DISCLAIMER: Sanctuary belongs to Sanctuary and the character of Helen Magnus belong to Damien Kindler, Stage 3 and Amanda Tapping.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for the Dead of Winter 2008 Femslash Calendar.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
The first time that Helen Magnus had seen the Pacific Ocean she had cried. The sound of the waves crashing on the rocky shore a few feet below her stance had reverberated through her bones. She sat on the sunwarmed rocks all afternoon, the salty breeze riffling through her curls letting the sound and the sight consume her until sunset. Though she had witnessed many incredible things in her life, she always considered that experience one of the most magnificent and meaningful to her and after that day the sea always had a special place in her heart.
When sleep's usual evasions became more irksome than usual, the sound of the sea could always be guaranteed to help her find some rest. She had a recording of the sound of surf that she sometimes utilized, particularly if she was away from home but when she was in the Sanctuary, she could go to the source itself.
The mermaid was waiting for her. Helen laid the palm of her hand against the cool glass and the mermaid copied her gesture.
"You look tired tonight, Helen. Do you want me to sing for you?" Her mental voice echoed in Helen's mind. Already she could hear the waves beating on a distant shore and feel herself relax a little.
"If you don't mind," Helen smiled.
"It is my pleasure, as always," the mermaid smiled. Her dark hair coiled and curled around her beautiful pale face. "And it is scant repayment for all that I owe you."
Helen had long ago given up arguing with the mermaid that any debt between them had long since been repaid. Pollution, overfishing and human interference had long since destroyed the mermaid's natural habitat and scattered her pod. If any were still alive out there in the deep oceans they were keeping themselves well hidden. None had been seen for more than a generation and it might well be as the mermaid feared that she was the last of her house.
"Then I'll say good night," Helen said.
"Your dreams will be sweet," the mermaid promised. "Good night, Helen."
As Helen walked along the upper hallway to her bedroom the mermaid's song was already beginning, low and soft for the moment, ripples and currents of melody melding one into another in her mind. On her way upstairs Helen had kicked off her shoes and was carrying them, dangling from one slender hand, the thick carpet and waxed oak boards of the hall floor pleasantly contrasted under her stockinged feet. She paused at Ashley's door for a moment, listening, but her daughter was apparently asleep. She caressed the wooden panel, silently wishing her daughter only pleasant dreams. Ashley had been so angry, so troubled since the revelation about her father but at least she hadn't rejected Helen completely. Sensing her disquiet the mermaid's song swelled in her mind again, pushing away the thought, leaving only peace in its wake.
The fire was already lit in her room, Bigfoot having attended to it earlier. He took his duties very seriously. Helen did not bother turning on the lights, the firelight provided all the illumination she needed in a room so familiar to her. Even the shadows were old friends.
Steam rose from the pot of hot water when she investigated and she made herself a cup of tea. The fragrant heat of Lapsang pinked her cheeks as she sipped and she sighed. A simple pleasure but one thank god she could frequently enjoy. Setting the cup aside for a moment she loosened her hair from its clips and ponytail and combed her fingers through it humming to herself in quiet counterpoint to the mermaid's refrain.
She took another sip of tea then began to undress, unbuttoning the cuffs and collar of her shirt, smoothing the crisp white cotton under her fingers for a moment before undoing the pearl buttons one by one. She slipped the garment off her shoulders, drawing it off and folding it neatly over the back of a chair. Unfastening the buttons at her waistband she stepped out of her skirt, unfastened her stockings and sitting on the chair slowly unrolled the soft sheer silk down her legs.
Clad only in her undergarments she crossed to a side door and entered her bathroom. The tiles were pleasantly cool under her feet. Turning on the faucet over the deliberately old fashioned freestanding claw-foot tub she waited until the water ran warm before throwing in a handful of perfumed bath crystals. The scent of rose and violet was pleasantly soothing and added to the relaxing mood she was trying to create.
Reaching behind her she unhooked her brassiere and slipped off her knickers dropping both items in the laundry basket to be taken care of later. She tested the temperature of the water then shut off the faucet and carefully stepped into the bath easing herself down until only her head and shoulders were above the water. She let her hands lie palm upward in her lap, submerged under the water to just above wrist level; something she always found relaxed her. She did not touch herself not yet. Smiling, she closed her eyes and let the perfumed steam, the soft warm water and the mermaid's song wash over her senses. Keeping her eyes closed she let herself slide under the water.
