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Summer

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    “To the end of term!” Mother Rawson said warmly, tipping her wine glass against Ann’s and then Anne’s. Ann giggled as she watched the matriarch take a hearty sip from her glass, despite it being barely noon. “I’m sure you two are happy to have a few months free.”

    “We are,” Anne said warmly, digging into the salad in front of her. “We’re going to do a bit of traveling, which is long overdue.”

    The bright early-June sun combined with Anne’s words to fill Ann’s chest with warmth. This fancy little restaurant was a favorite of Mother Rawson’s, but it was the first time Ann had ever brought her wife to one of her summons. Mother Rawson had been overjoyed at the addition, of course, thoughAnn vacillated between excitement and terror. She was trapped between two lionesses: one greying and loud and settled in her power, the other lean and strong and quick. Ann couldn’t tell if they were going to team up or tear each other apart.

    “And where are you going?” Mother Rawson pressed. 

    “Rome,” Ann gushed, “then Venice.” She looked to Anne for confirmation, bolstered by her encouraging nod. “Then we’re going to London for about a week - Anne’s book is coming out.”

    “A book! And what’s it about?”

    Ann turned to her wife, brimming with pride as Anne explained the thesis of her work, the one she’d been writing during their quarantine. Being away from Shibden would be hard, Ann knew, but she was looking forward to it. Going to Italy ! Ann Walker. Of all people. She almost couldn’t believe it was real. 

    “Surely, then, you have a plan, Dr. Lister, to take the department back from my feckless son?”

    “Oh, I -” Anne shook her head, “uh, I don’t know about that.”

    “Oh, but you must .” Mother Rawson leaned in, her eyes gleaming with mischief. “Christopher can’t handle the pressure. He’s about to crack any day now.”

    “Really?”

    Anne sounded noncommittal, but Ann could see through her. She knew her wife still wanted the top spot, hoped to become a dean someday, smarted over the blatant favoritism that had denied her the promotion she deserved. Ann also knew the way Anne tapped her index finger against her knife meant she was trying to figure out how to work the situation in her favor. Mother Rawson swung her head around to address Ann.

    “What do you think of it, Annie? Don’t you want your wife to have the big job?”

    “Well, I - uh, I do,” Ann said carefully, “and I think, maybe, the hiring process was not entirely fair to Anne. The dean’s decision. If you don’t mind me saying so.”

    “What do you mean?” Mother Rawon leaned forward, her eyes narrowing; Ann knew the old bird loved a bit of gossip. 

    “Um, I - I know Anne doesn’t want me to say this, but - but I worry - and I won’t speak for Anne,” she shot a quick look to her wife, “but I worry that the Dean chose Cousin Christopher more because of, uh, his personal connection rather than, um, his professional credentials.”

    For a moment, no one spoke. Ann bit her bottom lip, worried she’d overstepped. It was the truth, wasn’t it? Anne was always encouraging her to be brave, wasn’t she? Telling Mother Rawson her suspicion didn’t seem so much brave as foolhardy, but it did seem worth the risk. Perhaps she could do something about it and knock some sense into Christopher, especially if he was struggling to keep up with the demands of the job. Covertly, she put her hand on Anne’s knee, stilling its restless bouncing. 

    “Very interesting,” Mother Rawson finally pronounced. “Now, tell me more about your work at this little school, Annie.”

    The rest of the meal crept past uncomfortably, in Ann’s mind at least. Had she done something wrong? Was Anne embarrassed? Would Mother Rawson carry this back to the tribe to ridicule her? Did that mean Anne was now guilty by association? Anne was so proud of her image and her reputation - had Ann just ruined it with a few sentences? 

    “I’m sorry, Pony,” she said as Anne drove them back to Shibden. “I shouldn’t have said that about Christopher.”

    “It’s alright.” Anne took her hand. “Better for you to say it than me. I’m sure she’s already forgotten.”

    Ann nodded, but she couldn’t escape the niggling feeling of guilt for the rest of the afternoon. She and Marian watched television and chatted, one of those lazy summer afternoons that felt endless. Living at Shibden had changed her life so fundamentally that she couldn’t believe she’d ever lived alone. How had she passed the hours? Why had she ever thought she could survive without company for so long? Anne had gone upstairs to settle something in her office, and Ann found she didn’t even mind. Marriage did that to her, she realized. She was no longer jealous of the estate, perpetually vying for Anne’s attention against her duties around Shibden and at the university. 

When Tiny begged for a walk about three o’clock, Ann decided the fresh air would do her a bit of good. Staring at the television was fun for a few hours, but by now, she was itching to do something. Perhaps Anne’s restless energy was starting to wear off on her. She knocked on the door to her wife’s office, the slimmer-but-still-chubby pup dancing at her feet. 

    “Come in,” Anne called gruffly.

    “Tiny and I are going for a walk, do you want to join us?”

    “Sure.” 

Anne grinned and stood, taking Ann’s hand as they trotted out into the warm afternoon. It was a perfect summer day, in Ann’s opinion - hot and sunny with a clear blue sky above. Her dashing wife by her side, in her faded shorts and loose, short-sleeved button-down shirt. Tiny investigating each blade of grass and crawling insect in their path. The expanse of their estate stretching around them. 

“I’m looking forward to getting away,” Anne said with a sigh. “I’ve got the itch.”

“Have you?”

”I think so. I look around and only see projects moving too slowly and every little shortcoming. I don’t - I’m not enjoying Shibden right now. I’d like to be off.” 

“That makes sense,” Ann told her softly. “It’s been about six months since we went anywhere.”

”Entirely too long, Mrs. Lister, I - oh,” Anne fished her vibrating cell phone from her pocket; Ann looked up at her as she answered it. “Hello? Yes, I - oh. No, I - okay. Okay. Right, I - thank you.”

Anne grinned broadly as she stowed the phone in her pocket then wrapped an arm around her wife, steering her toward the greenhouse. 

“What was that?”

”You, my love,” Anne said proudly, “are looking at the newest Head of the Classics Department.”

”Anne!” She cried, stopping them in their tracks and putting her hands on her wife’s narrow hips. “Are you serious?”

”Absolutely,” Anne beamed, cupping Ann’s face in her strong, tanned hands. “Abso-fucking-lately.”

“That’s incre-”

Anne crashed their lips together, her urgency and joy palpable as she snogged Ann soundly in the summer sun. Ann’s head was still spinning when her wife pulled away with a grin. They continued their walk toward the greenhouse

“Oh, Adney, I - I have never been so happy.”

“No?” Ann chuckled. “We got married about two months ago.”

“Oh,” Anne scoffed, “yes, then too. Of course, yes. This is different entirely. This is that man finally, finally , coming to his senses. This is years of hard work coming to fruition.”

“You deserve it, Pony. You really do.”

Anne paused at the entrance to the greenhouse, Tiny panting at their feet. 

“Fancy a quick shag?”

“Pony!” Ann laughed.

“We don’t have to,” Anne ushered them inside and went about drawing Tiny a bowl of water, “but I am,” she exhaled sharply, “I do want you very much right now.”

“Do you?” Ann asked softly, crossing the humid room to drape her arms around her wife’s neck. 

“Yeah.” 

Anne bit her bottom lip, her eyes flicking between Ann’s eyes and her lips; her strong hands settled on Ann’s hips. It was warm in the greenhouse, but Ann didn’t mind. The heat passing between herself and Anne was all that mattered to her. She could feel a trickle of sweat along her back as arousal pooled between her legs; there was something primal about the look on Anne’s face, the natural surroundings, the excitement practically shooting from her fingertips. Ann tilted her chin, her body molding into her wife’s as their kiss grew deeper, hungrier. 

Clumsily, they shuffled back to the bare work table in the far corner; strong hands curled around her thighs, lifting her up and digging into her skin. Their tongues slid together as Anne flicked open the button on her shorts; Ann ran her hands down her wife’s strong shoulders, along her firm stomach, across her broad back. Anne’s kisses turned teasing, her teeth nipping playfully as she gripped Ann’s knees and pulled her forward. 

“You,” Anne husked, “are so sexy.”

Ann closed her eyes, arching her back into her wife’s chest. Soft lips pressed to her neck, near the collar of her t-shirt. Again, over her collar bones, then her breasts, then her stomach. Strong hands pulled her to the edge of the table; Ann leaned back, planting her hands behind her and lifting her hips as Anne tugged her shorts and panties down. She shivered at the rush of cooler air against her exposed core.

“Adney.” Anne kissed the inside of one thigh. “I love you.” She kissed the other. “Thank you.”

“I didn’t -”

“Thank you,” Anne interrupted her, kissing the soft skin just below her belly button. “I love you.”

With that, Anne descended on her aching core, running her tongue along her wet folds. Ann sighed in relief, pleasure streaming gently through her body as Anne moved gently between her legs. With her eyes closed, she could only focus on sensation. The warmth of her skin, the tenderness of Anne’s tongue, the tailored strength of her hands, the filthy sounds echoing in the glass room. She hummed softly, slipping one hand under her shirt to palm her own breast; she wanted to live and die like this, with her wife between her legs sending her toward oblivion.

And then Anne pulled away. 

Ann’s eyes shot open, her jaw hanging as she watched Anne fish out her cell phone once again. 

“Hello?” She was out of breath, her chest heaving and her face still glistening with Ann’s arousal. “Oh, yes, I - no, I was just out for a walk, I - sure, yes, he called me, and - I really do appreciate you - no, no, of course. Yes, I understand. Ann?” Brow furrowed, she licked her lips as she looked up at Ann. “She’s right here with me. Sure. Yes. Thank you. I - yes, nice talking to you.”

Looking sheepish, she handed the phone to Ann and mouthed “Mother Rawson.” Was she really meant to speak to the dragon lady of the tribe without pants on? Anne pressed the phone urgently into her hand, wiping her mouth with the back of her hand. 

“Hello?”

“Annie,” the dragon herself roared, “be honest: is she pleased?”

“What?” Ann breathed, certain that Mother Rawson must, somehow, know what they were doing. 

“Is that tall drink of water you’re married to pleased? With the promotion?”

“Oh, yes. I - uh.” Anne was nuzzling against her inner thigh; Ann reached down to tug at her hair. Her infuriating wife just nipped her tender skin. “I think she’s very pleased. She’s - uh - did you - was that -”

“Yes, it was. I called up that dean, and I told him what I know and what I think of him. You know the family provides a substantial endowment.” 

Ann did not, in fact, know this, but all she could think of now was the slow, maddening path Anne was making up down her left calf. She tried to wiggle away, but Anne held her fast by the ankle, her tongue dragging along the smooth plane, followed by a series of sweet, soft kisses. 

“I simply told him,” was Mother Rawson still talking? Ann could barely hear her over the steady thump of her heart as Anne turned her attention to her right calf, “that I would be more than happy to pull that funding, and - well, you see where we are.”

“Yes,” Ann managed.

“I told Anne this, and I want you to hear it as well. This is in no way nepotism, favoritism, anything like that. This is not me orchestrating the job for her, because, you know as well as I, she’s earned it. Christopher had his shot for a few years, and I’m tired of seeing him struggle to keep up. Your Anne seems to have mountains of energy, and I think she can handle it. For that man to run the school like this - it’s unconscionable. Alright?” 

“Yes,” Ann squeaked, roughly pulling Anne’s head away from her inner thigh. Anne looked up at her rakishly, licking her lips and dragging her eyes slowly up Ann’s overheated bodily. “Yes, I - thank you, Mother Rawson. I - we appreciate it.”

“Good, good, good. Let me go now. You have a good walk, you hear? Bye now.”

“Bye.”

Ann barely managed to finish that single word before Anne pulled the phone from her hand, ended the call, and tossed it to the other side of the table. Ann leaned down, kissing her wife hungrily, mad with desire and frustration and need. Anne caught her shirt-covered breast between lips before descending back between Ann’s legs. Her hands curled around Ann’s hips, pulling her forward as she unraveled her. Ann cried out, high and thin and desperate, as she shot over the edge into her climax. She shuddered, slumping forward and trembling as Anne coaxed every ounce of pleasure from her. At last, she stilled and pulled Anne’s head back, leaning down to catch her lips in a messy kiss. 

“You’re bad,” she panted when they parted, the taste of her own arousal lingering on her lips and tongue. “You shouldn’t do that.”

“I think you liked it,” Anne purred, sliding Ann’s panties and shorts back up her legs; Ann shifted to pull them over her hips, leaning back against the work table with a groan. Anne kissed each of her knees. “Dirty little Ann Walker, my head between your legs, while you - Tiny! Damn it!”

Ann straightened, laughing as she saw that their little dog had finally finished her inspection of the greenhouse and was now ready to leave. Anne scoffed, scratching between the pup’s ears as she rose to her feet. Ann hopped off the table and kissed her quickly. 

“Let’s go back,” she said softly, slipping her hand into the back pocket of Anne’s shorts. 

“And I have to wait?” Anne pouted. “No fair.”

“You know what’s not fair? All that business while I was on the phone,” Ann giggled. “This is payback.”

Anne groaned, but she acquiesced. They crossed the estate, back toward the main house, with Ann nearly breaking into a run to keep up with her long-legged wife. The clutch of Anne’s hand and the demanding pace of her gait betrayed exactly how desperate she was for Ann. That thought alone sent a thrill up Ann’s spine. To be wanted so much by the woman of her dreams? It never ceased to amaze.

By the time Anne slammed the door shut to their bedroom, they were both out of breath. Ann pressed her wife against the door, crashing their lips together and wrenching open her shorts. Thrusting her hand into Anne’s boxer-briefs, she was greeted by a pool of arousal and her wife’s low moan.

“Quiet, Pony,” she whispered in her ear, pressing her chest into Anne’s and slowly circling her clit. “It’s the middle of the afternoon.” Anne buried her face in the crook of Ann’s neck, her needy groans muffled and vibrating against Ann’s skin. “You’re so hot.” She moved faster, grinning as Anne’s hips jerked; how was she already so close? “You feel so good, Pony. I’m so proud of you. Fuck, I’m so proud you’re mine.”

“Adney,” her wife gasped. 

“You’re going to come, aren’t you?”

Anne nodded against her shoulder as Ann sped up between her thighs. 

“Dr. Anne Walker Lister,” Ann purred, “Department Head. My wife.”

Anne’s teeth sank into Ann’s neck as she trembled against the door. Ann moved slowly, easing her down gently and pressing a series of tender kisses along her wife’s neck and jaw. With a final sigh, Anne leaned back against the door; a slack smile played across her handsome face. Their lips met in a slow, emotional kiss, Anne’s hands running along her back and up to her face. When Ann pulled away, she could see her wife’s dark eyes were watery. 

“Are you pleased?” Ann said softly. “Mother Rawson wanted to know.”

“Yes,” her wife whispered. “I’m really, really pleased.” Ann grinned and kissed her again. “So pleased, in fact, I won’t even make a dirty joke right now.”

Ann laughed and pulled her wife back to their bed. They fell onto the soft duvet together, cuddling together and catching their breath. For a few long moments, neither of them spoke. This was love, Ann thought - to be just as excited for another person’s achievements as your own. She was brimming with pride, marveling at the extraordinary woman who shared her name, her bed, her life. 

There was a knock at the door. 

“What?” Anne called gruffly, holding Ann in place and preventing her from getting up.

“No manners,” Marian scolded; “why are you two up here in the middle of the afternoon anyway?”

“None of your bloody business!” Anne called back, squeezing Ann’s hip as she giggled into her chest.

“Well answer me this: why’ve I just seen on Facebook that you got a promotion?”

Chapter Text

Anne was already vibrating by the time she took the keys from the stocky Italian fellow who owned the main house. To be in Rome . Again. At last. With Ann by her side. What incredible bliss. 

Sure, the journey had been rather frustrating. With the delays and the crowded airports and the loud, snoring man who had, inexplicably, refused to switch seats and managed to sit between them for the last leg of their chain of flights. No matter, that was hardly a blip, wasn’t it? Compared to being in Rome . Right near the Vatican, surrounded by history and romance and pasta.

Of course, there was the slight kerfuffle of hailing a taxi and going the wrong way and not having the proper currency and not arriving until a full two hours after they’d gotten into the car. Barely a passing annoyance, when she thought about it. They were in Rome . Sharing a little apartment on a little street on a little slice of heaven. 

Granted, the owner had taken his sweet time appearing with the keys, and Ann did seem to be fading fast. It was rather late, wasn’t it? The quiet street was completely dark, making it rather hard for Anne to make out her wife’s face. Was she annoyed? Exhausted? Simply standing in shadow? There was no way she felt any sort of negative emotion, right? Not here. Not in Rome.

“Glorious,” Anne pronounced when they finally made it inside, dropping their bags to the tile floor. “Absolutely beautiful.”

Ann just grunted, shuffling toward the bathroom. No matter, Anne thought, she must just need the toilet. She surveyed their lodgings for the next week. Directly across from the door was the curved countertop of the blue-tiled kitchen. Anne could already picture them sitting at the chrome breakfast table or perhaps at the rickety iron table on the narrow balcony just beyond it. To share a meal in this idyllic place. Anne couldn’t stop smiling.

Beyond the kitchen to her left was the cramped living room - really, just a blue couch, a television, and a rug. This time tomorrow, those windows would fill the room with brilliant natural light. Anne spun around to her right, hopping up the short step to what the host had dubbed a study - in reality, it was a chaise lounge and a desk. Fine. Anne turned once more to her right and studied the large bed in front of her. Crisp white duvet and sheets. Dark blue nightstands and a gleaming white headboard. Yes, this would do nicely. 

“Adney?” She called, but the door to the connected bathroom was closed. “Are you alright?”

She heard the toilet flush, the sink run, and still Ann didn’t appear. Shrugging, Anne went back to the main room and retrieved their bags. She was just starting to unpack when the bathroom door opened. 

“Darling!” Anne turned with a grin, faltering at the sight of her wife, ashen and scowling. “What’s wrong? What’s happened?”

“Is there any food?” 

“Should be,” she answered easily, moving into the kitchen. “The hosts said they’d stock the fridge.”

Ann was strangely quiet, just sitting at the little silver table while Anne puttered around the kitchen. This was unlike her, Anne thought. She wondered what she’d done wrong, how she’d upset her. Surely they wouldn’t have a row on their first night in Rome. Anne’s hands were already itching for her wife, but she sensed now was not the time. Instead, she put her energy into cobbling together a fruit plate and some cheese. 

“How’s this? I can cook a real meal, if you’d rather.”

“It’s fine,” Ann said softly, her eyes still trained on the table. 

They ate in silence, the minutes ticking by with excruciating slowness. Ann continued to look down, never meeting Anne’s eyes. It was unspoken between them, whatever was bothering Ann. She almost didn’t want to bring it up, fearful of bursting the bubble of feigned ignorance. Until she said something, Anne could pretend she didn’t notice the icy wall that had risen between them. 

“I’m going to bed,” Ann announced, leaving the table without another word or a passing touch. 

For a few minutes, Anne sat at the table alone. She tidied the kitchen, closed the curtains, and brooded. What had she done? Was Ann uncomfortable with traveling? Did she not like the apartment? Was she homesick? Anne couldn’t figure out what had changed between the euphoria of the morning and the disappointment of this night. Well, early morning. 

Anne went into the bathroom, finding Ann already under the covers with the lights off. She put on her pajamas and brushed her teeth, still with no word from her wife. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she put her hand on Ann’s calf over the covers. 

“Adney?”

“I’m tired,” came the stiff reply.

“What’s wrong? Will you tell me?”

“Nothing. I’m tired.”

“Adney, please, I -”

“Anne!” Her wife snapped. “Leave me alone!”

Anne opened her mouth to respond, but, for once, she couldn’t think of anything. Her gut twisted at Ann’s sharp tone, the coldness of her manner, the firm set of her jaw against the pillow. In the past, Anne might’ve ranted and yelled, overcome by anger at being shut out like this. Tonight, she just shut down. Like a dog with its tail between its legs, Anne took a pillow from her side of the bed and padded out to the chaise lounge. She couldn’t sleep next to Ann, not like this, not with this chasm between them. 

Tugging off her jeans and shirt in a rush, she lowered herself gingerly onto the chaise. It was uncomfortable, not nearly long enough, and entirely too cold without Ann’s warm body next to her. A scratchy blanket had been folded at the foot of it, and Anne pulled this over her aching body. This was not at all how she thought their first night would go. Sure, it had been a long day, but she’d been propelled by adrenaline every step of the way. The thought of arriving, of sweeping Ann into her arms, of making love to her wife in Rome - she’d never felt anything less than overwhelming excitement. Now, the entire day crashed into her. The hours of travel, the stress of each step, the relief at arriving - they all laid her flat, and she fell asleep like she’d been knocked unconscious.

“Pony?” A quiet voice asked. Anne opened her eyes, wincing at the cramp in her lower back from sleeping in the chair. “Are you - are you awake?”

“Yes,” she answered warily.

Without another word, Ann crawled onto the chaise between Anne’s legs, wrapping her arms around Anne’s waist and leaning her head against her chest. Automatically, Anne folded her wife into her arms, even though her chest still ached with uncertainty. This wasn’t them. They didn’t have uncomfortable non-arguments like this. They talked through everything, didn’t they? Anne always thought their communication was one of their strengths. 

“I’m sorry,” Ann whispered. “I was just tired.”

“Were you?”

“I really was. It was - God, we traveled a long time, didn’t we?”

Anne hummed her agreement as she stroked her wife’s back; she could feel her hackles lowering, that knot of anxiety in her gut untwisting. 

“I just -” Ann shook her head, “I should’ve talked to you about it.”

“Talk to me now.”

“I’m not mad now.”

“Tell me what you were mad about.”

She felt Ann sigh against her, then inhale deeply.

“Sometimes, my love, you are in a bit of a rush.”

“No,” Anne feigned shock.

“Yes,” Ann chuckled, “you are. I felt like I couldn’t keep up, and - uh, it was like every step of the way something went wrong. And then instead of being like ‘this sucks,’ you were just so cheerful. Which is good! It’s good! Gosh, it’s great, really, but - sometimes I just want to be like ‘this really sucks.’ And just be upset.”

“Oh.”

“That’s not - I just - I felt like you were dragging me through it, and that - I mean, then I was, like, annoyed with you for that, but then mad at myself for - for holding you back. And I was all in my head, and - I just got really tired.”

“I’m sorry,” Anne said quietly.

“It’s okay.”

“I wish I’d known that. I wish, uh, you would’ve told me.”

“How could I?” Ann pulled back a little, pressing down on Anne’s stomach and meeting her gaze. “You were always hailing a cab or pulling on my arm or speaking Italian.”

Anne just swallowed, feeling a twinge of that old embarrassment. She’d overstepped, hadn’t she? Done too much. Been too much. She always was, wasn’t she? Damn. Why couldn’t she just rein it in for once?

“I’m sorry,” she rasped, a piece of her heart breaking. Wasn’t Ann supposed to be different? Wasn’t she supposed to accept Anne for all her bluster? And yet, Anne knew she was fragile, knew that Ann needed gentleness and patience. Why had she forgotten that? “I didn’t -”

“Wait, Pony, no.” Ann rose up on her knees, cupping Anne’s face in her hands. “Listen. I - that doesn’t mean, I - I just got grouchy.” She smiled. “You know? It was sort of a crap day. It’s not really anyone’s fault. I just - you know, we all get in bad moods.”

“Right.”

“Pony,” Ann drawled, swiping her cheeks along Anne’s cheeks. “Don’t be like this.”

“I’m not like anything.”

“Yes you are,” Ann teased. “You’re all pouty.”

“I’m not.”

“Sure. You’re not thinking about how you always do this and how you’ve gone too far again and how disappointed you are.”

Anne hummed, trying and failing to resist the playful glint in her wife’s eyes. Ann stroked her cheeks gently, a wide smile spreading slowly across her face. 

“Pony,” she said in a sing-songy voice. “Are you cross with me?”

“No.”

“Are you cross with yourself?”

“No.”

“Two lies in a row, Dr. Lister. Bad girl.”

Anne couldn’t help smiling at her wife’s words. She sighed.

“You’re right. I’m - I’m disappointed in myself, because I - I should’ve been easier with you. More patient and slower. And then I - I’m,” Anne looked away, focusing her gaze on the faint gleam of Ann’s white nightshirt in the dark room, “I’m disappointed that you didn’t tell me. That you shut me out.”

“I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry.”

“We’re both very sorry,” Ann said gently. “Are we okay?”

“Yeah.” She squeezed her wife’s hips. “We are. Not exactly the way I’d intended to spend our first night in Rome.”

“No? What did you have in mind?”

“Something about you.”

“Me?”

“And me.”

“You?”

“And a lot less clothes.”

Ann giggled, leaning forward to catch Anne’s lips in a slow, sensual kiss. The frustration and anxiety ebbed away, erased by every soft press of Ann’s lips. Her wife’s tender hands caressed her face and neck, reminding Anne how sincere and deep their love was. Ann kissed a path along Anne’s neck, her smooth hands slipping under Anne’s undershirt to roam the warm skin of her stomach. Ann caught her lips again, then shifted to tug her wife’s boxer-briefs from her legs. 

“Adney,” Anne breathed, scooting down lower as Ann settled between her spread legs. 

“Yes, Pony?” Ann whispered, pressing her lips to the insides of her thighs. “You have something to say?”

Anne was taken aback by her wife’s sultry voice, the possessive tone of it, the dark undercurrent of need. She could only whimper as Ann’s tongue slid along her center. She moaned outright at her wife’s delicate strokes, her tender kisses, her gentle hums. Ann’s slender fingers dug into her hips as she held her in place; the filthy sound of her greedy mouth filled the room. 

“Ann,” she whined, “oh fuck, I - fuck, Ann, please.”

There was no use begging. Ann was taking her time. Torturing her. Building the pleasure between her thighs with tantalizing slowness. Anne gave in, allowing the low moans and breathy whimpers to rise from her throat as her wife unraveled her stroke by magnificent stroke. She tangled her fingers in those blonde curls, releasing Ann’s messy bun; a thrill raced up her spine as her soft locks grazed against Anne’s already-tensed thighs. 

“Right there,” Anne groaned, holding Ann closer to her core. “Fuck, baby, I -” her hips jerked with the first wave of her climax. Her words turned needy, a desperate chant as she rocketed into her release: “Ann, Ann, Ann.”

Her back arched, her grip tightening around Ann’s head, pleasure racing along her spine and through her veins. For a few long moments, she shuddered and gasped, Ann worked steadily between her trembling thighs. With a choked moan, she slumped forward and released her wife’s head. Ann climbed up into her lap, kneeling between her spread thighs and kissing her slack mouth. Eyes still closed, Anne found the back of her wife’s head, massaging her scalp gently where she’d held on so tightly.

“Sorry,” she murmured. 

“It’s okay.” Ann kissed her cheek. “It was hot.”

“You’re hot,” Anne chuckled, opening her eyes and catching her wife’s lips again. “Good Lord, are you hot.”

“You are,” she breathed before kissing Anne again.

Anne curled her hands around Ann’s hips, lifting her up just enough to shift their legs so that Ann was straddling her. Ann rolled her hips, moaning softly into the kiss, as Anne slid her hands under her nightshirt. Their kisses grew deeper, and Anne explored her wife’s soft skin, relishing the warmth and comfort of her belly, her ribs, her breasts. She rolled Ann’s nipple between her fingers, sliding her other hand down to cup her behind. Upon finding soft cotton between her and her wife’s supple skin, she growled lowly and pulled her head back.

“Adney.” She tweaked her nipple teasingly. “Are you wearing pants?”

“Maybe?”

Anne hummed in semi-annoyance; Ann only very rarely wore underwear to bed anymore. She fiddled with the flimsy material, tugged experimentally, and gasped as it tore in her hand.

“Pony!” Ann cried in surprise. 

“Shit,” she whispered as her hand slid naturally below the ruined fabric to cup Ann’s ass. “I mean, uh, d’you like that?”

“You’re a beast,” Ann grinned, wrapping her hands around Anne’s neck and bringing their lips together. 

For a few long moments, they moved together like this. Chests pressing together. Anne’s hands cupping the round swells of her wife’s breasts and ass. Ann tracing the controls of her firm jaw. Their tongues tangling together. That impossible heat building between them.

“Pony,” Ann sighed, rolling her hips. “Please.”

“You want me?” Anne purred, pressing her lips to her wife’s flushed neck; Ann nodded frantically. “But you come over here,” she squeezed Ann’s ass, “with pants on?”

“Pony,” she whined.

“What am I going to do with you, Miss Walker?”

Ann keened, her teeth digging into her bottom lip. Anne knew full-well the effect of this nickname on her wife. She dragged her tongue along the sweaty column of her throat and slipped her hand under the front of the ruined underwear. Ann’s wet center greeted her, as did a low moan when Anne slid her long fingers through her ample arousal. 

“Need me, darling?” 

Ann whimpered, her hips rolling with Anne’s slow strokes. 

“You’re so wet, baby.” She pressed upward, groaning as she slid her index finger between her wife’s folds. “You feel so good.”

Eyes wild with desire, Ann took her face in her hands and studied her for a moment. She was breathtaking, as always - her chest heaving and her swollen lips parted. Ann moaned softly before crashing their lips together. The urgency of the kiss spurred Anne on, driving her to pump into her wife faster, stretch her with her middle finger, press roughly against her clit; she held onto Ann’s hip with her free hand, guiding her desperate rhythm. Ann broke away with a high whine; she steadied herself with both hands on Anne’s shoulders, her hips rutting furiously as she chased her release.

“That’s it,” she breathed against Ann’s clavicle. “You’re so close, aren’t you?”

“Pony,” she cried, tossing her head back and palming her own breast; Anne faltered at the sight before her - the wanton, needy expression on her wife’s pleasure-streaked face. “Don’t tease me.”

“You’re so beautiful.” She resumed her former pace. “Come on, baby. You’re so close. Fuck, you - you feel so fucking good. Come for me, baby.”

With a sharp cry and a shudder, Ann shot over the edge. Anne grinned at the familiar clench around her fingers, the soft mumbles falling from her wife’s lips, the gentle roll of Ann’s hips as she eased her back to earth. Still panting, Ann opened her eyes and smiled crookedly before catching Anne’s lips in a sloppy kiss. Not quite finished, Anne stood up, lifting her wife in her arms and carrying her to the bed. She laid Ann down gently before tearing off her t-shirt and kneeling between her legs. 

“Oh, Pony,” Ann sighed, twisting out of her nightshirt as Anne pulled the ruined panties from her hips. “You’re an animal.”

“Are you upset?” Anne teased, kissing the insides of Ann’s thighs. 

“Not at all,” she sighed, pulling Anne up to kiss her soundly. 

“Are you still tired?” 

“Not at all,” Ann said again, wrapping her arms around Anne’s back and hooking one leg over her hip.

Grinning, Anne straddled her wife’s thigh and kissed her again. Their hips rolled in unison, their naked bodies finally molding together. Perhaps this was the moment Anne could finally relax after the tension of the day. Reconnecting with her wife like this was all she ever needed, really, to stay grounded. Tib teased her sometimes about being insatiable, professing incredulity when Anne honestly reported they had sex every night unless one of them was sick. Perhaps they were insatiable. Perhaps it wasn’t realistic, and one day they would slack off. For now, however, Anne knew that nothing soothed and excited her like the feeling of Ann’s soft skin in her hands.

She slipped her hand between them, finding the apex of Ann’s thighs; she shivered as Ann did the same. Their movements were sloppy, clumsy, languorous. No real rush to it, Anne just enjoyed the slow build of pleasure between her legs, the soft moans emanating from her wife’s throat, the simple friction of their slick bodies moving together. Sweet nothings dripped from their lips:

“You’re mine.”

“You feel so good.”

“I love you.”

“Right there.”

“Can you -”

“I love you.”

“Yes, darling.”

“More, I -”

“I think I-”

“Me too.”

“I love you.”

“I love you.”

With a choked moan and a sharp gasp, they tumbled into their release together, trembling in each other’s arms. Anne collapsed on top of her wife, breathing heavily as the last of her climax shook through her; it was overwhelming - the connection, the location, the intimacy, the physical bliss. She kissed Ann’s pulse point as they both stilled, then groaned as she flopped onto her back. Ann curled into her side, tracing her fingertips over Anne’s slick belly. 

“I love you, Pony.”

“I love you, darling.”

They fell asleep like that, sweaty and naked and on top of the covers. When Anne opened her eyes again, the clock read 7:00. Strange to awaken on the hour, she thought as she kissed the top of her wife’s head. Fairly late for her, but they had been up rather late. Ann stirred, wrapping her arm more tightly around Anne’s waist.

“Good morning, Adney.”

Ann kissed her shoulder, and they started to strategize about their first day in Rome. Anne had so much to show her. She gestured broadly in the air above them, describing their routes, the sights, the food. For the next hour, they cuddled up just like that - planning their honeymoon together, all frustration from the previous night forgotten. 

Chapter Text

The Vatican city was their first stop. St. Peter’s Basilica with its accompanying square. A warm late-morning walk through the gardens. Marveling at the sculpture and architecture and natural beauty. Ann clung to her wife’s hand, nearly tripping more than once because she was so caught up in the beauty around her. Despite the passing tourists, there was a tranquility to their surroundings that awed her. The carefully trimmed shrubs, the quietly flowing water, the weathered marble busts - Ann was overwhelmed by the urge to paint for hours and hours. 

As if reading her mind, Anne reached into her backpack and produced Ann’s sketch pad and pencils. They found a secluded spot with a bench in the shade and sat. Anne scurried off at first, leaving Ann alone with the beauty and her own thoughts. Her hand moved fluidly across the page and her mind raced with a million different thoughts.

To be in this place at all was overwhelming. She felt on the verge of tears just from the sheer fact of it. For so long, coming here at all had seemed such a distant impossibility; for years, she’d given up living the house for more than a few hours. To be at the actual, real Vatican? It boggled her mind. Even at the early planning stages of this trip, Ann could never really accept the fact that she would really be here. Being here with Anne added another level to the impossible perfection of the day. Sometimes she still caught a whiff of that old hero-worship - seeing Anne’s sharp profile in the bright morning sun as they left their apartment this morning had been one of those moments. Anne Lister - of all people! - her wife. This figure of mystery and intrigue and rumor reaching out her hand to lead Ann into the day. In moments like this, Ann wondered how much longer she would be indulged before she woke from this impossible dream. Mostly, however, she was enjoying settling into married life; now, being with Anne was less of a rush and more of a steady, constant stream of joy and comfort. 

She had three fine sketches when Anne reappeared with coffees and croissants. They ate and joked and laughed. Anne slung her long arm across the back of the bench; Ann wondered faintly if they’d be reprimanded somehow, if an ancient nun would burst through the bushes to scold them for their sinful lesbianism. When she related this thought to her wife, Anne just laughed and kissed her cheek. Anne never worried about these things; her moral and religious certainty was one of Ann’s favorite things about her. They gathered the rest of their things, Anne slung the backpack over her shoulders, and they strode out of the gardens. 

Anne led her toward the Sistine Chapel, which Ann had been looking forward to in particular. Her wife was interested in the gardens and the architecture and the religious history, but Ann was salivating for some proper art. Anne held her hand tightly as they made their way inside. At the first sight of it, Ann froze. She turned around slowly to take in the enormous wall behind them - angels, humans, brilliant blue sky. A few fellow-tourists brushed past her, and, faintly, she heard her wife bark sharply at them. A piece of Ann’s brain registered gratitude, but the majority was taken up by the majesty before her. 

For the next hour, Ann moved at a glacial pace through the Chapel. She wanted to take in every detail, every line, every stroke and eyelash and cloud. Anne seemed to be clearing the way for her; she must’ve been, Ann realized later, for her to move that easily through the crowd. Only once they made it to the far end did Ann turn her attention to the infamous ceiling, her neck aching as she strained to take in everything. She longed to be taller, to climb a ladder, to hoist herself onto her wife’s broad shoulders just to get that much closer to the incredible showmanship above her. 

By the time they stepped out into the sunlight again, Ann was dazed and overwhelmed. It was only after they left that Ann realized a year ago, she likely would have broken down among so many people; shy, reclusive Ann Walker hadn’t even thought twice about the crush of people in there - not with her strong, sensitive wife protecting her. Perhaps in penance for her bullheadedness during yesterday’s traveling fiasco, Anne led her gently away from the crowd and back toward the gardens. Ann babbled, barely coherent, about the art, the brushwork, the history. Her wife grinned broadly, apparently hanging on her every word. This was one of her favorite things about Anne; yes, of course, she loved to hear her wife talk, but her heart truly soared when Dr. Lister sat back and let little Ann Walker speak. She rambled as they meandered toward a smaller garden on the opposite side of the Sistine Chapel.

Anne’s thumb stroked the back of her hand, and she gently interrupted Ann to describe the Square Garden, or Giardino Quadrato in Anne’s delicious Italian accent, in which they now found themselves. Carefully manicured grass and massive, ornate buildings surrounded them; a small, round fountain burbled in the center of the square. Anne fished out a few coins from her pocket, pressing one into Ann’s palm, then kissing it. These delicate, gentlemanly mannerisms never failed to set Ann’s heart a-flutter; around Ann, there was an intensity to her brusque wife’s movements, a care and a tenderness. Ann couldn’t wrap her head around it. 

They tossed their coins, ignoring the sign imploring them not to; Ann wished for endurance, the strength to keep up with the Energizer Bunny beside her. When asked, Anne refused to reveal her own wish, offering only a wink and a squeeze of the hand. She led them out of the square of close-clipped greenery, toward the ornate buildings that made up the various galleries and museums. Anne explained that she wanted to visit two more places before they got too tired. After that, she’d leave the decision up to Ann if they explored more or went back to the apartment.

How endlessly thoughtful, Ann mused as they walked toward another, smaller, patch of greenery. Anne had been a bit careless yesterday, without a doubt, but today she had improved. She’d heard Ann’s concerns and adjusted accordingly. Surely no one had been treated better by a partner than Ann was by Anne. 

A large bronze ball loomed in front of them, and Anne leaned down to whisper in her ear. The Sphere Within A Sphere was an Italian sculpture, versions of which had popped up all across the world. Ann’s lip curled in distaste; she wasn’t much for modern art. This behemoth seemed so stark, out-of-place, and unimaginative compared to the breathtakingly lifelike art they’d seen so far. Upon hearing her assessment, Anne just laughed and led her away. 

Their next stop was the ornate Vatican Library, which Anne had acquired access to under the auspices of the university and her ongoing research; Ann wondered if there was a special prayer she could say to ask forgiveness for lying to a clerk at the Vatican Library. She was elated to have gained access to this inner sanctum, but she certainly was not Dr. Lister’s research assistant. Anne whispered playfully to her that she had no intentions of researching at all, rather, that she just wanted to nose about. The library itself was magnificent - the blue-and-white marble under their feet, floors and floors of books, intricate iconography on nearly every surface. For close to an hour, they lost each other, exploring their respective passions.

Ann almost couldn’t get close enough to examine the seemingly infinite icons on the walls and ceiling. She longed for a guided tour or a deeper knowledge of the pantheon of saints; who were these little people? Who had painted them? Who decided which were important enough to be on the ceiling in life-size, and which were miniaturized? This was the kind of art she appreciated. Actual attempts at capturing reality. Life. The mystical and the earthly combined by the stroke of a brush. Not some enormous metal ball set in the middle of a field.

By the time she’d grown weary of this task, Anne had nearly climbed into one of the shelves. She was studying the spines so closely that Ann started to worry she’d bend her nose. Ann didn’t reveal herself right away, instead taking the opportunity to admire Anne Walker Lister, PhD, in her natural habitat. Light tan chinos rolled up at the ankle, sensible, low sneakers, a green collared shirt bisected by the dark straps of her backpack. She’d pulled her hair back since Ann had last seen her, and her face in profile was almost shockingly handsome like this. Her eyes narrowed in concentration, her lips pursing and relaxing soundlessly as she slowly moved along the shelves. Ann felt a surge of desire for her.

And then she turned. Anne turned and shone that brilliant smile on her, and Ann was transported. They could’ve been anywhere and nowhere. She forgot their magnificent surroundings and zeroed in on the gleam in her wife’s eyes. What a shame, she thought, that none of the so-called great masters had ever captured anything even close to the beauty in Anne Lister’s face. 

Before she knew it, they were giggling and stumbling toward a bathroom in a more modern, utilitarian section of the library. Anne grinned as they found the room empty, and she tugged Ann into the stall on the end. Ann closed the stall door, and Anne slung their backpack to the tile floor. Their lips met hungrily, Anne’s hands curling around her hips and pulling her closer. It felt like ages since they’d been properly affectionate; Ann only now realized how on-edge she’d been in this conservative setting. She wondered vaguely if there was an additional prayer she could learn, one that would express penitence for shagging in the loo at the Vatican of all places. Anne seemed to have no qualms, and she quickly wrenched open Ann’s jeans and thrust her hand inside. 

Ann wrapped her arms more tightly around her wife’s broad back, bringing their bodies flush as Anne pushed her against the cool tile of the wall. Her long finger stroked Ann teasingly at first, her lips meeting Ann’s with a need that almost felt too powerful for the tiny stall. Ann leaned back into the wall as Anne pressed fiery kisses to her neck; she stroked Ann’s clit quickly, harshly, desperately. Her release coiled in her gut impossibly fast; she felt herself teeter on the edge almost immediately. Something had taken over her wife; Anne was merciless as she strummed Ann’s clit and sent her over the edge. 

She gasped into the front of Anne’s shirt, streaks of pleasure shooting up her spine as she trembled through her release. What an impossible, ridiculous dream this was, she thought as she caught her breath. There was no way she’d actually just had an orgasm in the toilet at the Vatican Library. There was no way Anne Lister was currently sliding her wet hand from between her legs and doing up her jeans. It simply wasn’t possible. This dream was too good to be true. 

Anne made to open the stall door, but Ann caught her wrist. They’d been remarkably lucky that no one had come in yet, but Ann decided to push it. After all, how many people were even in the library? She hadn’t seen a single woman the whole time they’d been here; she felt remarkably confident as she cupped her wife’s neck and brought her down for a slow, sensual kiss. 

Now it was her turn to flick open a button and slide down a zipper. To slip her hand past tight elastic and soft curls to find the aching center of her wife. Anne held her face in her hands, angling her hips up as Ann found her clit. Their lower halves moved in tandem as Ann started a slow, hard rhythm; Anne snaked one hand down to hold onto Ann’s hip. Their kisses grew messy as Anne started to tense in anticipation of her release; was there anything better than this feeling right here? Ann was fairly certain there couldn’t be. With low grunt, Anne seized, her head tilting back and her hips juddering as Ann stroked her gently through her climax. 

She was still trembling when the door opened. Ann kissed her jaw softly, did up her trousers, and listened. Once she heard another stall door close, she snuck out, washing her hands hurriedly in the sink. Her heart skipped a beat when she heard a flush behind her, but she was able to breathe once more when she saw her wife’s smirk in the mirror. They managed to slip out of the bathroom before the interloper reappeared. 

They walked quickly but seriously through the library, like a pair of students who were definitely not skipping class. Anne’s hand found hers for a moment, squeezing gently before releasing her when they passed a stern-looking man in a clerical collar. Laughter bubbled up in Ann’s throat, but she willed herself to stay quiet until they got outside. Of course, this impulse only made her want to laugh more, not to mention the playful nudge of Anne’s shoulder and the broad grin playing at her wife’s lips.

“Oh my God ,” Ann burst out as they stepped into the sunshine. “Pony!”

“Oh, I love you, Adney,” Anne said happily, taking her hand as they strolled among the ornate buildings and shabby tourists. “You are God’s perfect woman.”

“Do you think we’ve broken some law back there?” Ann giggled. “Do we need to go to confession?”

“I honestly don’t think so,” Anne said easily. “Surely there’s no better way to enjoy God’s creation than to make love to the woman He made for me.”

Ann’s heart swelled at the nonchalance of her wife’s voice; Anne spoke about their connection, their love, their relationship to God as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Perhaps it was. Despite all of the natural and artistic beauty that they’d seen today, Ann decided there was nothing more beautiful, more heavenly, or more essential than the woman next to her. The intense, insatiable, and sometimes infuriating woman who was now reviewing a litany of restaurants they could visit that evening. 

“What do you think, Adney? What would you like to do next?”

“I don’t care, as long as you’re there.”

Chapter Text

Anne felt comfortably full. Her belly with food and her heart with affection. She always forgot just how exquisite the food here was. How decadent and incredible and addicting. She wished for two stomachs and six meals a day. Anne had been extra sensitive with her wife today, after yesterday’s fiasco, and she found that she preferred it. Why wasn’t she always like this? She should always pay this close attention to Ann’s energy levels, her eating habits, her moods and comfort levels and long, rambling thoughts. It was easy to get caught up in the minutiae of their “real” life, and what a stupid, bloody shame that was. 

There was nothing more important than her wife, and, honestly, nothing more interesting. She was fascinated by Ann’s artistic criticism today, which made her think wistfully of their trip to the Louvre. Ann’s needs were actually fairly easy to anticipate, so long as Anne was paying attention. She made a vow never to forget this. Loving Ann was vital, yes, as important to her as breathing. This act was also her duty as Ann’s wife, and Anne took her vows very seriously. Apart from that, however, it was fun. Anne liked watching her wife like this. Tuning into her frequency. Taking a backseat and letting her Adney drive every now and then. 

It helped, of course that Ann was properly adorable,too, didn’t it? Anne sat on the edge of the bed and watched her putter around the bathroom of their little Roman apartment. They’d eaten entirely too much, which, in Anne’s opinion, was a requirement when eating in Italy. Ann had insisted they linger at the restaurant just to let the food settle in her stomach; Anne didn’t mind - drinking wine in the waning evening light with her wife? There was no better way to pass the time.

Finally, they had trudged back to their apartment, tired from walking all day, giggly from the wine, positively euphoric from the surroundings. At least, Anne was euphoric. This was her perfect honeymoon. She’d been to Italy in the past, but she’d never dreamed she would actually bring her wife here. For years, it had seemed too distant, the possibility of her even having a wife, much less one who enjoyed traveling as much as she did. And Ann really did! For all her agoraphobia and weak spine, she had tremendous stamina for certain things. Though, Anne conceded as her wife dropped into her lap, she knew that already. 

“Hi,” Ann whispered, trailing her hands through Anne’s hair. 

“Hi.” Anne settled her hands on her slim hips over her thin nightshirt. “How are you?”

“I’m okay,” her wife giggled. “Kind of sleepy.”

“Sleepy?” Anne asked playfully. “Shall we just go to bed?”

“Not that sleepy, Pony.”

“Oh? Did you have something else in mind?”

Ann just nodded and leaned forward to kiss her. Their lips met slowly; Ann tasted like wine and cheese and eternity. Gently, Anne laid back against the sheets, bringing Ann with her. She relished the soft press of her wife above her, the tender hands caressing her face, the slow grind of Ann’s body against hers. Their kisses were deep, languorous, sensual. Anne slid her hands down to cup her wife’s pert behind, moaning softly at finding her bare beneath her nightshirt. 

“Pony,” Ann breathed, pressing a wet kiss to her jaw; Anne turned her attention to her creamy neck. “I can’t - uh, I can’t believe how - how much I want you.”

“Can’t believe it?” Anne grinned, flipping them over and drawing bright laughter from her wife. “After all this time? You should know better, Adney.”

“I should,” she sighed, arching her back as Anne slid her nightshirt up her body and over her head; Anne kissed her fiercely before turning her attention to her sharp collar bones and soft breasts. “I really should.”

Anne was conscious of their demanding tour schedule as she traced her way gently down her wife’s body. Not the time to go wild with teeth and bruises and growls. She wasn’t really in the mood for that anyway, not with this warmth in her belly from the wine and the atmosphere. Ann hummed quietly as Anne paid gentle homage to her chest, relishing the soft skin between her lips and below her tongue. She teased each nipple with her tongue and teeth, infinitely tender in her movements as Ann mewed and squirmed above her. 

“Pony,” she moaned as Anne sucked lightly on her nipple; Anne shifted to trace a path of kisses along her sternum to her belly. “Yes.”

Anne hummed and shot a look up at her wife: eyes closed, chest flushed, a trail of slick kisses illuminated against her pale skin in the low light. She lifted Ann’s legs over her shoulders, kissed the insides of both thighs, then immersed herself in the wet, aching core of her wife. Ann’s hips strained gently against Anne’s hands, but she didn’t mind. This restless, desperate energy was one of Anne’s favorite things about her, how Ann seemed to wiggle and writhe under her touch. It was like Ann couldn’t decide if she wanted to pull away or plunge straight in; this push and pull drove Anne mad with want, and she could feel her own arousal pooling as she dragged her tongue firmly through Ann’s wet folds. 

Ann’s incoherent mumbling barely reached her, submerged as she was between her thighs. She felt slender fingers tangle in her hair and sharp heels press into her back. Anne’s body seemed to fade from her own consciousness; she was nothing more than a tongue, a pair of lips, two steady hands. There was nowhere better on earth. This humid, heady spot was her favorite - no matter how far she traveled or how many countries she visited. Nothing could compare to the world that lived at the core of Ann Walker.

“Anne,” she moaned, deep and throaty, snapping Anne back into focus. “Right - I - fuck, yes, that’s - fuck, I - Pony!”

Anne lapped greedily between her thighs as Ann stretched taut, her legs clamping around Anne’s ears and her fingers tightening their grip in her hair. This moment - the careening roller coaster on its descent into pure pleasure - was Anne’s absolute favorite. She was watching from afar, driving the car, and an exhilarated passenger all in one. As her wife’s body finally stilled, Anne gave her sensitive clit a parting kiss before disentangling herself and climbing slowly up her body. She stole kisses from her flushed stomach, her heaving breasts, her straining neck. When Ann’s eyes finally opened, Anne brought their lips together in a tender, deep kiss. 

“I love you, Pony,” Ann said, as if reminding her.

“Do you?” She smirked, straddling Ann’s thigh and grinding her wet center against it. “How much?”

“Oh, very much,” Ann teased, slipping her right hand down into her shorts and along Anne’s folds; under her t-shirt, she teased Anne’s breasts with her left. “Surely you know that.”

“Perhaps you could show me.”

Ann rolled her eyes, but she tilted her chin too. Anne kissed her again, moaning into her open mouth as Ann’s nimble fingers found her clit. Her skin was on fire; pleasure streaked from Ann’s hand on her breast straight to her center; her core clenched as Ann strummed her clit harder. She was already so close; the taste of Ann’s arousal still danced on her tongue. Anne’s hips jerked, and she gasped as the first wave of her climax crashed into her. Ann pressed soft kisses to her jaw and her neck, stroked the long line of her back, coaxed her gently through every step of her release. 

“Oh, fuck,” Anne groaned as she collapsed on top of her wife; Ann just chuckled and kissed her cheek. “Will you be upset if we go straight to sleep?”

“No,” Ann laughed, “just get off me.”

With great effort and exaggerated grunts, Anne managed to roll onto her side and reach for their book and her glasses. Ann slipped her nightshirt over her head and curled into Anne’s side. They’d barely gotten through the first page before they were both asleep.

It didn’t matter how it happened, Anne told herself. It wasn’t important who turned off the alarm. The fact that Anne’s long arms were the only ones capable of reaching it was… a moot point. The corollary fact that they had now overslept and had just under an hour to dress and eat before they needed to leave was… that was certainly no one’s fault. It didn’t matter how they’d slept so late. 

“Adney,” she whispered urgently, nudging the snoring woman on her chest. “We’ve got to get up.”

“The alarm hasn’t even gone off,” Ann said sleepily, tightening her grip around Anne’s waist.

“It’s 9:15.”

“What!” Ann’s eyes shot open, looking up at her wife in alarm; Anne bit her lip and tried to contort her face into an apologetic expression. “Anne! We’re supposed to leave at ten!”

“I know,” she answered timidly.

“We were going to get up at, like, eight!”

“I know.”

“Anne!”

“I’m sorry!” Anne cried, laughing as her wife teasingly pinched her side. “I - hey! Hold on! You slept late too!”

“I -” Ann’s mouth hung open, her response dying on her lips; she narrowed her eyes, reaching up to kiss Anne soundly before pivoting out of bed. “You’re a wily one, Dr. Lister.”

“Am I?” Anne laughed, sitting up in bed and watching her wife scurry around their bedroom. “Do you want me to make breakfast?”

“No,” she answered over her shoulder, “just something quick and easy.”

“So yes,” she laughed again, standing up and padding into the kitchen. 

Anne started a pot of oatmeal, a few strips of bacon, a handful of eggs. Something quick and easy, sure, and something that would sustain Ann throughout the morning. They were going to be on their feet a lot, and Anne worried about her wife getting tired and weak. She also worried occasionally that Ann didn’t eat enough, especially on the days when they had the most to do. After a few minutes, her wife rushed into the room, plopping a stack of fresh clothes on the table before bustling back out. A pair of grey shorts, a white t-shirt, fresh underwear - Ann had chosen her clothes for the day, hadn’t she? Not even a question or an explanation; this intimate, affectionate task simply done without fanfare. This must be what everyone meant by “wedded bliss.”

Anne divided the foot between two plates and bowls, setting them on the counter to cool as she loped back into the bedroom. Ann was fiddling with her hair in the bathroom mirror, clad only in a white bra and panties. All thoughts of time and tours and breakfast flew out of her mind as Anne crossed the room and crashed into her.

“Pony!” Ann giggled, wrapping her legs around Anne’s was it as she lifted her into the air. “We have to go.”

Anne just grinned and pressed her wife into the wall, bringing their lips together in a fierce kiss. Ann trailed her hands through Anne’s hair and slipped her tongue into Anne’s mouth. In the back of her mind, Anne knew they should hurry, but she couldn’t help the roll of her hips or the insistent press of her lips. After a few long moments, Ann broke away with a gasp, patting Anne’s shoulders gently.

“Put me down, Pony. We haven’t got the time.”

Anne hummed, but she relented, setting her wife gingerly on the floor and trotting back into the kitchen. There was no one outside their window, and she hardly gave a second thought to stripping out of her pajamas and pulling on her boxer-briefs and bra. She’d just slid her shorts over her hips when a soft warmth pressed into her back, gentle lips trailing over her shoulder and up her neck. 

“Adney,” she warned, “you’re the one who said we had no time.”

“But you , Pony. You cannot tempt me like this.” Her pale hands slid along Anne’s bare stomach, her breath hot against Anne’s ear. “You’re like a goddess - a Roman goddess. In the morning sun, you’re all golden.” Her tongue darted out to drag along Anne’s neck. “You’re so strong. Your muscles are just standing out, and you - fuck, Pony, you’re hot.”

Anne spun around, cupping her wife’s face in her hands and kissing her soundly. They stumbled forward until Ann’s back hit the wall. Their tongues slid together in a sloppy, desperate kiss; Ann slid her hands along Anne’s back, her hips, her toned stomach. Perhaps they should just give up on the tour entirely, Anne thought vaguely. They could just spend the rest of their time in Rome tangled up in that bed in there. Hell, they could spend the rest of their lives tangled up in bed. 

“Adney,” she sighed as she pulled away. “We have to decide, right now. Are we going or are we staying?”

Ann met her gaze for a long moment, and Anne sincerely thought she’d want to stay. Anne didn’t mind, of course. That would be rather novel, wouldn’t it? To travel and not see any of the sights? Appropriate for a honeymoon, Anne supposed. Her core clenched at the thought of days and days wrapped around her wife, their sweaty bodies colliding over and over again. Then Ann smiled, pecked Anne’s lips, and slipped away. 

“We have to go!” She laughed in that bright, carefree way of hers; Anne slumped, tilting her head back to the ceiling to catch her breath. “That’s the whole point of being here.”

“I guess.” Anne pulled her shirt over her head. “Or we could see how many surfaces I can bend you over.”

“We can make time for that too” Ann laughed, bringing their breakfast to the table; Anne slid into one of the chairs and pulled her giggling wife into her lap. “How much time do we have?”

“Not nearly enough.”

Chapter Text

Cuddling up with Anne after a long day of sightseeing was easily the best part of Ann’s day. Not that the sightseeing was bad. She enjoyed it, even if she couldn’t quite process all of it yet. The bustle of the crowd and the noise surrounding them quite nearly overwhelmed her. Luckily, Anne pulled her back from the edge just in time, gently suggesting that they stay in tonight and recharge all day tomorrow. Ann was already looking forward to it.

They’d changed immediately into pajamas, and Anne had made them a simple dinner. Ann loved to watch her wife cook - the ease of her manner as she moved about the unfamiliar kitchen, the concentration on her face as she worked, the quick kisses she stole while Ann perched on the counter. Watching Anne pad around the kitchen in thick socks and loose boxers made Ann feel impossibly soft. Once they’d eaten and laughed and moved to the couch, Anne had immediately taken Ann in her arms, leaning back against an arm of the couch with her strong legs bracketing Ann’s.

There was a movie playing on the television, but Ann didn’t hear it. She was examining Anne’s hands in her lap, the veins along the broad backs of them, the way her fingers curled around her own. Their wedding bands still warmed her heart, especially the delicate bands twined around her wife’s strong finger. How long had Anne waited for this exact marker? Ann could tell she cherished it, never removing it even for a moment. Anne shifted behind her, and Ann could sense the restlessness in her hips. Smirking to herself, Ann pressed her hips back, grinding gently as she leaned back to rest more fully against her wife.

“Adney,” Anne breathed in her ear, “are you teasing me?”

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“I think you do.” Soft lips pressed just behind her ear. “I think you are trying to seduce me.”

“And what if I am?”

“I think you’d better tell me,” Anne husked. “Specifics.”

Ann’s heart raced - dirty talk like this was not her specialty. In the heat of the moment, sure, but like this? Just - just putting it out there? With all their clothes on? She felt rather shy. To say the things she wanted Anne to do to her? Sometimes it felt exhilarating, and sometimes it felt terrifying.

“I - uh, I want you to - uh, to touch me.”

“Where?” Anne prompted, kissing her neck softly.

“My chest.”

Anne hummed, her lips still tracing over Ann’s throat, her hands slowly gravitating to the front of her nightshirt. Ann sighed as her wife gently cupped her breasts, rolling her nipples to hard peaks through the thin fabric. She covered Anne’s strong hands with her own, moaning as Anne pressed a bit harder, kissed her neck a longer.

“What else?” She purred.

“Lower,” Ann managed, her eyes slipping closed. “Under my - under my shirt.”

“Whatever you want, Adney.”

Anne’s warm hands drifted lower, with Ann’s perched on top and floating along limply. Ann lost her as Anne slipped under her shirt, and she settled her hands in the warm bend of her wife’s knees. Anne massaged her breasts, caressed her belly, teased the overheated skin of her torso. The kisses along her shoulder grew sloppier and wetter; Anne’s breathing turned ragged as she slid her right hand between Ann’s thighs. 

“Pony,” Ann moaned, angling her hips up as Anne traced through the arousal coating her center. 

“What do you want me to do, darling?” 

Whimpering, Ann reached behind her to stroke the back of her wife’s head as she continued her trail of tantalizing kisses along her neck and shoulder. Anne nipped her pulse point; her hand teased Ann’s core with infuriating lightness. Ann whined and rolled her hips, but Anne did not move.

“Use your words.”

“I need you.”

“You have me.”

“Pony,” Ann groaned. “Come on.”

“Come on what?”

“Anne!”

“I told you to be specific, Miss Walker. I need your guidance.”

“Fuck me, Anne,” she whined, bucking her hips fruitlessly against Anne’s soft hand. 

“Specifics. Tell me exactly what you want me to do.”

Closing her eyes, her fingers still tangled in her wife’s dark hair over her shoulder, Ann inhaled deeply.

“I want you to fuck me. I want you to put your fingers inside of me.”

“How many?”

“Two, and then - then three. Your hand on my chest, and -”

Ann gasped as she felt Anne slip between her folds,  just as instructed.

“I can handle it from here,” Anne purred. 

Ann chuckled breathlessly, amazed at the arrogance and confidence of her ridiculous wife. She leaned further back, resting both hands on Anne’s sharp knees, until Anne shifted to widen her stance; both of their right feet tumbled to the floor. Ann moaned at the change in angle, rolling her hips in time with Anne’s even thrusts. Her palm pressed firmly against Ann’s clit with every stroke, her heavy breathing filling Ann’s ear as Ann moaned wantonly. Her skin burned, fire lapped between her thighs, her entire body felt as tight as a drum as her release coiled in her gut. 

Anne grunted lowly, shifting lower so that Ann was almost entirely on top of her. Ann gasped as she felt her wife stretch her with a third finger, her free hand still massaging Ann’s breast in time with her strokes. Her hips started to shake as she felt herself teeter at the edge of the precipice. Anne’s thrusts came faster, the curl of her fingers sharper, the pressure on Ann’s clit harder. With a wordless cry, Ann seized, frozen for a moment in the impossible pleasure of her release. Then she shuddered, trembling against Anne’s firm body as she eased her through each wave of her climax.

“Oh, my goodness,” Ann sighed, her body turning to mush as Anne gently pulled her hand away from her core. “Oh, Pony, you are evil.”

“Am I?” 

Ann could hear the smirk in her wife’s voice, but she didn’t even care. She just nodded, her chest still heaving. 

“You are. Making me - teasing me like that? Evil.”

