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that deathless death

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“Gideon,” Harrow says, hand warm on the side of Gideon’s shoulder.

Gideon cracks open her eyes to absolute darkness. She shuts her eyes again and pats vaguely at Harrow’s hand. “I’m alive, Harrow,” she mumbles. “It’s real, it’s not a dream or a trick or anything. ‘S all good.”

She tries to roll over to put her arm around Harrow and only Harrow’s steadying hand keeps her from falling off the bed.

“No, it’s not that. I just - there’s something I want. Will you come with me?” Harrow sounds very awake. Unfair she got a head start. Gideon hopes she got at least some sleep before slipping back out of bed.

“Okay, alright,” Gideon says. She hopes this goofy whatever-you-want warm feeling stops soon because it has her doing things like stumbling out of bed in the middle of the night just on Harrow’s say so and trusting that Harrow will lead her to somewhere worthwhile.

“Um, Harrow?” she asks once she’s standing uncertainly in the dark. “I haven’t lived in this room for very long, I kind of need some light to get around.”

Harrow conjures light in the palm of her hand, a cool stark blueish white that throws dancing shadows up over the walls and turns her eyes into dark glints in the skull of her paint.

“Oh, is this - is this a formal occasion? You’ve got - the fancy outfit with the lace and stuff.” She scrubs at her eyes. “My lady of darkness, mistress of the night, do you expect me to do myself up full skull cultist? At this hour?”

Harrow tilts her head and purses her lips. Gideon can’t quite make out her expression. “I could help, if you - “ she pauses. “No, I think it’s better without it. It will be better.”

Harrow watches like a sentry on a frieze of carved bone as Gideon pulls on her underclothes and then her robe. She’ll watch Gideon sometimes now, and Gideon doesn’t quite know what to make of it. Gideon is still training herself into knowing it’s never a bad thing.

It’s nice to be seen. It’s nice to be wanted. It’s a wonder that the Ninth ever had any children at all with how cold it is even in the heart of Drearburh Castle. Who could stand to be naked in here without being under the thick, soft blankets on Harrow’s bed?

She hesitates when she’s done, but does go to Harrow to lift her chin and kiss her, the light burning bright in Harrow’s cupped hands between them.

“What was that for?” Harrow sounds mad about it, but Gideon’s pretty sure that’s just because she wasn’t emotionally prepared to be happy. Gideon’s trying to train her out of that too.

Gideon shrugs. “I’m alive, you’re alive, we’re together,” she says. “Why not?”

“Oh,” says Harrow. Gideon can see her tiny smile. She reaches up and pulls Gideon in to kiss her again, being careful of her paint. “No reason,” she repeats.

Gideon can feel that she’s smiling at Harrow like a dope, which turns out to be a consequence of kissing Harrow. Harrow kiss overload, find your brain somewhere below her tits. Feelings. Huh.

Harrow takes Gideon’s hand. “Let’s go,” she says.

She leads Gideon through the back passages of Drearburh Castle, a part of the Ninth Gideon had never entered but Harrow had haunted intimately. Gideon doesn’t know the way, but Harrow is confident enough to glance at Gideon often and be sure of her footing. She pulls Gideon forward to walk beside her as often as the tunnels allow, which feels weirder to her than it should. Years of keeping a wary distance and then the careful formal positioning of a cavalier have not accustomed her to walking shoulder to shoulder with Harrow.

Eventually they emerge through a discreet door in the side of the apse of the sanctuary and Harrow does something to ignite the weak lights around the edges of the pews. After traversing the dark hallways with only Harrow for light, that dim strip of lights feels like the sun at Canaan House the first time she saw noon. 

Harrow lets go of Gideon’s hand to gesture with her lit hand at the sea of candles laid before the altar. They flicker in waves with Harrow’s cold flame before turning a more natural weak warm glow.

Gideon stretches her arms out and turns around slowly in a circle, as if in its emptiness she would be able to expand herself to fit this space that had never been welcoming to her before. She rounds the altar past where the Reverend Family sits in their place of honor and stretches and turns again in front of the transept.

She yells a wordless noise, to interrupt the silence that was unbroken by the murmur of bone prayers. She yells “Harrow!” then, to hear it echo back at her. The noise shakes some of the bioluminescent powder from the arches all the way down in the nave and it makes its shimmering way down, glittering anemic green.

