It happened first on a cold winter’s night, as such things often do. Lured to the bedside by her mistress’s fitful moans, Susanna found herself in the older woman’s embrace, being tugged irresistibly beneath the blankets. The warmth of the bed, combined with the security of the Countess’s arms, calmed her almost immediately, and she slept peacefully through the first of many nights they would spend together. Though she was not physically attracted to the Countess, she nonetheless took pleasure in providing her mistress with the comfort the woman so clearly lacked. All but abandoned by her rakish husband, it fell to Susanna to act as lover and confidant, servant and master.
The first time they truly made love was a hasty, frantic affair, their hands roaming each other’s bodies with the air of a drowning man gasping for breath. The sense of power Susanna felt as the Countess grew tense then collapsed beneath her was overwhelming and addicting. Soon she began to look forward to their stolen moments of pleasure as much as her mistress did.
Both knew it could not last. With her marriage to Figaro approaching, Susanna slowly and painfully drew away from the Countess. It hurt her to see the lost look return to her mistress’s eyes, hurt to back away from the tenderness she knew was only a touch away. With a single word, she knew she could return to the way things were, but it could not be. Her destiny and her heart lay elsewhere. The night she returned to her own bed was one of the longest in her life; she listened for hours to the quiet sobbing emanating from the next room, forcing herself to lie still even as tears soaked into her pillow. Eventually the Countess’s cries ceased, but Susanna lay awake until dawn, her heart aching too much for sleep.
For a long while afterwards there was a distance between the two, an unspoken separation. But as time went on things returned to the way they once were, with Susanna acting the part of a dutiful servant. Only the two of them knew the way they’d once clung to one another, each desperate for the other’s touch. Susanna watched, with a hint of sadness, as the Countess sought other means of comfort in her solitude, but never questioned her mistress’s actions. Yet on occasion, when Figaro was away and she lay alone in bed, she would remember the feeling of a woman’s soft, long hair draped over her shoulders and chest, the faint perfume that filled the air whenever the Countess was near, and the gentle, pleading kisses of the woman she’d once called “lover”.