“You seemed to like it well enough.”

“Pony,” she giggled, turning over to face her wife, who was, in fact, smirking, “you are ridiculous.”

“Me? No way.”

Ann just had to kiss that smug grin off her wife’s handsome face. There was nothing else to do, was there? Not when one was in love and in Rome and in the strong arms of such a beautiful woman. Anne’s hands settled on her hips, their lips meeting in a series of short, teasing kisses. Ann pulled away, dropping her head to Anne’s shoulder, relishing the gentle rise and fall of her breathing. 

“What should we do now?” Anne asked.

“I wonder if you - if you’d fuck me.”

“I thought I just did,” she teased.

“I mean, really fuck me,” Ann said softly, focusing on the faded green of her wife’s t-shirt. “Like, bend me over that counter in there. Or up against the wall. Really, um, really dirty stuff.”

“Yeah?” Anne breathed; Ann could feel her wife’s excitement practically vibrating out of her. 

“Yeah.”

Anne sat up sharply, pushing Ann up with her. She kissed her soundly, pulling Ann close for a long, blissful moment. Then she nipped Ann’s bottom lip and broke away with a grin. Ann could only sit on the couch in dumbstruck awe as she watched her wife disappear into the bedroom. Was there anything quite so adorable and desirable as the way Anne got excited to have sex? Not just ordinary, run-of-the-mill excitement. This was face-splitting-grin, twinkling-eyes, “oh-darling-yes-can-we?” excitement. Anne seemed to relish every opportunity to bring their bodies together in that intense, mind-blowing connection of theirs. 

“Ready?” Anne grinned, dropping a bottle of lubricant and the strap on the kitchen counter. She whipped off her t-shirt as Ann rose to her feet and crossed the room. “Mrs. Lister?”

Nodding, Ann ran her hands along her wife’s firm stomach as Anne sent her shorts to the floor. Together, they fit the harness around Anne’s hips; Ann wrapped her hand around her wife’s cock, grinding the base teasingly against her clit. Payback, she thought, as Anne moaned softly. She covered the pink silicone in lubricant, her core clenching in excitement at the familiar weight of it in her hand. By the time she pulled away, her wife’s breathing was ragged and her eyes fiery. Anne pulled her in for a desperate kiss before turning her around slowly, encouraging her to lean against the counter with a gentle hand between her shoulder blades. 

“Adney,” she whispered, curling her hand around Ann’s hip, the other still tracing along her spine. “God, I want you so much.”

“Then have me,” she teased, pressing her hips back as Anne slid her cock between her folds.

They moaned in unison as Anne pressed gently forward. The intensity of being filled, the possessive grip on her hip, the tender caress along her spine. Ann moaned softly as Anne’s hips met her behind. For a moment, they breathed together, joined in this intimate, dirty way. Anne started to move, drawing soft sighs from Ann with every perfect stroke. This even, deep rhythm drove Ann crazy. She longed for Anne to pound into her, split her open, bruise her skin and tear her apart. Deep down, she knew this bit was important. Necessary. The most excruciating prelude. 

Fire burned in her stomach as Anne started to move more quickly. Her long fingers dug into Ann’s hips. The tile countertop was cool under her forearms, Anne’s body warm and firm, the air around them impossibly, overwhelmingly hot. Loud, breathy cries escaped her lips as Anne started to rut into her mercilessly. This was it - the moment that Ann craved. Primal, sharp, hard, fast. Everything she desired, needed, craved. 

“Pony,” she cried, her release coiling in her gut, more and more tightly with every sharp thrust of her wife’s hips. “Fuck, yes, I - fuck - harder, baby, please -”

“Yes,” Anne’s low growl underscored her own high, whiny moans. “You’re so good. You’re - fuck, I’m -” Anne pumped into her harder, faster, deeper; her long fingers found Ann’s aching clit, drawing a wild scream from Ann’s raw throat. “You feel so good, baby. Fuck. Come for me. Come with me.”

“Yes,” she cried, her arms shaking as her body threatened to combust from the heat brewing between her thighs; she was little more than a loose connection of nerve endings, shaking with pleasure as she shot over the edge into her climax. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Faintly, she felt Anne’s hips juddering, and her heart registered a surge of satisfaction that her wife came with her. They shuddered and moaned and jerked and mumbled. Anne continued to thrust shallowly and gently, her tender hands bringing Ann back to earth. With a low groan, she fell forward against Ann’s back, shifting the cock deliciously. Despite her heaving chest and sensitive core, Ann felt a fresh surge of arousal. After all, it was their honeymoon, wasn’t it?

“Pony,” she breathed, “can you - uh -”

“Yeah,” Anne managed, lifting herself up and pulling out gently from between Ann’s legs; Ann twisted to face her. She leaned against the counter, Anne against the wall opposite; they panted and smiled crookedly at each other. “Are you alright?” She pointed weakly at Ann’s hip. “I’m sorry.”

Ann looked down, taking note of the red marks around her hips which would surely be bruises tomorrow. As usual, the physical reminder of her wife’s furious love only made her hotter. She raised her gaze slowly, meeting Anne’s eyes and biting her bottom lip. 

“Again?” Anne asked, her jaw hanging and her eyes wide. Ann just shrugged. “I love you so fucking much, Ann Walker.”

Ann just grinned and crossed the room, crashing their lips together and vaulting into her wife’s arms. Laughing, Anne caught her, spinning to press her into the wall. They kissed sloppily as Ann ran her hands along her wife’s broad shoulders and strong arms, her legs curled around her narrow hips. When they finally parted, Anne had that mischievous glint in her eye.

“What?” Ann asked, tracing her finger over her wife’s clavicle.

“Been a while, hasn’t it?”

“What do you mean?”

“Since we did it like this.”

“Oh, I - yeah,” Ann said thoughtfully, “I guess so.”

“I won’t forget again,” her wife smirked, leaning in to catch her lips again.

Gently, Anne pulled back, aligning her cock with Ann’s wet core. They moaned softly as Anne pushed forward, sheathing herself between Ann’s legs once again. It was faster this time, both of them already so very close to the edge. Anne’s strong muscles rippled under her hands and around her thighs. Her lips were fierce and demanding. Every movement of her body grew in intensity, urgency, desperation. It was only a handful of minutes, but it felt like seconds. Ann wished it had been hours. Her climax was harsher this time, faster, more powerful. She slumped forward, sinking her teeth into the firm skin of Anne’s shoulder as her body shook through wave after wave of pleasure. 

When Anne finally pulled out and set her down, Ann could see the fierce glint in her eyes. She slipped down to her knees, trailing her fingertips over her wife’s wet cock. Anne shivered as Ann pressed her lips to her hips, her muscular thighs, the thick shaft of her cock. She gasped softly as Ann took the silicone in her mouth, bobbing her head gently and driving that magical base against Anne’s clit. Wasn’t it strange? How intensely erotic this act was? Despite the toy between them, Ann fancied she could feel her wife’s clit directly. Anne guided her movements gently, a single strong hand cupping the back of her head. 

“Adney,” she whined, “oh, fuck, I - yes, baby, I’m - fuck.”

It wasn’t enough, though. Not for Ann. She pulled back, fumbled over the harness, and pulled it roughly from her wife’s hips. Greedily, she closed her lips around her wife’s clit, relishing the feel of it between her lips at last. The strap was one thing - one incredible, jaw-dropping, toe-curling thing. But actually taking the sharp, hard core of her wife in her mouth? Another thing entirely. Both were good, vital, hot. Right now, this was her preference. Skin to skin. 

“Ann,” her wife’s voice was thin, needy, “please, Ann, I - please, fuck, I -”

With that, Anne trembled above her, half-grunts and pleas filling the air as she shot into her release. Ann lapped gently between her thighs, easing her down until she sagged against the wall and released Ann’s head. With a proud grin, Ann kissed the top of each thigh and the soft skin below her belly button before standing. Anne wrapped a lazy arm around her waist and pulled her close, their naked bodies flush in the kitchen of an apartment in Roman. Had anything ever been so ridiculous? Or so perfect?

“I love you,” Anne breathed, kissing her gently on the cheek, “but we have to get in that bed or I might collapse.”

Ann laughed, taking her wife by the hand and leading her into the bedroom. No, there had never been anyone quite so ridiculous or quite so perfect as Anne Lister, her wife.

Chapter Text

Rarely - very rarely - Anne found herself facing away from the bed, with her wife’s small, warm body pressed against her back. Some might call this the “little spoon” position, but Anne resented the implication. She was always the biggest spoon. Physically, that was just a fact. It didn’t matter that occasionally - very occasionally - she enjoyed having her wife wrapped around her, rather than the other way around. It was nice, sometimes, to feel protected and surrounded by Ann, rather than protecting and surroundings. Only sometimes. Very someti- never mind.

Tonight was one of those nights. They’d collapsed into bed after that business on the couch. And the counter. And the wall. Frankly, Anne was exhausted, and she was sure Ann was even worse off. Tomorrow was their rest day, the midpoint of their stay in Rome. Anne was looking forward to a nice, deep sleep followed by a lot of lounging and eating and lovemaking. 

Then there was a sharp poke right between her shoulder blades. She twisted, missing the press of Ann’s body behind her and wondering where her wife had gone. Anne rolled onto her back, blinking tiredly in the dark room; her wife - still blessedly nude with her wild curls framing her face - was looking down on her with a scowl. Anne reached for her, but she was rebuffed. 

“What is it?” Anne croaked, her voice rough with sleep. 

“You’ve killed me.”

“What?” She chuckled, tracing her hand along Ann’s arm.

“I can’t believe you did that to me.”

Anne could detect a hint of teasing, of exaggeration, of overdramatization in her wife’s voice, so she decided not to let this bug her. At first, Anne had misinterpreted this kind of teasing as genuine unhappiness, but Ann had set her straight. She got like this sometimes, expressing her satisfaction and gratitude through annoyance. It didn’t bother Anne; she knew better now.

“And what did I do?” She asked coyly.

“Killed me,” Ann answered seriously.

“Hardly,” she laughed, pulling her wife down onto her chest; Ann’s arm wrapped around her waist automatically, her head nuzzled into her shoulder. “You don’t mean that.”

“Half-killed then,” she pouted. “I’m rather sore, Pony.”

“I’m sorry,” Anne said sincerely, stroking her back. “Can I get you something?”

“No.” 

Ann’s eyes were already closed. Smiling to herself, Anne closed her eyes too, and soon she was asleep.

At least, for a little while.

“Anne.”

Anne stirred but didn’t fully wake, still embroiled in fighting a dragon in her dream. 

“Anne.”

Now the dragon was speaking to her sharply; its voice sounded vaguely like her wife’s. 

“Anne!”

This dragon was being rather rude, wasn’t it? Anne was only trying to slay it. Surely it came to expect that, being a dragon and all. Why was it using Ann’s cross voice to distract her? The dragon bit her hip, causing sharp pain in her side. Anne hissed, twisting away from its grasp. She felt another sharp pain. Again, the dragon had made contact - this time, along her hairline. Was this dragon pulling her hair?

“Wake up! Anne!”

Finally, something clicked. Anne’s eyes shot open. Her wife hovered over her once more, that same sulky scowl painted across her pretty face. 

“Darling?”

“I can’t sleep.”

“Why not?” Anne cooed, trailing her fingers over Ann’s hand next to her hip. Ann was balanced above her, her left hand flat on the mattress and her right on the slope of Anne’s neck. In the low light of the dark bedroom, she looked positively radiant. Her mane of curls and her pale skin; her bare breasts and the sheet pooling around her waist. Anne wondered if she was too sore for some very tender lovemaking; she pushed a lock of hair from Ann’s face. “What’s wrong?”

“I told you. You killed me.”

“Half-killed,” she corrected with a smile. “What hurts?”

“Between my legs,” Ann answered shyly, looking down. “Just - just sore a bit.”

“I’m sorry, Adney.”

“Don’t - I’m -” Ann shook her head. “I’m not upset about - uh, about what we did. I’m - I just think you should know.”

“I do, darling girl, come here.”

Anne folded her wife in her arms, remorse flooding her heart. Why had she been so rough with Ann? She should know better by now. Ann asked for a lot of things, but Anne should know when to hold back. For her wife’s safety and comfort. Not for the first time, Anne wondered if they should retire the strap. It seemed to affect her wife so seriously - in good ways and in bad. 

She fell asleep like this, drowning in regret for having pushed her seemingly insatiable wife too far. In her dreams, a serpent wrapped around her, suffocating her slowly while Ann wasted away just out of her reach. She couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t do any-fucking-thing. The serpent squeezed tighter, but then, suddenly, she could breathe. This embrace was warm, not overwhelming. If anything, the serpent was holding her upright, keeping her steady and supported and strong. She could breathe. She could finally breathe.

“Pony,” she heard faintly, and this time she woke up right away. Ann was still nestled against her chest, her gentle arms wrapped around Anne’s body. “Are you awake?”

“Yes.”

“You’ve half-killed me,” Ann teased, “and now you’re talking in your sleep.”

“Am I?”

“Uh-huh. Apologies. What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Anne.”

“Nothing, really.” Ann pinched her side; she could never hide anything from her wife, could she? “I’m just - I’m sorry. About earlier. That you’re in pain.”

“I’m not.”

“Adney,” she chuckled, “you’ve woken me up twice to say I’ve killed you.”

“Half-killed.”

Anne could hear the smile in her wife’s voice, and she shook her head at this mercurial, incredible woman next to her. She held her a little closer.

“You’re really alright?”

“I really am.” Ann pressed a chaste kiss to the underside of Anne’s jaw. “I promise.”

“Good. I love you.”

“I love you.” Ann wiggled closer, her right leg fitting perfectly between Anne’s. “But I won’t have it anymore.”

“What?” Anne asked, suddenly alarmed.

“You’ve half-killed me,” she answered dramatically, “and I won’t suffer you any longer.”

“You’ll be begging for it by lunchtime,” she teased in a sultry voice, sneaking her hand down to squeeze Ann’s ass. 

She was rewarded by a giggle and a gentle smack on the belly. Her wife’s bright laughter echoed in her ears as she fell asleep. 

Unfortunately for Anne, she couldn’t sleep late. Perhaps it was habit, or perhaps it was penance for oversleeping yesterday. Either way, she woke with the sun, finding herself pressed against her wife’s back, soft blonde hair in her face and tickling her nose. She didn’t remember shifting like this in the night, but she often found that her body gravitated to Ann’s without her realizing. Drawing those wild curls away, she pressed her lips to the back of her wife’s neck. Ann murmured softly, pulling Anne’s arm more tightly around her waist. 

For several long minutes, Anne busied herself with her wife’s pale neck and shoulder. She kissed and licked and sucked, only very gently. The scent on her skin filled Anne’s nose and settled sweetly on her tongue; Anne wanted to climb inside of her, live in the gentle warmth that made up her wife’s perfect body. Ann’s skin was warm under her hand, and Anne didn’t even mind that her right arm was crushed under the pillow below her wife’s head. She pulled Ann closer, fitting her bum into the crook of her hips, her breasts pressed against Ann’s back. 

“Adney,” she whispered in her ear. “Are you awake?”

A soft snore was her only answer. She clicked her tongue and rolled out of bed. Leave it to Ann to sleep in. A little early morning lovemaking would’ve been just the ticket, Anne thought, but her wife was clearly still tired. Best not to push it anyway, she figured as she padded into the shower. 

Their honeymoon so far had been everything she wanted. Namely, lots of Rome and lots of sex. Was there anything better? Perhaps lots of Paris and lots of sex, but they’d done that, hadn’t they? Sometime, perhaps once they’d traveled a bit more, Anne would like to rank the places she’d visited. She could do that now, she supposed as she started to wash her hair, but she wanted Ann’s opinion. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not just having that list and reflecting on her travels, but to share that list and reflection with her wife. Places that they had been together , rather than places she’d been to alone, or with Mary. 

She owed Mary a call, she thought, as she rinsed off. Tib never would tell her what they’d talked about at the wedding. Anne was grateful to her old friend for this, for diverting the inevitable. It wouldn't have been right to spend even one minute with Mariana on that day. Still, Anne thought, there was a time when she had longed for nothing more than this exact scenario, but with a dark head of hair on the pillow next to hers. She was grateful it hadn’t turned out that way, but she couldn’t help making the comparison as she tied back her wet hair and pulled on comfortable sweats and a t-shirt. 

Mariana would not have been interested in the Vatican, not in the slightest. She probably would’ve been able to stay out a little longer though, Anne conceded, than poor Ann could yesterday. The crowds and physical fatigue were always a factor for her sometimes-fragile wife. Not that Anne minded; really and truly, she didn’t. The quiet night in, followed by the rather explosive shagging was - well, Anne could hardly complain, could she? Mariana often bemoaned Anne’s being too rough with her, but never in the teasing, affectionate way that Ann did. There was always a punishment to follow, a coldness and a distance that served as Anne’s penance for daring to want Mary so much. 

The bruises especially. Ann seemed to relish them, to admire them and to be aroused by them. Not Mariana, even as she begged for harder and rougher, their coupling so often marked by anger, frustration, volatility. Then she would immediately recant, damning Anne for forcing her to explain the marks to Charles, to cover the hickeys with makeup, to reckon with the evidence of their connection long after they’d parted. It was always a pull and a push with Mary - “deeper, Freddie, I need more of you.” Then “back up, Fred, you’re all over me.” Anne could never get close enough, and she could never stay away. It was constant rocking on a sea of disappointment, sometimes cresting into hope, more often capsizing and choking on saltwater. A dreadful yo-yo between despair and ecstasy

Anne sighed, hovering in the bathroom doorway and watching her sleeping wife. How strange, she mused, that Ann Walker should be the one for her. Barely past thirty, her little wife, and somehow the only one capable of keeping her steady. Despite all the turmoil and with God’s blessing, young Ann Walker was the cause and source of Anne’s happiness. 

“I’m making breakfast, darling,” she said softly, but Ann never moved. 

Smiling to herself, she went into the kitchen and found a box of pancake mix. Soon enough, the smell had roused her wife to consciousness, and Ann appeared at the end of the blue-tiled counter. Impossibly beautiful, she wore Anne’s green button-down, held together but three measly buttons, with sleeves rolled up to her elbows. Her blonde mane fell around her shoulders, and she rubbed her eyes and blinked in the bright light of the morning. 

“Good morning,” Anne purred, wrapping a hand around her wife’s waist and kissing her chastely. “How did you sleep?”

“Very well,” Ann said happily, scooting up on the counter next to the stove, her bare thighs tempting Anne to throw aside their breakfast entirely. “What about you?”

“It was alright at first,” Anne teased, flipping over her three small pancakes. “Then my wife kept waking me up to complain about how good I am at shagging.”

“That’s annoying,” Ann laughed. “Can’t imagine why she’d do that.”

“I can’t either.” Anne grinned and stole another kiss. “How are you though, really?”

“I’m fine, Pony. I was worried my back might be out, but I think I’m okay. As long as we stick close to home today.”

“Bold of you to assume we’re going to leave this apartment ever again.”

Ann laughed, her smile brighter than the sun as she tugged Anne closer by the sleeve of her shirt. Anne kissed her soundly but quickly, pulling away just in time to save her pancakes from burning. She flipped them onto a plate and held it out to her wife. Anne watched as Ann drizzled syrup over them and contorted her mouth around a much-too-large piece; she’d learned, by now, not to make large pancakes, because Ann seemed to refuse to cut them. 

“Why don’t you do this more at Shibden?” Her wife asked, her mouth full.

“Do what?” 

“Make pancakes.”

“For those animals? Hardly.”

“It would be fun,” Ann said firmly, stretching her leg to hook her foot around Anne’s thigh. “Marian would like it.”

“Another reason not to do it,” she shrugged.

“You’re impossible.”

“Oh, and you love me so much.”

Anne grinned, catching her wife’s lips in another kiss, this one sticky-sweet from the syrup and the gentle tease of the morning. Now, this? This was certainly something she could never do with Mariana. Mariana never ate more than half a grapefruit or a bowl of cold cereal for breakfast; that is, when she bothered to stick around long enough in the morning to even consider breakfast. Anne turned her attention back to her sizzling pan, a spatula in one hand, and Ann’s thigh in the other.

“What are you thinking about?” Ann asked softly, laying her hand on top of Anne’s.

“Nothing.”

“Pony.”

“Okay,” she sighed. “I’m thinking about Mariana. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be, and I’ll -”

“It’s okay.” Ann squeezed her hand. “Tell me about that.”

“Well, uh, I was thinking, you know,” she sighed again, shaking her head. “I was thinking that I could never have this with her. How happy you make me and how unbelievable it is that you and I, of all people, get along so perfectly. It really shouldn’t make any sense.”

“No?” Ann giggled. “Why not?”

“Well, we - we don’t like the same things. I’m so much older. On paper, you know, theoretically, Mariana would be my perfect woman. Brunette and short and sassy and a bit withholding - I used to like that. I liked to beg for it. For her affection. It felt like that was what I deserved. To be so totally controlled by her. It was - God, that’s kind of sick, isn’t it?”

“No,” her wife said simply. “That makes a lot of sense. We are really different. The big thing, though, I think, is how well we get along. Just, like, our personalities. You like to talk a lot, and I like to hear you talk. That’s a big one.” Anne laughed, shaking her head and flipping her pancakes. “But I can also make you laugh, and - and we just get along. It doesn’t have to make sense. Not the way you mean. What makes sense to me, you big dummy.” Anne squeezed her thigh playfully. “What makes sense to me, you perfectly-sized genius,” Ann amended, “is the way we are together. Right here and right now. Or last night. Or on that tour yesterday when the guide got you all mad because -”

“He was saying it wrong!” Anne interrupted. “He was -”

“I know, Pony,” she continued indulgently. “I know. And you were all upset, and then I just held your hand, didn’t I? Then you were fine. Right?”

Anne nodded, finalizing her stack of pancakes and turning off the stove. Gently, Ann led her to the breakfast table and sat across her lap, one arm draped tenderly across her shoulders, the other cupping her cheek. Anne inhaled, relishing their mingling scents and the press of Ann’s legs against her own, her knee and her hip in her hands. 

“I’m so bloody happy to be here with you,” she said softly. Ann nodded. “I’m sorry to bring her up, I -”

“It’s okay, darling. I understand. It’s natural to think about what might’ve been, if we hadn’t been so lucky.”

Anne nodded again before leaning forward to catch Ann’s lips in a deep, emotional kiss. Twenty years of fantasies and plans and hopes - all for nothing. In a way, she felt a loss; not for the first time, she mourned the woman she’d been, the woman Mariana had fallen in love with, had abandoned, had ground down to a hollow, cynical shell. Simultaneously, she exalted her good fortune. The divine providence that had led her here, to a sunlit Roman apartment with the woman of her dreams in her lap.

Sure, Ann wasn’t the woman of her original dreams, but she certainly was the woman of her present and future dreams. Kind and silly and sexy and fun and generous and innocent and smart and filthy and absolutely smitten with Anne. The dreams Anne had had for her life with Mariana felt like that serpent from last night; love felt like a thing that would slowly strangle her until she lost her breath entirely. With Ann, it was the stark opposite. Her warm embrace filled Anne with vitality, with energy, with hope, with joy. Being wrapped up in Mariana felt like a prison; being wrapped up in Ann felt like freedom.

“Are we going to eat like this?” Ann asked when they broke apart. “Or do I get my own chair?”

“Oh, we’re going to eat just like this,” Anne grinned and kissed her again, reveling in the amazing, impossible love that had broken her bonds and set her free. 

Chapter Text

“You’re doing something,” I teased her as she started to massage my calves. “What are you doing?”

“Not a thing,” Anne said innocently, but I could see right through her. 

She was getting restless, I could tell. Poor Pony, I thought fondly. Staying inside for an entire day started to chafe every now and then. She had been so patient with me, as she always was. Even I could admit that the day had seemed longer without her hands on me, but I also had to acknowledge the soreness between my legs. It was nothing I hadn’t asked for, needed, craved. Just a bit of a recovery period, that was all my body required for now. Every hour that passed, I felt better. Ready for more. Aching for my wife once again. 

If this was the price to pay to enjoy the full extent of Anne Lister’s incredible body, so be it. I didn’t mind at all. If anything, I preferred it this way. My body would always be fragile, easily bruised, temperamental; that didn’t mean I had to give up that incredible ecstasy that only came when Anne and I were equally desperate. Anne understood this, and I felt incredibly grateful to have a wife who was willing to ride both the highs and the lows 

We were intertwined on the couch, opposite each other with legs overlapping and sliding together. The friction of our warm skin felt more like electricity, especially as Anne began to slowly pull me toward her. It had started with gentle caresses to my ankle. She was still reading then, or, at least, pretending to. I was actually sketching, using some of the photos I’d taken on tour yesterday for reference. So, she started with that ankle business, which she knew made me crazy. Then she set her book down entirely, burning me up with her eyes and totally shattering my concentration with her wandering hands. She pulled me closer. 

“Pony,” I giggled, “you’re going to make me mess up!”

“Oh, sorry,” she said, but I knew she wasn’t sorry in the least. 

“You’re bad,” I teased, trying to return my focus to my sketch. No use. I tossed it to the sigh with a playful sigh. 

“Am I?” 

She was slowly pulling me across the couch and into her lap; she lifted me easily to straddle her, and I felt that same sense of awe I always did when she did something like this. How in the world was she so strong? I laid my hands on her shoulders; I was bare underneath her button-down shirt, and I could feel my core already aching for her. Wet and desperate hovering just above hers. 

“Perhaps you should punish me, Miss Walker,” she said in that quiet, low voice that drove me wild. 

“Perhaps I should,” I breathed before catching her lips in a slow, teasing kiss. Our lips met over and over; my head started to spin from the perfection of this moment. I pulled away with a broad smile. “I love you so much, Anne.”

“I love you,” she answered softly, her hands slipping up my thighs to settle on my hips under her shirt. “I’m so happy, Adney. I’m so, so happy. I’ll do anything - everything I can to make you as happy as I am.”

“You do,” I told her seriously, my eyes searching her handsome face; I traced my index finger over the sharp line of her clavicle. “I was thinking - uh, last night.”

She just hummed in answer, leaning forward to kiss my neck. Oh, how I loved when she did that. Her long nose ran along the back of my shoulder as she pressed a trail of kisses there. A shiver ran up my spine, and I drew a ragged breath. It was suddenly so very hard to think. 

“I - uh, I was thinking about - uh, that maybe I wasn’t - uh, I wasn’t enough for you.”

Anne straightened sharply, fixing me with a confused look. I could see the red fullness already creeping into her lips from her attentions to my shoulder; my heart swelled with love once again.

“Don’t even say that,” she said gently. “You’re enough. You’re more than enough. Please, I - what did I do wrong?”

“Nothing,” I answered honestly. “I just - you know, in the night, I - I wondered if maybe I was too sickly for you. Fragile, and - uh, and - I don’t know.”

I had these fears sometimes. Usually at night, or if we were separated for too long. I knew they were ridiculous and unfounded, but they still lingered. That insecurity - it was something I could never quite shake. I always felt better telling my wife, putting those fears out in the open where they shrank and lost their power. 

“Adney. Darling. Listen to me.” Anne’s tone was frank, but gentle. I nodded and bit my bottom lip. “I love you. I have never been so happy in my entire life. Every day that I spend with you is - it’s magical. It’s amazing and easy and hot.” She squeezed my hips playfully, and I laughed, my worries already scurrying away from Anne’s tender words. “You’re the greatest thing that has ever happened to me. Ever. I would never want to do anything that hurts you or makes you uncomfortable. If that means we never use the strap again, that’s fine. I don’t mind at all.”

“No!” I said quickly, making her laugh, which, of course, made me laugh too; my urgency to keep the strap around was a bit silly, wasn’t it? “I love it. I love you. I love the way we - I’m just sorry we have to take a day to - just to do nothing, because I’m a weakling.”

“You’re not a weakling,” Anne said sternly. “Okay? I don’t mind at all. We haven’t done nothing. We’ve been together all day. That’s what a honeymoon is for, isn’t it?”

I nodded, sliding my hands down the front of her shirt, then around her narrow waist. For a moment, we just held each other like this. Not kissing. Hips totally still. Hands comforting rather than exploring. Chests rising and falling together, slowly. No urgency at all. It was rather sappy, wasn’t it? Just hugging, here on the couch. Chaste and tender and emotional. I relished it. The crisp smell of my wife that invaded my nose. The feeling of her warm body enveloping me. I inhaled before turning my head slightly to kiss the juncture of her neck and shoulder. Sliding my hands lower, I slipped under her t-shirt. 

“Adney,” she whined, her voice thin and reedy. “Don’t tease me.”

“I’m not,” I whispered, kissing her neck again. “Take me to bed.”

She pulled back, forcing me to meet her evaluative gaze. Anne always thought she was a doctor, didn’t she? She liked to study me, to try to read my mind, to assess my health and well-being. Which I did appreciate, of course. She was just funny like this. Her serious little stare. The way her eyes crinkle as she searched my face. That pregnant pause before she believed me. Oh, how I loved her.

“You’re sure?” Anne asked seriously.

“Yes,” I whispered, my lips ghosting across hers.

With a low growl, Anne crashed our lips together, her hands kneading my thighs until she lifted me into the air with her. I giggled, wrapping my arms around her neck and my legs around her waist. It was all for balance, no strength required. Anne could carry me without my doing anything; on the rare occasions I drank too much, she never said a word about bringing me back to bed when I’d stumbled blindly to the toilet. 

I kissed her neck, her cheeks, her lips. She squeezed my ass, so I laid off. I didn’t want her to drop me. As much as I might like her to shag me right there on that tile floor, I really would prefer the bed. She set me down gently, catching my lips in a slow, sensual kiss. They really don’t talk enough about just kissing , in my opinion. A really good kisser, like Anne, was kind of otherworldly. The things that woman could do with her mouth? It sent my head spinning. She eased my mouth open, slid her tongue inside, set me aflame with every brush of her lips. 

“Adney,” she whispered, pressing her lips to my neck, down the V of the neck of her shirt. “You’re so beautiful.”

I keened - the sounds Anne could draw from me always surprised me. Usually, I thought of myself as pretty quiet and pretty shy. With Anne Lister touching my body? I could shake the walls. 

“Gentle,” she whispered as she flicked open the button between my breasts. “Okay? Don’t ask for anything rough.” She kissed my sternum and eased open another button. “You won’t get it.”

I nodded, already breathless from this slow, torturous descent. She parted the green fabric, laying me bare and yearning for her consumption. I could only scoot backward on the bed, swallowing dryly as she crawled closer and kissed me again. How was she so fucking good at this? How could she set me on fire with the press of her lips and the touch of her hands? How could one person unravel me so thoroughly?

“Pony,” I breathed as she trailed back down my chest, taking each of my breasts in her mouth; I tried - really, I did try - to focus on the exact movements of her lips and tongue. I so desperately wanted to be able to replicate them for her. And yet, as much as I tried, I could do little more than cup the back of her brilliant head and moan at the ceiling. “Oh, God, Pony.”

Anne hummed as she settled between my legs, spreading them wide and placing tender kisses to the insides of my thighs. Her lips shot electricity straight to my center, which was already aching for her. Honestly, was there ever a time when I wasn’t aching for Anne? For her touch, sure, but also her eyes and her support and her bright, winning smile. 

Now, this part? This part I could never parse. I couldn’t figure out what specifically she did between my legs when her handsome face disappeared down there, but good heavens, I could feel the effects. The warmth building in my core and up into my gut. The automatic curling of my fingers into her dark hair. The urgent lift of my hips in a silent plea for more. The soft moans and sighs that spilled from my lips as she did whatever she did. 

A single strong hand trailed up my torso and covered my breast; without thinking, I laid my hand over hers, moaning as we moved in unison. Anne’s other hand steadied my hip, keeping me in place as my muscles started to tense in anticipation of my climax. As many times as we’d done this, it still felt new. The needy moans now ripping from my throat. The tightness in my belly and the straining in my thighs. This deep urge to squirm, to buck, to rut into Anne’s mouth with abandon. 

True to her word, my wife allowed none of that. She was infinitely tender. Slow Methodical. Fucking annoying.

“Pony,” I whined. “Come on.”

Faintly, I heard a low hum that I took to be a refusal; her brown locks tickled my thighs as she shook her head. I tugged on her hair.

“Please.” My voice was higher than usual, almost a squeak. “I can’t - baby, please.”

That same hum and head shake. Maybe I didn’t love her so bloody much, I thought in frustration. What kind of wife would torture me like this? I pressed my hand down harder, grinding Anne’s broad palm against my nipple, crying out as Anne did something to my clit that made me see stars. Was it her tongue? Her teeth? Who the hell cared, so long as she kept fucking doing it. 

“Yes, yes, yes,” I chanted, feeling my climax towering over me, threatening to crash into me. “Yes! Yes! Yes!”

With one last stroke, she sent me over the edge. I shattered, my entire body freezing for a moment before erupting into a series of incredible trembles and high-pitched moans. Pleasure raced up my spine, shook my legs, pumped through my veins. At last, I collapsed into the sheets, panting and grinning and scratching the back of Anne’s head. She liked this little movement, I knew, and I liked doing it. It felt almost childish - I knew Aunt Anne did the same thing to her - but it was also a moment of connection. Re-centering ourselves as Anne kissed the insides of my thighs in parting and slowly made her way back to my face as I drifted back to earth.

“Hi.” 

Her voice was husky and rough; I’d never loved anyone more. Anne was so handsome and soft, and when she kissed me, I melted. The taste of my arousal lingered on her lips, but the kiss was somehow perfectly innocent. Almost like she was shy, or like we were teenagers. I scratched the back of her head as she pulled away.

“Hi,” I said back, unable to stop the wide grin spreading across my face. “Have I ever told you how good you are at that?”

“Not lately,” she teased, shifting to kiss my neck and grind her wet boxers against my thigh.

Was there anything better than this? The tangible proof of Anne’s desire, right there on my skin? The reminder that Anne was aroused just by touching me - that never got old. She was still wearing her shorts, so I clicked my tongue and tongue on the waistband.

“Pony. Why are you always wearing clothes?”

She laughed and hopped out of bed, stripping off her boxers and t-shirt and lifting her arms in a showy shrug. 

“Will I do?”

“Oh yeah,” I grinned, stretching my arms to reach for her. “Get back here.”

Anne chuckled and flopped down next to me; I turned and laid my arm gently on her waist, pulling myself closer and kissing her softly. Anne was so still in moments like this - vulnerable and needy, but not wanting to say it. I never forgot that she used to relieve herself alone, that she had far more self-administered orgasms than shared, that her sexual past was so incredibly, heartbreakingly lonely. Slowly but surely, I was determined to correct that imbalance.

Slipping my leg between hers, I pressed my thigh up against her core, moaning appreciatively at the warmth and wetness greeting me. I ran my hand down her muscular thigh - God, I loved how firm her body was - and hiked her knee over my hip. She whimpered at being so open to me, and I kissed her again as my fingers found her clit. Anne shivered - I could actually make Anne Lister shiver! It never ceased to amaze. 

“Like that?” I asked softly, drawing those firm, slow circles I knew she liked. She moaned and nodded, so I rolled her onto her back - Anne Lister on her back! Oh, how I relished this. “You need me, Pony?”

“Yes,” she breathed, rolling her hips into my touch.

Gosh, was there anything more magical than this? Than holding my wife in the palm of my hand? Delivering the woman I loved to the pinnacle of pleasure with just the tips of my fingers? I knew there wasn’t. As Anne clutched at my back and pressed her chest against mine, I had never been so certain of anything in my life. She gasped, stretching taut and holding me close. Perhaps, this was the most magical moment of all. 

“Oh, Adney,” she groaned when she finally stilled; I kissed her softly and laid against her heaving chest. “I love you, darling.”

We laid together, we showered, we got into fresh pajamas, we climbed back into bed. Even though we never left the apartment, today might’ve been my favorite day in Rome.




Finished?” Anne asked. Ann looked up and nodded, closing her journal and placing it on her nightstand. “Good.”

With a grin, Anne pulled her wife into her chest, reading softly from a thin paperback. Ann closed her eyes, breathing easily now that she had an outlet for her emotions that made her feel calmer and braver. A little more like Anne.

Chapter Text

Anne Lister did not get seasick. Obviously. She was a seasoned traveler. She was an incredibly strong woman. She’d been around the world. She’d climbed actual mountains. She could tear a tree from the ground with her bare hands. She could pick her wife up and sling her over her shoulder. She was the linchpin for her family, her estate, her department. This simply wasn’t possible. She was not seasick. 

And yet.

And yet, she had a sudden, strong urge to lean over the edge of this stupid gondola and vomit. They’d bought tickets for an evening tour of the Grand Canal, along with two other foolish couples. It had been rather expensive, Anne recalled, and now she wasn’t even enjoying it. What a waste of fucking money, she thought ruefully. Hadn’t she been on a bloody boat before? This was a nightmare. 

Ann didn’t even seem to notice, as they shoved off and started to float gently along the canal. The gondolier said a few words, but Anne didn’t even hear him. Objectively, this was the perfect cap to their first night in Venice. From Anne’s point of view, this was possibly the worst moment of the trip.

“Are you alright?” Ann asked softly, putting her hand gently on Anne’s knee. 

She could only nod stiffly, setting her jaw and attempting to breathe easily. Why hadn’t she gotten one of those seasick patches? They were barely on the bloody water. Did this even count as water? Perhaps Anne had eaten something that disagreed with her. Surely it wasn’t that she was seasick. That couldn’t be possible. 

“Pony,” her wife whispered, curling her hand around Anne’s thigh and breathing into her ear. “Isn’t this beautiful?”

“Uh-huh,” Anne managed through gritted teeth. 

Of course, she wished she could lean into her wife, whisper sweet nothings in her ear, slide her hand slowly up her bare thigh. The warm Venetian air hung heavily around them, the dark sky seemed lower, the few visible stars closer. The buildings above them were bright and colorful, and Anne longed to appreciate them fully. 

They were the last pair in the gondola, behind two heterosexual couples in the two rows ahead of them. Anne eyed the men with the same disdain she usually held for straight men. Their arms draped lazily over their partners’ shoulders, as if, God forbid, anyone forgot or misunderstood their relationship. They didn’t even seem to be enjoying the tour, Anne thought sourly; the one in the middle seemed to be looking at his cell phone. She leaned over to whisper into her wife’s ear, but even this movement sent her stomach into somersaults again. Anne groaned and straightened.

“Anne?”

“I’m fine.” She shook her head, covering Ann’s hand on her knee and squeezing gently. “I’m fine. Isn’t this lovely?”

“Yeah.” Ann’s smile was so bright Anne almost forgot the bile building in the back of her throat. “It’s so beautiful.”

Ann leaned into her shoulder, and they listened to the water, the city, the gondolier’s infrequent comments. She tried to enjoy it, she really did, but she couldn’t let go of this tremendous fear of getting sick. In fact, this took so much of her energy, that she didn’t even correct the young man on his skewed dates or wild approximations of distances. By the time they staggered off, Anne could practically feel her stomach tied into various, intricate knots.

“Pony,” her wife said gently as they strolled back to their little apartment, “do you get seasick?”

“Absolutely not.”

Ann hummed, and they continued to walk in silence for a few moments. Anne would never admit to her feeling sick on that stupid boat. It could hardly count as sea sickness, could it? They weren’t even on a proper body of water. Getting queasy on a stupid canal. Ridiculous. She was determined to feel better by the time they got to their place; once there, she’d put the whole stupid thing behind them.

They still needed to unpack, but they were too tired. It was late anyway, so Anne allowed herself to be led to the bright white bedroom of their apartment. She even let Ann undress her, sighing happily as her wife’s tender hands slipped off her shorts, her shirt, her bra, her boxer-briefs. Soft kisses followed her every movement, setting Anne’s skin aflame as she stripped her bare; she was practically aching for her wife, for the gentle stroke of her hand and the tender reference of her tongue. Ann pressed a kiss to each thigh as she pulled off Anne’s short socks. Her movements were somehow silly and sensual, innocent and sexy, fast and infuriatingly slow. Then she was naked, sprawled on the bed, putty in Ann’s tiny hands.

“God, you’re beautiful,” Ann whispered reverently, kissing Anne chastely before scrambling to her feet, “and I think you were seasick.”

“What?” Anne laughed, propping herself on her elbows as her wife shook her curls free from their loose bun. “I was not!”

“You were.” Ann grinned and pulled her sundress over her head. “It’s okay.” She hooked her thumbs in the waistband of her panties. “You can tell me.”

“I wasn’t,” Anne answered firmly.

Her wife made a disappointed sound, and reached for her dress. Anne made a sputtered sound of protest.

“What?” Ann asked innocently. “Do you want me to take my clothes off ?”

“Yes,” she said, almost laughing. “What do you - of course I do.”

“Oh,” her wife seemed to be caught up in deep concentration, “but I don’t sleep with liars.”

“What!”

Anne’s jaw hung open, an incredulous smile stretched across her parted lips; impish, her wife hooked her thumbs in her panties once again. 

“Admit that you were seasick,” she whispered; her sultry voice sent a flood of arousal between Anne’s legs, “and I’ll take them off.”

“Adney.”

“That’s the deal.” Ann shrugged. “If not, I can put on my pajamas and leave you just like this.”

Anne groaned, her wife’s supple, pale body so close and yet not nearly close enough. The curve of her breasts, the nip of her waist, the faint wetness Anne could already see soaking her underwear. She bit her lip, eyes wide as she weighed the pros and cons. Of course, she’d say just about anything to get Ann naked right now. At the same time, there was no way she was going to admit she’d been seasick on a bloody gondola of all places.

“Adney,” she whined, “just come over here.”

“Nope. Not until you admit it.”

“Ann!” She could feel the pout on her face, but she didn’t even care. Here she was, naked and desperate, and Ann was playing with her. “Come on.”

“I’m not coming on anything” her wife teased, “until you’ve admitted it.”

Their eyes locked, and for a moment, Anne thought she could convince her. Ann’s blue eyes wavered, darting down to her lips, then to her hand, which Anne was stealthily trailing along her thigh and between her legs. Anne watched with smug satisfaction as her wife’s lips parted; if Ann wanted to play dirty, she would get dirty. 

“Adney,” she husked, dragging her middle finger between her folds and moaning softly, “come over here.”

Ann shook her head, the rest of her body seemingly frozen as Anne started to circle her own clit. It wasn’t as good as having Ann there, of course, but it seemed to be doing the trick. That is, Ann was gravitating closer, her lips parted and her eyes wide. 

“That’s right, baby. Come on. Don’t you want to be the one,” Anne stretched her free hand into the air, reaching for her wife, “doing this?”

“Pony,” Ann said softly, dropping her knees onto the foot of the bed, “you are so hot.” 

Slowly, Ann crawled toward her, wrapped her hands around Anne’s wrists, and pinned them above her head. Anne didn’t mind; she allowed it, knowing that she’d won this round. Her wife had given up her silly idea about seasickness, and that was all that mattered. Besides, Anne could get her out of those wet panties in no time. 

“Pony,” Ann said again, her lips ghosting over Anne’s. “You’re a terrible tease.”

“Am I?” Anne grinned.

“Oh, yes.” Their lips met in a desperate, heated kiss; Anne actually moaned at the loss of her wife as she pulled away. “But I’m a bigger one.”

“What?”

Somewhere in the kiss and the warmth of Ann’s hands and the tantalizing brush of her breasts against Anne’s, Anne had lost the plot entirely. All she could think about was Ann kissing her again. 

“I’m a bigger tease, darling,” Ann said simply, “so if you want any relief tonight, you’d better admit it.”

“What?” She could almost cry from how much she wanted Ann; why was she dragging this out? “What are you talking about?”

“Being seasick, Pony.” Ann’s eyes danced with mischief, sending fresh arousal between Anne’s legs; she was a goner, wasn’t she? “Admit it.”

“Adney.”

“Say it, Pony, and I’m all yours.”

“Adney,” she whined, craning her neck to try to find her wife’s lips; Ann pulled back just far enough to stay out of reach. “Please!”

“It’s so simple, my love. I’m not asking much.”

Anne sighed, closing her eyes and resigning herself to her fate. There was no use, was there? Why had she even bothered trying to resist?

“I was seasick,” she said softly. “I felt nauseous on that gondola, and I thought I was going to - to be sick. Okay? Are you happy?”

“Extremely,” Ann grinned.

Their lips met again, and Anne melted. Her pride - her carefully-guarded, incredibly important, larger-than-life pride - didn’t even matter. All that mattered was Ann’s lips on hers, their bodies pressing together, the heat roiling between her legs.

“Adney,” she sighed as her wife stretched upward; Anne reached up to unclasp her bra, licking her lips as Ann’s breasts slipping from the dainty lace. “You make me crazy. Do you know that?”

“You might’ve said,” Ann teased gently, dropping down to kiss her again, then her neck, her collarbones, her breasts. “My poor,” her lips pressed to Anne’s sternum, “seasick,” then her stomach, “Pony.”

Anne whined, grinning in spite of herself. Fearsome and harsh Dr. Anne Lister had been thoroughly transformed into Ann Walker’s seasick Pony. She didn’t even mind.

Ann’s silky hair tickled her legs as she kissed her hips, her thighs, her center. Moaning softly, Anne pressed her hips up and cupped the back of Ann’s head. More out of habit than anything, this motion. It wasn’t like Ann needed the least bit of guidance. Not any more. Besides, Anne could beg and plead and twist her hips, and Ann would still do exactly what she wanted. 

She always started with these soft, gentle strokes over Anne’s core. She liked to lift Anne’s left leg over her right shoulder and settle her right hand on Anne’s hip. Her tongue was torturous, slow, not nearly firm enough. Anne knew by now there was no use trying to hurry her.

“Please,” she sighed, tightening her grip around Ann’s hair. “Baby, I - oh, fuck.”

Ann had taken that moment to press her tongue firmly against Anne’s clit, sending a surge of pleasure up her spine and spilling from her lips with a sharp cry. Anne could feel her climax building faster now, as Ann worked her core with harder strokes. Anne didn’t even care that she was babbling; she couldn’t control the half-words and pleas and outright moans filling the room.

“Ann,” she chanted, her eyes closed and her head rolling helplessly on the pillow, “please. Ann. Ann. Please. Ann. Ann. Ann!”

With this last cry, Anne surrendered to her pleasure, her climax, her wife. Relief skated over her skin, flooded her senses, invaded her mind until there was nothing left but Ann, Ann, Ann.

“Oh, fuck,” she groaned, as she drifted slowly back to her body. “Good heavens, Adney.”

“Worth it?” Ann’s smiling face appeared above her.

“Bloody hell,” Anne laughed, pulling her down for a fierce kiss. “Yes. God, yes.”

Ann hummed softly, rolling her hips not-so-subtly against Anne’s thigh. Laughing again, Anne rolled them over, crashing their lips together and covering her wife’s breast with her hand. She watched the effect on Ann - the way her eyes half-closed, the soft sigh on her lips, the needy, upward press of her hips. Anne rolled her nipple gently between her fingers, drawing a low moan from her wife; she did it again, this time a little hard - a louder, throatier moan. She grinned and kissed Ann.

“Need me?” Anne whispered smugly in her ear; Ann nodded, keening softly. “Use your words, darling.”

“I need you,” Ann breathed, her hands grappling along Anne’s back. “Please, Pony.”

Never capable of teasing, Anne trailed her hand down to the apex of her wife’s creamy thighs. She turned her lips to Ann’s neck and her fingers to her clit; Ann was already so wet, her clit hard and prominent. Anne closed her eyes, focusing on the saltiness of Ann’s skin under her lips, the slickness of her core under her fingers. Ann’s hips met her gentle strokes, lifting up and urging her inside. She grinned at Ann’s soft gasp as she slipped past her folds. 

“Oh, Adney,” she husked, “you feel so good.”

Ann usually liked these sweet nothings, but tonight, she was desperate. Her hips urged Anne into a fast, deep rhythm; their skin slapped together as Anne pumped her hand over and over. Her thumb on Ann’s clit, Anne rutted into her harder and faster until she started to feel that telltale flutter.

“Yes!” Her wife cried. “Pony! Yes - fuck - I - yes! Yes! Po-”

With a raw cry, Ann arched her back, stretched taut, and shot over the edge into her climax. Anne grinned, stroking her gently until Ann’s eyes reopened. A slack smile played at her lips, and Anne’s heart - somehow, impossibly - grew to love her even more.

The next morning, Anne slipped out of bed before her wife. When she returned, Ann was still asleep. She woke her wife with soft kisses to the forehead and the tip of her nose. Those blue eyes opened, sleepy and warm. Anne kissed her lips gently and held out the black box she’d bought. Furrowing her brow, Ann sat up in bed, the sheet pooling around her waist and revealing her bare chest. Anne licked her lips, forcing herself to focus on the task at hand. Her wife eased open the small box.

“So, listen,” Anne said quickly, “I - uh - yesterday, I was seasick. Definitely. That’s - it’s not something I necessarily wanted to admit to, because - well, you know how I am.” Ann chuckled softly and nodded. “But you showed me - you always show me how important it is to be vulnerable. How freeing. How courageous it is to show weakness. I’ve never felt that way before, Adney, and - and I hope I make you feel the same way. Like you can be weak and vulnerable and honest. That you can do things you used to - to not do. You can be anything. You’re strong.” She kissed Ann’s knuckles. “Smart.” Again. “Brave.”

Ann reached up, cupping the back of Anne’s neck and kissing her sweetly. They parted, both pairs of eyes drifting down to the box in Ann’s hand: a small, gold gondola broach. 

Chapter Text

The top of this staircase - Anne had said the Scala Contarini, Ann thought - was breathtaking. It was almost worth the endless stairs they’d had to climb. Actually, as Ann started to catch her breath, she decided it was worth it. It was a hot, late-June day, and the sun had been punishing them for most of their exploration. Up here, above the crowd and in the shade, Ann started to cool off. There were a few other couples admiring the view, a loud and babbling family, a photographer with an expensive-looking camera. Anne wrapped her arm around Ann’s waist, and Ann leaned into her wife, sighing contentedly. 

“I think I like Venice more,” she told Anne softly. “Rome was nice, but this is better.”

It was true, as far as Ann was concerned. Venice seemed smaller, less crowded, brighter and sunnier. Perhaps it was a bit cooler here in the north, Ann thought; it had been so bloody hot in Rome, and there seemed to be cars all over the place. Somehow, Venice was quieter. More Ann’s speed. She leaned into her wife’s broad shoulder, inhaling deeply of the detergent still lingering on Anne’s shirt; they’d washed their clothes at their Venetian apartment yesterday, and Ann felt refreshed for having done so.

“Rome is the best,” Anne said firmly, squeezing her hip, “but I like Venice too.”

“The Listers prefer Venice,” she teased back, grinning up at her wife. “As the lady of the family, I’ve made an executive decision.”

You’re the lady of the family?” Anne laughed.

“Of course.” Ann fiddled with the front of her wife’s blue-checked shirt; she loved the breezy, summer clothes Anne wore on holiday. Grey shorts accentuated her long legs; her sturdy boots shifted restlessly as they admired the view of the city. “You didn’t think it would be you? A lady?”

“I’m a lady,” Anne said defensively, “a woman. A lady woman.”

“Of course you are, darling.” Ann stretched upward to peck her wife’s lips. “Still, I make the decisions, and I’ve decided.”

“I’m sure you have,” Anne laughed as they started their descent.

They meandered through the crowded streets toward St. Mark’s Square. Ann clung tightly to her wife’s hand, nearly breaking into a run a few times just to keep up. Did Anne always have to walk so bloody fast? Her legs were longer, sure, but did she have to use them like this? Ann was grateful she’d opted for shorts and trainers, rather than the dress and flats she’d initially chosen; touring and exploring with Anne was a sport in and of itself, and a contact sport at that. 

Piazza San Marco, ” Anne pronounced as they spilled into the open square; a shiver ran up Ann’s spine - the crowd, the architecture, her wife’s delicious accent. She clutched Anne’s hand a bit tighter. “What do you think?”

“Gorgeous,” Ann grinned, slowly taking in their surroundings. “I love it, Pony.”

They moved slowly through the crowd; again, Anne seemed to be clearing the way for her. She chattered and explained and pointed out places of interest. Ann listened, but she mostly let her wife’s voice swirl around her like music. A soft alto, underscored by Italian, French, a smattering of languages Ann didn’t even recognize. They moved toward the tall tower, the base of which was surrounded by tourists like them. Somehow, Anne maneuvered them past the crowd, and they found themselves in an elevator with a few other tourists. Ann wrapped her arm around her wife’s waist, slipping her hand into Anne’s back pocket. 

“This was originally a watchtower,” Anne said as they exited the elevator and took in the view below; she draped her arm along Ann’s shoulders. Ann so loved when her wife shifted into professor mode. “Built in the tenth century, but they added bells and spire later on. You can see it from the Adriatic; that’s how tall it is. Galileo demonstrated his telescope from here.”

“Pony,” Ann whispered. “You’re so smart.”

“What?”

“I love how much you know.” Ann tilted her chin, and their lips met quickly. “I have my own private tour guide.”

“Forever and ever, baby,” Anne teased. 

The view was magnificent, Ann thought. The red roofs, the tiny tourists below, the domes in the distance. She took a few photos to sketch later, then turned the camera on the two of them. Rolling her eyes playfully, Anne pressed her cheek to Ann’s. They looked a bit pink - perhaps they should reapply their sunscreen - but they also looked happy. Their smiles couldn’t have been wider, nor their faces closer together. Ann wondered if she’d be able to translate this into paint as well, or if she’d be too distracted by the warmth spreading in her chest. 

“What are you thinking?” Anne asked softly. 

“How cute we are,” she giggled in response. “How happy I am to be here with you.”

“I feel the same way.” Anne kissed the top of her head and checked her watch. “Now, we’d better go if we’re going to make our tour.”

Getting down and across the square was a whirlwind; as always, Ann barely kept up. Ordinarily, she might’ve been annoyed with her wife for tugging her along, but today she knew they were on a bit of a tight schedule. They screeched to a stop in front of St. Mark’s Basilica, Anne brandishing her skip-the-line tickets like a shield against the serpentine crowd. 

Inside, the Basilica was magnificent. Ann shifted to music mode again, letting the tour guide’s accented voice swirl around her like an Italian opera. The interior was ornate, gold, cavernous. Ann wasn’t sure if she liked it or not. It was beautiful, of that she was certain. The icons, the architecture, the dome - they were impeccable. All the same, it was a little dark for Ann’s taste. She studied the church critically, excited to discuss with her wife once they left.

Ann enjoyed studying her wife just as much as their surroundings. Anne was enraptured, apparently in such good spirits that she only corrected the guide twice. She winked at Ann every now and then, her grin making Ann feel warm all over. There was something special about watching Anne take the backseat for once, being a student rather than a teacher - albeit, a very opinionated student. This version of Anne was something special; it was like watching a lioness lazing around Pride Rock rather than on the perpetual hunt. 

“What did you think?” Anne asked as they stepped outside into the heat. “How do you feel? Hungry?”

“Could we get gelato?”

Anne grinned, and soon they were seated at a rickety iron table with tall, dripping cones. Ann’s core clenched as she watched her wife’s pink tongue dart out to swipe at a creamy tendril wrapping around her broad hand. Anne winked, not-so-accidentally nudging Ann’s calf with her foot. 

“And what are you thinking about?”

“I think you know,” Ann breathed. “You don’t play fair.”

“I meant about St. Mark’s , Adney. Dirty girl.”

Ann flushed, shaking her head. Her wife always did know how to get under her skin, didn’t she? She crossed her legs a bit tighter and started to explain her thoughts on the Basilica, what she’d liked and what hadn’t quite worked for her particular artistic tastes. Anne nodded with interest, working diligently on her gelato and offering only the shortest of comments. This was always a special moment, Ann thought, when Anne played student not for another expert, but for little Ann Walker. Ann beamed with pride.

“You’ve got a good eye,” Anne said appreciatively. “I think I agree with you on all of it.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I - well, the first time I went, I actually didn’t much like it at all. It comes off a bit gaudy, you know? Then the last time I went, I thought it was perfect. I did a complete 180 from my first impression. Today I felt a bit in the middle, and you’ve managed to put words to everything I was thinking.”

“Really?” Ann repeated, unable to believe Anne really felt the exact same way that she did. 

“Really,” her wife said firmly. “I wouldn’t tell you if I didn’t mean it. You’ve got an incredible eye, darling. I’m grateful that you share your expertise with me.”

Ann just blushed and shook her head, offering the last of her cone to Anne. 

“Where to next?” Ann asked as she watched that devilish tongue work. 

“The Doge’s Palace, I think. Unless you’d like to go home.”

“I’d like to go,” she said honestly. “What - uh, what is that?”

The short walk to the Palace allowed Anne to wax poetic about the Venetian Republic, the history of the area, the sociopolitical trends of the early and mid 20th century. Ann couldn’t say she followed all of it exactly, but she appreciated Anne taking the time to try. If she was honest, Ann would be more than happy to hear Anne explain any number of things so long as it meant Ann could curl up inside her soft, comforting voice. 

The palace was immense, golden and ornate in a similar way to St. Mark’s Basilica. Ann was grateful their guided tour was fairly short, simply out of necessity. There was no way she had the stamina to explore every room, every icon, every detail. The tapestries and ceilings and tiles alone overwhelmed her. In a good way, though. She felt a bit like Tiny at breakfast time - hungry and greedy and stuffing herself full. There was just so much to see.

“Too much?” Anne asked as they stepped back into the afternoon sun. 

“No, I don’t think so. I’m not sure I would want to live there, but…” Ann trailed off with a laugh.

“No, me neither,” Anne chuckled. “You’d feel rather silly walking around those rooms in your pants, wouldn’t you?”

Ann laughed and took her wife’s hand. This was a moment she’d look back on, wasn’t it? A moment of supreme, incomparable happiness. Strolling the streets of Venice with her wife. The warm summer air and the bustling tourists around them. Their sweaty hands clasped together, even though it would’ve been cooler to separate. Anne leaning down occasionally to whisper softly in her ear, comment on strangers’ clothes, make dirty jokes. Ann tried to remember as many sensations as she could - the sound of passers-by, the houses around them, the sidewalk below them, the faint smell of sweat and water and perfume. Perhaps this way, she thought, she could call up this exact moment the next time she felt down. Surely, with this memory, she would never know sadness again.

“Can we go in here?” Anne asked as they approached a brightly-colored bookstore. “Please?”

“Of course,” she answered easily, unsure why her wife seemed so excited.

Once she was inside, however, Ann understood. The Libraria Alta Aqua was unlike any bookstore she’d ever been in. First of all, they didn’t seem to have many shelves. Books were stored in bathtubs, barrels, sometimes just stacked on top of each other in huge leaning towers reminiscent of that other Italian town. Ann immediately lost her wife in the cramped shop; she knew better by now than to try to keep up with Anne Lister around books.

She perused, noticed the tourists clearly there just to take a picture and leave, even found a section on art that seemed promising. Before Anne, she hardly read books. It wasn’t that she didn’t like reading, but she lacked the concentration and the interest. With Anne? She was a proper bibliophile. Not as much as her wife, but still. Anne could make any book sound more interesting than a movie, a show, a website. She would give such impassioned reviews that Ann would practically beg to read her selections, and she was never disappointed. Ann pulled out a few slim volumes on Italian art and continued her exploration. 

Ann passed her wife, but she didn’t disturb her. Anne was sifting through books and tucking her selections under her arm. Even with her eyes narrowed in concentration, there was a faint smile playing at Anne’s lips. This was her happy place, Ann knew. Anne was never happier than when surrounded by books. Well, Ann reconsidered, she hoped there were a few times that Anne was happier. Their morning in bed came to mind. The way they’d made breakfast together, and the genuine smile on Anne’s face when the strode out into the day. 

Deeper in the store, she found a wide open door that led straight into the canal. Literally. She could have stepped right into the placid water. Venice was quickly becoming her favorite city outside of the UK. Really, how could anywhere compete with a sometimes-submerged bookstore? The Libreria was gorgeous and eclectic and inviting, but it was also death-defying. Rather than moving or fortifying themselves against the tide, they just lived with it. Protected their books with barrels and acceptance. If the water rose, the water rose. That was life, she supposed. What an incredible place. A warm hand slipped along the small of her back.

“Fancy a swim?” Her wife teased. Ann spun around, grinning, and pushed playfully against Anne’s chest. “Mad, isn’t it? To have a bookshop right on the water like that.”

“Yeah,” Ann breathed, her pulse racing from the proximity to her handsome wife; in Anne’s free arm, she held a half-dozen books, the muscles and veins standing at attention under her tanned skin. “Find anything you like?”

“Oh, yes.” Anne bent down to kiss her quickly but deeply; Ann was breathless when they parted. “We may need another suitcase.”

Ann laughed and twisted away. She noticed a stick figure painted on the wall of the entryway next to the canal; the figure seemed to be suspended above cartoon waves. Above the figure, block letters read “Fire Escape.”

“I love that place,” Ann gushed as she passed her purchases to her wife and they strode into the late afternoon. “That was - like, maybe that was my favorite spot all day.”

“Really?” Anne asked. “Better than St. Mark’s Basilica?”

“Yeah, maybe,” she giggled in reply. “It was cool!”

