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Married Life

Chapter Text

Chapter 1

The morning seemed to go so fast. Peter and Bridget brought them breakfast in bed. After they ate they loaded their suitcases into the rental. They would leave it at the airport. Anne had called the previous day to find out if that was okay.

There were more tears than they imagined. Isabel gave them a picture she had drawn of them to take home. Ann said she would frame it. Matilda, Graeme and the kids went with them to the airport to say goodbye. They left after Anne had checked Ann and herself in.

They were in the waiting area at the Launceston airport. Ann took a few more photos of the scene outside the airport. Then their flight was called. They made their way through customs and down stairs to the departure lounge.  Anne smiled at Ann whose eyes were red from all the tears she had shed. ‘You’ll see them again and sooner probably than what you can imagine.’

Do you know something I don’t?’ Ann asked. ‘No Adney. I don’t.’

Their flight left on time. It was good to be going home, Ann thought as she looked out the window and saw Tasmania disappear into the distance. It was still hard to believe they had spent three weeks on this island at the bottom of the world. Or was it?

The sky was clear. They could see Bass Strait. It looked wild and windy down there. An hour and a half later they were landing at Sydney airport. They checked in for their next flight. Anne checked their luggage at Sydney airport through to Heathrow. When they arrived at Heathrow they were staying overnight at a hotel near the airport and travelling home the next day.

Ann had sent Elizabeth a text message before the flight took off to tell her they would be staying at Heathrow overnight and be home in Halifax by 1PM the following day. Ann had turned off her phone as the plane began taxing down the runway. Anne was chatting in her ear telling Ann what they would do when they returned home.  So, they were in the air and the plane was levelling before Ann realised they had left the ground.

She was constantly amazed by the way Anne could calm and relax her. Anne seemed to know what to do and how to do it. Ann slept from Sydney to Singapore. She was woken by Anne who said they were deplaning for about an hour or two while the plane was refuelled.  They sat in the departure lounge. Ann bought them a drink and something to eat. Ann rested her head on Anne’s shoulder. Anne wondered why she was so quiet until she heard little snores. Ann had fallen asleep. They were called to board the plane again. Anne nudged Ann who opened her eyes. She was surprised that she had fallen asleep. ‘How long was I asleep?’ She asked Anne. ‘Not long. Let’s get you back on board then you can go back to sleep. Okay!’

The flight between Singapore and London was uneventful. Ann slept most of the way. She would wake up often to see if Anne was still sitting next to her. Then sleep again. They arrived at Heathrow airport just over 14 hours after they left Sydney. Anne had booked their hotel room for the night.

They stayed at the London Heathrow Marriot Hotel. The room was spacious and even though Ann had slept for most of their flight she was exhausted. Anne called down for room service to bring them up tea at around 6PM. They flight landed at around 3PM.

Ann slept for the next two hours. When she woke Anne was watching tv. It was so good to relax after such a long flight. The meal Anne had ordered from room service arrived on the dot of six. Anne was so happy she gave the waiter a huge tip. Ann smiled. She didn’t know her wife was so generous.

While they ate tea the news on BBC1 played in the background. It didn’t seem as though anything drastic had happened while they were away just the usual array of whinging opposition politicians complaining about what the government wasn’t doing or was doing and the English weather. ‘Well, it’s not too bad. Is it?’ Ann asked.  Anne decided to call her aunt to say they had arrived back in England in one piece. When she turned on her phone there were lots of messages and many of those messages were from Mariana Lawton. ‘I think I need to get another bloody phone number. Then maybe Mariana will leave me alone.’ Anne said angrily. ‘Hand me your phone, Anne.’ Anne handed Ann her phone. Ann had had enough of Mariana trying to inveigle herself into their lives. ‘What are you going to do, Ann?’

‘I have no idea but I am fed up with her trying to stuff up what we have, dearest.’ Anne leaned over and watched Ann type something then deleting it. She did that a few times until she knew what she wanted to say. Mariana, this is Ann Walker. You might think that I am only a bit of a fling for Anne but you need to remember we are married which trumps whatever you had with her. I just wish you would realise this and leave Anne and I alone. We will get in touch with you later. Okay!!

Anne read the message and smiled. ‘I just hope this works. Anne’s phone was silent for a beat then a message came through. You don’t know Anne like I do. Mariana’s message said. Ann replied with. No, I think I know her better than what you do. I have accepted Anne as she is and you will never do that..

Anne and Ann watched the three bubbles float up and down as Mariana replied to her message. They read it together. Okay if you say so. They both wondered what that meant and Anne wasn’t game enough to ask and Ann knew Anne better than Mariana thought.

Anne called her aunt who answered on the first ring. ‘Hi Anne how are you and where are you?’ Aunt Anne asked panting. She had been waiting for Anne to call her but dozed off and was pulled awake when her phone buzzed next to her. ‘We are great Aunt. Just had to deal with Mariana but I think she won’t be bothering us again. We are in London staying at the London Heathrow Marriot Hotel. It’s posh. Well, it should be for the price. We will be home tomorrow to see you and the rest of the family.’

‘How is little Ann? Put me on speakerphone so I can chat with both of you.’ Anne did as her Aunt asked her. ‘Hi little Ann. How are you doing?’

‘Hi Aunt I am doing fine. Anne let me sleep for most of the flight and then I slept for a while when we arrived here. She is a good wife. Isn’t she?’ Anne could hear her aunt chuckle. ‘What did she do to deserve such an amazing wife, little Ann? You do praise her up a lot.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Oh I will always praise her because she is so good to me.’ Ann said confidently. ‘She dealt with Eliza Priestley when she called while we were on our honeymoon. Then she switched off my phone.  I’m not game enough to turn it back on.’ Anne blushed. Ann really did see her. She whispered thank you in Ann’s ear.

They talked with Aunt Anne until Ann started to yawn. ‘I think I need to get my wife into bed. She has had a very long day. We will see you sometime tomorrow, Aunt.’  Anne said. ‘Goodnight girls.’

‘Goodnight Aunt.’ Anne and Ann said in unison. Then Anne disconnected the call. ‘Do you want to check your phone, Adney?’ Ann shook her head. ‘Can we leave it to later? I would prefer not to know what is on my phone right now.’

‘What if your sister is trying to get hold of you?’ Anne said sincerely. ‘Can I use your phone to call her?’ Anne nodded and passed her phone to Ann.  She dialled her sister’s number. Elizabeth answered on the first ring. ‘Hi Anne I have been trying to call Ann. Why isn’t she answering her phone?’

‘Hi Liz I haven’t turned it on yet. I don’t want to know who has been calling to badger me about not calling Aunt Ann.’

‘I know they called me constantly to see if you had called. I told them you had turned off your phone. Thanks for calling me. How are you?’

‘We are doing great.’ Anne said when Ann put her sister on speakerphone. ‘Thank you Anne. Where are you?’

‘At the London Heathrow Marriot Hotel we will be home tomorrow.’ Ann said.  ‘Great.’ Elizabeth said. ‘How you are getting home?’  Ann looked at Anne. They hadn’t thought about that. ‘I guess we will hire a car.’ Anne said. ‘Or get the train home. Then I suppose get an uber to Shibden. Why?’

‘We were coming down to Halifax for a few days to see you and Ann. You could get the train and let us know when you arrive there and we could pick you up and take you home to Shibden. What do you think Annie?’ Ann looked at her wife. Anne nodded. ‘Yes please.’ Ann said. ‘We will call you when we get into Halifax. If it isn’t too late we could go out for a meal together. Is that okay?’ Ann said to both her wife and her sister. Anne nodded and Elizabeth said. ‘Yes, but it will only be me. George will be busy and Martha will look after the kids.’

‘Fabulous. Then we will call you. What time do you think you will be in Halifax?’ Ann asked. ‘Around 11AM. George has a meeting at one and wants to rest for awhile before. Anyway, I will see you tomorrow. Bye!”

‘Bye, Liz. See you tomorrow.’ They said in unison.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

The following morning Ann woke and rolled over to find Anne’s side of the bed empty but still warm. ‘Anne, where are you?’ Then she heard the shower running. She stood up and walked into the bathroom. Anne was standing under the shower facing away from her. She stepped out of her pjs and walked over to where Anne was. Ann slid open the shower door and stepped in. She wrapped her arms around Anne who squealed. She turned around and crashed their lips for a searing kiss. ‘I woke and you were gone. I called you but you didn’t answer me. Then I heard the shower. So, here I am to shower with you. Is that okay?’ Ann said tentatively. ‘Adney, you can shower with me any time. No funny business. Right!’

‘Unless of course you want to have fun before we leave.’ Ann said. ‘Ah, Miss Walker is a bit horny today.’ Ann blushed. ‘I didn’t say that, Dearest.’ Of course not you just implied it. Anne thought.  She put her hand between Ann’s thighs and up to her centre. ‘You are so wet for me already, Adney. Not horny. Hmm!’

Anne collected Ann’s wetness and spread it over her clit. Ann moaned at the way Anne touched her. Anne pushed Ann against the tiled shower wall. Ann felt a chill run down her spine then Anne’s fingers strumming her clit. Ann rested her head on Anne’s shoulder. She nipped gently at Anne’s neck as Anne thrust three fingers into her centre while she strummed Ann’s clit with her fingers.  Ann’s hips were rising to meet each thrust. ‘You are so close, aren’t you Adney?’ Ann nodded. She tried to speak but couldn’t find the words she wanted to say. And then she was shaking in Anne’s arms. Her orgasm took over and she closed her eyes. She could feel Anne’s smile on the side of her head.

When Ann recovered Anne pulled her in for a searing kiss. They stayed like that for a beat. Then Anne moved. ‘Dearest, don’t you want me know?’

‘We don’t have time. I have booked our train tickets and we will be leaving very soon. So, no I will be fine. You can make it up to me tonight, Miss Walker.’

They showered then dressed breakfast was toast and marmalade. Ann said it was delicious. Anne had already ensured they had repacked what they pulled out of their suitcase and backpacks. Anne could see the three boxes of truffles were good.

They walked to Euston train station. The train would take them to Manchester. Then they could get another train home to Halifax.  They were sent to platform four to board. Ann hoped they were getting on the right train. Anne assured her they were on the right train.

The train left the station at 9.40AM and would arrive in Manchester at 11.46AM. The next train would leave for Halifax soon after they arrived in Manchester. Ann would send Elizabeth a text message when she knew they were on their way home.

Ann slept for most of the train trip to Manchester. Anne read the magazine which someone had accidently left behind in their rush to get off the train. It was a glossy tabloid and while Anne didn’t normal read trashy magazines it was the only thing she could do to keep her occupied while they travelled.

