Will you savour this in your mind,
This old feeling when you're left behind?
Will you hold to this as true
Or will you dance to another tune?
- First Aid Kit - Dance to another tune
The first time Callista sees Lydia crying, she's on the bathroom floor, and it is way too early for the maid to be awake.
"It's the dust" she informs her "I've been trying to clean behind the tub for months."
The governess doesn’t ask any questions.
The second time Callista sees Lydia crying, it's way past midnight and the maid is sipping whisky from a tumbler on the makeshift balcony.
It takes the governess longer to notice her tears but when she does, she knows it's going to be hard for Lydia to lie this time.
"That's not the dust now, is it?"
Lydia takes it very personally; she's on the defensive.
"I know you cry yourself to sleep. I overheard Emily telling Corvo, but I don't think she fully understands."
Callista wants to protest but she doesn't know what to say. Instead, she reaches out for Lydia's hand and squeezes gently, trying to make up for her rather insensitive first move.
"It's not about me, it's you that I worry about."
The maid gives her a faint smile and removes her hands from her grasp.
"Don't worry about me sweetie, I'll be fine. You should get back to your little empress in case she wakes up."
"Oh I thought you knew. I exceptionally let Emily sleep with Corvo tonight. She seemed so overwhelmed when he came back that I couldn't refuse..."
Lydia lets out a little impish laugh, trying to appear detached.
"Oh, I know that feeling!"
There's a reason why Callista cares about her uncle so much, why it aches so badly to think about losing him for good.
She's seen this look in eyes she longs to see again but knows she never will.
There are many ways to react to it, usually compassion, understanding and patience, sometimes anger.
But that's not what Callista does. She simply covers her face and starts crying, small sob quickly tuning into louder laments.
It's probably a bit too much, but it's as if Lydia broke down the last bastion of resistance inside her body.
The maid doesn't understand at first, so she just takes her in her arms and holds her close. Eventually her own tears begin to fall again and she can feel Callista's arms tightening around her body, head buried against her shoulder.
"You don't understand... It hurts so much, so much. And you think it's a joke!"
Lydia says, still puzzled by the governess' behaviour.
"I don't know what you're going through Lydia, but I can see it in your eyes, the suffering. I've lost both my parents because I failed to see it in their eyes, and... I don't want to lose you too..."
The maid remains silent for a while, astounded by Callista's sudden flood of words.
"It wasn't your fault. This will never be your fault! It's just that sometimes, people... aren't as happy as they make people believe they are."
Everything is happening so fast and alcohol helping, Lydia starts to feel dizzy. Callista's arms seem locked around her body.
Eventually, she hears the governess calming down, and moves away from her to look her in the eyes. Callista looks so, so tired, with her watery eyes and reddened cheekbones. For a brief moment, Lydia sees herself in those eyes, and it almost breaks her heart to think that Callista cares about her this much.
She runs a hand under the woman's chin to wipe off the tears.
"There, young lady, don't cry. I'm putting you to bed now."
Callista lets Lydia lead the way. She even has a shy but honest smile on her lips.
The maid helps her undress and when Callista asks her to stay, she doesn't know how to refuse. Her uniform is quickly being taken care of by skilful hands.
Lydia catches her starring at her lips. She really wants to kiss her. Callista does too but neither of them moves, and it's a shame, really, because they both have the same drive burning inside of them.
Eventually, the governess settles on the bed and waits for Lydia to join her.
They've never been so intimate before, so there's a little bit of blushing involved, but they eventually find a way. They are both almost naked in the small bed, only wearing their underwear and their everyday shirts, but it somehow feels good to feel warm skin.
"I don't know what I'd do without you..."
Callista whispers. Lydia lets out a gentle laugh, aiming to cheer her up.
"Probably the same, if not better! You're such a strong young woman Callista, I hope one day you'll realise that."
The governess turns around and buries her face into her shoulder.
"I love you so much..."
"Awww... There, there"
She whispers, gently stroking her back. She feels Callista's legs tangling with hers, a knee gently pressing between her thighs.
