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Euphoria

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The sun was setting, the reach of it’s golden rays diminishing every moment, but for now it was more than enough lighting. It made Ann’s face bathe in gold, giving it a beautiful luminous shade from the moment they stepped out of the carriage they had taken from church. Ann’s face was flushed, pink from their activities in the carriage. When she, her wife, felt Annes gaze on her she turned and smiled before her gaze returned forward. They walked in a slow, comfortable pace, they were in no hurry. There was no one outside as they crossed the green acres of Shibden, so Ann took the opportunity to lace their hands together, intertwining their fingers. Anne could feel the new ring against her fingers. They had finally done it. They had finally married, and would start their life together.

“You’re staring.” Ann said when Annes gaze didn’t leave her face. “Well you’re my wife. And you’re very beautiful. Why shouldn’t I stare?” Ann raised a brow. “You told me I was only pretty in a certain light.” Her delicate hand squeezed Annes. “This must be one of those lights then.” Anne said, refusing to admit that Ann always looked amazing, in any and all lights.

“Is that so?” Ann stopped, making Anne stop as well and turn to her. “Lucky you that we’ve reached our destination. Now you may do with me as you please.” Ann said with a growing smile as she nodded to the Lister estate that was just a bit away, amongst the green acres of Shibden. “I take it your family will be waiting for us?” she asked. Anne moved her thumb over Ann’s delicate chin and lightly kissed her cheek. “I think my family is smart enough to understand our need for privacy.”

She started walking again, Ann staying by her side as they walked the last bit, their hands still intertwined. They reached the estate, and modest as it was, Ann still admired it a few moments before tugging her hand to walk inside.

“Come on then, mrs Lister.” Anne smirked. It caused Ann to beam, and her wife swore it was the most beautiful sight ever. Before Ann knew it Anne moved behind her, quickly sweeping Ann off her feet, lifting her into her arms. Ann clung to her neck and chuckled, kissing her as Anne took the first step into the house. Maneuvering to close the door with one hand came with some difficulties when Ann kissed her, but Anne finally managed to shut the door. Ann parted and moved her lips to the lobe of Annes ear, nibbling it for a second. “Carry me to the bedroom.” She whispered.

Anne grunted, but managed to carry Ann up the stairs into her bedroom. She placed Ann down gently on the big bed, down on the pillows and moved above her. Ann exhaled sharply and smiled, tugging the scarf around Annes neck to bring her closer and brought her in for a kiss. Anne kissed her back, but parted way to soon, causing a groan from her wife and Anne smirked. She closed the door before removing her hat, coat, boots and vest and then returned to bed, straddling Ann and she slowly moved off her golden belt. Ann made an impatient sound again and Anne smirked, slowing down only to tease her. She unbuttoned the white and gold dress, moving Ann’s arms out of it and gently slid it off her, having to move up a bit and when she got it off completely it landed carelessly on the floor.

She looked down at her, unable to keep herself from kissing her again, putting her hands to use to untie Ann’s blonde hair, setting it free, the curls running down her shoulder. She parted but Ann grabbed her collar and pulled her into another kiss. It was deepened immediately, tongues meeting eagerly, and Anne’s gentle touches soon changed, becoming more careless, ripping seams in Ann’s white under garment in her desire to get it off quickly. The air felt almost electric, and certainly grew hotter by the second.

Ann moved her legs up, clenching them to Annes sides and she tugged in the collar of her shirt, but Anne quickly moved the hands away and they found their home in her neck instead, willing her closer.

They broke the kiss when they started running out of oxygen, and whilst Ann gasped for air her wife placed her lips at her neck, trailing down to her shoulder, then collarbone. They trailed all the way down to her chest, kissing down between them, her fingers moving up Ann’s thigh, finding a way between her body and Ann’s, whose felt glued together. As Anne smoothly entered her with her fingers, Ann’s patience for being quiet run out and she began moaning, and soon even louder as Anne thrusted her fingers enthusiastically.

Annes body moved with her wifes in their pressed together state, Ann moving against her fingers, begging her for more, and Anne followed her demands, moving faster. Ann tried to kiss her, but the state she was in wouldn’t allow it, breaking from Annes lips when she moaned. Beads of sweat glistened over her body, and Anne knew Ann wasn’t far as she tensed, arching her back and neck, before every muscle in her body seemed to relax, slumping down on the bed, her legs that had previously clamped onto Annes sides now relaxing, and Anne smiled, moving them down and she moved to lie next to her, moving the cover over her exhausted wife.

