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Introduction:

Another love story from the 17th century.... Love doesn't have a gender. Not even then
Corinne shivered as she looked up towards the window of the stable. The sun was slowly starting to rise in the horizon. She smiled, happy to know that soon its warming sunrays would soothe her ruffled spirits and sore muscles.

It might have been only dawn, but she had been at work for several hours now, cleaning and repairing around the stables, tending to the animals and reorganising the tools. Just like the previous fall. The servants of the count de Perignan were truly sloppy, and the man gave the young cavalier woman whole responsibility to make sure that none of it became known to neighbouring noblemen. Anything or absolutely everything to cover appearances.

She shook her head slightly, sending bits of hay tumbling from her hat and strands of damp black hair flying around her shoulders. A small smirk floated on her lips as she rested both her hands on the window sill, hearing somewhere a rooster salute the arrival of the sun. Yes. Anything for appearances.

A horse neighed and the woman turned around, hearing footfalls approaching. She replaced her felt hat on her head and picked a coarse brush, starting on the grooming of the many noble animals.

- Good morning, Mademoiselle, she said as the newcomer entered, her rich baritone voice reverberating in the air. I trust that you had a good sleep?

She smiled at nothing, her back turned towards the door, as she busied herself over the horse, who whinnied its satisfaction.

A small gasp sounded from the doorway as a young woman entered and approached. Her blue eyes sparkled as she watched Corinne brushing down the animal then began to search around for another brush.

- Good morning, Rosee murmured, stifling a yawn. She scooped a brush up from where it had been carelessly tossed upon the floor by a servant the day before and had yet to be noticed.

Corinne turned and flashed an encouraging smile towards her. It had become a habit for the younger girl to join her in her morning duties, habit which had been frowned upon then dismissed by the comte.

Corinne didn’t mind. She appreciated her company and quick wit, and she was happy to find in Rosee a worthy sparring partner, activity which she looked forward to immensely every day.

Rosee moved over to a horse in the next stall, a broad black horse of indeterminable breed, and began to groom it carefully.

- Corinne, will we be able to practice today? she asked hopefully, standing on the tips of her toes to peer at the other woman over the horse's back.

- Today, tomorrow, always, said Corinne lightly, finishing to brush the red and black animal which she had been grooming and moving forward to help Rosee on hers.

The horse suddenly whinnied loudly and a snigger broke through the quiet conversation. Rosee paled and peered around the animal to see a young boy leaning against the wall further down in the stable.

- You should be taking lessons Rosee, the little boy sneered.
- Father is not going to like this.

- Gaston please! Father does not need to know about my coming out here to take a break from those useless lessons!

Corinne looked over the horse’s back at the sniggering little boy, who’s face scrounged in a pout, noticing his sister’s interlocutor.

- Fancy you should be talking of lessons, young master, she said with her deep voice and a coy smile.
- Shall I tell Monsieur le comte about the apple tree incident of yesterday?

- Go ahead and tell him, he challenged spitefully.
- He will never listen to you. But I'm going to tell him about her and she will get in so much trouble!

He spat at Rosee's feet and ran out of the stable towards the house. Rosee bit at her lip and looked conflicted and fearful, unsure whether to follow him or remain.

Corinne frowned, continuing to brush her side of the horse for a moment, before setting the instrument on the bench and turning around the animal to join Rosee.

- I’ll speak to the comte, she said quietly, pressing the girl’s shoulder.
- Once we finish grooming the horses, we can go in the fields and practice on our sword fight. What do you say?

She winked, lightly poking Rosee’s nose with a gloved finger.

Her nose twitched and she let out a small giggle.

- I think that sounds wonderful, she said with a sweet relieved smile.

She worked faster at brushing the horse now that she had something to look forward to rather than the dull teachers which she was hiding from.

- Speaking of which, added Corinne as she resumed grooming.
- Which so horrible and boring lesson did you skip?

A small chuckle rumbled in her throat.

- Embroidery, she snarled with a pout.
- How I hate it! It is too quiet, too slow for me.

Her side done, she moved on to the next horse with a sigh.

- How I wish I could leave here... But with Father making sure I am watched and that little monster making my life miserable, I may quite possibly lose my mind before I ever get the chance to escape.

- I know how you feel, sighed Corinne, walking around Rosee to get to the other horse behind her and starting on him.
- I cannot tell you not to flee, since I did just that, but a life like that is very burdening. I am quite lucky I got to meet you and your family. I have known mean and dark people, and lived experiences which I would rather forget.

She bit at her lower lip and played with the bristles of the brush with the tip of her fingers.

- If you considered being a prisoner of this house lucky then where you came from must have been rather horrible, Rosee said sadly.

She came over to stand beside her and after a brief moment, wrapped her arms about Corinne in a hug.

The older woman tensed up, shocked into a motionless stupor for a moment, then relaxed as she squeezed Rosee back, tapping gently on her shoulders.

They worked fast and efficiently, and finally all the horses were groomed and busy enjoying their oats and straw, each in a clean and fresh stall.

- Well then, Corinne said cheerfully.
- Lets get out in the fields for some well deserved practice!

Rosee hopped on the balls of her feet and grabbing the older woman's hand, pulled her outside, laughing with happy excitement.

Corinne grabbed at two swords hanging from a nail in the wood as she went out, chuckling at the younger’s enthusiasm.

They walked side by side until they reached the fields, which had been harvested and lay bare for the coming of the cold season.

- What would you like to learn about today? asked Corinne, pulling the blunt blade out of the old batty leather sheathe, and handing it to Rosee, before pulling the other old weapon out for herself.

She paused in thought, tapping against her foot with the flat side of the blade, looking up to the slowly drifting clouds as if they held the answer.

- Perhaps... some more defence manoeuvres? I think I still need to work on those.

- Fair enough, Corinne nodded, smiling.
- You are a little what we could call “trigger crazy”, after all. Being bold is a good thing, but being too carefree is not. Here, I will show you a few basic moves of defence, and then you will try to block some of my attacks.

- Alright.

She settled her feet into an appropriate stance, gripping the blade's hilt tightly. As Corinne watched her in wait for her first attack, she lunged but her foot struck a small pocket in the dirt and she dropped. She growled in frustration and stood again only to swing the sword in a wide strike to Corinne's right side.

- There are many ways of parrying attacks. The most common is to change the line and deviate your opponent’s sword like so, she said, demonstrating as she deviated Rosee’s sword out of the path of her side and blocking it at the base of her hilt.
- They are rather more difficult with a fleche attack, as one may not have enough time to deviate the blade without being touched. Try to attack me again.

Rosee hopped back lightly, stumbling a bit on the landing, and nodded with a frown. She shifted from side to side on her feet as she thought and suddenly leapt forward with a lunge to her stomach.

- I forgot to tell you that the easiest way to parry a fl?e attack…

Corinne withdrew slightly to the side a mere few seconds before the blade could touch her.

- … Is to avoid it altogether.

She reached out and grabbed Rosee’s shoulders to prevent her from falling.

She pouted but nodded anyway.

- Very well. Is it alright if I try now?

- By all means, smiled Corinne.
She took stance a few steps away from the younger woman and thought for a moment. She rose her sword and attacked, much the same way that Rosee had done earlier.

Rosee attempted to copy what the older woman had shown her earlier but she found her sword in the wrong line to perform the defensive move and her feet tangling about themselves. She dropped to the ground at Corinne's feet, face flushing shamefully as she pushed herself up to rest on her knees.

- Are you all right?
She checked her over to be sure that she had not injured herself. Once her inspection satisfied her, she thought for a moment, then picked Rosee’s sword from the ground.
- Here, I will show you another way.
She went behind Rosee and engulfed her in her arms, so that the younger woman held the sword with her. She gently guided her in the parade, correcting her posture and her technique at the same time.

- So that is how it is supposed to be! She said with a surprised laugh as the pair went through the movements together.

- Yes, answered Corinne, somewhat distractedly.
She smiled as Rosee’s loose strands of hair flew in her face with their every move, and she half closed her eyes, breathing in the flowery scent that was a mix of spring and rain from the wavy honey coloured locks.
She bit down on her lower lip with a frown. What was she thinking?
She pulled away from Rosee.
- Shall we try again?

Rosee pouted, having enjoyed the assisted demonstration Corinne had given her, but nodded regardless. She was about to return to her stance when a sharp, cruel voice split the air. Her face turned the colour of snow and she spun to face the man that approached at a strict march.