Anne must have drifted off to sleep. She didn’t realise the train had come to a halt until someone tapped her on the arm. It was Ann. ‘Wake up sleepy head. We will soon be home.’ Anne stood and collected their baggage. She slung her backpack over her shoulder and lifted the handle on their suitcase. She hadn’t noticed how heavy it was until she went to move it. ‘Adney, was our suitcase this heavy when we boarded the train in London.’ Ann nodded. Anne couldn’t understand how it could be so heavy when it didn’t feel heavy before. Ann smiled.

They booked their tickets for the train to Halifax. They had a few minutes to wait and then they could board. Anne studied her wife. She seemed to be daydreaming. ‘Are you okay, Adney?’

‘Yes, I am okay. I was just thinking about home. How I can hardly wait to see Aunt Anne, Marian and father. I want to tell them all about our trip and the fun we had with Matilda’s family.’  Ann said sincerely. ‘Okay. You could call them later today if you want to. I am sure Matilda would like to know we arrived home all intact.’

‘I might do that. Thanks for suggesting it.’ Ann said as the train pulled out of the station. They would be in Halifax in around 45 minutes. Anne sat back and surveyed the familiar scenery. It was great to be this close to home. She imagined she could smell Shibden air. It wasn’t long before the train was pulling into Halifax station. Ann had forgotten to send Elizabeth a text message. So, she called her. ‘Hi Annie where are you?’

‘Halifax train station. Can you come pick us up now?’ it was more a request than a demand. Elizabeth would do anything for her little sister. ‘Yes, I will be there in a few minutes. I just need to tell Martha what I am doing then I’ll be there.

Twenty minutes later Elizabeth parked her car and walked to the platform where Anne and Ann were waiting. Ann raced up to her and pulled her in for a hug. Anne sat waiting. They came over to where Anne was. Elizabeth sat next to Anne and Ann stayed standing. ‘How was your trip?’ Elizabeth asked. ‘It was good. Thanks.’ Anne said. ‘I think we will return to Tasmania sometime soon. There is so much to see and do. You wouldn’t think so if you saw the size of the state on a map.’

‘Where would you like to go for lunch? I am starving.’ Ann said tentatively. ‘I think there is a little cafe just near here. Would that be okay?’ Elizabeth asked. Anne and Ann nodded. They loaded up Elizabeth’s car and Elizabeth drove them there.

They found a booth in the cafe. Anne took their orders and went to the counter to place them. While Anne was away Elizabeth asked Ann if everything between her and Anne was good. Ann nodded. ‘I heard that Mariana Lawton has been bothering Anne. Has it been dealt with?’ Elizabeth asked with concern in her voice. ‘How did you find out?’

‘Let’s say someone who is concerned about your welfare and is close to Anne.’ Elizabeth said. ‘Her aunt, how did she get your number?’

‘I gave it to her a long time ago just in case you know you two ever got together.’ Ann smiled. She could imagine Elizabeth giving her number to Aunt Anne just in case. How sweet. Then Anne was sitting beside her. ‘Are we okay here?’ Anne said sincerely. ‘Yes we are doing great.’ Elizabeth said. ‘We have just been chatting about the weather.’ Yeah right, Anne thought but didn’t say anything. She would ask Ann later if she remembered.

Their meals arrived and they chatted well into the afternoon. Soon Elizabeth realised she had to get home. George would be there wondering where she was. She dropped them off at Shibden. Marian met them at the front door as they walked in. Marian put her fingers to her lips. ‘She’s been expecting you and is so excited. She didn’t hear me open the door. So, you will find her and father in the sitting room.’ Anne and Ann crept in. Aunt had nodded off. They both walked by to her and kissed her on the forehead. ‘Marian you don’t need to do that.’ It was when she realised she got two kisses that she opened her eyes. She smiled. ‘When did you two get back?’

‘Just now Aunt.’ Ann said. ‘We had lunch with Elizabeth then she brought us home.’ Anne smiled she was so happy to see her aunt. They had been away for almost a month. Aunt Anne stood up and hugged both of them. Anne relished that moment with her Aunt. Aunt Anne loved her like a daughter and every time she hugged Anne it was another tender moment her mother never gave her. ‘Father was snoozing. ‘Jeremy wake up Anne and Ann are home.’ She said excitedly to her brother. He opened his eyes and looked up. ‘It’s good to see you two. How was your trip down under?’

‘Wonderful, marvellous and exciting I think we will go back one day.’ Ann said. ‘My email pal Matilda is a lovely lady. She has a great family. They took their suitcase and backpacks to their bedroom. Ann wanted to take a shower. Anne asked if she could join her. Ann shook her head. She stripped out of her clothes, turned on the shower and stepped in. The warm water relaxed her. Then she felt warm hands on her body. ‘Anne Lister, can’t you take no for an answer?’ She could feel Anne grin into her neck. ‘Not really. Anyway, I don’t want to play around. I just want to shower with my beautiful wife. Can’t I do that?’ Ann smiled. ‘Yeah, I guess you can.’

They scrubbed each other. When they stepped out of the shower to get dressed Marian was calling them to say tea was ready. They dressed quickly and headed downstairs. Everyone was seated at the dining room table when they sat down. Ann smiled it was really great to be able to go for their honeymoon to Australia but Ann was so happy to be back home.  She didn’t imagine she would miss Halifax especially Shibden as much as she did. She smiled at her wife who was bantering with her sister again. She looked at Aunt Anne who gave her a knowing look as if to say nothing has changed has it. They smiled at one another.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

They adjourned to the sitting room. Ann sat in Anne’s lap. They watched television and chatted about what had happened while Anne and Ann were away.  Mr Whitley had expanded his book shop but Anne and Ann knew he had been wanting to do that for a few years now.. The post office had had a face lift. Eliza Priestley visited more often in the last month than she had done in the previous three years. ‘Why was she visiting you while we were away, Aunt?’ Anne said. She was remembering the look of fear and hurt on Ann’s face when Eliza had called her while they were on their honeymoon. ‘She seemed to think that you had coerced Ann Walker into marrying you, Anne. We both know you wouldn’t do that. Only she kept hounding us until we would agree with her but I wouldn’t cave to her. I think she had spread a rumour that you did do that.’ Ann felt tears well in her eyes. She tried to turn her face only she wasn’t fast enough. Aunt Anne stood and pulled her into a warm hug. Ann leaned on her shoulder and sobbed loudly.

Ann’s phone buzzed in her pocket. Anne held her hand out and Ann reached into her pocket pulled out her phone and passed it to Anne. She looked to see who was calling. It was Elizabeth. Anne answered. ‘Hi Ann.’

‘Hi Elizabeth.’ Anne said tentatively. ‘Why are you answering Ann’s phone?’

‘Your sister is upset because Eliza Priestley has been spreading rumours about me and how I coerced her into marrying me. She needs you. Can you come now?’

‘Yes! I will be there in a few minutes.’ Elizabeth hung up and Anne gave Ann her phone. She told her not to answer it if anyone called her. ‘Elizabeth is coming over. I told her you need her.’ Ann smiled through her tears. Anne pulled her into a hug and kissed her cheek. Marian answered the door. Elizabeth walked in and pulled her sister into a warm hug. ‘I wwwas aaafraid yyyou hhhad heard the rrrumour and  wwwanted mmmeee to cccome bbback to CCrow Nnnest with you.’ Ann said through her tears. ‘I will do no such thing Ann. I can see how much you love Anne and she loves you. Eliza has always tried to control your life. She probably thinks Anne is after your money. I can see Anne has enough money of her own without want to dip into your purse. Right?’

‘Yes, that is so true.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘I will call Eliza now and get this settled. She has upset you more than she should have.’ Elizabeth said. She pulled her phone out of her pocket. She pressed her fingers to her lips to ask them to keep quiet as she dialled Eliza’s number.

‘Hi Elizabeth what’s up?’  Eliza asked tentatively. ‘Yeah, what’s up? I am sitting here at Shibden cradling my sister in my arms because you seem unable to mind your own business. She thought I wanted to take her back to Crow Nest with me when I heard the rumours you were spreading about her wife. You know, Anne Lister. I think you need to call everyone you have told that Anne coerced my sister to marry her when we both know she didn’t.’ Ann could see Elizabeth was by now on the verge of strangling Eliza and it was good that she was talking on the phone to her and not standing in front of her. ‘You need to understand Elizabeth. I was only doing what was right for Ann.’

‘No, you need to understand, Eliza that Ann can take care of herself and if she does have any problems she will call me and not you. Anne Lister loves Ann Walker and Ann Walker loves Anne Lister. That is why they are married. So, get making those calls or I will spread nasty rumours about you and I have a couple in mind already.’

They could hear Eliza sputter and apology as Elizabeth disconnected the call. ‘I hope we don’t hear anymore about this rumour that has been spread by Eliza.’ Ann nodded and detangled herself from her sister’s grasp. She pulled her wife close and held her tight as if she was never going to let her go. ‘ Adney darling, I am not going anyway. We both know that if Eliza shows her face here at Shibden Aunt Anne and Marian will deal with her swiftly. They won’t let anyone take you away from me.’ Anne said. Ann relaxed in her wife’s arms. ‘Would you like a hot drink before you leave?’ Aunt Anne said to Elizabeth. ‘No, I best get going. George wants to watch some telly with me tonight and I promised the kids I would read to them before they went to sleep. Good night. I will bring the kids over tomorrow if you would like to see them. I am sure they want to see their aunts.’

‘Please do.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘This place can be too quiet at times.’ Elizabeth left. Anne made everyone a hot chocolate. She added something in Ann’s to help her sleep. They resumed talking about the changes in the month they had been away.  Ann started yawning. The rum seemed to be doing the trick. Anne put one arm under her back and one in the crook of her knees. She carried her bridal style to bed. She was asleep just as Anne laid her on their bed. She removed Ann’s shorts and tucked her into bed as she kissed her forehead.

Anne crept back downstairs to talk to Aunt Anne and Marian. She didn’t know what they were going to do if Eliza should turn up at Shibden to put silly ideas into her head. She had to admit that she was frightened their marriage could be ruined by one person who didn’t like that Anne and Ann were together for life. ‘What should we do about Eliza?’ Anne asked her sister and her aunt. ‘I don’t know. You can’t run away again.’ Marian said.  ‘We didn’t run away the first time. We were on our honeymoon in Australia.’

‘That was just an excuse to run away, Anne.’ Aunt Anne said ‘Unfortunately. Your problems are still here and now you need to meet them head on. I think I know someone who will help you solve this problem.’

