Zaltanna leaned her head against Odette’s shoulder and closed her eyes, taking a deep breath. Odette draped her arm over her shoulders.
Alise was quietly singing while she poked in the coals of the fire with a stick. She probably didn’t notice she was singing, it was just an instinct.
Odette was twirling around a stray lock of Zaltanna’s hair that had escaped her messy braid.
“Can I fix your hair?”
“Of course, baby.”
Odette sat up, moving so she was sitting behind Zaltanna with one leg crossed and the other one stretched out. She’d grabbed her bag and was pulling some things out of it.
Zaltanna closed her eyes again, feeling Odette’s hands skillfully and gently begin to untangle her hair. Zaltanna had braided her hair herself a couple days ago and then hadn’t done anything with it since, a sharp contrast to her wife’s carefully brushed hair with several small braids that she had done that morning.
Odette was humming in quiet harmony to Alise, combing out tangles in Zaltanna’s hair. She was so gentle and delicate with everything she did, and Zaltanna could hardly feel the tugging of the comb. The last time Zaltanna had tried to brush Odette’s hair, she could tell it had tugged painfully. Odette hadn’t said anything, but Zaltanna didn’t offer to do it anymore.
“Anna?” Odette paused in her braiding. “Do you just want a braid or can I do something fancier?”
“Whatever you’d like.” Zaltanna knew that her hair would be a mess again by the morning, but Odette never seemed to get tired of braiding it- and there was no way Zaltanna would get tired of it either.
Odette leaned down and pressed a light kiss to the top of Zaltanna’s head, her own loose hair falling over Zaltanna’s face. She laughed and pushed it away.
“Baby, that tickles.”
She could tell Odette was smiling from her tone. “I’m almost done.”
“Take as long as you’d like.” Zaltanna was enjoying the peace of the moment. It could last forever as far as she would care.
A few more minutes passed before Odette leaned back. “I’m done.”
Zaltanna reached back to touch the back of her hair, feeling a complex, carefully done french braid.
“Thank you- it’s beautiful.”
“You can’t even see it!” Odette was laughing as she tucked some of her own hair behind her ear.
“Well, you did it, so it’s perfect.” Zaltanna leaned up and kissed her wife on the cheek.
“Wait! It needs one more thing.” Odette leapt to her feet and ran off into the trees.
Zaltanna waited for her to come back, patting the back of her head to feel the braid. It was more complex than anything she had seen Odette do before.
“Close your eyes!” Odette called from the treeline. “I want it to be a surprise.”
She smiled and closed her eyes, feeling Odette sit down behind her again and start doing something with her braid.
“There.” Odette leaned back. “Be gentle.”
Zaltanna reached back to touch her hair again, this time feeling silky flower petals.
Odette handed her three flowers- wild roses, with the thorns carefully snapped off. “I noticed them earlier.”
“Thank you.” Zaltanna smiled down at the flowers. “Baby, these are beautiful.”
“Not as beautiful as you.”
Zaltanna hid her face in the handful of flowers.
Odette laughed and wrapped her arms around Zaltanna, making sure her braid was out of the way so she didn’t crush the flowers.
“You know I love you, right?” Zaltanna said quietly.
“Always.” Odette whispered back.