- No more of that you disobedient wretch! He snatched the sword from her hand and grabbed her forearm wthin his tight grip.

Corinne fell back a step, surprised at the sudden appearance of the comte. She bit her lips, angry at herself for letting her guard down and not noticing his approach until too late.
- Good morning, Monsieur le count, she said energetically, mimicking his manner of carrying himself a little, and pushing her hand in the grip he held on his daughter’s arm to pull it away and shake it.
- I trust you had a pleasant night?

Rosee immediately tucked herself behind Corinne as soon as she had been let free, rubbing at the new bruises that had formed under the comte's strong fingers.

- It would have been a better night had I not woken up to news from my son about his sister's disrespect in not showing up for her lessons, he glared viciously at the girl hiding behind the woman, a painful promise in his eyes.

Gritting her teeth, Corinne pulled a deep breath through her nostrils to help her keep calm and collected. She carefully placed herself between the two.
- Lessons, you say? Oh… I am terribly confused, she said with an admirably played shocked contrition.
- I am afraid I am at fault. I asked Mademoiselle for her help and was not aware that she had other things to attend to.

- Well I am afraid that it is now time for her to return to the house for her lessons. Come along brat.

He stepped around the woman, giving her shoulder a slight push, and grabbed Rosee by the upper arm and pulling her along with him. Rosee looked back at Corinne with a panicked look, causing her to trip and stumble. She dropped once and only half way as he kept wrenching her back on her feet.
- On your feet you graceless idiot! I do not have time to teach you how to walk again!

Corinne growled silently. Quickly gathering the two abandoned old swords, she ran to catch up with father and daughter.
- Monsieur le count, please allow me to repair my mistake by accompanying Mademoiselle to her lessons and seeing that she takes them personally. I am certain an important man such as yourself has other more important matters to attend to.
She swallowed back a mouthful of bitter feeling at her own words and forced a pleasant expression on her face.

- That I do. But this mistake of a daughter needs constant supervision, not endless distraction!
- Father, I could concentrate more if you were to let her...
- Are you contradicting me?! He snarled angrily.

He pulled his left hand back as she struggled to rip her arm away to flee.

Before it could fall down again on Rosee, Corinne had an iron grip on his wrist and was holding it firmly in the air.
- I insist, Monsieur, she said between clenched teeth.

He tossed Rosee to the ground and used his now free hand to pry off Corinne's fingers. He gave her a vile glare and his hand suddenly met with her cheek with a loud crack.

- Fine. You may escort her to her lessons. But I do not want to see her deviate from them again!

He gave the young woman on the ground a nasty look to further enhance the warning and left, his head held high and whistling.

As soon as he was out of earshot, Rosee leapt to her feet and hurried over to Corinne, her features a mask of fretful worry. She reached up to gently run her fingers along her cheek where it was turning a bright red from the force of the blow.

- I am so sorry! Are you alright?

Corinne felt as though her cheek had just been introduced to a brick wall. Once he left, she flinched freely, pressing her hand over the one Ros?had pressed on her slightly bruised face.
- Well… That went rather well, she said, chuckling, though it sounded a little forced.
- I will survive. I have seen worse, believe me.
She felt her other cheek heating up unexpectedly at the soothing contact, and preferred to break it, using for her excuse the attention she gave the bruises on Rosee’s arm.
- He is by no means any gentleman…

- I am used to his behaviour by now, she muttered softly. Even if it does still frighten me. We had best head inside before he considers returning.

She walked ahead of the older woman, her head bowed and hands held folded in front of her.

Corinne watched her as she sadly crept up the stairs that led to the studies, and she tightened her hands in fists, trembling with barely controlled rage toward the Count. After a moment, she climbed the stairs to join Rosee and try to at least cheer her up somewhat.
After she had seen her in the study room, she continued on her way to the high tower, which had served of an attic, and was now her lodgings. It held close to no protection against heat or frost, but at least she was free to do as she pleased there. She walked to a small shaggy table and poured water in a basin next to it, undressing and washing herself thoroughly, before changing into clean clothes. She gathered the dirty ones in a straw basket and climbed down the tower to head towards the river and wash them.

Rosee breathed a sigh of relief as she stepped out of the room, in her hand a rather mangled cloth square spotted with tiny dots of blood from all the pricking of the needle. As she began to descend the stairs, a voice called out to her.
- There you are, dearest!
The voice was sickeningly sweet and loud. Rosee cringed then mastered her expression into one of some respect.
- Hello Mother.
A woman of a respectable age descended the steps, her dress a mass of frills and lace yet decent. Dark eyes surrounded by dark hair peered down at her from the tops of the staircase haughtily and critically.
- Your father is holding a dinner tonight to introduce your suitor to his friends. You are to make an appearance and it will be as a young lady and I shall help you prepare.

Rosee flinched visibly and pursed her lips in disgust. The woman laughed, holding a hand to her chest as if to hold her breath there.
- Now now, my precious child, do not be like that! You will look absolutely beautiful for your gentleman and it will be such fun to see all of your father's friends again. Come along with me, my dear, so that we can start getting you ready.
She held out her hand for Rosee to take. Once she had mounted the steps, she led her away into a heavily perfumed boudoir.
Corinne reached up the stairs, holding her basket in her left arm and a black humid overcoat in her right. She flinched as she walked next to a door, from which heavy perfume spilled even though it was closed. She turned the knob of the door leading to the stairs of the tower, balancing her basket on her knee.

The door from which the perfume poured opened and spread its overabundant scent through the remainder of the hall that had yet to be soaked in it

- Ah Monsieur! What a pleasant surprise! The woman bounded out and stopped alongside Corinne at the hall's end by the door. She smiled a rather strange smile at her and pressed a hand to her arm. Corinne flinched, repressed a gag at the sudden overflow of perfume that assaulted her, and composed her face into an amiable smile.
- Good morning, Madame la countess, she said warily, her voice reverberating in her rich undertone with just thinly veiled annoyance.

- You are in for such a treat this evening. My lovely gorgeous daughter, here she sighed and held her other hand to her chest, fluttering it dramatically against her pink skin.
- You will be unable to take your eyes from her all evening. She is not as lovely as myself of course but still very pretty.

- I look forward to that…
Corinne’s voice died in her throat as she saw Rosee standing at the door. The overcoat dropped to the floor, soon followed by the basket.
- … immensely, she finished. Mademoiselle…
Corinne walked to Rosee and smiled at her, taking her hand and brushing her knuckles with her lips.
- May I say that you look absolutely gorgeous.
She felt a flutter at her heart and she smiled warmly.

Rosee blushed, looking down at her feet which were now slightly squashed into a pair of borrowed pale blue slippers.
- Thank you Monsieur, she muttered, playing with a curl of hair.

The woman pouted childishly at the touching scene before her and crossed her arms. Her expression turned to a vile sneer and she pushed Rosee back into the room.

- Back in you go precious. There is much more work to be done! You cannot go to dinner with your hair in such a mess and I believe this dress I have you in does not suit you at all. We must change it.

- I think it suits her very well, said Corinne, seeing the look of utter desperation in the eyes of Rosee. The colour is as becoming for her as it would be for your fair skin, Madame, no doubt.

The woman's eyes sparkled as she gave her wink and squeezed Corinne's arm, the smile upon her face causing her to have the appearance of some sort of seductive viper. The lashes over the dark eyes flicked rapidly as she batted her eyes in a flirty manner and she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear to reveal the skin beneath it.

- Why thank you Monsieur, she giggled.

Corinne winced when she felt the long nails of the countess dig in the flesh of her arm, but she forced a courteous nod.
- Please forgive my rudeness, Madame, she said, gently pulling her arm out of the comtesse’s grasp. I must return to my quarters to prepare for this evening.

- Oh that's too bad. Very well Monsieur, we shall hope to see you later. Come Rosee, I must fix that mess on your head. Honestly child, you would think that you had never learned how to use a brush. And I still think that the dress should be changed.... Perhaps something in blue or green....

The door closed with a sharp snap as the comtesse dragged Rosee back inside, the young girl sending Corinne a desperate, saddened look.