She could see that she wasn’t far from sleep but fighting it, wanting to hold on to this perfect moment. “It’s okay.” Anne whispered. “We have the rest of our lives right? Get some sleep.” She kissed her forehead, and Anns conscious slipped away.

She didn’t sleep for long. Anne had written in her diary before undressing and changed into her bed clothes, releasing her hair. She was just about to fall asleep herself when Ann woke up.

“Mm.” She curled into Anne and left kisses on her shoulders. “Anne..” She said in a playful voice. “I want you.. don’t sleep.” Anne opened an eye to take in her happy wife. “Tomorrow, I need to sleep.” She mumbled, realizing it was the first time she had turned down the opportunity to please Ann.

“Alright.. I guess I can just play with myself.” That made Anne take action, moving her hands over Ann’s. “I don’t think so.” She said demandingly and Ann looked at her surprised. “What?” She chuckled. “Well, you’re mine, and mine alone.” The explanation that Ann wasn’t serious about her comment never left her lips, instead she chuckled. “You’re jealous of me.. with me? It’s not like it’s adultery.” Annes over lip curled up. “I’m the only one who should make you feel that pleasure. I won’t share that with anyone, not even you.”

“But..” Ann started, but didn’t even know how to debate with that logic. “What if you’re away on a long business trip?” She asked and Anne looked at her sternly. “Then you wait. And it will be worth it.” She said confidently. “Have you ever done it before?” She asked and Ann shook her head. “Good. I want it to stay that way.” Anne kissed her bare chest.

“You’ve been with so many girls.. and I’ve only been with you.” A pow of jealousy overcame Ann as she thought about what was probably a long line of attractive women Anne had slept with. Anne had told her earlier that Ann was her first, but Ann didn’t need long before connecting the dots between the clues, and when she confronted Anne about it she had been truthful.

“You are my last, the one that matter.” Anne comforted her with and she nodded. “What about..” she hesitated. “About what?” Anne asked. “Well.. have other girls been with you.. the way you’ve been with me? the way I haven’t been with you?”

The few times Ann had made attempts at toutching or taking care of Anne, if her hands tried to stray under her fabrics, Annes hands were always there to lead them away. And a small part of Ann had always been grateful, thinking she’d be bad at it anyways, and she didn’t want to disappoint or let down Anne.

“No.” Anne said and Ann looked her in the eyes, examining her. “Why not?” She asked, and Anne moved up to her side. “Let’s just say I’m a giver.” She said in a tone that marked the end of the conversation, and she moved on top of Ann, moving a hand down but Ann caught it. “No. This isn’t how I meant I wanted you.” She said with more confidence than usual. “ I meant.. I want you. I want to see you.. taste you.”

Anne looked at her for a moment before shaking her head. “No.” Ann moved up in a sitting position and cupped her face. “We’re married, Anne. Don’t you trust me?” Anne swallowed, thinking about all the things Ann had given up and overcome to marry Anne, and she knew if this was truly what she wanted.. she deserved it.

“I do.. I’m just not comfortable..” She struggled to find the words to explain but even with all the words she knew, she fell flat. How could she make Ann understand that the thought of someone seeing her body, and someone controlling Anne the way she controlled others by knowing just how to please them, how to make them beg, and tremble, made her skin crawl.

Every time she had gotten even close to allow this with another woman she quickly retracted, and most women didn’t complain since they liked getting pleasured far more anyways. Maybe because then they could pretend they weren’t really interested in women, just in pleasure, and it made marrying men easier for them, but Ann had married her.

Ann, watching her with a concerned frown, brought her closer and planted a brief kiss on her lips. “I don’t want to make you uncomfortable. I just want you to experience the euphoria I get from you. And I want you to share all of yourself with me.”

Anne stroke her cheek and nodded, taking a deep breathe. “Just tell me to stop and I will.” Ann said and looked her deep in the eyes with such devotion and admiration that Anne could do nothing but nod. Slowly Ann’s hand dropped from her face and down to the brunettes nightshirt, unbuttoning the top of it, more of Annes shoulders and neck revealed, and her collarbones, and more of her skin than Ann had ever seen before. The buttons stopped right over her chest, and Ann slowly kissed her collarbone, tracing her bare skin with her lips.

