DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
SERIES: The third story in the 'there is strength in your softness' series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To scotangelina[at]yahoo.com
In the darkness of my deepest heart (I have seen the light you are to me)
Stretched out on her stomach, Tissaia turns the page of her book that she's propped up against the pillows. It's not quite holding her attention, written so long ago as to be almost obsolete, but she skims the words nonetheless, hoping to pick out something of use for the history class she is to teach the following day.
The door to her bedchamber opens and closes, the floorboards creaking in a sequence she knows by heart before the bed dips and a naked body drapes itself across her back. Yennefer's skin is still warm from the bath she's just taken and Tissaia's cooler flesh erupts in gooseflesh where they touch as she had chosen not to put on any clothes after her own bath. She knew there would be very little point. While she refuses to say that she officially lives in Aretuza, Yennefer spends almost all of her nights in Tissaia's bed. Sometimes she portals in just for the night. On other occasions, she stays for a few days or a week at a time. It's never long enough.
"How can it possibly be that there are books in that library you haven't read?" Yennefer murmurs, settling her chin on Tissaia's shoulder and leaning her head against her temple. She flicks a page or two, ignoring Tissaia's huff. "I mean, you've been around for centuries. What have you been doing with your time?"
Tissaia rolls her eyes and nudges Yennefer's head with her own. "You may remember, dear, that the vast majority of my long life has been spent dealing with teenage girls. And that is no easy feat, I can assure you. If they're not accidentally setting each other on fire, they're whining about boys or attempting to sneak alcohol from the kitchens. It doesn't leave an awful lot of time for reading for pleasure."
A throaty laugh sounds in her ear. "I'm glad I never did any of that. I was practically a model student."
Tissaia nods. "True. When you tried to set people on fire, it was deliberate."
"Oh, we're still casting that up, are we?" Yennefer bites her shoulder, gently. "Once, I tried to incinerate someone. Once. And it was only Sabrina."
"Only Sabrina," Tissaia repeats with a shake of her head. "We both know that you like her, Yennefer. I don't know why you continue to pretend otherwise."
Yennefer sighs, burying her nose against Tissaia's neck briefly. "Fine. I suppose I have a passing affection for her. Even though she did stab me in the gut."
"Of course, dear." Tissaia turns another page, even though she's read not a word on the previous one. Yennefer's hand covers her own and snaps the book shut.
"Did no-one ever tell you that it's rude to have a naked woman in your bed and ignore her in favour of some dusty old book?"
"I'm hardly ignoring you," Tissaia says, but doesn't protest when Yennefer tosses the book to the floor and shifts enough for Tissaia to turn over. She lifts a hand and runs her knuckles across Yennefer's jaw, ending with her forefinger on her chin. "You're a very difficult person to ignore."
"You managed it well enough for years," Yennefer says, flippantly. Tissaia does nothing more than lift an eyebrow and Yennefer relents with a roll of her eyes. "Okay, so it was probably the other way around."
"Yes, it was."
Tissaia had never lost track of Yennefer all those years after her ascension. She knew where she was and what she was doing, even when Yennefer didn't want her to. Unwilling to rake over those coals once again, Tissaia cups Yennefer's cheek and urges her into a tender kiss. Yennefer's hand glides down her side to grasp her thigh. Tissaia bends her knee, her body arching up to meet the one above her like a magnet, fusing their overheated skin together as they move as one.
It's never been this way for Tissaia. This raw, primal need she has to be close to Yennefer in this way. It's not about the release, though that's they'd told themselves the first time it happened. That it was just a build up of tension between two strong-minded women, each too stubborn for their own good.
It was never that, she thinks, as Yennefer's hands move over her body like electrified water; everywhere at once and setting off tiny explosions wherever they touch. It was always something more, something deeper. She'd known that her link to Yennefer was different. But Sodden had shown her the nature of that difference. That Yennefer had been able to unleash her chaos, scorching everything in her path and reducing it to cinders, save for the sliver of ground Tissaia was occupying, spoke to the nature of their connection. It is visceral. It is beyond explanation or rationality. It just is.
Tissaia lets out a wanton moan when Yennefer starts to kiss her way down her abdomen to settle between her thighs, eyes and smile sparkling up at her before she lowers her head and ends Tissaia's conscious thought.
They're lying together afterwards, sweaty and spent and curled around each other. Yennefer's head is on her breast and she's idly stroking her hair. Yennefer's fingers are tracing invisible patterns on her belly. She's just tipping over into a light doze when Yennefer speaks and draws her out of it.
"Have you never considered-" There's a pause and Yennefer lifts her head, propping herself up on an elbow and looking down at Tissaia. There's a crease between her eyebrows that Tissaia reaches up to rub away.
"Have I ever considered what?" Tissaia prompts.
Yennefer sighs, turning her head to press a kiss to Tissaia's wrist and closing her eyes when Tissaia cups her cheek. "Have you ever considered leaving Aretuza?"
Tissaia frowns. "Leaving?"
Opening her eyes once more, Yennefer nods and rearranges herself so that they're both lying on their sides, facing each other. "Like you said, you've been dealing with teenage idiots for centuries. Have you never tired of it?" Her hand finds Tissaia's and squeezes. "Have you never wanted a life of your own?"