Corinne shook her head and gathered the dropped articles before going up to the tower.
Corinne came down just as the first rumble of hooves could be heard on the hard stone of the road leading to the castle. A troup of riders came galloping through the gates, most of them bearing a high expression that spoke of nobility. The comte was at the doors. He walked out to meet him, and Corinne followed, hiding her growl of annoyance in a polite cough.
- Good evening, count de Perignan!
The first of the troup easily jumped off the saddle, and grabbed the count’s hand in his.
- Good evening, Monsieur le duke d’Orleans, said the count.
- I am honoured that you accepted my invitation.

- A rare event it is, an invitation from you, my friend, absolutely no one can resist it.

Corinne rolled her eyes as more of the other riders approached. The count, noticing her presence, gave her a significant glare.

- Who is this young gentleman, asked the duke, eyeing Corinne from head to toe with that nonchalance most royals used with impunity.

- It is Monsieur Ignotus d'Angelus, my future son in law.

- That's a novelty, Perignan, laughed another man.
- I always believed your dauther to be utterly... unweddable. I always wanted to know which kind of gentleman would dare approach her. I must admit he is quite dashing.

The count growled as the man's gaze lingered on Corinne's sculpted figure appreciatively.

- Well now you have, chevalier de Lorraine. If you will all follow me inside, we will be serving refreshments presently.

The group agreed noisily and followed the count inside, Corinne falling behind to close the double doors. The great hall had been decorated and a large table had been brought to allow the display of many hors d’oeuvres, meats and delicacies of every kind imaginable. A whole corner of the room was filled with wines and bottles of foreign alcohol. Three servants were busy opening the bottles and pouring the liquids in many glasses for the guests. The comte took one of them and shoved it in Corinne’s hands, his gaze a dark warning.
- Messieurs, let us drink to the prosperity of our lands and to a happy wedding between Monsieur Angelus and my daughter!

- Ah Gaston you began without me!

A woman came down the stairs, her head held high and statuesque with dark hair curled into a pile on top of her head, spilling down to her neck and strung through with a perfumed ribbon. Her dress was a deep purple trimmed with her customary overdone amounts of lace.

- I apologize dear Genevieve. My friends simply arrived before you had finished preparing.

Making a small face as she took a draught of the strong alcohol, Corinne turned to see the new arrivants at the top of the stairs. The count welcomed his wife with a kiss on her hand, placing a glass of wine in it. Corinne looked up the stairs again, hoping to see Rosee appear at the top.

Rosee peeked quietly around a corner, enough so that she could see below but they could not catch a glimpse of her. She bit at her lip and pulled back at the sight of so many people, all holding alcohol, and shuddered violently. She rubbed at her arms with a pair of white gloves her mother had pushed on her, sighing. Forcing a look of polite welcome upon her features, she rounded the corner.

- Ah, there she is, my lovely daughter, exclaimed the count, accentuating the word lovely with sarcasm, his cheeks already reddening from the drinks he had taken.
- Come down and greet our guests properly!
Corinne’s eyes softened as she looked at Rosee encouragingly. She set the glass on a table behind her, only to be given another one by a servant. She rolled her eyes and repressed a sigh, holding it without touching it.

Her heart beating fast with fear, she took the steps slowly, holding up the front of the dress so as not to trip on it. She approached her father, eying him warily as she dropped into a very shaky curtsey, stumbling a little.

- Good evening Messieurs, she murmured softly, keeping her hands folded in front and head bowed. The comte smiled contritely as he took another drink then waved her away.

- Off you go dear, said Genevieve in her sugary sweet voice from where she hung on the comte's other arm.
- Perhaps you should go and keep Monsieur d'Angelus company

- Is everything all right, Angelus? I do not see you drinking. You do wish to honour my daughter, do you not?

The guests laughed at the double meaning, and Corinne narrowed her eyes, before bringing the glass to her lips after saluting Ros?with it. She almost choked on the burning liquid which poured in her throat, but she kept drinking until it lay empty. The guests cheered and turned back to the comte.
Corinne was slightly dizzy, but she shook the feeling away when she felt Rosee close to her. She blinked, noticing the elegant dark blue dress that her mother had chosen for her, and the assorted ribbons that tied her hair in a loose bun, leaving strands of it to frame her delicate features. She pressed her shoulder briefly but protectively.
- I still think you look beautiful, she whispered, smiling.
She set the empty glass down decisively, and glared at the servant that came at her with another. The man paled and turned on his feet.

- Thank you, Rosee whispered back. She watched as her father and his guests continued to drink and talk and laugh and she shivered frightfully.
- I... I wish he would stop, she muttered tearfully.

- Alcohol is a poison of the body and a poison of the soul, whispered Corinne as she eyed the glass she had been holding with disgust.
- And it cannot be easily purified away.

- Oh dear, Genevieve said in her high voice, made even higher from the constant drink.
- Monsieur d'Angelus has no more wine. Servant! Another glass for Monsieur! It is a celebration after all.

She giggled haughtily and winked at Corinne over her husband's shoulder, watching with a piercing stare as a servant brought over another glass.

Corinne tensed up as she took the glass from the man’s hand, feeling the slight trembling in Ros?s arm.
- Both of you come closer, said Lorraine in a simpered tone, waving his glass and almost spilling the content on himself.
- We want a good look at the new cute couple!
- No one would believe she would ever find someone, said another of the guests, slightly swaying on his chair.
- I mean… Just look at her! Wearing that dress as gracefully as a scarecrow.
Corinne frowned and glared at said guest, her knuckles whitening around the glass, which she had yet to touch.

Rosee bowed her head so low that her chin touched to her chest, pinching her lips to try and keep tears at bay. Such words she was used to, quite frequently, but it did not make the hurt any less.
- A scarecrow most certainly is the right thing to call her, the little wench! The count laughed, throwing his arm out in a grand gesture.
- I could put her in the fields all dressed up in the spring time!

Under the count's persistant gaze, Corinne brought the glass up to her lips, tipping it so as to drink only a small amount. Lorraine hit her arm up, pushing the rest of the liquid down her throat all at once. Corinne choked down the beverage with a start, under the laughs and cheers of the crowd of people. She shook her head to try and clear the haze that grew in her vision, and set her eyes on the instigator of the insult.
- Monsieur le baron, I do not appreciate hearing my fianc?insulted before me, she growled.

Rosee rested a gentle hand on Corinne's arm, offering a warm smile.
- It is alright. Such words are common about me. However, here she glared with violent narrowed eyes at the baron who had spoken.
- That does not mean I do not take offence to them.
She took a few quick steps towards the man and mustering all her strength, slapped him hard across the mouth.

Her victory was short-lived however when she felt a biting pain on her arm and gasped. The count twisted her arm behind her back, holding her at an awkward angle and snarling into her face, his breath reeking of the numerous bouts of alcohol he had taken that evening.
- How dare you, vile cretin! I believe it is time I teach you how to respect those of authority!

He gestured angrily for a servant to draw closer.
- Jean, bring me my whip! Immediately!
Rosee felt fear burn through her and she twisted her arm only to almost wrench the shoulder from its socket. She began to cry, shameful tears flowing down her fair cheeks as the drunken laughs of the men around her echoed painfully in her ears.

Jean returned with a long, thin leather rod with a thick, short piece of graying rope attached and handed it to the count. The man sneered down at the girl trapped under his firm grip, fingering the rod with his other hand. She stared at it, a mask of terror upon her features as she felt it rest against her back lightly as he contemplated where to begin.

He smirked and raised the whip high into the air.
- I suppose the back is as good as any place to start, he spat.

The rope created an arc as it travelled in the air, and fell down with a heart gripping crack... onto Corinne's outstretched arm, where it entangled itself around tightly. The young woman wrenched the object out of the count's arm as she glared daggers at him.

She snapped the cord in the same motion and turned around as swiftly as lightening, landing the cord on the baron's eye.

- Ahhhhhhh!!!! My eye!!! My eye!!! It burns!!

The count threw Rosee against the ground, knocking the breath from her as she rolled on the cold floor and stopped with her back pressed against the bottom stair, watching in shock and terror from where she lay. The man charged at Corinne, his face already red from drink growing darker in his rage. He let out an enraged scream over the shouts of the baron as he pulled back a fist and swung.
- Look out! Rosee screamed, pushing herself up on her hands.