“Oh, I do love you, Adney. Of all the beauty in Venice, your favorite is a bookstore.”

“It was pretty! I love that they just don’t even care that water comes right in. Like, that’s so punk rock.”

“Yes it is,” Anne laughed, wrapping her arm around Ann’s waist. “Come hell or high water, eh?”

Ann grinned and nodded up at her wife. They were nearly to the apartment, and Ann had one thing on her mind. She hoped Anne felt the same way.

“What do you want to do tonight, Pony?”

“Well,” Anne trailed her hand up Ann’s back; before Ann could react, she’d twisted open the clasp of Ann’s bra. Ann sputtered a laugh, hunching forward at the strange sensation. “I had a few ideas.”

Chapter Text

That bra trick is a favorite of mine. I don’t use it nearly enough on Adney, I muse as we stumble into the apartment. It’s a shame I don’t tease her more, actually. She’s so cute like this.

Her eyes are dancing with mischief, her lips curved in an excited smile. Her shirt is misshapen with the loose bra around her shoulders, and I long to rip it in two. Something about today, about Venice, about her - I’m feeling kind of wild. 

“That’s not fair, Pony,” she laughs as I set down our bags and turn on her. 

“You didn’t like it?” I purr, closing the distance between us and folding her in my arms. “I can stop.”

My darling wife just shakes her head and lifts her chin - how I love when she does this - so I kiss her softly, then harder and more urgently. Her hands slip up my shoulders and free my hair from its tie; Adney’s gentle hands tilt my head to deepen the kiss. I walk her slowly back to the wall next to the front door. 

Kissing Adney is one of my supreme pleasures. I’ve kissed a lot of women in my past, but none of them can hold a candle to my wife. She’s determined and sweet and so, so hungry. Adney’s always pouncing on me, kissing my face a dozen times when I get home from work or come in from outside. It’s like she can’t get enough. I know I certainly can’t.

“Pony,” she breathes as I turn my attention to her neck; my hands slide down her hips and curl around her ass. “Fuck.”

I hum softly against her skin, slipping my left hand to the button of her shorts. God, I can’t even wait. I think I’ll take her right here against the wall. There’s plenty of time to get to bed. Or perhaps the couch. That counter is close enough. I flick open her shorts and thrust my hand inside, inhaling sharply at the wetness already soaking her panties. 

“Need me, Adney?” I whisper in her ear, tracing gentle circles over her core through the flimsy fabric. “Already?”

“Yes,” she whines, and her hips start to press upward into my hand. “Please, Pony.”

No use in making her wait, is there? We’ve got plenty of time. I trail my hand up to her belly, tickle her ribs, then trace down below the elastic of her pants. She gasps at the first pass of my fingertips to her clit; I resume my trail of wet kiss along her neck and the underside of her jaw. Adney digs her hands into my back, pulling me closer as she pants in my ear. Oh, how I adore this moment specifically - the build, the molding of our bodies, the growing tension until - 

“Pony,” she gasps as I slid inside her. “Oh, fuck.”

“You’re so wet,” I purr, finding that exquisite, spongy spot with ease; I stroke and curl and thrust, my hand working evenly and deeply until I can add my middle finger. “You feel so fucking good.”

Adney can only whimper, one of these high-pitched sounds she makes when she’s close. Already? I marvel. I really have the most perfect spouse. I hold her tighter, feeling her legs begin to tremble as she races towards her climax. With just a few deft strokes, I shed her over the edge, keeping her upright as she trembles and mumbles in my arms. 

Is there anything more beautiful than a woman when she comes? I am inclined to think there definitely is not. There is certainly nothing sweeter than the clenching of my wife’s core and the pure ecstasy sweeping through her body and covering her pretty face. If there’s a better sight in this world, I haven’t seen it. 

“Oh, Pony,” Adney groans, going slack and leaning against the wall. “I’ve been wet for you - God, it feels like all day.”

“Is that right?” I ask with a crooked grin, catching her lips briefly before pulling her gently into the bedroom. This apartment is so white, so bright and airy. I can’t wait to defile it. “You should’ve said. We could’ve come back earlier.”

“I didn’t want to leave,” she shrugged, toying with the buttons on the front of my shirt. “The anticipation is half the fun.”

I just grin and let her unbutton my shirt. Having her close, her perfume in my nose and her fingers so close to my skin, is aphrodisiac enough. Adding to that, of course, the way she keeps looking at me and biting her lip; I can practically hear the filthy thoughts racing through her mind. She sits me down on the bed, leaving my shirt open around my shoulders and dropping to her knees between my legs. She kisses the plane of my stomach, then slips open my shorts. 

“You’re so hot,” she whispers as I lift my hips so that she can slide my shorts off. “God, I’m just - I’m aching for you.”

“Really?” I breathe, tangling my hand in her wild curls as she tugs my boxer-briefs down my legs. “Me too.”

“Oh, good,” she kisses a path from my knee to my core. “I’d hate for this to be one-sided.”

Adney tortures me a bit more, teasing the overheated skin along the inside of my thighs until I’m whimpering with desire. I can feel my clit pulsing, begging for her lips, her tongue, even the warm breeze of her breath. Anything for a little bit of relief. 

“Baby,” I beg, leaning back against the cool sheets and lifting my hips into the air. “Come on.”

“You used to seduce me,” she said wistfully, her hands roaming my hips and belly. “Now it’s just,” she makes her voice low, in a rude approximation of my own, “‘Come on.’”

“Adney,” I whine. “Please.”

I can practically hear her grin and think what an incredible transformation from the shy woman I used to know; then I lose the ability to think at all, as her delicate little tongue traces the contours of my center. All I can do is groan into the ceiling and hold onto the back of her head. She takes me apart slowly, lapping gently and teasing playfully. Every time I think she’s about to give in, she pulls back. Her touch becomes air-light again, and I’m left whining and moaning and writhing. As usual, I am overwhelmed by how fucking good she is at this.

“Yes!” I cry as she finally takes my clit between her lips. “Fuck, baby, yes - I - yes, baby, please - right there - it’s - yes - yes -”

I’m babbling, but I don’t even care. She’s so good at this. Tender and fierce and setting me on fire. I’m burning, my muscles are tensing, and I can’t seem to get my breath. I’ve never felt so good. 

Adney’s small hands tighten around my hips, and I feel myself teetering at the edge. Wrapping my free hand around one of hers, I surrender to my release, shaking as wave after wave of pleasure shoots from my core, up my spine, to the crown of my head and the tips of my curling toes. I’m still gasping for air when she kisses my belly and pulls away. Adney crawls into bed next to me, and I reach for her. 

“Hi, Pony,” she says happily, sliding an arm and a leg over my sweaty body. 

“Hi,” I chuckle, running a hand up her forearm absentmindedly. “You’re a magician, you are. 

“Am I?” She kisses my jaw playfully. “Have I broken you?”

“Possibly.”

“Pony!” 

“No, no,” I laugh with her. “No, I’ll be alright.”

“Good. You said - uh, earlier, you - you said you had a few ideas.”

I hum in agreement, my eyes still closed. I certainly did have a few ideas.

“What - uh, what kind of ideas?”

“Oh, what to have for dinner, you know. A movie we could watch.”

Adney smacks my stomach playfully, and I laugh. She’s rather feisty, isn’t she? My wife, I think fondly as I roll onto my side to face her; my wife is very feisty indeed. 

“Well, my love,” I say as I slip my hand under her t-shirt to lay my palm against her warm stomach, “I was thinking we could get into something properly dirty.”

“Oh yeah?”

Her face lights up; she’s perfect like this - excited and aroused and ready for anything. I slip my hand a bit higher, finding her breast under that loose bra. Why hasn’t she taken that off yet?

“Perhaps I could bend you over,” I husk, rolling her breast in my hand. “Or you could sit in my lap.” She nodded, her eyes wide and her chest already heaving. “Would you like that, baby?”

“Yes, Daddy,” she whispers.

Just like that, I’m wet again. How does she do it? The “Daddy” thing never made much sense to me in the past. Not that I had anything against it, I just hadn't considered it, had never experienced it, had never thought it would affect me like this. Something about it - I can’t really explain it. Either way, my heart is racing. 

I kiss her fiercely for just a moment, then I tumble out of bed, nearly tripping over my discarded shorts. I manage to find the strap and fit it around my hips without spontaneously combusting. When I turn around to find my wife naked and spread out on the bed, I actually start to feel flames consuming my skin. Those pale, creamy legs, that soft belly and those perky breasts, the flush rising along her chest to her beautiful face surrounded by that golden halo of curls. Sometimes I can’t believe she’s mine.

“Are you coming, Daddy?” Adney asks, her hands already trailing up her own chest to cup her breasts. “Do I have to get started without you?”

A sputtered sound of protest escapes my lips, and I’m in that bed in a flash. There’s no way I’d miss even a nanosecond of whatever filthy thing Adney has in mind right now. She indicates the headboard, and I settle myself against it, my cock standing proudly between my legs. My wife straddles my lap, her hands settling naturally on my shoulders. I reach for the bottle of lubricant, but she catches me.

With lidded eyes and white teeth flashing against her bottom lip, she slips her hand between her own legs, moans softly, then holds her wet fingers out to me. My jaw is already hanging open, and she presses gently into my mouth. I close my lips around her fingers automatically, moaning at the taste of her and running my tongue along the seam of her index and middle fingers. Adney pulls her hand away, and I get the message. She’s wet enough already. 

“You’re so hot,” I breathe, gathering her arousal on my own hand and coating the strap with it. “Seriously, Adney, how did you - fuck.” 

She moans and grins widely for a moment before crashing our lips together; her hands tangle in my hair, and her breasts press against mine. Leaning forward, Adney kisses the side of my jaw then catches my earlobe between her teeth.

“Fuck me, Daddy.”

Briefly, I wonder if I can come from words alone. 

I nod, eyes wide and heart racing; my hands find her hips, and I guide her as she hovers over my cock. 

Time stands still for a moment - that blissful second between anticipation and relief. Adney is so, so intensely beautiful - those blonde curls and that pale skin; vaguely, I’m aware she has a bit of a sunburn on her arms and cheeks. She looks pinker than usual, and my heart floods with affection for my delicate little wife. 

Then she’s sinking down, taking every inch of me with a low, guttural moan. I can’t believe how good she looks, how incredible she feels. As she sits down fully, Adney kisses me again; her lips are sloppy, desperation dancing on the tip of her tongue as it slides against mine. I dig my fingers into her hips, starting a gentle, rolling rhythm. 

That black silicone base was crafted by God Himself, of that much I’m sure. There’s no way to properly describe the feeling against my clit, the electricity shooting through my veins, the unbridled passion roaring in my body as my wife rides my cock. My mouth gravitates to her neck, my hands to her breasts, her back, her ass. I can’t get enough of her. She’s gasping and moaning - those loud, high-pitched cries that I love. Her forearms dig into my shoulders, her breath is hot against my neck, and I only wish we could be closer. 

“Daddy,” she cries as I start to buck into her a little harder. “Touch me - fuck - I - please, Daddy - I-”

Benevolently, I don’t even tease her. Not when she’s like this. Her chest is red, her hips are desperate, her breasts bounce with every thrust. I wrap my hands more firmly around her waist, driving into her harder and faster. Adney is a goddess like this - well, she always is, but that’s not the point. She’s incredible, wanton, totally free. I find her clit, strumming quickly in the way that I know will send her into oblivion. 

“Say it again,” I growl into her neck, my own release just inches from my grasp.

“Daddy!” It’s a proper scream now, and I can feel it reverberate directly against my clit. “Yes - Daddy - fuck - I - yes - harder.”

Her thighs start to tremble, and I grin into her slick neck. My tongue darts out to taste the sweat on her skin. She’s so wet that my fingers slip over her clit clumsily, but I don’t even care. Adney clutches me tighter, grinds harder, screams louder. With a final, deafening cry, she shoots over the edge, sending shockwaves to my clit as she clenches and trembles in my arms. 

“Yes - Daddy - yes - yes - Pony - I - Anne,” she mumbles incoherently as I slow my thrusts and stroke her back. “Oh, fuck.”

“Uh-huh,” I say indulgently, kissing her neck softly. “You’re so beautiful, darling.”

She is, of course. My Adney is beautiful all the time. I want to say that she’s extra beautiful now, but I honestly can’t rank her beauty. Desire still courses through my veins, but I shuffle it aside. If I play this just right, I can coax Adney to another climax in time with my own. She’s already rousing, kissing my neck and my jaw as her breathing slows. 

“I love you, Anne,” Adney says seriously, and I can’t stand how much I love her. It almost scares me, the depth of my feelings. Fighting back tears, I kiss her fiercely and hold her close. She moans softly and cups my face, swiping away the traitorous tears slipping from my eyes. Adney pulls away with a gentle smile. “Anne Lister. I love you so fucking much.”

Offering a low growl rather than an answer, I wrap my arms around her slick back and press forward. She giggles as I press her into the sheets; her legs lock naturally behind my back, and I know she’s ready for another. Our lips meet again, our tongues tangling and her hands roaming my back. I thrust shallowly at first, starting our rhythm gently and slowly. 

“Pony,” she breathed, lifting her hips into mine. “You feel so good.”

Humming in agreement, I pick up the pace. The sharp edge of my desire hasn’t been sated, not even close. I need to possess her, to feel her, to take her wild and desperate and screaming. Of all the Adneys I love, this is one of my favorites - grinning and moaning and wanting. She’s perfect - there’s no other way to say it. No use beating around the bush. There’s not a single flaw, and I have no choice but to fuck her deeply and properly. 

“Pony,” she moans as I twist my hips in search of that perfect spot. “Oh! Fuck, Pony, just there.”

I grin and kiss her again, driving into her with force. She cries out again, wrapping herself more tightly around me as I start to pound into her. My muscles burn, but there’s no way I can stop. My entire body is on fire; the friction against my clit is exquisite. My legs start to tremble, and my hips jerks. I’m right there on the edge, but I want Adney to come with me. Gritting my teeth, I snake my hand between us to find her clit. She cries out, and I renew my punishing rhythm. I’m like a woman possessed - I have no thoughts in my head but that of splitting my wife in two, of filling her until she screams, of rutting into her over and over. With just a few strokes, I send us into those warm waters of pleasure. 

“Good God,” I groan, collapsing onto her as the trembles start to subside. “Oh, Adney,” I kiss her neck, “I love you.”

“Pony,” she rasps. “You’re merciless.”

“Am I?” Propping myself on my hands, I stare down at her flushed, satisfied face; I steal one last kiss before I pull away. “You didn’t seem to have any complaints.”

Falling back into the pillows, I pant at the ceiling and count my good fortune. To be in Italy is its own sort of paradise. To be in Italy with the woman that I love - that is blessing enough. To have incredible, earth-shattering sex with the woman that I love in Italy? It almost seems impossible. Adney starts to pull the harness from my hips, and I let her. This is one of my favorite parts of our lovemaking - the aftermath. She kisses me softly and pads into the bathroom to clean and store the strap. 

“You’ll be the death of me,” I call. 

“Me?” She giggles. “I’m not sure I’ll be able to walk straight tomorrow.”

“Really?” I ask seriously, wrapping my arm around her waist as she tries to pass the bed. “Are you alright?”

Her health is of ultimate importance to me, and I know that sometimes I go a bit too far. She tumbles into bed next to me, and I search her face for any signs of distress. A small hand reaches out to tuck an errant strand of hair behind my ear.

“I’m fine, Pony. I’m better than fine.” Adney catches my lips in a soft kiss. “You make me feel so amazing, darling. Safe and protected and hot and sexy and - and everything in between. I love you, Anne.”

In response, I can only kiss her. Hard and deep. An attempt to pour out my emotions in deed rather than word. She’s everything, my Adney, and I can’t thank the Good Lord enough for bringing her to me. 

Chapter Text

Characteristically, Anne wasn’t much for the beach. Ann could understand that. It was actually very much like her wife, Ann thought, to have body issues about swimsuits. Ann didn’t mind, but she wished she could take the fear and insecurity from her wife’s shoulders. Feigning confidence, Anne had put on her tight top and tiny shorts this morning as if nothing were the matter; once she’d slipped her brightly patterned shirt over her head, Anne started to stand up straight. That bravado was back, now that her armor was in place. Underneath it, Ann could see her discomfort all the same. Her eyes scanned the beach as they arrived, no doubt watching out for any potential discomfort or homophobic altercations. Her back was perfectly straight as she carried their chairs to a secluded spot on the sand.

It was a perfect day for this, in Ann’s opinion. Sunny and warm, but not too hot. Ann surveyed their fellow beachgoers: a few families, a half-dozen couples, one bearded man with a metal detector - at least it wasn’t too crowded. This beach was just a short jaunt from Venice, and Ann was excited to sunbathe at an actual, proper beach. She wasn’t much interested in the water, and she knew Anne wasn’t either. Mostly, they’d planned on sitting in the sun, reading and dozing and chatting. 

“How’s this?” Anne dropped their chairs and pushed her sunglasses into her hair. 

“Perfect,” Ann answered, rifling through their tote bag for the sun block. 

They set up camp in silence; Ann enjoyed the sound of the waves, the nearby children, the birds overhead. Her wife drove their large umbrella into the sand, securing it with military precision; her face was so serious as she worked that Ann had to bite her lip to keep from laughing. Poor Pony, she thought, always so serious about these things. Ann slipped off her cover-up and coated every inch of her body in sunscreen. If she was lucky, she would get just a hint of color on her pale skin. If she got lazy or fell asleep, she’d be roasted. 

“Let me,” Anne offered, taking the bottle from Ann’s hand. She gently massaged the cream into her shoulders and back, all along the lines of her skimpy pink bikini. Soft lips pressed to Ann’s shoulder, just for a moment. Then her wife groaned. “Oh, gross. Ew. That stuff tastes terrible.”

“What did you expect?” Ann laughed and dropped into her chair. “Do your legs, Pony. Your arms.”

Anne hummed, but she followed directions. Soon enough, she was sitting next to Ann and digging through their bag for her book. Ann reached for her hand, kissed the back of it, cemented this moment in her mind. On a beach in Italy with the woman she loved - was there anything better?

The first hour passed without much excitement. Ann watched the waves, flicked through her book, studied her wife’s handsome jawline. She considered sketching, but she didn’t want to bother with it. Just as she stood to reapply her sunblock, a frisbie landed at her feet.

“Oi!” A young man called as Ann looked up. “Send it back!”

Smiling, Ann picked up the disc and tossed it back - wildly off-course. She could hear her wife laughing behind her as the young man raced to catch it. 

“What?” Ann giggled as she sat back down.

“Remind me never to ask you to throw anything.”

“Maybe that’s where I wanted it to go,” she teased.

“Sure, baby.” 

Anne took her hand and kissed her knuckles quickly. Then she sank down to the sand at their feet and, to her wife’s astonishment, pulled out a series of plastic pails and shovels.

“Pony?”

“Adney,” her wife answered without looking up.

“What - uh - what are you doing?”

“Architecture,” Anne said loftily, drawing a series of giggles from her wife. “I thought I could try out some sand castle techniques and bring them back to Sackville.”

“So you, Anne Lister,” Ann laughed, “are going to spend your day at the beach on your honeymoon building a sandcastle so you can talk to a little boy about it?”

“Is there something wrong with that?” Anne teased, flicking sand at Ann’s calf. 

“I guess not.”

With a rakish grin, Anne winked and turned back to her work. What a fascinating person, Ann thought as she watched her. Her skin was tanning quickly, and beads of sweat formed around her hairline. Anne’s sunglasses slipped down her long nose a few times, and she smeared sand around her face as she pushed them up. Ann watched the tendons in her strong arms, the veins along her hands, the curve of her strong thighs. 

Anne’s castle was ambitious and ostentatious. It had spires and a moat and several outbuildings. Ann held back her laughter as her serious wife took a series of progress photos from various vantage points. She stopped laughing, however, when Anne held out a plastic bucket to her. 

“What?”

“Can you fill this up with water?” Anne asked, her eyes still assessing her structure.

“Pony!” She laughed. “You go get the water.”

“Adney,” she whined, “I’m working. You go.”

“Pony. It’s your bloody sandcastle.”

Scoffing, Anne turned on her heel and trotted down to the water. All annoyance melted from Ann’s heart as she watched her wife return. How insanely hot could one person be? Her long legs glistened from her short trek into the water; her hair blew back with the wind. Her fingers - those incredible fingers - curled around the handle of the ridiculous, child-sized pail. Ann grinned as she returned and plopped on the sand at her feet. 

“Pleased with yourself?” She prodded Anne gently in the back with her foot. 

“Yes. Even though my wife won’t even help me with my passions.”

“Passions?” Ann cackled. “Now sandcastles are your passion?”

“One of many,” Anne teased, nudging Ann’s calf with her elbow. “It’s not all books and shagging.”

“More’s the pity.” 

Ann stretched her legs in front of her, behind her wife’s back, and closed her eyes. She must’ve fallen asleep, because the sun was significantly higher in the sky when Anne prodded her leg with the sunscreen bottle. Ann stood, stretched, and reapplied. It was hot out, sure, but she felt an added warmth from her wife’s lascivious gaze. Licking her lips, Ann looked down at her and wondered how quickly they could find a secluded spot. 

Eyes burning, Anne wrapped a hand around her ankle and trailed gently up her calf. Ann looked down at her, just about to suggest they leave when Anne abruptly pulled her hand away. Her eyebrows lifted, and she tilted her head to the left; Ann looked over her shoulder to find a little girl, maybe five years old, standing bashfully near their set-up. A woman about Ann’s age hovered behind her, a hesitant look on her face. Ann turned to her with a bright smile.

“Hello.”

“My daughter wondered,” the woman said in an American accent, “if, uh, if we could join you.”

“Um-” Ann turned to her wife, bewildered by the strangers, despite their shy smiles. 

“For the sandcastle,” the woman said quickly. “Louise has been watching you very closely.”

“Have you?” Anne cut in, smiling broadly at the little girl then looking up at her mother. “What do you think, darling?” She asked pointedly, clearly trying to feel out this woman’s intentions; Anne was always so sensitive that they would be perceived as friends or sisters. “Do you mind?”

“No,” Ann said honestly. “Have a seat.”

“Jen,” the mother sat down and held her hand out to Ann, who gratefully shook it. “Thank you. We’ve been here all week. She’s so into castles lately.”

“Mine too,” Ann joked, earning her a playful smack from her wife. 

Jen and Louise were actually very pleasant, and Ann enjoyed watching her wife speak so seriously about such a silly topic. In the end, their castle was pretty spectacular, she had to admit. More so, she was impressed with Anne’s care with Louise. She was patient and serious and thoughtful; Anne even let Louise dictate portions of construction. Not for the first time, Ann wondered about children. On the one hand, she wouldn’t mind a sweet little girl like Louise, and on the other, she was grateful when Jen took her daughter away. 

“What now?” Anne turned to her.

“Let’s go for a swim.”

“No,” Anne said simply, carefully stowing her tools in their bag. 

“Why not?”

“Don’t want to.”

“Pony.”

“Adney.”

“Let’s go for a swim.” Ann leaned down and slid her hand along her wife’s shoulders; she dropped her voice, “no one can see what we’re doing underwater.”

“Um, let’s not,” her wife answered in a tight voice.

“Pony. Why not?”

“I don’t -” Anne sighed, shook her head, and looked up at her wife. “I don’t want to - uh, to take my shirt off.”

“Anne,” her wife sighed. “You can - you can take your shirt off. You’ve got on a top under there, haven’t you?”

“Well, yes, but-” Anne shook her head again. “I don’t - I just don’t want to.”

Ann nodded, turning her eyes to the beach. She could understand why Anne was uncomfortable showing her body like this. Anything with baring the top half of her body made Anne a bit squeamish, particularly around strangers; she made no bones about working in her sports bra and shorts around the estate, but that was her kingdom. At the same time, Ann longed to slip into the sea with her wife. Her eyes landed on a cozy little inlet. 

“There,” Ann nodded. “Let’s go over there.”

“What?” 

Without responding, Ann stood and started moving toward the curve of beach hidden from view. Behind her, Anne squawked and gathered their belongings. Ann grinned as her wife scrambled to catch up. The inlet was perfect - shaded and secluded. No one in sight. Ann hopped the short wall of rocks and waited for her wife. Anne was huffing and puffing, a chair under each arm, the bag in one hand, the umbrella slung over her shoulder. 

“Adney!” She dropped everything and gawked at her wife. “What the hell? We can’t be back here.”

“Did anyone see us?”

“I don’t bloody know!”

“I think we’re okay.” Ann reached behind her back and untied her bikini top. “Besides, I’m already thinking of something else.”

“Adney,” her wife breathed, her eyes wide. 

“Shall we?” Ann pushed her bottoms to the sand.

Grinning and shivering with anticipation, Ann raced into the water. It was cool and clear and placid. She waded out until the water reached her ribs, then bent her legs so that her breasts were submerged; she turned around to watch her indecisive wife on the sand. Poor Pony, she thought sympathetically. Would Anne really choose insecurity over skinny dipping? Ann certainly hoped not. 

Moments like these baffled her, in a way. On the surface, Ann should not be the one who went out into the water totally naked. She wasn’t bold, was she? Everyone said she was so shy. Something about Anne made her like this - daring and carefree and wild. They urged each other on this way - when Ann was timid, Anne gave her courage. When Anne wanted to hide, Ann drew her out into the open. 

And it worked like a charm, Ann thought proudly as she watched her wife tug her shirt over her head. Anne had on what looked like a sports bra, but it was made of the same material as her little swim trunks. A wave of arousal flooded Ann’s core as she watched her wife slip out of the top first, then the bottoms. Naked, tanned, vulnerable, Anne waded slowly into the water. She was like Venus returning to the sea - incredible and sensual and ethereal. 

“Adney,” she growled, finding Ann’s waist under the water. “What are we going to do if someone comes round here?”

“Run, I guess.”

Anne laughed and kissed her. Their bodies molded together under the water; Ann wrapped her legs around her wife’s narrow waist and her arms around her shoulders. There was something intensely erotic about the whole situation - their naked bodies, the cool water, the warm sun above them. Anne’s lips were hungry, her hands already wandering along Ann’s back, her belly, her breasts. 

“Pony,” she shivered as Anne cupped her breasts; they separated a bit, the water buoying them as Anne caressed her. “God, I want you so much.”

“Shall I have you?” Anne purred, slipping one hand to the apex of her wife’s thighs. “Right here in the water?”

“Yes,” she gasped as Anne’s nimble fingers found her clit.

Anne grinned, pulling her back close and kissing her soundly. Ann’s head swam with happiness and desire and disbelief. Anne’s hands ran across her body like a finely tuned instrument; she knew exactly what Ann needed and where and when. She seemed to be everywhere - on Ann’s breasts, around her hips, along the curve of her spine. Long fingers teased her entrance; Ann tilted her hips, urging her inside. 

“Adney,” her wife breathed as she slid past Ann’s folds. “Oh, fuck you feel so good.”

Ann whined, biting her lip and catching Anne’s gentle, deep rhythm. How did she do it? Drive Ann wild with the curve of her hand? Send her mind reeling with the press of her lips? It was magic, plain and simple. Anne Lister was a magician, a goddess, a mythical creature. There was no bloody way she was human.

“More,” Ann whispered, moaning as her wife stretched her with a second finger. “Oh, fuck, Pony, yes.”

Anne kissed her neck, picking up the pace of her thrusts and holding her closer. Fire lapped between Ann’s legs, stoked with every careful, deep stroke of her wife’s thumb against her clit, her fingertips buried in her core. Her eyes closed, her head tilted back, Ann gasped for breath. They were out in the open, sure, but the water protected them. This delicious split between privacy and exposure only made her hotter, and she felt her release building higher than the cliff that separated them from prying eyes. 

“Pony,” she whined, bucking her hips harder. “Please.”

“You’re so close,” Anne purred in her ear. “Aren’t you?” Ann keened in response. “I can’t believe how hot you are. How much I fucking want you. How badly I want to fuck you into oblivion right now.”

A strangled cry erupted from Ann’s throat; her wife tugged her head upright sharply, catching the tail end in her mouth. Their lips met sloppily, the water sloshing around them as they moved together desperately. It was clumsy, but it was enough. Ann curled forward, shuddering in her wife’s arms as her climax finally overwhelmed her. Anne’s lips pressed to her neck and the side of her face; a strong hand supported her back and traced along her spine. 

“Pony,” she breathed into her wife’s neck, “good heavens.”

“Good heavens,” Anne chuckled as she straightened; their lips met slowly, languidly. “You’re so gorgeous I can’t handle it.”

“Am I?” Ann grinned and trailed her hand to her wife’s breast. “Need me, baby?”

“You know I do,” Anne husked, her eyes half-closing as Ann teased her hardened nipple. 

“Fucking you,” Ann whispered in her ear, letting the water hold her upright as she moved her free hand down to her wife’s center, “in the water like this? Fuck, Pony,” she circled her clit lightly, “it’s like my dreams are a reality.”

“Yeah,” Anne managed. 

“Better than my dreams,” she whispered into Anne’s neck before pressing a line a gentle kisses along her salty shoulder. “Even in my dreams,” she pressed her clit a bit harder, “you never felt this good.”

Anne moaned softly, and Ann strummed her clit in earnest. She wrapped an arm around her wife’s broad back, shifting them until she could straddle Anne’s strong leg. They’d made love in the bath, but floating like this presented its own problems. Ann found her wife’s clit a bit hard to press against adequately; her cheeks started to burn as she felt the moment slip away. What if she wasn’t good enough? She wanted to fulfill Anne’s fantasies too.

“Right here, baby,” Anne said gently, her eyes still closed and her hand adjusting Ann’s slightly. “Just like that.”

Ann swallowed and focused on moving her fingers just like that. She was rewarded by a deep, throaty moan. A wide smile spread across her face, and she moved faster. Giving Anne pleasure was a special privilege; no matter how many times they did it, the excitement never wore off. Particularly like this: out in the open, skin to skin, under the bright Italian sky. 

“How’s that, Pony?” Ann asked in a low voice she knew drove her wife wild.

Anne grunted, nodding frantically, her hands digging into Ann’s skin.

“D’you like that, baby?”

Another grunt, Anne’s hips bucking wildly.

“You’re so close, aren’t you?” Ann pressed her lips to her wife’s neck. “Come for me, Pony. Come for me.”

With a sharp exhale, Anne seized in her arms, her body trembling as Ann stroked her gently through her release. After a few long moments, Anne caught her lips in a tender, languid kiss. They made their way slowly back to shore.

“Oh, Adney,” Anne laughed as they scampered back to their towels. “You are a wild woman.”

“Am I?” Ann giggled, wrapping her towel around her wet body.

“Uh-huh,” her wife grinned, leaning in to steal a kiss. “Now I have just one question, my love.”

“What is it?”

“How in the world are we going to top that?”

Chapter Text

The tops of Anne’s thighs ached. Her calves too. All along her forearms and in bright bands around her biceps. She cursed herself and twisted uncomfortably in bed. Perhaps she could turn on her side, and - nope. Not that. Her skin was too tender. She groaned at the ceiling.

Why hadn’t she listened to Ann? She cursed herself. After that romp in the water, they’d laid in the sand for nearly an hour. Ann had reapplied her sunblock, but Anne didn’t think she needed to. Famous last words, she thought ruefully. 

When she woke up this morning, she was in agony. Even just lying on her side was painful, and she’d had to flop onto her back like a starfish. Ann was very sweet when Anne rebuffed her attempts at some morning lovemaking; she’d just smiled and drifted into the bathroom, then the kitchen. Anne refused to admit she was sunburned, even if it meant she spent all day flat on her back. She wasn’t sure if she’d be able to walk

“Pony?” Ann said softly, emerging from the kitchen with a tray. “How are you?”

“Fine,” she answered through gritted teeth, trying to sit up in bed. The skin on her thighs tightened painfully, but she managed it. “How - uh - how are you?”

“I’m fine.” Ann sat on the bed at Anne’s feet, propping the tray carefully between them. “You look like a lobster, my love.”

“What! No, I don’t.”

“You do.”

“No. I don’t.”

“Oh, really? Okay, fine.” Ann held out a piece of toast. “Can you eat?”

“Of course,” Anne said tersely, biting back a moan as she stretched her arm forward. “I’m fine.”

“Sure you are, darling.”

They ate in silence. Anne tried to ignore the teasing glint in her wife’s eyes, the burn in her arms as she tried to pick up the fruit and toast Ann had prepared, and the tightness along the back of her neck. Had she slept wrong? What was wrong with her? Why was she so stiff?

“Since you’re fine,” Ann drawled, “how about we fool around?”

Her hand traced gently up Anne’s calf, but Anne jerked away, which only made her leg hurt more. How did her skin get so tight? She could feel the heat radiating from her body as Ann crawled forward between her legs. 

“You’re not in any pain?”

“No,” Anne said firmly.

“Then kiss me,” Ann breathed, “hold me in your arms and ravish me.”

Anne tried to lift her arms, but those tight bands only squeezed tighter. She sighed and shook her head. 

“Not right now, darling.”

“Why not?” Ann didn’t look upset, but her voice was restrained, careful. “Give me a reason, Pony, why you won’t touch me on our honeymoon.”

Anne bit her lip. The reality of her situation lingered in the back of her mind, but she was not about to admit it. She might have gotten a slight sunburn, but she didn’t want to admit to feeling poorly. Being sick was simply not something that Anne Lister did. Not on her honeymoon, not ever. If Ann wouldn’t call her out on it, they could dance around this all day. 

“I have my period.”

“Liar.” Ann squeezed her thigh playfully, drawing a gasp from her wife. “If you’re fine, I guess you won’t mind to wash the dishes. Since I made breakfast.”

“Of course.”

It only took her ten minutes to get out of bed. Swinging her legs over the side had to be done in increments, in slow, painful jerks rather than the sweeping motion that usually brought Anne to her feet. Speaking of which, even the tops of her feet seemed to radiate heat, the skin somehow wrapped more tightly around her bones. Clenching her jaw, she shuffled slowly and painfully to the kitchen. That bit only took fifteen minutes. 

Their Venetian apartment was very nice, but they didn’t have a dishwasher. There were only a handful of plates and cups and silverware languishing in the sink this morning, detritus from the past few days. She could handle this, Anne told herself sternly. This was no problem.

The act of raising her arm to turn on the water - difficult, but doable. Once she had the sponge and soap, she was breathing heavily but still standing. Then she dipped her hand under the hot water. 

“Fuck,” she whispered, drawing her hand back; the quick motion only shot pain from her burning hand up her aching arm. 

She shook her head, exhaled slowly, and tried again. 

After nearly twenty-seven minutes, she was finished. Exhausted and sweating and miserable, but finished. Closing her eyes, Anne caught her breath and resigned herself to her fate. She was hopelessly sunburned. There was no use denying it. As usual, ignoring her wife’s warnings had led her to a world of pain. Turning around gingerly, she found herself face-to-face with Ann’s smug smile.

“Done the dishes, Pony?”

“Yes,” she sighed.

“Still convinced you’re perfectly fine?”

“No.”

“Oh-ho,” Ann grinned widely, “the great Anne Lister admits defeat. Better mark this day down in history.”

“You don’t have to be so bloody pleased about it.” Anne started to move stiffly toward the bedroom. “You were right. I’m a bonehead. These are things that we know.”

“These are things that we know,” Ann said as she followed her, “but we also know that I’ll take care of you.”

“Take care of me.”

“Yes, Anne, take care of you. As your wife. Because you’re sick.”

“I’m not -” she shook her head. Denying her physical pain was second nature to Anne; she sat down heavily on the edge of the bed, exhaustion outweighing the pain in her legs. “Okay.”

“Okay. Let’s take this off.” She lifted Anne’s t-shirt over her head. “And these.”

Anne laid back and let her wife slip her loose boxers from her legs; she scooted back to the pillows with a series of grunts and sighs. This might be the worst physical pain she’d ever experienced, Anne thought gloomily. Maybe she’d never walk again. 

“I’ll be right back.”

Ann kissed the pale skin of Anne’s upper thigh, one of the few spots where the sun had not punished her. Watching her go, Anne felt a surge of affection for her wife. The “I told you so” was doubtlessly coming, but at least Ann hadn’t said it yet. Anne felt better without her clothes on, her burnt skin breathing freely in the open air, the cool sheets below her. What was the cure for a sunburn? Anne didn’t actually know. 

“Here,” Ann returned, holding out two pills and a glass of water. “For the inflammation, Dr. Lister. Your skin is on literal fire right now.”

“Well, not literal -”

Ann pressed the glass to her lips, cutting off the rest of Anne’s know-it-all sentence. She took the pills and the water, forcing herself from begrudging patient to, at least, willing patient. Ann produced a small green bottle. 

“I’m going to put aloe on your skin, okay? It always helps me when I get burnt. You have to promise, Pony, not to get any ideas.”

“What?” Anne chuckled.

“You’re going to get all hot and bothered,” Ann said matter-of-factly, “but you really shouldn’t be exerting yourself like that.” She kissed Anne teasingly. “Getting dehydrated and all of that.”

“Adney,” she sighed out a laugh, “I can barely think about kissing you right now, much less shagging.”

Ann just hummed sardonically and sat back near Anne’s feet. Slowly, she started to rub the cool gel into Anne’s skin. The effect wasn’t instantaneous or miraculous, but it certainly felt good. Anne closed her eyes, sighed, relaxed into her wife’s gentle touch. It took nearly an hour, but Ann’s hands were delicate as she massaged and soothed her way up Anne’s body, over her legs and along her arms. 

She must’ve fallen asleep, because by the time she opened her eyes, Ann was snoring softly next to her, her body carefully distanced from Anne’s, one soft hand on Anne’s bare, unburned belly. Anne took stock of her own body - her skin radiated heat, but it didn’t ache and burn the way it had before. She felt calm, but not nearly as tired as she had before. Flexing her feet and hands, Anne found that most of her soreness had disappeared. Perhaps by evening, she thought as her eyes trailed up her wife’s bare legs - yes, perhaps by evening. 

The rest of the day they spent just like this - in bed, lazy, dozing and talking and dozing some more. Around dinner time, Anne convinced her wife to take off her thin nightshirt, and they ate fruit and sandwiches standing up in the kitchen. Being naked had never felt so freeing; never in Anne’s life had she been so at peace with her own body, even with the redness in her skin, the contrasting paleness in some areas, the too-broad shoulders and too-small breasts and too-masculine everything else. She didn’t feel insecure like this, with nothing but Ann’s eyes on her.

“How do you feel?” Ann asked as she reapplied the aloe. 

“Okay, actually. I think I’m over the worst of it.”

“You say that now,” Ann chuckled, “but it actually might be worse tomorrow.”

Anne groaned. Why hadn’t she just listened to her wife yesterday?

“That is to say,” Ann said softly, running her cool hands along Anne’s right arm, “maybe we should take advantage of it.”

“What do you mean, Mrs. Lister?”

“I’m just saying,” Ann’s gaze dropped to her wife’s lips as her hand traced between Anne’s breasts, “you’ve been walking around naked all day. You can’t blame me for going a little crazy.”

“I guess not,” Anne husked, shivering as Ann slipped down her belly, then ran her hands along the insides of her thighs; she pulled Ann in for a searing kiss, parting with a gasp. Bewildered, she watched Ann pad into the bathroom. “Where are you going?”

“Washing my hands, my love.”

From here, Anne could only see her wife’s profile. The gentle curve of her back, the pert globes of her ass, the length of her short little legs. Anne licked her lips, aware only now of the wetness between her legs. Sometimes being naked with Ann was maddening, but sometimes, as today, it felt as natural as being in the Garden of Eden. This body she’d spent years defending and hiding and agonizing over suddenly became comfortable. That wasn’t to say she never felt a twinge of that old uneasiness - hell, she’d felt that yesterday on the beach. But with Ann and Ann alone, she could finally breathe easier. Safe in her own skin.

“You have to tell me,” Ann said briskly as she returned, “if you’re in any pain, okay? I’m serious, Pony.”

“Of course,” Anne nodded frantically, reaching for her wife. “Come here.”

Ann climbed between her legs and kissed her softly. Anne’s arms barely protested as she wrapped them around her wife’s slim body. Their lips met in a series of deep kisses; their hands wandered aimlessly across warm skin. Ann shifted lower, pressing her lips against Anne’s neck, her clavicle, her breasts. The transformation of Anne’s body in the last year was unbelievable, when she considered moments like this; she looked the same, of course, but she never would have consented to this kind of contact before Ann. She couldn’t believe how good she felt, how much she trusted this incredible woman between her legs. 

“You’re so beautiful,” Ann said reverently as she pushed Anne’s legs apart. “Be careful, my love. Okay? Tell me to stop.”

Biting her lip, Anne nodded; bending her knees wasn’t nearly so painful as it had been this morning, and she settled back into the pillows with a contented sigh. Her hand gravitated to the back of her wife’s head, just a connection to those blonde curls she loved so much. Ann’s lips pressed all along her core, her tongue tracing the contours of her folds. Even this, this moment alone, was something Anne had rarely allowed in her past. She simply couldn’t do it back then; she could never let her guard down long enough, had thought it nearly impossible for her to enjoy this act fully. With Ann, with the trust of their relationship, with the foundation of their love, anything was possible. 

“Right there,” she sighed, tilting her hips up. “Harder.”

“No,” Ann said simply, pulling away for a moment.

“No?” Anne almost started to laugh. “What do you mean ‘no?’”

“I mean,” she licked her lips, “that I won’t be doing this any harder than I am right now. You’re in a delicate state, Pony. Let me be gentle.” She nipped the inside of Anne’s thigh. “Or I’ll stop entirely.”

Anne whined, but she resigned herself to this fate. She no longer dictated exactly what would happen to her body and when, and she didn’t even mind. She was happy to let Ann be in charge for a little while. Especially if it meant she’d bury her face between Anne’s legs. 

“Adney,” she moaned as Ann continued to unravel her slowly, “fuck, baby.”

Ann hummed softly. The wet sound of Ann’s lips and tongue working her slick core filled the room; Anne tangled her fingers more tightly in her wife’s hair. 

“More, please.”

Those blonde curls tickled Anne’s inner thighs as her wife shook her head. Cruelty, Anne decided in frustration. Plain and simple. How could Adney be so cruel?

“Not cruel, Pony,” Ann teased, crawling slowly over her body and peppering kisses along her stomach and chest. “Just loving you.”

“Teasing me,” Anne pouted. 

Her wife just smiled and caught that protruding lower lip between her own. Anne slipped her hands along Ann’s back, tracing the curve of her spine as their kisses turned sloppier, more heated. Ann trailed her hand down to the apex of Anne’s thighs.

“You’re so wet, Pony,” she breathed in Anne’s ear. “You want me?”

“Yes.” Anne felt hoarse from the single syllable; she gasped as Ann’s nimble fingers found her clit.

“Oh, you feel good, Pony.” Ann sucked gently on her neck. “Having my hands on you all day has been torture.”

Anne could only whimper, her hips rolling into Ann’s hand, her clit begging for attention. Ann drew firm circles, sending waves of pleasure from Anne’s core to the top of her head and the tips of her sunburnt feet. Anne clutched her tighter, and - mercy of all mercies - Ann started to speed up. She strummed Anne’s clit faster; her harsh strokes augmented the delicate kisses she trailed along Anne’s neck, her cheeks, her jaw, her lips. 

“Ann!” 

A surrender, a plea, a prayer. Anne stretched taut, never mind her sunburnt skin as she trembled under the masterful touch of the only woman who’d ever truly known her. With a heavy sigh, she collapsed into the sheets, her entire body going limp as Ann continued her soft line of worshipful kisses.

“I love you,” Anne panted. “I love you so much.”

“I know, baby,” Ann said with a wide grin. 

“You know ?” She laughed. “You don’t love me back?”

‘Of course I do,” Ann clicked her tongue. “Come on.”

“You come on,” Anne husked, tilted her head back.

For a moment, Ann faltered; Anne could see the wheels turning in her wife’s head as she processed Anne’s offer. It was really the most practical thing, the best way for Anne to bring her pleasure without exacerbating her sunburn. Ann kissed her again, then bit her lip and pulled back. With a squeeze of her hips, Anne tilted her head back once more. 

“Come on, baby. Come up here.”

Blushing like a schoolgirl, Ann crawled carefully over her wife’s face, gripping the headboard as her knees settled around Anne’s head. Anne inhaled deeply of her wife’s arousal, filling her lungs with the scent of her need. Maybe being sunburnt wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Ann lowered herself slowly, gasping softly at the first teasing touch of Anne’s lips. She could tell Ann was on edge, but she still wanted to take her time. She dragged her tongue gently along her wet folds, gathering her arousal on her tongue and moaning at the taste of her. Anne probed her entrance, circled her clit, sucked gently along her folds. 

“Pony,” Ann moaned, her voice arriving to Anne’s ears faintly. “Please, Pony, please.”

Anne continued her slow, methodical exploration of her wife’s core, stroking and teasing and lapping. Little by little she sped up; her hunger for Ann mounting in her chest, underscored by the high-pitched cries slipping from her wife’s lips. She could feel her face growing slick with Ann’s arousal, and that thought alone made her work faster. Anne darted her tongue between Ann’s folds, lapped greedily along the length of her core, sucked harshly at her clit.

“Pony!” Ann cried, her thighs trembling around Anne’s ears. “Yes, baby, ri- yes, fuck! I - yes, yes, Pony! Yes!”

With that, Ann’s hips jerked once, her whole body shaking as Anne eased her gently through her release. Her incoherent mumbles made Anne smile as she drifted back to earth. Finally, Ann flopped backward onto the bed, her head landing near Anne’s calves. Anne reached out to stroke her knee and thigh gently.

“You’re so beautiful,” she whispered reverently, admiring her wife’s flushed, breathless body. “I’m so proud that you’re mine.”

“I love you,” Ann breathed, shuffling upward on the bed to slip into Anne’s arms. “I love you.” She kissed Anne softly. “I love you.”

They fell asleep like that, even though it was much too early in the evening. Anne didn’t care. All that mattered, here and now, was the feeling of her wife’s skin pressed against hers, their bodies joined, and their hearts beating as one.

Chapter Text

Being back in London was a rush, Ann thought. They were fresh from Italy, sun-kissed and sated and smiling. Tonight was the launch of Anne’s book, and they were spending the weekend in London promoting it. Their hotel room was exquisite, but Ann couldn’t take her eyes off her wife. Tall and lanky and tan, Anne was studying two suits laid out on the crisp white bed. She wore only a grey sports bra and her pink boxer-briefs. Ann admired the faint lines around her arms and legs, where her shirts and shorts had blocked the sun; Anne had a slight tan all over her body from their time on that beach, but her long arms and strong legs were darker than her chest and belly. Something about the intimacy of this, of seeing the light skin Anne usually hid from the world, sent a surge of desire straight to Ann’s core.

Stepping out of the bathroom in one of the hotel’s fluffy robes, Ann did some quick calculations. When did they need to leave? Was there time to wrap her arms around her wife’s narrow waist? To kiss along the broad slope of her shoulder? To spread her legs and draw her wife in until they were joined as one?

“Pony,” she whispered, stepping forward and hooking her chin over Anne’s shoulder, “when do we have to leave?”

“Banish the thought, Adney,” Anne chuckled, tapping her long fingers along Ann’s forearms around her waist; “we simply haven’t got the time.”

“What do you mean?” Ann swayed gently, their hips swinging slowly together. 

“I know exactly what you’re thinking, darling, and we don’t have time.”

“And what am I thinking?” She husked in Anne’s ear.

“You’re thinking about some impossibly dirty thing you want me to do to you, and I’m telling you, my love, we just don’t have the time.”

“Oh, Pony,” Ann laughed, “I wasn’t thinking of something dirty for you to do to me! I was going to do something dirty to you.”

With that, she nipped her wife’s earlobe playfully and pulled away. No use arguing with Anne when she got like this, all nervous and preoccupied. Not that she would admit to being nervous. Not Anne. Not in a million years. Ann sighed, not unhappily, and padded back into the bathroom to dry her hair. By the time she re-emerged, Anne was still studying the suits. Her only progress had been to slip on a white collared shirt, and she hadn’t even buttoned it.

“Come here,” Ann said gently, the wide sleeves of the robe falling to her elbows as she lifted her hands to do up her wife’s shirt. “Wear the grey one.”

“Do you think? What about the -”

“Yes,” Ann said firmly. “We’ll do the green tie, hmm? How’s that?”

“Good,” her wife answered softly, her dark eyes searching Ann’s face. “Thank you, darling.”

“Of course.” Ann stretched up to kiss her gently. “And what shall I wear, Dr. Lister?”

“This,” Anne growled, wrapping her hands around Ann’s hips and kissing her soundly. “This robe - Good Lord, Adney. You’re divine.”

Ann hummed and brought their lips together again teasingly. She ran her hands along the front of her wife’s shirt, over the soft swells of her breasts, up her shoulders and around her neck. There was nowhere better on earth, in Ann’s opinion; after all their travels, her favorite place to be was the protective circle of Anne Lister’s arms. 

“We have to go,” Anne said quietly, regret tingeing her voice. “I wish we could stay here all night.”

“Me too,” Ann kissed her wife once more before pulling away, “but I’ll be so proud to watch you tonight.”

Anne bit her lip and squeezed Ann’s ass playfully; laughing, Ann swatted her and twisted away. They dressed quickly, trading kisses as they passed each other moving between the main room and the bathroom. Anne was devastatingly handsome in her light grey suit, her crisp white shirt and green tie; her bare ankles peeked out cheekily above her brown brogues. Ann pulled on a dress in the same shade as Anne’s tie, shivering as her wife slowly raised the zipper and kissed the back of her neck. 

“No fair,” Ann smiled as she knotted her wife’s tie. “Teasing me like that.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Anne answered innocently. 

“You do,” she trailed her fingertips over Anne’s throat, “and you make me crazy.”

“I love you, darling.” Anne pecked her lips. “But we do have to go.”

The bookshop hosting the launch was just around the corner; Anne’s hand slipped easily into her own as they strolled along the sidewalk. The late afternoon sun made everything golden, and Ann looked up at her wife. She could see the determined clench of her jaw and feel the nervous tightening of her fingers. Anne had been reciting her speech in her sleep for almost a week. 

“You’re going to do great,” Ann told her as they hovered outside the shop doors. 

“It’ll be fine,” Anne rolled her eyes.

“Hey,” she said sternly, grabbing the front of Anne’s suit as she tried to twist away, “you are going to do a marvelous job, Pony. Okay? You’re the most intelligent, charming, amazing person I know. They’re going to love you.”

Anne nodded stiffly, accepting Ann’s chaste kiss. They moved inside, quickly separated by the small throng of people who had apparently organized the event. Ann wasn’t sure what kind of crowd a book about Romance languages would draw, but, apparently, there were quite a few people who wanted to hear what Dr. Lister had to say on the subject. 

The shop was cramped, and perhaps that contributed to the feeling of a large crowd. There were a few rows of chairs set up in front of a small, short stage, on which two stools were perched. Every chair was full, so Ann made do with lingering in the back of the room with the rest of the latecomers. She was surprised at the size of the audience, but she was also grateful. Anne would be so pleased with such a turn-out. Between the Self-Help and the Science Fiction, Ann watched her wife bound onto the stage, her smile lighting up the room as polite applause filled the air. 

She was such a show-off, wasn’t she? Ann grinned as she watched her wife fold her long legs over the stool, her devilish fingers curling delicately around the microphone. Anne’s back was so straight, her eyes flashing over the crowd as her perfectly-timed jokes landed time after time. Ann couldn’t follow the conversation even if she’d wanted to; Anne’s work was too cerebral and stuffy for her. Besides, why bother with the words Anne was saying, when Ann could focus on the movements of her lips, the way she pushed back her hair, the occasional wink she sent to her wife?

By the time the crowd applauded again, Ann was almost painfully wet. She watched, as if suspended in time, as Anne greeted strangers, answered questions, even signed a few books. Was Anne a celebrity in this circle? The enormity of Ann’s love overwhelmed her. Of bloody course Anne was a star everywhere she went.

“How’d I do?” Anne grinned as Ann finally reached her; one strong hand wrapped around her hip and pulled Ann close as Anne pressed a kiss to the top of her hair. 

“Amazing.” Reaching up to straighten her wife’s tie, Ann breathed deeply, filling her lungs with the intoxicating cocktail of cologne and sweat and confidence. “Take me home.”

Anne cooed softly, the regret catching in her throat in a way that told Ann everything she needed to know. 

“We’re promised somewhere else, aren’t we?” Ann asked her. “You’ve agreed to something.”

“Now, darling, don’t be upset.”

“I’m - I’m not upset! I’m just -” Ann dropped her voice, halfway between a husk and a whine, “I’m just wanting you.”

“And I want you, my love.” Anne’s eyes burned with desire, her fingers tightening ever so slightly around Ann’s hip. “Just a few more hours.”

Two and a half hours, in fact. Not that Ann minded. In a way, she enjoyed this prelude to the night ahead. The restaurant was close-by, and the company was pleasant. Honestly, Ann hardly noticed the others at their table; every cell in her body was focused on Anne. Every broad grin on her wife’s face warmed her skin. The brush of their knees under the table sent electricity up her thigh and straight to her core. Anne’s long fingers drove her mad - wrapped around the silverware, her sweaty pint glass, Ann’s knee. 

Midway through the meal, Ann excused herself to the ladies’. She sat on the toilet, breathing deeply and considering the ruined panties around her knees. Maybe they should go straight in the waste bin, she thought. A better idea occurred to her. A memory. Nearly a year ago now. That hotel in Halifax. The size of Anne’s eyes. The ferocity of her hands.

Of course, back then, they’d been alone at their table. Now they were facing Anne’s publisher, agent, and their spouses. Ann considered mercy for a moment, then thought better of it. She’d been squirming for Anne all night; perhaps it was her charming, effervescent wife’s turn to squirm a bit. 

Bustling back to the table with her purse clutched tightly in her hands, Ann felt delightfully naughty. She slid back into her chair, smiling politely to the others and shivering as Anne’s arm draped easily along the back of her chair. Anne had shed her coat, and the flash of her white sleeves in the dark restaurant seemed to make her glow. Ann flicked open her purse silently, slowly pulling the damp pink fabric from inside and slipping it surreptitiously into her wife’s lap.

Anne furrowed her brow, her eyes falling to her lap and growing wide in surprise. Luckily, the conversation had turned to children, and Ann jumped in to discuss her nieces and nephew with Anne’s agent while her wife recovered. A few moments later, Ann felt warm fingertips on her shoulder. A silent signal. She grinned in spite of herself as Anne drew meandering circles over her skin. 

“This has been so lovely,” Anne said generously, “but I’m afraid my wife and I simply must be getting back.”

“Must we?” Ann asked innocently. “Surely, we should have a nightcap.”

“Oh, no,” her wife interjected, “we - uh - we’ve got to go.”

“I hope there’s nothing wrong?” The publisher asked. 

“No! No, we -” Anne scraped her chair backward rather loudly. “We’ve just - uh, thank you, truly. What a wonderful evening, and - uh - uh - thank you. Have a great night.”

Before Ann could say a proper goodbye, her wife was pulling her out of the restaurant and into the warm summer evening. It was dark on the street, only a few groups passing them as Anne tugged her into an alley. Giggling, Ann wrapped her arms around her wife’s neck; her back hit the wall at the same moment Anne’s lips crashed into hers. 

“Pony,” she moaned into her fervent kisses, “you forgot your jacket.”

“Don’t care,” Anne said gruffly, kissing Ann’s neck; one hand had already slipped down Ann’s side to the hem of her dress. “You’re so hot.”

“Am I?” She sighed, arching her back and lifting her hips as Anne’s thigh pressed between her own. 

“Fuck, Adney, yes.”

Whimpering, Ann wrapped her arms tightly around her wife’s back, spreading her legs as Anne reached the apex of her thighs. Soft lips pressed to the column of her neck and along her pulse point; warm fingers slipped along her folds and over her clit. 

“Pony,” she moaned, the dull flame between her legs turning to a raging inferno. “Please.”

“We should go home,” Anne purred, stroking Ann’s clit firmly and slowly. “Taking you like this? In an alley? Dirty girl, Miss Walker.”

Ann could only whine and roll her hips forcefully into her wife’s hand. She was so close already. Hours watching Anne Lister in her element had been foreplay enough.

“You’re so wet, baby.” Anne sped up, her kisses growing sloppy across the overheated skin of Ann’s neck. “You feel so good.” Ann clutched her closer, feeling her release build in her gut. “Are you going to come for me, darling?”

“Yes,” Ann gasped, her legs shaking. “Yes - fuck - yes.”

“Come here,” Anne growled, hiking one of Ann’s legs up over her hip and strumming Ann’s clit faster. “Fuck, you feel so good.”

Ann moaned, her climax coiling tightly in her gut as Anne took complete possession of her body. She could play Ann like a finely tuned instrument - she knew just where to put her hands, her hips, her lips. With a final, hard stroke, Ann shot into the shuddering warmth of her release. She gasped, her teeth sinking into the white fabric covering her wife’s shoulder. 

“Oh, you did so well, my love,” Anne soothed, bringing her gently back to earth with soft kisses and tender touches. “You’re so beautiful.”

“Good Lord, Pony,” she chuckled, lowering her leg gingerly to the ground. “What if we’d been seen?” 

“I kept an eye out,” Anne grinned before kissing her quickly. “Let’s go.”

The walk back to their hotel was a whirlwind - Anne’s white shirt a half-step ahead of her, her strong hand wrapped around Ann’s, her bright smile lighting up the lift as they ascended to their floor. Then Anne’s lips catching hers, her hands finding Ann’s waist, her throat rumbling with those low rumbles that made Ann crazy. 

“Pony,” she sighed as the backs of her knees hit the bed, “hold on.”

“What?” 

Anne pulled back, her chest heaving and her lips swollen. Ann couldn’t help smiling broadly at her wife’s wild-eyed expression; she sat on the edge of the bed, and Anne knelt between her legs, looking up at her like a puppy waiting for instruction. Reaching out, Ann caressed the side of her wife’s face, her fingertips brushing her hair. Strong hands covered her knees; dark eyes bored into her own.

“You’re so beautiful, Anne. I just want to tell you that.”

“Is that all?” Anne asked sardonically, taking Ann’s hand from her cheek and kissing the palm of it. “For that you interrupted me?”

“No,” she drawled, untying the knot around Anne’s throat. “I also want to tell you how proud I am of you. How amazed I am that you’re mine.”

“Adney,” Anne shook her head, but Ann caught her chin. 

“Seriously. You’re incredible. Surely you know that.”

There was a moment of insecurity, and Ann wondered at the woman before her. Surely Anne Lister knew how accomplished and impressive she was. She had to. At the same time, Ann figured she didn’t hear that praise nearly enough. Anne was insecure, beneath all of the bluster, even about her field of expertise. Once again, Ann’s heart swelled. Slowly, she slipped Anne’s tie from her neck, then unbuttoned her shirt. As she reached the last buttons, she leaned forward to catch Anne’s lips. Their kiss was slow and deep and emotional; Ann felt her wife’s outward persona crumble under her gentle touch. 

“I love you,” she whispered as she pushed Anne’s shirt from her shoulders. “Let me make love to you.”

Anne just bit her lip, allowing Ann to bring her to her feet. She turned Anne slowly, kissing her softly as she pressed her back into the bed. Ann climbed up her long, lithe body, kissing her stomach, the swells of her breasts, her neck, her lips. 

“You’re so hot, Dr. Lister,” she said softly. “I couldn’t believe how much I wanted you up there on that stage.”

Anne sighed, a low groan catching in her throat. Scooting lower, Ann rolled her bra upward, releasing her breasts until she could cover them with her lips and hands. Touching Anne like this was a special privilege, Ann knew, and she took advantage of it at every chance. Anne liked to present herself as so harsh and serious, but Ann knew just how soft and sensual she could be. How she writhed when Ann took her nipple between her lips. How her hands slipped through Ann’s hair. How her moans ricocheted off the walls as Ann made her way lower. 

“Dr. Anne Lister.” Ann punctuated her words with wet kisses along Anne’s flat stomach. “Everyone in that room wanted you.” She flicked open Anne’s trousers, pulling them roughly off her legs then hooking her fingers in the waistband of her boxers. “They were in awe of you.” Urgently, she tugged the wet fabric from Anne’s tense thighs. “But you’re mine, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Anne breathed, sitting up quickly to rip her bra off and reach for Ann. “Take this off.”

Ann grinned, unzipped her dress, and let it fall to the floor. She eased her bra from her shoulders slowly, enjoying the desire burning in her wife’s eyes. Biting her lip, Ann slid her hands over her own breasts, rolling her nipples between her fingers. Anne growled, reaching forward and pulling Ann roughly on top of her. 

“You’re impossible,” she bit out, rolling a giggling Ann onto her back and working her lips over Ann’s flushed chest. “Teasing me like that. Giving me your wet panties.”

“Did you like that?” Ann sighed, curling one hand around the pillow under her head and the other in her wife’s hair. 

“You bloody well know,” Anne chuckled, her breath warm against Ann’s belly. “I nearly choked.”

“I’m glad you didn’t. I can - uh - think - uh - of much - much - uh - better things for you to - to -”

“Care to finish that thought, darling?” 