‘Who?’ Anne said. ‘Who could help us? I don’t know anyone who would stand up to Eliza Priestley.’ She sat with a stunned look on her face when they told her who would help them. ‘In fact I called her just now. She is on her way over to help.’ Then there was a knock at the door. Marian answered and showed their visitor into the sitting room. Anne stood up and greeted her with a big hug. ‘It’s been a long time since I have seen you.’ She said to Anne. ‘It’s certainly been a long time.’ Nelly said. ‘What is the problem we have here that needs my help?’ Anne explained to Nelly what had happened while they were on their honeymoon. Nelly couldn’t believe that Eliza could be so vindictive. She pulled her phone out of her handbag and called Eliza. ‘What’s this I hear about you spreading rumours about Anne? That she coerced Ann into marrying her. From what I have just been told Ann Walker was in tears tonight because Anne Lister senior told them about you visiting her at Shibden to get her to agree with what you were saying about her niece. Why would she do that when Anne is her pride and joy? How dare you do that?’

They could hear Eliza splutter and cough. ‘I only wanted to know what Anne’s intentions were.’ Eliza said. ‘Yeah, right and you told her aunt Anne was after Ann’s money. When we both know she isn’t. I was told Elizabeth gave you an earful earlier. Have you called those family members as she asked you to?.’ There seemed to be silence on the line. ‘Eliza do it now.’ Nelly disconnected the call as Ann walked into the sitting room. ‘I don’t know how I got to bed. When I woke up your side of our bed was empty, Dearest. Hi Aunt Nelly what are you doing here?’ Ann walked over to her aunt and gave her a hug. ‘Just tying up some loose ends and having a chat with Anne and her family. How are you doing?’ Nelly asked Ann as Ann sat next to her wife. ‘I am doing great now thanks. Anne and Elizabeth well, most Elizabeth put Eliza in her place and I guess you have done the same. Haven’t you, Aunt?’ Nelly nodded. ‘Thanks. I don’t know what I would do without you, Anne and everyone else here. Thanks again. I suppose you want to go home now you have completed your task.’

‘Not really. Are you offering to make me a cup of tea, Ann?’

‘Yes and I think Cordingley has some biscuits hidden in the cupboards. I know Anne knows where she keeps them.’ Ann walked out into the kitchen. Anne followed her. ‘You spiked my hot chocolate, Anne Lister. That’s why I felt drowsy. Isn’t it?’ Anne nodded. ‘You’re not mad with me, Adney?’ Anne said sincerely. ‘How could I be mad with you, Dearest? I love you and always have done. Now, let’s make these drinks.  Anne found the biscuits Cordingley had hidden.

They drank and snack as Nelly told them stories about her life as a child. It was so funny and interesting. ‘You should write your life story Aunt Nelly.’ Ann said. ‘I would help you put it together.’ Anne said. ‘Like a joint project between the three of us.’

‘That is okay with me but you will need to spend lots of time at my place going through all my diaries and photos and listening to me tell lots of stories. Is that okay?’ Anne and Ann smiled. ‘Yes, it is.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘Then I shall leave you good people for now. Call me when you are ready to make a start. I assume you have lots of sleep to catch up on for now. Take care and don’t let Eliza spoil your marriage. I can tell you are in love. Take care.’ They stood up and gave Nelly a hug. She left. Then they went to bed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

Anne woke with Ann peppering her with gentle sloppy kisses. Anne kept her eyes closed. She was enjoying this moment so much Ann showing her how much she loves her. As Ann trails kisses down her body Anne grabs her blond locks. Ann looks up. Her eyes are blazing hot. Her hand finds Anne’s centre Anne moans deeply. ‘You are so wet for me already, Dearest. I can hardly believe it.’ Ann said as she trailed Anne’s arousal up to her clit and strummed it   Anne’s hips rose to meet each strum of Ann’s fingers.

Anne moaned and groaned. Ann could feel how close Anne was to falling over the edge. ‘You are close, Dearest. Aren’t you?’ Anne nodded. There was all she could do. Then her body trembled and shook. She was gone. Ann held her close until Anne opened her eyes. ‘Here she is my beautiful sexy wife. Did you enjoy that?’ Anne nodded. ‘That’s how I would like to wake up most mornings.’ Ann smiled. She pushed Anne’s hand down to her centre. ‘You are so wet for me. Aren’t you, Adney?’ Anne purred.  ‘Always for you Dearest.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘Please touch me.’ It was more a plea than a demand. She had been waiting for what seemed a long time for Anne to touch her.  Ann trailed kisses down Ann’s sternum to her belly and then to her centre. ‘Oh Adney, You taste so good.’ Anne said as she strummed Ann’s clit with her tongue. ‘Please, I want you inside me now.’ Ann said with a tone of desperation.

Anne dove two fingers inside Ann who moaned and groaned loudly. Ah it felt great to have Anne fuck her the way she did. Anne pummelled her with her fingers. ‘Touch yourself, Adney.’ Ann’s shaking hand reached between their bodies. She gingerly strummed her clit. Anne kissed her passionately when she could see Ann’s orgasm was about to overtake her. Ann shuddered in Anne’s arms. Then her body went limp. Anne leaned into her and kissed her again. She lay back on their bed and Ann curled her arm around her waist. ‘Thanks Dearest. That was lovely. Thanks for last night. You do take care of me so well.’

‘Thank you Adney. I aim to do my best and by the looks of that smile I did.’ Then there was a knock on the door. ‘Anne, can I come in.’ Marian asked. ‘Yes.’ Ann said.

Marian opened the door and walked in closing it behind her. ‘What do you want, Marian?’ Anne asked grumpily. ‘You don’t need to be like that sister dear. I was going to suggest what we should do if you know who should appear even after what Mrs Rawson said to her last night.’

‘Do you have something in mind, Marian?’ Ann asked her. She was sure there was nothing they could do if Eliza visited them. She seemed to know when to catch them off guard. ‘I think we should just. I don’t know, Marian. I am fed up with her trying to make us unsure about each other. It’s impossible to ignore and harder for us to stop thinking about what she says. Aunt Anne is right we can’t keep running from this.’ Ann said. Anne looked at her confused. ‘What do you mean you can’t stop thinking about what she says? Do you doubt us Ann?’

‘I would never doubt us. It’s just her words inveigle themselves into my mind and i doubt myself. I know I shouldn’t but I do Anne. I love you more than I ever thought possible, Dearest.’ Then there was a knock on the door. ‘Marian, could you answer that please.’ Aunt Anne’s voice was heard from downstairs. ‘Best go. I will let you know who it is. Okay!’ They both nodded as they watched Marian leave and close the door behind her. ‘Do you think Eliza would be so cheeky to visit today after what happened last night?’

‘I don’t think so.’

‘It’s me again. It seems Mrs Rawson was serious about writing her life story. She is here with a truck load of boxes with photos and diaries for you to go through.’

‘Okay. Tell her we will be down in a few minutes.’ Anne said sleepily. After their morning antics Anne had nearly fallen back to sleep when Marian knocked on their door. ‘She is chatting with Aunt Anne and Cordingley is making her a drink. So take your time. She will be here for awhile. Okay!’

‘Okay.’ Ann said. ‘We will be down soon.'  Marian left. Anne and Ann dressed. They were downstairs a few minutes later. ‘Anne and Ann how are you today?’ Nelly asked. ‘I just brought a few things I thought you might to check out.‘ She said as she pointed to the boxes her manservant was bringing into the house. ‘Is that okay!!’ They both nodded. ‘It will keep us busy for awhile. Thanks for what you did last night.’ Anne said. ‘Ann is so grateful and so am I.’

‘Good. Just call me if you need to fend off any more of our family members. I will gladly put them in their place.’ Nelly said sincerely. ‘Thanks Aunt.’ Ann said. ‘I do appreciate what you did for us.’

‘We will guard your diaries and photos carefully. I am sure you would like them back the way you gave them to us.’ Anne said tentatively. ‘Yes. If you need me to translate anything just let me know.’

‘We will.’

‘Well, I best be going Catherine and Delia are coming to stay for a few days and I told them I would be home when they arrived there.’ Nelly stood up. Anne and Ann stood too. They walked her to the front door. They hugged her and said goodbye.  They watched as Nelly was driven away. ‘Do you think we are in over our heads with this one?’ Anne said as she looked at her wife. ‘Well, maybe but it will be interesting to check out my family history. Won’t it, Dearest?’ Oh goodness Anne thought. ‘We can always ask Marian to help us. Can’t we?’ Anne nodded. ‘You’re not just a pretty face.’

‘Anne Lister, are you being patronising?’ Ann said as they began the task of transferring the boxes to Anne’s office. Thank goodness it was downstairs. It was an hour later when they sat down hot and exhausted from task at hand. Ann surveyed the boxes. She opened one that was closest to her and found it filled with photo albums. She pulled one out and opened to a random page. There was a photo of what looked like a young Nelly probably taken just before she got married. Ann showed Anne who looked at it. ‘I think that could be Nelly. It looks like her.’

‘That’s what I thought, Dearest. We need to ask her later.’

‘Okay!! We can do that. Listen to this. Friday 12th October 1973. She must be 20. I had a young man call on me today. I am not sure if I want to court him or not. He is probably three years older than me. I don’t know but he is cute as fuck.’ Ann smiled. ‘Aunt Nelly has a dirty mouth. I think someone I know takes after her. I wonder who that could be. He asked me to go to the drive in with him. I hope I can. I don’t know if my parents will approve of him.’ Anne said. ‘She would have had many suitors. If that was a photo of Aunt Nelly she was a stunner when she was younger. Wasn’t she?’

‘She certainly was, Dearest.’ Ann said. ‘Look what I have found a photo of Chris as a child.’ Ann showed Anne. ‘Who is Chris?’

‘”That’s my cousin Christopher Rawson. He is Nelly’s son.’  Ann said. ‘I know him. I think he tried to get me to go out with him. I think he still holds a grudge because I wouldn’t accept his offer. I tried to tell him I wasn’t into men. I don’t think he understood what I said. Nelly did.’

‘Did she? How did you know that, Anne?’

‘She asked me if I had a girlfriend and whether I was with someone who was my forever lover.’ Anne said. ‘At the time I was with Mariana. I thought we would be together for always but as you know now that wasn’t meant to be.’

‘Did you tell her about us when we first met?’ Anne looked puzzled when Ann asked that. ‘Is that when you tripped and fell in London or after your parents passed?’

‘Either one would be fine. Did you tell we were together?’ Ann asked again tentatively. ‘Yes, she is your aunt and I wanted to find out about you. I told her about you when we met in London. She is happy that you are with me.’

