, I could stop. Now."

"Don't stop."

* * *

The fruit was tart, and sweet, and bitter. The fruit was hot and bland and cool. The fruit was sour and mild and strong. Seeds caught between her teeth. Juice ran down her chin and over her throat. Juice splashed on her breasts and coated her fingers. Juice dropped between their meshed bodies, sticky on belly and tangled hair. Eve's first tentative nibble became a bite, became a frenzied rush beyond restraint. No savouring, no dwelling, just a desperate need to consume, to devour, to know. Skin and seeds and stalk and leaves all passed between her lips whilst Lilith held her and watched her face transform. Eve knew. Her fingers gripped Lilith tightly, suddenly sure and purposeful, suddenly demanding and aflame. She dropped her mouth to the curve of Lilith's throat and licked the sticky juice from her warm skin, and then she laughed for the first time.