Corinne caught the count's fist in her hand, stumbling back a step due to the force of the impact. She could not however avoid his other hand, which came down and connected strongly against her jaw. Her head spun to the side as she cringed from the sudden pain.
The young woman felt a trickle of blood drop on her chin, and her veins started to boil. She retaliated suddenly, catching the count off guard by raising her fist to punch him in the nose, as she tried to push him off. He caught on her collar as he fell, and she fell on top of him, managing to land another blow before two arms folded around her to pull her off. She growled dangerously and went to savagely rip herself out of the arms that held her.

- Please stop! A female voice cried. Rosee gripped her arms tighter around Corinne although fear pumped through her very heart. The sight of the older woman so violent.... It did not seem right for her to be acting in the same way as the comte.
- I will take the beating Father! Just please stop!

Corinne litterally froze, recognizing Rosee in the one that held her. She gazed up at her and the fright she saw in her eyes gnawed at her very soul with guilt. The count rose from the ground with difficulty, snarling as he approached the two girls, aiming to strike at his daughter with his open palm.
- No, said Corinne, looking down at her hands.
- I am the one responsible.
She looked up at the count and her straight unwavering gaze caused him to falter and hesitate for a moment. When he couldn’t pursue a clear string of thought, he enraged again.
- Fair enough, he said, grabbing at Corinne’s collar and wrenching her to her feet.
- I have been wanting to do this for a long time anyway.

He made a fist and savagely punched Corinne in the gut, winding her. She vaguely registered Rosee scream before another blow landed, doubling her in half and making her fall to her knees.
- I do not want to see your face for a week, growled the man before landing another punch in her ribs.
He rose up to the acclamations of his friends, and the group surrounded him, congratulating him as they left the hall to join the large dining room. Corinne pulled herself to her feet with difficulty, her breathing ragged. She warily looked at the painfully horrified girl.
- Are you all right? she asked somewhat lamely.

- It is not you who should be asking that! She screamed at her, angry and terrified. She held her hands to her mouth, trembling violently as she tried to stifle her hiccups and sobbing.
- Why? Why did you do something so stupid? Why did you not let me take the beating I so rightfully deserved?! He could have killed you!!

Corinne flinched, Rosee’s sobs cutting through her more painfully then the wounds inflicted by the comte. She walked to her, pulling the younger girl in her arms, and hugging her.
- I would have died ten times over to see him hurt you, she whispered in Rosee’s hair as she pressed her forehead on the top of her head.

She sobbed into Corinne's shirt, burying her face deep into the fabric as she clung to her, enjoying the warmth of her. When her cries had died down after a few minutes, she stepped back and wiped at her reddened eyes. She took the woman's hand and pulled her towards the stairs.
- Come on. There is something I wish to show you.

Corinne nodded mutely and followed her. Noises of eating and loud talking poured in from the dining room, and it was evident that they would be at the table for a good part of the night. She shook her head in disgust as she climbed the stairs, preferring to give her attention to Rosee as she let her guide her wherever she pleased.

She led her along the left hall, away from the tower, to her room and left her to stand in the middle of it. It was a rather sparse room with a bed, an old wardrobe, a washstand, and a couple of chairs. But she approached none of these, choosing to head for a plain, uninteresting tapestry that hung on the wall with a pair of cords dangling in front it.

Corinne looked upon the poorness of the room and she felt her heart falter. It was as shabby, if not more so, then her lodgings. The cold that she felt in the winter couldn't come near to the one emanating from these very walls, which breathed lack of love and rejection. She couldn't refrain a shudder.

Rosee stared up at the tapestry with the most relaxed, content expression on her face, smiling at the cloth as she ran her fingers over the bottom edge of it lovingly.
- Behind this is what I want you to see. Or rather, who I want you to meet....

She tugged at the cords delicately, pulling the tapestry, or rather what was shown to be a well disguised curtain, apart to reveal a portrait of a man with such familiar features it could be called startling. Corinne gazed up at the painting, frowning in thought, not recognizing the man in it at all. Her eyes wandered to Rosee then back to the unknown man, and a flicker of understanding dawned on her face.
Rosee sniffled as she traced the eyes of the portrait with a delicate finger.
- I would like you to meet my dearest friend, my grandfather.
Corinne’s eyes shone with emotion. She walked up to lightly graze the golden frame with the tips of her fingers, before turning towards Rosee with a warm smile.
- He must have been a wonderful man, she said quietly.
- You look very much like him.

She nodded quietly, staring at the warm brown eyes that had somehow been captured in the painting, the strong features softened by rounded cheeks, the wave of honey coloured hair.
- He was a great man. Honourable, brave, loyal, loving.... I only knew him for a short time but it was enough for me to know I had met one of the most wonderful people I shall ever know in my life.

Corinne approached Rosee and engulfed her in her arms, resting her chin on the younger girl’s shoulder, as they looked at the portrait.
- Qualities which you possess, she said, giving a hearty squeeze.

- I only wish he had lived longer.... Perhaps I would not be so afraid. Father never used to be as terrible as he is now. Grandfather used to live here with us and he protected me as best he could from Father's attacks and so Father could only do so much to hurt me, she mused as she sighed into Corinne's embrace, leaning her weight back slightly against her.

- It is strange how a father and son can be such different people....

Corinne barely acknowledged the reflexion. Her eyes were half closed as she more or less lost herself in the rich yet gentle fragrance that emanated from Rosee. Her heart gave a leap in her chest when she noticed, and she pulled away slightly, her cheeks reddening. Bad thoughts, bad thoughts, she reprimanded herself.
The haze of the alcohol, which had lifted from her while she was fighting, was now coming down onto her and making her senses tingle in that strange yet sadly familiar fashion. She shook her head to try and clear her mind, even going to the extent of grabbing at each side in an effort to stabilise herself, but she had taken too much of the evil bringing liquid to be able to overcome it.

Rosee spun around and held her arms, eyes full of worry as she peered up at her.

- Corinne, are you alright? You should sit down. After all the injuries you took..., she gulped down the lump that had come to her throat and pulling on the woman's arm, led her to one of the hardbacked chairs in the room.

Corinne started at the sensation of Rosee’s hands on her arm as she led her, the red in her cheeks spreading further.
- No, she said somewhat shakily. I… I have sustained far worse wounds in the past then these. I…
Her gaze fell on Rosee’s, whose face was but a mere few inches away from hers, and she gulped, feeling her hands grow sweaty.
- I need to go to the river, she finished, her throat dry.

- Then if you must go to the river, I shall accompany you there!

Rosee looked at her sternly, her voice firm and leaving little room for argument. If she was denied, she would follow anyway. It was not like she had not broken rules before.

Corinne opened her mouth to object, but found herself at loss for words. She raised a slightly trembling hand to Rosee’s cheek and touched it, softly, as if she was suddenly made of crystal. Her shallow breathing slowed and deepened as she looked into water coloured eyes, mesmerized by their light.
- Why, she whispered, more to herself then anything.
- Why must it be this way?

She gave a slight start at the feeling of contact to her skin, despite the touch being gentle but soon relaxed, almost leaning into it with a sigh.

- What do you mean? she asked in a curious whisper and eyes closed with a small content smile, hearing her words

- It means…
Corinne fell silent, her eyes shining at the sight of Rosee’s smile. Before she could even think at what she did, she leaned in and pressed her lips to the soft ones of the younger girl.

Rosee froze, her body taught as a bowstring with shock. Yet she found herself unable, or perhaps unwilling, to move until Corinne pulled away. She stepped back, tripping on a chair leg and falling on to the piece of furniture, trembling. She raised a shuddering hand to her lips then looked up at her. She only said one word, her voice full of wonder and surprise.

- Why?

Corinne’s face paled as realisation dawned at what she had just done, and she brought a hand to her mouth.
- Oh God, Rosee, I am so sorry!
She made a dash for the door and took to running outside of the house towards the river. She ran upstream to where the edge of the water stood high above the river, and she jumped, clothes and all, plunging head first in the deep bubbling waters.