Anne grinned from between her legs; her face glistened with Ann’s arousal. The arrogant smirk, the strong hands around her hips, the delicious things she’d just been doing with that mouth - Ann couldn’t believe how close she was already. By way of response, Ann pushed on her wife’s broad shoulder and lifted her hips. Anne laughed, but she dropped her head. 

After the rushed moment in that alley, Ann was grateful for a chance to savor her wife’s talents. There were very few things Anne Lister was bad at, and a great many things at which she excelled. This act was one of the latter. Surely no one had been more worshipful, patient, attentive, exquisite. Ann couldn’t imagine any woman had ever felt better than she did right now, with her wife between her legs.

“Yes, Pony, God, I - fuck, right - yes, that’s - Pony! Yes!”

Ann’s thighs were already shaking, her hips lifting urgently into Anne’s skilled mouth. She was so close, her eyes screwed tightly shut as she felt that familiar flame burn more and more brightly between her legs. Anne’s lips were on her folds, her tongue on her clit, her hands kneading the soft skin of her thighs. 

Then she was gone.

“Wha-?” Ann sighed, her eyes shooting open to find Anne stalking slowly up her body. “Pony.”

“What?” Anne asked softly, her eyes half-lidded as she caught Ann’s lips in a slow, searching kiss. 

“What was that?”

“What was what, baby?” 

Anne kissed her throat, trailing one hand back between her legs. Her long fingers stroked Ann’s sensitive clit; their bodies rolled together in that slow, familiar rhythm, but Ann’s head was still spinning from her abruptly interrupted release.

“You just - you know I didn’t come, don’t you?”

Anne paused, pulled back, looked at Ann, and laughed. She threw her head back, laughing deeply and loudly; her body shook with it, and tears sprang from her eyes. Ann almost felt embarrassed - what was so funny about this? Anne had led her to the very edge, then pulled away. That was downright cruel. Nothing to laugh at, of that much Ann was entirely certain.

“Anne!” She whined, tugging gently on Anne’s hair. “What’s so funny?”

“You are, my love,” Anne chuckled, wiping her eyes.

“I’m not trying to be funny,” Ann pouted. 

“Aren’t you?” Her wife teased, bending over her once more so that their lips nearly touched. “Do you really think I wouldn’t know if you came?”

“Well, I -”

“After all this time?” Anne traced her clit again, grinning at Ann’s sharp exhale. “Darling, I hope you know better than that.”

Ann opened her mouth to protest, but she couldn’t. Not with the way Anne was teasing her clit and flirting with her entrance. She lifted her hips, aching to have Anne inside. With a single, smooth movement, Anne pushed between her folds, stroking her with gentle, even thrusts. Ann moaned lowly. 

“There you are, darling,” Anne purred in her ear. “This is what you needed, wasn’t it?” Ann nodded frantically, her hips rolling in rhythm with Anne’s strong hand. “Me filling you over and over. My arms around you.” Ann whimpered, clutching her wife’s broad back. “Oh, fuck, baby, you feel so good.”

“Pony,” she breathed, her clit aching for Anne’s thumb. “Please, I -”

“I know, baby,” Anne kissed her neck and swiped the hard bundle of her desire; Ann cried out as electricity shot through her veins. “God, I love hearing you.”

That was all the encouragement Ann needed. She moaned freely as Anne rutted into her. Their skin slapped together as Anne stretched with a second finger, a third. Ann’s entire body was on fire, every inch of her consumed by the pleasure coiling in her gut. Anne kissed her shoulder, her neck, her jaw; she pressed Ann’s clit and stroked that perfect spot within her core. Ann cried out, stretched taut, and shattered as she trembled through her release.

“You’re so beautiful,” Anne whispered, slowing her strokes and kissing Ann’s cheek. “I love you so much.”

“Oh, Pony,” she sighed, her body turning to jelly as Anne pulled away and sat back on her heels between her legs. “Oh, fuck.”

“Was that okay, Adney?”

“God, you - you were right.”

“What was that?” Anne grinned smugly, cupping her ear with her hand as if she hadn’t heard Ann’s words.

“You were right! Aren’t you always?” Ann chuckled, shaking her head. “You always know exactly how to touch me.”

“I do,” she hummed, running her hands lightly along Ann’s legs. “Ready for another?”

“Good Lord, Anne, no!” She laughed, grabbing Anne’s wrist and pulling her on top of her. “I was supposed to make love to you, wasn’t I?”

“Is that right?” Anne rolled her hips gently against Ann’s thigh, letting her feel the ample wetness between her legs. 

Ann bit her lip and trailed her hands over her wife’s shoulders, her breasts, her firm stomach, to the sharp lines of her hips. Anne shivered when Ann gently traced between her folds; they moaned in unison at the slickness Ann found there. She circled Anne’s clit gently and kissed her lips soundly. Anne groaned, bucking her hips into Ann’s touch. 

Stroke by stroke, Ann unraveled her wife. Awed by the woman before her, Ann couldn’t get enough of her low moans, her rolling hips, her pleasure-streaked face. Anne had the entire room enthralled back at that shop; she’d been on top of the world. Ozymandias, King of Kings. Here, in Ann’s arms, she was a wrecked colossus. A goddess stripped bare by a mere mortal. 

“Adney,” she breathed, her voice thin and desperate. “Please.”

Humming, Ann brought their lips together again. She kissed her gently and stroked her clit firmly. It was this combination - the eternal tension within Anne between hard and soft - that broke her apart. Anne gasped, her entire body shaking as Ann eased her through her climax. With a final, deep groan, she collapsed on top of her. 

What bliss, Ann thought happily as she stroked her wife’s slick back. Nothing made her quite so proud as this moment. The blessed time before Anne could speak again. When all she could form were pants and half-syllables and sloppy kisses. When the proof of their love hung in the air and clung to their skin. 

“I love you,” she whispered quietly as Anne pulled back to hover over her. “I am so proud to be your wife.”

For a moment, Anne didn’t answer. Her dark, intelligent eyes studied Ann’s face. She seemed at a loss for words. The gravity of the moment was not lost on Ann - her wife had reached another career milestone, and this time, she had her wife by her side. Ann smiled and tucked a piece of dark hair behind her ear, grateful to be the one to share Anne Lister’s incredible life. 

“I love you,” Anne husked, bringing their lips together in a slow, sensual kiss. “I love you so much, Ann Walker.”

“Ann Lister,” she corrected as Anne rolled onto her back next to her. “You can’t go around calling me Miss Walker all the time anymore. It’s Mrs. Lister.”

“Is it?” Anne chuckled, pulling Ann into her side and sighing happily. “Whatever you say, my love.”

With a satisfied smile, Ann snuggled into her wife’s chest and smiled. She knew she was perhaps the only person on the planet who could win an argument with the indomitable Anne Lister so easily. 

Chapter Text

“I look ridiculous,” she said dryly, turning slightly in the chaumière’s mirror. “You can’t be serious.”

“Oh, but I am,” Ann grinned, padding up behind her. “You look amazing.”

“I look ridiculous,” she repeated, studying her reflection. “The things I do for you.”

Ann just hummed and kissed the side of her neck. Anne studied their reflections in the mirror and tried to remember why on earth she’d agreed to this. Ann had asked, since it was summer and they were both off work with nothing much to do, if they could - Anne almost couldn’t admit it - she’d asked if they could go to a Renaissance Fair. 

Anne’s initial, surprised laughter had earned her the cold shoulder for the evening, a lot of girlish giggling and whispering between her wife and her sister, and nothing but the curve of Ann’s cheek to kiss when they got into bed. Anne was surprised that her wife was actually quite interested in going to the Renaissance Faire, had researched it, and chosen their outfits for the event as well. As usual, Anne relented before the night was out, making her apologies between Ann’s supple thighs. 

Now, somehow, she was standing in the chaumière in a suit of armor. Imitation armor, sure, but armor. It was lighter, this costume that Ann had found, so Anne could stand to wear it in the heat. There was the soft bottom layer, thin and light and far too expensive for an outfit Anne would wear only once; the leather was dark and smooth, molding perfectly to her calves, the curves of her arms, the slopes of her shoulders. She could admit that Ann’s wealth came in handy in situations like this. Over the leather, she wore a long shirt of chain mail that reached past her waist. Thin athletic socks capped her feet; Ann had relented and allowed Anne to wear her own boots. Not indoors of course. 

“You look sexy,” Ann whispered, turning Anne slowly in her arms. “Ser Lister. That’s hot.”

Anne rolled her eyes with a chuckle, her hands naturally finding the curve of her wife’s narrow waist. Ann was radiant, of course, in her flowing dress - light green, with those wide sleeves and a low, square neck; her bodice was all laced up in white, and Anne longed to rip it open like the swashbuckling heartthrobs of books. Instead, she just smiled down at Ann, shaking her head at the ridiculous turn her life had taken.

“If we see anyone we know, we are leaving,” she joked, only half-meaning it.

“We’ll leave when we say I can leave, Ser Lister.” Ann traced her index finger along the front of Anne’s armor. “You must obey your queen’s command.”

“Oh, it’s like that, is it?” Anne chuckled. “I see now.”

Ann hummed and tilted her chin. Never one to miss an opportunity, Anne leaned forward and caught her lips, cupping her wife’s face in her hands. Soft, golden hair slipped between her fingers; needy hands curled around her waist. Pressing their hips together, Anne walked her wife backward, toward the couch. Caught up in the press of Ann’s soft lips, she misjudged the distance and bumped her wife’s back into the arm of the couch. Giggling, Ann perched on the edge and looked up at her. Anne quirked a single eyebrow.

“Now, Pony,” Ann warned, “we can’t.”

“Why not?”

Anne trailed her hands along her wife’s legs, which were parted as far as her dress would allow. They had enough time, of that Anne was certain. Ann was driving her crazy, especially with those bright flowers woven into her hair. She’d never looked so devastatingly beautiful, so heart-stoppingly gorgeous, so confoundingly ethereal. Then again, Anne felt that way a lot; no matter what Ann wore, Anne felt awed by her beauty. Perhaps they’d sod the trip entirely, and Anne could rip that bodice open right now. 

“Because I want to go!” Ann whined. “I really do. It’ll be fun. We’ve got everything arranged already. I want to eat a big turkey leg and watch a joust and look at my handsome knight of a wife.”

Anne sighed, but she was smiling. There was no use arguing. Especially not once Ann clipped the dark green cape around her shoulders and kissed her soundly; her hands tangled in Anne’s low ponytail, her hips rolled urgently against Anne’s. For a moment, Anne considered picking her wife up and ravishing her there against the door. The excited glint in Ann’s eye held her back, and she reminded herself to let Ann have her fun. Besides, if it kept her wife acting like this, Anne would be happy to wear as much armor as necessary. They made their way outside and climbed into Ann’s Range Rover; Anne’s one caveat had been that they dress in, leave from, and return to the chaumière. She simply wouldn’t survive if Marian saw them. 

The drive to the fair was relatively short, and Anne spent most of it teasing her wife about the nerdiness of it all. In truth, Anne loved that there were still surprises, little things she didn’t know about Ann. She wouldn’t have guessed that Ann would be much for a Renaissance Fair, particularly with the large crowds and the boisterous atmosphere, but here they were. Ann’s hand clasped hers tightly as they navigated the parking lot. Their lips met in a quick kiss before they disembarked. Their fingers threaded together as they strolled into the fair.

She squeezed Ann’s hand, worrying the crowd might be too much. Ann just squeezed right back and pulled her forward. They explored booths and attractions and art. There was a small amphitheater, a few bumbling actors loudly overpronouncing some imitation of Shakespeare. Anne barely paid attention, honestly; she just followed that flowing mane of blonde curls as her wife led her this way and that. Despite the fantastical costumes and the over-the-top scenery, Ann’s bright smile was the only thing she could see. Anne didn’t even try to correct the historical inaccuracies; she was too busy being a good wife to be a pedantic smartass.

“Let’s go in here,” Ann said excitedly, tugging her toward what appeared to be a forge. “I want to get you a sword.”

“What!” Anne laughed, taking in the blacksmith at work in front of them, flanked by a series of shiny swords. “You’re kidding.”

“I am not,” her wife protested. “How will my knight protect me without a sword?”

Anne hummed and turned her attention to the swords displayed before them. They were nice, sure, but what would she do with a sword? Totally ridiculous. Her eyes fell on a price guide, and she grabbed her wife’s waist in shock.

“Adney. No.”

“What?” Ann melted into her side, even as her gaze remained on the blades.

“We are not spending over a thousand pounds on a sword .”

“Why not?”

“Because -” Anne trailed off and scoffed, squeezing her wife’s hip. “Because that’s ridiculous! What will I even do with it?”

Smiling, Ann turned to her, licked her lips, ran one hand along Anne’s arm. 

“You’ll make me crazy,” she answered in a low voice.

“Adney-”

“Uh-huh,” Ann grinned, “I’m your queen.”

Anne growled, arousal coursing through her veins at the husk to her wife’s voice, the glint in her blue eyes. She held her waist a bit tighter. 

“Your majesty,” she said roughly, “let’s go home.”

For a moment, Ann seemed to consider. Desire burned on Anne’s skin; images of their bodies colliding already danced in her head. But then Ann grinned and turned away. Anne felt a bit like a car up on blocks, revving her engine with nowhere to go. She watched as her wife’s delicate hand traced over one of the sharp blades.

“How about this one?” 

The sword was long, just about right for Anne’s height she guessed, and its handle had been beaten and twisted into a dragon’s head. She studied it intently, trying to find a reason to talk Ann out of this ridiculous purchase. By the time she looked up, a sweaty man was standing in front of them. A bit heavy with a dark beard and a thick mullet, the blacksmith eyed them suspiciously. Anne stiffened.

“Serious buyers only,” he grunted. “You can’t pick it up until you’ve paid.”

“How will I know if I want to buy it if I can’t pick it up?” Ann asked sweetly, though Anne could detect a cunning undercurrent to her words. 

“You can’t come over and play with the swords, miss, alright? I -”

“I’ll thank you to watch your tone,” Anne cut in evenly. “We’re serious buyers, and we’d like this one.”

“Would you?” He swung his attention to Anne. “Let’s see it then. Cash or card only.”

Anne produced her wife’s credit card from her pocket, handing it over to the oaf; Ann really had thought of everything when she ordered this costume - even pockets. She picked up the sword and turned to Anne. 

“Ser Lister, I believe this is yours.”

“Is it?” Anne grinned, lifting the sword carefully; it was heavy, but not too long. Her fingers curled easily around the hilt. “Should I go put it in the car? What am I going to do with it?”

“Fuck me,” Ann breathed, her eyes wide and her lips parted; Anne looked up at her in alarm. “I mean - uh - fuck - uh - God! You look good, Pony.”

“Do I?” Anne chuckled, testing the weight of it in her hand. “It’s going to be a pain to tote around all day.”

“That’s okay. We’ll just see the joust and leave.”

Anne nodded, and the blacksmith returned with a receipt and a pen. She watched smugly as Ann signed and the blacksmith slid the sword into a scabbard; perhaps pride had been a factor in this extravagant purchase, but they could afford it. What they most certainly could not afford, in Anne’s opinion, was that poor excuse of a man thinking they were some trivial, flighty, can’t-afford-a-sword types. She might be at a Renaissance Fair, in a suit of armor, in the summer heat, carrying a sword, but it would be a cold day in Hell before Anne Lister let someone get away with underestimating her. 

The bleachers were rickety and overcrowded, and Anne had to maneuver carefully to avoid bumping anybody with that bloody sword. She was starting to regret her hubris; there was hardly enough room for the two of them on this bench, and she had to lay the sword gingerly across their laps. Ann’s fingers curled naturally around the scabbard in a way that set Anne’s heart racing. She leaned in to whisper something naughty in her wife’s ear, but just then the announcer came over the loudspeaker. 

These things were always terribly dull, weren’t they? The announcers were over-the-top, and the crowd too excited. It was just a bunch of nerds in costumes riding about on horses, wasn’t it? What was the big deal? Anne didn’t care much for this guy’s jokes, and she wasn’t sure what she’d think of the so-called knights in the joust. A bunch of know-it-alls, Anne supposed. Self-important and big-headed. Anne couldn’t imagine anything worse.

“Watch that one,” Ann whispered, nudging Anne’s shoulder and pointing to a knight with a bright white horse.

Begrudgingly, Anne paid close attention to the dope on the white horse. Didn’t he realize the horse would get terribly dirty in this? A bit foolish to pick a white horse for jousting, she thought. What was Ann’s interest in this guy anyway? Anne always got suspicious when Ann expressed any interest in men; it boiled her blood, twisted her gut, and made her wild with want. In the rational portion of her brain, Anne was secure in their relationship and their love - not to mention Ann’s strict attraction to women. In the primal portion of her brain, Anne needed to remind her wife just how much better she was than any man. 

Though, as the jousts went on, Anne had to admit the white horse’s rider was pretty talented. She wondered if these things were staged - it must be terribly dangerous, mustn’t it? Perhaps the white knight just drew the long straw today, and that’s why he kept winning. Round after round, in the hot summer sun, he sent his opponents into the dirt. Anne had to admit he was a skilled rider. A stunning showman. Adept with his lance. She shook away the dirty innuendos. 

“Magnificent, right?” Ann asked, beaming up at her. “Let’s go backstage.”

“What?” She gaped, but Ann was already shuffling out with the rest of the audience. 

Breathless, Anne managed to spot Ann as she rounded the far side of the arena. That flower crown bobbed through the masses, and Anne had to shoulder her way through to catch up to her. The sword clutched tightly to her chest, Anne panted and took her wife’s arm. 

“Where are we going?”

“We’re going to meet the knight! The one that won today. I think they’re back here.”

They rounded a corner, and Anne found herself in a paddock. The smell hit her first - horses and manure and sweat. The so-called knights were just as she’d expected - pudgier without their armor on, red-faced, bearded. Their steeds were just as attractive up close, and Anne sought out the white horse. She found it over in a far corner, just the direction her determined little wife was heading.

The winning knight was turned away from them, strong arms lifting the helmet. Anne tried to rein in her surge of relief that Ann’s dreams of a handsome face under that helmet were about to be crushed. 

Oh, but it was so much worse than she imagined.

For underneath that helmet was not some sweat-stained, doughy nerd. Not even close. Underneath that helmet was a long, flowing mane of bright red hair. A slender neck. And, upon turning, a devilishly handsome face. 

Anne’s breath caught in her throat. 

The knight was a woman.

A gorgeous woman.

A handsome, strong, self-assured woman.

Sweat started to pool under Anne’s arms. 

“Ser Foley?” Ann asked timidly. 

“That’s me,” the woman said jovially, pulling off her glove and extending a surprisingly delicate hand; blood-red fingernails, Anne noted with wide eyes. Was this woman for real? “Please call me Jo.”

Ann shook her hand, and Anne started to see red. How did Ann know this person?

“I follow you on Instagram, Jo, and I -” Ann shrugged, her wide grin engulfing her face. “You are so bloody amazing! I - I can’t believe I’m actually meeting you. You were incredible. You always are! But - oh, but getting to see you in real life? I’m freaking out.”

Anne watched in wide-eyed astonishment. Did Ann follow knights on Instagram? Why hadn’t she mentioned it before? Do knights even have Instagram? Had she stepped into the Twilight Zone?

“This is my wife,” Ann said suddenly, as if she’d only just remembered her. “Anne Lister. Uh, Anne, this is - gosh - this is Jo Foley.”

“Pleasure,” Anne said stiffly, taking the proffered hand. 

The conversation moved on without her, mostly Ann gushing and this Jo person nodding politely. What did Jo have that Anne didn’t? She was short for starters. Anne noticed that right off. She was short, much shorter than Anne, almost Ann’s height honestly. She was cocky and swaggering as she stripped off her top layers of armor. Her tone was confident, bordering on arrogant. Surely Ann couldn’t find this attractive. Right?

“Lovely to meet you both,” Jo said. “Have a lovely day.”

Taking the cue, Anne practically had to drag her wife away. She could almost see the hearts in her wife’s eyes as they marched out of the arena; Anne led her to a secluded copse. The trees were thick, closely spaced, and far enough away from the fair that they wouldn’t be seen. Anne counted on that.

“Wasn’t she incredible?” Ann said dreamily. “I can’t believe we got to see her in person, and we met her? That’s so crazy. I’m - like - I’ve never been so happy.”

Biting back a growl, Anne dropped her sword to the ground and took her wife by the hips. A small squeal of surprise slipped from Ann’s lips, just before Anne covered them with her own. She kissed Ann hard, backing her into the wide, rough bark of one of the trees. Ann wrapped her arms around Anne’s neck, meeting her kiss with equal fervor. Pressing forward, Anne molded their bodies together, her hips grinding insistently against Ann’s. 

It wasn’t that Anne was jealous. Obviously. She didn’t get jealous. She was confident in her wife’s loyalty, the strength of their relationship, the commitment of their love. And yet. 

That knight was so bloody handsome, wasn’t she? It unsettled Anne, the way that Ann had looked at her. She’d been star-struck. Breathless. Wide-eyed. And in those blue eyes, Anne had detected a hint of arousal. She knew that look well. After all, it was the same look Ann used to give her. 

She still did, of course. Sometimes Ann still looked at her in that old, holy-shit-Anne-Lister-is-talking-to-me way. But now she knew what Anne looked like in the mornings, on the toilet, when she cried, when she had to pass gas. In her heart, Anne preferred it this way - being known was so much better than being revered - but she’d be damned if some wannabe knight would usurp her.

Gasping, Ann broke away, leaning her head back against the tree. Moving her lips to Ann’s neck, Anne kissed and sucked at her soft skin. One strong hand held Ann’s lower back; the other trailed downward, bunching Ann’s flowing skirt until Anne could slip below the hem. She cupped her wife’s ass, traced over her hip, slipped between her thighs. A shaky moan twisted in her ear.

“Are you wet for me, baby?” Anne asked, her voice rough and low. “Or for that knight back there?”

Ann just moaned, rolling her hips into Anne’s touch. 

Not good enough, Anne decided and pulled her hand away. Ann whined in protest. 

“Answer me, Adney. Are you wet for your Ser Jo Foley, or are you wet for me?”

“Pony,” she whined, her hands twining in Anne’s hair. “Please.”

“An answer, Miss Walker,” Anne said sternly, “or you’ll have to wait until we get home.”

“Pony.”

“Ah,” she sighed, pulling away, “there’s my answer.”

“No!” Ann grabbed her arm, her eyes wild. “Anne. It’s for you. Of course, my love. I only want you.”

Anne exhaled and grinned. She didn’t doubt it. Not really. But she sure did like to hear Ann say it. She let Ann pull her back and press their bodies flush. For a moment, Anne ghosted her lips over her wife’s. 

“You had me worried, your majesty. I thought another knight had stolen your heart.”

“Never,” Ann whispered seriously. “You know I’ve only ever been yours, Ser Lister.”

Anne crashed their lips back together, her arms wrapping easily around her wife’s back. Their kiss was fierce, all tangling tongues and insistent lips. Ann’s hands wound in her hair, and her hips bucked, urging Anne lower. She slid her hand up Ann’s leg again, teasing her wet center lightly as her kisses turned sloppy and trailed along her wife’s neck and collarbones. Soft whines filled her ear.

“Please,” Ann begged.

“I am at your command, your majesty.”

“Anne.”

“Who?”

“Ser Lister.” A tinge of annoyance leaked into Ann’s voice and the tug of her hands. “Fuck me.”

“Anything for you, my queen.”

With that, Anne thrust sharply between her wife’s wet folds. They didn’t have much time, off in the trees like this. They’d have to be quick, and Anne could take proper care of her wife when they got home. For now, she focused on holding her up, pressing her into the tree, strumming her clit in time with the curl of her fingers. Ann started to moan, breathless, high-pitched sounds that sent arousal straight to Anne’s core. She sped up, thrusting harder and faster; Ann’s hips bucked, her arms now desperately clinging to Anne’s back.

“You’re so hot,” Anne purred in her ear. “You feel so fucking good.”

Ann cried out, her legs trembling and her core fluttering around Anne’s fingers. With a few more strokes and well-timed kisses, Anne sent her into oblivion, holding her up and easing her down as she trembled and gasped and cursed in Anne’s arms. 

“I love you,” Ann breathed, her face red and her chest heaving. “Oh, fuck, Anne.”

Anne hummed smugly, slipping her hand out and smoothing Ann’s dress as she caught her breath. The green-eyed monster was easily vanquished, in Anne’s opinion. A few breathless moments like this was all it took for this knight to slay that particular dragon.

“Good Lord, Pony,” Ann chuckled, “did you have to drag me out into the woods?”

“Yes,” Anne grinned, taking her hand and scooping up the sword as they made their way back toward the fair. “I was dreadfully afraid you’d like that Jo more than me.”

“Never,” she answered simply, kissing the back of Anne’s hand. “You’re the only knight for me, Pony.”

By the time they got back to the chaumière, Anne had all but forgotten that Jo and her ridiculously short stature. She was much too concerned with the way Ann’s fingers were tracing over her knee as she drove. The fire in those blue eyes when Anne shot glances at her. The rise and fall of Ann’s breasts in that delicious little bodice.

Ann took her hand as they strode into the hut. She smiled shyly at Anne as she closed the door. Anne went to set the sword down, but Ann’s soft voice stopped her.

“Give me that.”

“What?”

“Hand me the sword, darling.”

Furrowing her brows, Anne handed the sheathed blade to her wife, who immediately pulled it from the scabbard, raised her eyebrows, and nodded toward the ground; Anne dropped to her knees. A playful smirk tugged at her lips as Ann lifted the heavy sword to her shoulder - first one, then the other.

“I dub thee Ser Anne Walker Lister,” she said playfully.

“Do you?” Anne purred, reaching forward to grab her wife’s hip. “And what can your knight do for you, my queen?”

“What do you want to do?” Ann asked softly.

“Taste you,” she husked, pulling Ann closer and easing the sword from her hand; she let it drop to the floor. “Hear you scream.”

“Pony,” her wife breathed. 

“Would you like that, your majesty?” Anne whispered into the fabric covering the apex of Ann’s thighs. 

“Please, Pony.”

Anne hummed and lifted the skirt of her wife’s dress. Back in the copse, she hadn’t had time to fully appreciate that Ann had forgone panties today. Not for the first time, Anne felt a surge of love for her little woman. Innocent and sexy all in one. Anne’s perfect match. She breathed deeply, filling her lungs with the scent of Ann’s arousal. 

“Pony,” came the gentle sigh above her as a hand twisted into her hair. 

Leaning against the door, Ann widened her stance and spread her legs, allowing Anne more access to her wet center. She lifted one delicate leg over Anne’s shoulder, shivering as warm breath ghosted across her sensitive skin. 

Tasting Ann Walker was a divine gift. Anne dragged her tongue along her folds and over her clit; she was rewarded by a series of low, ragged moans. Anne moaned against her, relishing the taste, the aroma, the gentle tug of her wife’s hand in her hair. Lapping gently between her folds, Anne stoked her release higher; she dug her fingers into Ann’s hips, the fabric of Ann’s dress piled on her wrists. 

“Pony,” Ann moaned, her voice low and guttural. “Oh, God, Pony, I - fuck! Fuck, yes.”

Pleased with herself, Anne hummed and started to flex her hands; she reveled in the feeling of Ann’s supple skin against her palms. Ann’s thighs started to shake, and Anne pulled away, panting and grinning and looking up at her desperate wife.

“Anne,” she whimpered, her hips rolling fruitlessly. “What is it?”

“Do you know what I’ve been thinking about?” 

“What?” Ann’s eyes were wide as Anne cupped her center gently with one hand and rose to her feet. “Anne?”

“Will you be wearing this again?” Anne asked her eyes and fingers trailing over the laces across Ann’s chest. 

“Probably not,” Ann answered carefully. “What are you -”

Cutting her off, Anne hooked her fingers around the top lace and pulled down. The fabric tore easily, leaving Ann’s bare chest exposed. Their eyes locked. Ann’s white teeth flashed as she bit her bottom lip and tilted her neck back. Anne stroked her long fingers along her wife’s folds before diving forward to catch her breast between her lips. She sucked gently, grinding the heel of her palm against Ann’s clit.

“Oh, God,” Ann groaned, arching her back into Anne’s touch. “God, yes.”

Anne slipped two fingers inside, curling and stroking and massaging. Ann cried out, her desperate moans bouncing against the walls as Anne pumped into her steadily. Not for the first time, Anne wished for two mouths, four hands, a thousand eyes. She wanted to taste everything, feel every inch of Ann’s skin, watch each, individual movement of her perfect body.

“Yes,” Ann screamed, her hips bucking into Anne’s hand. “Fuck! Yes! Pony, I - oh, fuck. Yes, yes, yes.”

Ann vaulted into her release, shaking and moaning as Anne eased every drop of pleasure from her. Finally, she stilled. Tenderly, Anne kissed her neck, then her cheek, then her lips. Slowly, those blue eyes opened and a soft, sated smile played at Ann’s lips.

“Good heavens, Pony.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Oh, yeah.” Ann unclasped the cape from around Anne’s shoulders. “Come here.”

Their lips met again, this time slowly and sensually. Anne was on edge, wet and aching, but Ann refused to be hurried. She walked Anne slowly back to the bedroom, breaking their gentle kiss only to lift the chain mail over Anne’s head. With a soft nudge on the shoulder, she sat Anne down on the edge of the bed. 

“You’re so sexy, Ser Lister. Do you know that?”

“Am I?” Anne grinned, pulling Ann between her legs. “I live to serve, your majesty.”

Anne kissed her again, a bit harder this time; desire roiled in her gut as Ann’s tongue darted between her parted lips. There was no way Anne could be patient at a time like this, not with that torn, ruined dress and those deep blue eyes. She longed to feel her wife’s gentle tongue unraveling her, to watch that flower crown bob between her legs. 

And yet, Ann took her time. She fumbled a bit over the leather armor, and they both giggled as they struggled to free Anne’s desperate body. It was silly and clumsy and arousing. It struck Anne, once again, how ridiculously lucky she was to have Ann in her life. The easy way they interacted and the comfortable familiarity of their bodies working together, even at this mundane task - it took her breath. She smiled broadly as Ann finally got her down to her singlet, sports bra and boxer-briefs. 

“You’re magnificent,” Ann said seriously.

“As magnificent as your Ser Jo?” Anne asked quietly. 

“More,” she answered. “There’s no one as magnificent as you, my love.”

Anne nodded, cementing the words in her mind and pushing Ann’s dress from her shoulder. Her wife stepped back, let the fabric pool at her feet, then lifted Anne’s vest and bra over her head. For a moment, they just looked at each other. Ann was devastating like this. Gorgeous and flushed and wanting. Her feet shifted restlessly below her, her hands flexed at her sides, her pert breasts rose and fell with her even breathing, and her plump bottom lip pressed against her sharp white teeth. The pastel petals nestled in her hair. Anne reached for her.

Ann closed the distance between them and cupped Anne’s face in her hands, her eyes deep and serious. Then their lips met, and Ann tilted her back into the bed. Their bodies molded into one, their breasts pressing together, hips rolling in unison. Anne moaned softly as Ann started to kiss her neck, her clavicle, the gentle swells of her breasts. All that desperation and urgency were gone. Instead, Anne melted into the mattress, content to accept her wife’s tender, loving touch. 

“You’re so beautiful,” Ann whispered against her stomach. “I can’t believe how sexy you are.”

Anne just hummed, spreading her legs as Ann wiggled lower to settle between them. Her small hands pressed Anne’s legs further apart; her gentle lips ghosted over the insides of her thighs as she slid her wet boxers down her legs. The wanton moan slipping from Anne’s lips couldn’t be helped. She could barely keep herself from tangling her fingers in Ann’s hair, fearful of ruining that delicate circle of flowers. Electricity skated up her spine as Ann kissed along her calves, her thighs, her wet core; Ann teased her clit and moaned happily against her skin.

Anne was powerless, grasping at the sheets and writhing under her wife’s careful, maddening tongue. She pleaded, begged, rolled her hips. Ann seemed to take no notice. Instead, she continued her slow, torturous worship. Her lips closed around Anne’s clit, and Anne saw stars. Her skin burned, her muscles contracted, her entire body frozen for an instant. And then she exploded.

“Darling,” Ann cooed as Anne returned to her body. “Oh, you’re so beautiful.”

“You said that,” she chuckled breathlessly. 

“And I meant it.” Ann kissed her belly, her sternum, her jaw. “You’d better listen to your queen.”

Anne laughed and kissed her, pulling her close. After a long, deep kiss, Ann collapsed onto Anne’s chest, one leg nestling between Anne’s and one arm across her waist. Anne rubbed her back softly, smiling in confusion as Ann started to laugh.

“What?” She asked.

“I’ve thought of a pun,” Ann giggled.

“Have you?”

“Uh-huh,” Ann sat up excitedly, grinning over her wife. “Want to hear?”

“Of course,” Anne grinned.

“This is certainly turning out to be ...” Ann paused dramatically. “A knight to remember.”

The chaumière was filled with their bright, joyful laughter as Anne pulled her silly, ridiculous queen back into her arms.

Chapter Text

“Pony,” Ann whined, her foot slipping over the trail. “It’s too hot.”

“Chin up, my love,” her wife grinned, pausing her long stride and turning around. “The view is worth it.”

“I doubt it,” she pouted, her eyes trained on the ground.

This was decidedly not Ann’s idea of a good time. They’d invented air conditioning for a reason, hadn’t they? And cars and trains and all manner of transportation. Why would anyone want to hike ? Climbing uphill for hours on end on purpose ? Ann had never been much of a fan, but her wife had begged. She’d pleaded. She’d actually made a slideshow presentation outlining the benefits of hiking. In the end, Ann had relented, grabbing her wife by the front of her shorts and interrupting her impassioned speech. At the time, it hadn’t seemed so bad.

Actually, the day had started out quite well. Anne was so excited that Ann hadn’t even minded getting up so early. The hike was short, Anne assured her over and over again. They’d go slowly, she’d promised, so that Ann wouldn’t overexert herself. The weather was perfect, she’d proclaimed, breathing deeply to fill her lungs with the fresh, morning air. Ann had laughed, her heart swelling with love and anticipation; Anne’s excitement was infectious. 

Until, of course, the hike actually started. “Trail” was a rather loose word for this dangerous path, Ann thought. Roots everywhere. Rocks slipping underneath her feet. She was certain she saw a snake cross their path, but Anne only chuckled and waved her off. They held hands at first, and the air was light around them. Then Anne started to push forward, pointing things out and rambling on about the history of the area. It was cute. Of course. Ann was always enthralled by her wife’s knowledge. As the trail grew steeper, however, she started to fall behind. The breeze stilled, and Ann started to feel a bit overheated. Anne trotted back with her, but Ann could tell she was forcing herself to slow down. With a shake of her head, Ann released her overexuberent wife, and, like a Golden Retriever, she dashed forward and back. She pointed out trees, leaves, rock formations, then raced back to check on her panting wife. It had all been very sweet at the start. 

Now, two hours later, Ann was miserable. It was too bloody hot, for starters. Her tennis shoes weren’t right. Too thin, she thought. She longed for proper boots like Anne’s. Proper, strong calves like Anne’s. A round, firm behind like Anne’s. Her eyes were glued to her wife’s tight ass, bobbing ahead of her; she wondered passively if the skin below those shorts still bore the imprint of Ann’s hands where she’d pulled Anne deeper last night. Deeper and harder and - 

“Fuck!”

The curse fell from her lips before she even realized. Her hands hit the dirt at about the same time. It was a full second later before her mind caught up. For a moment, she just gaped at the dirt and roots in front of her. Then the pain kicked in.

“Oh, fuck,” she hissed as Anne’s handsome, concerned face appeared in front of her. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.”

“Where does it hurt?” Anne said seriously, and Ann was in too much pain to even tease her. “Foot? Arm? Ankle?”

Ann nodded, biting back tears as her wife shifted her gingerly to cradle the hurt joint in her hands. Her long fingers gently palpated Ann’s ankle and calf; Ann gasped sharply as she found the spot that hurt the most. Tutting softly, Anne nodded and shucked her overstuffed rucksack.

“Poor darling,” Anne cooed softly. “Twisted your ankle.” She started to ruffle through the bag. “We’ll get your set right.”

“I told you I hate hiking,” Ann pouted.

“I know, my love.” Her wife started to fashion a splint from her first aid kit. “You’re being very brave. We’ll get you sorted, and you’ll be as good as new.”

Anne’s placid face and matter-of-fact manner made Ann suspicious. Surely she couldn’t mean - No, that would be - Well, Ann thought, this was Anne Lister, after all. 

“You can’t mean to keep going.”

“Why not?” Anne asked, patting her calf gently. “We’re almost there.”

For the first time since they’d started, Ann looked up. The trail gave way to grass just a few yards ahead; bright blue sky peaked out behind Anne’s grinning face. She started to laugh.

“You should see your face!” Anne stood and held her hand out. “You look so worried, darling.” She turned around, offering her back to Ann and bending her knees. “Come on, then.”

Giggling, Ann climbed carefully onto her wife’s strong back. A shiver of arousal skated up her spine as Anne’s strong hands curved around her legs to support her. Ann wrapped her arms around her wife’s neck and kissed her cheek.

“Pony should give me more rides,” she said happily, the pain in her ankle almost forgotten.

“You ride this Pony plenty,” Anne teased, jostling Ann playfully and squeezing her thighs. “You’ve been such a good girl today, Adney. We came quite a long way.”

“I worked very hard,” she said pitifully. “I deserve a reward.”

“Do you?” Anne growled, pulling her closer. “And what kind of reward does Mrs. Lister want?”

Humming, Ann’s mind raced with the filthy things they could do up here, secluded as they were. Before she could decide, however, the brilliant vista at the peak opened before her. Bright blue sky, greenery all below. Her lips parted as she took in the beauty stretching ahead of them.

“Pretty nice, right?” Anne asked with a grin, setting up the backpack down in a secluded spot on the grass. “Worth the effort?”

“Yeah,” she breathed, gingerly stepping to the soft grass. “This is - how have we never done this before?”

“My wife doesn’t like hiking,” Anne winked as she flicked out a blue-checked picnic blanket. “Hungry?”

“Starved.”

They laughed and unpacked the bag: wine, cheese, crackers, fruit. A wide grin spread across Ann’s face, mirroring her wife’s. The weather was perfect, the surroundings idyllic, the company divine. Ann couldn’t remember the last time she’d spent such a pleasant afternoon.

“You can’t do this,” Anne said softly as Ann leaned back and stretched her legs out. “It’s not fair at all.”

“What?”

“Wear these tiny little shorts.” Anne’s broad hand rested on her calf. “Or that skimpy top.”

“I don’t know what you mean,” Ann answered coyly, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. “I’m simply dressing for the weather.”

“You’re dressing to drive me mad,” her wife growled, leaning forward and crawling slowly over her; in moments like this, Ann always fancied Anne looked a bit like a panther stalking her prey. “I don’t know if I can stand it any longer.”

Biting her lip, Ann reached up to wrap her arms around her wife’s neck. They were suspended in space for a moment, staring at each other as the air crackled with tension. Then Anne smiled - that broad, ridiculous, fiendish grin of hers. The one that made Ann weak in the knees, short of breath, impossibly wet. Ann tilted her chin, and their lips met. Slowly. Teasingly. Perfectly. Anne rolled her hips, pressing their bodies together as she fit her thigh between Ann’s. It never failed to amaze Ann how quickly the desperation built in her gut. 

Keening softly, Ann arched her back, molding their bodies together. Anne’s right forearm laid neatly along the ground next to Ann’s head, her left hand tracing circles over Ann’s arm, clavicle, breast. Gentle sighs slipped from Ann’s lips as her wife pressed tender kisses along her jaw and neck.

“Pony,” she sighed, “won’t we be seen?”

“No,” Anne whispered against her skin. “No one comes up here.”

“What if -”

“There’s no one up here, my love, because I closed the gate.”

“What?” 

She opened her eyes to see Anne’s smug grin above her. 

“Adney, please. Have a bit of faith. You think I brought you up here for no reason at all? For the view alone?” Ann sputtered. “Trust me, darling. I had an inkling we might end up like this.”

“Did you?” Ann grinned, running her hand along the firm plane of her wife’s arm. “Perhaps I’ll put you off. Perhaps I’m not in the mood.”

“Aren’t you?” Anne furrowed her brow and licked her lips, pulling away slightly. “I can stop any time you like.”

“No!” 

She grabbed the front of Anne’s shirt, drawing a throaty laugh from her. Ann rolled her eyes, pulled her wife in, and kissed her soundly. That seemed to open the floodgates, and Anne’s hungry fingers moved over her breasts, her stomach, her hip. Ann keened, writhing fruitlessly below her strong, teasing wife.

“Pony,” she whined, bucking her hips. “Come on.”

“You think,” Anne whispered against her skin, slipping her hand under Ann’s tank top, “that I’ve made you hike all this way for some quick shag in the grass?”

“Haven’t you?” She breathed, arching her back to press her breast into Anne’s warm hand. 

“A shag maybe,” Anne sucked on her breast through the thin fabric of her vest. “But certainly not quick.”

Ann moaned, a deep and desperate sound ripping from her throat as Anne continued to roam her chest with her mouth and hands. The warmth and wetness of Anne’s mouth seemed to send electricity straight to the aching core of her. A gentle breeze skated across Ann’s skin, sending her wife’s hair fluttering about her face and tickling gently along Ann’s exposed chest. This wimpy sports bra would be no match for Anne’s nimble fingers; in a matter of seconds, she’d slipped beneath the elastic, her hands covering Ann’s breasts while her mouth traveled ever lower.

“Pony,” she groaned, “fuck.”

Anne hummed smugly, her teeth nipping at Ann’s hip as she dragged her tongue along her flushed skin. Ann lifted her hips, begging silently for her wife’s skilled mouth, but Anne only chuckled. She took the waistband of Ann’s shorts between her teeth and snapped them playfully against her belly. This, combined with the fiendish grin on her wife’s handsome face, sent a wave of arousal straight to Ann’s core. 

“Please,” she whispered, bordering on a moan. “Pony, please.”

“You’ve been such a good girl,” Anne purred, kissing a slow path back up to Ann’s face. “Coming all this way for me.”

“Yes,” she breathed, wrapping her arms around Anne’s strong back and pulling her closer. 

“Do you want me to fuck you, Adney?” Anne purred in her ear as her long fingers traced over the growing damp spot on her shorts.

“Yes.”

“Right here in a field, my love?”

“Yes.”

It was a groan this time - urgent and hoarse. Anne kissed her lips firmly, grinding her hand against Ann’s shorts. 

“Yes,” Ann sighed, a sloppy smile spreading across her face. “Harder.”

A low hum rumbled from her wife’s throat, and Anne started to press her hand harder against Ann’s core. It was delicious - this relief, at last - but it wasn’t enough. Ann longed to feel the warmth of her wife’s knowing fingers directly on the sensitive skin of her center. She clutched Anne more tightly, lifting her hips and pressing into the firm heel of her hand. 

“Is this all you want?” Anne growled in her ear, her hips rolling with the press of her hand. “To get yourself off on my hand?”

“No,” she breathed in response. “I - fuck - I -”

“What, baby?” Anne nipped her earlobe. “What is it?”

“Inside,” she managed. “I need - unh - I need you inside me.”

Anne growled again, that frustrated kind of sound that Ann knew meant she was just as wet Ann was. She slipped her long fingers into Ann’s shorts, sliding through her arousal with that exquisite balance of pressure and tenderness. In just a few strokes, she pressed between Ann’s folds. They moaned in unison as Anne buried two fingers inside of her. 

“Fuck, Adney,” she grunted, “you feel so fucking good.”

Ann could only moan in response, her hips matching Anne’s rhythm as she thrust evenly and deeply. Fire built in Ann’s gut as their bodies moved in perfect unison. The breeze, the stillness of the clearing, the warmth of the earth below and her wife above - Ann was hurtling toward her release. She bit back her cries, fearful of being heard. Anne kissed her soundly, then froze. 

“Don’t do that,” she whispered. 

“What?” Ann breathed, her hips bucking fruitlessly against the air.

“Hold back. Please, Adney, be loud. No one can hear you but me.” She kissed Ann again. “And I really want to hear you.”

After that, Ann couldn’t hold back. She moaned wantonly, nearly screaming with each sharp, delicious thrust of Anne’s hand. Her release built higher and higher, until she was teetering on the edge, mumbling and pleading incoherently. It was perfection, this moment, the moment of pleasure leading to pleasure. Ann couldn’t believe how insanely good it was every single time. Anne teased her impossibly higher before sending her crashing into the warm pools of her climax, stroking her through wave after trembling wave.

“Oh fuck,” Ann finally exhaled, her body turning to jelly; Anne kissed her softly before pulling her hand away. “Fuck, Pony. Good Lord.”

“Yeah?” Anne grinned, sitting back and straddling Ann’s thigh.

“Oh, yeah.” She reached forward, and Anne took her hands, pulling her stiffly into a sitting position; their lips met, all tangling tongues and soft moans. “You’re so hot, Pony.”

“Am I?” Anne teased, a playful smirk on her lips. 

“Of course,” she answered, flicking open the button to Anne’s shorts. “That’s why I fell.”

“What?” 

The smirk was gone - Anne was perfectly serious now, her brow furrowed and her eyes wide; Ann kissed her pursed, worried lips. 

“I was so busy,” she husked, sliding her hand into the back Anne’s boxers and cupping her firm behind, “looking at this,” she squeezed gently, “that I didn’t see where I was going.”

“Adney.”

No more than a breath, but Ann knew what her wife was saying. Anne needed her - none of that teasing business. Not now. Not with Ann’s hand on her ass and her thigh pressing between Anne’s legs. While Ann would love to spread her wife bare and worship every inch of her delicious body, she knew that doing so would be borderline cruel. She knew how much Anne loved being outdoors, loved touching her wife, loved nothing more than doing both at once. 

“Oh, Mrs. Walker,” Ann purred, kissing her neck and slipping one hand between Anne’s firm thighs, “are you wet for me?”

A deep groan was answer enough, and Ann quickly found her wife’s hard clit. Anne was wet - incredibly wet, really - and the realization never failed to thrill her wife. One hand on Anne’s ass, Ann started firm, determined strokes against her clit; she reveled in the moans rumbling from Anne’s throat, the persistent roll of her hips, the strong circle of her arms. To have Anne in this position was a special treat; she was essentially in Ann’s lap for once, and Ann relished every sweaty moment.

“You’re so hot, Pony.” She kissed the side of Anne’s flushed neck. “You made me come so hard.” Anne groaned, urging Ann into a faster rhythm between her legs. “I can’t believe you fucked me on top of a mountain.” 

Anne’s lips parted, but Ann knew her too well. Crashing their lips together, Ann cut off whatever correction Anne had poised on the tip of her tongue; sure, they weren’t actually on a mountain, but did Anne have to be so bloody literal all the time? Between the searing kiss and Ann’s deft strokes, the retort was lost to sharp exhalations and bucking hips. With a gasp, she broke from their kiss and stretched taut; her body shook as Ann eased every drop of pleasure from her decadent body. With a final shudder, she slumped onto Ann’s shoulder and groaned.

“Oh, Adney,” she managed, kissing Ann’s shoulder wetly. “I love you.”

“I love you,” Ann said softly, buttoning up her wife’s shorts again before flopping onto her back. “How am I going to get back to the car?”

Anne clicked her tongue, sitting back between Ann’s legs and running her hands along her calves. 

“Ye of little faith,” she teased with a shake of her head. “Don’t you know your Pony would carry you?”

“All that way? No, darling, I - no. We’ll have to get a crutch or something. Maybe we can find a stick.”

“Ann Lister,” Anne said sternly. “You are not using a stick as a crutch. I am more than capable of carrying you back to the car. You know that.”

Ann hummed, but she relented. They packed up their picnic and set off down the trail - Ann carrying the knapsack on her back, and Anne carrying her in turn. By the time they reached the car, Ann was thoroughly ready for a nap. She couldn’t imagine how tired her wife was. And yet, as Anne deposited her in the passenger seat, Ann could see she was smiling. Ann grabbed her by the belt loop and pulled her back into the arc of her spread legs hanging out of the car door. 

“What’s got you so smiley?”

“Am I not allowed to smile?” Anne teased, her hands sliding naturally along Ann’s bare thighs.

“You’re up to something.” Ann’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What’re you thinking of?”

“Of you, my darling,” Anne grinned, “and your ankle’s miraculous recovery on that picnic blanket.”

“What!” She giggled as Anne started to unwrap the makeshift splint. “My ankle really hurts!”

“It certainly didn’t hurt with my fingers inside of you.”

“Pony!” She laughed helplessly, covering her face with her hands; Anne’s vulgar words always made her blush. “You - I - come on!”

“Come on yourself,” Anne teased, turning Ann’s ankle slowly. “Any pain?”

Lips parted, Ann realized she didn’t feel any pain at all. That couldn’t be right she thought - hadn’t she just been in mortal agony? She looked up at Anne’s smiling face, then back down to her ankle, then up again.

“I - what the -”

“It’s alright, darling. Psychosomatic. I don’t mind. Good excuse to have you all pressed against me the whole way down.”

“Pony,” Ann chuckled with a helpless shake of her head. “I had no idea. Really, I -”

“How can Adney make this up to me?” Anne asked. “Well, I’ll tell you. Tonight, my love, you are taking me out. Let’s have a proper date. It’s been ages.”

“Yeah?”

“A proper dinner date, my love.” Anne pecked her lips. “The price of admission for this Pony ride.”

Chapter Text

Anne shifted restlessly in her chair. Did it always take this long for Ann to get ready? She supposed it did. The knowledge of that didn’t stop her from drumming her fingers on the arm of the chair in their bedroom. It didn’t stop her from tapping her sock-clad feet on the floor. It certainly didn’t stop her from biting her lip as her wife sauntered into the room in just her bra and panties.

“I have a proposition for you,” Ann said coyly.

Anne hummed and reached for her; in an instant, she had Ann giggling in her lap. 

“Stay here all night?” She purred, squeezing Ann’s hips playfully. “Forget the reservations entirely?”

“No,” Ann drawled and tugged on Anne’s damp hair. “You wanted to go out, Pony. This was your idea.”

“But what if I had a different idea?” Anne buried her face in the crook of her wife’s neck.

“No, no, no.” Ann wriggled out of her grasp and to her feet. “I was wondering if you’d wear something for me.”

Smirking wryly, Anne gestured broadly to the tan slacks and white shirt her wife had laid out for her. She’d grown used to this - to Ann dressing her; secretly, Anne loved being cared for in this way. Ann’s attention to her appearance soothed Anne’s insecurity and strengthened her armor; she could wear anything proudly if Ann chose it. Ann knew it, too. Reaching forward, she toyed with the sky blue tie draped loosely around Anne’s neck. 

“You’re so handsome, Pony,” she said lowly, slinking forward and perching on Anne’s knee; her core seemed to burn through the leg of Anne’s trouser straight to her skin. “Do something for me.”

“Anything.”

“Anything?” Ann leaned forward, her voice husky. Anne licked her lips and nodded. “Promise?”

Anne nodded seriously, and her wife caught her chin. Their lips met in a heated kiss, and then she was gone. Anne gasped air into her lungs, her eyes wide as her wife disappeared into their closet. She returned with a familiar strip of leather. Anne’s jaw dropped.

“So we are staying?”

“No,” Ann drawled, shaking her head slowly and closing the distance between them. “Wear this for me tonight. At dinner.”

“Adney,” she breathed, “you can’t - we should - let’s stay here. Let’s go to the hut. Anything. Let’s - fuck, let me - please.”

Ann hummed and knelt between her legs; her nimble fingers flicked open Anne’s trouser button. Lifting her hips, Anne watched as her wife slipped her trousers and boxers down her legs; she moaned softly as Ann laid them carefully on the floor next to her, then pressed her lips along Anne’s inner thighs.

“Adney.”

“Pony,” she hummed, “will you do it for me? I’ll be so hot for you all night.” She slid her hands under Anne’s shirt and along her belly. “Just knowing that you’re sitting there.” She looked up at Anne with those devilish blue eyes. “Wearing your cock and wanting to fuck me.”

Groaning, Anne took her wife’s face in her hands and kissed her hard. Had there ever been anyone quite so hot? Anyone who surprised or excited her more? Absolutely not, Anne decided as her infuriating little wife pulled away again. She hummed as Ann disappeared into the closet once more.

“You torture me,” Anne called, fitting the harness around her hips and adjusting the strap so that it hung loosely along her left leg. “I’m already burning up.”

“Are you?” Ann grinned, presenting the open back of her dress to Anne; she shivered lightly as Anne kissed her neck and dragged the zipper upward. “Oh, Pony, I think we’re going to have a lovely night.”

Anne wasn’t so sure that “lovely” was the right word for it. Torturous, perhaps. Maddening, at times. Delightful, absolutely.

The food must’ve been good, Anne figured, but she hardly tasted it. All she could think about was her wife. The glimmer in her eyes. The tinkle of her laughter. The curve of her cleavage. The warmth of her foot sliding up Anne’s calf.

“Fancy a trip to the loo?” Anne offered in a low voice.

“No,” her wife answered, pulling her foot away and smiling innocently. “We’d better wait.”

“Now Adney,” she warned as they waited for the bill, “you cannot be serious.”

“I can’t imagine what you mean,” Ann said innocently. “I’m having a wonderful evening.”

“As am I,” she answered impatiently. “Can we go yet?”

Bright, joyful giggles filled the restaurant as Ann shook her head and signed for their meal. She was still laughing as they climbed into the Range Rover. Still laughing as Anne took her hand and squeezed. Still laughing at Anne’s desperate, needy expression. The only way to stop this laughter, Anne realized, was to kiss her. Soft and loving, their lips met in a series of teasing kisses. Gentle hands cupped Anne’s face; golden curls slipped between her fingers. Ann moaned, parting her lips and tilting her head to deepen their kiss. Fire burned between Anne’s legs as the strap shifted with her body’s needy curl toward her wife; she was hopelessly aroused, had been all night, and she longed to take Ann right here in the darkened parking lot.

“C’mere,” she growled, wrapping her hands around Ann’s waist.

“No,” Ann laughed, pulling away to lean and pant against the window. “Absolutely not.”

“What!”

“You have to wait, Mrs. Walker.” Ann settled into her seat and laid a hand tenderly on Anne’s thigh. “Take me home first.”

“You’re cruel,” Anne teased as she started the car. “Do you know how bloody wet I am?”

“I'd like to,” Ann grinned, her fingers dancing lightly over the bulge in Anne’s trousers. “Perhaps you’re nearly as wet as I am.”

Groaning again, Anne shifted uncomfortably. There’d been moments during dinner that she’d forgotten about the strap entirely. Then she’d shift in her chair or laugh particularly hard or catch a glimpse of Ann’s hard nipple straining against the fabric of her dress, and her clit would pulse with desire. Arousal coursed through her veins as she navigated the dark, winding roads.

“You’re so hot, Pony,” Ann husked, curling her hand around Anne’s thigh. “I've been thinking about you fucking me all night.”

“Have you?” Anne breathed.

“Oh, yes. You in this tie - your hair in your face - the way you sit with your cock between your legs.”

“What?” She squeaked. It was suddenly so hard to breathe.

“Yes,” Ann leaned closer, whispering in her wife’s ear. “Your legs are so long and spread so wide. You’re so confident. You know that your cock is bigger than every man in that room. That you can use it better.”

A deep groan rumbled in Anne’s throat. Saliva collected in her mouth and arousal between her legs. She couldn’t believe how urgently and desperately she wanted Ann right now. She shot a glance over at her wife; her heart skipped a beat at the flush on Ann’s face, the gentle part of her lips, the need flashing in her eyes.

“Let’s pull over,” she offered. “Please, Adney, just - just a quick one. Just - please, baby.”

“No,” Ann sighed and trailed her hand up Anne’s arm, over her shoulder, and around her neck. “Not yet, Pony. Let’s wait until we’re home.”

When had Shibden gotten so far away? Was it possible that the distance had doubled since they’d left? Anne couldn’t believe how bloody long it took them to get home. As she shifted the car into park, she was already sliding her seat backward. This counted as home, didn’t it?

“Come here,” she growled, lifting Ann into her lap. “I can’t stand it anymore.”

Ann laughed and kissed her, cupping Anne’s face tenderly; her fingertips brushed the hair at Anne’s temples. The kiss was urgent, and Anne slid her hands under her wife’s dress to take hold of her pert little behind. Ann giggled as Anne squeezed playfully and tilted her head to kiss Ann’s neck. She bucked her hips upward, reminding Ann of the warm silicone beneath her trousers.

“Fuck, Pony,” Ann breathed and stretched her neck to the side. “I’m so wet for you.”

“Are you?” Anne couldn’t help the smug smile on her lips as she slipped her hand between her wife’s legs and over the damp fabric of her panties. “Yes, baby, you are.” They moaned in unison as Anne stroked her clit gently. “Are you going to ride my cock, Miss Walker?”

Ann hummed and rolled her hips into the teasing hand below her; Anne buried her face in her wife’s chest, breathing deeply of the scent that lived on her skin. Then Ann sighed.

“No, Pony, I don’t think so.”

Anne’s head snapped upright.

“What?”

“No, Pony,” her wife repeated slowly, “I don’t think so.”

“Ann.”

“Yes?” Ann toyed with the knot of Anne’s tie. 

“What have I done? Are you upset with me?”

“Of course not.”

“Then what? Was carrying you down the mountain this afternoon not enough?”

“Enough for what?” Ann laughed.

“Enough for - Adney! Why can’t we - is something wrong?”

“Why would anything be wrong?”

“You’re-! We’re-! Ann!”

“Yes?” Ann laughed harder, her smile stretching widely across her face. “Use your words, darling.”

“Why,” Anne said slowly, punctuating each word with a kiss to her wife’s chest, “can’t we have sex right here and now?”

“Because you’re a beast, Pony,” Ann laughed and swung the door open, tumbling to the ground and pulling Anne after her, “and because I want you to take your time with me tonight, Daddy.”

Anne’s jaw hit the concrete floor of the garage as her wife skipped into the house ahead of her.

“There you are!” A shrill voice crowed, drawing a frustrated groan from Anne. “Where the hell have you been all day?”

Dutiful as ever, Anne dragged her feet into the living room. She dropped onto the armchair across from her wife, flopping her long body into a limp and pouting pose. Her wife and her sister - as thick as thieves - discussed whatever the hell it was they discussed when they got together; Anne could never quite follow, and it had only gotten worse with time. They seemed to have a secret language, these two, and Anne started to resent it. Wasn’t there meant to be a lot more shagging going on right about now? She sighed audibly and pursed her lips in annoyance. 

Hint taken, Ann smiled at Marian and stood. She perched on the arm of Anne’s chair, blocking Marian from Anne’s view as her slender fingers danced along the bulge in Anne’s pants.

“How was the kitchen today?” Ann asked. “Tell me every detail.”

The conversation flowed away from her. Ann trailed her hand gently over Anne’s thigh, over the strap, just quickly over the apex of Anne’s thighs. Anne had to bite back a moan as those nimble fingers managed to brush against her clit. 

Marian, oblivious as ever, seemed to take no notice. Every passing moment was agony. After ten minutes, Anne placed her hand on the small of her wife’s back. The teasing only increased. 

Twenty minutes later, she coughed harshly and slipped her hand under the skirt of Ann’s dress to trace over her thigh. Ann continued to prattle on about - oh, who could even tell? Anne certainly couldn’t. She could only think about the fire blazing between her legs and spread them wider. 

By the time an hour passed, Anne had grown accustomed to this torture. She was one with the flames. The slickness of her core was simply her natural state of being. The sticky warmth of the strap against her leg couldn’t be helped. Perhaps this was Stockholm Syndrome, she mused; she didn’t even mind the delicious pain of her arousal anymore. 

“Marian,” she sighed, crossing her legs lazily, “may we be dismissed? Adney and I are rather tired.”

“I’m not tired,” Ann protested. 

“Adney,” she whined, getting close to her breaking point. Perhaps she’d trot upstairs and take care of herself, Anne thought sullenly.

“Alright, darling, if you’re not too tired, will you take a walk with me?”

“A walk?” Marian squawked. “It’s the middle of the night.”

“I forgot something in the shed,” Ann shrugged flippantly, taking Anne’s hand as she rose. “Good night, Marian.”

“The shed ?” Anne hissed as they got outside. “Come on.”

“Oh, Pony,” her wife chuckled, wrapping her arm around Anne’s narrow waist and fitting into the crook under her arm, “you know how Marian is. I thought you’d appreciate my discretion.”

“Discretion?”

“Well, I’m sure she knew what we were going to do! What with you showing your cock off like that.”

“What?” Anne looked down at her wife, eyes wide and startled.

“Pony,” she answered slowly, “my love. You have a tendency to spread your legs when you sit down, do you know that? I find it incredibly hot, if I’m honest,” Ann chuckled and smoothed her hand over Anne’s flat stomach, “but when you’ve got that strap under your trousers? It’s rather obvious, my darling.”

“Is it? Do you think Marian noticed?” Anne asked, alarmed. 

“No, no,” her wife giggled as they reached the chaumière. “Marian does not believe we have a strap.”

“What!”