Anne closed her eyes, enjoying the feeling despite herself, despite feeling vulnerable, a feeling she strongly despised. Ann lifted her wife’s arms up into the air, slowly hiking the shirt over her head and sent it sailing down on the floor. She knew Anne wore a corset beneath her clothes, that much she had revealed to her, but she had taken it off for sleep. She had a low cut tank top and under pants on covering down to her thighs and half way down to her knees and Ann smiled.

She stroke her bare arms and kissed her jaw. “You look beautiful.” She said, her wife looking down when she took a hold of the bottom of her tank top and scooted it up, exposing her stomach, and Anne didn’t stop her or tell her no as she lifted it over her head.

Their gaze met and Annes, usually either unreadable or filled with warmth, or the occasional heartbreak at their difficulties, was now filled with uncertainness, but still stoic and powerful in her ways, the brown eyes appearing like melted chocolate and for a moment Ann drowned in them before they closed.

Ann however felt oddly calm and certain, but then Anne always made her braver. She wondered for the thousand time how she could be so lucky, she knew she didn’t deserve Anne, yet sometimes she found herself wondering if god himself had sent Anne to her.

Her mouth traveled down the older womans chest and to the peak of it, and she was surprised to hear her moan when she put her nipple in her mouth for a moment before her lips traveled down again, encouraged by the sound. She looked up at Anne, leading her head to the pillow so she lay down before continuing her travels over her body, kissing up and down her arms, legs, stomach, in a desire to touch every inch of the womans body.

Every now and then Anne would make approving sounds, and Ann decided this was, if possible, even better then when the tables were turned. Despite herself Anne seemed to have relaxed, letting herself enjoy the attention to her body, until Ann’s hands moved down to her under garment, and Annes eyes snapped open and she seated, taking Ann’s hands away from them.

“Okay.” Ann whispered, leading her down to the pillows again. “Don’t worry.” She returned to her previous actions, kissing her body all over until Anne had seemed to relax again, then she moved up, lying completely on top of her now, and kissed Annes lips, softly but with a hunger behind it that drove it more intense, Ann opening her lips just enough to let Annes tongue in and she moaned.

Ann’s hand traveled to her chest and massaged them, Anne moaning into the kiss, tugging slightly in Ann’s blonde curls, making the kiss more heated and sloppier, teeths nibbling on lips and tongues moving rougher, and as Anne was caught up in the moment, Ann started moving her body in a slighty grinding, rubbing motion and Anne soon mimicked her motions.

Ann had no experience or knowledge in what to do, but her body took over, almost sensing what Anne needed, like their needs engulfed into one, and whenever they parted for air, Annes mouth would go to her neck, and Ann’s lips finding her earlobe, nibbling and tugging in it slightly with her teeth.

Her hands moved down to Annes hips, moving them up a little, towards her, and she moved up, her leg pressing between Annes, moving it in a rubbing motion, and Annes lips broke from her wifes neck when she started moaning. She didn’t try to move Ann away or make her stop, because she didn’t want to.

Her wives moans, the heat between them, and the kisses planted on her neck had affected Ann too, her thighs slick and her breathing heavy, but right now was all about Anne, and finally seeing her wife in pleasure was euphoria all on it’s own.

They continued for the better part of the night, at moments Anne was unsecure, but moving in her pace, making sure she was comfortable, Ann managed to blow away her insecurities as her fingers moved between her legs, then her tongue, orgasm after orgasm. Anne gave as good as she got, Ann’s own state not having gone unnoticed, and after a while they even used their bodies to fight, both eager to be the one pleasing the other, both their fingers inside the other at the same time, their bodies a tangled, sweaty mess. All the jealousy from before had blown away, because in the way it counted for Ann, they were each others first, and they’d get to spend the rest of their lives with each other.

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Since they had been up until the early hours of the morrow, when exhaustion finally claimed them and they went to sleep, they slept in all into lunch time, when Anne was waken up by a loud banging on the bedroom door. She quickly put on her undergarments and nightshirt.

She opened the door and her sisters hand was caught mid air in a knock. “Finally up are we? Do you have any idea of what time it is?” Anne took a peek at the sun outside and guessed that it was around noon. “That’s correct. We had lunch an hour ago.” Anne had the urge to slam the door in her face but restrained the thought.