She watched as Corinne fled, for there was no other word for it, and waited as she heard one of the front door fly open to strike the wall with such a crack, it could most likely be heard throughout the house. She breathed deeply to regain her shattered composure then took to flight, out of the room and hurtling down the steps as fast as she could be allowed.
As she reached the doorway, the door at the opposite end opened to reveal the count. There had been one bottle of wine left, forgotten by a scatterbrained servant and rather than risk it being dropped, he chose to fetch for himself. Rosee paused, terror stricken as they stared at each other from across the room.
She pressed herself to the wall as he drew upon her, face a bright crimson red for rage, drink, and blood that had dried from Corinne's earlier caused injury.
- Thinking of running away were you horrible brat? Worthless demon! Scum of this family! How dare you try and flee from this castle?
He grabbed her arm and slapped her hard across the face with his other hand, digging nails into her cheek

She yelped painfully as more tears fell, mixing with the blood from the wound. He dropped her in a heap on the ground, growling as he picked up the whip where it had been left and raised it high to snap the rope down upon her arms.
- Father please no! She cried to no avail.
The whip continued its assault until her arms were bearing crisscrossing lines of red and she had no more tears to shed.

He pressed the point of the leather rod under her chin, raising it so that blue eyes met blue and gave a twisted smile.
- Remember this lesson. For the next time I teach it, I will not be so merciful.
He threw the whip into a corner of the room, picking up his bottle from a table as he passed it, and whistled a small tune as he returned to his guests.

Corinne emerged from the water, heaving a deep breath. She walked towards the shore, pressing her hair back to drain the water out of them. She raised her eyes at the stars and sighed deeply, before closing her eyes. Months she had held herself in check, and it had taken one night, three blasted glasses of alcohol to ruin it all. She had been unable to withhold how she felt any longer.
What a horrid evening she thought, pulling off her soaked overcoat and twisting it to get the most of the water out. Her steps made an odd squishy sound as she slowly made her way back to the castle.
She froze suddenly when she heard Rosee’s voice screaming painfully. Her heart stopped for a moment, and she listened, hearing strange snaps followed by wimpers. She took to her heels and ran all the way to the building, throwing the door open, and searching frantically about the room for the origin of the noises. It lay silent, except for small sobs, which came from the darkest corner of the hall.
Corinne squinted and paled, seeing the sprawled figure of Rosee. She hurried by her side, and pulled her in her arms. She felt something warm and wet beneath her fingers and raised a hand to the light, only to pale even more at the sight of blood.
- Rosee! She exclaimed, pushing her overcoat off and tearing her own sleeve to stop the bleeding.
- What happened?

- I tried to follow you, she muttered; her voice numb of emotion.
- And Father saw me at the door. He thought I was running away.
She made not a sound as Corinne held the ripped piece of fabric to her cheek, staring past her through the open door and out into the darkened garden.

Corinne's temper boiled to a critical degree, but a mere look at Rosee's expression calmed her down. She had to focus on her and not on the worthless scumbag that was her father. Corinne gently washed the bloodied cheek then turned her attention to her arms, hissing with horror and anger at the sight of the angry red and bloody lines. They were virtually everywhere.

She pressed the wet fabric to the skin, as gently as she could, and started cleaning the wounds. The fabric went from stark white to ruby. Corinne grabbed at her other sleeve and teared it off without hesitation, finishing to clean the cuts and lashes. She hesitated a moment, looking about her, and finally grabbed the overcoat, wrapping it around Rosee's arms.

She pushed her hand under the girl's knees and shoulders and scooped her up, nestling her safely in her arms before carrying her upstairs.

Once at the girl's room, she had another moment of hesitation. She finally decided against it and continued walking, mounting the stairs that led to the tower. Once there, she gently laid Rosee on her own bed, before opening drawer after drawer in a frenetic search for bandages.

Rosee lay there, blinking at her slowly as she watched with eyes holding no signs of their usual light. The pain from her wounds slowly began to be felt as the numbness she had hidden in within her died away and she whimpered at the stinging bites of feeling that began their assault.

Corinne dropped everything she was holding and literally flew back at Rosee’s side, pulling her in her arms and pressing her head on her shoulder. She cradled her softly, drawing gentle circles with her free hand on her back while she held her securily close with the other. She started to hum under her breath, letting the sound of her voice reverberate through her throat in a soothing way.

She clung to her, gripping tight to her shirt with a seeking hand and trembling. Dry sobs came from her as her eyes burned with the want to shed tears but had none to give.
- Corinne it hurts so much, she whined, choking slightly on her words.

- I know, muttered Corinne.
She pulled Rosee closer and reached out to the ground to the discarded bandages. She took the large white strips of material and started to gently wrap them around Rosee’s arms, making sure to tuck the ends in between folds, so that they wouldn’t irritate her already mangled skin. She pressed her lips to the younger girl’s hand, closing painful eyes.
- All of this is my fault, she whispered.
- If I hadn’t been taken by the stupid drink, he wouldn’t have hurt you like that.

Rosee shook her head, pulling her hand away from Corinne only to sweep it gently across her brow, brushing away the black hair.
- No. He would have found a reason. He always finds a reason. Do not blame yourself for him treating me this way.
She snuggled her head beneath her chin with a dismal sigh, tracing circles on the bed with a finger.
- What have I done, she said.
- To make him hate me so?

Corinne circled Rosee with her arms once more to pull her closer. She gently combed loose strands away from the younger woman’s forehead, and she let her fingers run through her hair, gently pulling the dark blue lace until it was completely free. She set it aside and returned to combing the honey coloured locks.
- I see no reason why he would hate you, if not spite and jealousy perhaps, she mused.
- I know I would never be able to feel such a thing towards you.

She pulled back just slightly with something of a sad dismayed smile.

- It is quite the contrary, actually, she said with a slightly nervous chuckle, before lowering her eyes.

She looked up at her with confusion, searching her face with her eyes.

- A contrary to hate? There is such a thing? She asked in wonderment.

Corinne looked up and tilted her head a little.
- Yes, there is, she whispered.
She leaned towards Rosee’s lips again, hovering over them and feeling the younger one’s sweet breath mingling with hers. She hesitated then allowed her lips to rest on them, lingering delicately before pulling back.
- It is called love, she said quietly.

- Love? She whispered, raising a hand to gently trace Corinne's eyes, her nose, her lips, her heart fluttering within her chest. Her eyes were wide with this piece of new knowledge.
- You... love me?

Corinne bit on her lips, feeling her heart clench within herself with the force of the feeling. She leaned in her hand, closing her eyes.

- Yes, Rosee, she admitted, her voice barely audible. I do love you.

Rosee tipped her head, expression blank, then held a hand over Corinne's heart, feeling the rapid pulse beneath her fingertips. She grabbed the older woman's hand and held it against her own heart to allow her to feel the same beat.
- I think I love you too....

Corinne blinked, as if not registering Rosee’s words. She felt a hazy feeling engulf her and wondered for a brief moment if she was still drunk. But the feeling of the delicate fingers on her chest, and the softness of the skin she felt under her own digits, made it altogether as fantastic a truth that could possibly be…
A dreaming reality, a realised utopia… It didn’t matter. Her smile spoke of it all. She leaned in again to fervently press her lips to Rosee’s, just as gently but with twice as much emotion and tenderness.

She giggled into the kiss, smiling against her lips.
- Corinne it tickles! And... I feel funny. Really warm, she said when Corinne pulled back.
She touched her lips to the woman's nervously with a light butterfly-like touch.

Corinne chuckled lightly then kissed her back, this time lingering longer on the rosy skin. She shifted slightly to ease Rosee in her arms and continued to move her lips against hers, marvelling at their gentle texture.

She felt her gradually relax in her arms and press herself closer. Corinne smiled and held a warm hand under Rosee's head, rubbing her neck with her fingers, as she allowed her tongue to pass lightly over her lips, in gentle request.

Rosee let her lips part, her hands slipping around to Corinne's back and running her hands up and down, curiously feeling the muscle under the cloth and skin.

Corinne practically purred with delight, as she wandered slowly between the younger woman’s lips, trailing her tongue on the set of small teeth and beyond, exploring her mouth with a growing passion. She massaged Rosee’s own tongue with hers and flicked it tentatively on her palate.

She whimpered against her mouth, flicking her tongue once, twice, against Corinne's own, seemingly testing and teasing. Her hands continued to wander, ghosting her fingers across the back of her shoulders.

Corinne pulled back slightly as air was starting be grown thin between them. She pressed her forehead to that of Rosee, her breathing shallow and her eyes shining.
- It is no wonder you do not like wine. Your lips are more intoxicatingly sweet then any imaginable liquor, she breathed, her hands growing bolder as they set on Rosee’s hips to pull her closer.