“Gideon,” says Harrow in a normal speaking voice. She’s standing right behind the altar, the exact place where she had stood to lead the Ninth in prayer since she was ten. Sound carries from that spot to every corner of the sanctuary, to the bones of every skeleton and the ears of every ancient priest. 

Gideon rounds the altar and the sea of candles back to Harrow, who has grown a spiderweb of bone over the door they came in through, locking them in together. Gideon trails her fingers over the stone altar of the Ninth. It’s rougher than she expected, somehow.

“You know,” Gideon says, “they say that there’s a ceremony when pilgrims join the Ninth that happens on this altar.”

Harrow raises her eyebrows and moves so she’s standing with Gideon between her and the altar, and Gideon turns to face her. “Yes?” 

“Yeah,” says Gideon. “They say that in the Ninth they lay you out on the black altar and turn you inside out, hollow out all that living meat and put you back in just skin and bones, praying for the day the skin rots away and they can be true servants of the locked tomb.” 

Harrow steps closer and Gideon leans back against the altar, moving her hands to Harrow’s hips.

“Are you constructed from more than skin and bone?” Harrow asks.

“Dunno, you’re welcome to feel around inside if you want,” says Gideon. She kisses Harrow as Harrow’s  face twists up in complaint, muffling whatever she was about to say against her mouth.

“You’re awful, Griddle,” Harrow mutters, crowding Gideon forward into sitting fully on the altar, legs parted around Harrow’s narrow hips and her layers of dark fabric.

“I hear you say that, but would an awful person do this?” Gideon leans over and kisses her again.

Harrow’s paint is smeared over her forehead and around the bottom of her jaw on the right and on her right cheekbone where Gideon’s been cupping her face and rubbing her thumb over her cheek. 

Harrow makes a whining noise into her mouth.Gideon fumbles with the buttons of Harrow’s high collar so that  she can move down to bite at her neck in the hope that Harrow will just ignore the white smears that are probably pressed into the fabric at her waist from Gideon’s hands.

Harrow pulls at the hem of Gideon’s robe, pushing it up so she can crowd in even closer, warm hand exposing Gideon’s pants to the cold air. 

“I’m way into this,” Gideon says, breathing onto Harrow’s throat before scraping her teeth gently along the exposed skin, “but it’s cold as hell up here, did we come here for a reason or...?”

Harrow makes a noise and bites her lip and Gideon feels hot all over, prickling and dry and almost scorching. Harrow’s always hot as a furnace and for a second it feels like she’s touching Gideon everywhere.

Then Harrow pushes down the extra flicker of power and the air around them is a temperature that’s decidedly comfortable.

“Alright.” Gideon leans back with both arms, bracing herself on the rough stone. “We’re here to fuck on the altar of the Ninth? Kinky, but I could get into it.”

She smiles at Harrow. “If you wanted to fuck someone on a stone slab you could have just cracked open the locked tomb, get your girl. Much more heretical.”

Harrow rolls her eyes. “It’s not about hersey or sacrilege, it’s - “ She takes a breath in and sets her jaw, arranging her hands on Gideon’s thighs like someone’s going to judge her on right and proper symmetry.

“It’s - “ she says and stops. “You’re alive, and I’m alive. You live again and you are with me, and there has never been a second that I lived that you were not in some way essential to my being. Even when I told myself I hated you instead of myself I was grateful to have reason to keep you close. I’m afraid that now I feel how I feel about you if you asked I would let you go and be left empty. I’m afraid that I’m not enough. This isn’t what I wanted to say it’s - “

“Harrow. Harrowhark. My gloom mistress. My one-and-only skeleton chick.” Gideon leans forward to bump noses with Harrow again. She’s smiling. “Answer the question. Why are we here, in the huge-ass empty sanctuary of Drearburh Castle?” says Gideon. “Why not stay in our nice warm bed?”

Harrow takes a breath inward. She seems to make a decision. Then she smiles in a way that sends a shiver down Gideon’s spine and has her leaning back onto her hands as Harrow moves in close. She speaks almost directly into Gideon’s mouth.

