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Just a Hair's Breadth Away

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Thomas bolts down the walk and up the stairs, skipping steps. In his hurry, he doesn't remember to knock. He barges into the room, on his mind the look of concern on the messenger's face. Miss Lister is startled from her desk exclaiming aloud in shock but before she can ask the reason for his sudden intrusion he shoves the letter into her hand, in between pants, "M-my apologies ma’am, t-the messenger said it w-was to be brought up immediately a-as it was urgent”.  

Miss Lister flips over the note to see who it is from. He watches her face blanch even before opening the letter when she sees the letter is from Marian. Thomas shuffles nervously as Miss Lister raises a hand motioning to dismiss him, “Thomas, leave me…”. He nods, turns on his heel and the last thing he sees before closing the door is Miss Lister, note in hand, fingers pressed to her brow, sitting heavily on the edge of the bed.

------

Anne releases a trembling breath as she reads the account from Marian. It details a letter from Ann's sister about an incident that occurred a few days prior. In the letter from Elizabeth, she urges that Anne come quickly as she is quite concerned with her sister's health following the ‘incident'.

Anne can feel the panic rising in her, face flushing, body going cold. “Control”, she thinks to herself. Her hand tremors as her mind races, forming scenarios of what has happened to her Ann.

“CONTROL” her mind shouts at her. She takes some stabilizing breaths, straightening her waistcoat, and pocketing the letter.

Anne shouts for Eugenie and Thomas to pack and ready the carriage, they are heading home.

A short time later, they are on the road en route to the ship that will get them home and on to Scotland.

------

Rocking, endless rocking; Anne can feel her insides clench at each lurch of the ship. They had been inundated since they left port, Anne never got the time to establish her ‘sea legs’.

The bucket next to her sloshed precariously with each movement, the sight, and smell making her more nauseous. Thoroughly miserable, Anne rolled in her cot and pulled her coat tight around herself. Anne closed her eyes and immediately Ann's beaming smile flashed before her eyes.

She felt and heard a whimper escape her lips.

"Pathetic," She thought, "like a simpering child"

The thought, however, didn’t quell the onslaught of tears that began to steadily stream down the side of her face.

She buried her head further into her blankets stifling a sob.

Fear overwhelmed her not assisted by Elizabeth’s letter being maddeningly vague.

In the private of her sleeping quarters, her mind ran rampant with ideas on what fate has befallen her Ann.

Sick?

Injured?

Dying?

Dead already?

Anne hugged her pillow to her chest, inconsolable.

Anne squeezed her eyes shut as tightly as possible and prayed.

For Ann.

For a speedy trip across the sea.

For her Ann to be in her arms again.

She repeated her prayer as a mantra lulling her to sleep thinking of the woman she… … … ? “hush, sleep now”

------

Anne didn’t leave her quarters for days. Only scarcely leaving her cot to relieve herself.

She remained wrapped in her coat, nose in her diary, reminiscing on treasured memories of Ann; hoping for the best but, fearing the worst.

------

Upon entry into port Anne, Thomas, and Eugenie stumbled off the ship, adjusting to being back on solid ground.

Anne checked her pocket watch, ordered them to collect their things, and meet her at the inn where they would spend the night and then be off at dawn.

She brushed back her loose hair and set off toward the inn looking forward to hopefully getting some sleep without the constant sensation of rocking.

Unfortunately for her, the sensation didn’t leave her even once on land and settled in bed. The memory of rocking kept her awake throughout the night and continuously stewing about things she had no control of.

She lay, alternating staring at the ceiling, fiddling with her pocket watch, and squeezing her eyes shut filling her mind with images of Ann. She remained this way until birds began their morning chorus and the sun began to filter through the trees.

Upon hearing the bustle of the inn waking up for the day she readied herself and made her way to the carriage.

------

Hours of jostling in a carriage, listening to Thomas and Eugenie bicker had set her teeth on edge.

She spent the duration of the carriage ride reading entries from her first days seducing Ann

“Remember the good times” she told herself.

Luckily, the ride from the port to Shibden was shorter than that awful trek across the sea and far less treacherous.

No sooner than Anne had been absorbed into reading entries she was roused by the carriage rattling to a halt.

Before waiting for Thomas, she gathered her things, threw open the door and leaped out onto the cobblestone, nearly taking the poor footman out.

Anne briskly made her way inside yelling to Eugenie to grab some supplies for another long carriage ride and be ready in an hour.

------

Anne quickly made her way upstairs to her check-in with her Aunt and relay her plan for heading to Scotland. She then made her way downstairs to grab a bite to eat before they head on their way.

Cordingley’s face fell as Anne entered the room. Her reaction startled Anne, and she bitterly snapped, “What is it?”

Cordingley shuffled awkwardly, frowning, “You don’t look well ma’am, I’m concerned is all.”

Anne sighs burying her face in her hands as she thumped onto the seat nearest the hearth.

Cordingley inched closer, cautious, “Ma’am?”

A sob wracked Anne’s shoulders and immediately Cordingley’s hand grasped her shoulder and held her tightly against her. Anne melted into her side allowing herself to briefly fall to pieces before Cordingley pushed Anne up, briskly rubbed her arms, wiped her tears and moved toward the cupboards, “Let’s get you fed…”

Anne nodded and wiped at her nose, taking a steadying breath.

Cordingley quickly put together a plate of bread & cheese with some ale to wash it down.

Anne scarfed it down, not processing the hunger that was making her stomach ache until she had eaten more than her fill.

Cordingley smiled a little at Anne’s appetite cleared her dishes, and as she left the room to finish up her afternoon chores, briefly rested a comforting hand on Anne’s shoulder.

Anne rose and made her way to the hall to reunite with Eugenie and Thomas.

------

All loaded into the carriage and with a crack of the horsewhip they were off.

The rocking of the carriage quickly rocked Anne to sleep allowing her to pass some of the ride to Scotland in moderate peace.

Some hours later Anne awoke in cold darkness.

She draped a wool blanket over her lap, lit her lamp, checked the time, and cracked open her journal to recount the journey thus far.

Her mind drifted to Ann constantly distracting her thoughts from accurately accounting her travels.

Paris was lovely.

Ann would have loved the dresses.

The ship ride was cold and miserable.

Ann could have kept me warm and happy.

The carriage ride was boring and slow.

Ann could have kept me entertained

Thoughts of her fingers under Ann's petticoats pulled her from her mind. Anne shook her head to clear her thoughts.

Soon, Ann, I will be with you soon.

Chapter Text

Hours later Anne sees the sun peeking over the horizon illuminating vast green fields and rolling hills.

A sizable estate in the distance caught her eye and caused her heart to race.

Anne began the task of “neatening herself” best she could do in a carriage as they approached.

Upon the carriage coming to a halt Anne just sat.

Unsure what the holdup was, she realized upon self-reflection, it was fear.

She couldn’t bring herself to move from her seat and her heart thudded in her chest.

I cannot do this

What if she is-

Gone…

Her throat felt like it was closing, her palms were sweating, and she could feel a cold chill move through her.

What if I’m too late?

She felt Thomas jump down from the carriage.

He opened the door with a confused and slightly concerned look, “Ma’am? Everything alright?”

Anne nodded, tugged at her waistcoat, and helped herself down from the carriage, “I’m always alright…”

She quickly made her way to the door and upon knocking was let in and led to the sitting room where Elizabeth sat, bags under her eyes, dabbing at her eyes.

Anne felt her heart plummet, fearing her assumptions about her dearest Ann were true, “Elizabeth, how is she?”

Elizabeth sighed sadly, “She is alive but, I fear what may come of her. She hasn’t regained consciousness. I worry that she may not…” Elizabeth choked on the confession, pulled into her grief again, she sobbed loudly and cried into her lap. Fat tears fell from her eyes grieving a death that has not yet come.

The sight made Anne feel sick, she made her way to the chaise and sat next to Elizabeth, grabbing her hand to comfort her, “Tell me what happened” she rasped.

-----

Elizabeth detailed the events of the ‘incident’ in graphic detail.

She had just finished reading for the evening and was heading up to bed.

As she made her way down the hall, she realized she had not heard from Ann since dinner and made her way to check-in and bid her good evening.

Just as she made to knock on the door, she heard what sounded like labored breathing and a whimper, “No, no… no…” which made her immediately fill with worry.

Elizabeth knocked once and quickly pushed open the door in time to see Ann, pale as a ghost save for the bright red stains soaking her chemise, “Elizabeth I…”

She gasped in horror at the scene and screamed for her husband as Ann swooned and collapsed to the floor in a puddle of blood, “ANN!  GEORGE, COME QUICKLY!!”

Elizabeth ran to her, dropping to the floor to try to staunch the flow of blood.

George ran in, took an appraisal of the scene before him, grabbed the handkerchief from his pocket and pushed Elizabeth aside.

She yelled for the servants to grab clothes and for her husband to send an urgent message to the doctor, shooting him a look filled with venom.

Elizabeth’s heart raced and her breaths came quickly as panic overcame her.

Everything now coated in red, Elizabeth pressed hard as she could against the shockingly deep wound on Ann’s wrist.