‘Is she?’

‘She cares about you which is more than what we can say about Eliza Priestley. Isn’t it?’

‘Thank you, Anne. Sometimes Aunt Nelly comes across as a bit gruff even when she means well.’  Ann said sincerely. ‘I love my aunt. I think we will learn so much about her life while we do this.‘

‘I am sure we will.’ Anne said as she began returning the diary she had been reading to the box she pulled it from. Ann taking her cue returned the photo Album to the box she found it in. ‘I forgot to ask you. What did she tell you about me, Anne?’ Anne looked at her wife. Sometimes it was impossible to do some things in life. This was one of them. How does she tell her wife that her Aunt Nelly said she had anxiety? ‘Adney, she told me so much about you. Some of it I already knew.’

‘Did she tell you about my anxiety? How there have been times in my life when I had a breakdown? Did she Anne?’  Anne was still unsure of what to say. She stood up from where she had been sitting and walked over to Ann. She pulled Ann into a tight hug and caressed Ann’s back with one hand while the she put the other one around Ann’s neck.

She rested her head on Ann’s shoulder and whisper into her ear. ‘Yes, Adney, she did tell me about your anxiety. I listen to her. She told me she thinks your family has a lot to answer for. I took that all into account, Adney. I realised that there would come a day when we would need to confront them.’

‘Is that what Aunt Nelly said?’ Ann asked tentatively. ‘No! It’s something that I thought we would need to do. She tells me you have always been a quiet member of the family. Is that true?’

‘Yes, to some extent it is true because I don’t like to cause a scene. I would do whatever they told me just to keep the peace.  Only now I realise that isn’t what I should do. You have helped me find my voice and with that voice I want to be able to live my life my way.’ Anne smiled. ‘Only I will need you there to help me, Dearest.’ Anne understood that it would be difficult and nearly impossible for Ann to confront her family. She seemed to be so vulnerable sometimes. ‘Let’s see when tea will be ready. We have been sitting here looking through Nelly’s photo albums and diaries for quite some time,’ Anne said. ‘That’s a good idea. Wasn’t that your stomach that just rumbled?’

‘I think so.’ Ann said as they walked into the kitchen. Cordingley was bent down with the oven door open. ‘What’s for tea tonight? Anne asked. ‘You are having roast chicken with baked potatoes, carrots and pumpkin and gravy. Dessert is chocolate mousse.’

Ann licked her lips. She loved chocolate mousse and apple pie.

Anne summoned everyone to the dinner table. Cordingley had set the food on the table and once everyone was seated father carved the chicken. It smelt so good.  They served what they wanted to eat. They ate in companionable silence. Ann was wondering how they would ever get through all her Aunt’s diaries to learn about her life.

Anne was wondering whether writing Nelly’s story would give Ann a chance to open up more about her life. She was unsure if that would happen.  Yet, she was confident that Nelly would be happy with what they have found.

They settled in the sitting room after tea. Ann sat on Anne’s lap. The family was watching a movie. If you asked Ann later what they were watching she wouldn’t have been able to tell you because she was asleep only minutes after the movie started.

Anne nudged her two hours later. ‘It’s time for us to go to bed, Adney.’ Ann yawned. Anne scooped her up in her arms. She returned to her slumber as Anne climbed the stairs and opened their bedroom door then closed it.

Anne removed her clothes put Ann’s pjs on her and tucked her into bed. She undressed and slipped on her t-shirt and slipped into bed next to her wife. ‘Goodnight, Adney.’

‘Goodnight, Dearest.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Ann woke with Anne’s arms wrapped around her. Anne was peppering her face and neck with kisses.  Ann snuggled into Anne’s side. They stayed like that for a beat until Ann remembered they hadn’t given everyone the gifts they had brought back from Australia. ‘Goodness, we haven’t given out the gifts we bought back from Australia for everyone.’ Ann said. ‘We had been so focused on other things. Are they still in our suitcase, Dearest?’

They dressed. They strolled downstairs and into the dining room. Ann had put their gifts into a bag. Anne was carrying it. She took the bag into the sitting room then joined everyone around the dining table for breakfast. ‘We have something we would like to give you after we have finished eating breakfast could we go to the sitting room for a few minutes.’ Ann said.  Everyone nodded. They ate in companionable silence Ann was wondering if they would like what Anne and she had bought them. Anne smiled because she knew they would like the gifts. She knew Marian and Aunt would love the chocolate truffles.

Anne had thought about giving father the book she bought about Ned Kelly only she wanted to keep it as she hadn’t finished reading it and Ann decided to keep her book of poetry written by Margaret Scott.

When they finished eating breakfast they all congregated in the sitting room. Anne found the bag and proceeded to hand out the gifts. ‘We well Ann bought the truffles at a chocolate factory near Latrobe in Tasmania called Anvers. They make their own chocolates. The truffles are to die for. They also have a cafe where you can get morning and afternoon tea. They have the best hot chocolate I have ever tasted.’ Ann said as Anne passed the truffles to Marian and Aunt Anne. ‘This book is the history and geography of Tasmania. I know you will love reading it, father.’ Anne said as she passed him the book. ‘I have one about Australia you can borrow once you have finished reading that one and Ann bought a poetry book by Margaret Scott if anyone is interested in reading it.’ Anne said. ‘I would like to read the poetry book.’ Marian said. ‘Whenever you have finished reading it?’ Ann smiled. She raced upstairs and located the poetry book and brought it downstairs. She gave it to Marian with a smile. ‘Take your time because I have read it, Marian. There are some great poems in there about Tasmania and her life there. She was born in England and moved to Tasmania in the 70s. I think.’

There were thank yous from everyone. Aunt Anne had opened her box of truffles and was gleefully munching on them.  Father had opened his book. He was checking out the story about the first European settlers in Tasmania. Marian was so touched by their lovely gifts that she was in tears. Ann looked at her and wondered why.  She moved closer to Marian and wrapped her arms around her. ‘Are you okay, Marian?’

‘Yes, I am okay. It’s just that you thought about me while you were away. I thought I would be the last person you would be thinking about.‘  Marian said as tears streamed down her face. ‘Marian, you are family and I wanted to get you something that would make you smile more than what you do.’

‘Thank you. I will limit myself to only one a day so they will last longer.’

‘I will try to do the same thing.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Only they are delicious. Aren’t they?’

‘Yes, they certainly are delicious. Of course, we could get Matilda to send us more when we have eaten what we have here.’ Anne said. ‘Hey, sister dear can I taste one.’ Jeremy said. ‘Only pick one truffle now brother dear.’ Aunt Anne said. She passed the box to Anne who reached over so Jeremy could pick one out. When he bit into his eyes lit up. ‘That was so good. Can I have another?’

‘Later.’ Aunt Anne said as she closed the box and thought it would be a good idea to hide them. Only she didn’t know where. Her brother knew all her hiding places. Then she thought of the perfect place where no one would look. Aunt Anne was hoping that it would be a place where no one would look. She stood and walked upstairs to her bedroom and closed the door. Then she strolled over to her underwear drawer. She lifted her bras and knickers up and placed her box of truffles underneath then closed the drawer just as she heard a knock on her door. ‘Come in.’ Anne and Ann opened the door and strolled in. ‘Don’t tell the others but we have another box of truffles we will share with you when you run out. We can ask Matilda to send us some more if you would like more.’ Aunt Anne smiled. ‘Could you ask her soon because I think I am already addicted to them.’ Ann nodded. She had planned to have a short chat with Matilda later that week. ‘Yes, I can do that for you, Aunt.’ Ann said. ‘I am going to be chatting with Matilda later this week. So, I will send her some money through paypal.’

Aunt Anne smiled. She was still trying to get her head around all the new fandangle apps she could download onto her phone. They told her it was a smart phone. She didn’t think it was very smart because it didn’t show her how to use the apps that were on it. ‘What do you have planned for today, girls?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘We are going to look through some of the boxes Nelly brought around yesterday. Ann thinks she found a photo of her Aunt. She isn’t sure.’

‘Can I look at it? I will be able to tell you if it is Nelly. She’s 12 years older than me.’ Ann nodded and went to retrieve the photo album. ‘Is Ann still happy to be living at Shibden with you, Anne?’  Aunt Anne asked sincerely. ‘Yes, she is aunt. Why do you ask?’

‘Her tribe will continue to pester her until she gives up and does what they want her to do.’

‘I hope she can find the courage she needs to stay here with me. She is stronger than most people give her credit for and her tribe need to stop pestering her. We are married now. It isn’t illegal. Isn’t it?’ Aunt Anne shook her head just as Ann walked back into the room with the photo album. ‘Here aunt is this Aunt Nelly?’ Aunt Anne looked at the photo and smiled. ‘Yes, that is your Aunt Nelly. She was a stunner in her day. I remember there was no chance snagging a single man when she was around.  She eventually married John Rawson. Her maiden name was Stansfield.’

‘I suppose that’s why she has a son named Stansfield right?’ Anne asked. ‘I suppose so.’ Aunt said. ‘But I am not really sure you would need to ask her.’ Ann nodded. They had so much they wanted to ask Nelly. Only they had no idea where to begin. ‘I think I might call Nelly to ask her.’ Anne said. Aunt Anne seemed to think that was a good idea. So, Ann phoned her aunt. They planned to have an early lunch then get right into it. Ann wondered if they would get much done with Nelly chatting away telling them about her life.

It was Anne who brought her laptop down and set it up in the dining room. They could eat and chat and record everything Nelly told them without the need to write it down and inadvertently miss something important.

Nelly arrived at Shibden Hall an hour later. She had offered to bring lunch. Her chauffeur brought in a large plate of sandwiches which had been cut into bite size pieces, A basket of fruit consisting of bananas, apples and oranges and an esky filled with cold drinks.  Anne was surprised. ‘You have bought enough food to feed an army.’ She said.  ‘Yes, I have. Haven’t I? Yet, I am sure you will eat through this while you are sorting through my diaries and photo albums.’ Then Ann remembered the photo. She raced from the room to Anne’s study and found the photo Album.

She showed Nelly. ‘Is this you, Aunt?’ Nelly nodded. It certainly was her and she could remember when it was taken. That’s how the afternoon flowed. Thankfully Nelly had sent her chauffeur home.  ‘That photo was taken on my 20th birthday. Don’t I look smashing? I was dating a man who i thought I would marry. Thank goodness that didn’t happen because a couple of years later I met and married John Rawson. He was so handsome and so bloody rich. Yes, if you are wondering if I loved him. I did.’