“The Ninth,” she says, “is old fashioned.” She slides her hand higher up Gideon’s legs under her robes, thumbs pressing against the inside of her thighs and moving upwards towards her core. Gideon’s thighs jerk further apart. “I am old fashioned. Don’t you know Gideon? Haven’t you learned?” She moves in closer, towards Gideon’s ear. 

“Right and proper worship,” she whispers, hooking her fingers into Gideon’s waistband, “always requires an altar.”

Gideon grabs her hair and pulls her back and then in to kiss her, then again, then again. She presses their foreheads together. She’s probably smearing white paint all over her forehead. She doesn’t care. They’re going to be a mess after this anyway. “Yes,” she says, looking hard into Harrow’s eyes. “Yes.”

“Yes,” repeats Harrow, almost nonsensically, and then they’re scrambling to pull Gideon’s pants off. Harrow falls to her knees on the floor to pull off one of Gideon’s carelessly tied boots while Gideon tries to use the other foot to get leverage to pull her pants and underwear over her ass and manages just before Harrow grabs that foot too, and Gideon’s left precariously balanced with one hand on the altar and the other trying to push her pants down without losing her balance. Harrow throws her other boot and sock over with the other and pulls her pants off with both hands, throwing them carelessly beyond the dark circle of her layers of skirt. Gideon tips without her support and her feet land flat on the cold ground, shocking her whole system before Harrow shoulders one leg up out of the way and walks on her knees closer to where she wants to go. Gideon wrenches one arm out of her robe and throws the rest of the fabric at the front over her shoulder before falling back on her hands, leaving the ball of her other foot pushing on the cold ground for balance.

Apparently sitting on the altar of the Ninth with the Reverend Lady on her knees in front of you is more of a pussy out look.

Harrow doesn’t go for it immediately, though, because she’s evil, and Gideon’s throat makes this awful quiet breathed-in click sound that’s probably being projected to every seat in the place. Harrow’s eyelashes are dark against her cheeks in the shadows between Gideon’s thighs as she turns her head to kiss Gideon’s inner thighs with her warm lips, first the left then the right. That sends a shiver through Gideon even before Harrow flicks her eyes up to look at her and licks up the whole length of her, wet and decadent, and Gideon holds back a shout.

Then she wonders why she’s holding back and throws her head back and shouts just because, just to hear the sanctuary echo it back to her.

Harrow bites her thigh for that and Gideon laughs. “Twilit lady, my penumbral mistress, necromancer of my heart, don’t worry, I’m always paying attention to you, especially if you keep on like that.”

“You’re not - “ Harrow bites her on the other thigh, and Gideon doesn’t hold back the noise she makes. “I’m paying attention to you, it’s not the other way around.”

“So what, you want me to lie back and think of the Ninth? Surprise, that’s you too!”

“Actually, could you - ” Harrow’s hot hands have crept up over her thighs and she’s leaned closer, further in, her breath warm over Gideon’s clit. “Could you - take off your robe?”

Gideon looks down at her. “Are you serious?”  Harrow makes eye contact and bites her bottom lip. “The things I do for you, honestly.” 

She summons all her supreme and glorious willpower and gently pulls Harrow away from her by the hair, Harrow resisting for a moment before letting herself be led. Gideon has to get both of her feet on the ground to wrestle her robe completely off and throw it back onto the altar. Thankfully the robe is long enough that her bare ass never touches stone as she halfheartedly slides it around underneath her.

Harrow’s kneeling back on her heels with her hands resting demurely on her thighs and looking up at Gideon. “Shirt too?” she asks.

“And here I always thought porn set in the Ninth was wildly unrealistic,” Gideon says, and shucks off her shirt to throw it in the vague vicinity of her boots, throwing her bra over after it.

Gideon scooches up again and leans back on her hands. “Tits out for the locked tomb, babe.”

“By all that is sacred, Griddle, shut up.

Gideon smiles down at Harrow and moves one thigh out wider. “You gonna come up to this altar and make me?”

And that’s what gets Harrow moving back in, finally, finally where she wants her. Gideon’s tits really are extremely out and pointed towards some nebulous space halfway up in the rafters from the way she’s balancing on her hands and she can’t really move her hips at all for fear of sliding to the ground, so she’s just - pinned and on display for anything Harrow wants to do to her. There’s nothing she can do but take it.