Her maid ran in with a pile of rags and dropped them, nearly collapsing at the shock of the sight laid before her.

Elizabeth yelled, “QUICKLY! BRING THEM HERE” and began to snatch up the ones closest to her to tightly wrap around the wound. Her maid gathered herself, averting her eyes, cleaned up the rags and made to help stop the bleeding.

Elizabeth noted Ann’s labored breathing and bit back a sob, “Please stay with me, Ann… I beg of you…”

Within a half an hour of discovering her sister bleeding out the family doctor had arrived George helped the doctor hoist Ann onto the bed. Fortunately, the doctor was able to quickly stop the bleeding and stitch the wound. He checked her heart and furrowed his brow in concern. While Ann was still alive, she was still deathly pale and still had not regained consciousness since she fainted.

Elizabeth inquired as to her sister's prognosis and the doctor's face remained grim, "I don’t want to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you must know the reality. Right now, it can go either way, she is very depleted of blood and her best medicine will be time. My fondest hope is rest will help her rebound but I cannot promise a miracle at this point.”

Elizabeth’s heart fell and she fell to her knees next to the bed holding tightly to Ann’s cold hand. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she pulled herself up and onto the bed, lay next to Ann, and rocked her weak frame as she sobbed into her hair.

George loomed in the doorway, “Come along Elizabeth, you heard the doctor, she needs rest-“

Elizabeth’s puffy eyes narrowed, “NO… I shan’t leave her...”

George glowered at her, “I said come on to bed Elizabeth.” and made a move toward her as if intending to remove her from the room.

Rage filled Elizabeth, growling, “OUT… GET OUT…” swinging her arm out of his grip as he stumbled back at her reaction, he grits his teeth, “So be it, don’t bother coming to bed.”

Elizabeth's tears began anew as he exited the room, “Ann, please, I still need you…”

She spent a few hours just lying beside her sister before knowing she needed to notify her sister’s closest friend.

She quickly penned a letter to Anne calling for her to come, sent it along to her Aunt at Shibden Hall, and then prayed Ann would make it until Anne arrived.

Elizabeth explained sadly to Anne that her sister still hadn’t risen from her slumber and remained unconscious but living if only barely.

-----

 Elizabeth looked up from her lap as she finished recounting what happened to see Anne staring off into the distance, tears streaming silently down her face, “Miss Lister? Anne?...” She squeezed Anne’s hand that was still in her grip.

Anne startled at that and suddenly began to look rather green. She jumped up and ran outside and begins to dry heave until she coughed up bile while grasping the stone wall until her knuckles turned white.

No

She can’t

Don’t do this

I cannot take it.

When she was finished being sick, she collapsed in on herself, head pressed to her knees, arms wrapped around them, curling her into a ball. A wail escaped her as a fresh torrent of tears tore through her upon thoughts of never seeing her golden one’s smile again.

MY ANN

MY BEAUTIFUL ANN

I love you please don’t do this to me.

-----

Upon barely composing herself Anne headed back indoors. Elizabeth gave her a pitying look upon seeing Anne’s splotchy, puffy, weary face. She gently reached for and held Anne’s hand to lead her to Ann’s sleeping quarters.

With bated breath, she followed Elizabeth up the stairs with each step begging God to spare Ann.

They entered the room and Ann’s pale, sleeping form is delicately placed in the center of a massive bed whose massive size made her look almost child-like.

Her golden hair is spread about her like a crown or a halo and the contrast of her pallid complexion against the ruby bedspread made her look even more angelic.

A thought intrudes Anne’s reverie of this beautiful creature.

She looks dead

Anne choked on her breath as it caught in her throat and she croaked out, "Can you leave me with her?"

Elizabeth nodded morosely and left Anne alone with Ann as she slumbered.

Minute movements confirmed that Ann was taking shallow breaths which reassured Anne of her continuing presence Earth-side.

Anne made her way to the bed and gently touched Ann’s hand, briefly recoiling at her clammy, chilled flesh.

She watched the rise and fall of Ann’s chest for a short time, treasuring the movement. Her eyes roamed over Ann’s face, eyes dancing behind closed, purplish lids. She let out a weary sigh before climbing into bed with her, tucking Ann under her arm, and pressing a kiss to the top of her head.

The sensation of her body pressed against Ann’s caused days of exhaustion to come crashing down on her like a tidal wave. Her eyelids began to grow heavy and the sound of Ann’s steady, soft breathing caused her to drift off to sleep.

Elizabeth peaked in a short while later and smiled at the vision before her.

A bit of the color had returned to Ann's cheeks from the residual warmth of Anne pressed close. Both were sleeping soundly, comforted by each other’s presence. Elizabeth crept in, blew out the lamps, pulled the covers up to Ann’s chin, and pulled the door shut to allow them some rest.

-----

Anne hadn’t slept so well in weeks. She awoke to the sun streaming in through the break in the drapes. Just as her mind caught up with where she was, she realized her bedmate was gone; panic surged through her, fearing the worst, she shot up in bed. At that moment a whimper next to her grabbed her attention.

Anne quickly turned to see red-rimmed blue eyes staring at her accompanied by a steadily trembling lip.

Anne broke eye contact briefly pursing her lips trying to stem the tears that began to sting her eyes. However, she was quickly brought back around by the sounds of Ann’s soft, tremulous voice, "A-Anne? Is that you? It's- It's not just my mind playing tricks again. You're actually here?"

Anne broke at this, she let out a gasping sob and pulled Ann into her arms, "Oh Ann."

Ann buried her head into Anne’s neck and whispered something almost too quiet to hear, “I’ve missed you so much. I thought I’d lost you.”

Anne held her tight, rocking her far too-thin frame and stroking her hair and face, "Shh, hush now. I'm not going anywhere."

Anne felt Ann’s breaths begin to calm, meanwhile, her mind raced, so she sat Ann up to take a thorough appraisal of her.

Pale

Dark circles under her eyes

Shaking

Tugging at her right sleeve

Anne’s gaze fixated on Ann’s covered arm, paused to give Ann the chance to explain what happened to herself, "Ann, can you please tell me what happened?"

Ann’s breathing became slightly labored again and Anne slotted their finger together to give her the strength to continue.

"It began shortly after I arrived, the voices, constantly whispering to me.

Stupid.

Pointless.

What good are you?

Eventually, the whispering became yelling and the voices were endlessly cruel.”

Ann sniffled, wiping at her face, “Finally, about a week ago I started seeing things- well, seeing you- I mean it looked like you and sounded like you but...” Her voice drifted to silence as her eyes welled and spilled over.

“You would come in and tell me all that was wrong with me.

Waste.

Boring.

Crazy.

Embarrassment.

FREAK.

You would constantly tell me why you couldn’t bear to be seen with me, how irrelevant I was, and worst of all-“ Her breath caught in her throat, “-How you no longer wanted anything to do with me…”

Her face crumpled in despair, “I was sitting, thinking about what ‘you’ had said, got distracted, and broke a glass.

The glass cut into my hand and suddenly the voices started shouting again.

Do it they said, You see how easily it cut you? Just press it to your wrist and it will all be over soon.”

She wiped her eyes and slowly revealed the arm she had been hiding from Anne.

A long, stitched cut ran about 4 inches down her wrist surrounded by mottled bruising. Anne worried her lip to stop it's trembling and her voice, is barely a whisper "Good God, Ann…"

She held Ann's wrist up and gently brushed her thumb alongside the cut. Anne gently pressed a kiss to Ann's palm and then one just to the side of the wound. Ann continued, "Once I did it the voices quieted down and all I could think was ‘Oh God, what have I done?’.

At first, I thought I had it under control, but the blood wouldn't stop, everything started to get fuzzy, and I was so scared. Elizabeth popped in shortly after and that is when I must have collapsed.

Everything after that is a blur; I only remember bits and pieces. Elizabeth crying, her holding me, and then nothing."

Anne swiped her hand across her face, preparing to allow herself to be vulnerable.

"Ann, this ordeal has helped me realize a few things. Your admission of what went on leads me to believe you should know exactly how I feel about you, just so we are abundantly clear where either of us stands. So that there is no doubt in your mind about where my heart lies, you should know the influence you have over me.” Anne reached out to take Ann’s hand in her own, averting her gaze as she feels a tear trickle down her nose.

“I have never felt so entirely wrecked by the potential loss of someone as I felt when I learned that there was something wrong here. I spent days, destroyed at the thought of losing you.” She pressed Ann’s hand to her cheek then kissed each knuckle, treasuring the contact.

“My heart felt as though it had been pulled from my chest. All I could do was- and I admit this shamefully- cry as though I was grieving a great loss- which for all I knew I was.”, Anne looked up, blushing in embarrassment at the confession.

“Ann, you have completely unhinged me; my heart is incomplete without you. I love you, with all my heart and soul and would be so pleased if you would honor me by becoming my wif-…”

Anne was cut off by Ann crushing their lips together and exclaiming an emotional, “YES. Absolutely yes…” Anne laughed through her tears caught off guard by Ann’s enthusiastic answer, “You mean it?”