And opened her eyes to a petrified city of coral set in a forest of kelp undulating gently in the currents. The crystal clear water was like silk against her bare skin. A flicker of movement at the corner of her eye drew her attention and she turned to see the mermaid peering out at her between towers of gold and crimson coral. The mermaid's song was an invitation to the chase and answering in kind Helen swam after her, her lean body knifing through the water propelled by a powerful flick of her tail. They twined around and through the kelp and the towers of coral until at last the mermaid turned and now their bodies twined around each other, breast to breast as their lips met in an intense kiss
Helen gasped, her face and chest breaking the surface of the water again. She kept her eyes closed, breathing deeply. The cooler air teased at her nipples, she could feel them pucker and tighten. And now she moved her hands, her thighs parting a little as her fingers stroked through labile folds of skin. In her mind green eyes stared into blue as hands stroked, pressed, explored. The boundary between skin and scale was especially sensitive as were the breasts and the area around the gills. The mermaid's teeth nibbled gently at her throat, her hands molding Helen's breasts as she pushed them both down into the kelp bed, the dark green and brown fronds closing around them, giving them some privacy.
Helen curled two fingers inside herself, opening her mind to the mermaid's touch. The mermaid floated above her, smiling, her dark hair clouding about her face and shoulders. Her face could pass for human apart from the fine silver scales along her high cheekbones and jawline.
"You are so beautiful," Helen said softly. "It's plain to see why there are so many legends about your race captivating sailors."
"Ensnaring them with our song and bewitching them with our beauty, drawing them down from the world above to a watery grave and untimely end," the mermaid said solemnly and laughed. "You shared those legends with me, Helen. My forebears seem to have been a most untrustworthy race. Aren't you afraid that I will do the same to you?"
"I'm never afraid when I'm with you," Helen smiled, reaching out to stroke her fingers down the mermaid's pale cheek. The mermaid captured her hand, pressing the palm to her cheek for a moment and then to her lips.
Helen kept up a steady firm stroke, long years of experience and practice rendering her acutely aware of her body's needs and reactions, her thumb pressing down on and slowly circling her clitoris. Her other hand squeezed and stroked at her breasts, the sensitive skin down her sternum, dancing over the pebbled skin of her nipples, pinching and rolling the plump firm flesh between her finger and thumb.
They rolled in a slow dive the mermaid's lips dancing across her skin. Phosphorescence whirled whitegold and green cloaking them in its unearthly light. Helen combed her fingers through the mermaid's hair, holding her head to her as the mermaid's lips closed over her nipple, teasing it with her sharp teeth. Her long fingered hands smoothed over Helen's skin, finding all her secret places.
Helen quaked silently, biting gently at her lower lip as she crested. Gentle ripples moved across the surface of the bath water.
The mermaid's kiss lingered on her skin as she gently pushed Helen away from her, the mermaid falling into the darkness, Helen rising slowly towards the light.
Helen sighed and opened her eyes. She smiled. The mermaid's song still rose and fell sweetly in her thoughts. The water was beginning to cool or perhaps it was just that her skin was heated by the afterglow of pleasure. Either way rising from her bath she reached for a towel and dried herself off.
Naked, rubbing her wet hair with another dry towel she walked across the room to her bed. The firelight sent strange shadows across the wall of her room, transforming her into some fey and eldritch creature. She posed, observing her curves with a critical eye before smiling and shaking her head at her own vanity. Taking up her brush she drew it through her damp hair brushing out the tangles, the smooth rhythm familiar to her since childhood. A hundred strokes morning and night. How many, over the years? A million more it hurt too much to think of things in those terms. Yet in such mundanity did Helen Magnus measure her span of years.
She picked up her nightshirt from where it had been left neatly folded on the old oak chest at the bottom of the bed. The soft wellworn cotton was comfortable, utilitarian and covered her almost to her knees. She had no need of lace or other fripperies. And there was no one to see her in it anyway. She drew back the down quilt and lavender scented linen sheet on her bed and slipped under their comforting weight with a contented sigh.
She turned onto her side, watching the firelight through half-lidded eyes. "Thank you," she whispered, feeling blessed sleep steal over her at last. The mermaid's song softened into almost silence became a lullaby, a soft susurration just on the edge of conscious thought, the echo of surf on a distant sunset shore. And Helen slept.
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