Rosee blushed heatedly, trying to hide the smile that blossomed at her words as she settled against Corinne's chest, rubbing a hand in slow delicate circles over her heart.

Corinne felt a warm shudder run through her at Rosee’s gesture, and she let out a sound that was between a purr and a moan. She caught her hand in hers and pressed her lips heatedly on the soft palm, rubbing her tongue lightly on the sensitive skin of her wrist. She nipped at her fingers with a coy smile and took the tip of her index between her lips, sucking on it gently.

Her breath came out in a sharp gasp, eyes widening as a tremor rushed down her spine, causing her skin to tingle. She placed a shaking hand on Corinne's cheek and gently mapped out her face and trailed it along her neck until she reached the collarbone then moved back up.

Corinne leaned into her touch, mesmerized at the sound of her voice which was like music to her. She closed her arms around Rosee again, claiming her lips in a heated kiss, before letting her mouth trail slowly on her throat, where she lingered, feeling the pulsing beneath the fair skin. She continued her trail of kisses until she reached her chest, and there she paused again, blowing softly through her lips to create small shudders.

She let out quiet little pants, sometimes giving a small moan, as she played with the hair at the nape of the woman's neck. She shifted uncomfortably after a few minutes, her skin flushed pink
- Corinne, she whined pitifully.
- I feel too warm.
Rosee reached back behind her and scrabbled with her hands at the ribbon at the back of her dress that held it in place, fingers slipping on the soft silk.

- Let me help you with that, the older woman purred, her voice giving in almost baritone as it laced with desire.
She reached behind Rosee’s back and deftly untied the dark blue ribbon, pulling them apart, all the while latching her lips on the soft skin just above the lining of the dress on her chest.

- Th-Thank you, she stammered, shivering at the feel of her lips, as the dress was pulled away from her. The sleeves slipped over her arms and the mass of fabric was finally gone. She wrung her hands in her lap, sitting there in the white corset and underskirts and blushing heavily, tense despite the relaxing feelings Corinne was causing.

Corinne breathed through her teeth and gently stopped her wringing motion, inspecting the bandages to see if they held.
- Your father is asking for a sound beating, she muttered, raising one of Rosee’s arms to her lips and kissing it through the white material.
She gulped as her eyes took in her beautiful shapes, full in just the right places. She abandoned her arm to press hot lips on the nape of her neck, letting her tongue trail gently as she allowed her hands to roam gently yet freely on the fabric of the corset, caressing soft circles on her waist and back. She trailed her lips in the soft valley between Rosee’s breasts, and brought her hands up to press gently on the soft mounds through the material.

- Corinne... she whimpered, stroking at her arms and shuddering under her touch. Her hands found the laces that held her shirt closed and played with them, wrapping them around her fingers when they suddenly came loose. She held a hand to her mouth, eyes wide with fright, thinking she had done something entirely wrong.
- I'm sorry, I'm sorry! She apologized profusely.
- I did not mean to do that!

Corinne hushed her gently by pressing a finger to her lips, before replacing the finger with her mouth as she pulled at her lips sweetly, kissing her passionately.
- It is all right, she whispered, gently guiding Rosee’s hand beneath the white teared linen, closing her eyes as she felt her delicate fingers venture on her skin.
- I am yours. You can do whatever you desire.

Rosee nodded quietly and let her hand ghost over her chest and down, feeling along the swell of one breast and then the other. She bit at her lip and she traced circles around one of the swells of soft, warm flesh, climbing higher on it and the circles growing tighter until she came to its tip. Her fingers met the bud and she gave it a gentle squeeze.

Corinne’s breathing quickened as she felt Rosee’s gentle ministrations. Shivers ran along her spine and sent sparks flying to her mind, making her feel slightly dizzy. She moaned freely and took a sharp intake of breath when she felt her squeeze. She buried her nose in the valley between Rosee’s breasts and snaked her hands behind her back, slowly starting to untie the ribbons that held her corset closed. Although it had been some time, she finally worked her way around the garment, and it came off, freeing Rosee from its restraint.
- God, you are beautiful, exhaled Corinne as her hands slowly crept up Rosee’s sides, teasing at her ribs lightly before cupping the soft fleshy mounds.
She circled the skin with her thumbs, applying the sweetest of pressure. She gazed lovingly at the younger woman before leaning forward and swirling her tongue around her nipple then closing her lips around it.

Rosee's head was thrown back, neck arching as she moaned and whined under Corinne's gentle touches. Her other hand made its way under her shirt to feel at her other breast, massaging the pair in her hands and tickling the hardened buds with her fingers. She gave a sudden small growl of annoyance in her throat as the shirt became tangled slightly around her hands.
- Corinne, your shirt...

Corinne pulled back a little, and gave a light smirk at the already broken fabric that annoyed Rosee. She reached for the sheathe at her leg and pulled a dagger with a silver hilt out. She twirled it deftly in her hand and then presented the handle to the younger woman.
- Care to do the honours, she said in a soft sultry voice.

She took the cold handle with her hand and gave an almost coy smile. She slipped it gently beneath the fabric over her shoulders and swiftly sliced through it then quickly slid the dagger up along her ribs, careful not to injure, and sliced through the sides and left the shirt to fall off and reveal her to her eyes. She dropped the dagger to the floor and gently trailed a finger down the valley of her chest with an amazed yet loving look on her face. She leaned forward and pressed her lips to the hot skin then gave a tiny little lick with the tip of her tongue.

Corinne purred, lifting her head to give Rosee better access. A blast of wind suddenly shook the tower and howled at the window, making the candle lights flicker dangerously. Corinne gazed through her eyelids at the window, thinking for a moment that she should close the shutters, but a flash of warm pleasure as Rosee found a particularly sensitive spot sent all rational thoughts to bloody hell.
A moan emanated from her throat as she practically dove onto the younger woman, gently pushing on her shoulders to lay her down on the sheets, taking back the initiative. Her eyes gleamed in the fire light as she moved her left leg over Rosee’s thigh and found herself leaning above her, resting on her arms and knees. She latched her lips on the tender flesh of the younger woman’s throat once more, tracing the collar bone with the tip of her tongue. She hummed softly as she let her lips travel freely on the velvet skin, closing on one pink tip with relish, before turning to the other to give it the same tender treatment.

She gasped, tangling her fingers in Corinne's hair and shifted against her leg as pleasurable sparks flashed through her. Her eyes closed to their own accord and her tongue darted out to moisten the drying lips, a moan breaking free from her and seeming to reverberate through her entire frame.

Corinne pressed her ear to Rosee’s chest to hear the sound of her voice from within her. Just the sound of her was enough to drive her up the wall. But she wasn’t nearly done. Her fingers played lightly at the skin of Rosee’s stomach, tracing intricate shapes that were soon to be followed by her lips. She chuckled, her hot breath creating little goosebumps on the flesh. She tickled around her navel then kissed it, dipping her tongue in the small opening.

Rosee began to giggle and found herself quite unable to stop. She squirmed beneath the older woman, biting at her tongue as she felt warmer than ever despite the chill that pervaded the room.

- Ticklish?... purred Corinne between licks and kisses, another chuckle reverberating through her throat.
Corinne’s fingers found the rim of the underskirts, and she started to gently ghost her hands over the material, just barely reaching the skin of Rosee’s legs. She let them wander until she reached her knees, which she squeezed a little between her fingers. She applied more pressure as she caressed back up on the thighs. She pushed at the material between her legs, caressing her inner thighs delicately.

Her heart jumped in her breast and her breathing grew quicker, shallower as the whispers of feeling coursed up her spine and caused something to coil tighter within her. She sat up slightly and stared down at her, eyes burning with a loving stare.

Corinne looked up when she felt Rosee shift, a little worried. But when her eyes met the younger one’s, they filled with equal love and promise. She allowed her hand to travel up her thigh until she reached the fine line that led to her stomach, then she slowly and carefully deviated down towards her most intimate part. Her fingers grazed light as a butterfly wing then caressed her, applying just the softest of pressure.

Rosee let out a surprised yelp then held her hands over her mouth, trembling, her chest heaving for breath as if it had been sucked from her.

Corinne froze and looked up, searching Rosee’s features despite the semi darkness for any kind of discomfort or fear.
- Do you want me to stop?
Her voice was laced with a mix of worry and lust, a strange combination which rang in the silence like a wave rippling through water.