Ann’s tearful grin glowed as she nodded, “A thousand times yes, Anne, let’s go home... to Shibden…”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Anne beamed at the girl who couldn’t stop grinning. She leaned in and gave Ann a quick peck on the cheek, brushing her thumb across her jaw, “As much as I would love to continue to remain here, kissing you, we should probably get you downstairs and fed.”

Just as they were about finished readying Ann to head down to breakfast there was a quick knock at the door.

Anne called, “Just a minute” helped Ann finish buttoning her dress, then placed a hasty kiss on the soft skin at the back of her neck. Goosebumps spread and a little squeak of surprise came from Ann.

Anne grinned back at Ann as she moved toward the door to see who was knocking.

She opened the door a crack to see Elizabeth’s worried face, “H-how is she?”

Anne gestured inward, “Come see for yourself.”

-----

Elizabeth slowly entered the room, brushing past Anne, wringing her hands. Upon viewing Ann, awake, bright, and very much alive, her knees buckled, “Oh God, Ann…” immediately bursting into tears at the shock of her sister’s transformation.

Ann rushed to her sister’s side, kneeling next to her, and pulling her into a tight hug, “Shh, I’m okay… I promise… I’m sorry I scared you… “

Anne watched from the door. Her heart warmed at the sight of the sister’s embracing, “We should probably head down to breakfast before the Captain starts to worry.”

Elizabeth wiped at her eyes, composing herself and both her and Ann stood and followed Anne down to breakfast.

-----

George hardly gave a second glance at Ann taking a seat at the table. All sat around the table eating quietly. The only noise that interrupted the meal was the occasional clink of a utensil on china.

Ann looked up from her plate, trying to catch Anne’s eye. When Anne looked up they shared a knowing glance and Ann cleared her throat, preparing to break the news to her family, “I-I have- ehm- decided to go back with Anne. I plan to move to Shibden and stay with her indefinitely.” Ann reddened and couldn’t help but blush further when she spotted Anne barely containing a grin.

Elizabeth sat in stunned silence, half expecting the revelation, George, however, balked at the confession, “You are unwell, it is best if you remain here.”

Anne pursed her lips to contain the anger that began to well up within her.

Ann, strengthened by Anne’s presence, advocated for herself, plainly stating, “I understand and appreciate your concern, George, however, I am decided. It is my life and I shall do with it as I choose. Now please, excuse me, I must head up to pack.”

Anne stood with Ann and excused herself as well under the guise of helping Ann pack, called for Thomas and Eugenie to ready themselves immediately, then quickly followed her up the stairs.

-----

Ann walked into her room and busied herself with gathering her belongings off the vanity.

Anne closed the door quietly behind her and made her way to Ann. She looped her arms around Ann’s waist and began to pepper her shoulders with soft kisses.

Ann sighed softly, “You’re distracting me from packing Miss Lister.” She turned in Anne’s arms and kissed her sweetly on the lips.

A smile bloomed on Anne’s face, “I think that is rather the point but, fine, I can wait.”

She helped Ann pack her things and within the hour, all were about ready to be on their way.

The whole family assembled outside to say their goodbyes.

George was brief and blunt as he was obviously still perturbed at not getting his way with regards to Ann’s fate.

The children were all sad to see their dear Aunt Ann go but were whisked away by the nursemaid to allow Elizabeth time with her sister.

Ann bridged the gap first, crushing her sister in a hug, as her eyes shone with tears, “Elizabeth, I cannot express how much this has meant to me… I will miss you dearly. Please, PLEASE, don’t forget to write me often.”

Elizabeth could barely utter a word, devastated by her sister’s abrupt decision to leave but all too pleased at her recovery, “I’m just glad you are okay. I love you, Ann. I will be sure to write.” She squeezed her sister tighter before letting her hop into the carriage.

Anne began to say her goodbyes to Elizabeth and thank her for all she did for Ann when she was pulled into Elizabeth who wrapped her arms tightly around her, “Anne, thank you for taking such good care of Ann. If it weren’t for you, I don’t know that we would still have her.” Anne was completely taken aback by this, her eyes stinging at the sentimentality, “I could say the same to you Elizabeth.”

Elizabeth pulled away and wiped at her eyes, “Thank you, Anne, truly, now get home. I wish you both all the best, sincerely.”

Anne nodded her assent, squeezed Elizabeth’s hand firmly, and pulled herself up into carriage next to Ann.

-----

As soon as the door shut and carriage in motion Anne dropped the shades for privacy.

Ann’s eyes widened at this and she could feel her insides warm just as soon as she caught Anne’s gaze.

There was a fire burning within her and she gravitated towards Ann, “Stay as quiet as can be…” before giving her an alluring grin.

Anne leaned in close, her lips nearly touching Ann’s cheek. Her breath puffed against Ann’s skin leaving her shivering in anticipation.

The first contact of Anne’s lips to the juncture of Ann’s jaw and neck made her release a sighing exhale. Anne quickly placed a palm over her mouth with a chuckle, “Hush now love, before we are heard.”

Ann blushed, pulled away, and gave a soft giggle, “It’s your fault, you do this to me… maybe… Hmm…”

Ann got a mischievous look on her face and closed the proximity between then again.

Anne leaned in to kiss her and Ann pulled back, “I think you have better control over your voice than I do…”

Anne gave her a questioning look and then her eyes flew open as Ann grabbed her chin, angling her face to have better access to her neck.

Ann pressed kisses all along her exposed jaw, then made to untie her cravat and loosen her collar.

Anne’s breathing came quicker but she didn’t make a sound. Her eyes occasionally fluttered shut in enjoyment.

Ann took Anne’s relaxed demeanor as her queue to continue. She kissed her way down Anne’s neck and to her collar bones.

Anne squirmed a bit in her seat.

Ann smiled, “Everything alright dear?”

Anne nodded, “Quite…” only receiving a quick, sweet, “Good…” from Ann before she resumed her ministrations.

Ann headed straight for Anne’s collar bones laving them with her tongue and then allowing her teeth to scrape along the protrusion.

This caused Anne to inhale through her teeth harshly, “Ann… what are you doing to me?” Heat coursed through her core, craving the touch of her dear Ann.

Ann sensed the tension coursing through Anne, “I-I would like to… ehm…” Ann gestured vaguely toward Anne’s skirt and flushed, “May I?”

Anne hesitated a moment, conflicted.

Ann pulled away, fearing rejection.

Anne acted quickly grabbing her hands to reassure her it wasn’t a rejection, “Ann, you misunderstand me. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s that I very seldom have. I-I never have been quite comfortable with it in all situations.”

Ann nodded, but still looked dejected.

Anne took a steadying breath and then captured Ann’s lips with her own, quickly deepening the kiss and nipping at Ann’s bottom lip. She pulls back, “Like I said, very much not you, my dear…”

Ann raised her brow and surged forward, their lips parting, and their tongues exploring. Ann barely bites back a moan and at that Anne grabs her hand and places it on her knee.

Ann gives a questioning look, confirming this as permission. Anne smiles nervously, “Let’s see how quiet I can be…”

-----

Ann beamed lifted Anne’s skirt enough to slip her hand beneath and continued kissing Anne. Her hand slowly made its way up to Anne’s thigh, occasionally gripping it tightly when the sensation of kissing overwhelms her.

Anne could feel how aroused she was becoming, dampness pooling between her thighs. The higher Ann’s hand reached the more heat coiled within her. She kept having to bite back moans that threatened to break free as her self-restraint diminished.

Ann found her way to the opening in Anne’s drawers. She slipped her hand through and could feel the heat radiating from Anne. She allowed her fingers to slowly explore, running through a small thatch of curls and finally finding soft, warm folds.

Anne could barely handle the deluge of sensation that hit her when Ann’s fingers began to explore her most sensitive spot.

Ann circled her fingers across the small nub she found between the folds and Anne nearly jerked off the seat, “Did I hurt you!?”

Anne could barely breathe, and could hardly get out an explanation, “No, not even close… That’s a very sensitive spot… If you continue to touch there, I may not be able to remain quiet…” she gave a roguish grin.

Ann took this as a challenge, “We will not know until we try…”

Anne’s eyes widened as Ann continued to circle her clitoris gently with her fingers. Her hips began rolling in rhythm with Ann and her eyes fell shut.

Just when she had begun to fall into the repetitive pattern of Ann’s exertions Ann did something wholly unexpected… She pressed the heel of her palm into the sensitive bud and as she did crushed their lips together.

A loud-ish groan escaped Anne and her hips lifted seeking purchase against Ann’s hand.

Suddenly a voice called from outside startling them both, it was Thomas, “Everything alright in there Ma’am?” They both shot apart and Anne quickly called back with a rough voice, “All fine here, Thank you, Thomas”

The adrenaline from nearly being caught caused them both to fall into hysterical laughter, clutching each other, tears streaming from their eyes.

Anne gave her companion a quick kiss, and righted her skirts, “Let us continue this at home, shall we?”

Ann laughed again, wiping her tears of laughter, “Yes, quite right…”

Chapter Text

Anne glanced up from her diary, re-hashing the last 24 hours. Her heart warms as she peers over at Ann who rests soundly, unphased by the jostling of the carriage, leaning against her shoulder.