“She thinks I’m joking,” Ann shrugged, leaning against the door and pulling Anne to her by the belt loop, “so I’m fairly certain she didn’t notice.” Anne took a step closer. “But I did.”

Groaning lowly in her throat, Anne caught her wife’s lips. Their bodies molded together as she pressed Ann into the door. An entire evening of teasing made Anne rough and desperate; her hands cradled her wife’s face, her hips rolling urgently. She nipped at Ann’s bottom lip as the fire between her legs threatened to consume her. She couldn’t remember the last time Ann had teased her for quite so long. 

“Adney,” she gasped as Ann wrenched her trousers open. “What are you -”

“Hush,” Ann chuckled, kissing her playfully before pushing her bottoms to the floor.

She groaned as Ann dropped to her knees and ran her hands greedily over Anne’s hips and ass. She was fairly certain her heart stopped beating entirely as Ann started to collect the arousal from her core and thighs to coat the strap with it. She babbled incoherently, unable to process how devastatingly sexy her wife was.

“You taste so good, Pony,” Ann husked; “I want to taste you, and I want your cock in my mouth.”

“Ann,” she breathed, bracing herself with one hand on the door in front of her as her wife started to tighten the harness until the cock stood tall and proud between her legs. “Fuck.”

“You’re so sexy,” Ann murmured against the overheated skin of Anne’s thigh.

A strangled moan broke from Anne’s lips as she watched her wife take the pink silicone in her mouth. Ann bobbed her head slowly, tilting the strap so that its base rubbed deliciously against Anne’s aching clit. Soft hums rumbled in Ann’s throat as she worked her mouth slowly over every inch of Anne’s cock. The pleasure was almost too intense, and Anne had to hold tightly to the back of her wife’s head. 

“Ann,” she begged, her legs shaking with the effort of holding herself up and the force of her release. “Fuck - I - pl-”

With a final, choked groan, Anne’s entire body ignited. Her hips juddered with the force of her climax, the pinnacle of seemingly unending torture. Ann steadied her hips and whispered quietly - not that Anne could hear her. All she could do was surrender herself to the pleasure rolling through her body, the flames licking at her skin, the warmth spreading from her head to her toes. 

Exhaling weakly, Anne stumbled backward, sitting clumsily on the floor. She flopped onto her back, arms and legs spread wide as she struggled to catch her breath. Faintly, she heard Ann chuckling and felt her unlacing her brogues and slipping her trousers and shorts from where they’d pooled around her ankles. She’d forgotten they were even there. The thought struck her as so ridiculous that she couldn’t help breaking into hysterical, breathless laughter. 

“What?” Ann asked, appearing above her with a playful grin.

“I cannot believe you,” she answered, still laughing as she pulled Ann into her arms. “The cruelty you subject me to.”

“I am never cruel to you, Pony.”

“That bit at dinner was cruel.” Ann clicked her tongue and shook her head against Anne’s chest. “Yes, it was too, Adney! Your foot against my leg. Come on. Playing with me in front of Marian was downright inhumane.”

“And then making you come so hard you fall over?” Ann sat up, grinning proudly; her eyes danced with mischief. “Was that so cruel?”

“I guess not,” Anne conceded, sitting up and catching her wife’s chin between her thumb and forefinger. “Though perhaps I should punish you anyway.”

“Would you?” Ann dared.

“Do you want me to?”

“Oh, yes,” Ann grinned, kissing her again before scrambling to her feet. “I want you to have your way with me, Dr. Lister. I’m aching for it. For you.” She held out a hand and pulled Anne to her feet. “For your cock.”

Growling playfully, Anne crashed their lips together, hands already roaming her wife’s back and pulling the zipper of her dress toward the ground. Ann moaned into her mouth as Anne’s greedy hands splayed across her back and flicked her bra open. Biting her lip playfully, Ann pulled away to shuck the garments entirely, leaving her in nothing but soaked pink panties and that excited smile. 

“You’re so beautiful,” Anne said softly, wrapping her hand around her wife’s waist and trailing her eyes over her flushed body. “You make me crazy, darling.”

Ann hummed, bit her lip, took Anne’s cock in her hand; with a deft twist of her wrist, she drove the base against Anne’s still-sensitive clit, drawing a startled gasp from her. 

“Would you - uh - would you bend me over?” Ann asked in that innocent way of hers, almost as if she would be denied. “If you’re too -”

Anne cut her off with a fierce kiss, sinking her hands into the back of Ann’s panties, palming her ass before discarding the ruined lace. Backing her up slowly, Anne ran her hands along her wife’s hips, stomach, breasts. Ann giggled as the backs of her thighs hit the edge of the couch. Anne winked before descending on her chest - pressing her lips to her perfectly flushed breasts. Small hands tangled in her hair as gentle hums rumbled in her wife’s throat. Anne couldn’t get enough - her mouth wasn’t large enough, her hands too slow. She wanted to consume every inch of Ann’s body; she’d like to drown in the soft, needy sounds spilling from her lips. 

As her mouth traced endless paths over Ann’s chest, Anne dropped one hand between her legs; she couldn’t help moaning at the pooling wetness that greeted her. She dragged her fingers lightly across her sopping folds, lazily circled her clit, teased her entrance for only a moment. Ann’s hands dug into her shoulders, hips rolling fruitlessly against Anne’s featherlight touch.

“You want to be bent over, darling?” Anne husked against her skin.

“Yes,” came the breathless reply.

Moaning softly, Anne straightened and took her wife’s face in her hands; the way Ann looked up at her broke her heart and twisted her gut. Had anyone ever needed her so much? Ever wanted her so deeply? Anne vowed once more to protect this fragile, magical being with her every breath. 

“I’d meant to tease you,” she said softly, swiping a thumb slowly over Ann’s cheek. “Put you through as much teasing as you did me. But you know what, Adney? I can never resist you.”

And then she smiled. That broad, proud, I-tamed-Anne-Lister smile. The one that made Anne exasperated and aroused and lovesick all at once. She kissed her ridiculous little sprite, then spanked her lightly. 

“Let’s get to it.”

Ann giggled and turned around, balancing her forearms on the arm of the couch and wiggling her ass playfully in the air. The sight alone made Anne weak in the knees, and she took a moment to trail her index finger reverently along the curve of her wife’s delicate spine. She kissed her back softly, then wrapped her hand around her cock. Dragging the tip gently through her arousal, Anne watched a shiver snaked up Ann’s back; Ann exhaled happily, pressing backward in silent question.

“You’re so wet,” Anne marveled, pressing forward slowly. “You’re so ready for me.”

“Yes, Daddy,” her wife sighed, sending a jolt of electricity straight to Anne’s core. “Oh, you feel so good.”

For a few long, blissful moments, they adjusted to each other. Anne started with deep, even strokes, relishing the exquisite tightness around her cock, the warmth of Ann’s hips in her hands, the light slap of their skin meeting with each thrust. Gradually, she sped up, until she was rutting into Ann with force. 

“Is that -”

“Yes!” Ann cried, arching her back to take Anne deeper. “Yes, Daddy, fuck. I - harder.”

Anne grunted and complied. Wasn’t that always the way? She’d do anything Ann asked, even if it meant ignoring the almost-too-perfect friction against her clit every time she buried herself between her wife’s folds. She pounded into Ann over and over, reaching around to stroke her wife’s clit; gritting her teeth, she focused on Ann’s desperate cries, the rhythm of their bodies, the fluttering of her core. For now, she set aside the devastating pleasure coiling in her gut. She wasn’t sure she’d survive it otherwise. 

“Daddy,” Ann groaned at the first, trembling wave of her relief. “Yes, I’m -”

“Come for me, baby,” Anne panted, driving into her faster and harder. “You feel so good. You’re such a good girl for me. Come for me.”

“You - you -” Ann gasped, “come - wi- with me.”

On the final word, Ann exploded, crying out and shaking beneath Anne’s expert touch. Anne tried to hold off - really, she did - but she was no match for the perfection stretched below her. The pink expanse of her wife’s back, the delicious pressure on her cock, the exquisite friction against her clit - Anne couldn’t escape her climax even if she’d wanted to. They shuddered and mumbled and cursed together as wave after wave of pleasure rolled through their sweaty bodies. 

“Fuck, I -”

“You’re so -”

“Yes!”

“Please, fuck, you -”

“Fuck,  fuck, fuck, fu-”

“Anne-”

“Ann-”

“Oh, Lord,” Ann sighed at last, collapsing limply against the couch. “Oh, Pony, I - good heavens.”

“I know,” Anne breathed, falling gently on top of her. “Fucking hell.”

“You’re so hot.”

“You are.” Anne kissed her shoulder. “Can I-?”

Ann nodded, and Anne slowly pulled away. She let the harness drop to the floor before she wrapped her wife gently in her arms to carry her, bridal-style to the bedroom. 

“Where are we going?” Ann asked sleepily.

“To bed,” she answered, kissing Ann’s forehead softly. “Are you tired?”

“I could be,” Ann nestled her head against Anne’s chest. “If you are.”

“That means ‘no,’” Anne teased. “That means ‘take me again, Pony, please.’”

Bright giggles filled the bedroom as Anne set her wife down gently; she moved to step back, but Ann caught the end of her tie. 

“I do mean that. Of course I do. Let me take this off of you, though, okay? Please.”

Anne rolled her eyes and sat back on her heels, allowing Ann to loosen the tie around her neck and slowly unbutton her shirt. She ran her hands along Anne’s broad shoulders, down her long arms, over her flat stomach; Anne breathed deeply as she removed her bra and kissed the gentle swells of her breasts. She was relaxing into the moment, into being taken care of this way; she closed her eyes. 

Then Ann was gone. 

Anne’s eyes snapped open to find her wife - her beautiful, incredible, bottom of a wife - nestled happily in the pillows with a placid smile on her face. A sputtered laugh escaped Anne’s lips, and she curled her hands around the bends of Ann’s knees. 

“Ready, are you?” She teased.

“Well, yeah,” Ann shrugged. “I thought you were going to take me again, Pony.”

“I suppose I was, wasn’t I?” 

Ann hummed with a self-satisfied nod, and Anne decided she’d have her way with this infuriating little woman. Not the rough way that Ann anticipated. Not now. No, tonight, Anne planned on savoring her wife’s delectable body. On dragging her tongue over the sharp lines of her collar bones. On kissing her neck. On making her laugh and then nipping the soft, rolling expanse of her belly. On tracing her fingers in shapeless patterns over Ann’s arms, her breasts, her thighs. 

By the time she’d had done all of this, Ann was gripping the sheets and the headboard in frustration. Anne grinned and laid on her belly between her creamy thighs. She lifted one perfect leg over her shoulder, quirked an eyebrow, inhaled deeply to fill her lungs with her wife’s arousal. 

“Ready, are you?” Anne repeated, reaching up to tweak one straining nipple. 

“Yes,” Ann whined, lifting her hips up into Anne’s face. “Come on.”

“I love you too,” she teased before pressing a soft kiss to Ann’s quivering clit. 

Ann gasped sharply, both hands tangling in Anne’s hair and holding her close. Anne lapped gently between her folds, softly kneaded her clit, dragged her tongue along the length of her wife’s aching core. Vaguely, Anne was aware that her wife was begging for something - probably that “harder, deeper, faster” business she usually wanted - but Anne wasn’t in the mood. No, she’d much rather unravel her wife with the patience and confidence of an expert. 

Little by little, she did just that. Easing pleasure and sighs and bucking hips from the woman she loved. It didn’t take long, but Anne drew it out as much as possible. She kept Ann on the edge for as long as she could; selfishly, she never wanted this moment to end. She’d like to live in this exact spot, between Ann’s thighs on the precipice of her release; she fancied eternity wasn’t quite long enough. 

With a soft whimper, Ann gave in to the rolling waves of release. Anne steadied her hips and lapped lightly as she mumbled and shook. There was nothing more beautiful than this, Anne knew, and she tried to burn the sounds, the tastes, the sensations into her brain. When, at last, Ann stilled, Anne kissed the insides of her thighs, then her stomach, then her chin, then her soft lips. She rolled onto her side and pulled Ann onto her chest, rubbing her back in that familiar way. 

“I love you,” Ann said softly.

“I love you,” Anne answered, kissing the sweaty crown of her head. “You’re so beautiful, darling.”

“Can we sleep out here?” Ann asked, her eyes already closed. 

“On one condition.”

“Anything.”

“You must never - and I mean never - touch my cock in front of my sister again.”

Chapter Text

A surprise, Ann thought with a shiver of anticipation. Anne had promised her a surprise. She’d been teasing it for days, driven Ann crazy with hints, refused to give any information at all. Despite Ann’s interrogation tactics - which mostly consisted of long hours with Ann’s face pressed between her wife’s thighs - Anne had remained firm. Never wavered for a moment. Offered only self-satisfied smirks instead of any actual fucking information.

Ann was going a bit crazy in the waiting.

“Pony,” she whined in Anne’s ear, leaning over the back of her armchair and slipping her arms around her neck, “when is my surprise coming?”

“An hour or so,” Anne said flippantly, turning the page of her book. “Patience, Adney.”

“I’ve been patient!” Ann whipped around to the front of the chair, climbing stubbornly into her wife’s lap. “Just tell me what it is.” She dropped her voice and looked at Anne’s lips, “please, Anne.”

“No,” she laughed, dropping her book carelessly to wrap her arms around Ann. “Just a bit longer. I won’t ruin the surprise.”

“Ruin it,” Ann whispered seductively. “You’ve already ruined me.”

“You’re ridiculous,” her wife laughed with a shake of her head. 

“You are,” Ann huffed, slumping against her chest. “Just tell me. I’m about to find out anyway.”

“You’re quite impatient, my love, do you know that?”

“I’m not impatient,” she pouted, tracing her finger against the collar of Anne’s thin t-shirt. “I just don’t want to wait for anything at all ever.”

Anne’s deep, rolling laughter shook her chest and warmed Ann’s heart. She could never stay angry with her long, could she? Anne was infuriating, sure, but she was too charming to resist. It was no use - Anne Lister held her heart in those broad, dexterous hands. The hands currently teasing underneath Ann’s shirt. The hands that knew Ann’s body better than anyone else. The hands that -

“They’re here!” Anne proclaimed loudly, breaking her wife from her reverie and tipping her out of her lap. “Come on.”

She pulled Ann out of the room and out the door, into the brilliant sunshine. Ann’s heart raced as she followed Anne across the field, toward the dilapidated barn. Except, Ann realized, that barn wasn’t so dilapidated anymore. A fresh coat of paint made the old building gleam, and a bulky man with a long beard emerged with a grin on his face.

“To your specifications, Dr. Lister,” he said as they approached. 

“Really?” Anne grinned and gripped Ann’s hand more tightly.

“Not that it was easy,” the stranger chuckled. “You’re a picky customer, but I love a challenge.”

“Good man,” Anne clapped him on the back. “Knew I could count on you.”

He seemed to take this as his cue to leave, and disappeared around the back. They were alone at the threshold of the barn, and Ann’s mind raced with the possibilities. What was in there? Some kind of new vehicle? A new animal? Ann started to worry that her wife had gotten them a puppy that Tiny wouldn’t like. 

“You needn’t look so worried,” Anne laughed, pulling her close; “you’re going to love them.”

Furrowing her brow, Ann followed her into the barn. There, calm and beautiful, were two chestnut ponies. Ann’s breath caught in her chest. One was just slightly taller than the other, but otherwise they were more or less identical. With a soft smile, Anne led her to the shorter one. Ann didn’t even think; she just reached out to stroke its nose. 

“This one’s called Squire, eh? Isn’t she a beauty?”

“Yeah,” Ann breathed.

“Marty said she’s a little temperamental, but she’s dependable. Feisty when she wants to be, he said,” Anne chuckled.

“I love her,” Ann whispered, falling head over heels into the chestnut mare’s deep brown eyes. “Oh, Pony, I love you. Thank you.”

“Yeah?”  Anne grinned. “Worth the wait?”

“Yes!” Ann spun on her heels to launch herself into her wife’s arms; she peppered her handsome face with kisses. “Yes, yes, yes, yes! Pony, oh my God, yes! Holy - I - I’m so excited! Oh, we can ride all the time! Is this one yours?”

Anne turned to the other pony and awkwardly patted her neck, which made Ann giggle. She was still a bit nervous around these animals, wasn't she?

“Yes, uh, yes. She’s very quiet, Marty said. Sweet. He said even I couldn’t mess this one up.”

“Pony,” Ann laughed. “You’re a fine rider.”

“Well, we’ll see. Her name does not inspire a lot of confidence.”

“What do you mean?”

“Marty says she’s called -“ Anne laughed and shook her head, “he said she’s called Junky.”

“Junky!” Ann laughed. “You’re kidding.”

“Unfortunately no,” her wife sighed with a small smile, “but I really wanted them to match. To be just alike.”

“Uh-huh.” Ann studied the ponies next to each other, then tilted her head to the side. “They’re a bit different, though.”

“Are they?”

Ann ignored her wife’s long fingers teasing her behind; by now, she knew Anne’s distractions well enough to ignore them.

“Is yours a bit taller?”

“Mine?” Anne asked, a guilty squeak in her voice. “Oh, I -“

“She is !” Ann started to laugh. “Did you do this on purpose?” 

Anne stammered over her reply, drawing more and more delighted giggles from her wife. She really was terribly predictable, wasn’t she? Anne was so bloody proud of her height. Loved to tower over others. Relished using it as an advantage over her wife. Ann giggled and squeezed her narrow hips.

“You had to have a taller pony, didn’t you? Anne Lister of Shibden Hall is so obsessed with her height that she got her wife a shorter pony.”

“Well, I-“ Anne’s handsome face flushed a deep red; Ann couldn’t love her more.

“You did! Oh, Pony, you’re ridiculous.” 

Laughter bubbled up in her chest, carrying her back to the house, into their closet, and straight into her riding gear. Anne followed her, sheepish and half-confused, as she put on a pair of jeans and boots. Ann couldn’t believe her good fortune - sure, a gorgeous pony waiting for her in their barn, but also a thoughtful, generous, height-conscious wife. 

“You’re so cute,” Ann said as they reached the barn again.

“Cute?” Her wife scoffed, pulling Ann in her arms just inside the doorway. “What about handsome? Sexy? Devastating?”

Ann hummed, smirked, shook her head. 

“Cute,” she pronounced, draping her arms around her wife’s strong neck. “My cute wife. With her too-tall pony.”

Anne laughed and brought their lips together. Ann pressed her gently backward, into the rough wall of the barn. Usually, Anne was so very in control, but there were a precious few situations in which Ann could seize the upper hand. Riding definitely fell into that category.

“Now, come on, Pony.” Ann bit her lip playfully before pulling away. “Let’s go.”

Squire turned out to be an excellent ride. 

This was her happy place, astride a gentle but strong pony, the wind in her hair and the sun on her skin. Anne and Junky trotted along next to her, both of them trying to look as nonchalant as Ann and Squire. No such luck - Ann could see the tension in her wife’s hands, their occasional stumble, the muttered curses. By the time they’d tired themselves out and turned back toward the barn, Ann was brimming with confidence. Energy. Arousal.

“Are you pleased?” Anne asked. “Worth the wait?”

Something about Anne’s posture on the horse - the way she held herself, the slightly tentative tilt of her head - set an idea in motion in Ann’s head. She licked her lips, shifted her weight, reached out to squeeze her wife’s strong thigh. Anne’s eyes widened, and her lips parted. Ann couldn’t keep her broad smile at bay.

“Just like you, Pony. Well worth the wait.”

That moment - that connection and warmth between them - Ann wouldn’t trade it for anything. Anne smiled at her, that soft smile reserved for her; her whole body seemed to relax, as if she were finally at peace. The fire in her wife’s dark eyes combined with the comforting strength of Squire between her legs to form her version of heaven on earth. No, Ann wouldn’t change that moment for anything. 

She would, however, change the next moment entirely.

For in the next moment, the very next moment, Anne fell to the ground. How it happened exactly was unclear; one moment they were locked in this loving gaze, and the next Anne was tipping over Junky’s side. She grunted, a startled sort of puff as she landed on her side on the dusty ground. Like a shot, Ann slipped off her own pony and rushed to her wife, who was already shaking her head and waving her off.

“I’m fine,” she groaned weakly, one arm wrapped around her middle and her face contorted in pain. “I’m absolutely fine.”

“No, you’re not,” Ann said firmly, taking Squire’s and Junky’s reins in one hand to steady them. “Can you stand?” Her eyes studied her wife’s body, curled in pain on the ground. “Let me call Marian.”

“No!” Anne interjected quickly; she grimaced as she rose shakily to her feet. “I’m fine. I’m -”

“You’re bloody not.” Ann took her wife’s waist, encouraging the taller woman to lean into her. “Let’s get these ladies settled, and then you’re going straight to bed.”

“I am not,” Anne pouted. “I’m perfectly fine, and we have dinner plans.”

“Not anymore.” Ann deposited her wife gingerly against the interior wall of the barn while she settled the ponies in their stalls. “We’re marching you right up to bed, young lady. No arguments.”

Poor Pony, Ann thought as she said a silent goodbye to Squire and Junky; she must be in tremendous pain to acquiesce so quickly. With a gentle smile and a supportive arm, Ann led her back toward the house.

“Let’s call Dr. Kenney.”

“Absolutely not,” Anne said through gritted teeth.

“You might’ve broken a rib, darling.”

“I haven’t.”

“And you know, do you?”

“I’m a doctor.”

“Of Classics!” Ann laughed, squeezing her wife’s side; too late, she realized her mistake, as Anne groaned and stumbled at the threshold of the house. “Oh, darling, I am sorry. Let me call a different doctor. Somebody.”

“Really, I’m fine,” Anne shook her head. “Honestly. I’ve broken ribs before, and this isn’t that. I’ll probably have a substantial bruise and a bit of soreness. We can still go to dinner. We will go to dinner. As long as you don’t try anything too -” 

She tried to press Ann into the dark wood of Shibden, but she winced at the sudden movement and pulled away; Ann laced their fingers together and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.

“We’re going to bed, Mrs. Walker.” She kissed Anne’s proud cheek. “Come on.”

The stairs proved a bit of a struggle, as it turned out. Anne leaned heavily against the wall at first, but Ann coaxed her to her side, supporting her as they slowly mounted stair after stair. Had there always been so many? Had Anne always been so tall? Why didn’t she let her enormous wife lean on that stupid wall? 

“Alright, Adney, I’ll rest. Go on,” Anne sat heavily on the edge of the bed. “I’m fine.”

“Say that one more time,” Ann warned playfully as she knelt at her wife’s feet to remove her boots, “and I’ll be forced to punish you.”

Anne hummed, but she let Ann continue. Slowly, Ann slipped off her riding boots, then her socks; she pulled her dirty shirt gently over her head, then eased Anne onto her back. She kissed her lips softly, then her neck, her clavicle, the sharp lines of her shoulders.

“Tell me where it hurts,” she whispered, pressing her fingers gently against Anne’s flat stomach. “Really, Anne. Be honest.”

Anne nodded seriously, breathing deeply and evenly as Ann moved slowly across her stomach. She sucked in a breath sharply, and Ann pulled away.

“There,” Anne groaned, “obviously.”

“Obviously,” Ann rolled her eyes and continued her tests. “Where else?”

“There!” Anne squeaked. 

“Thank you, Pony,” she said as she finished her examination. “You were very brave.”

“Do I get a sweet for being such a good girl?” Anne teased, reaching for the front of Ann’s riding pants. “You, for example.”

“I don’t know if you should,” Ann answered slowly, even as she fit her knees between Anne’s and hovered over her lithe body. “In your condition.”

 “Oh, I’m sure I can -” Anne wrapped her hand in the front of her wife’s shirt, but she grimaced as she tried to pull her down. “Well. Perhaps not.”

Ann laughed and kissed her lightly. She trotted out of the room for supplies. In the bathroom, she found a few painkillers and administered them with a hearty dose of snacks and water. She urged Anne into the pillows, shook loose her ponytail, massaged her sore legs. Anne’s quiet obedience surprised her; the fall must’ve really startled her wife, usually so brave as to border on fearless. Ann stripped her own riding clothes off, then her wife’s jeans, bra, and boxers. She settled against the pillows and pulled Anne into her side, careful not to put any pressure on her sore spots as she pulled the blanket over their intertwined bodies.

“Now, Pony, rest.” She stroked her hair tenderly. “Doctor’s orders.”

Anne hummed, but she closed her eyes. In a matter of minutes, her breath had evened out, and her entire body relaxed. Ann studied her thoughtfully. Was this how it felt to be Anne? How many times had they laid in this exact position, roles reversed? She found she rather liked it, actually, protecting Anne like this. Protecting from what? She asked herself flippantly. Whatever. She felt strong like this, like an outlaw cowboy protecting her love after a rough day riding. Exactly, rather, wouldn’t Anne be hot as an outlaw? All scruffy and dirty and brutish?

Ann lost herself to these fantasies for nearly an hour, until Anne started to stir. It started with gentle circles on her hip, traced by Anne’s thumb. Then a soft sigh against her shoulder, and a brush of thigh against her own. Ann rubbed her hand gently along her wife’s sinewy forearm.

“Are you awake, Pony?”

“Yes,” Anne sighed happily, nuzzling her nose more deeply into Ann’s hair. “Unless this is a dream.”

“Not a dream, darling,” she grinned, her chest swelling with warmth at her wife’s husky tone. “How do you feel?”

“Better.” Anne kissed her shoulder. “Certainly well enough to receive my reward.”

“Reward?” Ann giggled.

“For being so brave earlier,” Anne said with those puppy-dog eyes, “for your marvelous surprise.”

“I see,” she laughed and turned Anne gently onto her back. “You think you deserve a shag, do you?”

“Absolutely,” Anne purred, licking her lips and trailing her eyes over Ann’s naked body stretched above hers.

“I suppose,” she kissed her softly, “you were rather brave.”

Anne moaned softly as Ann started to kiss her neck. Her lips traced along her shoulder, her breasts, her stomach; she was careful to avoid the injured, sensitive area, but Anne seemed to have forgotten the fall entirely. She writhed impatiently under Ann’s tongue; an impatient buck of her hips made Ann laugh out loud.

“What?” Anne asked petulantly as her wife pulled away.

“You’ve got a bruised side, and you’re practically pushing me down between your legs,” Ann laughed.

“What if I am?” Anne whined, her lower lip jutting out. “I spent all day watching your ass in those trousers, and I haven’t been able to do a damned thing about it.”

“Poor Pony,” Ann cooed, settling on the bed between her wife’s strong thighs. “You’ve been so patient.” She kissed the warm skin next to her head. “So brave.” She dragged her tongue along the crease where leg met body. “So fucking hot.”

Anne could only groan deeply as Ann pressed her lips to her wet center; a soft moan rumbled from her throat as Ann stroked her folds with her tongue. Ann relished this moment - the slow, patient build. The enjoyment of Anne’s taste. The luxury of time at the aching, wet center of Anne Lister.

“Adney,” she breathed as Ann lapped between her thighs, “oh fuck, I - yes, baby.”

Ann hummed, tried to suppress a grin, pressed a gentle kiss to her wife’s clit. A strong hand shot into her hair, holding her close. What choice did Ann have? None but to unravel her wife - her brave, patient, ridiculous wife - stroke by tantalizing stroke. 

“You’re so good,” Anne babbled, her hips twitching under Ann’s steady hands. “Fuck, right th- yes! Oh, fuck, yes, Ann, I -”

And then she started to shake, breathless sighs and moans filling the room as Ann gently led her through wave after wave of pleasure. In a few moments, she sagged against the sheets, panting and grinning and shaking her head. Ann kissed her belly then crawled back up the length of her to kiss her lips.

“Good Lord, Adney.” She palmed Ann’s breast reflexively. “You’re incredible.”

“I know,” Ann giggled, covering Anne’s hand with her own. “And you’re hurt. Let’s go back to sleep. It’s late.”

“Do I not get my reward?” Anne husked, rolling her wife’s breast in her hand.

“You got yours.” Ann tried to pull away, but Anne’s free hand caught her hip. 

“Not all of it,” Anne licked her lips. “Making love to my wife is a two-step process.” 

“Is it?” Ann laughed.

“Absolutely. I didn’t brave that dangerous beast out there just for one kiss before bed.”

“You’re ridiculous. And you’re hurt.”

“My arm is perfectly fine,” Anne trailed her hand down between Ann’s legs, “or at least I think it is. How about we test it out?”

Ann tried to laugh, but her wife’s nimble fingers had already found her clit. She keened, shaking her head and rolling her hips; how could one person be so maddening? So hot and infuriating and perfect? Ann didn’t know, couldn’t know, couldn’t think - not with Anne’s long fingers probing her entrance. Not with Anne’s lips on her neck. Not with Anne’s filthy words filling her ear.

“You’re so hot, baby. You’re so wet. I could come again just touching you.” Anne’s low, fiendish voice made Ann blush, even as arousal shot to her core. She ached for Anne to fill her, deeply and fully. “Do you want me inside of you?”

“Yes,” Ann breathed, moaning softly as Anne slipped two fingers between her folds. “Is this okay?”She asked breathlessly. “Are you-”

“I’ve never been better, baby.” Anne kissed her - sloppy and wet and urgent. “I’ve been thinking about you riding me all day.”

Ann whimpered, rolling her hips into Anne’s touch. Her body was on fire, her breath stolen from her longs with her powerful press of Anne’s hand against her. She bit down, into her wife’s strong shoulder, desperate to quiet the cries clawing at her throat. She was close - so close, already, and she bucked her hips against Anne’s hand.

“You feel so good,” Anne purred, rubbing her back with one hand as she pumped into Ann with the other. “Come for me, baby. You’re so close. You’re so beautiful.” Her thumb slipped over Ann’s clit, drawing a high-pitched whine from her. “Oh, yes, my love. There it is,” she did it again, “fuck, yes, baby. Come on. Come for me.”

With a final, breathless moan, Ann’s hips juddered and flames consumed her body. She shot into her release, letting the warm waves rip into her with each perfect thrust of her wife’s skilled fingers. She collapsed against her with a groan, sweaty and smiling and out of breath. Anne kissed the top of her head.

“I love you,” she breathed, barely able to form words in the wake of her climax. “Oh, Pony, I love you. I love you so much.”

“I love you,” Anne said softly. 

“Let’s go to sleep,” she smiled against Anne’s chest. “Just like this, okay? We wear too many clothes to bed.”

“Okay,” Anne said in that same quiet voice.

“We don’t have to!” Ann pulled back, startled by her wife’s strained tone.

“No, we can,” Anne chuckled weakly. “Just - uh - you were lying on my bruise.”

“Oh -! Pony!” Ann laughed, feeling her face burn with embarrassment. “I’m so sorry, darling, are you okay?”

“I will be,” Anne teased, “on one condition.”

“Okay,” she said quickly, “anything.” 

“Promise me.”

“Of course.”

“I’m serious, Adney.”

“I’ll promise anything, just tell me what,” Ann asked, her mind racing with a thousand different fears.

“You must promise, my dearest one, that you’ll always love me more than you love that beast out there, Squire.”

Ann laughed, shaking her head and curling up in her wife’s arms.

“Of course I love you the most, silly,” Ann pressed a kiss to her sternum, “don’t get jealous when I ride Squire. You’ll always be my favorite pony.”

Chapter Text

They’d missed the gaming phase of quarantine, it seemed. Anne had barely noticed, really. She never paid attention much to video games. Marian did, apparently, but when had Anne ever listened to something Marian said? She’d been rather busy, back in the spring. Certainly too busy to listen to Marian’s babbling about a video game. 

Unfortunately for Anne, things were no longer simple for the mistress of Shibden Hall. She was sometimes - often - frequently outmaneuvered. She didn’t listen to Marian, but her wife certainly did. Even worse, Ann seemed to enjoy Marian’s company and appreciate her ideas. Ridiculous. When they got going, Anne tuned the pair of them out entirely. 

She had listened, however, when Ann started to plan the Sutherlands’ visit. They’d start at Crow Nest, bring the baby, spend a bit of time visiting old friends. The Listers would get to babysit a bit. Anne had already told Pickles to set up a sandbox for Sackville. 

Anne fancied herself an intelligent person, but she had not put these certain events in context with each other. How could Marian’s and video games and the Sutherlands even connect to each other? There could hardly be any overlap. It hadn’t occurred to her. She was busy relishing summer and her wife and the bit of free time before the new term. For once, she hardly worried at all.

Now, finally, her hubris had caught up to her. 

“Liz is bringing the kids over tonight.”

“Alright,” Anne nodded, still focused on the book in her hand.

“Bringing the kids,” Ann sat on the floor by Anne’s feet, scratching between Tiny’s ears. “Play some games.”

“Sounds lovely.”

“Does it?” Ann asked, leaning back against Anne’s knees and stretching her head back into her lap. “”Will you play with us, Pony?”

“Sure,” Anne shrugged, furrowing her brow at Ann’s excited expression; Anne was rather a whizz at most board games. Backgammon excluded. Obviously. “Why not?”

Famous last words, as it turned out.

Ann and Marian, apparently, each had a device called a Nintendo Switch, on which they played some game about animals. Or islands. Bells? Anne simply did not know. They spent rather a lot of time giggling about it, and even more discussing it with grave sincerity. Anne spoke many languages, but she couldn’t parse the intricate communication between her sister and her wife.

Dinner, at least, was safe ground. Anne could understand it. The pairs of sisters, the teasing comments, the military men and their brash jokes. Anne grinned broadly at the brood gathered together like this - the Listers and the Walkers under one roof, laughing and eating and enjoying each other. Most of the time, Anne professed annoyance at her family, but deep down, she reveled in their company; the Sutherlands only added to her domestic joy. 

“Fancy a race?” Ann asked Mary after the meal. 

“Yes!” The child cried, her eyes shining brightly with excitement.

One race,” Elizabeth said sternly, rising to her feet. “Then back to Crow Nest. Our poor nanny.”

“Me! Me! Me!” Sackville shouted.

“No way,” his mother laughed; “having dinner with the grown-ups was special enough. Bedtime, young man.”

Please ,” the boy said sweetly.

“Oh, let him, Liz!” Ann implored. “It’s summer, and he’s not even sleepy yet.”

“Fine,” she sighed with a smile. “ One race.”

“I’m playing with Aunty Lister!” Sackville cried, scrambling from his chair and racing to the living room.

Anne laughed and followed him. Mary zipped past her, her tired father dragging his feet behind her. Ann sidled up to her and took her hand. For the first time in a few hours, Anne forgot the family. Her entire consciousness focused on the soft press of her wife’s hand, the gentle brush of their shoulders, the teasing smile as Ann looked up at her.

“I can’t believe Sackville is the one to finally get you to play Mario Cart.”

“What?”

Ann’s laughter stopped Anne dead in her tracks; they reached the living room, where Marian and Sutherland were fiddling around with wires and the television. Sackville drove an invisible car wheel in the air, down what seemed to be a very windy road. Ann grinned as she passed a small red rectangle to Mary, a blue rectangle to Sackville. Anne quirked her eyebrow as her wife approached her with another blue rectangle.

“For you,” she said with a showy flourish. 

The plastic rectangle felt too small in Anne’s hands. Like a toy for a child. Or a very small person. Both of whom, Anne looked about the room, surrounded her. Mary and Sackville sat forward on the couch, their little legs dangling in their air, their rectangles at the ready. Ann sat between them, doing something with her red rectangle to the TV screen. Aunt Anne settled into her chair, Marian in the Captain’s, while the men slipped out the side door. How Anne longed to join them.

“Come on Aunty Lister!” Sackville said impatiently. “We’re waiting for you .”

“For me to do what?” Anne laughed.

“To play, darling,” Ann grinned. “Mario Cart. With us. Sackville, Mary, and I insist. Don’t we, children?”

“Yes!” They cried in unison. 

“Oh, I don’t -”

“You’d better,” Aunt Anne said with a teasing glint in her eye. “Don’t disappoint us.”

“Oh, I think Aunty Lister might be scared,” Marian challenged. 

Damn her, Anne thought. There was no way Anne could resist a challenge like that. Sighing, she resigned herself to her fate. She really should’ve paid more attention when these plans were made. Had this always been part of it? Too late now, she supposed. Her competitive spirit flamed in her chest; she had to remind herself she was playing against children and her wife. Looking down at the rectangle in her hands, she realized she had no idea how to work it.  

“How do I do this?” Anne asked Mary seriously, crouching next to the couch and holding up her rectangle. “What do I do?”

“Just do it like this,” Mary said with a teacherly voice, holding her rectangle out in front of her; Anne mirrored her tiny hands. “Press this to go forward.”

Anne nodded solemnly, rising to her feet as her wife pulled up a screen with loss of tiny squares and faces. The kids started bickering right away, talking over each other and moving their tiny hands over the rectangles in their hands. She noticed a highlighted square around an ape, another around a blonde princess, and then a third around a smaller blonde princess. A cartoon lizard and a turtle-looking thing were highlighted as well. What the hell was going on? Anne furrowed her brow as the family looked to her expectantly. 

“What?”

“Pick your character, love,” Aunt Anne said gently.

“What do you know about it?” Anne asked, incredulous.

“I love Mario Cart,” her aunt shrugged with a sphinx-like smile, holding up her own rectangle.

“Look,” Ann stood and came around to her; she covered Anne’s hand on the rectangle, moving the small joystick in the center. “Move your controller like this to pick your driver. You can see their stats here, if you like.”

Nodding, Anne studied the screen. There were just so many . And so many statistics to consider. She wanted to win, certainly, but she didn’t know enough about the game to judge what was important. Acceleration? Speed? Weight? Handling? Traction? She didn’t know what half of these things even meant. Was traction even a factor on a virtual road? Moving the rectangle - controller - slowly about the screen, she studied each character in turn.

“Aunty Lister,” Mary drawled petulantly, “can you just pick one already?”

Anne laughed, flushing at being such a slowpoke. She finally settled on a short man with a brown mustache and a red cap. His stats were the most even. Surely she couldn’t go wrong with that.

“Of course ,” Marian chuckled, “of course you would choose Mario. You’re ridiculous.”

“What!” Anne protested. “What is ridiculous about that? He seems like a stable sort of chap. Not all over the place. Reliable.”

“Of course, darling,” Ann laughed from her spot between the children. “The important part about a video game is how reliable your character is.”

Anne just clicked her tongue and squared her shoulders. She’d show them. At the very least, she would beat the adults. Really, she ought to let the children come in first and second, but she’d be damned if Marian placed above her. 

Well.

Perhaps Anne would be damned. 

She certainly hoped not, but she’d also certainly spoken too soon. 

As it turned out, this game - this Mario Cart - was not favorable to her man Mario at all. First of all, she spent rather a long time watching the turtle guy drive, though that turned out to be Aunt Anne’s screen. Then she realized she was going the wrong way. Once she got headed in the right direction, she zoomed past the lizard just to get hit with a red turtle shell that knocked her completely off course; Marian laughed triumphantly as the lizard overtook poor old Mario. She avoided the coins, assuming they were a hazard just like the shells, until Ann offered her some gentle advice.

“Take those coins, babe,” Ann cried, her entire body swaying with the curve of the track. “They make you go faster.”

“What!” Anne leaned forward, as if, somehow, that would help her stupid like man move faster. “This game is bloody ridiculous.”

“Aunty Lister swore!” Mary cried happily, as her tiny blonde princess crossed the finish line. “Aunty Lister is in trouble!”

Grunting, Anne tried to finish the game with a bit of honor. In the end, however, she placed last, too far behind to even finish the race. She clicked her tongue and flopped into her large armchair. Elizabeth appeared suddenly, or, perhaps, she’d been there all along. 

“Bedtime, kids,” she said with the tired smile of a mother of four. “Let’s go.”

Sackville and Mary left with only minimal grumbling, and Ann fell, grinning, into Anne’s lap. Her short legs dangled over the side of the chair and her bum pressed into Anne’s legs as she poked Anne in the stomach. 

“You did a very good job, Pony.”

“Hardly,” Anne scoffed, dropping the controller onto Anne’s soft belly. “Now that the children are appeased, may I be dismissed? Sutherland said something about having cigars.”

“That easy, is it?” Marian taunted from across the room. “One game and you give up? Guess I won that bed, Aunt.”

“What bet?” Anne demanded.

“Your sister and I made a bet on -” Aunt Anne chuckled and covered her face in her hand, “on whether you’d be a sore loser or not.”

“Knowing you as I do,” Marian sneered, “I figured you’d be incredibly salty.”

“I am not -” Anne clicked her tongue, reining in her annoyance. “I am not salty.”

“You are,” her wife laughed, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. “That’s okay. You’re good at so very many things,” she said sweetly, though her eyes glinted with mischief; “it’s okay that you’re bad at this.”

“I’m not - I am not bad at this. I just - I’ve never done it before! That was my first time.”

“So you do want to play again?” Ann asked hopefully.

Anne looked at her watch. A bit too early to go to bed, she figured; Ann in her lap like this certainly wouldn’t help her focus on the bloody game. At the same time, however, she couldn’t deny that Ann’s warm body pressed against hers, the excitement in her eye, and the possibility of beating Marian enticed her to stay. She sighed. Ann with those eyes and that smile? It was already over. She never stood a chance. 

“Alright!” Marian cheered. “Prepare to meet your doom!”

All in all, Anne could admit that the game was pretty fun. She got the hang of it, after a few races. Ann guided her gently, even letting her mustachioed man pass Ann’s blonde girl (“she’s called Princess Peach, Pony!”) out of sheer generosity once. Aunt Anne, actually, turned out to be a formidable player. With the children gone, she held nothing back. Anne found herself cursing more than once at a shell launched expertly by her elderly aunt. Finally, finally, Anne managed to place in the top three. She whooped in victory, kissed her wife soundly on the lips, and tossed her controller onto the couch. 

“I retire at the height of my career,” she announced loftily, patting her wife on the thigh. “Let’s go to bed, Adney.” 

“I’m not finished,” she protested, refusing to leave Anne’s lap. “Marian and I are tied in number of wins, and Aunt Anne is only two ahead.”

“Adney,” Anne whined. “I’m sleepy.”

“Too bad, I guess,” Ann shrugged, kissing Anne on the cheek and swinging her legs forward. She wiggled her ass  against Anne’s hips and leaned forward. “You’re my good luck charm, Pony. You’ve got to stay.”

Anne wanted to protest. To pout. To whine. To do anything . Unfortunately, now she could only focus on the curve of her wife’s behind in those jeans, the sliver of her skin peeking between her shirt and waistband, the warm weight of her against Anne’s legs. Arousal built between her legs as Ann shimmied and swerved against her; the curve of her back hypnotized her, the bend of her waist beckoned Anne’s hands, the curl of her hair wrapped around her heart. Anne shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Was she really this turned on already?

The races passed like snails; Anne could swear they played for an hour more, maybe two. It was endless, this torture. The proximity. Ann was so close. She was right there . Right there in Anne’s lap. But she was facing the wrong way, she was focused on something else, she wasn’t thinking of what Anne was thinking. Anne traced a finger over her wife’s sloping shoulder; Ann twisted her body away with a giggle.

“Don’t distract me, Pony! Whose side are you on?”

A small, disappointed sound caught in Anne’s throat; she stopped it just in time. What if Marian had heard her like that? No, that would never do. Anne had to stay strong. Resist temptation. Ann would come round eventually, finish her silly game, and allow Anne to properly ravish her. She was fine. She could wait a few hours. Days, even, if needed. Good Lord, she prayed silently, please don’t make me wait days.

“That’s it!” Marian cried in anger. “I am done with the lot of you. Five shells? That is just - that is - unbelievable!” 

She threw down her controller in a huff and marched out of the room. Aunt Anne broke into gleeful laughter, wiping joyous tears from her eyes. Ann giggled and rose to turn off the television.

“I guess we were a bit unfair to her,” Ann chuckled, bending over in front of the console. 

Perhaps she said something else, but Anne never heard her. All she could focus on was Ann, bent over, those jeans, that ass, the perfect lines of her legs. Without thinking, Anne bit her lip and reached out her hand. She caught herself just in time, shoving her hands under her own thighs, forcing herself to control the urge to rip Ann’s clothes from her here and now.

As Ann and Aunt Anne prattled on, Anne wondered how in the world she got this desperate. She used to wait months to see Mariana. Nothing but the touch of her own hand, if she felt like it, and most of the time she didn’t, not really. With Ann, everything was different. She ached for Ann in a way that almost embarrassed her. She longed to feel her warm body pressed against her own, her delicate fingers in her hair, her hard little clit between her lips. 

Anne closed her eyes and attempted to breathe deeply.

How in the hell had this happened? When did she become a slave to her sex drive like this? Perhaps it was the time of year - without work, Anne was a bit bored, too much time on her hands. Perhaps it was the evening of teasing - Anne was always a sucker for a girl on her knee, wasn’t she? No, perhaps it was Ann - how good she was at touching her, how loving and different and fresh every single touch felt. 

“Good night, girls,” Aunt Anne said as she thumped out of the room. “It was nice beating you.” 

Ann chuckled and shook her head, dropping into Anne’s lap again, this time with her knees on either side of Anne’s thighs. Her hands found Anne’s shoulders, and her bright blue eyes searched Anne’s strained face.

“What is it, Pony?”

“I am so wet for you right now,” Anne breathed, burying her reddening face in her wife’s neck. “Something about - oh, something about tonight, darling. You’re so beautiful.”

“Am I?” Ann asked, tilting her neck to the side as Anne started to press warm, wet kisses to her pale skin. “I was just playing a game.”

“In my lap ,” Anne growled, squeezing her wife’s hips playfully. “You knew exactly what you were doing.”

“I can’t imagine what you mean,” Ann sighed happily; she tugged gently on Anne’s hair, forcing her to raise her head and meet those perfectly blue eyes. “Take me to bed, Pony.”

Grinning, Anne tipped her wife out of her lap and raced about the house locking it for the night. She always did the kitchen last, and tonight she lingered, pulling out two water bottles. They’d need the hydration, she figured. When she closed the refrigerator door, she found her wife, clad in only her nightshirt, grinning at her from the counter. 

“What do you think, Pony?”

“What do I -” the words caught in Anne’s throat; had Ann’s breasts always been so perfect? Her nipples strained against the thin fabric; Anne licked her lips. “What do I think about what?”

“Been a while since we shagged in here,” Ann shrugged. “Should we?”

“Won’t we - I mean, won’t we wake everyone up?”

“Honestly,” Ann reached her hand forward, beckoning Anne into the protective spread of her legs; Anne’s stomach pressed against the counter as she pressed her face between her wife’s breasts, “we’re further from prying ears here than we are upstairs. Marian went to bed ages ago. Aunt and Father won’t come down any time soon.” She hooked a finger under Anne’s chin and tilted her chin upward. “Unless you don’t want to, that is.”

Growling, Anne caught her lips in a fierce kiss, one that had been building all evening. Ann moaned softly into her mouth, pressing her chest into Anne’s, tangling her fingers in Anne’s hair. Sliding her hands along her wife’s warm thighs, Anne slipped under the hem of her nightshirt; she moaned in relief when she realized Ann was bare underneath.

“You’re so hot,” Anne said into her neck, pulling Ann to the very edge of the counter. “You make me crazy, Adney.”

Anne kissed her soundly, cupping the back of her head with her free hand before drifting lower to suck on Ann’s pale neck. She caught her hard nipples between her lips, sucking gently through the fabric. Ann let out a low groan and arched her back into the touch, holding onto the back of Anne’s head for balance. Anne grazed her teeth over one sharp peak, before moving to the other. 

“You.” She kissed Ann’s sternum. “Are.” The soft swell of her breasts. “So.” The tight bud of her nipple. “Gorgeous.”

Anne could live here forever, she decided. This soft, hilly valley. There was no better place on earth. Well, perhaps one better place. The spot between her wife’s legs - the wet, needy core of her that pulled Anne in and set her on fire. She kissed her way upward, slipping one hand over the apex of those perfect thighs. Her lips pressed against Ann’s ear as she spoke. 

“I want you, Adney. Are you ready for me?”

A soft moan was her only answer, and Ann’s eyes drifted closed. She leaned forward, wrapping her arms around Anne’s neck as Anne shifted to drag her fingers along her wet core. For perhaps the first time in hours, Anne finally felt like she could breathe. This was the moment she’d been waiting for. The pure, physical connection of their bodies. The relief of touching her wife. The warmth of coming together. 

“Don’t tease me,” Ann breathed. 

“I think I will,” Anne grinned, kissing her sharply before dropping to her knees in front of her. “You’ve been teasing me all night.”

Ann moaned, half in annoyance and half in anticipation. She might profess impatience, Anne thought smugly, but she liked the build-up far too much. Pressing her lips to the tops of her wife’s slim calves, Anne made her slow, gentle ascent. She kissed the insides of her knees, the tops of her thighs, the warm, flushed skin leading to her center. Ann leaned back, spread her legs, bit down on her own fist. So much for being quiet, Anne thought sardonically. It was a miracle any time Ann kept it below a scream. 

“You’re incredible,” Anne said reverently, breathing deeply and running her hands along her wife’s legs. “So. Fucking. Beautiful.”

“Pony,” came the weak reply. “Please.”

Anne nipped the inside of Ann’s thigh before diving between her legs. She moaned softly, relishing the taste of her arousal on her tongue, the straining hardness of her clit against her lips, the desperate curl of her fingers in Anne’s hair. Slowly, she lapped against Ann’s core, devouring and unraveling her in her equal measure. Faintly, Anne was aware of babbling half-words and curses spilling from her wife’s lips, but she couldn’t bear to stop her. Not when she was like this - wanton and writhing and wild. Anne pressed her face impossibly closer, desperate to lose herself in this version of heaven. 

“There!” Ann whined, her voice thin and needy. “Oh, Pony, I’m so fucking close.”

Anne bit back a chuckle, grinning at her wife’s desperation. She sped up, enfolding Ann’s clit between her lips, dragging her tongue over her entrance, digging her fingers into her hips. Ann jerked once, but she held her steady, coaxing her gently through the waves of shudders until Ann’s limbs went limp and she finally released her hand on the back of Anne’s head. 

“Beautiful,” Anne said, almost to herself, as she kissed the inside of each thigh and rose to her feet. “Do you know how beautiful you are, Adney darling?”

“I have an idea,” Ann smiled, her lips parted breathlessly. “Now, come here, you brute.”

“Brute?” Anne laughed, allowing her wife to pull her forward by the belt loops. “I’m a beast for doing that to you?”

“You’re a beast for making me wait to fuck you.” Ann wrenched open Anne’s jeans. “I always have to wait.”

“And what a way to wait,” Anne teased, catching Ann’s lips in a sloppy kiss.

“You’re so impatient, Pony.” Ann pushed her slightly backward, hopped to her feet, backed Anne up against the opposite wall. “Let someone else have a turn for once.”

“I thought,” Anne’s lips twisted into a proud grin as the joke formed in her mind, “based on tonight’s games - I thought you liked coming first.”

For a moment, Ann’s face was frozen. Then she exhaled - not quite a laugh and not quite a groan. She shook her head, curled her fist in the front of Anne’s shirt, and kissed her hard. Anne twitched as nimble fingers slipped into her boxers and dragged through her arousal.

“You,” Ann said slowly, “are impossible. Quite possibly the most ridiculous person on the planet.”

“Is that so?” Anne breathed, her clit aching for Ann’s touch; “What - uh - what are you going to - to do about it?”

“Fuck you, I guess,” Ann smiled sweetly, finally passing her finger over the hard bundle of Anne’s need. “Maybe that will knock some sense into you.”

“You can knock whatever you want into me,” Anne husked, fire building in her gut as Ann stroked her slowly, lightly. 

Ann kissed her neck, rolling her body in time with her gentle strokes. The press of Ann’s breasts against hers drove Anne crazy. She pressed her hips against Ann’s hand, desperate for more friction, faster strokes, fucking anything . Ann bit her lightly on the juncture between her shoulder and neck.

“You’re not in charge here, Dr. Lister,” she scolded playfully. “You’re mine.”

Anne moaned, low in her throat; she resigned herself to this torturous build. Fire lapped between her legs, stoked higher with every perfect pass of her wife’s fingers. She leaned against the wall, her hips twirling and rutting in anticipation. Had it really just been a single day since she’d felt Ann’s body against hers? Tomorrow, they’d stay in bed all day, she decided. Why did they bother spending even one minute doing anything other than this? The edge of her climax hurtled toward her; perhaps this was bliss, she thought vaguely. This was the perfect moment - or, perhaps, touching Ann was perfection. Maybe they both were. It didn’t matter. Her release coiled so tightly in her gut she could barely think. All she knew was the intense pleasure mounting in her stomach. She needed this constantly - always - forever. 

“Come for me,” Ann whispered, her breath hot in Anne’s ear. “Come on, Pony. Come for me.”

So much for staying there forever.

Anne shot off the edge and into the warm pools of her relief. She gasped as her hips juddered and pleasure shot along her spine. Maybe this was the moment, a distant part of her brain offered; maybe this was the moment of perfection. Ann kissed her neck gently, stroking her back to earth. With a groan, Anne opened her eyes. 

“You’re incredible,” she panted before kissing her wife messily. “I love you.”

“I love you,” Ann grinned, patting her on the hips playfully. “Let’s go to bed.”

They curled up in their normal way, pressed together and cozy. Ann’s curls ticked Anne’s neck, her leg nestled warmly between Anne’s and her arm slung loosely across Anne’s waist. Glasses perched low on her nose, Anne read aloud; her heart filled with warmth Ann’s breathing slowed into those adorable, annoying snores. She smiled and studied her wife. 

Perhaps this was it, Anne thought. This was the moment of perfection. Just being together, even if Ann was asleep. Connected somehow. Touching or not. In bed or not. Working or playing or laughing or teasing or making love. It didn’t matter, Anne realized. It was all perfection. Every moment. 

Chapter Text

Ann loved camping. The outdoors, the tent, the warm embrace of a sleeping bag. Campfires and stars and nature all around. She loved it, all of it.

At least, she thought she would.

She’d never actually been camping, not properly. She’d spent a few holidays at the tribe’s “cabin,” which was actually a six-bedroom house situated in the woods. That usually wasn’t very enjoyable, but, Ann conceded, that wasn’t proper camping. She was sure she would love actual camping. 

It had been Anne’s idea, of course. The children were growing restless in the waning days of their visit, and Anne offered to take Sackville and Mary for a trip overnight. Just out into the woods around Shibden, just for twenty-four hours. Aunties Lister and Walker could handle it, she asserted. Anne and Ann agreed it was a pretty marvelous idea, and no one would be able to find fault with it at all. 

Or, so they thought. 

The rest of the family seemed a bit less convinced of the brilliance of this plan. Sackville was only four, after all, and wasn’t that awfully young to be so far from his parents? Ann smiled as she watched her wife try to fend off these doubtful jabs from their family.

“You don’t know a thing about small children,” Aunt Anne reminded them both.

“Sometimes he gets very upset if he misses us,” Elizabeth worried.

“You’ll be too busy shagging to notice,” Marian said with a roll of her eyes.

Fair points, Ann thought, but she also knew how Anne got when she had an idea in her head. They would go camping, and she’d find a way to make it happen. With a sigh and a smile, Ann sat back in her chair at the breakfast table. Having Liz and the kids had been such a joy for the past week; she was sorry to see them go. At the same time, she wouldn’t mind having a bit more quiet around Shibden. Screaming children were only cute for so long. Breakfast broke up as George chased a laughing Mary out of the room, her face covered in jam. Under the table, Ann squeezed her wife’s knee.

“You want to take that out into the woods?”

“Oh yeah,” Anne grinned, turning to face her; Ann’s chest swelled at the glint in her wife’s eye - was there anything more adorable than an excited Anne Lister? “Wouldn’t it be amazing?”

“I guess,” Ann shrugged with a smile as the rest of the family shuffled out of the room. “You’re the boss.”

“Surely, by now,” Anne purred, leaning closer, “you know that’s not true.” She kissed Ann hard, just for a moment, then bit her lip and pulled away. “That’s you, my darling. Come on, we’ve got plans to make.”

Ann did not, in fact, have much to do with the plan-making of it all. Instead, she busied herself with the baby, with Mary’s rambling stories, with George’s exasperated, sputtering rebukes. He was better, on this trip, Ann thought. Perhaps it was the weather. Perhaps it’s as this youngest boy, Evan, whom George seemed connected to instantly. Perhaps it was the nanny they’d brought with them, giving the stress-averse parents relief as needed. Either way, Ann was happy to see her brother-in-law a bit less prick-ish than he’d been in the past. 

“She’s done it,” Marian fumed, bursting in on Ann bouncing the toddler, Elisabeth, on her knee. “Your wife has gone and properly done it.”

“Don’t blame me,” Ann chuckled; “she was your sister first.”

“Well, she’s finally sent me over the edge. This is it.” 

“What’s happened?”

“She won’t even let me come on this trip!”

“What?” Ann asked, torn between laughter and total confusion; didn’t Marian hate the outdoors? Ann had figured the whole house would breathe a sigh of relief as the loudest members of the family (that being Anne and the children, of course) traipsed off into the wilderness. Wouldn’t the house be incredibly peaceful without all the screaming and stomping and chattering? “Do you want to go?”

“Of course ,” Marian answered. “I like camping! I like kids! Anne thinks she’s so great. She’s the favorite aunt. She’s the best Aunty Lister. Well, I’m a bloody good aunt too!”

“Marian,” Ann chuckled, shaking her head. “Of course you are. The children love you. You don’t have to prove anything.”

“I bloody well do! She’s practically rubbing it in my face, like she’s better with kids than I am. Well, she’s not!”

“I’m sure she’s not,” Ann said soothingly; in moments like this, she could see the resemblance between the sisters in perfect clarity. “You’re very good with them.”

“Thank you.” Marian stood, her chin jutting out proudly. “I’ll be joining you on this trip, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

Shaking her head and laughing, Ann watched her go. Sometimes, she thought, living at Shibden was more entertaining than anything at the cinema. 

By the time dinner rolled around, Anne was ready to reveal her plan to the rest of the family - they would take the older children, Marian, and Elizabeth, out into the woods. They leave home early tomorrow afternoon, then spend the day setting up camp and exploring that part of Shibden’s grounds. Anne would serve as captain of the expedition, with Elizabeth her second-in-command.

“You know that’s a bit unfair,” Ann said as they undressed before bed. “That stuff with Elizabeth.”

“What stuff?” Anne asked absently, already shoving things into her backpack. 

“Making my sister your second-in-command.” Ann wrapped her arms around her wife’s narrow waist from behind, pressing her hips into Anne’s firm ass. “I thought I was meant to be your partner in everything.”

“And you are, darling, of course.” Anne was still putting things in that stupid bag. “But Elizabeth knows the children better. I’m in charge of logistics, and she’s in charge of childcare.”

“And what am I in charge of, Pony?” She husked in her wife’s ear, dragging her tongue along the length of her throat. 

With a soft hum of pleasure, Anne spun around, cupping Ann’s face in her hands and kissing her soundly. Ann grinned into the kiss, pulling her wife’s firm body flush against her own. She walked backward, pulling Anne with her, until she hit the wall of the closet. Their lips met again and again - deep, urgent kisses as Anne’s hips pressed into her. Ann slipped her hands under her wife’s thin t-shirt, hungry for the warmth of her skin under her fingertips. 

“You’re hot,” Anne breathed in her ear, pressing her lips along Ann’s neck and trailing her hands down to the swell of her ass. “Come here.”

With that, Ann found herself flying through the air, lifted by her wife’s strong arms. Her legs hooked naturally around her waist, her arms around her neck. She kissed Anne again, deeply and slowly, as Anne carried her to their bed. Soft sheets caressed her back, Anne’s lips on her neck, the strong muscles of her shoulders under her hands. 

“I love you,” Anne whispered into her skin, sliding her hands slowly under Ann’s shirt. “It’s been far too long since I made love to you under the stars.”

With a soft giggle, Ann shook her head, thinking of all of the patches of grass around the estate that had stained her clothes, all the trees that had scratched her back, and the warm earth that might still hold the imprint of her back. She let Anne take off her shirt, then her bra. With devastating slowness, Anne trailed across her stomach. Her lips sent shivers along Ann’s spine and stoked fire between her legs. Anne got like this, sometimes, especially if she was feeling sentimental. Slow and deliberate and extra careful. Ann sighed, joy swelling her chest and arousal flooding her veins. Was there anything quite as delicate as Anne Lister touching her body? Anything quite as magical? Anything quite as maddening?

“Pony,” she whined, twisting her hips. “Come on.”

“Come on,” Anne teased, flicking open Ann’s jeans and pulling them slowly down her legs. “Always in such a rush, Mrs. Lister.” She knelt between Ann’s legs, her sharp teeth nipping gently at the soft skin on the insides of her thighs; Ann bit her lip and moaned quietly as Anne pulled her panties off. “I want to take my time, darling. Do you mind?”

“Yes,” Ann whined, though she wasn’t sure if she was answering her wife’s teasing question or if she was begging for more of that soft tongue on her center. “Yes, please, Pony.”