Rosee lowered her shivering hands and shook her head with a small smile.
- It just startled me is all. Don't stop. I'm fine.
The voice was a little roughened yet also liquid-like, almost purring as she spoke.

Corinne nodded and slowly resumed caressing her. She ventured her fingers down, skimming the gentle warm flesh beneath the material, then back up again in a gentle thrust. She repeated the motion, leaning carefully to press tender kisses on Rosee’s chest.

Her hands opened and closed against the sheets and she moaned and shivered and panted, everything tingling with feeling.
- Corinne, she whimpered, raising her hands to briefly tighten her shaking fingers on her shoulders before dropping them again to the fabric.

- Mmh? Came the purring response as the older woman remained focused on kissing and caressing her.

Rosee blushed, barely able to speak as the heat grew within her and slowly tightened even further.
- I... I love you, she whispered in an exhalation of breath.

- As do I, Corinne whispered, her eyes shining with the feeling.
One of her nails caught in a lose stitch of the underskirts, and Corinne groaned, growing annoyed at the garment. It was becoming an obstacle that had to be taken off. With her lips, she skimmed the chest and stomach of the younger woman, before stopping at the rim, which held closed by a tied ribbon. She started working on untying it with her teeth, lightly chuckling at the expression of Rosee’s face.
Her hands did not remain idle, as they fondled gently with her breasts and grazed down her stomach, before reaching the rim just as the ribbon gave in. Corinne let her fingers slide between the warm skin of her belly and the lining of the underskirts, and she slowly pulled them down, grazing the thighs with her nails softly, then over her calves. The underskirts fell forgotten beside the bed.
Corinne let her hands snake back up on Rosee’s legs, not letting her the chance to feel the cooling air around them. Her fingers reached her intimacy and skimmed over it, caressing until they reached her throat.

She hovered over her and leaned in to capture her lips again with hers with intense passion.

Rosee pressed her lips back against Corinne's with a small whimper, smiling into the kiss. Her hand slid down between them and played with the knot that held her breeches before she found one of the loose cords and pulled, unravelling the knot.

- Tst, tst, now, said the older woman with a coy smile, as she waved her finger at her nose.
She kissed her deeply again, as if reaching for her soul, before travelling down with her lips to her chest. She pressed a knee between Rosee’s legs to part them, and she slid her hand up her inner thigh, caressingly. She reached the very warm skin covered with curls, and she skimmed over it, caressing the small mound of flesh. She reached down and curled her finger between the folds, brushing against a small bundle of nerves that was nestled there.

Rosee's hips jumped and she gave a loud moan, eyes closed and head tipped back as she savoured the rush of feeling that assaulted her senses. Her hands seeked out Corinne and petted her hair, gently wrapping the strands through and around her fingers and drifting lightly against her scalp.

Corinne licked and kissed at her breasts, sometimes sucking on the rosy tips, skimming down to her stomach and back up again, pleased at the reactions she received. She leaned over Rosee, pressing, caressing and exploring every inch of her intimacy, thrusting against the sensitive skin.

Her moans grew higher, almost into whines, and longer, and her lips moved but she could find no words, or even the breath to speak everything she wanted to say. Her head tossed against the pillow, the hair spread out almost like a honey coloured halo and some of the locks sticking to her cheeks, forehead, and neck.

Corinne pushed these away gently before cupping Rosee’s face in her palm and stealing her breath away in a searing kiss. She pulled her hand away from her, chuckling at the pout she received in return.
- Would you like more? She asked, her purring sultry voice returning.

Her cheeks flushed a bright red and she lowered her eyes.
- Yes, she whispered, breathing short little breaths against Corinne's lips.

Corinne nibbled on Rosee’s lower lip in answer, then seductively trailed her hands down her body, fingers tumbling like rivulets of water down her breasts, and stomach. She followed with her lips, lingering at each of her breasts, her ribs, and stomach, and she paused at her pelvis, smiling coyly against the skin. She coaxed Rosee to spread her thighs by gently caressing them, and when she did, she let her tongue snake down between her folds, caressing her agonizingly slowly, before flicking the tip of the appendage at her sensitive spot, eyes gleaming.

Rosee screamed out, her body jumping at the sensation and she clenched the sheets hard under her hands, nails digging into her palms through the fabric.
- Corinne!

The older woman smiled as she continued pleasuring her, her lips covering the heating and pulsing flesh. She licked, pushed, and sucked at the sensitive bundle of nerves, feeling Rosee tremble beneath her, getting closer to the edge. She allowed her moans to guide her, like a beautiful music instrument.
When she felt that the tension in her graceful body could not be any stronger, she slid her tongue inside her delicate entrance, the farthest she could, in a thrust.

She froze completely, all the feeling in her body focused on one place, and then it crashed over her like a deadly wave, drawing out of a high singing scream, warm tears blossoming in her eyes as her back arched. It held her there immobile for what felt like forever until she suddenly dropped back on the bed, shivering and trembling.

Corinne felt her essence flow to her as the orgasm struck, and she welcomed it, tasting her, even drinking her, her mind hazy with joy and love. She pulled away from her neither regions and reached up, covering her still trembling body with hers and hugging her, pressing her chin on her chest. She lightly pushed the strands that had managed to find their way on her brow again, and she smiled warmly.

Rosee managed a weak smile in return, snuggling against her, then her expression turned thoughtful, peering at Corinne questioningly.
- But... what about you?

- What about me? The older woman asked distractedly, still marveling at the rosy cheeks of her companion, basking in her afterglow, as if trying to memorize each detail, each second.

She pouted sternly and pushed hard on Corinne's shoulders, rolling over so that she lay over her.
- You made me feel so good Corinne, she said as she traced the woman's chest with her fingers.
- But you did not get to feel it too. I want you to.

Corinne stared up at Rosee, slightly dazed by the sudden change of positions. She smiled, feeling her skin tingle at the passage of her companion’s fingers. She lifted her head up and kissed her lips, breathing against them softly.
- I am yours, she whispered.

Rosee gave her a bright smile and kissed her again, deepening it tentatively to taste the sweet cavern beyond her lips and teeth. Her hands freely roamed over her stomach and waist, her ribs and chest before they settled on her breasts, palming the soft mounds.

Corinne moaned at the sensations that Rosee awoke in her. She closed her eyes, concentrating on the feeling of her fingers as they skimmed her. She arched her back in her touch, letting her hands travel to her shoulder blades in grazing caresses, before settling them on her shoulders.

She let her lips caress Corinne's throat with warm kisses, giving sporadic little nips then soothing them with quick little flicks of her tongue, moving lower and lower until she reached her collarbone, which she licked and kissed, pausing only once to blow a gentle touch of air across the moist skin. Her hands pressed a little firmer on the soft flesh beneath her fingers.

Corinne shivered and opened her eyes, her vision glazed over by the desire that laced through her mind and set her whole soul aflame. She purred almost like a cat, whistling a breath through her teeth as she felt her mouth on her collarbone and her gentle fingers on her breasts.

She laced her fingers in Rosee’s hair and combed it gently, yet sometimes shakily when she felt a particularly sensitive spot being touched.

Rosee giggled against her skin, her smile slightly impish and very playful as she left a trail of burning kisses down past her shoulders to the valley of her chest. She frowned thoughtfully, unsure for a moment what to do, before she began to lick little points on the mounds of flesh, purposefully avoiding the hardened tip as she hopped from one side to other in ever changing movements.

Corinne felt herself squirm with delight under Rosee’s ministrations. She pushed herself up to meet her lips, her mind going haywire at the feelings that assaulted it.
- Gods, Rosee! She gasped, pressing her head to her chest.

Feeling the pressure on the back of her head, she paused to press her nose tight against her skin to take in her unique scent, of which there were no words to describe, and finally took one of the tips into her mouth, playing with it with her tongue, pressing and flicking and circling, ears ringing with the sound of Corinne's voice.

- Mmmmmh... aaahh!! Rosee!
Corinne arched her back again, assaulted by the sudden rush of pleasure. She pressed her fingers deeper in her lover's skin, as her breathing came out short and ragged.
She pushed herself to her elbows to try and gaze at Rosee.

Rosee stopped, feeling her eyes upon her and looked up, blue eyes shining with a loving and curious light, resting her chin on her chest

Corinne cupped her face and leaned towards it to capture her lips in a feverishly passionate kiss.
- You're... You're making me see stars, she breathed afterwards.
- When the only one I wish to worship is you.