Anne smiles to herself, feeling her throat tighten and her brain begins to wander as she processes all that has gone on.

Her eyes begin to sting, and she quietly presses her diary shut and her fingers worry her lip as she tries to compose herself.

She takes a trembling breath and reaches over to take Ann’s lax hand in her own. A tear slips down her cheek as the reality of what has happened sets in.

Ann is going to become her wife.

Her wife.

Wife.

Her brain almost misfires at this thought, unable to process that what she has always hoped for has come true.

She is going to have a wife.

Anne’s lip trembles and she again presses fingertips there, attempting to stop herself from falling to pieces.

Just then she feels a shifting next to her and cautiously peers over to see crystalline blue eyes watching her carefully.

Ann watches her face, and Anne turns away, and with a tremulous voice says, “H-how much of that nonsense did you see?”

Ann sits up, worried, reaches toward Anne, and turns her face towards her own, “I saw enough… What’s wrong, dearest?”

A noise bubbles out of Anne, not quite a sob, not quite a laugh. A smile nearly splits her face and tears fall from her eyes.

Ann cannot make heads or tails of what is happening in Anne’s head and panic floods through her, “Please, Anne, what is wrong!?”

Anne chews at her lip, and wipes at her face, embarrassed by the display of emotion, and comes clean, “I am overwhelmed… b-by the depth of my feelings for you… I-I love you… more deeply than I ever could have fathomed and it all hit me at once, just now… I-“

Ann beams and slides their lips together, gently sweeping at the tears on Anne’s cheeks, brushing stray hairs back behind her ears.

Anne’s breathing calms and as her tears subside Ann pulls Anne’s head to her chest and kisses the top of it, “I love you too… more than you could ever know…”

-----

Just as Anne’s arms wrapped tightly around her golden one’s back, the driver called out, indicating their arrival to Shibden was imminent.

Anne popped up, renewed, and wiped roughly at her face. She quickly placed a firm kiss on Ann’s lips and prepared to disembark from the carriage and begin their life anew.

As the carriage slowed to a halt Anne shoved the door open and jumped to the ground. She reaches up to Ann and helps her out of the carriage, her hands drift down to Ann’s hips, but she catches herself and turns to lead Ann inside.

Anne shouted orders as she marched Ann inside, “Eugenie, help Thomas with our bags, Cordingley, please draw me a bath!”

Anne led Ann up the stairs to her room and sat her on the bed, “I’m much in need of a bath, my love, if you would like you can rest in the drawing-room with Marian and Aunt Anne… or…-“

Ann’s eyes went wide, “May I stay and keep you company!?”

Anne swallowed, pondering, then boldly stepping out of her comfort zone, “Y-you may stay…”

-----

Anxiety made Anne’s blood run cold. She imagined Ann turning up her nose at Anne’s body, her “man-ish” features, it brings back poor memories of Mariana and she pulled her coat tightly around herself as her cheeks reddened.

Just then Cordingley came in and finished filling the tub. She gestured for Anne to come to her to undress.

Ann immediately noticed something was awry and asked Cordingley to leave them, “I can help Anne get ready for her bath, Thank you, Cordingley”

Anne’s eyes widened in surprise as Ann stood and walked to her softly speaking, “I don’t know why you are afraid for me to see you exposed, but I love you regardless. May I?”

Anne nodded opening her arms to allow Ann to help her undress.

Ann pulled off Anne’s gloves and tossed them onto a chair next to the bed. She slowly, deliberately, unbuttoned Anne’s coat and pulled it from her shoulders.

Anne’s eyes flit shut.

Ann hummed to herself and leaned in to kiss Anne’s cheek as she unfastened the buttons of Anne’s waistcoat and slipped it off her shoulders.

Anne’s breathing quickened as Ann’s fingers brushed her neck as she loosened and removed her cravat. Anne leaned in and pressed their lips together.

Ann dropped to her knees in front of Anne and reached under her skirt, pulling off her shoes.

Anne’s eyes widened as she felt warm hands inch up her calves to slide her stockings off.

Her breathing hitched as Ann stood and she could clearly see the arousal in her eyes.

Ann crushed their lips together, lips quickly parting, and her tongue flicked across Anne’s lips seeking entry which Anne enthusiastically granted. Their kiss deepened; lips, tongues, and teeth.

A chuckle came from Anne causing Ann to pull away with a peaked brow, “I should probably get to bathing… We are getting distracted…”

Ann grinned and cast her eyes downward as her cheeks flushed beet red, “Fine if you must…”

Ann resumed undressing Anne.

Ann untucked her shirt, slipping it over her head and unfastened her skirt and allowed it to drop to the floor.

Ann loosened Anne’s stays and helped her out of them.

Anne stood exposed in only her chemise and drawers and a flush crept up her neck.

As Ann reached to pull off the final layer of clothing Anne’s breathing became quicker, “Anne, are you alright? May I continue or-“

Anne steadied herself, “I’m unused to being- exposed- for anyone. It is much outside my comfort zone… Allow me a moment please…”

Ann’s heart sank at this, “Anne, it’s quite alright if you’d rather I leave-“

Anne reached out and tightly grasped her companion’s hand, “No, please, just give me a moment…” Anne took a few deep breaths and closed her eyes, nodding an affirmation for Ann to continue.

Ann reached forward and placed a hand gently on Anne’s neck, stroking the warm skin there, “I’m going to help you remove your drawers now, okay?”

Anne nodded quickly, her hands tensing at her sides. Ann carefully lifted her chemise enough to loop her thumbs into the waistband of her drawers and slid them down her muscular thighs.

As her drawers landed on the floor Anne leaned on Ann’s shoulders to step out of them, her thumb brushing Ann’s ear and causing her to smile and blush.

Ann stood and pressed a reassuring kiss to Anne’s jaw, “I’m going to remove your chemise now if that’s alright…”

Anne's voice came out as a whisper, “Yes… i-it’s fine…”

Ann slowly began to lift Anne’s chemise, admiring the figure that was slowly revealed before her.

Well-muscled calves and thighs made way for narrow hips. Between her legs, a dark thatch of hair, which trailed up her belly between prominent hip bones which accented a flat, muscular abdomen.

Ann couldn’t help the little gasp that she let out as her fingertips brushed the soft skin along Anne’s waist causing goosebumps to form across her ribcage.

Anne’s eyes shot open at this; panic coursed through her until she met Ann’s eyes and saw love and something else… reverence…

Ann pulled the chemise over Anne’s head and marveled at perky, rounded breasts, with taut pink nipples standing at attention. Accenting the feminine breasts were masculine, angular, wide shoulders and pronounced collarbones.

Anne could no longer meet Ann’s gaze.

Ann nearly whimpered at the sight before her, “Oh Anne, you are exquisite…”

Anne's eyes flew to meet Ann’s at this remark. Her eyes immediately welling, not expecting such a response to her naked form, “H-how can you think so?”

Ann beamed, “Because I love you, and you are the most beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on…”

-----

Anne gave her love a watery smile as her hands were taken into a tight grip and she was led to the tub.

Ann helped Anne into the tub, and as she sat in the warm water, she groaned, her eyes falling shut as the tension started to leave her body and she could feel her muscles begin to relax.

Ann knelt next to the tub and grabbed a washcloth, “If you don’t mind-“

Anne peeked through drooping eyelids to see Ann’s gentle smile as she gestured towards her shoulders, “Hmm…” her head nodding briefly as she sat forward in the tub.

Ann leaned in and began to scrub in earnest at Anne’s shoulders and back. She enjoyed the occasional lament from Anne as she rubbed with pressure to loosen the knots she could feel in Anne’s back.

Ann leaned her back in the tub and began to lave her long, dark hair with the soapy water.

Anne sighed, eyes falling shut again, as Ann’s nails scratched at her scalp, the occasional tug on her hair sending shivers through her body and causing heat to pool in her belly, “Hmm, Ann, that’s lovely…”

Anne’s enjoyment boosted Ann’s confidence and made her feel bold.

She grabbed the washcloth again, wrung it out, and began stroking it across Anne’s collarbones, water pooling in the dip of them.

She leaned in from behind Anne and pressed a kiss to the edge of her ear, the breaths cooling Anne’s skin and leaving a trail of goosebumps down her neck.

Ann pushed up her sleeves a bit and reached further allowing her hand to slip down Anne’s chest and between her breasts.

The rough washcloth brushed against Anne’s peaked nipples and she groaned, causing a minute roll of her hips that she couldn’t control, “Ann… what-“

Anne’s eyes opened when she felt the washcloth brush past her arm as it floated through the water and widened as she realized Ann’s hand had continued southward.

Her eyes met Ann’s and she absolutely melted, readily giving in to Ann’s bold advances. This newfound bravery rocked her to her core. She found herself rutting her hips upward, against her instincts to remain in control, towards Ann’s searching fingers. As Ann found her sweet spot and began lazily circling, Anne barely stifled a moan, biting her lip to quiet herself.