“Ann and I will join you for lunch tomorrow then, sister. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Now if you could be a peach and ask the staff to get us bathe water and a hearty lunch brought up here?” Her sister looked like she was going to explode with anger, and Anne would be lying if she said it didn’t bring her some pleasure.

“Fine, but only if you promise you will join us for lunch tomorrow. We are having a guest then, and it is important you make an appearance.” Before Anne could ask if it was another one of her sisters suitors she scurried off, probably to avoid that very question. Anne closed the door and returned to the bedroom, where her lovely wife was just waking up, stretching slightly and looked up at her with a beaming smile. “Last night was.. amazing.” Anne confessed and Ann seated to give her a kiss, and Anne admired her view.

Before their wedding encounters had always been under skirts or night gowns. She had never seen Ann fully naked before, and to get the full vision now brought back memories from last night and she smirked.

“I should get dressed. The time must be quiet late.” She said but Anne held her put. “We’re taking a bath first.” She said and Ann smiled and leaned her forehead against hers. “Sounds good.. I definitely need to clean up before being amongst people.” She let out a small giggle.

Anne showered her in kisses and moved a hand through her beautiful, loose hair. If it was up to her Ann would always let her hair hang naturally, at least at home.

Soon there was a knock on the door and Anne got up from the bed, Ann quickly putting on her nightgown and followed Anne to the door. Eugenie came in, carrying a large copper bath filled with water, straight out from the stove where it had been boiling. Anne offered to help but Eugenie seemed awfully stubborn to make it on her own, so Anne simply pointed her to the spot where Eugenie placed it down.

“Tu peux partir maintenant.” (You can go now.) Anne said as Ann joined behind her and stroke her shoulder. “Devrais-je reveneir plus tard et aider avec le corset?” (Should I come back later and help with the corset?) Eugenie asked, wiping her forehead. “Pas besoin, je la ferai.” (No need I’ll do it.) Ann said.

Anne looked at her surprised, she didn’t even know that Ann knew french. Then again, she’d had the time to study, so she probably knew more languages than Anne, although so far she hadn’t put them to use. That would change now, on their honeymoon journeys. Anne was going to show her the world, from France to Switzerland first, but then they’d go where the wind brought them, or where Ann wanted to go. Anything she wanted, she would get.

Eugenie walked out with an arching back and Anne turned to her wife and kissed her. “Ready to get in the bath? It’ll be tight but we can both fit.” Ann nodded, both undressing what little clothes they had on, Anne fetching a dish of soap and two towels from the other room. She got in first, then Ann, her back pressed against Annes stomach, her head resting in the crook of Annes neck.

“Mm this is nice.” Ann said relaxed, and Anne kissed her neck, taking the dish soap and tracing the soap over Ann’s stomach and thighs, leaving a lathered substance after it’s trace, and Ann closed her eyes and enjoyed Annes very thorough cleaning of her body. Afterwards they dried themselves up, Anne moving a towel through Ann’s beautiful hair, admiring it.

“Alright turn around.” Ann said and located Annes corsett, Anne doing as she said as Ann fitted the corset in over her chest and torso, tugging it tight together and started tying it up, pulling the strings with surprising expertise. Her gentle hands on her hips, feeling so the fabric lay right, and the feeling of the corset tightening as she worked on the strings felt soothing, and soon she was all tied up, and looking herself in the mirror.

Even in just a corset and underpants, with her hair flowing free, she wasn’t as feminine looking as most other women. She remembered the white dress she wore on the queens ball, how out of place she felt, and she felt gratitude swell up her chest, Ann never asked her to be anyone she wasn’t or dress differently, she loved her for how she was.

She glanced at her companion in the mirror. She hadn’t said it back yet, tho at this time Ann surely must know how Anne felt about her. Moving her thoughts aside, she turned back and kissed Ann’s cheek. “Thank you. I’ll help you with yours.” She said and Ann handed her the corset, lying on the floor still since last night. “We need to go to crows nest today.. we never did fetch my belongings.”

Anne nodded as she focused on the strings of the corset. “Of course dear. You are well aware you might meet some of your curious cousins or neighbours? If you’re not ready for that I can send my groom to fetch your things.” Ann shook her head, helping holding the corset in place as Anne strung it, playfully pulling a little too tight and kissed her bare shoulder, and Ann looked back over her shoulder with a smile, Anne taking the opportunity to seize her lips in a short kiss.