Not that she has any problem with that. Gideon thanks anyone who will listen that this is the one physical thing Harrow’s a quick study at. And now Harrow’s really going at it, trying to make Gideon lose it as fast as she can, starting with these long dirty licks that are fucking amazing before she really gets down to sucking on Gideon’s cilt, also amazing. Gideon starts making these really undignified whines and gasps, way too high pitched, which is also amazing because pretty much everything’s amazing. The whole world and more.

Her head falls back between her shoulders but she heaves it up again because she wants to watch Harrow, Harrow who’s got one thin hand around Gideon’s thigh over her shoulder to steady it and the other teasing lightly around her entrance. Harrow’s eyes are most of the time half lidded in concentration as well as pleasure but sometimes when Gideon makes a particularly shameless sound her eyes flick up to Gideon’s face and Gideon meets her eyes and smiles at her. Harrow’s lips - Harrow’s lips are fucking amazing, and her lips and lower jaw are in shadow, but Gideon has paint smeared over her thumbs and her face and her inner thighs a little too, leaving Harrow’s jaw almost completely free of paint. She doesn’t seem to mind, and Gideon doesn’t really mind her girl looking up at her with half of death’s face. It’s the only face of hers Gideon knew for most of her life.

If she wanted someone who wasn’t half a skeleton she would be with a girl who could do a full pushup unassisted.

When Harrow slips a finger inside of her, Gideon falls down to her elbows on the stone which fucks up the angle Harrow is working with completely.

“No,” says Gideon, “no don’t stop.” She moves down so her ass is mostly off of the altar and throws her other leg over Harrow’s shoulder and moans, long and low, when Harrow goes back to exactly what she had been doing. Gideon’s in a position now where she doesn’t have to resist rocking her hips into Harrow for balance’s sake and she loses herself in it for a while. Harrow’s wrist has to be at an awful angle to be getting Gideon that good and half of Gideon’s forearms and her elbows are leaning on cold hard stone but she doesn’t care. Harrow always runs hot, and she’s warmed up the air of the sanctuary for Gideon and is enthusiastically working on warming up Gideon while Gideon’s splayed out on the altar for her -

Gideon feels herself sliding forward and falls down to her back to spread her arms out and grab the edge of the altar to keep herself from sliding off, and the cold stone on her shoulder blades is such a shock that she comes laughing at just how ridiculous this whole situation really is.

Gideon once again fails to pop Harrow’s head with her thighs in the throes of orgasm, and when she’s relaxed again Harrow moves back and starts mouthing at her inner thighs, all that Gideon can take for a minute or two after her first orgasm.

Gideon sits up, dislodging Harrow and probably smearing gross fluids all over her robe where it’s draped over the altar. Harrow sits back on her knees and looks up at Gideon, mouth open slightly and red in the flickering candlelight, although she sits mostly shadowed by the bulk of the altar.

Gideon smiles at her and holds out her hand.

“Come on, come up here with me.”

Harrow blinks rapidly and scrapes her teeth across her lower lip. 

“No?” she says.

“Well why the fuck not Nonagesimus, am I the only on who gets the privlidge of lying on stone?”

“Yes, Gideon, that’s the point. I didn’t bring you here for no reason, I wanted to show you…” she falters. Gideon draws one of her knees up and rests her chin on it, wrapping her arm around it.

“Yeah,” says Gideon, “I get that, I’m with you, all of that, but I want you up here with me.”

Harrow makes a frustrated noise.

“You don’t understand, I want - I need to - show it, I can’t love any other way than worship, Griddle, I - “

Gideon lets her leg fall back down to dangle over the edge of the altar and leans forward, making eye contact.

“Harrow, you don’t understand. I’m with you. Me. Same. I’d die for you. I have died for you. If you let me, I’ll live for you. I’d do it all over again. I’m with you all the way, Harrow, I’ll be wherever you need, but I want you here with me.”

“Oh,” says Harrow, dark eyes looking up at Gideon. She swallows. “Okay.”

She stands, and then hesitates. “Did you mean literally, or?”

Gideon puts her hands on the altar, leans forward and grins at Harrow. “Strip for me, baby.”