Ann kept a consistent pace but knew from how she squirmed under her ministrations, Anne craved more friction, desperately.

Anne gripped the sides of the tub, knuckles white.

Ann began intermittently increasing and decreasing her pressure and speed.

Anne was practically writhing as she canted her hips to get more purchase, her chest and cheeks flushing with effort, sloshing water from the tub and onto poor Ann.

Ann gasped at the mess and then when she caught the look on Anne’s horrified, embarrassed face, she began to giggle.

Anne began to chuckle as well, until Ann peaked an eyebrow and resumed a fast rhythm which caused Anne’s hips to buck in surprise, “Oh Lord, Ann… I’m- I’m so close…”

Ann bit her lip thoroughly aroused by the influence she had over Anne. She felt her drawers sticking to her, dampened, as her want increased.

Anne moaned; the coil inside her winding tighter and tighter. She felt as though she was seconds away from combusting. A whine came from her lips as Ann used the arm snaked down between her legs to pin her hips back against the wall of the tub preventing her from moving at all.

Ann used her free hand to roll Anne’s nipple, continuing to pick up speed below.

Anne suddenly reached for Ann’s arm, gripping it tightly as her climax slammed into her. Her thighs trembled and hips jerked. She keened and immediately buried her face into Ann’s arm, panting, “O-oh Ann... Lord.. Ann…”

Completely overwhelmed by sensation Anne pulled Ann’s hand away from her sex, kissing her fingers then turning to kiss her face. She smiled at the pink flush across Ann’s cheeks knowing she too was aroused, “Thank you, my dear, that was… incredible…”

Ann smiled broadly and stood, then reached down to help Anne out her thumb brushing across the top of Anne’s hand. She quickly dried her off, finger-combed her hair, and braided her long dark locks.

Ann sat on the edge of the bed, watching Anne dress in her nighttime clothes, “Once you are done, can you help me get ready for bed?”

Anne turned with a wolfish grin and stated in a sultry tone, “Absolutely not, I have some other things to take care of first.”

Ann sat silently, eyes wide, swallowing nervously. She could feel the heat creep upward from her core to her face, she could barely make her mouth work, “T-take care of w-what, exactly?”

Chapter Text

Anne made her way across the room, “undressing you obviously… you are wet… from the bath… what else did you think would happen!?”

Ann’s face turned red at the ‘misunderstanding’, and she shrugged her shoulders, “I-I don’t know…” She stared at her lap, embarrassed.

Anne crawled onto the bed and knelt behind Ann, unbuttoning her dress. Once the back was parted, she unlaced her corset and helped Ann take off all her wet garments.

Her damp chemise was sticking to her skin and it whetted Anne’s appetite for more, “Ann, I’ve been untruthful…”

Ann uttered a soft noise in response, head still slumped.

“I may have other plans as well…”

Ann’s head popped up at this, “You do?”

Anne smiled and leaned in close behind Ann’s ear, “Hmm… yes…”

Anne’s breath, hot on Ann’s neck made her skin prickle, “I’m going to make you… mine…”

Ann made a quiet yelp and her breathing became rapid as arousal again began to course through her.

Anne placed wet kisses across Ann’s exposed shoulders and then moved toward the head of the bed and patted next to her, “Come here, my love”

Ann’s heart skipped at the term of endearment and she quickly clamored to join Anne.

Anne laid Ann down on pillows and gently caressed the glowing cheek as her love beamed up at her, “Let me take care of you now, please?”

-----

Ann nodded vigorously, the smile never leaving her face.

Anne leaned in, nose brushing Ann’s cheek, and pressed a kiss just to the side of her mouth.

She slid her lips across Ann’s, briefly, pulling away to gaze at her.

As Ann’s azure eyes opened, Anne softly muttered, “I love you…”

Kissing her lips again and then descending to Ann’s neck, shoulders, and chest.

She again met Ann’s eyes, “I love you…”

Ann began to melt into the bed, her eyes welling with the intensity of the connection.

Anne untied the front of Ann’s chemise, peeling it back to expose her breasts.

Anne’s hands brushed across them causing her nipples to stiffen to peaks, “Beautiful…” She slid down Ann’s body and took her left nipple into her mouth sucking at it gently.

Ann’s hips lifted off the bed as a jolt coursed through her at the contact of Anne’s mouth to her breast, “Oh Lord, Anne… I- Oh Lord…” Her hands gripped at the sleeves of Anne’s nightshirt seeking purchase as her hips jerked, seeking any friction.

Anne smiled to herself and began to place kisses all around her right nipple causing Ann to groan.

Anne looked up at Ann’s face cheeks ruddy with arousal, her mouth slack, panting breaths coming quickly, “Ann, I love you… “

Ann sobbed aloud, between overwhelming arousal and emotion her senses were completely overloaded, “Anne, please…”

Anne skimmed her hands down Ann’s hips and thighs and slid her chemise up, allowing it to pool at her ribcage.

She placed gentle kisses along Ann’s belly causing the girl to squirm and whine impatiently.

Anne shucked off Ann’s drawers and tossed them aside, pausing to admire the view before her.

Ann lay sprawled on the bed flustered from the intensity of her own arousal, panting wantonly. Her legs lay open, a small patch of blonde curls only barely hiding the folds of her sex, dampness glistening on her thighs from the stimulation of watching Anne lose control.

Anne’s mouth watered at the look of her, so in need of gratification, begging for it even.

Anne leaned down and pressed her lips to Ann’s hip bone, grazing her teeth over the skin, then sucking with the intention of leaving a mark.

Ann gave a throaty moan seeking purchase anywhere she could, “Anne… I-I need…”

Anne trailed her tongue from her hip to where Ann’s curls began, “What do you need, my love?”

Ann whimpered, frustrated, “I don’t know... I feel hot like I’m going to burn up… and I ache… down there…”

Anne, taking pity on her, spread Ann’s legs wide and laid on her belly between her parted thighs, “Let me fix it for you?”

Ann nodded and then practically wailed as Anne began to kiss and nip at her sensitive inner thighs.

Anne used her thumb to spread apart Ann’s folds. She leaned in and flicked her tongue across the engorged flesh, causing Ann’s breath to stutter and her hips to tremble. This will be quick.

Anne looped her arm under Ann’s legs for better leverage, stilling her hips with her arm.

Anne made slow circles with the tip of her tongue, then lapped with her tongue flat against Ann’s clitoris, all the while pinning her hips to the bed.

Ann groaned in ecstasy her orgasm quickly building as she tangled her hand in Anne’s hair, “Ohhhhh… Anne… I’m so c-close”

She can feel Ann begin to tense up so she gathers some of Ann’s arousal on her fingers and enters her, Ann bucks her hips and she can feel Ann’s insides tighten around her intrusion.

Ann cannot even make words, she just lays there writhing in pleasure, gasping and entirely overstimulated.

Anne can feel she is nearly on the edge. She takes Ann’s clitoris between her lips and begins to suck at it. Simultaneously she curls her fingers inside Ann and swipes across the spongy flesh she finds.

Ann topples over the edge, biting her fist to quiet the near screaming moan that leaves her as her orgasm ripples through her. Her other hand is fisted in Anne’s hair half pushing her closer and half pulling her away as the sensations become too much. Her hips buck and spasm, leaving her whole body tingling and trembling as Anne finally pulls away wiping her mouth on her sleeve.

Anne crawls up to join her at the head of the bed, and softly kisses her forehead then lips, “I love you, Ann…”

-----

Emotion fills Ann’s chest and a tear streaks down the side of her face. She quickly turns into her pillow, hiding her face.

Anne’s smile falls as she brushes away her tears, “Why are you crying?”

Ann’s breath hitches, “It’s silly, I don’t know why I’m crying… Well, I do… I’m just so happy… I never thought I would have this…”

Anne can feel the lump form in her throat. She has turned me into a complete sap.

Ann pulls her face out of her pillow, eyes still watery, but watching Anne gauging her reaction…

Anne purses her lips, averting her gaze, and brushes back the loose hairs around Ann’s face.

Just then a laugh bubbles out of her as a tear trickles down her nose.

Ann looks puzzled, and concerned until Anne looks up with red, wet eyes, and gestures to herself, “That… That is all because of you… What have you done to me? Good Lord… Ann, you have made me truly happier than I could have ever dreamt I would be.”

Anne sniffs a bit and is about to wipe her eyes when Ann beats her to it. Then giggles quietly and buries her head in Anne’s chest.

Anne smiles to herself, beyond content, and wraps her arms tightly around Ann.

They both quickly drift off to sleep.

-----

Upon waking Anne rolled over, watching her golden one sleep soundly, the light coming through the window dancing over her features.

Today is the day.

We shall go to church and take the sacrament together.

She couldn’t help the smile which broke across her face at this thought.

As if Ann could feel her eyes on her she began to stir, rolling toward Anne and tucking herself into her chest, groaning softly, “Go back to sleep…”

Anne chuckled softly, “I cannot if I tried, we have a big day ahead of us…”

Ann leaned away for a moment and peered through drooping eyelids, processing slowly what Anne is implying. As the realization hits her, sleepy eyes widen. She squeaks excitedly and again hides her face in Anne’s chest, “You mean… we are going… TODAY!?”