The question hits Tissaia harder than she supposes Yennefer had intended. Yennefer is still young in sorceress terms, and while she might think she has lived several lifetimes already, she has no concept of what it is like to have lived as long as Tissaia. Where centuries bleed into each other and decades pass without seeing acquaintances because you just can't seem to find the time. She smiles and hope it isn't as sad as it feels on her lips.
"I have, of course, entertained thoughts about how my life might have turned out if I had made different choices." She swallows and presses her lips together. "If I'd become a court mage after my ascension, for instance. Or if-" She's never spoken these words to another soul. "If I had run away from Aretuza during my second week here, like I planned to."
Yennefer absorbs the confession, tightening the gentle grip she has on Tissaia's hand. "Was that the last time you considered it?"
"What do you mean?" Tissaia asks, frowning.
"I mean, have you never thought of just leaving? Running away and finding a cabin in the mountains somewhere? Marrying a farmer and having a simple life?"
Tissaia lets out a short laugh. "What use would I have for a farmer?"
"Forget the farmer, then," Yennefer says. "Look, I know you must have had other lovers in this bed over the years." Yennefer covers her lips with a single finger before she can speak. "I don't want specifics. I would likely feel the need to find them and pluck their eyes out for having looked upon you naked. And flay the skin from their hands for ever having touched you."
Tissaia's lips purse beneath the finger still pressing on them until Yennefer removes it. "So, the next time we dine with Geralt, I'm at liberty to do the same, am I?"
Yennefer grunts some disapproval, but continues with her earlier line of questioning. "Did you never think of settling down with one of these previous lovers, all of whom I hate with a fiery passion?"
"No." She doesn't even have to think about her answer. Yennefer appears surprised at the speed and certainty with which it is given.
"No?" Her eyebrows tilt inwards. "Are you just saying that to appease me?"
"Have you ever known me to offer platitudes?" Tissaia asks with a smile.
"Well, that's true," Yennefer concedes.
"I've never considered my life in terms of marriage and settling down, Yennefer." She shakes her head. "You know better than anyone what is taken from us. How we each have a duty to the contine-"
"Oh, fuck the continent," Yennefer says, with that cavalier attitude that infuriates and attracts Tissaia in equal measure. "You're still a woman. You still get to have dreams, and wants, and needs." She draws Tissaia's hand up and presses it against her heart. "What do you want?"
Once again, Yennefer's questioning catches her off guard. She's not sure anyone's ever asked her that question. In her entire extended lifetime, no-one has cared to ask what she wants. Whether it's the surprise of being asked, or it's because of who's asking, the answer again comes quickly and easily.
Clearly mistaking her bone-deep honesty for some reference to sexual desire, Yennefer smirks.
"Well, that goes without saying but-"
Tissaia sits up, scrambling back against the headboard as the enormity of the realisation increases her heart rate and makes her breath come too quickly. Yennefer is on her knees in front of her in an instant, rubbing her back and speaking soothing words into her ear. After a few long moments of panic, she meets Yennefer's concerned eyes and smiles. She lifts an unsteady hand and swipes some hair behind Yennefer's ear.
"No, Yennefer." She inhales, the air juddering into her lungs. "I do want what you described. A cabin in the mountains, by a lake perhaps. A life to call my own. Even marriage." She swallows. "But if I were to have those things, it wouldn't be with a farmer, nor with any previous lovers, real or imagined." She watches as Yennefer's eyes widen, but forces herself to continue. "I'd only want those things if I were to have them with you."
It takes less than a heartbeat for Yennefer's smile to grow wider than the sky and brighter than the sun.
"Tissaia De Vries," she says, her voice rough. She takes Tissaia's hand and threads their fingers together. "That almost sounded like a proposal."
"Don't be ridiculous," Tissaia says, though her tone is much softer than her words. "If I were to propose marriage to you, it would be done properly." She glances pointedly at Yennefer's chest before meeting her gaze again. "Which would, at the very least, require us both to be clothed."
Yennefer's laugh echoes around the room and she finds herself wrapped up in her arms, with kisses being peppered all over her face and neck. She wrinkles her nose when a particularly wet kiss lands on her ear, and she shoves Yennefer away, both of them laughing now. Their hands remain tangled between them and Yennefer squeezes her fingers.
"Well, I feel it's only fair that I tell you that if you ever do decide to ask when we're more appropriately attired, my answer will be yes." She leans in and presses a firm kiss to Tissaia's lips. She pulls away just enough to whisper. "But in the meantime-" The air around them shimmers and shifts and when Tissaia opens her eyes, they're no longer in her huge, dim apartments in Aretuza. "-we can see how long it takes us to get bored in a cabin in the mountains."
Tissaia inhales air sharpened with pine and spruce, taking in the small, warm accommodations. She pushes Yennefer down on the bed, crawling on top of her until she's sitting astride her stomach, looking down. She arches an eyebrow.
"I think I've learned enough in my life to keep you occupied for quite a while, my love."
Yennefer nods, her face serious. "Maybe forever?"
Tissaia smiles and nods. "Maybe forever."
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