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Of Pomp and Scars

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“So this is the new bed.” She mutters it into fluffy down pillows covered in silver silk, lazily eyes the rich cobalt of the bedspread, and traces fingers over the shining threads winding about the fabric in broad, looping script. A voice sounds inches from her ear, a deep chuckle that makes her grin.

“A bit late to comment, isn’t it?”

“Never.” Isabela rolls onto her side from her stomach, and immediately laughs at the woman laid out next to her. “Look at you,” she jokingly coos, “the queen momentarily detached from her pomp.”

“Never,” her companion returns effortlessly, effectively haughty despite her sheened skin and loose-limbed sprawl. Isabela chuckles again, just because she can, and reaches out to tangle her fingers in tresses thick and dark and, for once, utterly a mess.

She likes seeing Morowa like this; loves it, if she feels like being honest. They’re similar in so many ways, in their independence and their intelligence, in the big wide breadth of their everythings. In the years they’ve been in each other’s spaces, though, lain between each other’s places, she’s also come to discover how different they are, like two sides of the same golden doubloon. And as she trails her fingers from the heated bed sheets to the smooth, unblemished skin warming them, she’s reminded again.

She has always had scars. Welts from her mother’s sewing needles, wounds from duels and burns from the long-ago wreck of her ship. Patches of healed tissue protecting her heart, her spirit, from those who would do it harm. Scars everywhere, scars she bears openly, as proudly as her skin and the Rivaini tattoos painted upon it.

Morowa has few such blemishes marking her. Little abrasions from childhood magic use, sure, tiny burns and cuts barely visible to the eye. You wouldn’t know they were there without knowing her, seeing her bared before you, umber expanses of skin wrapped around curves and tucked in folds and encasing soft, supple limbs. And it’s such a shame, Isabela jokes, that she keeps her body so concealed, even if it’s with fabrics fit for an empress, robes and gowns and skirts that shine and shimmer with every movement. She holds a firm belief that no beauty exists beyond that of a woman comfortable in her own skin, and her Morowa is proof of that if ever there was any.

Isabela lifts herself on slightly noodly arms and brings herself closer to Morowa’s side before happily collapsing again, her arm thrown over the other woman’s belly. She buries her nose into the side of her jaw, breathes in the scent of her perfume and exhales with a hum. Morowa tangles their legs as her hand comes up, elegant fingers caressing along the skin of Isabela’s back. “Are you planning to stay the night?”

“I was.” Isabela lifts her head, rests her chin on an upraised fist. “Do you think Kirkwall can go one night without its Viscountess?”

Morowa chuckles, her free hand coming up to drag through the thick crimps of her hair, her eyes crinkling in humor. “How long have you lived here? One hour can’t go by without this place having a crisis.”

“I believe that time has been extended to two hours, since you took charge,” Isabela intonates, a tease coloring her tone as her fingers trace over an ample hip and down a stretch-marked thigh. “That’s no small feat.”

“I would add that daily fashion atrocities have also decreased by quite the large handful,” Morowa intonates, wide lips pursing in thought, “but I’m not one to boast.” Isabela snorts.

“Of course you’re not. Just as our dear Fenris isn’t one to brood.”

Well.” Morowa lifts herself on her elbows, dark taupe eyes narrowed playfully in the wake of Isabela’s grin. “Perhaps I’ll cut our night short and spend the remainder with him. We can boast and brood amongst ourselves without incurring judgment.” She tosses her hair over her shoulder and makes to rise, only for Isabela to pull her back down into the tangled sheets. Amidst chortling laughter, she molds them together, legs and hips and breasts and bellies, raised scars and smooth skin. Beautiful, she thinks, how similar they are. And how different.

“Don’t get those lacy knickers of yours in a bunch,” she says, her thumb coming up to smooth the furrow between the other woman’s meticulously-shaped brows. “I’m only here for a couple more days. You really want me to spend them alone?”

“As if you would,” Morowa retorts with a grin. Isabela scrunches her nose.

“You and your technicalities.” With a roll of their bodies Isabela nestles herself between Morowa’s thighs, her forehead falling to rest warmly against hers. Their eyes meet just before their lips do, and there it is, that sense of belonging curling around her heart and making itself a snug home. She sighs and lets it settle, like a ship on the sea after the storm’s passed. “The point,” she murmurs, breaking the kiss and smirking into Morowa’s half-lidded eyes, “is that I want to spend my remaining time with you, you pompous blueblood.”

Morowa shakes her head, her smile warm and indulgently sweet. “Such charm. However can I refuse?”

“That’s the beauty of it, love.” Isabela kisses her again, tongues gently entwining before she whispers into her mouth. “You can’t.”