Anne puzzled and slightly concerned, tilts her head, stroking her hands across soft blonde hair, “We are if it’s what you want still…” Her voice dropped off a little, doubt seeping in.

Is it too much for her?
Is she brave enough to endure this journey with me?
I don’t know if I can handle her saying no…

Ann peeked up at Anne’s face seeing the worry that had seated itself there. She leans up a bit wrapping her arms loosely around Anne’s waist and places a sweet kiss on her exposed throat, “Of course I still want to. Nothing in the world could change my mind… but… can we have some breakfast first?”

Anne let out a tense laugh, relief coursing through her, “Of course, my love”

Both dressed quickly as possible, upon adding each layer they paused for bouts of passionate kissing. They practically had to pry themselves apart to make it down in time enough for breakfast.

They entered the room to Marian, Captain Lister, & Aunt Anne seated already and about halfway through the meal.

Marian gave Anne a stern look over her teacup but smiled as Ann blushed and lowered her eyes, obviously embarrassed enough for them both.

Anne rolled her eyes, pulled out Ann’s chair for her then sat down in the available seat next to her grabbing a few slices of toast, “Marian, I wouldn’t want to distract from your meal, but in your rush to cast judgment you seem to have spilled some tea on yourself.”

Marian looked down, spotted the stain on her dress, quickly excused herself in a huff, continuing to glare at her sister and stormed out of the room to clean up.

Ann had to stifle a giggle as Aunt Anne shook her head with a smile at the banter.

Anne bit into her freshly buttered toast, nonchalantly Anne stated, “Aunt Anne, father, we plan to head over to York today for service. We shall be back in time for dinner.”

Her aunt grinned at this, “Oh really, are you?”

Anne who RARELY shows humility, reddened at this and smiled suspecting her Aunt knows EXACTLY why they are headed to service in York.

Ann quickly looked between the two of them and realized for herself that Aunt Anne is more ‘with it’ than she lets on.

Meanwhile, Captain Lister missed this entire exchange as he had begun to doze at the table, satiated by the filling breakfast. His snore startled everyone including himself causing jubilant laughter to erupt from everyone except for the Captain. The confused man excused himself to the study with obvious intent to resume his nap.

Aunt Anne reached over, without a word, and gave Anne a meaningful, slightly watery, look while stroking her thumb across Anne’s knuckles. She gave Anne’s hand a tight squeeze, then excused herself as well to head to the study.

Anne averted her eyes as her aunt walked away as they had begun to well up a bit at the gravity of what they were about to do.

Ann failed to miss this aside and grabbed Ann’s hand tightly, beaming, “Let’s go get married.”

Both quickly finished their breakfasts and headed out to the carriage for the trip to York.

-----

The ride passed quickly the two of them pressed close, hand in hand.

Their minds wandered full of excitement for what they were about to do, and for the future.

Anne pulled Ann tight to her side her chest swelled with love, she took a steadying breath leaned away, reaching into her coat pocket.

Ann peered at her and squeaked her hands clasping over her mouth.

In front of her, Anne held out a box containing two rings and a slip of paper. A slim gold band, and the breathtaking onyx and diamond ring that she had proposed with twice before.

Ann took the slip of paper, quickly unfolding it to discover Anne had written out some vows.

Anne smiled and her charming lopsided grin made Ann’s heart skip a beat.

Ann held out her left hand, which trembled with anticipation.

Anne's breath stuttered, “Ann if you would recite this after me?”

Anne could scarcely control her trembling voice, “Ann, I take you, body, heart, and soul, to be my wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death we do part, according to God’s holy law; this is my solemn vow.”

Anne gently took her hand and slid the ring onto her ring finger. They exchanged a quick almost astonished look.

Ann’s lip quivered a bit as she admired the ring on her hand, the sight filled her with a variety of emotions. She picked up the delicate gold band, and gently grasped her lover’s hand and repeated her vow between harsh breaths in an attempt to control her intense emotions, “Anne, I t-take you, body, heart, and soul, to be my… w-wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love… and to cherish…, till d-death we do part, according to God’s holy law; this is my solemn vow…”

A tear streaked down her face, marveling at the gold band she held. She slid the band onto Anne’s ring finger and blanched a bit, panicked as it got stuck halfway.

Her eyes shot up to Anne’s and Anne chuckled, sliding it on the rest of the way herself.

Ann blushed and giggled.

Anne extended her hand in front of her, admiring the ring that now occupied her left ring finger.  Anne was suddenly overcome with emotion, tears pricked her eyes, but the sensation was quelled by Ann leaning in to give her a quick peck on the lips.

Ann smiled as she sat back. Just as they settled back into their seats, the carriage rattled to a halt.

-----

Anne jumped to the cobblestone and reached up to help Ann down from the carriage. She gave Eugenie some errands to run and told her to meet them back at the carriage in 2 hours’ time.

Once Eugenie set off, Anne led Ann up the road toward a stone church. Where they quickly entered and took their seats for the service. After an anxious hour of listening to the holy man speak of “God’s will” he announced they were to partake in the sacrament of Holy Communion.

Anne glanced at her companion and could feel the tense excitement between them. Row after row of pews went up for the sacrament. When it was finally their turn Anne prayed that Ann wouldn’t change her mind and stay seated. Relief flooded her when she heard the pew next to her creak as Ann stood. Anne held the door to the pew for Ann, then followed her down the aisle to the alter.

Both knelt, knees touching, as the priest came through with wafers and wine. He said a brief prayer then called for the next group. As the two returned to their seats, Anne could feel Ann’s finger brush her own as they looped together.

Anne let Ann into the pew both sitting heavily in their seats, exchanging a profound look. Anne sat; mouth gaped open slightly processing what just happened as Ann fiddled with the string on her bag.

Both entirely overwhelmed and on the verge of tears, they listened to the rest of the service in companionable silence.

As the service ended, they both rose as the last few stragglers trickled out of the church into the bright sunshine of the afternoon.

Anne smiled broadly at Ann as they walked out together, heading back to the carriage, fingers brushing together occasionally.

Anne grabbed Ann suddenly and pulled her into an alleyway she hadn’t noticed. A quick glance around to confirm they were completely alone, and Anne backed Ann to the stone wall behind her.

Their lips pressed together, parting, urgently seeking more.

Anne abruptly pulled away, chuckling, skimming her hands over Ann’s arms.

She leaned in whispering in a lustful tone, “Just wait until we get home, Mrs. Lister…”

A wolfish grin flashed across her face as she straightened her waistcoat and led a very flustered Ann out of the alley and to the carriage.

As they settled into the carriage and waited for Eugenie and Thomas to finish packing up Ann seemed restless, she whined, “I’ve no idea how I’m going to make it until we get home… You can’t rile me like that and then make me wait hours for-”

Anne smiles, biting her lip, “Oh, can’t I?”

Ann groaned a bit, clenching her thighs as warmth settled in her belly, pouting as she settled in against Anne for the ride, “Cruel… my wife is cruel…”

Anne balked and pressed a chaste kiss to Ann’s head and pulled her close, whispering, “Whoever said I would make my wife wait? Maybe, I intend to drag it out for the duration of the ride…”

Ann yelped and swallowed nervously as Anne locked the carriage door and made sure the curtains were thoroughly secured.

Chapter Text

Ann waited for the carriage to be underway. She anxiously sat; nervous energy coursed through her. She knew what her… wife… was capable of, or at least she thought she did.

Her wife had made these “threats” but in the 20 minutes they had been driving so far, she hadn’t moved an inch.

She had never been more conscious of what was going on between her legs. The passionate kiss and then the promise of “something” made her near desperate with want. The thrumming arousal she felt in her sex had her on edge and eventually, the pleasant silence that had fallen over them was making her need more urgent by the second, “Anne… uhm… you had… mentioned…”

Ann flushed beet red as Anne nonchalantly turned to her, listening intently, “Mentioned? Sorry, I was in my own head… What is it dear?”

Ann, if possible, turned redder as frustration took hold of her, “Anne… you… you said…”

Ann growled in aggravation at her own shy nature causing her to be unable to speak what she wants to. She took a steadying breath and then quickly whispered, “you said something about not making me wait…”

Anne's fingers worried at her lip, thinking, “Hmm… I did, didn’t I?” She reaches into her waistcoat and looks at her pocket watch, then quickly snaps it shut and continues to stare off and ponder.

Ann huffed, playing with a loose thread on her skirt. 

More silence filled the carriage and Ann couldn’t help pouting.

Anne closely watched her wife from her periphery as she slowly begins to unravel. First the huffing and pouting, then the finger tapping, the final sign was her shifting uncomfortably in her seat, her thighs squeezing and sliding together. Anne smiled a knowing grin, understanding Ann assumes she is completely unaware of just how unraveled she has become, chuckling she reaches for Ann’s hand, “Come here you sweet thing…”

Ann startles as she gets pulled onto Anne’s lap abruptly, “Anne, what are you-“

Anne begins to kiss along Ann’s exposed jaw and neck. Occasionally she suckles at the soft skin leaving temporary red spots that she laves with her tongue.