Harrow tries to glare but her eyes just end up snagged on Gideon’s tits until she gives them a wiggle to startle Harrow back on track, hands fumbling with the clasps of the overcloak still fastened around her shoulders. She releases it and lets it pool darkly on the ground around her, looking up through her full eyelashes at Gideon. Gideon hums in appreciation and lets her eyes go half-lidded.

Harrow reaches an arm over her head and behind herself and undoes the first small aged-bone button at the back of her dress. She looks at Gideon and asks, “Could you?” 

Gideon nods and spreads her legs wider so Harrow can fit herself between them, the fragile nape of her neck bared to Gideon’s eyes and her skirt rough on the inside of Gideon’s knees.

She puts her hands on Harrow’s shoulders, pressing the v the open button left behind open with her thumbs, and kisses just above the knob of Harrow’s spine.

Harrow turns her head to look back at her. When she says “Gideon…” it’s quiet enough that the acoustics of the sanctuary don’t pick it up; it remains in their little bubble of warmth, just for the two of them. A tingling shiver runs through Gideon and lingers in the tips of her fingers, low in her belly.

Gideon kisses lower on her spine where she exposes that skin with the next button, but then can’t lean down further and abandons that and concentrates on her task as she frees Harrow down to the tailbone where the line of buttons stops. 

Gideon touches her shoulder and Harrow turns obediently and Gideon takes her hand. She carefully slides the tiny button at her wrist out of its hole and bends her head and brings Harrow’s wrist to her mouth for a kiss, and Harrow draws in a breath. When Gideon does the same to the other wrist, Harrow touches her jaw with her free hand and Gideon looks up and then obediently drops Harrow’s hand and leans up to kiss her lips. Harrow’s hands are on Gideon’s thighs right above her knees and one of Gideon’s hands is loose around the back of Harrow’s neck, fingertips brushing at skin that had until recently been hidden under her dress, moving down the vulnerability of her spine. 

When Gideon’s wrist slips around her shoulder to continue its downward path, Harrow pulls herself away and takes a couple of steps back from the altar to shake the dress off her shoulder, letting it fall over her hips so that she can kick it vaguely towards where Gideon’s clothes are piled and then turns back to Gideon, still in her boots and underwear, one arm wrapped around her stomach.

Something about the look in Harrow’s eyes then made Gideon feel like - something. The warm uncertain light from the candles makes Harrow seem like something precious and a little other, baring herself to the altar here for Gideon, and Gideon is honored and greedy for her, wants all of her that she’ll give.

Harrow reaches up to touch her face lightly and notices the state of her paint. “Shit,” she says. “This isn’t how I wanted to - “ 

“It’s fine, Harrow,” Gideon says, but Harrow goes over to her overcloak and wipes her face on it.

“‘No, Harrow, just - “ says Gideon, “wait, that’s a good idea, bring that over here.”

“What?” 

“Yeah, your cloak, come here, Harrow.” Gideon reaches out her arm and wiggles her fingers, and Harrow comes to her with her overcloak in her hands.

Gideon hugs Harrow close, delighting in naked skin on naked skin, and drops a kiss on her neck before snagging the cloak and heaving herself up to stand on the bare stone at the short edge of the altar, kicking her robe off onto the ground.

Harrow looks up at her and blinks, her face falling towards a neutral scowl. “Griddle, what are you doing?”

Gideon grins and throws Harrow’s cloak over the altar like a sheet. It settles evenly over it and doesn’t fall on the candles in front of the altar at all, so Gideon does a little fistbumb at her success. 

“Only the best padding for fucking on a hard as fuck stone altar for my necromancer,” she says, putting her hands on her hips and grinning proudly at Harrow.

“You’re ridiculous.” Harrow sounds reluctantly fond, but Gideon knows Harrow appreciates her.

Gideon sits back down and reaches out for Harrow again.

“I’m still wearing clothes,” says Harrow.

“I can help you with that,” says Gideon, and Harrow climbs up onto the altar and hovers kneeling up in front of Gideon. Gideon looks up at her bare face and Harrow puts one hand on Gideon’s shoulder and one hand on her jaw and leans down to kiss her.