A low hum was her only answer, and Ann collapsed back into the sheets. She could barely hazard a look between her legs, unsure if she’d survive the sight. It was one of her favorites - the dark mess of her wife’s hair, the paleness of her own skin, the firm lines of Anne’s hands digging into her supple flesh. She always meant to paint it, this moment, to see if she could capture it on paper. Unfortunately, in moments like this, she could barely focus on keeping her eyes open. She could only think of her clit, aching and begging for Anne’s touch. Her slick folds and the careful worship of her wife’s mouth. The desperate cries bubbling in her throat that she fought to silence.

“Pony!” she gasped, as Anne finally closed her lips around Ann’s clit. “Right there, I - yes, oh - fuck, Pony, please, I -”

She was babbling, no longer actually forming words, just sounds spilling from her lips as that impossible release grew higher and higher. Her back arched, and she had to bite down on her hand to keep from calling out. She was so close, she was there, she was going to -

“Wha-?” She breathed at the sudden rush of cool air between her legs, craning her neck to see what the hell had just happened. “Pony?”

“You,” Anne kissed her stomach, “are,” she kissed her breast, “so” her other breast, “gorgeous.” Anne hovered over her face, letting the gentle pads of her fingers take over where her tongue had just been. “I had to see you when you came.”

With a desperate moan, Ann wrapped her arms around her wife’s broad back and kissed her sloppily. Anne swallowed her moans, stroking her clit with practiced ease. Lifting her hips, Ann begged silently for Anne to slip inside of her; she was suddenly aching to have those long fingers filling her up, curling inside of her, claiming her as only Anne could. 

“You’re so beautiful,” Anne whispered, pressing gently between her slick folds. “Fuck, Adney, you - you feel so good.”

“I love you,” Ann managed in response, her voice thin and strangled by the depth of her need; surely no person could be expected to survive this long without spontaneously combusting. She rolled her hips urgently. “Please fuck me.”

Anne’s deep, throaty laugh sent tremors straight to Ann’s core, and they started to move together in earnest. Ann was desperate, wild, lost to the pressure building in her stomach, the pleasure skating along her skin, the exquisite bliss of her wife surrounding her. Anne sped up, rutting into her and grinding against her clit; she kissed Ann’s panting lips, her flushed cheeks, the sweat-slick column of her neck.

“Yes,” Ann whined, her hips bucking desperately as her climax approached. “Oh, fuck, Pony, yes.”

And then she was gone. Trembling in her wife’s strong embrace, whispering half-curses, shaking with the pleasure that somehow never grew old, no matter how many times they did this. Anne stroked her back to herself gently, kissing her softly, and whispering appreciatively in her ear.

“You are so beautiful, my love. I love you so much. You’re incredible. You make me so wet.”

“Do I?” Ann panted, trying to sound suave but ending up sounding rather out-of-breath. 

“Oh, yes,” Anne grinned, hopping to her feet and shucking her bottoms in one clean movement; she climbed over Ann’s thigh and dropped down, grinding her wet core against Ann’s skin. “You make me so wet, Adney, I can’t even think.”

“Take this off,” she asked softly, toying with the edge of Anne’s t-shirt.

Anne acquiesced, whipping her shirt over her head in a flash. A single raised eyebrow from Ann, and she was pulling off her bra as well. For a moment, Ann just stared, lips parted, at the goddess who somehow shared her bed. Not enough was said about Anne Lister’s body, Ann thought. There should be poems and songs and television series dedicated to the strength of her hands, the curve of her breasts, the plane of her stomach, the tension in her thighs. 

Reaching forward, Ann traced her fingertips along the tanned skin of her wife’s leg - that Italian sunburn had faded into a deep, even tan. She traced slowly upward, marveling in the gooseflesh she left in her wake. Sitting up slowly, she laid her palm against the warm slope of Anne’s belly. Anne kissed her deeply, then rolled her hips again; their moans twisted together, binding them just as surely as the rings on their fingers. Not for the first time and certainly not for the last, Ann marveled at the connection between their bodies, their souls. 

“Fuck, you’re hot,” she whispered, trailed her fingers through the dark hair at the apex of her wife’s thighs; slipping lower, she found the wet, needy core of her. “You’re so wet for me.”

Biting her lip, Anne nodded; her eyes were wide and nearly black with desire. Ann kissed her softly, then stroked gently over her center, her entrance, the hard nub of her clit. When she found it, Anne twitched, gasping softly, then smiling broadly and kissing Ann again. Her broad hands cupped Ann’s face, and her strong hips set their pace. Ann didn’t mind - her wife was a bit of a control freak, that was nothing new. There would be ample time for teasing later, Ann figured. 

For now, she let herself be greedy. She kissed her wife hungrily, thrusting her tongue between her lips. She pressed against Anne’s clit sharply, circling and strumming and drawing gasping moans from her eloquent wife’s lips. Anne threw her head back, exposing that delicious neck; Ann had no choice, did she? Of course, she’d have to kiss and lick and suck and bite the length of it. When Anne’s hips started to buck - she had no choice then either, did she? She had to press harder, strum faster, build that glorious release to incredible heights. And when Anne dropped her head forward to balance against Ann’s shoulder, there was certainly no choice then. Not with Anne’s ear right there by her lips. 

“You’re so fucking hot, Pony. You’re so wet. You fucked me so well, baby.” 

Anne jerked, a strangled moan on her lips; Ann grinned and playfully bit down on her earlobe. 

“You like that, don’t you? When I say something filthy?”

A desperate nod against her shoulder. Urgent hips bucking against her hand. 

“Are you going to come for me, Pony? Riding my hand like this? You’re basically in my lap, darling. Or should I call you Daddy?”

Sharp teeth sunk into Ann’s shoulder as she sent her wife into the blissful waters of her release. Anne’s hips juddered, but Ann held her close. She kissed her sweaty skin, rubbed her flushed back, welcomed her slowly back to the present. 

“Good Lord, Adney,” Anne chuckled as she straightened. “The mouth you’ve got on you… good heavens.”

Ann just giggled and fell backward, content and proud and excited. This time tomorrow, she thought, we’ll be doing this under the stars.

Hubris, that’s what they call it, Ann thought glumly as she trudged along the grassy path the next day. That’s what they call it when you set out to do more than you ought to. Or was that plain arrogance? She wasn’t sure. Whatever the word, she was experiencing it. Why in the world had she ever thought this was a good idea?

For starters, it was too sunny. The light felt oppressive, like she was being watched by the sun itself. Back the fuck up, she thought angrily as the sun sliced through the trees and into her eyes. Then there was Elizabeth, gossiping and laughing behind her. Marian, too. Ann looked over her shoulder - yep, they were still at it. She sighed. Elizabeth was her sister, wasn’t she? Marian was her friend. Who gave them the right to team up together? Straight people, Ann thought bitterly. Maybe that’s why they got on so well. It was blatantly homophobic, in Ann’s opinion, not to include her in their conversation.

Ahead of her, Anne strode confidently with a child in each hand. They were her niece and nephew, Ann thought sullenly, why did they like Aunty Lister so damn much? Anne could be so greedy sometimes - couldn’t she give up one child so that Ann could have a bit of companionship? When had everyone gotten so chummy that they’d forgotten her? 

They’d only been walking thirty minutes, and Ann was already over this so-called hike. It was a forced march, she moped. There wasn’t even anything interesting to look at. She’d been abandoned. If a bear snatched her up right now, would anyone even notice? She thought not, in her annoyed, angst-ridden, hunger-filled mood. They’d probably be glad. Probably wouldn’t mind if she turned around right now and went back to civilization. 

Thirty more minutes of such torture, and they reached the “campsite.” It was just a clearing, not one Ann was familiar with, but it was sunny and small and idyllic. Ann hated it. She set down her light backpack - Anne had carried most of their supplies - and dropped to the grass in a huff. Time for a proper pout, she thought. Let’s see if they notice.

“Hey,” Anne said almost immediately, kneeling next to her - no fun, Ann thought glumly, I can’t even pout in peace. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.”

“Not true,” Anne corrected her, hooking her finger under Ann’s chin and studying her face. “What’s upset you?”

“Nothing.”

“I don’t believe you. Do you want to go back? Do you feel ill? Have you had enough water today?”

“Leave me alone, Anne!” She snapped. “I’m fine, alright? I’m a bit tired from that long fucking trek. Can’t I have a moment’s peace? Let me be.”

Anne’s eyes flickered, only for a moment, and Ann regretted her words. Why had she said that? Why couldn’t she just say what she actually felt? What she meant to say? Or why couldn’t she act normally? Pretend that everything was fine and cheerful? Why was she such a slave to her moods?

“I love you, Ann,” her wife said softly. “I’m going to set up the tent and get the children settled, and I’m going to be right back. I love you.”

Crossing her arms, Ann watched her go. What the hell was wrong with her? All she wanted was for Anne to come back - to ignore her sharp words and make her feel better. Why had she just sent Anne away when she’d done exactly what Ann wanted? She watched as the campsite took shape - Anne had an enormous tent, a small gas stove, several chairs. The children raced around, exhausting Elizabeth’s futile efforts to keep them close. Ann wanted to be in the mix, to be a part of the moment, but she felt distanced from them, her own family. The wall of her sour mood separated them. She closed her eyes, willing it away. 

“Alright, Ann?” Marian asked, startling Ann from her reprieve. “You look upset.”

“I’m alright,” she said softly, shaking her head and wishing it were true. “Really, I’ll be fine.”

She heard the sharp click of Marian’s tongue, then her retreating footsteps. Ann buried her face deeper in her arms crossed on her knees. 

“Annie,” Elizabeth called, “aren’t you going to help us at all? Not even a bit?”

Distantly, Ann could hear her wife’s low tones, but she couldn’t make out the words. Looking up, she saw Anne with her hand on Elizabeth’s forearm, her face serious but calm. Elizabeth looked at Ann, nodded, then turned back to the fledgling campfire. When had it gotten so late? Ann’s stomach rumbled. She dropped her head again.

“Adney,” Anne’s gentle voice cut into her thoughts. “I’m here.”

Without thinking, Ann turned into her wife’s chest, wrapped her arms around her middle, and held her close. She felt Anne’s body relax, then those tender hands stroke her back, soft lips press into her hair. 

“Hi, baby,” Anne said quietly. “What can I get for you?”

“Nothing.” The words caught against Anne’s shirt. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, my love. Don’t be sorry at all. I just miss you. Do you need more time?”

“No,” Ann said firmly, raising her head to meet those dark eyes. “I’m sorry. I love you.”

Just like that, Anne had raised her from the dead. From her feelings of inadequacy and doubt to security, to love, to life. She kissed Ann’s forehead, then grinned broadly and pulled her to her feet. This was the power of Anne Lister, Ann thought as she trailed behind her wife, the ability to gauge her needs and respond in time. Earlier, Ann wasn’t ready to come out of her shell. By now, Anne could spot that phase of her mood. Not for the first time, Ann said a silent prayer of gratitude for the blessing of a partner that understood her so well. 

Anne deposited her on a log near the wimpy campfire, plopping down next to her and wrapping an arm around her waist. She leaned into Ann’s broad chest and watched Elizabeth and Marian bicker over the gas stove, the children playing in the grass. Sighing happily, she closed her eyes.

“Thank you,” Ann whispered.

“No thanks needed, Adney,” her wife answered softly. “I’m sorry I let it go so far.”

“It’s not -”

“Let’s say it’s nobody’s fault, and we both love each other very much, hmm?”

Ann chuckled and nuzzled her face closer into Anne’s shirt, breathing deeply of that musky scent that lived on her wife’s skin. She could feel Anne’s broad grin stretch across her face as she laughed and gestured vaguely to the chaotic group in front of them. 

“Besides, we’ve still got a whole evening of this to suffer through.”

Chapter Text

When had the children gotten so loud ? Had Anne’s hearing somehow grown sharper? Shouldn’t the trees muffle the noise better? Their shrill voices seemed to burrow in her ears, to drill straight into her brain and ricochet around inside her skull. Would they never tire ?

“Aunty Lister, over here!” Cried Sackville.

“What kind of bird is that?” Mary pulled harshly on Anne’s arm.

“You’re too muddy,” Sackville, inexplicably, was tugging on the hem of Anne’s shorts. “Doesn’t your mummy make you wash?”

“Big Anne,” Marian bellowed, “the fire’s gone out.”

“Not by the trees,” Elizabeth called, “back from the trees, Mary!”

“Anne,” her wife called, “do we have a jumper?”

How did five people make so much bloody racket? Anne’s head started to pound, but she forced herself to breathe deeply. If she could withstand the jeers and sideways glances of her youth, the endless back and forth from Mariana, her PhD program, and the stacks of grading at the end of term, then surely she could survive two small children. This was nothing. It was nothing. If only her head would stop pounding.

“Come here,” she said gently, hoisting Mary onto her hip. “Look here.”

She pointed out the birds, the different species of trees, the slope of the hills. Mary was heavy and talkative, but the comforting familiarity of Shibden’s landscape calmed Anne. Moments like this worried her - how could she even dream of motherhood when she could barely handle one night with her niece and nephew? She shook the worry away, for now. Not tonight, she told herself sternly, none of those thoughts. Tonight was for their family, all of them. 

“I have a game,” Ann sang cheerily, “for all children, including Aunty Lister.”

“What!” Anne laughed as her wife snuck a cheeky hand into her back pocket. “I am not a child.”

“We’ll see about that.” Ann kissed her cheek. “Now look, loves,” she crouched in front of Sackville as Anne set Mary next to her brother, “we’ve got to get some sticks for the fire, but, you see, sticks are afraid of people.”

“What!” Mary and Anne cried in unison. 

“Oh, yes,” Ann said seriously, looking deeply into the children’s eyes. “If you don’t walk very quietly , the sticks will run away. We must be absolutely silent.”

Anne grinned, catching onto her wife’s game. Already, her headache seemed to fade. For a moment, the children were skeptical, but then their small heads slowly moved in agreement. Ann straightened and wrapped an arm around her wife’s waist; the gentle pressure of her body against Anne’s was like a cool compress - reassuring and calming. 

“Ready?” Her clever wife asked.

Eyes wide, both children nodded their heads frantically. The quartet crept their way into the woods, the adults’ hands clasped firmly. For the first time in what felt like hours, Anne exhaled properly. Soft lips pressed to the underside of her jaw, then warm breath brushed her ear.

“Relax, Dearest.”

Anne smiled, released the tension in her shoulders, kissed that nest of blonde curls. Mary and Sackville started to collect twigs, their faces creased with total concentration. Poor things, Anne thought; she could almost feel the words threatening to burst from Sackville’s mouth. When they were out of earshot, Anne slipped her hand along Ann’s waist, under her shirt, and along the warm skin of her lower back.

“A cunning trick, Mrs. Lister.”

“Was it?” Ann beamed up at her. “I thought you might appreciate it. You looked a bit harried.”

“I suppose I was,” she admitted, turning to her wife and watching the kids from the corner of her eye. “You make everything better, d’you know that?”

“I’ve been told,” Ann teased, tilting her chin and smiling into Anne’s kiss. “Let’s get Marian to tell her ghost story.”

“Adney!” Anne laughed, “don’t tell me she’s convinced you as well?”

“It sounds like a good story,” Ann drawled, that tone in her voice that Anne couldn’t resist, “and later,” she paused, dropping her voice as the children toddled back toward them, “perhaps you and I can take a walk.”

“Perhaps we could,” Anne husked in response, her mind already racing with possibilities.

“Be quiet, Aunty Lister!” Mary cried.

“You’re scaring the sticks!” Sackville agreed.

Laughing, they four made their way back to the campsite. The fire was weak, but the grill smelled divine. She nodded in silent appreciation to Elizabeth, who wielded her spatula like a scepter. The children dropped their sticks near the flagging fire, and Anne crouched next to them to feed it.

“You must be very careful,” she warned, “not to burn yourself.” The fire burned a bit brighter. “You did a very good job, you two.”

“We were so quiet,” Sackville shouted.

“Yes, darling,” Ann laughed, dropping onto one of the camp chairs across from them. “You both did very well.”

Through the smoky haze, Anne grinned at her wife. No one was more beautiful, that was a given. But the clever little tricks - the sharp ways Ann’s mind worked - these still surprised her. The devilish tilt of her head and bounce of her crossed leg. The playful smirk of her lips and the dirty glint in her eye. Anne wanted to ravish her and protect her and raise a brood of blonde children with her. Or brunette children. Or children who looked nothing like them at all. Anne didn’t even care. She just wanted a dozen tiny hands climbing over her and Ann in their bed, a thousand shrill voices shrieking in her ears, the tired smiles only parents could share.

Good Lord, she thought as she pushed herself upright. A bit broody these days, she mused. Ann beckoned her over, and she dropped to the grass at her feet. Gentle fingers scratched the back of her head as Elizabeth organized dinner. Ordinarily, she might have bustled over and tried to take over, but not tonight. Ann’s hand and soft hums filled her chest with warmth. Soon, Mary clambered into Ann’s lap, her tiny legs dangling about Anne’s shoulders. Sackville cuddled with Elizabeth, his thumb sneaking into his mouth. Anne sighed - perhaps this was peace.

“Tell your story, Marian,” Ann urged.

Too good to be true, Anne figured with a roll of her eyes. 

This story - this “ghost” story - was the most preposterous thing Anne had ever heard. And Good Lord had she heard it. Over and over, every camping trip since Marian first heard it at some sleepover when they were teens. It wasn’t even scary. The shout Anne let out the first time she’d heard it was a coincidence - a bug had crawled over her hand, as she remembered it. There was nothing scary about it at all.

Luckily, the children dozed before the gory section. Ann’s wandering fingers grew tense, until they were twisting tightly in Anne’s hair. Smiling, Anne reached back to take her hand; her heart nearly broke as a small hand found hers before Ann’s did. Did children have to be so bloody adorable? Playfully rolling her eyes at Elizabeth, Anne reached her other hand back until she found her wife. 

With her arms like this, she felt exposed, open. A bit like having children, she figured. Chest completely bared, vulnerable. Weak. Terrifying. Amazing. Assaulted by a barrage of the most horrifying things the world could throw at a person, the only barrier between her wife and her child. What a nightmare, she thought, what a thrill. 

“I’ll take her,” Elizabeth whispered when the story finally concluded. Tiny feet swung past Anne’s head. “Good night, loves. Before you ask - you’ll be fine parents.” She heard the telltale press of a sisterly forehead kiss. “I can hear you brooding from Inverness.”

Chuckling, Anne turned back to her wife, who was flushed and shaking her head. Anne kissed her knee, turning impossibly softer at the sight of her Adney. A loud cough came from behind them.

“What?” Anne barked at her sister.

“I guess I’ll go to bed then,” Marian grumbled.

“Guess you will.”

“Anne,” her wife giggled, “come on. That was a horrible story, Marian. I don’t know how I’ll sleep.”

“I’ll hold you close,” Anne purred, trailing a hand up her wife’s calf.

“Bloody hell you will,” Marian interjected. “We’ve only got the one tent.”

“Hope you’ve brought those ear plugs,” Anne teased, keeping her voice low and her eyes on the flush steadily rising up her wife’s neck. 

“She has not, Pony!” Ann laughed, pushing her away. “Behave yourself.” She turned to Marian. “Did you bring the other thing?” 

With a playful grin, Marian produced two bottles of wine from her pack with a flourish. Groaning, Anne heaved herself to her feet, flopping onto the camp chair Elizabeth had vacated. No use fighting it, she figured. Not when Ann and Marian were on like this. Cups appeared, Ann sauntered over to receive hers; Anne squeezed her ass playfully as she passed. She tuned out their conversation, but when Ann passed a second time to refill her glass, Anne slung her into her lap.

“Pony!” She giggled. “Cut it out.”

“Absolutely not.” Anne stole a wine-flavored kiss, and Marian groaned. “Take it or leave it, sister mine. I’ll drag her away to bed, or we can sit like this.”

“Fine,” Marian relented, “but I want the record to reflect you’re fucking annoying.”

“Oh, the record reflects nothing else,” Anne gestured broadly with her plastic cup. 

She felt better now, with Ann’s warmth in her lap and against her chest. That slender arm around her shoulders and those naughty fingers tracing the back of her neck. Ann was getting tipsy, which meant she was giggly and touchy and - if Anne had to guess - a bit randy. How much longer, she wondered, before she could lure her wife to a spot where the night would swallow her cries?

“I told her,” Ann was laughing, “I told her it would fall apart.”

“She never listens,” Marian agreed. “Not our Anne.”

“Is this about me?” Anne asked suddenly, her attention wandering away from the warmth of Ann’s skin and back to the conversation.

“Yes, darling,” her wife slurred, her lips just a breath away from Anne’s. “Haven’t you been listening?”

“It’s always about you, isn’t it?”

“In my experience,” Anne paused dramatically, then shrugged, “yes.”

Her wife laughed, and Anne caught her lips. A bit too long, probably, but the wine had loosened her inhibitions. Ann pushed against her chest, grinning and blushing and biting her lip. In moments like this, Anne could read her thoughts - “fuck me, Pony. Right now.”

“I’m going to bed,” Marian sighed as she stood. “Don’t be out too late.”

“Marian,” Anne said seriously, catching her sister’s hand as she passed; perhaps it was the wine, the children, the atmosphere - Anne couldn’t explain the words she said next. “You’re a good sister, do you know that? You’re a pain in my ass, but you’re good to me. To us. Even if you do get my poor little wife drunk.”

“I’m not drunk!” Ann protested.

“Sure,” Marian laughed, squeezing Anne’s hand. “You’re a pain in my ass as well, but I’m glad you’re happy. Keep it down tonight, hear?”

Anne nodded, an unfamiliar warmth spreading in her chest. Was this what all sisters felt like? She wasn’t sure she could handle it all the time. Luckily, Ann was already taking her hand, pulling her clumsily to her feet, wrapping her slender arms around Anne’s neck. They swayed together, perhaps from the wine or perhaps from the electricity passing between them. Anne kissed her softly, then studied her face in the firelight.

“You’re so beautiful, my darling,” she whispered, tracing a reverent fingertip along her wife’s cheek. “A goddess walking among mortals.”

“You,” Ann replied with the slow, purposeful tone of the tipsy, “are,” she paused dramatically, eyes narrow with concentration, “really fucking hot.”

“Am I?” Anne laughed, walking slowly backward toward the edge of the trees.

“Yes,” her wife drawled, a sloppy smile on her face. “God, Pony, yes.”

“Then I guess,” Anne twisted out of Ann’s embrace, taking her hand and leading her deeper into the woods, “you wouldn’t mind taking a walk with me?”

Yes ,” Ann’s voice was low, aching; her thumb drawing shapeless patterns over the back of Anne’s hand. “Let’s walk to wherever you’re going to fuck me.”

Throwing her head back, Anne laughed loudly and deeply. They were far enough away from the campsite now that she could be fairly certain they wouldn’t be heard. Just a few more yards, and they’d be in that delicious little clearing. The one with the bench and the lantern, the one where Anne always dreamed of taking Mariana, the one she’d never properly christened.

“What’s this?” Ann smiled as they reached the smooth stone bench; she traced her finger along the lamppost. “This is like Narnia.”

“I guess it is,” she chuckled in response. “I, uh, I set this up years ago. Always meant to bring a pretty girl out here. Or do some reflection. Commune with nature.” She shrugged. “Never got the chance.”

“You’re such a nerd,” Ann teased, pulling Anne into her arms. “You built a little fuck-bench out here.”

“Adney!” She laughed again, her face coloring. “It’s not - it’s a bit more romantic than that.”

“I’m not sure it is,” Ann smiled, pushing gently against Anne’s shoulders until she sat down on the cool stone. “Are you saying you didn’t bring me here to fuck me?”

“Well, I -”

Anne’s train of thought derailed completely when her wife flicked open her shorts. She toed off her trainers, wiggling her sock-feet against the cool grass. Biting her lip, Ann shimmed out of the shorts, then hooked her thumbs in the waistband of her flimsy panties. For a moment, the world stood still; she couldn’t even breathe. And then Ann pushed the lace lower, down to the soft grass at her feet. With a low growl, Anne reached for her wife, pulling her handily into her lap and kissing her fiercely. Ann giggled into the kiss, her arms wrapping around Anne’s neck and her tongue slipping past Anne’s lips. 

“You’re so beautiful,” Anne whispered against her skin. “Adney, I -” she nipped Ann’s pulsepoint. “I love you.”

“I love you,” her wife breathed.

Their lips met again - sloppy and a little bit desperate. Anne slid a hand along the warm skin of Ann’s back, another along her stomach and up to her breasts. Moaning, Ann rolled her hips, squeezing her knees on either side of Anne’s thighs. Her fingers tangled in Anne’s hair, her tongue still tasting of wine and laughter. 

“I should’ve brought the cock,” Anne lamented against her wife’s chin. “We need it right about now.”

“Do we?” Ann challenged, rolling her hips again. “I think you’ve gotten a bit lazy, Dr. Lister. I can ride your hand just as well as your cock.”

It was moments like this that stopped Anne dead in her tracks. Just like earlier, with her little stick game, Ann surprised her once again. Could this really be the reclusive neighbor from Crow Nest? The shy invalid spinster? And was she really calling Anne Lister a lazy lover? 

“You’re kidding,” Anne dared, tweaking her nipple playfully. “I’ve heard no complaints from you.”

“Not a complaint, Pony,” she answered innocently, trailing a hand down to circle Anne’s nipple pressing through her sports bra and too-thin t-shirt. “Just an observation. It’s been ages since you fucked me properly with just your hand.”

“It was two days ago,” Anne said into her neck; she squeezed Ann’s ass playfully. “In the car, you remember?”

“I remember,” Ann nodded, “and that was ages .”

“You’re impossible,” she chuckled, catching Ann’s lips again; slowly, she slipped her hand between her wife’s legs, teasing the soft, blonde curls. “I think you’re winding me up on purpose.”

“I think it’s working.”

Caught between a laugh and a groan, Anne kissed her wife again. She wrapped one arm around her back, the other teasing gently over Ann’s wet core. After a moment, Ann broke away, throwing her head back to moan wantonly into the night. Anne kissed the exposed column of her throat, the sharp lines of her clavicle through her t-shirt. 

“More, Pony,” Ann begged, rolling her hips harshly against Anne’s hand. “I need you.”

“Do you?” Anne sucked her neck. “Tell me how much.”

“I need you filling me up,” she panted as Anne stroked her clit. “Fuck, Pony, I - I really need you inside me.”

Humming low in her throat, Anne acquiesced. She teased her wife’s entrance for a moment, then pressed slowly forward. Desperate lips found her own as Anne started her gentle rhythm. This was exactly what she wanted, Anne thought, when she’d built this little oasis. The outdoors. A bit of privacy. A comfortable spot for a pretty girl to sit on her knee. A nice, slow, sensual fuck. Ann, however, had different plans.

“More,” she whined. “Faster.”

“So impatient,” Anne teased, slipping a second finger in with the first. “Always more and faster and harder with -”

“Yes!” Ann cried. “Harder. Yes, Pony, that’s -” Anne thrust into her sharply. “Yes,” she groaned, her hips bucking with every movement of Anne’s skilled hand. “Faster, baby, - unh, harder.”

She knew exactly what she was doing, didn’t she? Anne could never resist those breathless commands. She pulled her wife impossibly closer, pumped her hand more roughly into the wet, clutching depths of her, kissed her neck and her cheek and her jaw. Ann started making those sounds - those high-pitched, needy, I’m-right-there-please-don’t-stop-Pony sounds. The sounds that made Anne positively feral. 

“I’m so close,” Ann whined, her breasts bouncing intoxicatingly with every rut of Anne’s hand. “Oh, fuck, Pony, I - fuck!” Her hips jerked once. “Yes!” Anne stroked her clit harder, thrust deeper, kissed her softer. “Yes, yes, Pony, yes, I -”

With a final, wordless moan, she froze for an instant, then trembled through her climax. Anne kissed her gently, easing her strokes until Ann collapsed forward into her shoulder. There was no moment more blissful than this, Anne thought. Nothing better than the smug satisfaction of a job well done.

“Oh, Pony,” Ann sighed, kissing the side of her neck. “Good Lord, that was good.”

“Was it?” Anne purred, rubbing her back and filling her lungs with Ann’s unique scent. 

“Heavens, yes,” Ann laughed, sitting back on Anne’s knees and meeting her gaze. “You know exactly how to - how to touch me. You orchestrated all of this.” She shook her head, “and it’s perfect. You’re perfect.”

“Still think I’m getting lazy?” She teased, kissing her wife quickly and nipping her bottom lip playfully. 

“Not at all,” Ann drawled, catching Anne’s lips in a slow, sensual kiss. “I think I need to taste you, though.” She scrambled to her feet, slipping into her panties and shorts once again. “Do you mind?”

“Mind?” Anne laughed, flicking open her own shorts. “You won’t believe how wet I am.”

A proud grin stretched across Ann’s flushed face as she dropped to her knees. She kissed the insides of Anne’s knees, then slowly pulled her shorts and boxers off; Anne hissed softly at the strange sensation of stone below her bare bum. That oddity was forgotten entirely, however, when her wife started to trail kisses up the insides of her thighs. Anne slid forward, trying to find a good angle. Ann bit the inside of her thigh.

“Move, Mrs. Walker.”

“What?”

“Shift around,” Ann said simply, moving to the short end of the bench; Anne said a silent prayer of gratitude that she hadn’t chosen a bench with arms. “Lie back.”

Now Anne understood. She nodded, shifting quickly so that her back laid flatly along the bench, her legs spread wide at the base, eager for Ann’s hungry mouth. Even the warm breeze of Ann’s breath over her core was starting to make her crazy.

“Adney,” she breathed. “Come on.”

“Come on,” Ann teased, then dragged her tongue once along the length of Anne’s clit. “Terribly rude, Dr. Lister, don’t you think?”

“Please,” Anne managed, reaching down to find those soft, blonde curls she loved so. “Please, darling.”

An approving hum was her only answer, and then Anne saw stars. Well, she saw the literal stars above her, sure, but, more, she saw metaphorical stars. The kind of stars that appeared behind the eyelids. The cartoonish stars that clouded one’s vision when a tongue as skilled as Ann Walker’s traced over one’s aching clit. The kind of stars that transformed even the most eloquent speaker into a babbling mess. 

“Yes, I - fuck, Adney- that’s - oh, yes, I - fuck! Right - yes,” she groaned, rolling her hips into Ann’s mouth, curling her hands into her hair. “Oh, fuck, I - yes, yes, unh, I - Ann, Ann,” she chanted, her voice no more than a squeak. How was she this close already? “I’m going to - I”m right -”

“I’m touching myself,” Ann whispered against her core, the warm vibrations of her voice sending shockwaves along Anne’s clit. “I’m fucking my own hand, because you taste so good.” Anne groaned, helpless and desperate. She wanted to see Ann, to be the one touching Ann, to be the one touched by Ann; she groaned again. “You taste so good, Pony.”

Her lips closed around Anne’s clit, and Anne was almost certain she’d die. That tongue was back again, this time wilder, harder, needier. Anne moaned without shame, her words turning into stunted half-syllables, just a string of sounds falling from her lips as Ann unraveled her stroke by stroke. Her release coiled in her gut, her legs shaking with effort, until finally, finally, she shattered. With an undignified shout and juddering hips, Anne shot into the warm pools of her release. The bench was hard against her back, but she barely noticed. All she could feel was the relentless waves of pleasure as Ann eased every drop from her. 

“Fuck,” she sighed at last. “Get up here.” 

Vaguely, she was aware of Ann pulling away from her core, of her standing, but her sweet face never appeared. With no small effort, Anne heaved herself into a sitting position, only to drop her jaw back to the ground. In front of her, lit by the wan light of the lamppost, was Ann Walker Lister, with her hand in her pants. Her eyes were half-lidded, her lips parted, her hand moving slowly between her own legs. Anne reached for her, needing to kiss that desperate face; their lips met in a slow, sensual kiss as Anne snaked her hand between them. She covered Ann’s hand with her own, mimicking the firm circles she knew Ann favored when she touched herself. 

“Yes,” Ann hissed in her ear, leaning forward against her. “You’re so good.”

“You are,” Anne whispered, holding her impossibly closer. “You make me feel so good, Adney. You’re such a good girl for me. You made me come so hard.”

Ann whined, her hips jerking; Anne pressed her lips to that pale, sweaty neck. 

“You got so wet just from fucking me, didn’t you?”

Ann nodded into her shoulder, her fingers digging into the skin of Anne’s back. 

“Your tongue, baby, I - oh, you did so well.” Ann keened, drawing a smug grin from her wife. “I can’t believe how hot you make me. How wet I get just from looking at you. How badly I want to see you come again.”

Another soft moan and a desperate nod. Anne picked up the pace, strumming her wife’s clit a bit harder. Ann started to wobble, but Anne held her fast. In only a few more strokes, Ann sank her teeth into Anne’s shoulder, quaking with the strength of her release. 

“You did so well,” Anne whispered in her ear as she stroked her gently back to earth. “You are so beautiful. I love you so much.”

“Oh, Pony,” Ann sighed as she collapsed into Anne’s lap, her chest still heaving. “How in the world will we get back to the tent?”

Anne just laughed and kissed her. There was nothing else to do, was there? No choice but to laugh and enjoy the woman of her dreams, the woman who blew her mind in a thousand different ways. 

Chapter Text

“Quiet!” My wife hisses as I giggle behind her. 

She’s fumbling with the keys, her long fingers slipping clumsily over the lock as I press myself against her broad back. Good Lord, does she always smell this good? I kiss the back of her neck, nuzzling my face into her dark hair.

“Clumsy Pony,” I tease. “Looks like I’m out of luck tonight.”

“What’s - ah!” She stumbles forward as the door finally gives way in front of her. Her warm hand presses against my mouth when I try to speak. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

“It means,” I slur, my arms looping around her neck, “those hands don’t look like they’re ready to,” I can’t suppress my hiccup any longer, and she laughs my squeak, “ready to do what I need.”

“And what do you need?” Anne husks, dipping her head to steal a kiss; her fingers curl into my hips as our tongues slip past each other. “Surely you’re worn out.”

In a way, I guess I am a little tired. We’ve been running around all day - crowded bookstores and visits with the tribe and errands for Tiny, the family, the estate. I was tired - I had been, a few hours ago, but then Anne had suggested the bar. The icy margaritas and the deliciously shaded patio. The warmth of the sun and her hand on my bare thigh. No, I’m not worn out now. Not in the least.

“If you are,” I pout, just a little, and trace my finger down the front of her thin t-shirt. “We can go to bed.”

“Did you have something else in mind?”

Anne’s breath is warm on my face, tickling my nose and slightly sour from the beer - I can’t get enough of it. I catch her lips again, pressing myself against her lithe body. She moans into my mouth, sputtering as her back hits the wall. I grin up at her - is she a bit drunker than I am?

“You’re pissed, Pony,” I mumble, and the slurring of my words makes us both giggle. “You’re so cute.”

“You’re cute,” she grins, that toothy, half-crooked smile of her. “Now get in that bed and -”

“Anne!” Marian’s sharp voice slices between us. I can feel my wife tense next to me, but I just tug lightly on her ponytail. A reminder: play nice. “Have you gotten my friend drunk?”

“She hasn’t,” I laugh, stepping out of the shadow and toward Marian on the stairs. “I think I’ve gotten your poor sister rather drunk, actually.”

“Have you?” Marian laughs.

Just then, my wife stumbles forward, drapes a sloppy arm around my shoulders, and belches loudly. Marian and I laugh and shake our heads; I take Anne’s sharp chin in my hand.

“Are you drunk, my little Pony?”

“Of course not,” Anne says stubbornly, her eyes half-closed and her lips curved in a sleepy smile. She twists me into her arms, my back now facing my sister-in-law as my devilish wife slips a wandering hand under my shirt. “In fact, Adney dearest, I think I’ll shag you right here on the -”

“Stop!” Marian cries; I can already hear her retreating footsteps up the stairs. 

“You’re shameless,” I laugh, pulling Anne to me until my back hits the banister at the base of the stairs. “Marian is going to be so cross with us.”

“She’ll deal with it,” Anne purrs, hands already palming my sides and hips, lips trailing over my neck. “I haven’t forgotten finding her snogging my driver last week.”

“He’s her boyfriend, Pony,” I remind her, breathless. Those hands - the hands I love so well - are so sure now, when they’d been so clumsy before. Perhaps she’s not so drunk after all. “Take me to bed.”

“What if I want you here?” She husks in my ear. “Everyone is in bed.”

“Pony,” I whine. “Come on. We have that perfectly lovely bed.”

For a moment, she steps back and studies me. I tilt my head, bite my lip, raise my eyebrows. She throws her head back and laughs, then tosses me over her shoulder. It happens in an instant, as it always does. She’s got a hand on my back, steadying me, and the other rubs the back of my thigh, squeezes my ass, tickles the back of my knee. I beat my fists lightly against her back, but she only laughs and climbs the stairs. 

I resort to pulling up her t-shirt, my hands fumbling as we bounce up to our room. Her skin is warm under my fingers, and I tug the waistband of her boxers playfully. She growls and kicks open our door, throwing me onto the bed and closing the door before pouncing on me. 

“Pony,” I giggle just before our lips crash together. The heat between us is comfortable, warm and homey and low - sensual, rather than desperate. Our limbs are heavy, gentle, almost sloppy as we sink into our soft bedding. Her lips turn to my neck, her hands tracing over my body. “You’re silly tonight.”

She just hums in response, shimmying her ass in the air as her head moves lower. This is interesting, I think, this playful side of her. She’s not often drunk, not in a happy mood. My wife likes to drink when she’s sad or angry, not usually in celebration. Tonight, though, tonight she’s as sweet and smooth as the icy strawberries that had blended into my drink. 

Her lips tease my chest, and her long nose brushes against my skin. She’s bunched my shirt up and my bra down, and I try to wiggle out of her grasp so I can take them both off. Instead, Anne curls her strong hands around my waist and holds me in place. She’s breathing through her nose, alternating hot and cool against my ribcage as she moves lower. I whine, bucking against her hands. 

“Stay still,” she growls, grazing her teeth against my belly. 

But she’s tickling me, and the giggles start to bubble up in my chest. Anne doesn't seem to understand this, though, and she just holds me closer. Her face pressing into my stomach, she pushes me up toward the head of the bed. She’s slipping, sliding against our duvet, her knees unable to find purchase against the fabric. My Anne, my confident and suave Anne, is skating like a penguin on ice.

“Pony,” I giggle, wiggling away until I’m leaning against the headboard. My shirt up around my clavicle, my breasts heaving out of my bra as I laugh and laugh. I curl a hand around the back of her neck, “Darling.”

She looks up at me, her stomach flat against the bed, her face split into that broad grin I love so well. She’s flushed, licking her lips, crawling up toward me. 

“Adney,” she chuckles, “are you laughing at me?”

“I am,” I grin, my stomach still shaking with held-back giggles. “I absolutely am.”

“You’d better not be,” she purrs, pulling my shirt over my head. 

Our lips meet as she flings it to the side, to the floor where I’ll scoop it up later, while she’s panting on the bed once I’ve thoroughly unraveled her. Oh, yes, Anne Lister isn’t the only one who can make her wife’s legs shake, her toes curl, and her breath stop. The young Mrs. Lister has a few tricks up her sleeve too. I’ve never heard any complaints.

“What if I am?” 

I run my hands through her dark hair as she kisses my neck. Anne is sloppy; her lips and tongue glide wetly across my skin. My giddiness starts to give way to desire. My God, she’s good at this.

“I’ll punish you, Miss Walker.”

She nips my earlobe, then she kisses my jaw, my chin, my lips. Oh, she is good at this, at touching me. Her lips are perfect, her tongue is masterful, her hands sink into my hair and cup my face with overwhelming tenderness. Anne tilts her head, nips my bottom lip, scoots forward to press her body against mine. 

That earlier clumsiness is gone. This is Anne Lister at her finest. She’s amazing - always, everywhere, but especially now. In Shibden. In our bed. In my arms. Every now and then I get a glimpse of her like this - the woman of all those rumors. The exquisite panther at work. The stuff of legends and ruined relationships and wet dreams. I think the alcohol is working in my favor, breaking her down to the most basic level - the level of pure, animal instinct. The level of infinite tenderness and perfectly curled fingers. The level that is going to tear me apart.

“Pony,” I breathe when we part; her eyes burn into mine as her hands drift to my waistband. “Oh, Pony.”

“You’re gorgeous,” she husks, kissing me fiercely before breaking away to tug my shorts from my legs. “Fuck, you’re incredible.”

Anne kisses my ankles, drags her tongue along my left calf, then bites the swell of my thigh. She loves my legs, the soft and pale skin that’s so different from her own. Gentle strokes with her tongue and soft presses of her lips - they unwind me. Slowly. Moment by moment. It’s torture, the way she teases me. I’m writhing by the time she reaches my soaked panties. Aching. Begging.

“Pony,” I manage, “please.”

She kisses the soft swell of my belly and looks up at me. Her smile is so earnest, so crooked and excited. I didn’t mean to laugh, honestly.

“Adney!” She laughs, shooting up to her knees. “Come on,” she’s laughing, even as she tries to be cross. “What is it!”

“You’re so cute,” I grin.

“I’m not trying to be cute,” she pouts, though she can’t help smiling. “I’m trying to ravish you.”

“Then ravish me, Pony.” I take her face in my hands, bringing our dopey smiles together. Quickly, the sweetness between us turns into desire. She’s above me, cupping my face with one hand, the other teasing my nipple, massaging my breast. We break apart, gasping, and she buries her face in my neck. “I need you.” Anne hums softly; I know what she wants to hear, the sky devil. “Please fuck me.”

“There it is,” she purrs against my skin, her left hand drifting lower, until she’s tracing circles over the damp material that used to be my panties. “I’ve been waiting for you to say that.”

I laugh again, delighted with how predictable my wife is. She bites my neck playfully.

“You’re laughing again,” she teases, pressing a bit more firmly against me. “You should be saying something filthy.”

“You like dirty talk so much,” I breathe, that low fire building up between my legs. “I’m starting to think you don’t like my laugh.”

“Every sound you make,” she slides past my waistband to finally, finally connect with my clit, “is divine.”

“Dirty talk or laughter, Pony? If you had to pick.” 

“I’d rather you say my name.”

And then she’s inside me. Filling me up and stroking me exactly how I need to be stroked. My eyes drift closed, and she’s kissing me again. I didn’t even realize how badly I needed her, how wired I was before she touched me. Now I’m thrumming with desire, a loose connection of nerves, each one alight. Aching. Burning for her.

“Pony,” I moan, and I can practically hear her grin. “Oh, fuck, Pony.”

“Much better,” she purrs, gently sliding me lower until my head rests against the pillow. She’s above me, surrounding me, pressing against me. “You feel so fucking good, Adney.” 

She’s already breathless from the effort, or perhaps it’s from desire. I’m warm, wild, writhing below her. She’s incredible at this - we’re incredible together. It’s almost unbelievable, the pleasure skating over my skin and up my spine. Her lips are hungry; mine are too. I pull her closer, angling my hips to draw her deeper. I need her, need to be consumed by her, to be broken apart by her.

“Yes,” I whine, my climax coiling in my gut. “Just like - oh,” I gasp as she finds the perfect spot inside of me. My raspy pleas turn to low groans, “fuck, Pony, yes.”

Tonight, she’s so tender with me, sensual and playful and teasing. Not brutal, as we sometimes are when our bodies collide. Not that harsh, rushed, desperation. Instead, we’re sloppy and giggling. Warm pleasure spreads from my core, into my gut, to the very tips of my fingers and toes. Soft chuckles spill from our lips just as easily as moans. Her strong body presses against me, her long fingers curl and stretch, her lips suck gently at my neck, and her heart beats in time with mine. 

“Adney,” she drawls, her low voice sending a shiver along my spine; is she always this intensely sexy? How do I stand it when she says my name? Why are we ever doing anything other than this? “You’re close, my Adney. You’re such a good girl, darling.”

Oh, I’m a goner now, aren’t I? When she talks like that. When my wife whispers filth in my ear. When she coaxes and encourages and loves me so well. It’s only a handful of breaths until I’m gone, lost to the tremble and shake and ecstasy of Anne Lister’s touch.

I’m panting at the ceiling, easing my eyes open to find her smiling proudly over me. Grinning and exuberant, I curl my hand around her neck, pulling her lips to mine. Our kiss is perfect, the connection I need to breathe life back into my sated, sweaty body. 

“Yeah?” Anne asks, her eyes dancing with pride. 

“I love you.” I shake my head and smile, trailing my fingers through her hair. “You’re amazing.”

“Am I?” 

The corner of her lip quirks up, and she’s more devastatingly handsome than I’ve ever seen her. Her cheeks are flushed - from the night, from the beer, from my lips on hers. Those deep brown eyes dance with mischief, and I can’t help toying with her.

“I think so, darling, but perhaps we’d better try it again, just to be sure.”

And then she erupts. That deep, throaty laughter I adore fills our bedroom, and she falls backward, tumbling to the foot of the bed. Her body shakes with it, and I, somehow, fall even more deeply in love with her. Her stomach contracts with joy, her eyes are closed, her grin enormous. I can’t believe how sensual this moment seems to be - laughing in bed with my wife. The scent of our lovemaking clings to the air, and we’re just here, laughing. Not at anything particularly funny, but mostly at the pleasure of our company, the joy of our marriage. 

Anne’s still got her clothes on, which is ridiculous. Totally typical and absolutely annoying. She’s impossible, my wife, about getting naked. Me, I like to be naked. My Anne, she doesn’t. She’s gotten better, she has, but she’s not naked nearly enough for me. If I had my way, she’d never wear a stitch.

“Get this off,” I breathe, patting her stomach. “Take your clothes off and come back to me.”

I’m like jelly, my limbs loose and my head spinning. I’m still a little buzzed, from the margaritas and from Anne’s hand between my legs. She laughs again, kisses me, and rolls to her feet. The way she teases off her jeans makes me salivate. The way she slips off her shirt and bra makes my hands itch. The way she shucks her boxers makes me keen aloud.

“Say something?” She husks, dropping one knee onto the bed. 

I nod, my eyes wide and my arms reaching for her. She stalks forward, on hands and knees, until she’s hovering over me. Threading my fingers through her hair, I pull her lips to mine. 

“You’re so hot,” I breathe as we part. “I love you so much.”

Then I buck my hips, just as a signal. I can’t flip her over, not consistently. She’s too strong, my wife, and too stubborn. Besides that, I like to remind her of our dynamic. Dearest likes to think she’s in charge, but we both know it isn’t true. That’s why I like to ask, with a thrust of my hips, just to see how easily I can get Anne Lister to roll over for me.

“I love you,” she whispers as I kiss her neck and fit my leg between hers. “Adney.” I hum against her skin. “My face hurts.”

“What?” Alarmed, I pull back to study her.

“My face hurts,” she tucks a stand of hair behind my ear, “from smiling so much.”

What a line.

I have to kiss her, don’t I? It’s sweet and gentle and loving - like my wife, like our life. I’m a proper sap, especially with Anne in my arms. Maybe I’ll stay here forever, losing myself in the slide of our lips, the circle of Anne’s embrace, the comforting warmth of her body molding to mine.

Then she whines.

“Ann.”

It’s three syllables this time, my name. That tone of voice, I know it well. Poor Pony has reached her breaking point. She’s on the edge, wet and aching and needy. In this moment, I know two things. First, my darling wife is in desperate need of my mouth between her thighs. And, secondly, she’s about to get really annoying about it.

That doesn’t stop me, of course, from being a bit of a brat. 

“Anne,” I respond in a matching lilt.

“Darling,” she bites her lip.

“My love,” I tease, sitting back to straddle her thigh and trail my fingertips over her taut belly.

“Mrs. Lister.” She flexes her thigh beneath me.

“Mrs. Walker,” I giggle, grinding my hips down into her firm muscle.

“Adney.” Her voice is rough, almost a groan as she takes my right hand and presses her lips to the back of it. “If you don’t touch me right now, I really might die.”

My wife is ridiculous, but I can never resist her. Even as I laugh, I lean down to kiss her lips. Her jaw. Her neck. She smells so good, right here in the crook of her neck where her pulse beats so strongly. I drag my tongue down her chest, along her clavicle, over the swell of her breast to the hard peak of her nipple.

A low moan rumbles from her throat as I kiss, lick, and suck my way across her chest. Her skin is salty, warm, perfectly soft and firm and mine. Every inch of her belongs to me, and I worship my way lower, until the scent of her arousal fills my lungs. 

“Adney.” She’s begging now, properly begging, and I grin up at her. I kiss the inside of her thigh, and I can see the muscle tense. “Please.”

Finally, I relent. The aching, wet core of her molds perfectly to my tongue. The hard nub of her desire fits between my lips like God made her just for me - and, I suppose, He did.

“Ann!” She gasps, one hand slipping through my hair. “Oh - fuck - baby, I - yes!”

It’s all I can do to focus on the task at hand. To unravel my wife, stroke by stroke. I desperately want to tease her, watch her, taste her, ride her - all of it, all it once. My hands move along her hips, along her thighs, up to her breasts. I need more of her, every gasp and tremble and ache. 

“I’m so - Adney, I’m - fuck,” Anne whines, that high-pitched way she sometimes does when she’s close. I redouble my efforts, strumming her clit with my tongue until she stretches taut before me and moans, “yes!”

Coaxing my wife through her climax is always a trial - she’s like a bronco, trying to buck and break my nose. I manage to bring her back to earth, and she stills under my hands and lips. That strong hand falls away from my head, and Anne’s bent legs flop to the bed. She’s worn out, and I almost can’t suppress my laughter. Already missing the taste of her, I kiss her quivering stomach, then her ribs, her throat, her lips. As I try to pull away, she grabs my face and kisses me deeply. It’s erotic, the way our tongues slide together, our satisfied bodies moving as one. She releases me with a grin and a nip to my bottom lip.

“I love you,” she husks, and I kiss her again. This time, whenI pull away, her eyes are half-lidded. I wonder if she’s in the mood to get the strap. Instead, she says, “I’m so sleepy.”

“Pony,” I laugh, falling onto her chest and wrapping myself around her, “you amaze me.”

“What?” She’s already tracing those lazy circles across my back.

“I forget, sometimes, that you’re so old,” I tease her and pull the covers over our naked bodies.

“I am not,” she yawns.

“Get your reading glasses, Dearest, and that book of yours. Tomorrow we’ll work on those grey roots.”

Anne’s only got a few grey wisps in her hair, and I love how dashing and serious they make her look. My vain wife, however, wholeheartedly disagrees. I fall asleep to her repeated, ridiculous protests, reveling in the silly side of Anne Lister that only I get to see.

Chapter Text

It’s 4:12 when Adney wakes me up. with her cold hands and soft lips. My mind’s still a bit fuzzy from the beer and the sex - Good Lord, it was good tonight, wasn’t it? The laughter and the sloppiness of it - that was something special. I smile into her teasing kisses, the ones along my neck and collarbone. It’s warm in our little cocoon, and I curl an arm around my wife’s back as she clambers on top of me. 

“Hi,” she whispers, her smile glinting in the low light. 

“Good morning,” I purr before catching her lips in a teasing kiss. “You’re up early.”

“It’s the middle of the night, Pony.” 

I hum, wanting to correct her but not wanting to break the spell of her body pressing against mine. This warmth, her body above me, and the soft exploration of her hands and lips. I’ll need to get up soon, get ready for the day. I could go back to sleep, sneak a few winks before the alarm sounds, but then I’d miss this. I’d miss this sleepy, amorous, slow Adney. The one who kisses me softly and caresses my face with those tender hands. 

“Good Lord, you’re warm,” she murmurs as she starts to kiss my neck. “My little furnace.”

“You’re calling me ‘little’ a lot tonight,” I tease, trailing my hands through her hair.

“I thought it was morning,” she whispers against my skin, and I can feel her grin against my skin.

She’s ridiculous, my Adney. Silly and sweet and loving. Her lips trail over my breasts, just for a moment. Isn’t it ridiculous? The way she’s unhinged me. This business on my chest - kissing me there, reminding me how feminine I am, showing me how good being a woman can feel.

“Baby,” she hums, surfacing to hover over my face; her right hand traces of my hip, her knee just barely brushing between my legs. “Are you wet?”

“Are you ?” I tease and pull her down for a fierce kiss. 

“Yes,” she giggles, sitting back on my thigh and grinding down, which makes me groan as I feel her arousal against my skin. “Obviously.”

For a moment, I just have to look at her. It’s hard to see her in the dark, but this room always did get the best moonlight. She’s backlit - silvery threads outlining her curves, turning her curls into a halo. My hands settle at her waist; the curves of her hips were made for me. She bites her lip, and it’s almost like I can read her mind.

We’re teetering on the edge, between making gentle, tender love and rutting together like a pair of teenagers. Adney seems awake enough, certain seems aroused enough, but is she brave enough? Being quiet is never easy for my wife, especially not if we’re going to do what I’ve got in mind. Leaning down, she kisses me one more time, then swings herself off the bed and pads away.

“Excuse me?” I sputter. The air is almost shockingly cold against my bare skin, the spot where Ann had just been. “I thought we were in the middle of something.”

“We are,” she hisses, racing back to bed. Ann jumps into bed next to me, giggling softly as waggles the strap in the hair. “We should really keep this closer at hand.”

“Should we?” I purr, kissing her sharply before rising up on my knees to fumble with the harness. 

Smiling, Ann sighs, falling back into the pillows and spreading her legs. If I could have dreamt of my perfect woman, I’m not sure I’d even come close to the divinity that is Ann Walker waiting for me to fuck her. 

“Come here,” she whispers; her blue eyes are dark in the low light, and her lips part as I crawl between her legs. “You’re so handsome.”

I can’t help the smug grin on my face, not when my wife compliments me. I don’t care much about my looks, though I do like to present a certain image. Adney says I’m vain, but I don’t think that’s right. Is there something so wrong with wanting to be attractive? Imposing and strong and one-who-will-not-be-fucked-with. Is that so wrong?

“Handsome,” my wife whispers again, this time as she cups my face. “Stunning.” She brings our lips together slowly. “Incredible.”

Growling, I kiss her again, harder this time. I trace my hand over her breasts, along her hip, between her legs. That perfect wetness heralds that incredible feeling that only Ann Walker can stir in me - desire, urgency, need. When she’s like this, she makes me nearly feral. She can make me tender and loving and sentimental at times, but, at others, her arousal drives me absolutely mad.

“Fuck me, Pony,” she breathes, daring me.

“I don’t know if you can handle it,” I tease, teasing her entrance ever-so-lightly with my fingertip. “Whole house is asleep, my darling.”

“Why don’t you,” she squeaks as I slip my index finger inside, “let me decide?”

A deep hum rumbles in my throat, and I stretch her with my middle finger as well. She’s amazing, the way she feels and the way she sounds and - Good Lord - the way she makes me feel as I start to pick up speed. I almost wonder if it’s worth losing this sensation - if it’s worth trading my hand for my cock. Perhaps I can -

“Pony,” Ann whines, breaking me from my thoughts. “I need you.”

“Rather a lot of work,” I purr in her ear, then catch her earlobe between my teeth, “for the middle of the night.”

“I thought it was morning,” she giggles and hooks her fingers around the harness at my hip.

She tugs gently, and I groan, my need practically spilling from my throat. Adney always manages to turn the tables on me, doesn’t she? I’m unable to resist her, even if, somehow, I wanted to. Instead, I settle myself above her, press my cock into her, kiss her deeply as I fill her.

“Pony,” she moans, her neck craning back into the pillows. “Yes, I - oh, this is just what I need.”

“You feel so good,” I husk, starting my slow, deep rhythm. “You take my cock so well.”

“Yes,” she breathes. Her legs lock around my waist; her arms grapple across my back. “More, Pony, ha- unh, yes.”

It’s damned hard work, if I’m honest. This roll of my hips, the balancing act, the attention to her lips and her neck and her legs. I like to run my hands over her smooth skin, down her side and along to her thigh. I move slowly this morning, intent on taking my time with her. Adney is always in such a rush, especially with the strap, but I like to tease her when I can.

We move together slowly. The air is heavy with the humidity of our lovemaking, the scent of our sweat and Ann’s perfume and Tiny’s foul breath. Perfectly domestic. This banal life I used to fear - it’s turning me on. Is that strange? My wife’s messy hair spread across our rumpled pillow cases. The faint snores of our dog. The comfort of our bedroom and this home we share. Why is it making me so hot?

“Harder,” she begs, her hands clutching at my skin. “Pony.”

“Let me enjoy you,” I whisper. “My love. My Adney. My wife.” I do start to move more quickly, but not because she’s asked. That’s just the nature of these things - the way I can draw the most pleasure from my angel. “You’re so beautiful. You’re so hot.” She keens - this is the tack then, I think smugly. “You make me so wet.”

“Yes,” comes her breathless reply. “Oh, fuck, Pony, yes.”

“I love you.” My lips find her neck, the underside of her jaw. “You’re mine.” My hand gravitates to her cheek and her hip and her breast. “You belong to me, Ann Walker.”

“I do,” she whines, her voice reaching that high, needy pitch that means she’s desperate. “I’m yours,” she chants “I’m yours. I’m yours.”

“You’re incredible,” I whisper against her skin. “You feel so fucking good. You take me so well. You’re amazing, my darling.” 

I pick up the pace, pumping my hips into her with force. Our lips crash together, and I catch her moans. She’s close - desperate and sloppy and breathless. One hand slips down my back to squeeze my ass - Adney’s attempt at pulling me impossibly deeper. Mumbled half-words tumble from her lips - the urgent, senseless babble that signals her release. There’s nothing better than this, is there? Than burying my cock in my wife and holding her in my arms and delivering her to that peak of pleasure.

“Come for me, darling,” I pant, snaking my hand between us to - finally - press against her clit. “Come on, baby. I love you. You’re mine. Come for me.”

And she does. Is there anything my Adney won’t do for me? Watching her unravel, feeling her flutter around my cock, kissing her flushed neck - this is heaven, surely. Surely there’s nowhere else on earth that’s better than this moment right here.

“Pony,” she groans as she collapses into the sheets, still and breathless. “Good Lord.”

“Yeah?”

Grinning, I bring our lips together. The sweetest kiss in existence, this one. After what we’ve just done, it’s almost unbelievable how soft and tender we can be. I never knew it could be like this. I break the kiss, pull away, sit back on my heels. One delicate white hand reaches up to loosen the harness. Biting my lip, I look down at my wife as she strips my core bare. It’s almost embarrassing how wet I am, how badly I need her. 

“Beautiful,” she whispers as she flings the strap to the side. “You’re stunning.” Ann slides her hand between my legs, brushing past the short hair and along my wet core. “You’re amazing.”

Humming, I roll my hips into her hand. I pull her up to me, cupping her beautiful face  and bringing our lips together. Ann moves slowly, but my hips are already jerking. I’ve taught her a lot, I think smugly as she teases my clit in the way I love best. Innocent little Ann Walker is now the daring Mrs. Ann Lister, with her hand between her wife’s legs at four o’clock in the morning.

“What are you thinking about?” 

Her voice is warm against my neck, her lips barely leaving my skin long enough to form the words. One hand on the back of her head, I close my eyes and smile.

“I’m thinking about how well I’ve corrupted you.”

“Corrupted?” Ann pulls away from my neck to look me in the eyes; there’s a wicked kind of smile on her face. “You flatter yourself.”

“Do I?” My lips twist into a sardonic smile; she’s still circling my clit, just lightly. This is some version of heaven - teasing my wife while she teases me. “Am I wrong to - oh! Uh, to assume you’d - fuck - you’d never done anything like this before?”

“Only in my dreams,” she breathes before kissing me again. Her hand against my cheek is tender, but the hand between my legs is fierce. She’s pressing harder, building that fire in my gut higher. Her lips find my jugular. “I used to think about this all the time.”

“Did you?” I squeak, barely able to form the words, to stay upright, to keep myself in this stratosphere. It’s so good tonight - this morning - so, so good. 

“Oh yes,” her teeth nip at my skin, “constantly. Fucking myself to the thought of this exact moment.” I gasp - her words in my ear and her hand between my legs and on my ass. “Making the great Anne Lister come. In the bed I share with her. Right after she fucked me senseless.”

My skin is burning, and my legs tremble with the strength of my impending release. My arms wrap more tightly around her back, my hands tangle in her hair. The kisses along my neck and shoulder are wet, messy, intoxicating. Fuck, she’s good at this.

“I am,” she laughs, and I realize I must have said that last bit aloud. “You’ve taught me so much, Pony. How to kiss. How to love. How to fuck. ” 

On this last word, she pulls my closer, molding our bodies into one and strumming my clit with force. I’ve lost it - she’s still talking, but I’ve completely lost the plot. I’m gone, exploding in my wife’s arms. All my wildest dreams - I never knew they’d be this good.

“Oh, Pony,” her voice finally reaches my ears as I gasp air into my lungs. “You’re so amazing.”

Chuckling and breathless, I shake my head and kiss her. Ann falls back into the pillows and brings me with her. We’re giggly, childish and silly in a way that I would never admit. I bite her lip before I pull away; our breaths mingle in the air. For a moment, I wonder if she’ll let me go again.

Then - that familiar jangle, a depression at the foot of the bed, hot air blowing against my ankle. I laugh and hang my head. How does the beast always know? She’s got impeccable timing that one. 

“Good night, Pony,” Ann giggles, spanking me playfully. “And hello, my baby.” 