“No, I want to do this. Nothing they have to say will make me doubt my choices. No matter what they think, you’re the best thing that has ever happened to me. And I want to live here, with you, and if they gossip, so be it.”

Anne looked surprised at her change of spirit. It was true she seemed different, that day at the hilltop, running to her to tell her she wanted to be her wife. Maybe their time apart had done her good. But for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, Ann was hers now.

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When they were both dressed up properly and had a decent meal in their stomach, Anne called on the groom to prepare their journey for the crows nest. “Are you nervous?” Anne asked as they pulled in outside of Ann’s old home. “A little.” Ann admitted. “But it doesn’t matter. “ They got out and looked around, heading for the door and ther servant opened for them.

“Alright, I think the best is to put all things you want with you now together and we will fit as much as possible with us, and the rest the groom will come back for.” Ann nodded and as they entered her home they started gathering up her belongings, Ann blushing as she packed her sewn bunny. It was silly, but before Anne it had been her closest thing to comfort in the night. She had always imagined she’d give it to her children later, but.. she shook her head and moved on with the work.

“Is there any furniture we might make use of in shibden?” Ann asked, seating in her bed. “Well if there is any furnitures you’re fond of, absolutely.” Ann looked down at her bed, holding memories of many good nights with Anne, but also bad nights, of nightmares and loneliness. They’d make new memories in the bed in shibden.

“No, there’s nothing.” They gathered up the rest of her belongings, she had already spent two nights at Shibden now, the night she returned, before their wedding, she had spent in a guest bedroom in the estate, a wall separating her and Anne, keeping them from talking and touching. But now nothing would come between them again.

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After everything was gathered from crowsnest, luckily without any run ins with Ann’s relatives, they returned home and unpacked her belongings. She had brought a few of her favorite paintings, some by her but mostly by other artists, and Anne graciously let her hang them wherever she pleased, following Ann with a nail and hammer as they put up painting after painting. Anne also brought her closet, her puffy dresses wouldn’t have left much space for Annes clothes in the closet.

Part from that, it was mostly art supplies, clothes, a few jewelries and trinkets, books and a few games she had with her, and her letter set that she placed in the drawer of the desk that Anne had in the corner of her room. And that was it. 29 years of her life cooped up in her home summarized in a few boxes.

When everything had found its place in their new home, Anne brought her close, cupping her face, silently looking into Ann’s eyes, making no attempt to talk or move, just being content in the moment, both women thinking how they could be so lucky to deserve such a wife. When Anne, after a few moments, made no motion to kiss Ann, she pushed their lips together on her own accord, moving her arms around Annes waist who deepened the kiss, the taste of her lips the sweetest in the world, none of them wanting to break it but after a few moments Ann had to part to take a few deep breaths. Anne smiled and traced Ann’s bottom lip with her thumb, her puffy lips, rosy cheeks and sparkling eyes making Ann look more beautiful than ever.

“So.. mrs Lister..” Anne started. Officially Ann’s last name was still Walker, but it made no difference to them, and Ann smiled at the name. “When do you want us to begin our travels? We can wait a little bit, if you want, or I can make arrangements for us to leave in just two days.” For once she let Ann decide and set the pace, now that they were married there was no urgency, no fear of losing her driving Anne to impulsive actions.

Ann thought about if for a moment, thinking how she really should deal with her relatives first, how france and the world could wait, but then again couldn’t her relatives as well? She could send them a well worded letter explaining that she was traveling, as she was sure her sister would soon send a letter to the crowsnest that would expose Ann was no longer present in Scotland, and deal with everything else after their travels. She just wanted to focus on Anne, and be away from all the nosy glares of Shipden. “Two days sounds good to me.” She smiled and left a peck on Annes lips. “Now come on, I don’t think your family would be pleased if we missed two meals in one day.” She said and tugged Annes hand towards the door.

They walked down into the dining room of the estate just as the servants was placing the last of the food on the table, her aunt and uncle and Marian looking up, pleasantly surprised. “Well isn’t it the newly weds.” Her aunt said, nodding for them to take a seat at the two empty chairs and they did, the servants filling their plates with food.

“I almost thought you would stand us up again.” Marian said pleased. “Of course not. Now are you going to tell me more about this visitor we’re having tomorrow?” Anne asked mildly curious. “Oh just a friend of mine.” Anne raised a brow. “You don’t have any friends.” She said amused, Marians expression souring, and Anne received a pinch in the hip from her wife. “I mean.. none that I have met..” She said and took a forkful of potatoes. “That’s why I want you to meet him. So wake up on time tomorrow.”