Gideon shifts and gets one hand behind Harrow’s back and one hand behind her head and flips them so that Harrow’s lying down on the altar on her back and Gideon’s between her legs.

Gideon leans down to kiss Harrow’s neck.

“I know what you’re thinking,” she says.

“Do you,” says Harrow, sounding a little breathless.

“You’re thinking wow, my - Gideon’s so great - ” Harrow makes a dubious noise at that “ - she laid out this nice cloak to shield my delicate unpadded necromancer bones, and then she used her big sexy muscles to flip me over and now she’s between my legs and kissing me.” Gideon teases her fingers under Harrow’s bra. “I should get naked in order to appreciate her more fully.”

“Gideon, if you had let me take all my clothes off over there, I could be naked right now.”

“Maybe,” says Gideon, tugging on her bra until Harrow cooperates and pulls it off over her head, throwing it towards the rest of their clothes, “but then you would have had to spend more time not here with me, and I wouldn’t want to deprive you like that. You did name me first flower of your house, and I’d hate to disappoint.”

“You’re going to have to let me up to get my underwear off, you know,” Harrow says.

Gideon sits back on her heels and sticks her tongue at her before turning to work on taking off one of Harrow’s boots, and Harrow laughs and pushes herself up on her elbows. “You know this is just more work,” she says, “easier to just let me go.”

Gideon gets one boot untied and shucked off with the sock and chucked towards their clothes and smiles at Harrow as she twists to start working on the other. “I’ve got you caught now, I’m not going to let you go for something that small.”

At that Harrow tries to sit up fully and Gideon leans back in to push her back down with a hand on her ribcage, biting at the bared upper curve of her breast. Harrow squirms underneath her, but it’s not to get away.

Gideon slides her hand down over Harrow’s stomach into her underwear. Her fingers flutter delightedly in the wetness she finds there, and Harrow makes a squeaking sort of moan. She smiles up at Harrow, close enough that her breath is on Harrow’s skin as she squirms against her hands. “You’re so wet, Harrow, seems like you’re really into this.”

Harrow starts turning more red than she already is. “Obviously, I wouldn’t have brought you - here, if I didn’t want this.”

“This?” asks Gideon, nudging Harrow’s cilt with the big knuckle of her thumb.

Harrow grunts and arches and bites her lip. “This, being - here, on the altar, where - I’m not supposed to -”

“Where you’re not supposed to fuck?” Gideon enunciates the fuck so that her lower lip ends up dragging against Harrow’s skin. Then she bites her too for good measure, just too hard to be gentle. “Oh Harrow, Reverend Lady of the Ninth, do you get off on sacrilege? Were you just standing up here preaching and squeezing your legs together every time you prayed that tomb girl to stay locked up like a good little nun?”

Harrow manages to look annoyed for a moment before being shocked back to open-mouthed gasping. “It’s not that, Griddle, it’s -”

“Yeah?” Gideon shifts to rest so that her left elbow is holding her weight and she’s only holding Harrow down with her forearm over Harrow’s right shoulder. She considers where she bit Harrow before, and bites down again just below it just to hear the sound Harrow makes when she does. When Gideon licks over the red marks she’s left she feels Harrow’s low, almost purring moan in her teeth.

Harrow collects herself back together enough to catch the thread of conversation again. “I’m not supposed to - feel - good, here. Not supposed to like - things.”

Gideon’s fingers still. “Oh.”

When she lifts her head to look at Harrow, Harrow’s gaze is wandering like she can’t decide if she wants to look at Gideon or not, but when she catches Gideon’s gaze and holds it, stained red with flushed desire and kissing and eating Gideon out, the remnants of her paint clinging stubbornly almost more vulnerable than her expression.

Gideon bites her bottom lip and Harrow mirrors her, and then Harrow reaches for Gideon just as Gideon moves up to kiss her. This changes the angle of Gideon’s wrist and her fingers move in a way neither of them were expecting and Harrow makes this beautiful sweet sort of sound into Gideon’s mouth and Gideon’s almost sad that there’s no one else in the sanctuary. She laughs into Harrow’s mouth and redoubles her efforts to pull more amazing sounds out of Harrow just for her.

“And is fucking on the altar of the Ninth a ‘thing’ you like?”