Tiny waddles forward, appearing next to Ann’s head. I roll over and immediately cry out. Cool, damp silicone presses against my back. Fuck.

“Damn it,” I spit, torn between laughter and annoyance. “Between your dog and your strap, there’s no space for your wife.”

My strap?” Ann chuckled, already pressing her face into Tiny’s fur. 

Harrumphing, I cross my arms, suddenly pouting and moody from the change in plans. Too late to go back to sleep, too early to get up. Roused from my rest just to deliver an orgasm, then promptly replaced by the dog. When will Ann put me first, for once?

“Oh, darling,” my wife coos, turning on her side and caressing my face. “You’re so handsome.”

I hum, still sulking.

“You made me feel so good.”

“Sure,” I shrug. 

“I love you so much.”

“I bet.”

“Pony,” she laughs, hooking one leg over mine. “You’re ridiculous. Go on, Tiny, get Mummy.”

“Adney,” I laugh as Tiny’s tongue drags over my legs, “come on.”

“You’re handsome.” She kisses my shoulder. “You’re stunning.” My neck. “You’re strong.” My cheek. “You’re mine.”

“Am I?” I can’t help the smile on my face and the warmth in my chest.

“Yes. You know you are. You know you’re everything in the world to me.”

Tiny cuddles between us, and I roll over to face her proud grin. 

“What?” I laugh, trying to understand what’s made her so pleased with herself. 

“You’re a sucker, Pony,” she laughs, stroking Tiny’s back, “for a compliment.”

I am, I suppose, so I don’t even argue. Adney has that kind of effect on me - silencing me before I even get started. I should probably be cross with her about it, but I’m no good at that either. Four o’clock in the morning or the middle of the day, she’s captured me, wrapped me around her little finger, bent me to her will. I’m helpless in her arms, and, for once, I don’t mind. She’s unhinged me, my little woman, and I’m not even bothered. 

Chapter Text

Ann woke up late. It was Sunday after all, she reasoned as she stretched luxuriously against the cool sheets. Her wife had been up for ages, but she didn’t even mind. Not after that romp in the night. Ann smiled at the memory - Anne had been so strong and powerful and patient. There was something special about a nice, slow fuck in the dim light of the night. Humming softly, she wondered if she could pull it off again tonight. 

For now, however, she decided it was high time she got up. She could already hear the faint whoops and shouts of the game outside her window. It would be warm today, Anne had reminded her when she got up. One of those brisk summer days with endless sun. Ann loved and hated it in equal measure. She slipped into a light shirt and skirt, hoping to avoid getting too sweaty. From outside, she could hear her wife’s low voice shouting at someone. It was going to be a rather long day, wasn’t it?

By the time she got downstairs, the whole family had cleared out. It was strange, the dark walls and empty chairs. Shibden usually felt so lively, but she missed the Listers filling it up. Even Tiny and Argus had joined the festivities out on the lawn. Passing through the empty house, Ann made her way outside, following the noise of the cheers.

This football tournament had been Captain Lister’s idea. Originally, Ann amended, she supposed it was Thomas’s idea, but the family had conspired to make it more palatable to Herself, as they called Ann’s darling wife. If Thomas had brought it up, game over. Ann could see that. The whole thing had to be carefully managed, mostly by Aunt Anne, who often pulled the strings behind the scenes. In the end, Anne came out of it thinking it was her plan all along. The children from town, the community spirit, the chance to show off Shibden. A perfect formula for a bit of entertainment and a nice boost to Anne’s ego in the bargain.

“There she is,” Marian squealed as Ann stepped out into the blazing sun. “Your wife is about to lose, did you know that?”

“I’ve only just got here,” Ann giggled, letting her sister-in-law pull her through the maze of folding chairs toward the rudimentary field in the middle. “What’s she done now?”

“Her team!” Marian crowed. “They’re losing, by rather a lot, I think.”

“Lord help us,” Ann laughed, shaking her head.

Before her, a set of knobby-kneed preteens ran and shouted. Ann assumed this was part of the game, but she’d never had much of a head for sports. Before she could even start to process the match, her eyes fell on a tall, energetic figure. Clipboard in hand, shorts to her mid-thigh, a brand new t-shirt with a red ring around the collar and arms; it was emblazoned with Anne’s so-called “brilliant’ team name: “Lister Lions.” Ann’s heart swelled - how’d she get so lucky?

A whistle shrieked, and the red-shirted, red-faced kids jogged over to their imposing coach. Marian rolled her eyes and squeezed Ann’s hand before disappearing back into the crowd. Ann took a steadying breath and strode forward, toward the ferocious Lister Lion herself.

“Coach, my dad said you shouldn’t swear at us,” one boy was saying. 

“Mine too,” a girl agreed - was this a co-ed team? Ann’s head swam. 

“Just - alright,” Ann sighed and readjusted her baseball cap, “listen up.”

Whatever Anne said next was lost to the pounding in her wife’s ears and between her legs. She certainly was handsome like this, wasn’t she? Determined and passionate and wearing shorts. Ann bit her lip and inched forward until she could sidle up to the coach. Adopting a serious expression, she joined the huddle, nodding gravely at whatever her wife was saying.

A few players started to chuckle as they noticed Ann’s mock-intensity. Anne was focused, full of passion, speaking and gesticulating and inspiring. It was a bit of a rush, if Ann was honest, to see her like this. Even still, Ann played up the joke for the players’ benefit - they did seem so terribly scared of Coach Lister. By the time her wife noticed Ann, the referee had started the second half. The kids rushed back onto the pitch, and Anne wrapped a playful arm around her shoulders.

“And how long have you been here?”

“The whole game,” Ann said with a nod, “I’m ready. Put me in coach.”

“Hardly,” her wife laughed and squeezed her into her side. “Though I do hope you’ve brought us a bit of luck.”

“Got it right here,” Ann said, sliding her hand from around her wife’s waist and into the waist of her shorts. “Coach Lister needs a break, I think.”

“No way,” Anne released her shoulders and turned back to the field. “We’re playing your cousin, and I won’t lose bragging rights to that prick.”

“Pony,” Ann laughed and kissed her cheek. “I’m going to sit with the rest of them.”

She tilted her chin, waiting for the perfunctory goodbye kiss. Anne remained focused on the game. Ann cleared her throat. Her wife didn’t even flinch. Ann took her hand; Anne’s fingers curled around her own, but she continued shouting at the players. With a huff, Ann wheeled around in front of her wife, looped her fingers through the lanyard holding the whistle around her neck, and tugged her forward. Their lips crashed together, and Anne let out a very undignified squeak. 

Satisfied with herself, Ann wrapped a hand around the back of her wife’s head. She deepened the kiss, felt Anne melt into her for a moment, then sputtered out a laugh as her wife broke away with a gasp. Anne was red-faced and breathless, her eyes wide and her forehead creased in confusion. Ann couldn’t remember the last item she’d smiled this widely.

“See you later,” Ann winked, “Coach.”

Flouncing off, Ann was certain at least some of the whistles and applause were for her boldness. Probably not, but she liked to think of it that way. Aunt Anne’s waving arm beckoned her, and Ann found herself in the Lister camp. A shady tent, a half dozen chairs, and a cooler. Ann plopped into a chair; Thomas pressed a beer into her hand.

“Isn’t it a bit -”

“Never too early,” he grinned that dopey grin of his, and Ann wondered yet again how straight women did it. She’d never understand, she supposed, so she accepted the drink without complaint. Thomas dropped to the grass at Marian’s feet. “Glad you’ve made it.”

“Me too,” Aunt Anne patted her arm, “maybe you can calm that girl down.”

“No use,” Ann chuckled with a shrug, “I tried.”

“Snogging her!” Marian crowed, “Oh, there’ll be hell or pay for that, Little Ann. 

“I doubt it,” Ann smiled serenely, only now realizing just that her sister-in-law was somewhere between “tipsy” and “drunk.” “Do you think they’ll win?”

“Not a chance,” Thomas chimed in.

Ann tuned out, allowing the conversation to flow around her. Captain Lister returned. Marian and Thomas disappeared. The game continued. Not that Ann noticed. She was rather more preoccupied with the pair of shorts racing up and down the sideline, the way those strong calves moved, the bounce of that dark ponytail, and the firm set of that jawline. Had it gotten hotter outside? Ann found herself peeling the label from the sweaty bottle in her hand, subconsciously crossing and uncrossing her legs.

“She’s something, isn’t she?” Aunt Anne said, breaking Ann from her daydream.

“What?”

“Our Anne. Chewing out that ref,” Aunt Anne pointed, and, sure enough, Dr. Anne Lister was driving her index finger into the chest of a rather burly man in bright red. Chagrined, Ann chuckled and shook her head. Aunt Anne looked at her expectantly. “Perhaps she needs a bit of calming down.”

“This is her plan,” Ann shrugged. “I’m not getting in the middle of that fight.”

“Sensible,” Aunt Anne smiled. “Can you imagine what she’ll be like in a few years? The school’s in for a rude awakening. The rest of the parents, too.”

“What do you mean?” Ann breathed, her throat suddenly impossibly dry. Did Aunt Anne know something Ann didn’t? Was Anne - surely not. 

“It won’t be long,” Aunt Anne said gently, “until we’re sitting like this - you know, at my grandchild’s match.”

Ann tried to smile, her heart soaring at Aunt Anne claiming their future children as her own, only to sink immediately in fear. A few years? That wasn’t nearly enough time. Ann wasn’t - but what if Anne was? How long before they were too old? Why hadn’t Anne - 

“Ridiculous,” Anne spat, racing up to them and slipping Ann’s beer from her hand. She took a long draw and sat down; Ann’s heart beat even faster - couldn’t the game go into overtime? A few penalties? Just so that Ann could have some time to think? “Can you believe that call?”

“Criminal,” Captain Lister agreed. 

“We nearly had them,” Anne said emphatically, draping her right hand over Ann’s knees. The damp end of the bottle brushed against the warm skin of her thigh, and she shivered. “If we’d -”

“It’s over now,” Aunt Anne said gently. “Why don’t you and Little Ann take a walk?”

“I’ve just sat down,” Anne protested.

Without a word, Ann slipped her hand over her wife’s neck and past the collar of her t-shirt. As much as Ann wanted more time to think, she wanted to leave this crowd more. Alone with her wife, the only person who could consistently calm her racing thoughts. The teasing touch was signal enough, and Anne heaved herself to her feet. 

Hand-in-hand, they wove their way out of the crowd and into the house. Though the house was still empty, Shibden felt more alive with Anne in it. The walls seemed to glow as she passed them, the creaks in the floor singing her praises as she strolled into the kitchen, even the sun seemed to burn a little brighter through the windows.

Anne pulled a beer and a water from the fridge, then swept Ann into the dining room and into her lap. Giggling, Ann curled her arm around her wife’s strong shoulders, her right shoulder pressed into Anne’s chest, and her legs dangled over the side. Anne cracked open the beer can with one hand, and Ann’s mouth ran dry. Anne’s long fingers almost made her forget her anxiety. Almost.

“Pony,” she started.

“Adney, I don’t want to talk about it,” her wife sighed, trailing her hand over Ann’s lower back. 

“About what?” 

How did she know? Had Aunt Anne - was there - did everyone know but Ann?

“About the game,” Anne said, almost sheepish. “I know I - uh - overreacted, but - well, I said I didn’t want to talk about it.”

“Okay,” Ann said easily, toying with the whistle around her wife’s neck. “Can we talk about, um, what Aunt Anne said to me?”

“And what was that?” 

“She said - um, well, she said something, uh, about us - well, uh, about us having - you know - having children. Soon. Very soon.”

“Did she?” Anne seemed very surprised, though not displeased. “What was said?”

“She said that - well, that it would only be a few years before we’re going to football matches for our child, and - a few years, Pony. I -” the anxiety started to catch up with Ann, and she covered her face with her hands. “I can’t do it in - I mean we would have - like now. Like today or tomorrow, and I - I mean, I do - or, I think I do, but then, sometimes I - I’m just - I’m only thirty years old, and I know you - well, when are we - what’s the - have you -”

“Adney,” her wife said gently. “It’s okay.” She kissed the back of Ann’s right hand, still covering her face. “We don’t - it’s been about four months, darling, since we got married. I’m not in any rush. Are you?”

Still in the safe, dark cocoon of her hands, Ann shook her head.

“Well then,” Anne wrapped her arms around her waist and. “It’s no one’s business but our own, is it?”

“I guess not,” Ann whispered.

“I guess not,” Anne answered. “Now, may I see your lovely face?”

Smiling, almost embarrassed, Ann dropped her hands from her face. The face that met her was so patient, soft, and warm. Anne took her hand and kissed her knuckles gently, then her wrist, then the ticklish spot on the inside of her elbow, then the side of her neck, then her jaw, and finally her lips. Strong hands kneaded her hips, ran along her sides, cupped her breasts. Ann slipped her tongue past her wife’s lips, moaning softly as their kiss turned more heated, almost desperate.

“I love you,” she breathed against Anne’s lips. “I do want to have a family with you.”    

“I know,” Anne husked, licking her lips, “but for now, darling Adney,” she started to smile, “care to explain what made you snog me in front of half of Halifax?”

Ann just laughed and kissed her again. What a thrill, always, being with Anne. With a final nip to her wife’s bottom lip, Ann scrambled out of her lap and sank to her knees. She kissed the inside of one of her wife’s thighs.

“Do we have time?”

“Yes,” Anne breathed, already sinking lower and spreading her legs. “You have no idea how long I’ve wanted to do this.”

“Do what?” She asked innocently, slipping her wife’s shorts down her legs; her heart skipped a beat when she realized Anne had forgone underwear of any kind. “Pony.”

“I didn’t - uh, I didn’t want lines - you know, under my shorts.”

“You are vain, Mrs. Walker,” Ann teased, dropping her head to kiss the inside of Anne’s knees, then her thighs, a slow path up to the core of her. 

“I am not,” Anne murmured softly.

For now, Ann decided to ignore it. Instead, she slipped one hand upward, over Anne’s stomach and up to the elastic of her sports bra. She tried to push forward, but the damned thing wouldn’t budge. Huffing, she sat back on her heels and looked up at her wife.

“Can you -?”

With a soft chuckle, Anne reached under her own shirt and flipped the offending garment upward. She licked her lips and spread her legs wider. A silent invitation. Ann could feel her own arousal practically burning through her panties.

“Thank you,” she whispered against her wife’s tan skin.

Humming softly, she kissed  her way up that strong leg until she reached the wet core of her; her left hand curled around Anne’s thigh, her right pushed up to Anne’s now-free breasts. She moaned as she caught her wife’s nipple between her fingers, then again as Anne tangled her fingers in her hair.

“Adney,” came the gentle sigh from above as Ann dragged her tongue lightly over her wife’s center. “Oh, fuck.”

Aware of the crowd outside, their rather vulnerable position, and her own rapidly-building arousal, Ann decided to work fast. She rolled her wife’s breast in her hand, lapped eagerly along her folds, circled and strummed and caressed her clit. This position was divine, perhaps Ann’s favorite. She loved to unravel her wife, to take control and worship and serve all at once. The way Anne’s hips moved, the way her fingers curled, the way she moaned, low and rough and uninhibited. 

“Adney,” she begged. “Fuck, Ann, I’m - Ann!”

With a deep groan, Anne shot over the edge. She trembled and gasped, twitching even as Ann eased her back to earth. With a final, contented sigh, she relaxed, releasing Ann’s head from her firm grasp. Ann kissed the tops of her thighs and her belly, then looked up at her breathless wife with more than a little pride. 

“You’re so sexy,” she said as Anne pulled her to her feet. Their lips met in a brief, passionate kiss, until Anne broke away to pull up her shorts. “I can’t believe you kissed me on the pitch.”

“Believe it, baby,” Ann grinned, hopping up on the table.

“You’re something else,” Anne purred, stepping between Ann’s spread legs and running her hands slowly up her legs and under the hem of her skirt. 

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ann teased, slipping her hand under her wife’s shirt and over her breast once again.

“Staking your claim like that.” Anne started kissing her neck. “Marking me in front of the entire town. Going down on me in my own dining room.”

My dining room now,” Ann breathed, leaning back and closing her eyes.

“Is it?” Anne’s skilled fingers teased higher until they found that ruined bit of lace.

“Obviously” Ann sighed, a soft smile playing at her lips. “I’d - unh, I’d have thought you’d - unh - know that by now.”

Anne hummed in satisfaction, clearly pleased with herself for derailing Ann’s train of thought. Not that Ann minded, not when Anne was doing that thing with her hand. That deft thing where she snuck into Ann’s panties and managed to set Ann’s entire body on fire. That incredible thing where she turned pooled arousal into flames that licked at the base of Ann’s spine, curled her toes, and took her breath.

“You’re so beautiful,” Anne whispered in her ear as she slid seamlessly between Ann’s folds. “You feel so good.”

With a needy moan, Ann wrapped her arms more tightly around her wife’s strong back. She lifted one leg to curl over Anne’s hip, begging her deeper. 

“I love you so much,” Anne panted, circling her thumb over Ann’s clif. “So much I’ll even let you snog me,” she stretched Ann with a second finger, “in front of God and everybody.”

“Pony,” Ann whined, feeling her release burn in her gut. “Faster.”

With a low grunt, Anne complied. She sucked at Ann’s neck, pounded her hand between her legs, strummed her thumb over her clit. Vaguely, Ann registered awe at the incredible roller coaster of the last hour. What a whirlwind, being at Shibden. Before she got too carried away, however, Ann was lost to the pleasure building in her chest and racing through her veins. Anne was whispering in her ear, but Ann couldn’t hear her. The only sensation was that pressure on her clit, the exquisite curl of those fingers, the heat passing between their bodies.

“Pony!” She gasped, seizing and juddering with the strength of her climax. “I - I - unh-”

It was there - on the tip of her tongue - but her brain was short-circuiting, overloaded by the hard wood underneath her, the perfect woman above her, and the incredible pleasure exploding in her chest.

“I know,” Anne assured her. “I know, baby. I love you, too.”

With a sharp exhalation, Ann turned to jelly. She went limp against the table, smiling sleepily at her wife above her. Anne kissed her softly, pulled her upright and back into her lap in the chair. Closing her eyes, Ann leaned against the comforting wall that was her wife’s chest. For several long moments, neither of them spoke. Still in the warm bubble of their lovemaking, Ann broke the silence. 

“Let?”

“What?” Anne smiled and kissed the top of her head.

“Earlier,” Ann smoothed her hand along her wife’s forearm. “You said you ‘let’ me snog you.”

“Sure,” Anne purred, drawing meandering paths across Ann’s hip with her thumb.

“You’re very silly, Pony.”

“What do you mean?”

“You’d let me shag you in the middle of Halifax, if I asked.”

Anne scoffed and tipped her out of her lap, heaving herself upright and taking a long draw from that forgotten bottle of water. For a moment, Ann wondered if she’d misplayed it. If, perhaps, Anne was still upset about the match. If she’d start to sulk. If Ann had finally overplayed her hand and overestimated how much ribbing her Pony could take. 

“You’re right,” Anne said simply, her face splitting in a wide grin. “And you, my darling, are going to have a mark just about here,” a single fingertip ran over her pulse point, “for at least a week. 

Curling her fingers around that lanyard, Ann pulled her laughing wife’s lips to her own. There was no rush, she reminded herself. No urgency in their lives. Nothing to worry over. Nothing but her ridiculous Anne and eternity.

Chapter Text

Ann hummed happily, halfway between a giggle and a sigh as her wife surfaced, red-faced and breathless. Anne dropped her head against Ann’s bare chest, inhaling deeply against her skin and filling her lungs with the scent of sweat and perfume and their lovemaking. Bliss, Anne thought as she chuckled and waited for her heart rate to slow. Nimble fingers scratched the back of her head, and Anne looked up at her wife.

“You’re gorgeous, do you know that?” She husked, looking up at this radiant being who was, somehow, her wife.

“Am I?” 

“Yes,” Anne purred, stretching forward to catch Ann’s lips in a deep kiss. “And I think you know it.”

They both laughed as Anne flopped to the side, grinning at the ceiling and shaking her head at her good luck. She checked the clock. They’d been up for hours by now, hadn’t they? Three hours and twelve minutes, Anne calculated with a smug sort of grin. Being awoken in the night was usually one of Anne’s pet peeves, but being awoken in the night by her stunning, insatiable wife? It was quite possibly her favorite thing in the world.

The sun peeked through the window, just faintly, and Anne rolled onto her side. The room was warm, not yet stuffy from the day’s heat. Their sheets were damp and rumpled, and soon a familiar set of tags jangled across the room and, with a small grunt, up onto the bed. Tiny licked Ann’s face enthusiastically, her round little behind hovering over Anne’s head.  

“That’s that then,” Anne laughed, scratching Tiny’s back. “Guess we’re getting up.”

“We don’t have to.” Ann made a gesture, and Tiny dropped to her belly. “I’ll send Tiny back to her bed.”

“No,” she chuckled, “it’s about time anyway.”

“Is it?” her wife yawned. 

“Yes,” Anne heaved herself upright and stretched. “Good Lord, Adney, you’ve worn me out.”

A soft hum buoyed her steps, and Anne couldn’t help smiling as she went. A quick trip through the bathroom, then she was pulling on her robe. The black one, soft terrycloth with her name embroidered over her heart. Part of the wedding debris, this robe; Ann had insisted it was what brides wore before they got dressed. Anne hadn’t actually worn it that day, but she found herself slipping into it occasionally these days. Sometimes Ann would wrap the dark cloth around her pale body. A shiver ran over Anne’s spine at the memory.

“Pony,” Ann purred, now propped on her side with one hand under her head and the other stroking Tiny’s belly, “you look good enough to eat.”

“And eat we shall,” she answered, dropping into bed parallel to her wife, “but only if you’d hurry up.”

“Me?” 

“Adney.”

“Cook?” Ann’s nose scrunched up in distaste.

“Uh-huh.”

“Why can’t you?”

“I’m always the one.”

“You’re right,” Ann sighed, placing a farewell kiss on Tiny’s nose. “On one condition.” Anne raised her eyebrows in question. “You have to wear that robe.”

“What?”

“Downstairs,” Ann said as she stood from the bed. “In the kitchen.” Anne started to protest, but her wife cut her off by slipping into her own, matching robe. “While I cook for you.”

“Adney,” she hedged, sitting up; her mind was already calculating the time, the family, how ridiculous she’d look walking the dogs like this. 

“Put on some shorts,” Ann pressed against her back and kissed her cheek, “and let your wife cook breakfast for you.”

Anne groaned and flopped back into bed as her wife left the room. She really ought to get dressed, properly dressed, if she was going to go downstairs, let the dogs outside, be anywhere near the others. On the other hand, she thought ruefully, she’d almost certainly do it. Whatever Ann asked, consider it done. Besides, the thought of Ann in the kitchen in nothing but that white robe… she was already pounding down the stairs after her.

Tiny and Argus fell into step next to her, and she strode out into the weak morning sun. She roamed the fields a bit, feeling rather ridiculous in her worn loafers and robe. By the time the dogs trotted back to her, it was 6:34. Perfect timing, she decided, as she shed her shoes and swept into the kitchen. 

Ann was radiant in the dingy Shibden kitchen. Blonde hair pulled back loosely from her face, white robe wrapped around her glorious body, a brilliant smile as she turned to her wife. The comforting scent of breakfast, tinged only slightly with that burnt taste that flavored all of Ann’s cooking.

“Hello, sausages,” Anne purred as she wrapped her wife in her arms and kissed her fiercely.

The summer air had invigorated her. The sight of her bride in their home, cooking their breakfast - Anne’s chest swelled with it. Small hands curled in the front of her robe, along her neck, into her hair. Their lips met in a series of heated kisses. Wrapping her hands around her wife’s waist, Anne spun them slowly until she could press Ann into the counter. With one hand, she turned off each of the burners on the stove, and, with the other, she slipped into that white robe.

“Pony,” Ann sighed as warm fingers caressed her breast. “The family.”

“They’re asleep.” She kissed Ann’s neck. “And you’re beautiful.”

“The food,” Ann breathed, her eyes drifting closed.

“Leave it.”

 Anne kissed her way lower, along her wife’s exposed skin. Ann’s hands roamed her back, pressed into her hair, traced over her arms. Good Lord, had she always been this incredible? Anne almost couldn’t believe it. Had it really been less than an hour since they’d been tangled together upstairs? It felt like an eternity. Anne took her wife’s nipple between her lips, trailed teasing kisses over her flushed skin, grazed her teeth playfully over the sharp lines of her collarbones. The softly streaming sunlight made Ann’s pale skin glow, and the tenderness of the moment filled Anne with emotion. She felt no urgency, just patience and enjoyment and adoration. As much as Anne loved her wife’s breasts, she needed her lips again.

“Pony,” Ann giggled between kisses, “you’re impossible.”

“Am I?” 

A wide grin spread across Anne’s face as she caught her wife’s eye and squeezed her ass playfully. Not quite enough energy for a proper shag, Anne couldn’t stop her wandering hands or her hungry lips. Ann seemed similarly inclined, tilting her head and running her hands along Anne’s back and into her hair. She was warm, soft, perfectly supple and hungry and delicious. Perhaps Anne could summon some energy after all.

“Get up here,” she growled playfully, hoisting Ann onto the counter and spreading her legs; there was nowhere better than the welcoming, protective V of Ann Walker Lister’s thighs. “We’ve got time.”

“Have we?” Ann sighed happily. 

She tilted her head back and threaded her fingers through Anne’s hair, holding her close to her chest. Anne kissed her neck, her clavicle, her cheeks. Soft moans spilled from Ann’s throat. A sneaky hand slipped under the dark material of Anne’s robe, just under those delicate white letters.

“You’re hot,” Ann husked, curling her fingers around Anne’s breast. “Good Lord, Pony.”

“I love you,” Anne whispered into her neck.

Ann tugged at her hair, forcing Anne to face her.

“I love you,” her wife smiled back.

For a moment, they just gazed at each other. Tender. Delicate. Sappy. Anne grinned in spite of herself. How had this woman turned her so impossibly soft? She used to be rough and devilish, now she was trading chaste kisses in a sun-streaked kitchen. In matching robes, no less. Goodness gracious.

Ann tilted her chin, and Anne acquiesced. A fierce kiss, roaming hands, soft hums. Fire stoked in Anne’s belly; she wondered if they really did have time. Time for a slow, proper shag. The kind that they both needed. Ann bit her bottom lip, pulled back, grinned, kissed her again. She was hungry this time, nearly devouring Anne whole. 

Then Ann pushed her away.

“What?” She sputtered, chuckling breathlessly in confusion. “Adney?”

“Breakfast, darling,” Ann hopped to her feet. She spanked Anne playfully and returned to the stove. “I’m starved.”

“Adney,” she whined, sidling up behind her wife, “come on. We’ll have cereal.”

“I don’t think so,” Ann laughed, shimmying her ass against Anne’s crotch. “You must learn patience, darling.

“Must I?” 

Anne kissed her wife’s neck, slipped a hand into her robe. She circled Ann’s nipple with her finger tips, grinding her hips against Ann’s ass. The hearty aromas of grease and cheese and sausage filled the kitchen. Anne nipped her wife’s earlobe.

“I'd like to take you upstairs,” she husked. “Bend you over our bed. Shag you silly.” Ann hummed softly, her hand faltering for a moment. “Fill you up with my cock. Then,” she kissed Ann’s cheek softly, “toss you into bed and make love to you.”

“Pony,” her wife breathed. “We should-”

“Hello, sausages!” Aunt Anne’s bright voice called from behind them.

Anne squeaked and shot away from her wife, her face reddening as she spun around to meet her aunt’s knowing gaze. That arched eyebrow, the half-smirk - it was the exact same expression she wore when a teenage Anne stumbled home in the wee hours with a story about getting lost rather than breaking curfew by staying too late in bed with some girl. Anne bit her lip, resigning to her fate.

“Good morning, aunt,” she smiled, leaning against the counter and casually taking her wife’s hand. Ann would be mortified, of that much she was sure. “You’re up early.”

“Not as early as you,” Aunt Anne moved to the coffee maker. “Though, somehow, you hadn’t thought to start this for us.”

“Rather preoccupied,” Marian said smugly, sauntering into the room. “Harassing Little Ann and making her cook?”

“She is my wife you know,” Anne rolled her eyes. “I did try to make breakfast.”

“Cereal,” Ann said over her shoulder.

“Bad form,” Father rumbled as he forced his way into the kitchen. “Must do better, Chief.”

“Why are you all in here?” Anne groaned. “I hope you don’t give poor Cordingley this kind of grief.”

“We save it for you, Antsy.”

Aunt Anne kissed her forehead and slipped out of the room, with Father behind her. Marian, however, seemed determined to tease her a bit longer. With a scoff, Anne tied her robe a bit tighter and tilted her head to study her sister’s face.

“Need something?”

“I’m trying to figure out why in the world you two are wearing matching robes right now.”

“Marian,” Ann laughed, turning to face her and gesturing vaguely over her shoulder; by now, Anne knew this meant Ann was ceding her cooking duties. “Would you rather we go round in our nightclothes?”

“Maybe,” Marian answered with a chuckle.

“I don’t think you’d like it,” Ann teased; “Pony here often sleeps in nothing at all.”

“Ann!” 

“Oh my God,” Marian groaned, “I’ve done it again. I’ve pushed it too far.”

She was still grumbling as she left the kitchen. Anne shook her head, and her wife pressed against her back, sharp chin hooking over her shoulder.

“That wasn’t fair, Adney,” she scolded gently.

“She can handle it.”

“Can you?” Anne squeezed her wife’s delicate hand around her waist. “Will you be able to face them all now that they know you sleep with a naked woman in your bed?”

Ann’s face fell.

“Oh, Pony - wait, I -” she looked worriedly toward the dining room. “That’s not what -” she clutched her robe more tightly around her body. “Pony!”

“Your own fault, my love,” Anne kissed her wife’s furrowed brow and handed her a platter to carry. “It’ll be fine.”

And it was, really. They should both know by now, honestly, that the family knew just how ravenous they were. With a bit of a sheepish smile, Anne started to realize that they all must’ve heard the creaks of the bedframe, Ann’s bright laughter, the telltale thumps against the wall. 

“I didn’t get the memo,” Marian teased as they settled in. “I would’ve gotten out my robe as well.”

“Not sure you lot could handle mine,” Father joked, already tucking in. 

“Thank you for cooking,” Aunt Anne said graciously. “It’s nice on Cordingley’s day off.”

“You’re welcome,” Anne grinned, settling a possessive hand on her wife’s knee.

“Not you,” her traitorous wife laughed. “She was no help at all! All hands, this one.”

Ann blushed as she said it, but the rest of the family barely blinked. In fact, the meal passed with almost no awkwardness at all. Aside from the stray throat-clearing from Father, the Listers really didn’t seem bothered. The family had heard much worse than they’d seen in the kitchen. It was only the wives who labored under the misconception that they were being at all secretive. By the time they were back in their bedroom, Anne had forgotten her embarrassment entirely. Closing the door and pulling her wife into her arms, Anne ran one thumb delicately over the black script: “Ann Lister.” Their eyes met for a tender moment, then Anne felt slender fingers squeeze her behind. 

“Adney?”

“Hello sausage.”

Laughter filled the air as they tumbled into bed, the rest of the day lost to their sloppy kisses, hushed giggles, and satisfied sighs. 

Chapter Text

“Have you played this?” Anne asked as she wrapped an arm around her wife’s waist and pulled her into her lap. “I’m going mad.”

“What?” Ann laughed, her ass colliding with Anne’s strong thighs. “Take this off.”

Anne wore her hood up, the hood on that ridiculous cashmere jumper she loved so dearly. It was adorable, if also a bit annoying. The hood signaled her wife was concentrating rather hard on something, and there was nothing Ann hated more than her wife focusing on something that wasn’t her. Ann slipped the hood from her head, revealing her wife’s dark hair and furrowed brow. Anne looked up at her through her reading glasses. 

“This game.” Anne held her phone out. “Washington told me about it, and now - well, I’m sick of it.”

Ann looked down at her wife’s cell phone and started laughing. 

“Pony!” She curled a hand around Anne’s neck. “This game is a million years old.”

“It is not!” Anne protested. “Washington just told me about it.”

“Darling,” Ann said slowly, “this game is at least three years old.”

“Adney!”

Ann just laughed and kissed her. Poor, darling, elderly Pony. It always took her a little while to catch up on these things. Ann thought it adorable, and she couldn’t help deepening the kiss, just for a moment. Her wife pulled away, still pouting a little. 

“I never heard of it,” Anne said softly. “It’s - um - it’s fun.”

“Yes, my love, Among Us is very fun.”

“Have you played it?”

“I did, a little,” Ann shrugged, leaning back against the couch, her legs dangling over the edge, one arm still wrapped around her wife’s shoulders. “It was pretty popular last autumn, but you always say you hate video games.”

“This isn’t a video game! This is detective work mixed with psychology mixed with completing tasks. It’s -” she scoffed for emphasis, “it’s all my favorite things!”

“Is it?” Ann laughed, tugging gently at the hair over the nape of Anne’s neck. “You’re a funny one, Anne Lister.”

“I am not,” her wife purred, leaning forward and catching Ann’s lips in a lingering kiss. “D’you want to play?”

“Yes,” Ann breathed, tossing Anne’s phone onto the couch behind her.

She twisted in Anne’s lap, straddling her narrow hips and cupping her handsome face. Anne’s lips curled into a smirk as she settled her hands on Ann’s waist, her eyes flicking between Ann’s lips, her breasts, her eyes. Then that pink tongue - that masterful, infuriating, quick-to-anger-quick-to-soothe tongue - darted out and ran between Anne’s lips. Ann sighed, a low, needy sound as she leaned forward. Their lips met slowly and deeply, fire burning slowly between them. It never took much, did it? For them to get started. It was a wonder, honestly, that they got anything done at all. 

“You’re distracting me,” Anne whispered, slipping her hands under Ann’s t-shirt. “So fucking hot.”

“You are,” Ann sighed, closing her eyes and tilting her head back as her wife pressed sloppy kisses to her neck. “I love you.”

For a few long, blissful moments, Ann burned all over. Her wife’s strong hands caressing her stomach, her ass, her thighs. Soft lips on her overheated skin. Gentle hums and breathless sighs. Dark hair between her fingers. That warm, muscular body beneath her. The quiet parlor, the rest of the family out of the house. Why hadn’t she interrupted her wife sooner?

“Take me upstairs,” she whispered. 

“Not yet,” Anne said into her skin. “Play a game with me.”

“Okay,” Ann grinned, wiggling her hips. “You be the gardener, and I’ll -”

“No,” her wife laughed, “play Among Us with me.”

“Pony.”

“Come on!” Anne’s brightest grin shone on her; Ann knew these tricks, but she was still powerless. “Just one or two. They go so quickly.”

“Fine.” Ann pecked her wife’s lips quickly and scrambled backwards. “Let me get my phone.”

Ann had played Among Us a few times when it got popular, but she’d really forgotten it since then. Catherine loved it, but she always got so cross when Ann won. The unfortunate truth was that Ann was actually quite good at the game, and now she’d have to decide if she’d give her wife a proper challenge or go easy on her. Anne was a bit of a sore loser, for one thing, but Ann wasn’t sure she could stand the gloating if Anne won.

Settling on the far side of the couch, Ann studied her wife and waited for the game to re-download to her phone. Anne was so handsome it made her chest ache. She had on jeans, a threadbare t-shirt, that perfectly soft jumper. Her hair hung around her face, and her glasses had slipped down her long nose. Ann interlaced her legs with her wife’s, tickling the ankle near her hip. 

“Ready?”

“Oh, yes,” Anne grinned.

As it turned out, Anne was… remarkably bad at Among Us . For starters, the poor thing was much too focused on the tasks. She was convinced every game could be won by tasks alone. Her other problem, however, was that the loquacious Dr. Lister had entirely too much to say during meetings. This almost always led to her ejection from the game. After the third round, she clicked her tongue in disgust and looked up at her wife.

“Why do they always say I’m ‘sus?’ What does that even stand for?”

“It doesn’t stand for anything,” Ann laughed, racing about trying to find one last crewmate to kill. “It means you’re being suspicious.”

“I’m not suspicious! That - that bugger in the last game was suspicious!”

“Was he?” Ann put her phone down as the screen flashed ‘Victory.’ “Why was he suspicious, my love?”

“He wasn’t doing any tasks! He kept following me!”

“You’re so cute, Pony.” Ann scrambled forward and kissed her wife hard, then flopped back to her side of the couch. “You realize he’s probably about fourteen years old?”

“Yes,” Anne groaned, “and why are they all so vulgar? Usernames that… I mean, I can’t even say them out loud.”

“Pony,” she laughed, shaking her head, “you can’t say ‘Daddy’ out loud? Even to me?”

“Ann,” her wife hissed, “not here.”

“No?” Ann traced a teasing hand over her wife’s calf. “You don’t want me to call you ‘Daddy?’” 

“Not right now,” Anne answered through gritted teeth; Ann could already tell she was itching to carry her upstairs. “One more round, darling.”

With a sigh, Ann relented. Perhaps she’d let Anne win this round. They found a new group and, by some miracle of God or quirk of fate, they both ended up as Imposters. Dr. Anne Lister positively squealed with delight.

“Adney! Oh, we’re going to win. We’re going to - ok, come to - come over here to - wait, no that won’t - Ann? Where are you - oh, they’ve -”

“Pony,” Ann said gently, “calm down. Say nothing in this meeting unless asked.”

“But I -”

“Nothing.”

They evaded discovery, and the game continued. Ann moved across the screen efficiently, ignoring her wife’s attempts at strategy. In the end, Ann managed to secure their victory without taking even one piece of her wife’s advice. Though, of course, she’d never tell Anne that. She’d let her proud wife revel in their win, if only for a little while.

“Of bloody course!” Anne crowed, lurching forward to catch Ann’s lips in a searing kiss. “Dream team, aren’t we?” Strong hands curled around Ann’s face. “One more game?”

“Anne!”

“Come on,” she pleaded, making those dopey, begging eyes that made Ann weak. “One more.” Ann hesitated. “I’ll ravish you right after.”

“Is that a promise?”

Ann fiddled with the front of her wife’s jumper, delaying the moment when she would, inevitably, give in to those puppydog eyes. Anne’s grin was so broad, her excitement so infectious, her handsome face so bright - who was Ann to deny her a few more minutes?

“Oh, Mrs. Lister,” her wife purred, “that’s a promise you can count on.”

With a final, fierce kiss, Anne pulled away to her side of the couch. They joined another game. Ann bit her lip - she was one of the Imposters. Rather stressful, in Ann’s opinion, but she was determined to win this time. She just had a bit of trouble focusing. Her hands were so sweaty. Her heart wouldn’t stop racing. It didn’t help that her wife kept shooting her dirty looks.

“You look worried, Adney,” she said in a low voice. “Are you scared? Let me protect you.”

“No, no,” Ann shook her head. “I’m fine.”

They had a silent agreement not to kill each other in the game. Ann wanted to honor it. Of course. She didn’t want to attack her dearest one, even if she was milling about in electrical. Alone. Looking so, so killable. Before Ann could think twice, the other Imposter came around the corner and annihilated her poor Pony. 

“Damn!” Anne cried, grinning. “At least you’ve got him now.”

Ann’s mind raced - really, she shouldn’t report her partner. They were the only witnesses. Easy enough to run away and let someone else find it. At the same time, Anne was right there. Her wife. Her darling. The woman who’d saved her from loneliness and madness and the whole sordid family tree. She couldn’t leave her mutilated body in electrical. 

While Ann tried to talk her way out of the meeting, her wife stalked her way forward. Over Ann’s tense body, along her bare legs and under the hem of her skirt. Warm hands tracing over soft skin, gentle hums as that dark head of hair found its way into the crook of Ann’s neck. Ann bit her lip, trying desperately to focus on the game. When had it gotten so bloody hot in here?

“Pony,” she said weakly. “I have to focus.”

“No, you don’t.” Anne nipped her pulse point. “Forget the game.”

“I want to win.” 

When had her voice gotten so high? So needy? Ann blinked rapidly, as if she could shake off the electricity skating across her skin. Her wife’s deep voice rumbled against the skin of Ann’s neck. 

“I want to make you come.”

“Darling,” Ann whined as she felt warm hands sliding along her thighs, her hips, her ribs. “Please.”

“Let me take you upstairs,” Anne whispered. “You’ve been such a good girl today.”

It didn’t matter anymore, did it? Sod the whole lot of them. Ann dropped her phone to the ground, unable to wait even a moment more before she felt her wife’s lips on hers. Their kiss was fierce, urgent, sloppy. Anne growled lowly, and pulled away. She took Ann’s hand, and they raced up the stairs to their bedroom. The family was out - who could even remember where? All Ann could think about was the feeling of Anne’s hands on her body, the fire between her legs, the depth of her need. 

They stumbled into the wall, all roaming hands and hungry lips. Ann pushed that jumper from her wife’s shoulders, needing to feel her broad shoulders, her strong back, the sinewy strength of her arms. Moaning softly, Anne slipped one hand under Ann’s skirt, over her hip; she dipped into the thin white lace to cup Ann’s ass. Their hips rolled together, and Anne started to pull them backward, toward the bed.

“You’re hot,” she whispered in Ann’s ear, slowly turning her and laying her on the bed. “You drive me crazy.”

Ann could only keen and reach for her, desperate to feel her wife’s strong body above her. Anne grinned and shook her head, pulled Ann’s panties down her legs, then turned her over gently. Closing her eyes, Ann moaned softly as she felt her wife place gentle, teasing kisses over her the back of her neck and shoulders.

“This dress,” Anne murmured appreciatively. “I do love these buttons.”

Ann’s dress had these tiny little buttons running the length of the back, and her wife loved nothing more than to slowly tease each one open. Ann sighed, relaxing into the bed and the gentle, purposeful trek of her wife’s lips along her back. She said a silent prayer of thanks that she hadn’t worn a bra today. 

“You’re impossible,” Anne kissed each knobby bump of her spine. “Teasing me like that.”

“Like what?” 

“I think you know.” Ann shivered as her wife’s tongue dragged a long swath over her skin. “Your legs. Your breasts. Your smile.”

“My smile?” 

“You do this thing,” strong hands wrapped around Ann’s waist; soft lips pressed along the divots in her lower back, “when you’re the Imposter.”

“What?” Ann laughed breathlessly.

“You have a tell, Adney.”

“I do not!”

Ann rolled onto her back, facing her smug, grinning wife. Anne was on her knees, her lips kiss-swollen and her eyes gleaming in triumph. She pulled Ann’s dress from her, leaving Ann bare before her. 

“You have this tiny little smile,” Anne leaned in, her lips just inches from her wife’s, “when you’re hiding something. A present, or a surprise, or the fact that you’re going to kill my crewmate.”

“Pony!” Ann laughed, draping her arms around her wife’s neck. “You never said!”

“You’re much too cute.” Anne kissed her softly. “I didn’t want to spoil your fun.”

“And here I thought you were bad at that game.”

Rolling her eyes, Anne caught her lips in another searing kiss. The time for teasing was over, Ann decided. Time for that ravishing her wife had promised. She pulled Anne on top of her, wrapped her arms around her back, molded their bodies together. Why was Anne always wearing so many clothes? 

“Get this off,” Ann whined, tugging Anne’s shirt up. “Come on.”

“Impatient,” Anne teased, sitting back on her heels to pull her shirt over her head. “Demanding.” She peeled her sports bra off as well. “Absolutely gorgeous.”

With a giggle, Ann pulled her wife back into her arms. She pushed those ridiculous trousers from her hips, needing to feel the warmth of Anne’s skin pressed to hers. Finally, finally, their skin met. Ann sighed, relief washing over her as their bodies moved as one. Hands across faces and over arms and in hair. Lips meeting sloppily, tongues sliding together, quiet moans filling the air. Ann wanted to stay in this warm cocoon forever - the strength of her wife’s body above her, the softness of their sheets below her, the building fire in her belly and between her legs. 

“I need you,” Ann gasped as they finally parted; her wife’s handsome face hovered above her, their breath mingling between them. “Please, Pony, I -”

“I know,” Anne purred, slipping lower to press wet kisses along Ann’s neck and clavicle and breasts. “You drive me wild.”

“Do I?”

Anne worked her way lower, kissing and sucking and licking across Ann’s flushed chest. Caught between a moan and a groan, Ann writhed under her wife’s careful ministrations. She tangled her hands in Anne’s hair, powerless against the breathtaking path of her lips. 

“I’ve thought of a pun,” Anne said softly, settling between her legs.”

“Pony,” Ann groaned. “Can you -”

“I know your tell,” Anne kissed the inside of one thigh, “darling Adney.” Then the other. “But I’ll keep it,” she dragged her tongue lightly over Ann’s wet core, “among us.”

Ann’s sputtered laughter turned into moans as that devilish mouth turned to her aching center. She didn’t even have the energy to process her wife’s ridiculous joke. Not when her hands curled around her hips, or when her tongue was doing that thing. Or when her lips - 

“Fuck!” Ann cried, clutching Anne’s head between her thighs. “Oh, fuck, Pony, I -”

A soft, satisfied hum reverberated against her clit, and Ann saw stars. Was it always this good? Her mind swam, awash with pleasure, delight, euphoria. Perhaps it was the teasing - all that time watching Anne’s tiny black character move about the screen. Perhaps it was the way their legs had slid together on the couch. Perhaps it was the freedom of the empty house or the perfection of their naked bodies or the way Anne’s lips curled and pressed and unraveled her. 

That impossible wave built steadily before her - Ann could feel herself on the edge of a precipice. She was lucky they were home alone - there was no way she was going to keep quiet. When Anne’s lips closed around her clit, Ann was gone. She shot into the warm waters of her release, overwhelmed by the fire and electricity and whatever other metaphor flooding over her body. Her cries were too loud, underscored by Anne’s gentle whispers. With a last, gasping groan, she collapsed, limbless and panting.

“Hello,” Anne rumbled, appearing above her, “and how are you?”

By way of answer, Ann just smiled up at her. She shook her head weakly, unable to form words. Anne flopped to the bed beside her, laying one palm on the gentle swell of Ann’s stomach and propping her head up on the opposite hand. A broad grin stretched across Ann’s face as she turned her head to look at this devastating, incredible woman who was, somehow, also her wife. 

“Good Lord,” she managed. 

“I also go by Anne,” her wife winked. 

Laughing, Ann rolled over on top of her, settling one knee between her legs and kissing her deeply. Their kiss was slow - tender and deep and loving. Tasting herself on Anne’s tongue was divinity itself; Ann was reminded of all the times her wife had waxed poetic about the connection between making love and worshiping God. She started to giggle. Anne had properly ruined her, hadn’t she? 

“What?” Anne asked, stretching her neck back to accept Ann’s soft kisses.

“You’ve ruined me, darling.”

“Have I?” 

Anne’s voice was breathy, her eyes already closed. Ann traced a hand between her legs.”

“Telling me a pun,” she breathed in her wife’s ear, “while we’re making love?”

“You loved it.”

Anne’s lips curved into a crooked grin, then she gasped as Ann swiped lightly over her clit.

“Oh, I did,” Ann purred; “that’s the worst part of all.”

The time for talking, however, had passed once again. One strong hand wrapped around Ann’s forearm, urging her closer; the other curled around the back of her head, bringing her in for a deep, sensual kiss. Ann teased her wife’s slick folds, circled the hard bud of her desire, then, almost imperceptibly, she pressed against her entrance. Anne gasped and angled her hips upward. Their eyes met - Anne seemed so desperate as she nodded slowly. Ann kissed her gently, then slid one finger slowly forward. 

“Adney.”

It was soft - almost too soft to hear, but Ann caught it. How long had it been since they’d done this? Ages, Ann thought. It was a bit stressful, honestly, touching Anne in this way. There was so much pressure, so much baggage, so much potential to make a mistake. At the same time, it was bliss. Being inside of Anne Fucking Lister - there was nothing better. Nothing at all. The feeling, the sound, the warmth and slickness and - Ann couldn’t believe how much she loved it. 

“Faster,” Anne begged, moving her hips into Ann’s touch. 

It was so rare, this vulnerability from her wife, and Ann cherished it. Even as her arm burned, she moved faster. Ann pressed against her clit, relishing the way Anne reacted. Twisting her hand just a bit, she found that exquisite spot inside of her. With a deep groan, almost sounding surprised, Anne stretched taut, then shook below her. 

“That’s it, Pony,” Ann soothed. “You’re so beautiful like this. So handsome and strong and incredible. I love you.” Anne let out a choked moan and went limp. “Oh, I do love you.”

Anne chuckled, breathless, and Ann slowly pulled away. She ran her tongue along her own fingers, moaning softly at the taste of her wife’s arousal. Fire burned in Anne’s eyes, and Ann’s core clenched in anticipation. She knew what that look meant. 

Then a car door slammed. 

The family. It must be about that time. Ann dropped into her wife’s arms, letting the last of her arousal dissipate. Anne’s tender hand stroked her back; soft lips pressed into her hair.

“You’re amazing,” Anne said sincerely. “You - you know how much that -” Ann could feel her wife swallowing. “I love you.”

“I love you.”

Ann kissed her wife’s sweaty shoulder, hoping for a few more minutes to lay wrapped in each other’s arms. 

No such luck, unfortunately. Aunt Anne’s cane thumped along in the hallway outside their door. Anne groaned and eased Ann onto her back. 

“Better get up - see what the troops need.”

“I love you,” Ann offered, watching her wife pull out fresh clothes. “I had a nice day with you.”

“I did too,” Anne laughed. “I would definitely call that,” she gestured vaguely to the bed, “nice.”

“Pony!” She laughed, pulling Anne back into her arms for a moment. “I love you. I enjoyed playing Among Us , and I enjoyed the mid-afternoon shag.”

“Me too,” Anne grinned before kissing her softly.

Smiling, Ann watched her unpredictable, intoxicating wife dress. Day after day, Ann never grew tired of it. The way her hands moved and her muscles flexed and the sharp line of her jaw - Ann couldn’t believe this stunning creature had really been writhing and gasping below her just a few minutes earlier. Anne winked at her once, then moved to the door. 

“Hold on.” Anne turned on her heel, fixing her wife with a serious look. “Did you say I’m bad at that game?”

Chapter Text

The perfect time of year for planting. Pickles and the men could do the work themselves, and, admittedly, they did the lion’s share. That would never stop Anne from getting in the thick of it. Getting her boots and gloves dirty. Getting a proper sunburn and an ache in her muscles from the hard work. 

She’d left Ann in bed, as usual. Not that she minded. Who could wake a sleeping angel? A sleeping angel who reached for Anne as she got out of bed, who hugged Anne’s pillow close, and who murmured softly into the rumpled bedclothes. Instead, a kiss on the cheek and a gentle squeeze of the thigh were her parting gifts as she raced out into the day.

Being out on the land made all the difference to Anne’s mood. She was invigorated here, in the warm summer sun with fresh dirt and plants all around her. The vitality of new life - it practically made her vibrate. Tilting her broad-brimmed hat back on her head, she surveyed their work. The sun beat down on her bare arms and legs, her hands sweat inside her stained gloves, but her heart soared at the sight surrounding her. Trees and bushes and flowers - fledglings that would take root and flourish in the rich soil of Shibden, just as she had all those years ago. Clearing her throat, she shook away the sentimental thoughts. There was plenty of work to do.

One hundred and twelve minutes later her young wife appeared. Smiling and wearing a devastating little sundress, she flounced through the workmen without another look. Anne spotted her and dropped her shovel, making a straight line toward her radiant little woman. They were like magnets, pulled together by a force greater than themselves.

“You’re new,” Ann said as they reached each other. “I would’ve noticed you before.”

“Would you?” Anne longed to take her wife by the hips, but she could see what game they were playing. “I’m sure you have more important things to do.”

“I doubt it.” Ann’s eyes traveled slowly down the length of Anne’s body. “Come see me when you’re finished.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Anne tipped her hat, and her wife started to move away. She hesitated before she passed. 

“Not too long though, eh, Pony? Like, five minutes, alright?”

“Yes,” Anne laughed, “yes, I’ll be right there, darling.”

Always something with her, Anne thought as she washed her wife saunter toward the chaumiere. As if that wrist-breaking work last night wasn’t enough, she was being drawn back into bed. No use resisting; it was already too late. On the upside, she was fairly certain they’d left the strap out there in that hut. 

Anne didn’t even bother making an excuse to Pickles. Not really any of his business, and they’d easily finish the job without her after all. It had been a while, hadn’t it? Since they’d played around like this. Since her shy little Adney had set up a deliciously dirty little roleplay. Since she’d bent her wife over in the privacy of the hut.

By the time she reached the clearing, she was practically jogging. Anne knocked politely at the door, stepping back and clasping her hands behind her back. She was disheveled and sweaty, but she knew Ann enjoyed her like this. What a thrill, she thought, to have a partner who enjoyed every side of her, even the stinky and the dirty.

“It’s you,” Ann said with a smile as she opened the door; she leaned against the door jamb, eyes unsubtly trailing across Anne’s body. “I’m glad you came.”

“Is there something I can do for you, ma’am?”

“Come inside.” Ann opened the door wider. “I wonder if you could help me.”

“With what, ma’am?”

Anne could tell the power dynamic was making Ann hot, and, if she was honest, it was working for her too. What a strange revelation, she mused; usually Anne craved control. Not with Ann, though. Everything was always different with her. Ann closed the door and leaned back against it.

“Uh, I -” Ann chuckled and shook her head helplessly. “I wonder if you’d help me plant something.”

“Of course.”

“Here.” Ann held up a potted flower, one of the ones meant to line the path. “I have a shovel?”

“Do you?” Anne smirked, and her wife nodded, so very eager. “Then let’s go.”

Anne followed her wife outside, around to the back of the hut. A shovel leaned against the exterior wall, and Anne picked it up experimentally. Adney certainly had prepared, hadn’t she? 

“Will you - I, uh,” Ann stammered, “I thought you might show me. How to do it.”

“How to,” Anne took a step closer and dropped her voice, “do it? Of course.”

And that was how Anne found herself wrapped around her wife, grinding gently against her ass and grappling with a too-long shovel. It was sexy, at first, pressing her front against Ann’s back, whispering in her ear, filling her lungs with Ann’s perfume. Then, well, the whole thing got rather awkward. Finally, Anne laughed and kissed her wife’s neck.

“We gave it a good go, Adney. Can I shag you now?”

Ann laughed, dropped the shovel, and spun in her arms. Soft hands cupped her face, then their lips met in a gentle kiss, underscored with just a little of that fire that burned between them. They broke apart for a moment, and then Ann laughed.

“Come inside,” she said quietly. “I’ve got a bush needs tending.”

Anne guffawed and followed her, their hands still clasped. 

“You’re something else,” Anne said as she closed the door behind them. “Luring me here like this.”

“Am I?” Her wife asked innocently. “I just saw you out there, and I thought - I’ve got to make her mine.”

“Did you?” Anne purred, closing the distance between them; Ann started to remove the gloves from her hands. “I’m flattered, ma’am. You’re a very beautiful woman.”

“You know, I realize I - uh, I never asked your name.”

Anne swallowed, caught her wife’s eye, and licked her lips.

“You can call me Daddy.”

Ann lurched forward, kissing Anne so fiercely her hat fell completely from her head. Anne curled her hands around her narrow waist, pulled her closer, deepened the kiss. She backed Ann slowly toward the bedroom, slipping one hand along her hip and down to the swell of her ass.

“You’re so fucking hot,” she growled; “how the hell do I get this thing off?”

Giggling, Ann turned around and pointed to the zipper along her back. Anne kissed the back of her flushed neck and slowly pulled the zipper down; her hands slid into the open fabric, desperate to feel Ann’s warm skin in her hands. Ann shimmied, and the dress fell to the floor. 

“Fuck me,” Ann breathed. “I need you.”

“Who do you need?”

“Daddy.”

Anne groaned and flicked open her wife’s bra. Something about that word - the way Ann said it, the quality of her voice, the filthy things it preceded - set Anne absolutely ablaze. Her hands covered Ann’s breasts; her lips pressed sloppy, wet kisses along the flushed column of her neck. Ann moaned softly, melting against her and wrapping one hand behind her head to hold Anne closer. 

One hand slipped lower, into the thin white lace that somehow passed for panties. Twin moans hung in the air as Anne slipped between her wife’s legs. Her long fingers slid along wet folds, and she couldn’t help nipping at her wife’s pulsepoint.

“You are so fucking hot,” she whispered in her ear. “You drive me crazy.”

“I need you to fuck me, Daddy. Please.”

“Yeah?” Anne caught her earlobe between her teeth. “You need my cock?”

“Yeah,” Ann moaned, “yes, please.”

Gently, Anne nudged her wife onto the bed on her stomach, that beautiful expanse of pale skin stretching before her. The curve of her spine, the dip of her hips, the swell of her ass - Anne wasn’t quite sure where to start. Her own clothes, she figured, were as good of a place as any. She pulled her shirt over her head, slipped off her work boots, pushed her shorts around her ankles. Kneeling on the bed, she pressed her lips between her wife’s shoulder blades. 

“Mrs. Lister,” she purred, “you’re incorrigibly naughty.”

“I am,” Ann breathed.

“Bringing some dirty gardener into your bed?” She sat back in her heels and spanked Ann’s firm behind. “Naughty girl.”

“Are you going to punish me?”

“Not in the way you think.”

Instead of a punishing rut or a series of sharp spanks, Anne opted for a much more enjoyable form of punishment: slow, purposeful worship. She started with the valley between Ann’s shouldblades. Then up those sharp ridges where her angel-wings should’ve attached. Along the delicate swell of each vertebra. Over the wide expanse of soft skin that led to those delicious little dips just above her ass.

Oh, and what an ass. Practically begging to be kissed and nipped and slapped. Anne found herself increasingly unable to resist grabbing hold of it in public. Ann would turn up to breakfast or hop out of the car, and Anne’s hands moved of their own volition. It wasn’t her fault. It would be a crime to leave such a perfect ass untouched.

Perhaps it was this train of thought that led Anne a little deeper, darting her tongue between Ann’s cheeks. Just a test, just a question, just to see if Ann was in a certain type of mood.

The low moan from the head of the bed was all the answer she needed.

There was something so deliciously dirty about this - the act itself, of course, with the taboo and the delicious way it affected her wife, but there was something more. Something about crawling into bed, still sweaty and a little bit sunburnt, with this perfectly pristine wife of hers, in their little cabin in the woods. Her tongue worked steadily across Ann’s puckered hole, hands rhythmically kneading the round swells of her behind; Anne couldn’t get enough of her moans.

“Pony,” she whined at last, “fuck, Pony, please.”

“As you wish,” Anne purred, kissing the very base of her spine before hopping to her feet. “And how shall I fuck you, Mrs. Lister?”

“Pony,” she drawled, her voice thin and needy, “you know.”

“I don’t, ma’am.”

“Come on.”

Anne slipped her long fingers between Ann’s legs, reveling in the arousal that greeted her. 

“I’ll need a bit more than that, ma’am.”

“Your cock,” Ann managed.

“That’ll do.” Anne shucked her boxers and started to dig through the bedside drawer. Finding the harness and strap, she made quick work of fitting it in place. “Though I do believe,” she knelt between her wife’s spread legs, “I told you to call me Daddy.”

With that, she spanked her once, sharply and crisply. Ann gasped, then pressed her hips up - a silent invitation. Moaning softly at the sight before her, Anne coated the strap in lubricant and pressed slowly between her wife’s folds.

“Oh, fuck,” Ann moaned, “oh, fuck, I - oh, fuck .”

Anne chuckled and started to ease back out. Nothing better than this slow, gentle rhythm. Strong hands wrapped around Ann’s hips, pulling her back onto Anne’s cock with increasing speed. Anne couldn’t believe how gorgeous her wife was today - something about her flushed skin, the mess of her hair against the sheets, the filthy sounds spilling from her pretty little lips.

“You’re so hot,” she panted, fire coiling in her own gut as she pounded into Ann. “Fuck, baby, you’re -”

Ann cried out, impossibly loud. She drove her hips back into Anne’s every thrust; every obscene moan and high-pitched gasp sent arousal straight to Anne’s core. She spanked her once more.

“Daddy,” Ann breathed, “faster.”

Faster? Anne wasn’t sure she could go faster. She did try, until she was rutting into her wife with force and slipping a hand beneath her to find the hard bud of her desire. The first swipe of Anne’s fingertips had Ann practically screaming.

“Daddy!” Anne dropped forward, kissing Ann’s sweaty back and bucking her hips sharply. “Oh, I’m - oh, fuck, Daddy, I -” Ann’s voice shot up an octave, her hips already trembling with the force of her release. “Pony! Anne!” 

Then she was gone, shaking and cursing beneath her. Anne kissed her gently, eased her through, whispered softly in her ear.

“You’re so beautiful, Adney. You’re so sexy. You did so well, baby.”

With a final groan, Ann went limp. Biting back a groan, Anne rose to her knees and slowly pulled out. She stripped off the harness and fell onto her back next to her panting, giggling wife. Ann slung a sweaty arm over her stomach and kissed her shoulder.

“You’re good at that,” she said appreciatively.

“Am I?”