- But I want to do this for you. You have done so much for me.... You have given me your love, her eyes sparkled at these words. I want to give you mine, to repay you in the same way.

- You are succeeding, my fresh morning dew. You have given me more already then I would have never hoped for or imagined.
Her eyes shone, taking on a faraway expression.
- For months now I have dreamed of this, hoped for it with all of my heart. And yet, I did not dare. I was so afraid to frighten you away, to see you turning your back towards me. And now I am thinking how much of a fool I am to not have told you sooner.

She rested an ear against her chest, listening to her beating heart and her breathing with eyes closed, a quiet content smile on her face.
- You do not have to dream or hope anymore, she whispered.
- Because I could not turn my back no matter what.
She gently stroked Corinne's cheek, kissing her gently, and moved back down to capture the other bud between her lips, playing with it in the same way.

Corinne felt another fiery wave of pleasure hit her and she moaned out Rosee's name with a purring voice mixed with adoration. She let her arms wander to the younger girl's sides, caressing her ribs and pushing her hands between them to rub at any skin she could reach, her stomach, her breasts, and her behind.

She shivered under her touch and pulled back from the nipple to blow another small puff of air over it, licking the other quickly to repeat then kissed her way down her stomach, settling comfortably between her knees. She trailed her hands down from the top of her ribs, fingers spread wide to cover as much skin as she could while she kissed around her navel with a butterfly's touch.

Corinne grinned, feeling the ticklish sensation of her lips around her stomach. She shivered as she gazed down with mesmerized eyes, still half believing she was living a dream. No reality could feel this good or be this wonderful... And yet...
She relished in feeling Rosee’s weight on top of her, gentle, soft. She brought her hands to circle her frame and keep her close, closing her eyes in pure bliss.

Rosee smiled at her and sat back, pulling from her embrace to sit on her knees overlooking her. She played with the top of her breeches that had yet to be removed after all this time and looked up at Corinne's face briefly before sliding her hands slowly up the covered legs. She stopped at her thighs, pressing small circles through the cloth on the softer skin, feeling the heat from her intimacy.

Corinne felt her breath itch in her throat at the growing pleasured desire in the pit of her stomach. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to get lost in the feelings that Rosee's hands brought to her. She felt an expecting sentiment pulse through her, and she opened her eyes again, breathing growing ragged once more.

She gently fluttered a hand over the heated cloth before layering it over, holding it there as she shifted to lie alongside her. She smiled at Corinne and pressed with the heel of her hand at top and then the bottom with her fingertips, sometimes drawing circles against it. She stretched up to kiss and nip at her neck as she continued her movements.

A sharp exhale mixed with a moan was Corinne’s initial response. She moaned again, this time longer, shutting her eyes and feeling heat pooling inside. She bucked her hips instinctively and lifted her head, allowing Rosee better access to her neck. She had no blinking idea what to do with her hands as she writhed with pleasure under her lover, gasping when her hand applied a little more pressure. Her hands flew to Rosee’s head and entangled in her hair, combing them but actually more clinging to her for dear life.

Rosee licked at her lips as pulled away from Corinne's neck and lifted her hand after a few minutes of her ministrations. She captured her lips with a gentle, loving touch before sitting up and slipping her fingers under the edge of the cloth and began to pull down the breeches, lifting her hips a little to slide them down her thighs, a couple of fingers skimming along the skin. They were tossed off to the side once removed, left on the floor to be ignored.

Corinne watched her with a mix of pleasure and merriment. She felt a sudden and much unexpected blush as she found herself suddenly exposed, but she overcame her initial shyness and rose a little to a sitting position, pulling Rosee close to her body to feel her skin on hers and her beloved lips as they entangled with her own. She submitted to the younger girl’s dominance and allowed her in her mouth, lightly sucking on her tongue and teasing around it.

When the amount of air grew scant, Rosee pulled away and gave her a mischievous smile. She peered over the side of the bed to see on the floor among the clothes the ribbon that had been in her hair. She smirked and snatched it off the floor, holding it up for Corinne to get a good look at.

Corinne raised an amused eyebrow at the hair ornament, wondering what Rosee had in mind to do with it. Her companion laid it across her chest and slowly pulled it down and around, like an artist with their paintbrush. Corinne wondered no more. She leaned back, setting herself as a flat surface for Rosee to amuse herself with, her eyes glowing with the same glint of mischievous desire.
She slithered the long silk piece along her stomach, up and down, allowing it to flutter over her breasts briefly before dragging it down the length of her legs. Her face was a look of pure focus as she continued, reaching down with one hand to brush over the top of her nether regions and skimming down over the outside of the lips with a ghost-like touch.

Corinne hissed a shaky breath between her lips at the petal like sensation that had surged through her at the simple passing of Rosee's hand. She drew another, her eyes closing to half as she revelled in the fluttering of the ribbon.

Rosee pulled the ribbon away, winding it around her hand almost like a glove, and as her hand passed up the outer folds, she pushed a little between them to find the bundle of nerves that Corinne had found on her. She rubbed slow circles on it with her thumb and used her fingers to press lightly against the entrance. Her ribbon covered hand passed back and forth over, under, around her breasts.

Corinne thought she would melt with the intense fire that built up inside of her. She gasped at the sudden surge of intense pleasure and moaned, bucking her hips.
- Ahhh!!! Gods, Rosee!!!

She felt heady and dizzy and pleased and overwhelmed and... Goodness! Not one single thought would leave a lasting imprint on her mind. Her throat let out a mewl which extended in a moan and ended in the deepest decrescendos of her baritone. She panted, her brow growing damp.

She gave a bright smile and gave a final press before removing her hand. She shifted back and knelt down on her arms, her nose filling with the warm smell before her. She moved closer and nervously slipped her tongue out between her lips only to poke it between the ones in front of her, touching the small bundles of nerves delicately with the tip.

Corinne felt the searing heat of her desire extend to no limits when she sensed Rosee's approach of her. She bit down on her lip, heart racing from the intensity of the feelings. When the tip of the soft appendage reached her, she moaned deeply, even though the touch had been superficial. The mere idea alone had sent sparks flying to her mind. Rosee's touch had simply added to it and sent fiery waves rippling through her whole frame.

Tasting the sweet essence that leaked a little on her tongue, she hummed and drew closer, swiping around the sensitive point before she held her lips to it to give it a strong quick suck, purring slightly around it.

The surge of heated pleasure surged through Corinne like lightening. Her hands flailed to each side of her and grabbed fistfuls of the sheets, as she drew a very ragged breath and moaned freely, a moan which sounded almost like a howl. The build up was intense and the wave of pleasure had her in its grasp, panting and trembling.

Rosee giggled around the nub, flicking it with her tongue continuously. She stopped briefly to catch her breath then returned to her ministrations, this time pressing right up against the folds so as to give her tongue a bit more reach, pushing through the hot skin into the even hotter opening beyond, rubbing a hard circle with her thumb against the bundle above the tip of her nose.

Corinne let out a howling scream as all gathered heat and pleasured tension pushed her over the edge, and her back created an arc, while her mind literally exploded with the intensity of the waves that hit her repeatedly over and over. She fell down on her back, utterly spent, panting, and smiling, and shedding small tears of happiness and fulfillment.

Rosee felt the sweet nectar rush onto her tongue and she swallowed, taking a bit more with her tongue, and she sat up with the appendage swiping across her lips to clean them. She crawled up to rest next to Corinne and buried herself into her side, shivering as the cool air hit her skin which had dried with sweat. She reached up to brush away the tears with her hand, unable to stop smiling.

The older woman felt the haze lift up from her mind, leaving only the afterglow in which she willingly basked in. She opened her arms to welcome Rosee, and pulled her covers over the both of them. She nestled her face in the younger woman's hair, breathing in deeply and feeling her heart swell with happiness and pure bliss. They both listened to each other's breathing and the howling of the wind outside, a wind which announced the cold season. Neither of them minded it, though, having found a sanctuary of love in each other's heart.
2 comments

anonymous readerReport

2011-07-20 12:47:17
sooo lovely i love it sooo much

Anonymous readerReport

2009-07-23 22:41:27
this is the best story i have ever read, it was beautifuly writen with a clever story to go with it. i look forward to reading more of your work. if you dont write a 2nd i will have to hunt you down and make you write it.

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