‘I don’t doubt that, Aunt. He was a very lovely man.’  Ann said. ‘What I remember of him.’ Nelly smiled. She knew Ann and John had an interesting relationship but they hardly saw each other. ‘Thank you, Annie.’ Ann smiled. ‘I hope you don’t mind that we are recording this session. It’s to ensure we don’t miss anything you say.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘I was wondering how you were going to remember everything I am telling you if you aren’t writing it down.’ Aunt Anne smiled. She hadn’t said much because she didn’t like the sound of her voice. ‘Isn’t that a lovely idea?’ Nelly said to Aunt. Aunt Anne only nodded. ‘What’s wrong? Do you have a sore throat, Anne senior?’ Aunt Anne shook her head. ‘Why aren’t you talking?’ Aunt Anne pointed to the recorded at the end of the table. ‘Oh I see. Don’t know the sound of your voice.’ Aunt Anne nodded.  Anne reached over and pretended to turn it off. ‘It’s off now, Aunt.’ Anne said. ‘I hope so because if I find out you are recording my voice I won’t be happy.’ Anne sidled next to Ann and whispered in her ear. Ann smiled.

Chapter Text

Chapter 6                                                           

They spent the next couple of hours delving into Nelly’s past. It was more colourful than what they had imagined.  Nelly was the only surviving daughter of David Stansfield and Ellen Aldred. She had a sister not much is known about her. Nelly doesn’t remember when she died. Nelly mentioned that she also had three brothers, George, David and Timothy. She says her brother Timothy was only about a month old when he died. He and her sister, Eli and her brother David were triplets. Only David lived past infancy.

Ann felt sad in that moment for her aunt. Then she realised Nelly wasn’t born until after they died. ‘Did your parents say what happened to your siblings? Why they died?’ Anne asked. ‘It wasn’t talked about. I just knew they had died and we left it at that. It was, after all, the 50s. So, often parents to told to forget about the loss and move on.’ Nelly said. ‘I think mum did that but sometimes I would look at her and she would be in a daydream. She wouldn’t tell me why when I asked her.’

‘That’s sad.’ Ann said. ‘I don’t think I would have been able to cope after the loss of a child.’ Anne looked at Ann and wondered in that moment if they would ever have children.  They’d had fun with Matilda’s three kids while they were in Tasmania. Yet, Anne was unsure if she could dope with one child and Ann would probably want more than one. She was pulled from her daydream by Nelly. ‘I’m going to go now, Anne.’  Anne looked up. ‘Oh kay, Nelly. I think we have enough to work with for awhile. Can I call you if we get stuck again?’

‘You certainly can. I have enjoyed our little chat.’ Nelly said sincerely. ‘I hope we can do your life story justice, Aunt.’ Ann said.

‘I am sure you will, Annie. Just call me when you get stuck. Okay!’ Nelly said as she stood and embraced Ann who had stood when Nelly did and walked over to her. Nelly hugged everyone. Ann and Anne walked her to the door. ‘I will call you if I think of anything I didn’t mention today.’

‘Okay! See you soon, Aunt.’

‘I need to organise the photos and videos that we took while we were away, Anne.’ Ann said. ‘I promised aunt I would show her the photos and videos we took.’ Ann said quietly.  ‘What did you say, Adney?’

‘I want to organise the photos and videos we have taken while we were away. Is that okay?’ Ann said. ‘Yes! I can read some more from Nelly’s diaries. Is that okay?’

‘Yes Dearest. We can work together in your office. Do you get your laptop with the recording on it?’

‘Yes I did.’ Anne said as she grabbed Ann’s hand and they walked to Anne’s study. Anne had her laptop in her hand. They had recorded about an hour of Nelly talking about her life. Then there were all the diaries to read and the photo albums to sort through, Anne was wondering why they offered to do this for Nelly. Yet, Ann seemed to be so excited when Nelly talked about her life. Anne thought that there must be some aspects of Ann’s life that are reflected by Nelly’s story of her life. Anne wondered if that was possible. She watched Ann turn on her laptop and download all the photos and videos they took in Australia.

They worked diligently for the next couple of hours. ‘Look what I have found Adney.’ Anne said. ‘It seems like Nelly has some kind of code. I have just found this.’ She leaned over to show Ann who read it. Anne looked astonished. ‘How do you know what is written there?’

‘It’s the family code. I learned it when I was a kid. We use it when we want to write about someone we don’t like. Don’t you have one?’ Ann asked cheekily. ‘Yes, but I don’t share it with anyone.’

‘Yes, I know, Dearest but your code is used for a different reason Isn’t it?’Ann said trying to imagine the answer Anne would give her. ‘Well, I suppose it is.’ Aha Ann thought. Now, I need to get hold of that code and read Anne’s diaries. As if reading her mind Anne looked at her and said. ‘My code is imprinted on my memory. So, you will never find it.’ Ann smiled. It seemed Anne had given her a challenge and didn’t know it.

Ann resumed what she was doing. Anne watched her for a beat then returned to Nelly’s diary until she found another coded entry. Ann could see she was getting frustrated and quickly wrote down the code then handed it to Anne. ‘You do realise this is sacrilege giving this code to you.’  Ann said smugly. ‘And why is that?’ Ann shrugged. She didn’t really know but it sure did sound good when she said that. Anne pouted.  Ann stood and wrapped her arms around Anne. ‘Sorry Dearest.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘The family code isn’t that secret that I can’t share it with you.’ She felt Anne’s lips curl into a smile. ‘Thank you.’

Anne could see it was much simpler than hers. Yet, it would take her sometime to work it out. ‘Send me a message in code, Adney.’ Ann .looked at her surprised but did so. She wondered what she could say that would take Anne a while to decode.

So Ann sent her this. E sokq vio qi boyg ja ol ucuekpq vion pqozv ziin.  It took Anne only 55 seconds before she had figured it out. Then she leapt up from where she was sitting and pulled Ann into a tight hug. ‘So, that’s what you want me to do?’

‘Yes, please.’ Ann begged. She was aroused just by the sight of Anne in her black jeans and white t-shirt. They had been working for hours and every time Ann looked up she could feel herself getting wetter. She needed Anne to fuck her and she wanted her to do it right now. Anne pushed her against the study door and proceeded to pull her shirt from the waistband of her skirt and gently massaged both of Ann’s small petite breasts in turn rolling Ann’s nipples between her fingers. Ann moaned loudly. Anne didn’t want everyone to hear so she crashed their lips together. Ann moaned into her mouth. Then Ann felt Anne’s hand between her legs. Anne was stroking her clit. Ann’s hips rocked gently in time with Anne’s strumming of her clit.

Then Ann felt Anne’s fingers dive inside her. She thrust into Ann hard and fast. Her thumb stroked Ann’s clit. She could feel that Ann was on the edge. Dearest, I am abo....’ Then she did. Her head fell onto Anne’s shoulder. Anne could feel her teeth dig into her shoulder. Anne smiled as she eased her fingers from Ann’s centre and put them in her mouth. Anne loved the taste of her wife. She was incredible delicious to look at and to taste. Anne licked her fingers clean.

She was so focused on what she was doing that she didn’t realise Ann’s tiny hands were tracing circles around her clit until Ann touched it and she moaned loudly. Ann crashed their lips for a searing kiss while Anne moaned into her mouth. Then they heard the thumping of a cane getting closer. Ann stroked Anne’s clit harder and faster. Anne moaned into Ann’s mouth. She shuddered through her orgasm as Aunt Anne’s asked. ‘What would you like for tea?’ Ann was sucking gently on her fingers. So, Anne did her best to calm her voice. Was it possible to do that?  She tried only nothing came out.

‘Aunt, whatever you want will be good enough.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘That’s good because we let Elizabeth have the night off. She wanted to go to the movies and Marian ordered two pizzas to share.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘A pepperoni and a seafood pizza. Is that okay?’

;Certainly.’ Ann said. Anne had finally found her voice. ‘Pizza will be perfect, Aunt.’

‘Good, Anne. I thought you were asleep in there.’

‘No, Aunt. I was listening. I knew Ann could answer for me. We will be down in a few minutes. We just need to switch off our laptops.’

‘Okay!” Aunt Anne said as she walked away. They could hear her cane thump as she walked down the stairs. ‘Shit. She nearly caught us in the act. How embarrassing that would have been.’ Ann said. Her voice laced with concern. ‘I don’t think I could have faced her if she had caught us in the act.’

‘Adney. I think she knows what we get up to. You need to remember she was young once. It might seem a long time ago but that doesn’t mean she has forgotten what it is like to be young.’ Ann blushed. ‘Don’t worry. I don’t think Aunt will tease us about it in front of Marian and father. Okay!!

‘You timed that well. The pizza delivery person is here. Now, you can go pay for them.’ Marian said as she placed the pizza boxes on the dining table. ‘I’m not paying for them, Marian.’ Ann stood next to Anne and massaged her back. ‘Come on, give him this and I am sure he will be happy.’ Ann said as she handed Anne three ten pound notes.  ‘He deserves a decent tip for delivering our pizzas promptly.’ Aunt Anne said as she handed Anne a fiver. Anne handed the money to the delivery boy. Well, he looked like a teenager, scruffy clothes and what looked like a bit of fluff on his chin.

They ate pizza chatting with Anne’s family about what they had found. Aunt Anne couldn’t believe that Ann’s family had a secret code when they wrote about someone they didn’t like. ‘How long has the family code been around, Ann?’  Father asked curiously.  ‘I’m not sure. My father showed me when I was a kid. I asked him the same question. He didn’t know.’

‘I guess we could do a Google search to see if we could find out.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘I don’t think you would find anything about it.’

‘Is it that secret?’ Marian said. Ann smiled. ‘Yes, it is.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Anne and Ann were snuggled in bed two hours later. Ann had spent an hour playing backgammon with Marian who lost every game that played. She insisted it was because she wasn’t on her game. Anne didn’t try to understand what Marian was rambling on about.  She was thinking about how she would get into her wife’s pants. How they were going to put Nelly’s photos and diary entries into a story others would want to read. Then she was wondering what Ann was thinking. As if Ann knew what she was thinking she said. ‘I wonder how Aunt Nelly will feel when we put all her information together that she had given us.’

‘I am sure she will be happy with what we do for her, Adney.’

‘Are you sure, Dearest?’ Ann said. Her voice filled with uncertainty. ‘Yes.’ Anne said with confidence. ‘She will love it, Adney because she asked us to do this. Didn’t she?’

‘Yes, she certainly did. I only hope we can do her story justice, Dearest.’

‘I am sure we can. How did you go with the photos and videos we took while we were on our honeymoon?’