“Oh yes,” Ann said seriously, “so good you may have killed me yet.”

“Adney,” Anne drawled, worry slipping into her voice. “Are you -”

“I am, actually.” Ann swung a leg between Anne’s. “Just needed a moment.”

“A rather quick moment.”

Anne grinned up at her wife, who know straddled her left leg; her hands clasped naturally around Ann’s waist.

“Well, I know you’ve got to get back to work.”

Before Anne could sputter a reply, Ann’s lips were on hers, wet and open and demanding. Anne moaned softly, rolling her hips upward. She felt Ann smile smugly as she pulled away.

“You were so hot out there, Pony.” She slipped a hand into Anne’s sports bra and cupped her breast. “I knew I had to fuck you. I had to make you come.” 

Anne sighed, tangling her fingers in her wife’s hair and brining her in for a sloppy kiss. The playful fingers on her nipple, the press of their naked bodies, the sticky sweet aroma of their lovemaking in the air - Anne was fairly certain she’d go mad if Ann didn’t touch her soon.

“Darling,” she begged, “please.”

Ann smiled - that perfect, gentle, angelic smile - and Anne had never been so aroused. Fucking was one thing - a good, necessary thing - but this tender, loving connection? The gentle trek Ann’s fingers made over her chest and along her stomach and between her legs? This was infinitely better.

“You’re so wet,” Ann whispered in her ear; her nimble fingers gently circled Anne’s clit. “Is all this for me?”

Anne moaned, catching her wife’s rhythm in her hips and trying desperately to urge her along.

“You got this wet just fucking me? Just from putting your big,” she nipped Anne’s jugular, “cock in me?”

“Adney,” Anne breathed, pulling her impossibly closer. “Please.”

“You’re so strong, Pony,” she whispered softly. “You made me feel so good.”

“Adney.”

“Are you going to come for me, Daddy?”

Something about it - that word in particular, the cadence of Ann’s voice, the exquisite pressure of Ann’s body above her and her hand between her legs - it sent Anne into oblivion. She moaned once, deep and long, then she was jerking and trembling her way through her release. Faintly, she was aware of Ann’s soft lips on her neck and gentle words in her ear, but they were nothing compared to the pleasure shooting through her veins.

At last, she breathed a sigh of relief. Ann kissed her slack lips and collapsed on top of her. For a long moment, they just held each other and breathed. The room smelled of sex and dirt and perfume. It was warm, too warm really for their clammy bodies to press together like this, but there was nowhere on earth she’d rather be. Anne couldn’t remember the last time she’d been so content.  

“I love you,” she said quietly. 

“I love you.” Ann kissed her cheek. “I’m sorry I interrupted your work.”

She had, hadn’t she? Ann had interrupted all of her important work. Anne hardly researched anymore, during the school year she was perpetually running late, and she barely had time to make proper rounds on the estate. Ann had come in and sucked up all of Anne’s precious, carefully scheduled time. Anne just smiled, kissed those golden curls, and stroked her wife’s back

“I’m not.”

Chapter Text

“16… 18… 20…”

Organization was decidedly not Ann’s strong suit. She certainly tried, but keeping her painting supplies tidy proved to be an impossible task. Sometimes her wife helped her, but Anne was busy today. The hut was a mess, and Ann was desperate for a night in that cramped little bed. She could hardly seduce her wife like this, not with paints and brushes and canvases lying about.

“Fuck,” she muttered. She’d lost count again. With a sigh, she started over. “2, 4, 6, 8.” 

So many stupid brushes, she cursed herself. Slowly, she worked her way through them, then the paints. Finally, she started sorting the varying sizes of blank canvas. How’d she let it get so messy anyway?

They’d spent the last week mostly apart, unfortunately. Anne was busy, endlessly busy. As always. Ann couldn’t remember the last time they’d just spent an afternoon or an evening together, just the two of them; perhaps if the chaumière were clean, she’d actually want to spend time with Ann. Maybe they could reconnect. 

Not that they weren’t connected, Ann corrected herself quickly, just they were - the connection was loose. It could be stronger. A nice afternoon was just the ticket. They wouldn’t have that afternoon, though, if Ann couldn’t get the room straight.

“12,” she continued. “14… 16… 18… 20.”

“38,” a low voice rumbled from behind her. “6. 11. 49.”

“Anne!” She cried, spinning around in exasperation. “I was trying to -”

“Leave it,” Anne purred, crossing the room and wrapping Ann in her arms. “Let’s go to the movies. I miss you.”

“Do you?” Ann asked, her heart aching with love - how had Anne predicted? Had she felt it too? How lovely that they didn’t have to have a conversation about it. They missed each other; it was that simple. “I miss you too, my darling.”

“I’m right here,” Anne purred, catching her lips in a deep kiss. “I’ve been working too much. No more,” she said firmly. “I shall quit and devote all my time to you.”

“Well, don’t do that ,” Ann teased. “I do need some time to myself.”

Anne laughed and kissed her again. Soon enough, they were clambering into Anne’s Jeep, racing to the theater, kissing in the car and holding hands in the line like teenagers. 

“The usual?” Anne asked as they reached the concessions.

“Obviously.” 

Ann squeezed her hand and went to save their seats. Not that they needed saving, she supposed, but she liked to get settled. Get her seat reclined and her blanket over her lap. Everything comfortable and cozy. After a few minutes, Anne appeared in the dim light, her arms laden with popcorn, Malteasers, drinks.

“Moved in, have you?”

“Of course,” Ann said with a grin, offering half of the blanket to her wife. “Get in.”

They’d been to the movies a fair amount, even though Anne wasn’t as enthusiastic as Ann was.There was something special, Ann always thought, about snuggling up with some popcorn, an ice cold Coke, a dark room full of strangers. She’d never have been brave enough to bring a blanket when she went out with Catherine or Harriet; they’d have made too much fun. Anne never did - in fact, she seemed to appreciate the closeness and privacy the blanket allowed.Not to mention, they were in the very last row.

“You’re freezing,” Ann giggled as their legs intertwined on the long leg rests of the reclining seats. 

“Better warm me up,” her wife whispered, rubbing her hands over Ann’s. 

Ann hushed her with a giggle, and the lights went down. Under duress, she might be able to recall some of the plot of the movie. Probably. Maybe. Really, though, Ann was focused on the way that broad right hand ran along her thigh. The way that long left arm curled around her shoulders. The way Anne’s breath brushed across her neck. The filthy things Anne whispered in her ear.

“Your skin is so soft,” and “I can’t wait to taste you,” and “her tits are nothing compared to yours.”

Of course, this last one made Ann choke on her popcorn. Not the best timing, she figured, based on the craning necks in front of her. Ann couldn’t find the energy to care, not when her whole body was humming like this. Anne’s hand was maddening - tracing along her thigh and over her arm.

For a few scenes, Ann tried - she did try! - to focus on the movie. It was funny, she thought, or maybe it was a drama. She couldn’t tell, not with Anne’s lips pressing against her neck now. The last row, no one nearby - Ann swallowed dryly. Could they really? Did Anne really mean to -

“Adney,” she whispered and slipped her hand under Ann’s t-shirt. “Can I kiss you?”

A soft whine strained in Ann’s throat, and she turned to crash their lips together. Anne cradled her face in one hand, the other pulling Ann closer, into the thick, immovable divider between them. Ann curled upward, wrapping her hands in the front of her wife’s shirt. She wanted to get closer, to sit in Anne’s lap, to cry and scream and shudder while Anne’s fingers sent her to heaven.

“Bloody divider,” Anne mumbled, shaking her head. “Come here.”

Someone ahead of them cleared their throat, and Ann bit back a giggle. This was properly ridiculous, wasn't it? Ann was in her thirties, her wife in her forties, and here they were snogging in the back of a movie like a couple of teenagers. She squeezed into Anne’s seat, their legs intertwining and their lips meeting. 

Anne’s hands slipped into her hair, her tongue past her lips. It was sloppy and sweet and slick. Anne held her close, wrapped one hand around her waist and ran the other along Ann’s thigh. Fire built between them, but Ann was in no hurry. She wouldn’t mind to drown in this feeling, in the warm, soft pressure of Anne’s lips on hers and the comforting caress of Anne’s fingers on her skin.

After a long, delicious moment, Anne broke apart, turned her head, pressed a series of wet kisses along Ann’s neck. She was patient, humming softly as she worked; Ann curled her leg around Anne’s - she wasn’t feeling quite so patient.

“Let’s go,” she breathed, holding Anne to her neck. 

Anne shook her head and nipped at Ann’s pulsepoint. Music swelled from the movie; a bright scene illuminated Anne’s face as she looked up at her wife.That broad, excited grin - Ann’s heart swelled just looking at her. Oh, the filthy things that grin foretold; Ann needed to feel her wife’s strong back rippling under her fingers, her low moans ricocheting against the walls, her hard nipples brushing intoxicatingly against Ann’s.

And then she disappeared. The screen had gone dark. Ann huffed. The movie had ended. She heard her wife chuckle softly, then a gentle kiss against her jaw.

“I’m ready when you are.”

The light started to come up as Ann scurried into her own seat. They waited for the theater to clear, Anne’s hand resting heavily on her knee. Ann folded the blanket and took her wife’s hand in her own. They strolled out of the theater, their placid smiles and swinging hands in no way betraying the fire growing between them.

“Like the movie?” Anne asked, her lips curved in a self-satisfied smirk. 

“Was there a movie playing?”

Anne laughed and pulled her toward the loo. It was like that, then, Ann thought with a twinge of excitement. The Jeep was just outside; Shibden not a long drive at all. Still, Anne seemed impatient as they joined the queue. 

“Always a line afterward, eh?” Anne joked, shifting impatiently between her feet.

“How many of them are like us do you think?” Ann slipped her hand into her wife’s back pocket and whispered in her ear. “Thinking something filthy.”

Anne furrowed her brow and stepped forward; a stall door opened, and Anne slipped inside. The bathroom was deserted now; they’d been the last in line. Before the door locked, Ann slid into the cubicle as well. 

In an instant, her hands were on Anne’s belt, under her shirt, in her hair. Ann was burning up, desperate, aching for her. Her wife responded in kind, wrapping her hands around Ann’s hips and grinding them together. They broke apart, gasping.

“Adney,” she said softly, urgently. “Not here.”

“Anne,” she begged, pulling her wife to her and leaning against the grimy tile, “I’ll be so quiet. I’ll be so fast.”

Anne faltered - their lips met for a single, intense moment. Then she was breaking away, grinning and shaking her head and slipping out of the stall. Ann slumped against the wall and gasped air into her lungs. Vaguely, she was aware of the adjoining cubicle opening, a toilet flushing, her wife’s low chuckles. Ann flushed; she was well and properly desperate, wasn’t she? Pouncing on Anne like this in the toilets? She shook her head. 

“You’ve ruined me,” she said to her wife as they washed their hands. “I used to be a good girl.”

“Oh, I know,” Anne purred, her wet hands settling on Ann’s waist; her voice dropped to a low, rough rasp, “you’re a very naughty girl.”

Their lips crashed together - urgent tongues slipping together as hands pushed against hips and through hair. Ann melted, forgetting entirely where they were. 

Until the door opened yet again. 

They shot apart, blushing and chuckling and smoothing their clothes. Anne tugged her outside, into a perfect summer sunset. A strong arm curled around Ann’s waist, and Ann leaned into her wife’s chest.

“We’re ridiculous, aren’t we?” Anne laughed. “We might’ve seen someone we know.”

“Dr. Anne Lister,” Ann said with mock seriousness, “spotted snogging her very own wife. You heard it here first, folks! That’s right!” Anne was laughing now, backing her up against the Jeep. “Snogging the woman she’s legally married to.” Ann curled her hands in the front of Anne’s shirt. “Scandalous.”

One hand on the Jeep, the other on Ann’s hip, Anne kissed her softly. Ann tilted her head, deepening the kiss; Anne pressed against her more fully. Sometimes, Anne kept her eyes open when they were out like this, twisting about Ann and flicking her eyes to the sides, on guard, as always; Ann never could figure out what she was looking for. That’s why, today, Ann wasn’t so surprised when her wife gently broke away.

“Harriet,” Anne hissed, kissing her cheek once more before stepping back. “Shall we say hello?”

Ann just rolled her eyes and tilted her head to the Jeep. As usual, Anne opened the door for her, squeezed her thigh, then closed it again. A satisfied smile spread across Ann’s face as she settled into her seat. Being married was rather nice, wasn’t it? Steamy afternoons at the movies, plenty of snogging, someone always opening the door. Rather nice, indeed.

“You’re hot,” Anne said with a smile as she started the car; she leaned over and kissed Ann again, this time a bit harder, hungrier. “Seriously, Adney.” Anne exhaled raggedly. “You’re an impossible tease.”

Tease ?” Ann asked, chuckling and incredulous. “I was serious!”

Anne darted a look at her.

“Shagging in the toilet?” 

“Yes!” Ann ran her fingers along the back of her wife’s neck. “In the theater, in the toilet, in the parking lot.”

“I have ruined you,” Anne said with a smug smile. “You can’t get enough.”

“You knew that, Pony.” Gently, Ann scratched the back of her wife’s head, the way she liked it. “You know I can’t get enough of you.”

Anne growled playfully and stepped on the gas, drawing a protesting groan from the Jeep and a delighted giggle from her wife. Married life had surpassed all Ann’s expectations. She’d imagined marriage a thousand times, always rather bleak in the absence of Anne Lister. Only a handful of times had Ann allowed herself this particular fantasy. It hurt too much to see her otherwise. Once, when she was 20, she’d spent an entire day planning her future with Anne, only to see a blurry video of Anne pressed against some woman in a bar that very night. No, Ann had never allowed herself to indulge like this. 

By the time Anne showed up on her doorstep - well, she’d never had time to think much about it when they were quarantined. Those two weeks, she hadn’t been able to think past the next moment. It was incredible, honestly, that her wildest dreams had come true before she’d even had time to formulate them.

“Want to pull over?” Anne asked as they neared Shibden. “Go full teenager with it?”

“Oh, yes,” Ann said, her eyes widening as Anne turned down a gravel road. “Are you going to show me your backseat?”

“You’ve seen it,” Anne laughed, taking Ann’s hand and kissing it quickly, “but you might need another look.”

The sun was setting, the road deserted, the tension palpable. Anne parked in the grass and turned to face her wife. 

“So, uh.” Anne ran a hand through her hair, affecting awkwardness. “Thanks for going out with me tonight.”

“I had a really nice time,” Ann answered with a smile - were they playing at being on a date?

“I - well, I’ve got this great album.” Anne clicked something on the ancient tapedeck; bluesy music swam softly from the speakers. “But it sounds better in the backseat.”

“Does it?” 

Ann couldn’t hide her grin, and she eagerly hopped out and climbed into the back. Anne was already waiting for her, a long arm lounging against the back of the seat. Ann scooted in and settled against her chest; she slipped her hand over Anne’s knee, tracing meandering shapes. For a few blissful moments, they sat together and listened and breathed. If they were really on a date, Ann supposed they might be a little wary with each other, a little awkward and unsure. But she’d never felt that way with Anne, not since they first really met. Actually, not ever. Anne had always felt like a safe harbor, even when Ann was a teenager. Anne’s presence felt like home; it always had. Nothing and nowhere had been more comfortable. 

“What are you thinking about?” Ann asked softly.

“Logistics,” Anne answered easily. “Whether to lean you back, put you in my lap, or keep you right where you are.”

Ann laughed and shook her head; her wife squeezed her shoulder.

“What’s so funny?”

“You, Pony,” she said, climbing into her lap. “I was thinking proper sentimental thoughts about you, and you - you’re planning how to fuck.”

“Well!” Anne sputtered a laugh and clapped her hands on her wife’s hips. “I didn’t realize! I was just - well, that’s why we’re here, isn’t it?”

“Oh, yeah.”

Ann grinned and kissed her. Her hands fit around that handsome face; their lips molded together; their hips moved in perfect harmony. Slowly, Anne slipped one hand under Ann’s shirt, along her back, up to the clasp of her bra. In an instant, she had the damn thing open and her right hand covering Ann’s breast. Ann moaned softly, throwing her head back and allowing Anne to suck and nip along her neck.

“You’re gorgeous,” she breathed against Ann’s flushed skin. “You make me crazy. You’re perfect.”

“I love you,” Ann said; it was the only thought in her head. “I love you so much.”

“I love you.”

Anne flicked open her shorts and pressed into her panties. Ann remembered a time when Anne never much said those three dear words; now, it was as simple as breathing. To hear that delicious, low voice proclaiming love - Anne Lister’s love! - it had, at one time, seemed too good to be true. Now, of course, it was expected, routine, taken for granted. Ann’s head swam with the miracle of her life and the tender exploration of her wife’s hand.

Wandering thoughts ceased, however, and Ann lost the plot. She couldn’t think about the past right now; the only thing she could think about was Anne’s strong fingers, her hungry lips, the delightful rumbles in her throat. 

“You’re so hot,” Anne growled, nipping gently at Ann’s earlobe. “You make me so wet.”

“Pony. Fuck, I - fuck, I need you.”

“I’m right here.” Anne pushed forward, pressing Ann against the front seat. “You’re so wet, baby.”

Ann keened, nodded, angled her hips upward. She was desperate, begging for more, needing to be filled by her wife. Anne teased her, kissed her deeply, then pressed gently inside; a soft gasp slipped from Ann’s lips. She stretched backward, against the rapidly warming leather of the front seat. 

“You feel so good.” Anne started slow, deep thrusts, the heel of her hand grinding against Ann’s clit. “You’re beautiful. You’re so incredible, Adney.” She kissed Ann again, desperation and urgency on her lips and tongue. “Fuck, I love you so much.”

Oh, to hear those words from Anne Lister. The fact that Anne said them at all was a bit of a miracle; to hear those words slip, almost without thought, from the mouth of Anne Fucking Lister, while she was making love to her? Ann couldn’t process it. She was glad she’d never had time to dream about their future; there was no use - nothing could have been this good.

“You’re incredible,” Anne husked as she squeezed her wife’s ass and urged her faster. “Fuck, you’re so good.”

Ann nodded, her eyes closed tightly and her hips rolling urgently. She did feel a bit like a teenager - sloppy and needy and desperate. Her fingers curled in Anne’s hair, pulling her in for a wet kiss. She moaned wantonly as Anne stretched her with a third finger; it felt decadent to finally make all the noise she wanted after the lip-biting silence of the theater. 

“You’re so wet, baby.” Anne started rutting into her faster, harder. “Are you going to come for me?” 

Ann whined and nodded; her eyes flicked open for a moment, just long enough to her wife’s strong arm flexing, the tendons pressing against her skin, the curve of her intoxicating muscles. She moaned and closed her eyes again, slumping forward to press against Anne’s chest. Anne spanked her once, and Ann cried out. She sped up, riding Anne’s hand toward a ferocious release.

“Come for me,” Anne commanded, her voice low and rough. 

Ann groaned, her release just out of reach of her fingertips. She tilted her chin, desperate, and Anne surfaced from her place against Ann’s neck. She crashed their lips together, and Ann was gone. Great, trembling waves of pleasure crashed into her; somewhere, Anne was whispering to her, touching her, loving her. Ann barely heard her; all she felt was the rough, incredible, loving warmth of their connection.

“Oh, you’re beautiful.” Anne was whispering, kissing her neck, caressing her with infinite tenderness. “You’re so gorgeous.”

“I love you,” Ann breathed, a satisfied half-smile settling on her face. “Good Lord, Pony.”

“Good Lord yourself,” Anne laughed, kissing her softly. “You make me crazy.”

“Do I?”

Anne just grinned - that wolffish grin, the self-satisfied one, the one that Ann knew meant she was well and properly excited. Ann tangled her fingers in her wife’s dark hair, kissed her deeply, and nudged her to the side. A sputtered sound of protest, but then Anne was doing it. She was leaning back, shifting until her back hit the seat and Ann was nestled happily on top of her. 

“Much better,” Ann said with a smile; she traced a hand along Anne’s side, under her shirt. “Oh, I’ve been waiting all day to fuck you.”

“So do it,” Anne dared, bucking her hips upward.

“Demanding,” Ann teased, her hand closing over her wife’s breast. “And you’ve made me wait so long.”

“Wait? I shagged you right here in the car.”

“When you should ,” Ann kissed her neck, “have fucked me,” then her jawline, “in the theater,” her cheek, “in the loo,” her chin, “or even,” she hovered over Anne for a beat, “both.”

Then she kissed her - fierce and deep and urgent. Anne groaned, wrapping her long arms around Ann’s waist and pulling her close. Ann ran one hand along her wife’s side, down to the dip of her jeans. She tried to - there was no bloody room, was there? Laughing and blushing, she sat back on her heels.

“How am I meant to do this?” 

“Like this,” Anne said with a smile, flicking open her own trousers and rolling her hips invitingly.

Ann smiled, shook her head, leaned down to kiss her wife again. It was difficult, the angle, but Ann was determined. She managed to slip past Anne’s boxers, to find the soft, wet core of her. They moaned in unison at the first swipe to Anne’s clit.

“Scoot over, Pony,” Ann whispered, fitting her face in the crook of Anne’s neck. 

Anne whined, but she shifted, allowing Ann to fall into the crease where the seat bent. Ann grinned and kissed her neck, speeding up the firm circles between her wife’s legs.

“‘Much better,” Ann murmured. “You’re so good, Pony. You feel so good.”

A choked moan slipped from Anne’s throat; her hips bucked up into Ann’s hand.

“You’re amazing, my darling.” Ann dragged her tongue along Anne’s neck. “Are you close, baby?”

“Yes,” Anne squeaked.

Her lips parted in desperation, her brow furrowed in concentration, Anne Lister was easily the most devastatingly beautiful sight she’d ever seen. With a series of harsh, quick strums, Ann sent her love into oblivion. Oh, she was glad she’d never imagined this in her dreams. The way Anne groaned, the way her body curled, the way she clung to Ann for dear life - this was better than any dream Ann had ever had.

“Yes,” Ann breathed, stroking her tenderly through her release. “Oh, fuck, Anne, you’re - you’re so beautiful.”

“Oh, Lord,” Anne sighed, going limp beneath her. “Budge up, will you?”

Ann sat back, grinning and pleased as her wife, still panting, shifted shakily to lean against the door. For a moment, they just looked at each other - love and contentment and exhilaration and disbelief. Ann lurched forward, kissed her wife, and snuggled against her chest. Their hands found each other, fingers weaving together as they caught their breath.

“I had a really nice time tonight,” Ann said sincerely. “Will you call me so we can go out again?”

“Oh, yeah.” Anne squeezed her hand. “I think, one day, I might just marry you.”

Chapter Text

“What. The. Fuck. Is. This?” Marian shouted, storming into Anne’s office the next day.

“What?” Anne looked up, bleary-eyed, from the account books in front of her; Marian’s face was so red Anne was surprised she didn’t have steam coming out of her ears. “Marian, what?”

“This.” Marian threw a newspaper at her. “You’re not doing this again. Not to my friend.”

“What?” Anne said again, flipping through the paper. “I haven’t - oh.”

There, in the middle of the social section, was a rather grainy photograph of Anne next to the Jeep, leering over a short, light-haired woman. The woman’s face was obscured, her hands in Anne’s shirt, the relationship between them obvious. Anne’s face was cut into a lecherous smile, one hand planted against the Jeep above the woman’s head, the other on that woman’s hip. The headline read “Newlywed Anne Lister Spotted Out with Mystery Woman.” Anne burst out laughing.

“What!” Marian stomped her foot. “You can’t treat Little Ann like this! She’s too good for you. She doesn’t deserve - I mean the press? The whole of Halifax must know by now. I can’t believe you - you would -”

“It’s Ann,” she interrupted her sister gently. “The woman in that photo is Ann. We went to the movies yesterday.”

“Oh.” A flicker of disappointment flashed across Marian’s face. “ Oh . That makes - well,” she shook her head, as if ridding herself of the petty impulse to apologize, “you should be more careful.”

Anne rolled her eyes and pushed her glasses further up on her nose. A silent signal that Marian knew by now meant “dismissed.” 

Not five minutes after Marian scurried away, Anne’s phone rang.

“Lister!” Tib boomed before Anne could even greet her. “Done it again, mate. Cocked it up. I thought you were serious about her this time.”

“Isabella,” Anne drawled with a chuckle. “That’s Ann in that photo.”

“Is it?” 

Faintly, Anne heard whispering on the other end of the line. Pic. Anne sighed and leaned back in her chair. Of course this would blow up in her face while Ann was at yoga. Mind blank, spirit calm, incredible body contorting into unbelievable shapes, and totally unreachable. Phone switched off. If Marian and Tib had seen it, Anne was in for a very busy day. She just hoped the photograph hadn’t reached Scotland; Anne shuddered to think what Elizabeth would do if she even suspected Anne had strayed.

“Hello, Pic,” Anne called. “How are you two getting on?”

“Quite well, Dr. Lister,” Pic answered; “we’ve - oh!”

From the squeals and giggles crackling through the phone, Anne could only assume her friend had done something dirty to her former student. She sighed again  and ended the call. The familiar sound of Tiny’s collar jangled into the room. Anne leaned down to greet her.

“What are we going to do?”

“You’re going to explain yourself, that’s what,” Aunt Anne said from the doorway. “Why have I just -”

“Is she in there?” Father called from the hall. “Have you seen this?”

“It’s Ann!” She cried helplessly. “The photo is of me and Ann.”

“But still ,” Aunt Anne said, plopping down into the chair opposite Anne’s desk; Father hovered in the doorway. “Out in public like that? You really must show a bit more restraint.”

“She’s my wife!”

“You do look a bit skeevy,” Father offered, studying the picture a bit closer. 

“I - that’s - Father.” Anne sputtered. “She’s my wife! We are fully married. You do know that, don’t you?”

“Have a bit of restraint, Antsy,” Aunt Anne said meaningfully, as if she’d just taught Anne some important life lesson. The doorbell rang. “No doubt that’s the Bad Taste Police, here to arrest you.”

Anne groaned. By the time she got downstairs, she found it was infinitely worse: Eliza Priestley. Standing just outside the entryway, Anne made desperate gestures at Cordingley. She wasn’t home - she was busy - she was anything and anywhere other than home and available for a chat with the nosiest neighbor in history. 

“Oh, look, she’s right here,” Cordingley said generously. “Mrs. Priestley, ma’am.”

Anne bit back a wail of defeat and forced a polite smile on her face. Eliza was dressed for brunch, no doubt prepared to carry whatever Shibden drama she could back to her tribe of spoilsports. Reluctantly, Anne led her into the sitting room; of course, now that Mrs. Priestley had arrived, the rest of the family made themselves scarce. 

“I assume you know why I’m here,” Eliza said as she sat down.

“Friendly visit?” Anne fixed her with her most dazzling grin - no dice. “I can’t imagine to what I owe this honor.”

“Don’t play games with me, Anne,” Eliza said sharply. “I’ve seen the photograph, as has about half of Halifax. The other half has seen the video.

“Video?” Anne asked, in spite of herself; Eliza looked so smug Anne wanted to kick herself.

“Of you snogging some blonde woman in the loo at the cinema.”

“Oh my - Eliza. That’s Ann.”

“She’s my cousin. I think I'd recognize her.”

“Can I see this video?”

Chin still uplifted, Eliza brought out her cellphone. She tapped it a few times and handed it to Anne. Sure enough, there they were - shaky and out of focus, but still them . Snogging rather energetically. Anne’s hands on her wife’s hips. Ann’s hands tangling in her hair, her hips pressing up urgently against Anne’s. And then - Good Lord - Anne had tilted her head and - yes, there it was. Her tongue. Slipping past her own lips for an instant, disappearing into Ann’s mouth. 

Well. Not quite so innocent as that photograph, was it? Anne could feel her face coloring. She handed the phone back to Eliza. 

“I - well. Not much to say about that one,” Anne said sheepishly. “That is Ann, of course.”

“It’s not clear who it is,” Eliza cut in, her mouth set in a firm, narrow line. 

“Oh, come on , you know as well as I that that’s my wife in that video. You can see Adney’s engagement ring.” Eliza looked down, disappointment flashing across her face. “Rather a unique piece, isn’t it? Not many other blonde women in Yorkshire with an onyx ring on their third finger.”

Eliza said nothing. Anne could see her jaw twitch as she reevaluated; she almost wanted to laugh, but she managed to suppress it. Eliza placed her phone in her bag and fixed a pleasant smile on her face.

“So glad we could clear that up,” she said, betraying nothing with her voice. “Try not to - uh, to - try to keep your hands to yourself, Dr. Lister. Some of us care about our reputations.”

“I’m sure you do,” Anne said with a sardonic smile. “Anything else I can do for you today? Prove the moon landing really happened? Solve a Where’s Wally? ?”

“No,” Eliza answered curtly. “Thank you. I’ll be seeing you around.”

“Come for dinner next week.” Anne led her to the front door, neither of them pretending this visit was anything other than a Priestley-nose-about. “You can see that ring up close.”

Eliza chuckled and shook her head. Anne watched her go, marveling at just how easy it was to soothe that particular beast. She sighed in relief - perhaps now she’d get some work done.

Her phone rang. 

Perhaps not.

“Hello, Elizabeth,” she said warily, “I trust you’ve - er, you’ve seen something that upset you?”

“I have,” her sister-in-law hissed; Anne could hear a child babbling in the background. Elizabeth sounded distant, speaking to someone else. “Would you take her?”

“It’s Ann in the photo. And the video,” Anne said, rubbing the back of her neck; she’d won Elizabeth’s approval, but it still felt tenuous. The protective older sister could still attack, if she found reason to. “I haven’t -”

Anne heard a door click shut, then Elizabeth was shouting.

“I know it’s Ann, you bloody lunatic! The way you - with your- one question. Why are you groping my sister in the toilet?”

“Elizabeth, it wasn’t -” 

“You animal ! You practically had her clothes off! Keep your dirty paws off my baby sister, do you hear me?”

“She’s my wife,” Anne tried to cut in.

“Save it for your bedroom , you maniac. And then in the car park? Are you actually, properly mad?”

“Ann is an adult -”

Girlish giggles hit her ears - Ann and Catherine were home. Anne sagged in relief; perhaps the Walker sisters could work this out between the two of them. Anne couldn’t believe how much of her day she’d lost to a single photograph and a shaky video. 

“Hi, darling!” Ann called. “Oh, are you-”

“Your sister is here,” Anne said, interrupting Elizabeth with considerable effort. “Can you tell her I wasn’t groping you in that video? Have you seen it?”

“Yes,” Ann said with a wry smile and a shake of her head. “Harriet sent it to Cat.”

“Looking good, Lister,” Catherine said with a wink.

For a reason Anne hadn’t quite figured out, Catherine liked to pretend they were best mates, bragging about which girls they’d seduced. A bit ridiculous, Anne thought, considering Anne was married and Catherine was decidedly heterosexual. Ann said it made her feel sophisticated, that she wanted to be like Anne, that she really wanted to be a bit like Tib. Anne found it rather endearing, if a little silly.

“I’m a married woman, Liz,” Ann said tiredly, taking Anne’s phone and putting it on speaker. “You know how it is.”

“I don’t,” her sister said sharply.

“Me neither,” Catherine shrugged.

“I remember walking in on you and George when I was sixteen, do you remember that?”

“Well, I -”

“I’m not a child,” Ann said evenly. “I’m allowed to kiss my wife in public. It’s not illegal.”

Anne grinned at her, so feisty and self-assured.

“I know you’re not, I just -”

“Would you like me to tell you about how we shagged in the car before we even got home? About how I sat in Anne’s lap and -”

“No, that’s - really, thank you!” Elizabeth cried.

The line went dead, and Anne laughed, grabbing her wife playfully by the hips. Ann flushed and buried her face in Anne’s chest.

“I would like to hear,” Catherine said simply, an expectant smile on her face, her hands folded neatly in her lap.

“Absolutely not,” Ann said, spinning in Anne’s arms to face her friend. “I can’t believe I even said that to Liz. Don’t you have to get home?”

“Not especially.”  Catherine propped her feet on the coffee table. “Got any snacks?”

“Try the kitchen,” Anne said with a roll of her eyes. 

Catherine disappeared, and the wives dropped onto the couch. Their legs interlaced naturally, Ann leaning against Anne’s chest, Anne’s arms enfolding her wife. Ann smelled divine - that musky, sweet scent she got after exercise. Anne kissed the top of her damp hair. After a beat, Ann spoke softly.

“You know, Mother Rawson called me.”

“Oh?”

Anne braced herself - if that had been Elizabeth’s reaction, there was no telling what the fearsome matriarch would think. 

“Said I should learn to pose for photographers. Get my name in the paper next time too.”

Anne smiled ruefully, shaking her head and smiling down at her wife.

“Why do you think that is?” Ann asked, slipping her hand under Anne’s shirt to rest on her belly. 

“She likes me.” Anne winked. “Always has done.”

Chapter Text

It was one of those perfect summer days. Warm, sunny, lazy. Not for Anne, of course. No, the dashing Mistress of Shibden Hall had spent much of the day shuttling between her office and wherever on the estate Pickles and his men were working. Ann didn’t mind. She was content to laze about with Tiny and Argus and Marian. Endless television and sketching and laughter. At one point, Captain Lister had meandered in, fallen asleep, and snored so loudly Marian had thwacked him on the nose with the newspaper. Ann couldn’t remember the last time she’d laughed so hard.

Now, in the cool of the evening, Ann was curled up on her wife’s lap, pressed against her chest almost like a child. By this point, Ann couldn’t even feign embarrassment at sitting so cozily in front of the family; even if she could resist her wife’s knee, she wouldn’t want to. There was nowhere more comfortable or safer than the firm slope of Anne Lister’s chest and the warm circle of her arms. That must’ve been how Ann fell asleep.

She hadn’t meant to, of course not. What did she have to be tired about? She hadn’t done anything, not like Anne had. And yet, there was something about being with the family, the rhythmic lilt of the conversation, the soft, shapeless patterns Anne traced over her back. She had no idea how long she’d been asleep, only that she was suddenly in the air, supported by a strong arm around her back and another beneath her knees. Ann leaned into her wife’s embrace, wrapped her arms around her neck, and murmured quietly against her chest. 

“Thank you, Pony.”

“She lives,” Anne teased softly as they moved toward the stairs. “You’re a sleepy girl tonight, aren’t you?”

“I am,” Ann agreed, already closing her eyes again.

“I suppose this was your plan all along, getting me to carry you.”

“No, but there certainly are benefits.”

“Are there?” Ann could almost hear the rakish grin spreading across her wife’s handsome face. 

“Your arms.” She looked up at Anne. “I love them.”

Anne just chuckled and shook her head, kicking their bedroom door closed behind them. She laid Ann gently on the bed, hovering over her for a moment. Ann tilted her chin and closed her eyes. What a perfect way to go to bed - carried by her strong, dashing wife, then making slow, gentle love in the summer night. 

The only problem being, of course, that Anne was gone. 

When she didn’t feel the reassuring press of her wife’s lips, Ann opened her eyes - no Pony above her. She sat up to find Anne disappearing into the closet. Ann furrowed her brow - had she done something wrong?

“Anne?” She whispered, afraid for a moment her wife wouldn’t hear her.

“Yes, my love?” 

Anne was pulling off her clothes, rummaging around for her pajamas. Ann gawked at her - was Anne upset with her? Why was she so far away? 

“Are you - um, I thought - well, I - are we not going to …” Ann trailed off, unsure if she’d have to actually ask Anne Lister, of all people, to have sex. Something must be terribly wrong, she decided, for Anne to act like this. 

“You’re tired,” Anne said with a simple shrug. “Girls who get carried to bed should go straight to sleep.”

“You carry me to bed all the time,” Ann protested. “Come back here.” She bit her lip, trying to look sultry. “Daddy?”

“I don’t think so,” Anne said with a smile. “I think if you’re properly tired, you should go to sleep.”

“I’m not!” Ann stood and moved toward her wife. “I’m - I just fell asleep.”

“Even so. You need your rest, my darling.”

Anne shrugged again, and Ann saw it - she was teasing her. Anne Lister was teasing her. There was nothing wrong. Ann’s shoulders sagged as she saw the game her wife was playing - totally ridiculous, wasn’t it? But, Ann supposed, if her darling wife wanted to be seduced, she would do her damnedest.

“Pony,” Ann whispered, wrapping her arms around Anne’s neck. “Won’t you come to bed?”

For a moment, she seemed to consider. Ann started to smile - oh, it was so easy with Pony, wasn’t it? Anne kissed her softly, then broke away, padding into the bathroom.

“Not yet, darling. Teeth to be brushed, you know.”

Not so easy after all.

A new strategy, then, Ann decided. If Anne wanted to be difficult, Ann had her ways. There was no way she’d give up this easily. Her wife was bullheaded, but Ann had a stubborn streak in her as well.

Quickly and quietly, she took off all her clothes. She posed dramatically against the door frame, where Anne could see her in the mirror. Those dark eyes flicked, and Ann smiled invitingly. The toothbrush faltered, but Anne just winked. 

Ann scoffed and slumped. How did Anne make it look so easy? Anne could turn any moment into a seduction, take Ann from crying to moaning in a matter of minutes - why couldn’t Ann do the same thing. 

Option two, Ann decided, was a direct attack. She sidled up beside her wife, pressed against her back, kissed the long column of her neck. Anne smiled and leaned into her, but she said nothing. Annoying. Ann sucked gently at her pulse point. Nothing. She stretched upward to kiss the delicate spot behind Anne’s ear. Barely a flicker. Finally, she slipped a hand under her wife’s shirt to caress her smooth stomach.

“Why are you so cruel to me tonight?”

“Not cruel,” Anne said, shimmying her ass against Ann. “Just playing with you.”

“Not playing enough,” Ann tried to purr, to be suave like her wife. Mixed results, certainly. “Am I going to have to beg for it?”

“Quite possibly.”

Anne winked at her in the mirror and twisted away. With a huff, Ann followed her back to their bedroom. Anne was sat at the edge of the bed, daring Ann forward. She closed the distance between them and knelt between Anne’s knees; kissing the tops of her thighs, Ann looked up at her wife through her eyelashes. She had a good idea of how she must look in this position, what it would do to Anne, and how much Anne would be able to see from this angle. 

“Anne Lister,” she whispered, “you are the most handsome devil I’ve ever seen.” She slid her hands upward, hooking her fingers in the waistband of Anne’s loose boxers. “I don’t know why you won’t throw me into this bed and claim me.”

She had her. Ann was so certain. The fire in Anne’s eyes, the subtle movement of her jaw, the tiny twitch of her fingers - there was no way Anne would rebuff her now. Ann fairly burned for her - how was any one person so devastating and maddening and adorable all at once? Whatever this game was, Ann appreciated it. It had been awhile since they’d had a proper lead-up like this, hadn’t it? A bit of tension to make the relief that much sweeter. 

Then Anne laughed. She laughed and leaned down and kissed Ann. Only for a moment, and then she was leaning back into bed and getting under the covers. Ann’s jaw dropped.

“Anne.”

“Ann.”

“What have I done?” 

“Not a thing,” Anne said with a shrug. “You’re tired, my darling.”

“Not anymore,” Ann protested. “Why won’t you fuck me?”

“It’s always me doing the fucking isn’t it?” Anne replied quietly. She seemed to catch herself, and she continued in a clearer voice, “let’s go to bed, love.”

“Tell me what’s bothering you.”

“Nothing’s bothering me.”

“You’re a liar.”

Ann scrambled onto the bed, kneeling by her wife’s feet. She was still nude, perhaps that was most embarrassing of all. How long had it been since she’d been naked in front of Anne without even a cursory touch? Ann narrowed her eyes. If Anne wouldn’t play fair, neither would she.

“Perhaps I’d better take care of myself,” Ann said softly, trialing one hand into her own hair and the other over her breast. “It’s been a while since I’ve had to, but -” she moaned lowly, rolling her own nipple between her fingers, “you’ve taught me so much.”

“Adney.”

“No, Pony,” Ann said as she continued to massage her breasts and bite her lip and make direct, sultry eye contact with her obstinate wife, “if you won’t talk about what’s bothering you,” one hand slipped between her legs, “I won’t have sex with you.”

Anne hummed, but said nothing. Surprising, Ann thought. She traced through her own arousal, trying to give more of a show than actually pleasuring herself. Anne was being ridiculous and stubborn on purpose, but Ann knew an argument would get them nowhere. Better to break through her wife’s resolve, chip away at her until she couldn’t stand it anymore. Then, when Anne was wild and ready to ravish her, then they could talk. 

“You’re so beautiful,” Ann whispered. “I think about you all the time.”

“That’s good,” her wife answered sardonically. “We are married.”

“I mean ,” Ann rolled her eyes, “even when we’re apart. I think about you. How stunning you are. How good you are to me. How much I love you. How brilliant and kind and interesting you are.”

Anne harruphmed. Ah, that was it. Ann stopped touching herself and crawled forward, kneeling just below her wife’s knobby knees. 

“You are,” Ann continued. “Brilliant. Kind. Interesting.”

“Am I?” 

The question was so soft, so shy and vulnerable that Ann’s heart nearly broke in two. This was it - Anne was feeling neglected somehow. Ignored. Ann sighed and scooted forward to cup her proud cheek. She could be so thin-skinned, couldn’t she?

“What’s this about?” Ann asked.

“Nothing.” 

Anne looked away, shaking her head. Ann tugged gently on the hair at the back of her head. 

“Stop this, or you’re sleeping downstairs.”

For a moment, silence. Ann watched her wife’s Adam’s apple bob in her throat. Anne reached forward and laid her hands gently around Ann’s waist. She seemed to breathe easier now; they both did. 

“You know, I was actually telling you a rather interesting story about my time in the Pyrenees when you started to snore.”

Oh. Ann bit back a smile. Oh, poor Pony. She got so insecure sometimes, about being boring or talking too much. In truth, she probably did talk too much; Ann could acknowledge that. Not that she minded; she’d listen to Anne for a thousand years, and she knew she’d never get bored. Maybe it was a holdover from Mariana’s sharp tongue, from years of being the only woman in the room, from disappointment after disappointment - women who wanted her strong hand more than her brilliant mind. Ann sighed and nodded. 

“I’m sorry, darling. Will you tell me that story now?”

“WIll you promise not to fall asleep?”

“Of course,” Ann answered seriously. 

Anne smiled, almost in spite of herself, it seemed. Ann kissed her softly, then shifted to lean against her chest. The actual plot of the story didn’t matter - what mattered was Anne’s confidence rebuilding, the healing of the bruised ego, the way Anne’s hand traced over her spine. This was a special side to Anne Lister, one that Ann too often took for granted - the side that longed to be heard properly, to be understood at a personal level, to be taken seriously rather than laughed off as that eccentric woman from Halifax. 

“Well, anyway,” Anne said, “I - uh - that was a pretty insignificant moment, I guess, but -”

“It wasn’t,” Ann interrupted her. “Nothing about you is insignificant. Not to me.” She kissed her wife, hard, taking a fistful of her threadbare shirt in her hand and pulling her close. “I love you. I’m sorry.”

Anne kissed her again, slowly and deeply; her hands were soft as they traced along Ann’s back.

“Will you tell me?” Ann asked softly. “Next time you’re upset with me?”

Anne nodded, bottom lip curled in where she chewed it. Ann smoothed a hand along her worried face.

“I love you, Anne Lister. You don’t bore me. You never could.”

For a moment, Ann thought she might not believe her. But then the floodgates opened, the light broke through from the dark clouds hanging in her wife’s eyes, and Anne smiled. 

“I love you,” she whispered.

Ann kissed her again, soft and slow. She slipped her hands along Anne’s shirt, over her breasts, along her ribs; she snuck under the hem, humming softly as her fingertips made contact with Anne’s warm skin.Their kiss deepened, turning sloppy and hungry as Ann pressed upward to cup her wife’s breasts in her hands.

“You’re so beautiful,” Ann whispered, turning her attention to Anne’s long neck. “You drive me crazy.”

Anne hummed, her hands dancing across Ann’s back and into her hair. Ann shifted lower, bunching Anne’s shirt up so that she could cover her wife’s chest in kisses. Anne’s skin was divine - warm and slightly salty and softer than Anne would care to admit. A light flush spread across her chest, and Ann took one nipple between her lips, the other between her fingers. Anne’s chest rumbled with her low moan.

Anne needed this, her wife knew, the adoration and the attention. She didn’t like to ask for it, but she craved it. This pouting tonight - that’s what it was about, Anne feeling a bit neglected, a little forgotten and taken for granted. Ann shifted lower to kiss every inch of her wife’s belly and urge her flat on the bed.

“Adney,” Anne breathed, tugging her shirt over her head. “Are you -”

“Of course,” Ann kissed her stomach, then pulled her bottoms off. “You’re stunning, my love.”

Anne hummed in that noncommittal sort of way, her head rolling about on the pillow; one hand urged Ann between her legs.

“That’s how it is?” Ann chuckled, settling between those powerful thighs. “Not even a ‘please?’”

“Please,” Anne said, her hips already lifting.

“Much better.” Ann kissed the inside of one thigh. “Manners matter, darling.” She kissed the other. “Though I suppose you’d rather I get on with it.”

“Yeah,” Anne breathed. “Please.”

Ann smiled and dipped her head. She teased her wife’s center, too light and too slow for Anne, she knew, but she wanted to savor this moment. The taste of Anne’s arousal on her tongue, the feeling of her warm skin in her hands, the tightness of Anne’s fingers curling in her hair. Ann loved nothing more than a gentle, delicate unraveling; Anne could hardly stand it.

“Adney,” she whined, twisting her hips fruitlessly. “Please.”

Ann shook her head, knowing the way her hair would tickle Anne’s thighs. She did press her tongue a bit harder, dared even to fold Ann’s clit in her tongue, but just as Anne gasped, she pulled away. Light circles and tender kisses - that’s all Anne was getting for now. She deserved worship, adoration, the kind of orgasm that snuck up on her and left her spent. She pulled Anne closer, moaned against her center, felt those flames of desire building between her own legs.

Of their own accord, Ann’s hips started to move against the mattress. She shuffled awkwardly, slipping one hand between her own legs. It was killing work, moving her tongue and lips and hand at the same time. Ann felt like a woman possessed - they both needed more, there wasn’t enough space, she hadn’t nearly enough appendages. White-hot flames encircled them, threatening to consume the pair of them.

Then Anne tugged her hair. Hard

Ann froze, looked up at her. Anne was panting, wild-eyed, and grimacing. What had Ann done wrong? She raised herself on her elbows, her mind swimming with possibilities - Anne was upset - Ann had hurt her - there was a fire - Tiny was sick.

“If you’re touching yourself,” Anne growled, “I’m going to be so bloody furious with you.”

“What?” Ann squeaked as Anne hauled her into her arms. 

“My job.” Anne said sternly before catching her lips in a searing kiss. “No one is making you come but me.”

“Pony,” Ann giggled, rolling her hips against Anne’s firm thigh. “I couldn’t help it.”

“I know.” Anne caught her in another desperate kiss. “Finish what you started, Miss Walker, before you get distracted.”

“You’re just so hot,” Ann breathed, her hand slipping between Anne’s legs to find the hard bud of her desire. “You make me so wet.”

Anne moaned, clutching her impossibly closer. Ann licked and sucked and bit along her neck, strumming her clit harder and faster. Anne was curling beneath her, mumbling incoherent half-sentences. Ann knew what she wanted. Her muscles burning, Ann rolled their bodies together, grinding her hips and breasts against Anne’s. With a choked moan, Anne seized, then trembled in Ann’s arms.

“You’re beautiful,” Ann whispered as she eased her down to earth. “I love you so much.”

“Fuck, Adney,” Anne panted, going limp. “Good heavens. How do you always - fuck, how do you always know what I need?”

“I pay attention to you, darling.” Ann kissed her tenderly. “Even when you think I don’t.”

“You’re perfect,” Anne said, before kissing her and rolling her onto her back. “I love you.”

“I love you.” Ann rolled her hips upward. “But you did make me wait.”

“Oh, but it’s so much better,” Anne’s long fingers traced through her arousal, “when you wait.”

Ann groaned, desperation filling her chest; somehow she was just as close now as she’d been before. Anne’s touch was maddening - too impossibly sensual, too incredibly delicate, too intoxicatingly slow. Ann longed to be ripped apart, for Anne to unravel her with those ridiculous, agile fingers. Instead, Anne whispered soft nothings in her ear and traced gentle circles over her clit.

“You’re amazing,” she said as she teased Ann’s entrance.

“You make me feel so good,” she whispered as she pressed gently between Ann’s folds.

“You’re like magic, my love,” she husked as the heel of her hand started to grind against Ann’s clit.

“I love you,” she chanted over and over and over again.

Warm, rushing waves crashed into Ann, sending her careening through her release and clinging to her wife’s strong back for dear life. Anne kissed her neck and jawline, murmuring sweetly as Ann shuddered in her arms. Finally, she stilled and tilted her chin toward her wife; Anne kissed her gently, then pulled away, bringing Ann to rest against her chest.

“I love you,” Ann said seriously. “Please don’t doubt that.”

“I won’t,” Ann answered thoughtfully; her fingertips skated over Ann’s slick back. “Not again. I’m sorry.”

I’m sorry.” 

Ann squeezed her closer, humming softly as Anne’s hand slipped into her hair. She gently massaged Ann’s scalp for a moment. Ann’s eyes drifted closed, content and warm in the safe circle of her wife’s arms.

“Did I hurt you?” Anne whispered. “Your hair? Was I too -”

“No,” Ann murmured, already nearly asleep. “You’re the softest person I know.”

Anne clicked her tongue, but she didn’t argue. They both knew it was true. 

Chapter Text

Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap...TapTapTapTap. Tap. Tap.

Wordlessly, Ann reached over and laid her hand over her wife’s restless bookmark. 

If Anne was going to insist on this silent reading time before bed, the least she could do was stay silent. They’d agreed to this last week when Ann had insinuated her wife owned a few too many books. That, of course, was not well received. Anne, for her part, had implied that she had so little time to read because Ann was always distracting her. Thus, this little compromise. Ann hated it. 

It was just so boring . Sure, Ann didn’t mind reading every now and again, but every single night? When she could be wrapped in her wife’s arms or playing with Tiny or looking at Instagram? Ann shifted sullenly in bed. Sometimes it felt like Anne loved books more than her.

It didn’t help, of course, that this new routine had severely hampered their sex life. Three of the last seven nights they’d gone to bed fully clothed, nothing more than a kiss and a cuddle. Ann huffed out a sigh. Perhaps she’d refuse Anne tonight out of spite.

Not exactly healthy, she thought as she re-read the same page for the fourth time. Anne had discarded the bookmark and was now caressing Ann’s lower thigh over the covers. 

Ann studied her handsome profile, the sharp cut of her jawline, the fine lines beside her eyes as she squinted at the page. Those dark eyes darted to Ann’s face, then back to the page. Ann sighed and returned to her own book. 

The tapping started again. Anne was flicking her bookmark against the hard spine of her book, her knee brushing against Ann’s under the sheets. She was always so restless, even in bed. Ann wondered what it would take to distract her. 

“Pony,” she sang softly, turning her page. “How much longer?”

“Thirty-two minutes, my darling.”

Anne squeezed her knee, then went back to her relentless tapping. Catching her slim wrist, Ann brought those long fingers to her lips. She kissed the tip of each one, then the sharp ridges of her knuckles. Anne hummed softly, but she did not show the least sign of distraction. Slowly, Ann slid her hand along her wife’s wrist as she took her index finger into her mouth.

“Adney,” Anne warned, and it was just enough time for Ann to slip her watch from her wrist. “Adney!”

Giggling, Ann hopped out of bed and raced into their closet. She hadn’t really thought she’d make it this far. There was that armchair, the one they usually had piled high with clothes or packages or Tiny’s toys. She climbed into it, preparing her fort for the inevitable attack. Her wife sauntered into the room.

“Mrs. Lister,” she drawled, “what are you doing in here?”

“Checking the time,” Ann tried to fight back her laughter. Anne’s eyes danced with mischief as she closed the distance between them. “Don’t be cross, darling.”

“I’m just confused,” Anne said, a smile playing at her lips. “What is my wife doing in the closet, when she could be in our bed?”

“I wasn’t sure you’d noticed,” Ann teased shyly, swinging Anne’s watch gently. “Your nose so deep in your book.”

“What’s that mean, Adney?” Anne dropped to her knees in front of her. “You’d rather I put my nose somewhere else?”

“Maybe,” Ann breathed, threading her fingers through Anne’s dark hair. She traced one fingertip along her wife’s long nose. “You know I love this nose.”

“Just the nose?” Anne husked, spreading Ann’s legs wide and kissing the inside of her thighs. 

“And your lips,” Ann hummed softly; Anne pulled her forward in the chair, trailing kisses ever-higher. “Your hands .”

Anne hummed and looked up at her. Ann’s heart soared - that grin, those eyes, the fire burning between them. She reached down to cup Anne’s handsome face in her hands and brought their lips together. 

Finally .

Anne stretched upward, slipped her tongue along Ann’s, climbed into the chair with one knee between Ann’s. She was intoxicating like this, powerful and methodical and intense. Ann needed her closer, but the angle was all wrong. Could they flip around somehow? Could Anne pick her up? She pushed one hand into the back of her wife’s boxers and squeezed.

“Can we -” Anne panted, then shook her head. “Can we move?”

“Bed?”

“Right here.”

Anne grinned and stood, pulling Ann clumsily to her feet. In an instant, they’d traded places, with Anne in the chair and Ann in her lap. Warmth suffused Ann’s body as she giggled and tilted her neck to accept Anne’s warm kisses. She hardly even noticed Anne’s watch twist out of her fingers. It didn’t matter anymore, not with Anne’s lips on hers, and - she heard a soft click, and then - Anne’s hands under her nightshirt. 

“You’re so hot,” Anne breathed against her neck, one hand curling around her ass. “Fuck, Adney.”

Ann moaned softly and rolled her hips, arching her back as Anne’s warm hand cupped her breast. Their lips met again, and Ann clung to her like a life raft. She tangled her fingers in Anne’s hair, deepening their kiss. Anne’s hands were everywhere, leaving little fires in their wake. Slowly, Anne pushed her nightshirt upward, until it was bunched up around Ann’s clavicle. With a gasp, Ann tossed her head back, breathless and burning as Anne took her nipple between her lips. 

“Pony,” she whispered with a smile. “Don’t you miss your book?”

Anne surfaced, her face pink with excitement and her eyes dancing with mischief. Her grin was so wide it nearly broke Ann’s heart. She bit her lip and slipped one hand between Ann’s legs.

“Not a fucking bit.”

They crashed back together, sloppy and desperate. Anne’s long fingers traced along Ann’s core. Breathy moans filled the air as Anne stroked along her center and over her clit. Soft lips sucked at her throat, one hand curling around her ass. Ann angled her hips, silently begging. A teasing finger nearly made Ann cry out, but she knew she couldn’t. Shibden was the perfect place to call home, but couldn’t they get some thicker walls? When Anne finally pressed inside of her, Ann moaned so loudly her wife lurched forward to cover her lips with her own.

Ann couldn’t help it, could only wrap her arms around her wife’s broad shoulders and pour every needy, wanton sound into her mouth. Soon Anne was stretching her with two fingers, then three, curling and coaxing until Ann’s entire body burned. 

“You’re so good,” Anne purred, kissing her neck and squeezing her ass to urge her hips faster. “You’re such a good girl.”

“Pony,” Ann moaned, bucking her hips desperately. “Fuck.”

“That mouth,” Anne said appreciatively, spanking her crisply. “You’re so hot.”

Ann keened, her hips rutting desperately as her climax towered before her. 

“Come for me, baby,” Anne said, her voice low and rough. “I love you so much. Come for me.”

She tried to hold off - really, she did, but it was impossible. That split-second of waiting made it even better, the flames even brighter, stronger. Anne swallowed her moans, easing her through wave after wave of white-hot pleasure. Her low, soft voice filled Ann’s ears as she drifted back to herself. With a sigh, she went limp leaning against her wife’s strong chest. 

“Oh, Pony,” she managed, still breathless.

“You’re so beautiful,” Anne said, caressing her face gently. “I love you so much.”

“I love you,” Ann said, then kissed her wife softly. “You’re so hot.”

She slipped from Anne’s lap, biting her lip and swinging Anne’s hand in hers. Ann didn’t need the dark, damp spot in her wife’s grey boxers to tell her she was aching to be touched, but Ann didn’t even try to remove the flimsy fabric. Instead, she kissed the back of her wife’s hand, sucked her still-wet fingers gently, then tapped the silver band on Anne’s wrist. Anne furrowed her brows, but Ann just winked and padded into the bedroom.

“I knew you’d come after your watch before you came after your wife.”

“Adney!”

“You’re terribly predictable, darling,” Ann said over her shoulder, crawling back into bed. “Hardly a thought for your poor little woman.”

“Adney,” Anne said, her eyes wide as she climbed onto the edge of the bed. Ann almost laughed at how concerned she looked, how wild her expression was; perhaps it was a bit cruel, but Ann figured her wife could learn a bit of patience. “Have I done something wrong?”

“Of course not, baby.” Ann smiled as Anne’s hands curled around her thighs, desperation coloring her face as she leaned toward Ann. “Don’t you want to finish your book?”

“What book?” Anne asked. Ann giggled in response, taking one of her wife’s hands and squeezing it. “Please, will you - seriously, Adney, I’m going to explode.”

“I hope not,” Ann purred, pulling Anne gently forward. 

Their lips met in a slow, searching kiss. Anne cupped her face with one hand, the other still clasped in Ann’s. She moaned as Ann slipped into her boxers, rolling her hips as Ann teased her clit. Ann kept the pressure light, much too light, and broke their kiss to whisper in her wife’s ear. 

“You drive me crazy, Anne Lister.” 

She darted her tongue out to trace the shell of Anne’s ear, nipped gently at her earlobe, then dragged her tongue along the column of her neck. Anne tugged her hair, forcing their lips together again as she pressed Ann into the pillows. Stifling a giggle, Ann let her. If her wife needed to feel a bit of control, she would let her. In just a few minutes, she’d be gasping Ann’s name anyway.

Electricity crackled between them as she teased Anne’s clit a bit harder, sucking at the juncture of her neck and shoulder. With a gentle buck of her hips, Ann urged her wife onto her back - one of those countless, silent messages that had sprung up during their marriage. Ann grinned proudly as her wife’s back hit the sheets. She urged Anne’s shirt over her head, her shorts down her legs before whipping her own nightshirt off. 

“You’re gorgeous,” Anne breathed, tracing one hand over Ann’s belly.

Ann shook her head and pressed both of her wife’s hands over her head, kissing her soundly for an instant. Their bodies rolled together as their lips met over and over. She was never very good like this though, and she had to release Anne’s hands and shift her weight. Ann wondered, for a moment, if they could stay like this forever. 

“Adney,” her wife whined. “It’s been ages.”

And then it all clicked into place. Ann had been taking her fill of Anne’s body, but her poor wife probably needed relief rather badly. She brought their lips together again, this time slipping between Anne’s legs and stroking her clit with purpose. She kissed her strong neck, the proud line of her jaw, the parted perfection of her lips. 

“Come for me, darling,” Ann whispered, strumming Anne’s clit faster. “You’re so perfect. Anne,” she husked, making her voice lower and rougher than usual, “let go.”

Anne always listened, didn’t she? She shattered in Ann’s arms, trembling in that now-familiar way that made Ann’s heart soar. WIth tender kisses and gentle strokes, Ann eased her through. Nothing made her quite so proud as taking Anne Fucking Lister to that pinnacle of pleasure. Perhaps the novelty should have worn off by now, but Ann hoped it never did. Watching Anne come undone in her arms felt just as exciting and ethereal and ephemeral as it had back at Crow Nest, that first time on the kitchen island and every time since. 

“I love you,” she whispered as her wife stilled. “Anne Lister, I love you so much.”

“I love you,” Anne groaned, her eyes still closed and her chest heaving. “I love you. I love you.”

Ann hummed and pulled the covers around their slick bodies. They drifted together automatically, as naturally as breathing - Anne’s arm around her back, Ann’s hand around her wife’s waist, their legs tangled together. Ann closed her eyes, waiting for Anne’s melodious voice to fill the room. But there was nothing. Just the cadence of their heavy breathing and silence.

“Pony?” She kissed the side of Anne’s neck she could reach. “Our book?”

“I thought you didn’t want me to read in bed anymore,” Anne said haughtily, even as her hand stroke aimlessly over Ann’s bare back. Ann had to resist the urge to scoff at her wife’s post-coital pouting.

“Anne,” Ann drew her wife’s name out. “You know I can’t sleep without your voice.”

“You know you don’t have to take my watch to seduce me,” Anne said carefully. “You can just tell me.”

“I’ll remember that,” Ann said softly and sincerely, “but for now - uh, I’d like to hear you.”

“I bet you would,” Anne purred, her arm tightening around Ann’s waist as she reached for her reading glasses and the paperback they’d been reading before bed. 

“I love you,” Ann whispered into her wife’s skin. “I love everything about you.”

“I’ll remember that the next time you complain about my diatribes on ancient translators.”

Anne’s throaty, satisfied laughter was still ringing in her ears as Ann fell asleep.