Ann sighs, her tense body beginning to relax as Anne’s lips caress her neck. Ann turns slightly in Anne’s arms and Anne’s lips firmly meet her own.

They kiss like this for a while lips parting and hands caressing. Nothing they haven’t done before. They both are just enjoying each other’s intimate space.

Ann breaches further first, her tongue skims over Anne’s bottom lip, seeking entry.

Anne pulls back for a moment her teasing nature getting the best of her. When she notices Ann’s normally crystal blue eyes have a new depth to them. They have darkened to a stormy blue, her irises nearly eclipsed by her pupils, blown wide with arousal.

Anne presses back in, her tongue breaching Ann’s lips.

Ann hums approval into Anne’s mouth; their tongues dance.

Ann takes her wife’s lip between her teeth, grazing the skin there, causing a sharp intake of breath from them both.

Anne’s arousal intensifies at her wife’s boldness, and she begins to formulate a plan.

She quickly seats Ann on the bench across from her, and hikes up her own skirts a bit, just enough to have more freedom of movement in her legs.

Ann gives her a curious look, not understanding what Anne has planned. Before she can develop any theories, Anne grabs her by the arms and man-handles Ann to be seated between her spread legs.

Ann, puzzled, tries to turn in place to resume kissing and Anne stops her, hoisting up Ann’s skirts to her hips and spreading her legs wide.

Ann yelps a bit as cool air snakes through the opening in her drawers, “Anne, wha-“

Before Ann can finish the question Anne uses her spread legs to slot under Ann’s and pin her legs wide open, Anne leans close to her ear and a throaty whisper says, “If this isn’t okay, say so now as I fully instead to ravish you if you agree.”

Ann whines her hips squirming a bit, “P-please just… touch me…”

Anne groans, the desperation in Ann’s voice sends a jolt to her core, “Quiet down and maybe I will…”

Anne’s right-hand slides down the front of Ann’s dress grasping her supple breasts. She finds her nipples already taut from the teasing foreplay.

She rolls each one gently between her fingertips, occasionally tugging causing Ann to moan and rut her hips.

Her left-hand reaches down to Ann’s sex, cupping it, affectively pinning the girl in place in her lap.

Anne parts Ann’s drawers tracing her fingertips on her inner thighs, occasionally brushing closer and closer to Ann’s needy flesh.

She places open kisses on her wife’s neck and shoulders as she teases her continuously.

Ann whines and pants, trying to find purchase anywhere.

Anne, however, deliberately avoids the spot Ann wants to be touched the most causing Ann’s arousal to build without end.

All her nerve endings were on fire the unsatisfied arousal making her wild and wanton. She mewled like an animal in heat and Anne nearly growled in her ear, “I said quiet, do you want us to be found?!”

Ann bucked and shook her head biting down on her knuckles when Anne resumed her torturous ministrations.

A quiet, desperate, whisper comes from Ann moments later, “Please Anne- Just touch me…” Her eyes looked distant, almost crazed as her senses craved ONLY ANNE

Anne finally, mercifully, parts Ann’s folds, pressing the engorged flesh she finds at the center.

Ann buries her head into Anne’s arm and keens loudly. Her body almost pained at the sudden building inside her as the raw pleasure of Anne’s touch causes her to nearly come undone. She can feel herself tremoring on Anne’s lap as her brain goes numb everything around her is a blur of the pleasure-pain Anne is inflicting on her.

Anne’s fingers circle deadly slowly, pressure increasing, increasing, and then her fingers wander away again. Then they are back quickly rubbing circles and pulling away causing Ann’s sex to quiver wanting to be filled with Anne, pleading, “Anne- please- need you- inside-“

Anne shushes her, gently reassuring her she is okay. She reaches down, gathering some moisture, and begins to probe at Ann’s entrance.

She is easily able to slip two fingers in finding Ann loose from her arousal. She slides her fingers in as far as they will go, massaging at the walls of her. Ann sobs with pleasure as she clenches around Anne’s intrusion, “Oh Anne… I… Please… More…”

Anne’s eyes widen as Ann’s plea causes her insides tense, eyes watering, she gasps, and breathlessly states, “Y-yes Ann… Shh…”

Anne slowly pulls out and then slides her 3 of her fingers back in. Ann’s breathing is wheezing out of her in gasps as Anne continues penetrating her, curling her fingers upon each entry.

Ann’s hips strain upward seeking the minimal friction of Anne’s arm for much-needed stimulation.

Anne can feel her body betraying her as she ruts twice against Ann’s straining backside without even meaning to. Never had she been so close to climax just from bringing someone else off alone. She groaned as Ann’s nails dug into her flesh and it brought her further pleasure… That’s new….

Anne looks down and Ann’s plush lips, red with arousal, gasping as her eyes bore into Anne nearly causes her to lose control.

She takes a steadying breath. Let’s finish this, Hmm? While continuing to circle the soft flesh inside Ann that makes her quake she finally reaches down with her free hand and presses the heel of her palm firmly into Ann causing the poor girl to tremor. She keeps this up until she can feel her wife begin to tense, shaking. She gives a few more well-timed thrusts of her fingers as she rubs at her wife’s most sensitive spot without mercy.

Her wife’s gasping climax pushes her over the edge as well. She can feel her insides ripple as heat pools in her belly. She cannot help the lengthy groan as Ann’s jerking orgasm overstimulates her very spent body.

Ann melts in her arms, curling up, and tucking her head into Anne’s neck with her arms wrapped around her chest, “Mine…”

Anne feels her throat tighten, this woman is mine… For the rest of our days… She is mine and I am hers. Anne holds her tight, fully intending on never letting go.

Chapter Text

About an hour later Anne sits, her wife curled on her lap snoring softly. Her gentle breaths puff across Anne’s neck. She cannot help but watch Ann’s soft, relaxed features as she rests against her.

Anne shifted a bit, her bottom beginning to really go numb. The minimal movement caused Ann to groan and bury her head further into Anne’s chest, wrapping her arms firmly around her torso, and pressing in close.

Anne chuckled, “Ann, you are making it quite difficult to breathe…”

Ann looked up at her with bleary eyes, “That’s what you get for nearly killing me…”

Anne laughed out loud at his, “Nearly killed you? You loved it…”


Ann turned red, eyes shifting mischievously, grinning, “…. I might have thoroughly loved it ….”

Anne beamed but her smile fell when Ann suddenly removed herself from her lap, “everything okay?”

Ann smiles, grabbing her sketchbook from the bench, “Yes, you miss me already!? I only just moved over to not crush you further. Also, I wondered if you might allow me to sketch you? It’s just that you look so… happy… and well… you look beautiful…”

Anne blushed, wanting to hide her face, but Ann’s warm, loving gaze made her unable to look away.

She nodded, shyly.

Ann’s smiled widened as she leaned forward to open the curtain and let in the late afternoon light. She sat across from Anne, their legs slotted together, the touch reassuring Anne and grounding her.

Ann made herself comfortable and grabbed her drawing book and pencils.

-----

She looked up to begin studying Anne and the breath left her.

The light streaming in the window, golden late afternoon sun bathed Anne’s sharp features.

Her dark hair illuminated a wonderful chestnut brown and her eyes, liquid honey.

Her strong nose, jaw, and cheekbones were softened in the light and Ann couldn’t help but stare.

She got to work on the drawing, sketching away, hoping to capture Anne perfectly.

Anne watched her sketch for a while, a soft smile on her face.

Gradually, her smile faded a bit, worried about how the picture would turn out

Why would someone want to draw her?

So man-ish

Freak

Ann was about finished with the sketch when doubt filled her. She bit her lip, staring between the page and Anne’s face, unsure of herself and her ability to truly capture Anne Lister on paper.

Anne shrank a bit under Ann’s gaze, finally getting snippy, as is her defense mechanism, “What!? Why are you staring? Something wrong with my face?”

Ann snapped her mouth shut, shaking her head quickly, then smiling sadly to herself, “No, it’s not that at all Anne. I just… you are so lovely… I worry I didn’t capture your likeness very well… I’ve never seen you so relaxed and filled with life how can I contain that to paper? You are really, truly, beautiful, Anne.”

Ann offered up the sketchbook, which Anne grasped and held tightly. Anne’s eyes widened and she pursed her lips to stop their trembling. She slowly closed the book, pressing it to her chest.

The woman in the picture is beautiful

She looks happy

It’s me

Is that what I look like to Ann?

Anne turned away, looking out the window, unable to meet Ann’s eye. A tear tracked down her cheek.

Ann grimaced, “That bad? As I said, I don’t know how successful I wa-“

Anne’s knees landed on the floor of the carriage with a dull thud, her head falling into Ann’s lap. The sketchbook still clutched to her chest.

-----

Ann, entirely confused, rests her hand in the back of Anne’s head, “Anne? Are you okay?”

Anne nods her head, her chest heaving a little, no noise leaving her.

She thinks I’m beautiful

Ann worries her lip with her fingers, “Anne, can you sit up and look at me?”