‘Good. Thanks. I want to finish tomorrow morning and show everyone tomorrow night if that is alright with you.’ Ann said with concern. ‘Yes, Adney. That’s a great idea. Do you need help?’ Anne looked at her wife with concern. ‘Anne Lister, why do you think I wouldn’t ask you to help me? Yes, please. I want to add some music to the show but I have no idea how to do that or what music to use.’ Ann said. She wanted to make what they experience just as good for everyone who wasn’t there. They could see where Anne and Ann had been and no matter whether they could or couldn’t they would have a desire to go there.

‘Well, we could use music that reflected what Australia means to most Australians. I think you should call or text Matilda. She is probably wondering whether we got home in one piece.’ Ann frowned. She hadn’t thought to call Matilda. She looked at the bedside clock and decided to call Matilda. ‘Hi!’ Matilda said tentatively. ‘Hi Matilda.’ Ann said. Matilda smiled when she heard that familiar voice. It had only been a few days but she missed having Anne and Ann there. ‘Sorry I didn’t call you sooner. I am putting together our visit. You know the videos and photos we took while we were there. I was thinking about making it interesting by adding music to it. Anne suggested we make it very Australian. So, I was wondering what famous Australian song would epotimise what Australia means to Australian.’

‘Waltzing Matilda. No, I don’t think I was named after that song but it would be wonderful if I was. You will do to do a Google search to find out the meaning of the song. It’s hard to explain. There are others but I think that one would be the best. Anyway, how are you?’ An hour later Anne yawned in her ear. ‘I think my wife is trying to tell me something. I’m not sure. Anyway, I had better go. Take care and I will call you again soon.’

‘Yeah, talk to you soon and about the song. You could do a Google search. You might find something better to use. Okay!! Bye.’

‘Bye.’ Ann said. Then she disconnected the call. ‘What did she have to say?’ Anne asked sincerely. ‘Not much.’

‘I gathered that because it seemed like you did all the talking but what did she say when you told her about your aunt wanting us to help her write her life story.’

‘She said if we get stuck she can help us with some genealogy websites she has used in the past.’ Ann said. ‘Did she say she would send you a list if you asked her?’ Ann nodded. ‘Did you talk to Peter, Bridget and Isabel?’ Anne asked looking at Ann. ‘I said hello to Isabel. Peter and Bridget were at school or with friends. I don’t remember which it was.’

‘You talked for an hour, Adney. What did you talk about?’

‘Not much really. I just told Matilda we were writing Aunt Nelly’s story about her life and the fact that she kept a diary and probably still does. She told me she keeps a diary but doesn’t write in it every day. She said her mum keeps a daily diary.’

‘How long has she kept a diary?’ Anne asked. “I didn’t think to ask Matilda.’

‘Okay!’ Anne said. ‘I guess you could ask her when you chat next.’

‘I suppose I could if I remember to ask her next time we chat.’

‘That would be a good idea because I am curious to know.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘I am sure she would have had an interesting life.’

‘I don’t know about that but I am sure it would be full on with three kids to look after.’

‘I’m sure it would be.’ Anne said tentatively. She was wondering if Ann would bring up talk about them having children. So, Anne was quiet for a beat waiting for Ann to say something and when she didn’t Anne wondered if she should. Then Ann asked her this question. ‘Do you think Aunt Nelly would want us to talk to Christopher and Jeremiah about her?’

‘I don’t think so. I wonder if they have a less than good opinion of their mother. Who knows? She could have been harsh on them when they were kids?

‘Can we talk about something more interesting, Anne?’ Ann smiled at her wife. ‘And what would be more interesting than talking about your Aunt’s diary entries some of them are a bit saucy.’ Anne said then she realised what Ann meant. ‘Ann Walker, you are a saucy minx.’ Ann smiled. Anne leaned in and crashed their lips. ‘Ann Walker, do you want me to fuck you now?’ Ann nodded as Anne caressed her fingers down Ann’s body. Ann could feel her clit throbbing. She could feel her arousal on her thighs. Her hips began to rise when Anne reached her clit. ‘Touch me please, Dearest. I need you inside me now.’

‘What do you want me to do, Miss Walker?’ Anne said as she looked into Ann’s eyes. They were dark with desire. ‘Both please.’

‘We are greedy Miss Walker. I guess I can consider your wish.’ Anne said as she sat back on her heels and thought for a moment. Ann felt the loss the moment Anne pulled away. She whined loudly. Anne had to silence her so she leaned in and crashed their lips again. Then her hand went straight to Ann’s clit. She made annoying circles around it. Ann moaned. Anne dived two fingers inside her centre. Ann bucked her hips. Anne pummelled her furiously. Ann’s hips kept thrusting up. Anne strummed her clit. ‘Faster please, Anne.’ Anne couldn’t resist Ann could she? She pummelled her hard and fast and strummed her clit until Ann stretched her body. She fell into the warm pool of her orgasm. Anne crawled up next to her. She held Ann in her arms until Ann opened her eyes. ‘There you are, Adney. I wondered what happened to you.’

‘You made me come so hard I nearly fell asleep. I’m here now. Anne, are you okay?’

‘Touch me please, Adney.’ Anne said trying not to sound too needy.  Ann reached down in between Anne’s legs to find her clit. It was swollen and hard. Ann strummed it so fast Anne thought she was going to explode when she came. ‘Ann, yes, right, just there, Adney yes.’ It wasn’t long before Anne went over the edge. She closed her eyes. When she woke Ann was in the bathroom cleaning her teeth. ‘How long have I been asleep?’

‘Just a moment or three Dearest.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘Are you being honest with me?’

‘Why would I lie to you, Dearest? It wouldn’t do me any good now. Would it?’

‘I guess not.’ Anne said still not sure if Ann was being honest. She frowned. ‘I saw that frown. I guess you still don’t trust me enough. Anne Lister. You nodded off after you came. I got straight up because I had to pee and clean my teeth. Believe me please.’ Anne smiled. ‘Hey, I believe you, Adney.’

‘I am glad you do.’ Ann said with a tinge of bitterness in her voice. Anne stood up. She walked to where Ann was standing and wrapped her arms around Ann. ‘Sorry for doubting you. I guess the mighty Anne Lister needs to learn to know when you are telling the truth. Doesn’t she?’ Ann nodded. ‘Can we go to bed now? I want to hold you in my arms until you fall asleep, Adney.’ Ann smiled. That’s what she wanted to do.

They crawled into bed. ‘’Just let me jot down what i remember about Nelly from what I read about her today. Then we can sleep. Is that okay?’ Anne said tentatively. ‘That’s okay as long as you give me a kiss. I might be asleep when you finish, Dearest.’  Anne leaned in and gently kissed Ann on her cheek. Then Ann pulled her in and crashed their lips. They kissed passionately for a beat then Ann pulled away. She lies down next to Anne. Anne pulled out her notebook and jotted down what she could remember. When put her notebook away Ann was snoring gently next to her.

She lies down next to Ann and snuggles into her. Ann wrapped her arms around Anne in her sleep. ‘Goodnight, Dearest.’

‘Goodnight, Adney.’


Chapter Text

Chapter 8

The following day Ann locates the music she has chosen to add to her slideshow. Anne continues to read Nelly’s diary entries. They work like this for an hour then Ann’s stomach rumbles loudly. Anne realises they haven’t had breakfast. ‘Should we get something to eat, Anne?’

‘I think we should. It sounds like you have a hungry bear in there.’ Anne says as she points to Ann’s stomach. ‘We were wondering when we would see you & Ann today.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Cordingley has put the leftovers from breakfast in the fridge if you are hungry.’ Ann followed Anne into the kitchen. Cordingley was busy putting the breakfast dishes into the dishwasher. Ann watched. Cordingley seem to have a set way to load the dishwasher. Ann watched her for a beat as if in a trance. Cordingley looked up. ‘Are you okay, Miss Walker?’

‘Yes, I am fine. How is it that you get everything in the dishwasher so easily?’

‘Years of practice.’ Elizabeth said. ‘I suppose you could say I am a professional dishwasher loader.’ Elizabeth smiled. ‘And a bloody good cook too.’ Anne said as she reached in the fridge and removed their breakfast which consisted of eggs, bacon and sausages. Ann licked her lips while Anne plated what she thought Ann would eat and popped her plate in the microwave. When Anne thought it was hot enough she handed it to Ann who was seated at the kitchen island chatting with Cordingley. ‘And you say your mother taught you how to cook.’ Ann said. ‘Yes, she was the best cook in the neighbourhood. She had her own special recipes but wouldn’t tell me what they were.’

‘So, you don’t use her recipes.’ Anne asked sincerely. ‘Well, I didn’t while she was alive. Then I found her recipe book when I was cleaning out her house to sell it.’

‘Can I look at it please?’ Ann asked. Elizabeth stands up and reaches into a drawer near the kitchen sink. She pulls out what looks like a notebook fill with recipes cut from the local newspaper and hands it to Ann. ‘I didn’t know they put recipes in the Halifax Guardian.’

‘They don’t anymore. They stopped when they needed the space for sports news. Mum was annoyed when they did that. She wrote to them and complained but  they didn’t do anything.’

‘Did she get a letter from them?’

‘Yes, it was very curt and to the point. They said that newspaper weren’t there to accommodate everyone. So, mum stopped her subscription to it.’ Elizabeth said as she listened to Anne and Ann chat about what they were doing for Nelly. ‘What have you found out about Mrs Rawson so far?’

‘So much I think Aunt Nelly will be surprised when we show her especially the photos we have found of her when she was younger.’ Anne says as she stands up. ‘I’ll be right back.’

‘Where is Miss Lister going?’ Ann shook her head. ‘I have no idea.’ Then Anne reappears with two photo albums in her hands. ‘Look at this one, Elizabeth. Doesn’t she look beautiful?’ Anne said as she passed the photo album to Cordingley. ‘She sure does. How old do you think she is?’

‘I don’t know. She could be early twenties. Who knows? No one seemed to use their head and write on photos back then.’ Elizabeth said. ‘Of course, you could always ask Mrs Rawson when you see her next.’ Anne smiled. ‘That’s a good idea, Elizabeth. I am sure she will remember. Won’t she?’

‘I guess so. Yet there are times when our memory can fail us.’ Ann said as she looked at Anne who seemed to remember everything as it happened. Even Ann knew that wasn’t possible. ‘What else do you remember about your mother, Elizabeth?’ Anne asked. ‘She was quiet most of the time. Yet, when she disagreed with someone she would let them know.’

‘Do you think Aunt Nelly’s mum was like that because she is very outspoken. Isn’t she?’ There was a knock at the door. Elizabeth answered it. ‘Morning, Ma’am, we are in the kitchen.’ Nelly followed Elizabeth into the kitchen. Ann stood as her aunt walked into the kitchen. They hugged. ‘We were just talking about you.’