They remain silent for a while, except for the light rustling of the bedsheets clinging to their legs gently rubbing together. The bed is so small. Lydia is still trying to understand what made Callista act in impulse like this.
"I understand if you don't want to talk right now" the brunette whispers "but I want you to know that I'm here for you."
Lydia rests her forehead against Callista's.
It's not, but the governess doesn't want to put pressure on Lydia. The maid eventually starts to open up as Callista's fingers tenderly play with her hair.
"I just... I'm scared of the future. What if Corvo dies or gets captured? You'll be protected because you have Emily but what about me? And Cecelia? I've known the Admiral for quite some time and I can tell he knows his plan is flawed. It's falling more apart each time Corvo comes back with his blade full of blood. I don't want to be left for dead and turn into a weeper."
"Did Havelock do this to you?"
Callista asks, pointing at the trails of bruises on Lydia's biceps and cleavage. The maid hesitates before answering.
"Yes. He's usually not that rough but he changed a lot over the past few weeks. We used to make love with passion but - "
"Look at those bruises Lydia! That's not love!"
Callista sighs and lets her head fall against Lydia's shoulder.
"I don't like men. I don't like the way they look at me, or the way they talk. They always think violence is the only way. Sometimes..." she pauses. "Sometimes I wish I wasn't born a woman, so that I could have been normal, and did what I pleased."
Lydia takes the subtle hint. Callista now has an arm resting on her waist and it feels warm and secure. The maid pulls up the covers until half of their heads is covered. They're lying so close to each other now that their noses almost brush every time they speak.
"Don't you just wish you could become a small mouse and disappear for a while, sneak up on a boat and sails off a foreign, beautiful land?"
Callista asks. Lydia knows she should smile, but something within her just takes her back to the darker part of her mind.
"What's left for us here, besides death and desolation? We're all pawns here, taken one by one. There are days where I don't know why I'm still - "
"Don't." Callista hisses, almost menacingly, nails digging in her waist. "Lydia, please. I want to help you. I can't afford losing you."
"Callista I... I'm honoured that you think of me this way..."
The governess sighs. The hot blow of air tickles Lydia's lips, sending sparkles to her belly.
"I've came to realise that all the men here are wretched, rotten even. I'm worried about Emily, how her behaviour has changed over the past few weeks. She used to play hide and seek before our lessons, go out and explore. Now she's even there before the lessons start... It's the same with Cecelia. I'm seeing her less and less around the pub. This girl is smart, she knows something bad is coming, and she'll be safe and far away from here when it comes. But us..."
A tear shines briefly in the corner of Callista's eye. Lydia wiggles closer to kiss her forehead.
"I know. I'm trying not to think about it..."
"But you still do, don't you?"
The maid nods in silence. Callista's fingers accidentally brush against Lydia's thigh as she reaches for her hand under the covers. Their fingers intertwine and there is so, so much to feel.
This time, Callista ventures a kiss on Lydia's lips. It's a very light and tender kiss, but she's surprised by the heat and the softness she finds.
When she breaks the kiss, she notices that Lydia is smiling. She wraps both arms around her waist, holding her close on the tiny bed.
"Promise me you'll stay with me."
She doesn't really have anywhere else to go but she understands what Callista means.
Lydia doesn't want to hurt her. In fact, she feels that it is now her duty to make sure that no-one else will.
She leans forward and kiss Callista's forehead.
The bed is small and the blanket slightly itchy but it's the most relaxing night they both have in a very long time.
_ _ _
The next day, when Emily's lessons are done and the pub is cleaner than before, Lydia and Callista decide to meet by the seaside. It's the perfect time, the early golden hours before their presence is required in the kitchen.
They meet Samuel on the way and he waves at them. He doesn't seem to have noticed that they're holding hands. If he did, he doesn't show it. Samuel is a good man.
They find a quiet place and sit down together, Callista resting her hand on Lydia's leg. The maid occasionally throws a small stone in the water and they both remain silent to listen to the little plonk it produces.
It's the beginning of something new and even though they don't know where it will lead, they have found in each other a light to fight the darkness, a face to think of when demons visit them at night, a steady hand to heal old wounds.