Anne shakes her head vigorously leaving it buried partially in the volume of Ann’s skirt.

She really does love me

Ann sighs, praying she hasn’t done something wrong and continues stroking her fingers across Anne’s neck.

Anne grips her wife’s skirt, knuckles turning white, her breathing stabilizing but still ragged as Anne tries not to allow her thoughts to spiral

She loves me.

For how long?

Love.

Merely infatuation.

Wife.

For now.

Mine.

She will leave.

SETTLE.

You are being foolish.

STOP.

Just then Ann takes initiative, realizing this isn’t because of anything she did wrong. She gently tilts Anne’s head up, for their eyes to meet.

Anne’s eyes are red, watery, her cheeks blotchy.

Still beautiful

Ann strokes a thumb across her cheek, “Hey, focus, what is going on in that head of yours?”

-----

Anne shakes her head and curls in on herself on the floor of the carriage. Her arms wrapped firmly around Ann’s legs.

Ann sighed meeting Anne on the floor. She reached forward and tucked a few stray hairs back behind Anne’s ears, “Can you look at me please?”

Anne took a shuddering breath and peeked over her knees at Ann, sniffling twice, “I’m being foolish, I know… I apologize sincerely for this display of… hysteria…”

Ann pulled the sketchbook from Anne’s grasp and opened to the drawing, “I know what caused this… I was staring at you and then you saw the drawing… It didn’t offend you so… it… AH…”

Realization dawned on her.

She is unaccustomed to stares not being hateful

She is not used to feeling loved

She is not used to feeling cherished

She looked down at the sketch and tried to view it from Anne’s eyes

OH…

Oh my darling, lovely, Anne

My sweet, soft Anne…

“You have never been told you are beautiful before… Not by someone who means it… Hmm?”

Anne looks away, rolling her eyes to hide the fresh tears, biting sarcasm laces her broken voice, “Very astute, Ann”

Ann wipes at Anne’s face, “Anne, please, know this. You are immensely exquisite. Your smile is brilliant. Your eyes, molten chocolate. Your cheekbones are… Good Lord… Your body… Well…”

She smiles and flushes bright red as she thinks about Anne’s muscular arms and long fingers, face like fire as her mind continues to wander.

Ann reaches out toward her wife and grasps her left hand, running a thumb over her wedding band, “Anne, understand that you may have not felt loved before, but you are so VERY loved now. Do not be ashamed to show me who you are, whether it is the strong you that you show everyone or an Anne that is unsure. You are mine and I am yours. Until death. Never doubt my love for you.”

Anne is looking up now, staring, mouth parted. Her eyes are still wet, but the tears have stopped. She can only stare, unblinking at her wife.

Ann chuckles, “Did I break you?”, squeezing Anne’s hand gently.

Anne has been rendered entirely speechless. She can only stare in fascination at Ann, the cogs of her brain whirring and clicking into place as she finally understands the immensity of the day’s events.

Suddenly, she finds her voice, “A-Ann… that was… you are… how did… c’mere…”

She pulls Ann close, and presses their lips firmly together, “I love you so much, Ann… you constantly manage to unhinge me… and yet at the same time have the ability to flawlessly put me back together.”

Ann giggles and places a quick kiss on Anne’s cheek, “I love you too… but, can we get off the floor now?”

Anne laughs at this and helps pull Ann up and back onto the bench carefully seating her and then pressing herself close. She peers out the window the sun beginning to set, illuminating the very green fields just outside of Shibden.

-----

As they pull up outside Shibden Anne quickly sneaks another couple kisses causing Ann to softly squeal in joy. Anne hops out quickly and assists Ann down from the carriage. Anne takes a quick look around, spying no ‘strangers’ and scoops her wife up to bring her home, the right way.

Ann yelps and kicks a bit startled, “Anne! What if some see- Hello Cordingley… ANNE! Hello, Marian, Aunt Anne…”

Anne chuckles at the swift smack on the arm she gets when she places Ann down on the chaise in the sitting room across from her Aunt and sister.

Aunt Anne smiles brightly, pleased at the sheer joy on her niece’s face.

Marian rolled her eyes but couldn’t help the smile that broke across her face, “Just in time, we only had to delay dinner by an hour…”

Anne groaned and escorted her wife into the dining room, pulled out her seat and then sat next to her.

As the rest of the family made their way in, Anne leaned over and whispered into Ann’s ear, “This will hopefully be an expedited affair. Once we finish, we should both wash and then I would request that you wait half an hour and join me in my room. You will find our rooms are connected by an adjoining door. I’m quite looking forward to it…”

Ann blushed and began to pick at the food on her plate as everyone began eating, her mind wandering.

Anne smiled at her distracted wife and quickly cleaned her plate, starved after a ‘rigorous’ carriage ride.

Ann took the queue and began to eat her fill as well, she suspected she was going to need the energy for whatever the evening had in store.

-----

As dinner finished up, Anne and Ann made their way up the stairs, down the hall to the more secluded wing of the house that held their rooms. They kissed quickly and parted ways to their respective rooms.

Both quickly undressed and had a quick wash.

Anne stripped down to just her drawers and nightshirt, then sat at her writing desk to document the day.

She quickly got absorbed in writing about the good, bad, and ugly. The emotions of the day had exhausted her and recounting them had caused them to begin to stir anew. Just when she felt her thoughts start to tumble there was a swift rapping at the door adjoining her room to Ann’s.

She sighed in relief, being saved again by her golden one, “Come in…”, continuing to scratch at the page, nearly finished with her entry.

Ann walked into the room, completely naked, hair let down, the only thing covering her was the chemise she had draped over her arms ‘just in case’.

She quickly realized that Anne had failed to notice as she was fully enthralled in journaling.

She grinned, walked to the bed, folded her chemise, placed it on a chair, and made herself comfortable on the bed.

She sat, propped on the pillows, her golden hair draped across her breasts and watched Anne write, patiently waiting for her to look up.

Anne’s reaction is entirely worth the wait.

-----

Anne closes her journal, puts down her pen and makes to stand until she looks up to see Ann.

She stumbles a bit, knocking the inkwell off her desk, “Good Lord.” She quickly kneels, sopping up the ink splatters with some parchment.

Ann smiles, enjoying how flustered her current state has caused Anne to become.

Anne makes her way to the bed, “You are… magnificent… I hadn’t realized I had married Aphrodite herself…”, Anne crawled up the bed, shucking off layers unceremoniously until she too was completely naked.

Ann’s curious fingers skimmed across Anne’s arms leaving goosebumps in their wake.

Anne straddled her wife’s lap, their lips pressing together, and parting. Anne’s tongue swept across Ann’s lips and into her mouth. Her tongue was quickly met by Ann’s which pushed it aside to suck at Anne’s bottom lip.

Anne could feel Ann’s hips rising off the bed as they kissed, “Ann, sit up a bit for me, and spread your legs.”

Ann blushes at how direct and demanding Anne is, but she obeys and quickly understands why.

Anne slotted their legs in such a way that their sexes meet deliciously. The wet warmth coming off Anne makes her moan into Anne’s mouth.

She wraps her legs around Anne, pulling them even closer together the sudden friction makes Anne groan aloud, “Lord… Ann…”

Anne nips at Ann’s neck playfully, as she does so she slides herself against Ann, punctuating each sharp nip with a well-timed rut of her hips.

Ann begins to tremble a bit.

Anne chortles, “Didn’t get your fill earlier Mrs. Lister?”

Ann sighs at being called Mrs. Lister, it only fuels the fire within her, “Never with you…”

At that Ann becomes bold, taking what she wants... Anne...

She grasps Anne’s bottom pressing them tightly together. Their aroused flesh rubbing delightfully causing them both to pant with need.

Ann leans in taking one Anne’s peaked nipples in her mouth, sucking at it, then allowing her teeth to graze the tip as she releases it. It summons a very “un-Anne-like” whimper from her wife, and her thrusts against Ann’s sex have become much more urgent.

Ann realizes at this moment just how much she enjoys making Anne lose control.

She nips at Anne’s other breast and feels her belly tightening between them. She can feel Anne is so very close and the whine that escapes her confirms it.

She is close too, warmth coils inside her, watching Anne come undone helps.

She leans in, whispering as wantonly as she can in her soft voice, “Claim me, I’m yours.”

The noise that comes out of Anne at this is animalistic. She tenses and as she topples over the precipice her fingers find Ann’s warmth and press in curling upward just so and they both tumble into orgasmic bliss together.

Anne pants into Ann’s shoulder, her fingers still fully seated inside her wife. She slowly pulls them out Ann lamenting as she does so and licks them off causing Ann’s eyes to fly open, “You’ve been thoroughly claimed I think.”

They roll apart only momentarily to breathe, their legs remaining tangled on top of the covers.

They roll back together after catching their breath, Anne pulls the covers over them both and they link hands.

They lay in bed, talking until the wee hours of the morning. It’s not until the birds rise that either of them realizes just how late, or rather, early it is. Ann’s eyes have started to droop shut and Anne presses close savoring the warmth her wife provides as they both drift off to sleep, married, happily, at last.