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a single glimpse of relief (to make sense of what you've seen)

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Dorothea’s long hair feels so suffocating these days. It was her pride, years and years ago, something that brought her the attention of men with whom she’d go on dates to try to secure a comfortable future for herself.

She takes good care of it, she always has — the men interested in her always had something to say to her about her hair, and of course, she figures there’s something about a woman shyly twirling her hair that makes men’s knees weak — but now it feels more like a chore than an act of self-care.

And so she sighs for the nth time that night as she brushes her hair in front of the mirror. Before bed she would brush out the knots and tangles from the shower before, taking time to herself to think. Sometimes she’d let Petra do it for her, when she's feeling lazy or when Petra is particularly affectionate: she’d punctuate every stroke with a kiss to Dorothea’s skin.

On nights like those it would take an hour longer than usual for her to be done with her hair-brushing routine.

As it is, she’s not really feeling it right now, she supposes. She could go to bed soon with an unkempt, tangled bird’s nest on her head (at least, that’s how she sees it), but it feels so wrong to do it.

“Petra, my love,” she says, looking at Petra’s eyes through her reflection in the mirror. “Could you help me with my hair tonight, please?”

Petra looks up from her book with a small smile on her face. The light from the bedside lamp frames her face softly, and her skin is glowing more than usual tonight. There’s a glint in Petra’s eyes that Dorothea can’t quite place, but she knows in her heart she’s falling for her wife again, and again, and again.

Petra closes her book and deposits the thick tome on the bedside table. “Of course, my darling Dorothea,” she says. “Anything for my Queen.”

“No need for flattery, my love, you already have my heart. You know that.”

“It is not flattery if it is the truth,” Petra replies and starts to brush her wife’s hair. “Now, would you like to talk about what’s bothering you?”

It doesn’t surprise Dorothea anymore, the way Petra is able to see right through her. She closes her eyes and leans back to feel Petra’s warm body against hers. She’s silent for a few seconds and Petra lets her be, knowing Dorothea needs time to arrange her thoughts into words.

“My hair,” Dorothea says softly. “I don’t like it anymore.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know. Everything bad that’s happened to me. The war, I guess? I’m haunted by the people I killed in this lifetime. Maybe others, too.”

(She still has her eyes closed. Opening them feels like acknowledging that she’s just said those words out loud. She’s not ready yet, she supposes.)

“Oh?” Petra urges on.

“I’d like to cut it, I think. Shave it all off. Start anew.”

Petra presses a kiss onto the crown of her wife’s head. “If that is what you wish for, my love,” she says, and her voice is dripping with so much love and tenderness, “I think you would look beautiful bald. I can ask the hairdresser to come in tomorrow, if you would like.”

“Oh, Petra,” Dorothea coos, finally opening her eyes. She rests her hand atop Petra’s on her shoulder, looking at her wife’s eyes through the mirror once again. “I think I’ll just go to the one downtown. I have things to do there anyway.”

“Alright my dearest.” Petra kisses her once more on her head. “I can not wait to see your new look.”

 

.

 

Dorothea walks out of the hairdresser’s with a new spring in her step. She thanks them cheerfully and runs her hand over her newly naked scalp and everything feels so light and she feels so free.

(The citizens look at her in confusion, of course — the Queen Consort is… bald? — but Dorothea pays them no mind. She feels a heavy weight lifted off of her shoulders and she won’t let a little self-consciousness ruin her moment.)

 

.

 

“Petra,” Dorothea greets, locking the office door behind her. “My darling wife.”

“I will be done in five minutes—” Petra looks up. “— oh. You are bald, my love!”

“I am,” Dorothea says, a bit shyly, out of habit having her hand up to tuck a lock of hair behind ear, but instead finding the space empty. “I like it.”

“Mm, I like it too.” Petra pushes her chair back, motioning to her wife to sit on her lap. Dorothea does so, like she always does.

In an instant, Petra’s arms are around her torso, holding her in place. Dorothea can feel the warmth of Petra’s lips against her neck, moving down, down, down along her shoulder before moving back to her nape. It’s familiar, of course: Petra’s done this millions of times before, but it also feels so new.

Petra chuckles, a small sound, barely audible, but Dorothea can feel it vibrate against her skin.

“What?”

“I do not need to move your hair away when I do this now,” Petra says, one hand stroking Dorothea’s shoulder. It sends shivers down her spine.

“Oh,” is all Dorothea says, flushed. “I guess you don’t.”

In her flustered state, it takes her all of a few moments to realise one of Petra’s hands has slid her dress off her shoulder and is palming a breast through her bra. “I wonder what else I can do easier now, without the obstruction of your hair.”

Dorothea leans into the touch, craning her neck so Petra has better access to it. “Here, please,” she says, but Petra knows it’s a command.

So she does what is asked: presses a kiss at the base of her neck, and grazes her teeth at the skin there. Not enough pressure to hurt, of course, just to signal that she’s listening and ready to please her wife.

The only sounds filling the office are their wildly beating hearts and Petra nipping on her wife’s skin and Dorothea’s little moans.

“Would you…” Dorothea’s voice is straining. “Would you like to take this home?”

Petra is still after that, and Dorothea knows she’s looking at the couch next to the door. She smiles.

“Home after this,” she says, not minding, not at all realising that her words are all jumbled right now. “I have plans for you.”