‘All shocking things, I hope.’ Ann blushed. ‘Now, why would we do that, Nelly?’ Anne said. ‘Well, there’s no one else to gossip about in this town about apart from you and Ann.’ Ann hid her head in embarrassment. ‘Don’t worry. Annie dear they don’t seem to have anything better to do than gossip about you then you must be on their radar which could be good.’

‘Could it?’ Ann said. ‘I feel as though I am a pincushion they can stick their sewing needles in any time they get bored with their life.’

‘Hush! While they are talking about you they are missing out on their life.  Just remember this you don’t need to listen to what they say. Okay!’ Ann smiled her aunt was right. ‘Why are we endowed with your presence, aunt?’

‘I have something interesting I would love to show you.’ Nelly said as she reached into her handbag and fossicked around for a few minutes. ‘Here it is.’ She pulled out a gold locket on a gold chain. She passed it to Ann who opened it up. ‘That’s me when I married John. I was 23 years old.  Wasn’t I a looker?’ Ann passed the locket to Anne. ‘The man in the other photo is John. He was a handsome man.’ Anne looked at the photo and realised she was looking at the same one that was sitting on the table photo side down. She turned it over and showed Nelly. ‘Goodness where did you find that?’

‘In one of your photo albums it is sitting on our bed if you would like me to fetch for you.’ Anne said. Nelly nodded. Ann stood and quickly went up stairs before Anne could complain. ‘She’s a stinker that one always looking after me when I am supposed to look after her.’ Anne said. ‘She loves you so much and seems to love taking care of you, Anne.’ Elizabeth said and Nelly nodded agreeing with her. Ann reappeared with the photo album. She opened it to the page where the photo was taken from.

Nelly scanned the photos slowly until she stopped on one particular photo. Anne saw tears well up in the corners of Nelly’s eyes. She looked at Nelly who tried to smile. Only it was impossible. Anne stood up from where she was seated and walked over to Nelly. She looked down at the photo and realised who it was. It was her daughters Catherine and Delia who passed away when they were young.

Anne pulled Nelly into a tight hug. ‘You must miss them so much.’ She whispered in Nelly’s ear. All Nelly could do was nodded. ‘They were such beautiful girls and my granddaughters who are named after their aunts are beautiful girls too.’ Nelly said as she smiled again. ‘I can’t imagine my life without them.’ She said as she continued looking through the photo album.  It had been quite a while since she had looked at any of her family photos. ‘Here’s Christopher at...’ she pulled it out and looked on the back. This time Anne was surprised when she saw a date. Anne could see the wheels turning in Nelly’s head. ‘He was about 18 months old then.’

‘He was cute as a baby.’ Ann said. ‘Yes, he was cute but he was also a rascal for a very early age. There is ten years between him and Jeremiah. He taunts his brother more than what he should. I blame Christopher for Jeremiah’s timidness.’

‘Is Jeremiah your favourite son, aunt?’

‘No! He is the one who I feel sorry for because his brother often makes his life impossible. Christopher will have a great deal to answer for in the next life.’ Nelly said. ‘I didn’t know you were religious, Nelly.’ Anne said. ‘Oh I see her at church quite often;’ Elizabeth said. ‘No, I am not religious but I do love to go to church and sing. The hymns are beautiful. You should go some time. Come with me.’ Nelly said as Aunt Anne walked into the kitchen. ‘I wondered what all the noise was. Hi, Nelly what brings you to this noisy place?’ Aunt Anne said as she sat down beside Nelly. They hugged. ‘Where were you, Aunt?’ Anne asked. ‘I was taking a strolled around the estate. It’s a lovely day. You should go outside.’ Anne nodded as if to agree with her aunt. Then focused back on what Nelly was saying. ‘I was just telling these lovely ladies about my family.’ Nelly said as Anne’s eyes shot up when she said ladies. Ann seemed to be the only one who saw that.

She stood up and walked over to her wife putting her arms around her waist and whispering in her ear. ‘You are still the handsomest person in the room. Anne smiled. She felt so good when Ann saw Anne as she was. Yes. She was a woman but she wasn’t female. Ann kissed Anne on the cheek then returned to her seat. Anne followed her. Aunt Anne and Nelly had been chatting. Anne and Ann only got the trail end of the conversation. ‘He did that.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Yes, your brother was a little stinker at school. Don’t you remember?’

‘Nelly my brother is 13 years older than me so I don’t remember that. You were a year behind him at school. Weren’t you?’

‘What did father do at school?’ Anne asked. ‘You will need to ask your father.’ Aunt Anne and Nelly say in unison. ‘What have I done now?’

‘Jeremy, it’s not what you have done now. It’s what you did when you were at school.’ Aunt Anne said. Jeremy blushed. He really didn’t want his daughter to know. ‘What did you do at school?’ Marian yelled out as she entered the hall. ‘Nothing.’ He said. Marian looked at him as she entered the kitchen. ‘What are we having her, a party? Why wasn’t I invited?’

‘Don’t worry, Marian. The party hasn’t begun. Nelly came over because she had something to show us.’ Anne said as she passed Marian the locket which had been sitting on the table. Marian opened it up. She was surprised. ‘Who is it?’

‘My husband and I taken on our wedding day. Isn’t he handsome?’ Nelly said as she motioned Marian to pass it to her Aunt. ‘You look good then and now, Nelly. Would you like to stay for tea?’ Anne asks. Nelly nods. ‘Yes, as long as it doesn’t make work for Elizabeth.’  Cordingley shakes her head. .

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

‘What are we having for tea tonight, Elizabeth?’ Ann asked. ‘Your favourite dish Miss Walker. Ann smiled.  ‘Would you like me to help you?’ Elizabeth smiled. ‘Yes please if your wife can spare you for about an hour. ‘ Ann and Elizabeth stayed in the kitchen. Everyone else adjourned to the sitting room. ‘Can Annie cook?’ Nelly asked. ‘She is learning from an expert. So that would be yes.’ Anne said proudly. ‘She doesn’t get to help much. Elizabeth thinks a lady with money doesn’t need to cook when they can afford to have someone cook for them but Ann wants to learn because she feels there will be a time when she will need to. I feel it’s more than that though. I am sure it is when she wants to.’  Anne says then smiles. She has never had anyone who wanted to cook for her. Mariana always said cooking was for poor people who couldn’t afford to eat out. She would never get her hands food grubby. That’s what she called it.

‘What are they cooking for us tonight?’ Nelly asked. ‘Shepherd’s pie and for dessert we are having apple pie with vanilla ice cream or cream.’

‘That sounds delicious. I haven’t had shepherd’s pie in years.’ Nelly said sincerely. ‘Oh we have it at least once a week more often if Ann wants it. That’s why she helps Elizabeth cook it.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘And we enjoy eating it because sometimes she mixes it up and adds veggies and sometimes she adds pasta which does make it interesting.’

‘Does she?’ Nelly said. ‘That would be great. I love it when cooks change recipes a bit because it makes the meal more interesting. Doesn’t it?’ Everyone nodded. Then father mentioned they had a bottle of wine in the wine cabinet. Anne stood up to check. She thought her father must have been thinking about the one they had already drunk. Then she spied another bottle. ‘This wasn’t here last week.’ Anne said confused. ‘Ann bought it a few days ago.’ Father said. ‘She wanted to celebrate your return home and now Nelly is here we can celebrate together while she tells us more stories about her life.’

‘I hope you’re getting it all down, Anne.’ Aunt Anne says. ‘I am.’ Anne says as she pulls out her phone and shows them what she had recorded so far. Oh it’s going to be fun trying to get that down on paper.’

‘I don’t think so. I have Ann to help me to rewind or repeat what I miss while I am typing on my laptop.’ Ann walked into the room just as Anne spoke. ‘You are going to enslave me to help you with my aunt’s story.’ She said smiling. Nelly looked at her confused.  ‘Don’t worry, aunt. I am just as keen as you are to see the completed story. So, I am prepared to put in the hard yards. Okay!!f’ Nelly smiled.

Elizabeth called them to say their main course was ready and to get seated at the dining room table. Elizabeth brought out the shepherd’s pie . ‘The apple pie will be ready when you have eaten your main course.’ Cordingley says. Ann smiles at her. ‘We done good. Didn’t we Elizabeth?’

‘We sure did, ma’am.’

‘Would you like to join us since this is a special occasion?’ Elizabeth smiled and grabbed a plate for herself.. They ate in companionable silence until the timer beeped. Elizabeth went to stand up to take the apple pie out of the oven but Ann was too quick for her. She signalled Elizabeth to remain seated. Elizabeth blushed. It was rare for her to have someone do her chores.  ‘Anne, would you come and help me?’ Ann asked from the kitchen.

Anne stood up and went into the kitchen. Ann was struggling with the plates and the apple pie. ‘Would you take these into the dining room? I will get the ice cream and cream. Is that okay?’ Anne nodded and took the bowls and pie from Ann and returned to the dining room.  Ann follows behind her with the ice cream and cream.

‘That pie smells so good.’ Nelly says as Anne cuts her a piece. ‘Would you like ice cream or cream?’ Ann asks her. ‘Can I have both?’

‘Yes!’ Ann says as she puts a scoop of ice cream and pours some cream on top.’ Nelly feels like royalty but she doesn’t say anything. She rarely has visitors other than her family. So, it is great to be spending time with the Lister family and their maid. She smiles. ‘Do you have anything planned for this evening, Nelly?’ Anne asks her. ‘No, why?’

‘I think Ann has finished putting together the photos and videos from our honeymoon trip to Australia.’ Ann nods. She races upstairs to grab her laptop. Ann set in on the coffee table and suggested everyone find somewhere close so they could see it. ‘It’s only the photos we took when we were on our honeymoon. I haven’t had a chance yet to edit the videos. I will do that soon.’ Ann said as she sat on Anne’s lap. Well, there was no room for her anywhere else. Nelly smiled at Ann. She couldn’t understand why Eliza had been so determined to destroy their relationship. She wondered what would happen when they went to the family Christmas gathering or any other family gathering.  She hoped Ann could cope with the negative comments from her cousins especially her oldest son.

She was pulled from her thoughts by Ann who had stood up to start the slideshow and tell everyone what they were looking at. She had an Australian song playing softly in the background as let the slideshow scroll through. ‘What’s the song, Annie?’

