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fall into these arms of mine

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Mildred huffs, and it’s a discontented sound, an audible expression of the disdain brewing somewhere deep in her chest.

Naked and shivering, the open window ushering in frigid winter air, she studies herself in the mirror. Gwendolyn will want to know what has become of her, surely, wondering how long a pre-supper soak in the tub could possibly be taking so long.

But Mildred’s lost in thought now, too deeply distracted by the image she sees in the reflection to consider she might be due somewhere. It happens, sometimes, this losing herself to self criticism and loathing when she catches herself in a mirror, this one a French-style scroll procured by Gwendolyn at an estate sale, hanging rather imposingly above their dresser.

Her robe is long-forgotten and pooled around her feet, and with watery eyes she traces the lines of a body that has weathered a thousand storms throughout its lifetime: the crows feet outlined faintly in the thin skin around her eyes, the still-angry welts (burn marks) on her breasts left behind by someone’s cruel hand, if she turns to look over her shoulder: her upper back decorated with silver scars caused by someone else’s leather whip, and worst of all, the misshapen patch of skin on her right inner thigh where she was bitten once, so hard she later found a piece of her own flesh in the bedsheets. 

Objectively, Mildred can appreciate she is a handsome woman, but her body is marred by a cruel and miserable past, and for this, she struggles to study her naked form without feeling dejected, embarrassed. Worthless. 

Too often she swallows her pain, stuffs it down to a place where no light can escape so that she can play stoic, capable. Now, she does nothing to staunch the slow roll of tears snaking down her cheeks, but she does place a closed fist to her mouth to muffle the sounds of her despair leaking, it seems, from every inch of her.

I hate this body,” she thinks bitterly, pinching half-moons into her palms with clenched fists.

It’s then their bedroom door swings open and Gwendolyn pokes her head in, a curious expression coloring her face. “Mildred? Supper’s getting-“ The words catch once she takes in the sight before her.

She’s at Mildred’s side in two long strides.

“Dear,” she murmurs, “just what is the matter?” Gwendolyn reaches for the robe at Mildred’s feet and begins to wrap it around her naked form, but Mildred wrenches away from her, a sob escaping her throat. 

“Look at me, Gwendolyn!” she cries, gesturing in vague motions over the landscape of her body. “How can you possibly love me when I look like this?”

Gwendolyn’s face, Mildred can see in the mirror’s reflection, positively crumbles at this, and Mildred knows she’s disappointed her. “I’m sorry,” she warbles, “I’ve let you down.”

“Stop,” Gwendolyn says firmly, holding up a hand. Gently, still behind her, she places both her hands on Mildred’s shoulders and squeezes. “You’ve done no such thing, darling. What you saw in my face just now was sadness. I’m terribly sad you feel this way.” 

Mildred sniffles, can’t look at herself nor Gwendolyn in the mirror, and the scar on her inner thigh burns as some kind of unkind reminder. It does that sometimes.

Gwendolyn presses a kiss to Mildred’s shoulder. “I know it’s difficult for you to talk about.” 

She nods, rendered mute by her shame and her nakedness and the tears drying tacky on her cheeks. 

Gwendolyn presses on. “But this body has protected you, Mildred, in your darkest times, and we will treat it with the respect it deserves.” 

“Oh, Gwen.” She’s overwhelmed by this display of kindness and tenderness she’s not sure she deserves.

“So, if you’ll let me,” Gwendolyn continues, leaning forward to rest her chin on Mildred’s shoulder.” “I’ll show you just how easy it is for me to love you, scars and all.” 

Mildred very nearly crumbles then, her knees buckling slightly, overcome. Gwendolyn doesn’t miss a beat, catches her by the waist, sets her upright again. 

“Okay.” It’s barely above a whisper, but it’s there, so Gwendolyn sets to tracing the scars littering Mildred’s upper back with the tips of her fingers, murmuring something she can’t quite hear. Mildred shivers, her insides a confused jumble of embarrassment and the faint beginnings of arousal. 

Gwendolyn is touching her, mercifully so, in some of the very places men she’d bedded had snickered at so callously. 

Following the pass of her fingertips, Gwendolyn places a chaste kiss to each scar in turn. She moves her hands then, to run them up Mildred’s naked sides, warming the cool skin there. Over Mildred’s shoulder comes her roving lips, lightly kissing the column of her neck, and Mildred tips her head back to let her, her damp hair wetting Gwendolyn’s blouse. She covers Gwendolyn’s hands with her own, anchoring herself.

Gwendolyn gingerly pulls one hand free from Mildred’s grasp to gently turn her chin toward her so that she can catch her lips with her own. They kiss deeply, and it’s like a spark. 

Mildred gasps a quiet sound into Gwendolyn’s open mouth, wanting to swallow her whole. Their teeth knock in their shared desire and Mildred revels in her warm, familiar taste. 

Gwendolyn moves to grasp both of Mildred’s breasts from behind, and though she’s aroused, she also inadvertently stiffens when her hands cover the burn marks there. “Is this okay?” she asks her, her lips at Mildred’s ear. 

She swallows. “Just go slow.”

“You’re beautiful here, you know,” Gwendolyn announces in response, thumbs sweeping over her nipples. 