Anne raised a brow at the “he” but didn’t say anything.”Of course, you can count on me.” She said and sipped her wine. “Or well, us. Ann will be there as well.” If Marian was displeased with it, she didn’t show it. Good. “So Ann, my Anne tells me you are excellent at backgammon. Maybe we shall play for a match after the supper?” Her aunt asked and Ann nodded enthusiastically. “I’d love that, ma’am.”

The rest of the supper was filled with just the sort of small talk Anne despised, but Ann seemed to be enjoying it, so Anne kept her complaints to herself. After dinner Anne went to talk to her groom quickly about accommodations for the future journey before joining the rest in the family room. After watching the backgammon match for a minute it was clear that Ann was holding back, probably too polite to want to win over the old woman, and Anne smiled, wondering how she could be so kind and thoughtful. In some ways Anne and Ann were complete opposites, yet they worked so well together. Perhaps that was why they worked so well together.

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After a while everyone retrieved to their own quarters, the newlyweds settling down in their couch in the cottage, Anne sitting casually and reading a book whilst Ann was drawing in her sketchbook. She went to the last page of it, tracing the torn edges that was all that was left of the drawing she had made of Anne in Scotland and glanced at her wife.

“What are you reading?” She asked curiously, Anne going back to the cover to read the title out loud, “Theory of the Constitution.” Ann cuddled up closer to Anne, leaning her head on her shoulder. “Read to me.” She asked as she flicked to a bare page in her sketch book and started drawing, and Anne started reading aloud, her hands every now and then tracing down Ann’s back or neck, or gently moving her nails over her arm, an action Ann highly enjoyed.

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Next morning there was a harsh knock on the door. Anne had told Euginie that she was responsible to make sure they got up in time. “I’m awake.” Anne called and the knocks stopped and she heard steps walking away. Anne cracked an eye open, seeing only limbs and golden hair. She moved her head up a little, realizing her face was resting in Ann’s hair, with her arms and legs wrapped around the body of her delicate wife, who was still asleep. She seated, rolling her to her back, deciding to give her a pleasant wake up call.

She slid to the floor on her knees, lifting and parting the legs of her buck naked wife, thirstily placing her face between them, putting her tongue to work instantly. It took only seconds for Ann to wake up, her eyes wide as she looked down at her wife, blushing deeply, before she closed her eyes again, moaning quietly. Before long Ann groaned, demanding more friction, her body on fire when Anne teased her, slowing down, and Ann huffed, seating in frustration. Anne took Ann’s hips, lifting her off bed , getting off her knees to lie on her back on the floor, placing Ann on her face.

Ann moaned happily when she realized Anne was through teasing, and the second knock to make sure they were getting ready in time never came. Anne knew the Shibden walls was thin, and she imagined her loud wife was enough to keep everyone away from their door.

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Ann and Anne joined the Listers for lunch, properly dressed, tho considerably late and with telltale smiles on their faces. Fortunately enough, the guest didn’t notice their flushed state, and even less drew to conclusions about it.

“Oh, so this is the infamous ms. Lister.. and you must be a friend?” He looked Ann’s way. “This is Ann Walker. I didn’t hear your name.” Anne said in a casual tone as she seated, rolling an orange in her hand, her and Ann shooting small glances to each other as the servants filled their plates.

“I am James Earlmont, of the Earlmont family. We live close to the east Halifax border, though it is a bit away.” Anne raised a brow. “If you live a bit away from the border you do not live by the Halifax border, do you? Don’t answer that it’s rhetorical. My sister says you’re a close friend of hers. How did you meet?”

James chin seemed to fall all the way to the floor and it was a moment before he could compose himself, Anne ignoring the angry glares from her sister. “In Halifax, shopping, ma’am.” James answered when he got his chin off the floor. “Don’t call me ma’am. What do you do, mr Earlmont?” She asked, her father and aunt quiet, Ann watching the conversation closely. “He is in the coal business. He said he could help you with the problems you’ve been having, Anne, so show some courtesy. And he is my friend.” James didn’t seem to like the word ‘friend’ but didn’t say anything to contradict it, and Ann frowned, she hadn’t been informed of any problems with the coal pits. “Well, mr Earlmont, I have a row of professionals in my corner, I don’t need some amateur in my business. And if you befriended my sister to get in good with me then you should know it did not work. Excuse me, I will take my leave.” She rose abruptly from the table and left the people around it in an awkward silence.