Harrow turns her head to the side, snarls and bucks and arches not to get away from exactly where she wants to be but to make Gideon pay attention. “Fuck you Gideon, it’s not that specifically it’s - it’s you, Gideon, I like you, it’s not sacrilige if you’re holy, Gideon it’s - me and you - it’s worship, not desecration, you’re something good, me and you, we’re something good - you’re here with me and I’m good too -”

Gideon swallows and rubs her cheek against Harrows. She has to clear her throat before she speaks directly into Harrow’s ear. 

“Dear diary,” she says, barely a whisper. “Today Harrowhark Nonagesimus told me I was a good girl. It’s probably too late to hope that this doesn’t awaken anything in me.”

Gideon’s smiling as she flinches away when Harrow yells  “Gideon!” directly in her ear, the space echoing it back at her.

“Knew I’d get you screaming my name at some point tonight.”

Harrow growls and reaches out to grab at Gideon. “Just - come here - ” She’s losing her words. Gideon moves and kisses Harrow again, open mouthed and more breathing into each other than anything else. Harrow’s left hand is feeling the muscles of Gideon’s upper back and her half-pinned right hand grasping to touch skin at Gideon’s waist.

Gideon’s pressed so close to Harrow that she can feel it in all of her when she presses hard on Harrow’s clit and Harrow comes. Harrow arches up against Gideon and her thighs press tight around Gideon’s legs and she makes a long rough noise like revelation.

Gideon pulls herself as close as she can while she works Harrow through it, trying to give her more skin contact without taking her hand out of Harrow’s underwear until Harrow starts to flinch a little at the stimulation. Then Gideon sits back on her heels and rests her palms on Harrow’s stomach, fingers splayed out towards her sides.

Harrow closes her eyes and stretches and makes a contented sound like the decadent creature she most often is not. “Mmm,” she says, and her eyelashes look especially lush framing her dark eyes in the uncertain light on the altar. “I was going to give you another orgasm. You can do two.”

“Yeah,” says Gideon. “I don’t mind, that was really hot, but it also wouldn’t really take much right now, if you wanted to?”

“Oh, Gideon,” she says. Her voice is always lower when she comes and it makes Gideon shiver. “Do you want me to tell you you’re a good girl?”

Gideon shrugs unevenly. “And what if I do?”

Harrow sits up and scooches closer, looping her arms around Gideon’s neck, Gideon’s hands moving to Harrow’s back to help hold her there.

“I won’t lie to you, Griddle,” Harrow says, looking up at Gideon. “You are a good girl. You are the best of all things.” Harrow kisses Gideon gently on the neck. “You are closest to my heart.”

Gideon makes a small sound like she doesn’t want to interrupt and tightens her arms to support Harrow better as Harrow frees one of her arms to thumb at Gideon’s nipple. Gideon gasps, still quietly.

“You’re so good that I took you here to have sex with you on the altar of the Ninth and I call it holy, Gideon, I hope you know that you’re integral to my life, to everything I am, Gideon, you’re better than I deserve, really - ”

There’s a hitch in her breath when Gideon murmurs, “Don’t talk about my girl like that.”

“I’m your girl?” Harrow asks.

“Yeah,” says Gideon, and Harrow can hear her little gasp when Harrow rolls her nipple in her fingers the way she likes, “and Harrow, I’m only good for you if you’re good for me, it doesn’t work any other way, it only works if we’re together - “

And then Harrow suddenly can’t stand it anymore. She looks up and leans in so that Gideon will lean down and kiss her and moves her hand down to press the heel of her palm between Gideon’s legs and Gideon falls easily, shaking apart and back together with Harrow in her arms. 

They’re quiet for a moment, just sharing each other’s air in their own little pocket of warmth in the vast cavern of Drearburgh.

Then Gideon says, “If we ever do this again we’re going to have to find some better positions. Even with your cloak my knees are not happy.”

“Why do you do this every time we’re having a moment,” Harrow complains.

“My elbow isn’t doing too hot either - like you can talk, most of the time you were just laid out flat on your back.”

Even as Harrow tries to find a position where she can kick Gideon with her still booted foot where they both won’t fall off the altar and Gideon tries to stop her doing that and straighten out her legs in a way that won’t knock them both off the altar, they’re both smiling.