I’m beautiful there?” Mildred can’t possibly understand how that could be true, when a constellation of scars disfigure her skin, but she also trusts Gwendolyn with everything in her. She’s touching her in a way that feels like the start of healing.

When Mildred’s nipples harden beautifully under her touch, Gwendolyn smiles at her in the reflection of the mirror. Her pulse races, her heart juddering in her ribcage. Now, Mildred twists her neck to again kiss Gwendolyn, whose fully-clothed body is pressed closely to Mildred’s nude back. 

She sucks Gwendolyn’s lower lip between her own and moans with the feeling of her expert hands at her breasts and the warmth settling low in the belly. She wants to feel good and she wants to feel healed.

“Gwen,” she gasps, pulling away to look into her love’s familiar face, “please will you touch me.” It’s not a question.

Keeping one hand firmly on her breast, Gwendolyn shifts the other down Mildred’s abdomen, tickling the skin above her pubic bone with a levity that Mildred almost giggles at. She skates her fingers through the hair there before opening her up with two fingers. Mildred’s toes curl into the carpet. Gwendolyn’s fingers slip through the building slick she finds there, and she gathers what she can up to the swollen point of Mildred’s clit. She draws tight, insistent circles and keeps Mildred’s squirming frame pressed to hers by the hand at her breast. 

Mildred’s head lands with a soft thunk against Gwendolyn’s shoulder, her eyes closed, mouth open in pleasure. Gwendolyn kisses her jaw, gently nips at her skin. One hard press of Gwen’s finger to her clit sends Mildred’s hips shooting forward, chasing the throbbing between her legs. 

Gwendolyn ceases her ministrations only for the barest moment, but Mildred fusses with the loss of it. 

“I’ve got you,” Gwendolyn assuages her. “Open your legs a bit wider for me, baby.” 

Mildred widens her stance; she is wet enough that Gwendolyn is able to slip three fingers inside her with no resistance. “Oh, god,” she whines, a long, drawn-out sound, covering the hand that’s at her breast with her own. 

Gwendolyn steadily drives her fingers into Mildred, and her hips follow the pattern Gwendolyn sets. She feels like she’s smoldering from the inside out, like her pain is slowly burning off, molding into something akin to bliss.

“Look,” Gwendolyn gasps suddenly, “look in the mirror. Look how stunning you are.” 

Mildred opens her eyes, lifts her head from Gwen’s shoulder, though the effort is monumental, and shifts her gaze in the mirror to where they are joined. And Gwendolyn is right: the sight of her fingers moving in and out of her body is beautiful. She’s beautiful. They’re beautiful. 

Gwendolyn pinches her nipple and Mildred hisses in pleasurepain. She twists the fingers  working inside Mildred to stroke her striated flesh, a motion that has Mildred desperate and aching for it. 

When Gwendolyn unceremoniously slides her fingers out, Mildred’s arousal coating her skin, she groans at the loss. “Don’t! Don’t stop, Gwendolyn!” 

Gwendolyn soothes her with a kiss to one flushed cheek. “I want to try one more thing.” She steps away from Mildred then, and comes around to face her.

“What are you-“ Mildred starts, confused, titillated, but when Gwendolyn drops to her knees in front of her, her cheeks flush impossibly redder. 

“Leg up here, please,” Gwendolyn instructs, tapping her shoulder. Mildred can see the sweat beading at her hairline.

Having Gwendolyn at eye-level with the terrible scar on her inner thigh is particularly difficult for Mildred, but arousal has clouded that shame for the moment. Steadying herself with a hand on Gwen’s shoulder, she lifts her leg to rest at the other. “You’ll tell me if I’m hurting you?” 

Gwendolyn nods, places her hands on Mildred’s slim hips to guide her toward her. When her lips graze Mildred’s cunt, Mildred keens. Gwen uses her thumbs to spread her open, revealing the soaked flesh there, like a gift for Gwendolyn only. She draws her clit into her mouth, sucking on it the way she knows Mildred likes. She alternates between that and spearing the tip of her tongue into Mildred, Mildred bucking her hips, frenzied in her response. Using her free hand, Mildred runs her fingers through Gwendolyn’s hair, tugging gently to pull her somehow closer to her body, moaning low and slow when Gwendolyn traces the outline of her with her tongue. 

She continues to trace away from Mildred’s center, over to where her hip meets her thigh, settling at the ruined spot on Mildred’s inner thigh where someone pure evil had once bitten her when she was just a child. Mildred freezes, caught between needing her release and needing to clamber away. 

Gwendolyn maneuvers with the utmost care. “You’re okay,” she breathes, looking up to lock eyes with Mildred to keep her grounded. She kisses the scar with soft lips then, dares to lave her tongue over the skin in a tender motion.

“I will spend the rest of my days making sure you understand you are loved, regardless of your scars,” she says sincerely, humming into Mildred’s inner thigh. 

Though she has a long way to go, Mildred understands then that Gwendolyn can and will hold this pain with her, and that revelation is divine. She shakes, all of it too much, and when Gwendolyn returns to the task at hand, Mildred comes with tears running down her cheeks.