“What got you into the coal business?” Ann asked politely, wanting to go after her wife but felt it would be too rude.

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After a lengthy lunch Ann could finally leave the table, and she walked outside in the search of her temperamental wife. She found her sitting under a tree, looking up at the branches and leaves as if it was telling her a story, one of her journals tucked between her leg and her arm, lying casually down her body.

“You didn’t make it long at lunch.” She said and seated next to her, her curiosity taking control over her and she glanced down in the page of the open journal, only to find it written in some language or code she could not decrypt. “I’m sorry I left you there.” Anne said, closing the journal and putting it on her side and took Ann’s hand instead. “It’s fine. But why didn’t you tell me you had problems with your coal business?” She asked and brought Annes hand to her lips and kissed it,

“The problems is we have no more money to continue and I’ve lost..” Ann interrupted her. “I’ll give you the money you need.” She offered but Anne shook her head. “That’s why I didn’t say anything. You’ve had enough fortune seekers in your life. This marriage is not a transactuall thing, Ann. And I wouldn’t want you to think that.”

“I know that, Anne. But Shibden is my home now. And I want to put my money to use. I want to help with the coal. And I know you’ve talked about wanting to expand Shibden.. We can do that too. Not that we’re wed, it’s our money, right?” Anne smiled widely and kissed her cheek. “If you’re certain..” Ann nodded. “I am.”

With Ann’s money, they got the work on the coal pits started that very same day.

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The same day, right after the afternoon tea, Ann was sitting on Anne’s desk chair, her letter kit up on the desk, as she was writing eagerly. One letter to her sister, telling her of the plans she made with Anne to travel, telling her that if she sent a reply Annes aunt would forward it along. In the letter was an apology to her husband, but only for shows sake. She hoped he wasn’t too hard on her, so in the letter she wrote that her sister had no hand in Ann leaving them, and she thanked him for the hospitality, even though the despise she held for the captain had only grown.

One letter for ms Rawson, thanking her for her help and friendship in her hard times, and the last two out to the old mrs Rawson and to her neighbour Eliza, stating that she would be traveling, and that she had moved out of the crows nest, for good. When all four letters was crafted and prepared she handed it to the groom.

She returned up to their sleep chambers and walked up to Anne, sitting on the small couch reading from the same book as yesterday, but Ann could see she was much further along now.

“I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who reads as much as you.” She said and seated in her lap, Anne putting the book down. “Well I am one of a breed, that much is certain. But then, so are you.” Ann pondered whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. “How so?” She asked, in need of more details. Anne wrapped her arms around her pulled her higher up on her lap, kissing her nose.

“Well you’re so kind. Even to people who doesn’t deserve it. And your laughter? Like a thousand small bells, clinging pleasantly in my ear. And your many talents, and the way you so effortlessly take my breath away.” Ann smiled, glancing down embarrassed.

Anne always found so many nice things to say about her. It was a big step from being called an invalid or weak. Chewing on her lips, Ann wondered, not for the first time, how she possibly would make all off this up to Anne. Remembering how bad Ann had made her feel she was hit by a pow of guilt, but they were together now, and Ann would make sure Anne stayed happy all the way into old age, and longer still.

“Are you ready for our departure tomorrow? Remember we leave at first sunlight.” Anne said, bringing Ann out of her thoughts. “Well. I haven’t packed yet. I wouldn’t know what to bring, really.” Anne chuckled, motioned for Ann to get up and rose herself. “As an experienced traveler, I suppose I can be of some assistance. Come on then, we should get it done right away.”

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Next morning, all the bags were packed, and the servant had packed them breakfast to eat in the carriage. Anne hugged her aunt tightly before letting go, hugging her father shortly and even wrapped her sister into her embrace. “Good luck on your travels.” Marian said, smiling at Ann. “I’m certain you’ll have a great time.” She said and patted her shoulder. After their final goodbyes, and more than one reminder from Anne that if her aunts health got worse they should contact them, they were off, leaving Shibden in their carriage, the married couple lacing their hands together and Ann smiled, her heart beating hard. She was more than ready for adventure.