‘It’s called Waltzing Matilda.’ Ann said smiling as she remembered her friend Matilda back in Tasmania. ‘What’s a jumbuck, Ann?’ Marian asked. ‘It’s a sheep, a billabong is a watering hole like a creek, I think. A coolibah tree is an Australian tree that grows near a watercourse’ Ann smiled. It was Anne who gave her this information. ‘What’s a billy, Ann.’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘It’s like a saucepan with a handle. Apparently you need to swing it around after you have made your brew, tea. They’re only rinsed clean. You never wash the inside because the next brew will be so much better.’

‘You are a source of information tonight.’ Nelly said as she looked between Ann and Anne who were smiling at each other. ‘What does the title mean?’

‘Waltzing means to travel on foot and Matilda is a swag(bedding) or tent.’ Ann said.

‘Can you tell us more about your trip Ann?’  Marian asked as the slideshow ended. Ann told them about their trip from the moment their plane took off from Heathrow until the moment their landed back at Heathrow about four weeks later. ‘Which part of the trip was the most interesting to you, Anne?’

‘Port Arthur.’ They said together.  ‘Why is Port Arthur interesting? Aunt Anne asked. ‘it was a convict settlement for 47 years.’ Anne said. ‘And it was one of the harshest convict settlements in Australia at the time.’ Everyone nodded for Anne to continue. She did. Anne told them about the treatment the convicts received while they were there. There is an island called the isle of the dead. It’s the graveyard for all the convicts and others who died there.’

‘Why was it interesting? I don’t think I would like that. It sounds creepy.’ Nelly said.

‘I thought so until we did the ghost tour, Aunt.’ Ann said as she looked at Anne for help. ‘The ghost tour changed my mind about spirits and ghosts. Ann filmed a chair moving without the presence of someone sitting in it.’

‘’Did she experience anything else while you were there?’ Nelly asked. Anne had to think. She had forgotten about the chill Ann had felt after they had been in the Commandant’s house for only a few minutes until Nelly asked her. ‘Ann felt a chill as though someone had walked hurriedly beside her only there was no one there.’ Ann nodded agreeing with Anne. ‘It was the scariest and most comforting moment I have ever had.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘I felt as if I had been singled out for their attention. I don’t know why. I was filming then we walked further into the house and into the room where the moving chair was. I filmed it and it moved.’

‘The chair moved with no one sitting in it. Was there a window open and a breeze?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘The windows were closed so there was no breeze.’ Ann said. ‘It was rather warm even though it was Autumn there.’

‘How did the tour guide take it when you told them? I assume you told them.’ Jeremy asked. ‘Yes, I told her and she wanted to see the video. I showed her. I just wanted her to verify what I saw. She asked us to send her a copy when we could.’

‘Interesting!’ Marian said. ‘Do you know if there anyone else had the same experience as you did?’ Ann thought. She knew that the tour guide had mentioned others having the experience of seeing the chair move but hadn’t filmed it the way she did. ‘Not really.’ Anne looked at her watch. She couldn’t believe the time. ‘It’s nearly midnight, Nelly. Do you want us to give you a lift home?’ Nelly nodded.

Anne drove Nelly home while she and Ann talked a bit more about Anne and Ann’s honeymoon. ‘Tasmania must be a pretty place to visit. Would you want to live there one day?’ Nelly asked tentatively. ‘I don’t know, Aunt. I love living at Shibden with Anne yet it felt so good when we were there.’ Ann said. Anne looked at her. ‘You never told me this, Adney.’

‘I thought I had done.’ Anne shook her head. They watched as Nelly walked to her front door. She opened it and walked in. The drive back to Shibden was done in complete silence. Anne parked the car and they walked into the hall.

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

Anne walked upstairs to their bedroom. Ann went looking for Marian. She found her in the kitchen talking to Aunt Anne. She sat down next to Marian who noticed Ann was crying. Marian put her arms around Ann. As Marian did this Aunt Anne stood up and sat next to her. ‘Are you okay, Ann?’ They asked her quietly. She shrugged her shoulders. ‘What happened? You seemed happy when you left to take your aunt home.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘I was.’ Ann said softly. ‘Did Anne say anything to hurt you?’ Marian asked ready to tear her sister to shreds if she did. ‘No! I just mentioned I had enjoyed our trip to Tasmania. She was quiet on the way home. I think I have made her angry. I don’t know. She went straight up to our bedroom.’

‘Do you want me to talk to her?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘No, don’t bother her. I am sure I am just imagining things but it hurt so much. She only snubs me like that when we have a disagreement and that isn’t often.’ Then they heard footsteps in the sitting room. ‘Ann, where are you?’ It was Anne. ‘Ann, I thought you were following me upstairs. Where are you, Adney?’

‘I’m in the kitchen with Aunt and Marian.’ Ann said tentatively. Anne poked her head around the door then strolled in. ‘What’s the matter?’ Anne walked over to her wife. ‘Why have you been crying?’ Marian gave her a sour look. ‘I think I will go to bed. Goodnight.’ Marian said grumpily. ‘What’s got into her?’ Anne said as she sat next to Ann who didn’t move from Aunt Anne’s embrace. Aunt Anne looked at her niece and mouthed that Ann thought she was angry with her. ‘What’s wrong, Adney? What did I do that you would think I was angry with you?’ Ann tried to speak only she couldn’t. Aunt Anne told Anne. ‘Oh my goodness, Adney I wasn’t angry with you.  I was just processing what you said I didn’t think you would want to move so far from home.’

‘I’m not sure if that’s what I want to do. It was just an idea I put out there.’ Anne smiled. ‘I would move to Mars with you if that’s what you wanted to do.’ Ann smiled as she snuggled into Anne. ‘It seems like we are all good so I will go to bed. Goodnight, Anne and Ann.’ Aunt said as she stood up and left them alone. ‘You should have told me you thought I was angry with you. Ann Walker, I love you and no matter where I live I will be happy as long as you are there with me. Now, let’s go to bed before it’s too late.’ Anne said as she reached out for Ann’s hand. They walked together up the stairs and into their bedroom. Anne closed the door. ‘Come here, Adney.’ Ann walked over to Anne who was leaning against the door. Anne pulled her into a tight hug. ‘Remember this next time you think I am angry with you. I love you, Ann Walker. I’m in love with you. I always will be.’

They stayed like that for a beat then Ann pulled from Anne’s hug and pulled her over to their bed. She slowly removed Anne’s clothes. Anne stood naked in front of her wife. ‘Now what do you want?’ Ann cocked her head and smirked at Anne. ‘Guess?’ Anne jokingly said sleep. Ann scoffed at the idea. She pouted then climbed into bed. Anne climbed in next to her and proceeded to tickle her. Ann squealed with delight.

Anne crashed her lips to Ann’s so she wouldn’t wake the other members of the household. Anne whispered in Ann’s ear. ‘Shush Adney. You don’t want to wake everyone.’ Ann nodded.

Anne trailed kisses across Ann’s neck over her collar bone and down her sternum. She trailed kisses down Ann’s body until she found her centre. She was so wet for Anne. Anne kissed from her left foot up to near her centre then down her right leg to her foot. Ann moaned. ‘Don’t tease, Dearest.’ Anne smiled. She wrapped her lips around Ann’s clit and sucked on it gently. Ann moaned again. Then she pushed her fist into her mouth to stop herself from screaming out Anne’s name so loudly she woke everyone up. Anne continued to suck on Ann’s clit.

‘Anne I need you inside me now.’ Ann whined. ‘How many fingers?’ Anne asked she already knew. ‘Three fingers please, Dearest.’ Anne pummelled Ann’s centre with her fingers. Ann’s hips thrust in time Anne pushed her fingers inside her.

Ann felt so good when Anne fucked her like this. She could feel the coil in her stomach wind up tighter and tighter as Anne pummelled her. ‘Anne, Yes, right there. Oh that feels.....’ Ann’s words were cut off when Anne crashed their lips together. Oh it felt so good to have Anne leaning on her body. The connection they had was amazing. Ann screamed out Anne’s name over and over before she arched her back and she fell over the edge.

Anne held her close. She peppered kisses over her face. Then Anne lay beside her. Ann could feel her shaking beside her. ‘Ann, I need you inside me NOW!’ Anne didn’t mean to yell the last word but she was desperate and couldn’t wait for Ann. Ann leaned in and crashed their lips together. Then Anne felt Ann’s hand slowly wandered down her body. When Ann reached Anne’s nipples she rolled them in her fingertips. Anne moaned loudly. Ann thought everyone in the house would hear her. No one seemed to scream out telling them to quieten down. 

When Ann found Anne’s clit she strummed it slowly with her fingers. Anne moaned in her ear. ‘Ann, please go faster.’ Ann obliged. Her fingers strummed Anne’s clit faster. ‘Please go inside me. I want you to fill me up with your fingers. Please  Adney.’ Ann inserted three fingers inside Anne. Ann couldn’t believe what she was doing. Here she was with Anne. She had three fingers inside her. Anne was moaning below her. Anne’s hips thrust up every time Ann pushed her fingers inside Anne. It felt so good. She pummelled Anne with her fingers while she strummed Anne’s clit with her thumb. Anne’s body trembled as she reached her climax and she fell over the edge.

Ann wrapped her arms around her wife until Anne opened her eyes. Then Ann leaned down and kissed her passionately on her lips. ‘That was amazing Ann. Thank you.’

‘Thank you, Dearest.’ Ann said as she put her head on Anne’s chest. ‘Dearest, should I write about our trip. I would like to share what we did while we were away with others.’

‘That’s a good idea, Adney. When do you plan on starting?’

‘I had thought I should wait until we have finished helping Aunt Nelly write her life story.’  Anne smiled. She could see Ann was thinking about her aunt. Ann wanted to finish one project before she started another. Her aunt’s story would take a few months to put together and when it was done she could write about their trip.  She would spend the next few days just jotting down what she remembered. That should be easy. She thought.  She also knew Anne had a good memory. Yet, she wanted to do her best to remember what they did while they were away.

She wondered what Matilda was doing. She looked at her watch. It was getting late. If she remembered they were nine hours behind Australia which meant it was early the next day there. So, Ann decided against calling Matilda until tomorrow. ‘Will you read to me, Dearest?’ Ann said as Anne nodded. She sat up and picked up her book about Ned Kelly. She had heard about him from the movies that were made about him. Yet, as she listened to Anne read to her she was learning more and more about the outlaw Ned Kelly. She was fascinated by the life he led. She could imagine Anne and herself as outlaws wandering the countryside stealing from the rich to give to the poor. She really didn’t know that was what Ned Kelly did. She closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. There in the distance she could see Troopers galloping towards them. She looked around and saw Anne dressed in a suit of armour struggling to stand. She looked down at herself. She also was dressed in a suit of armour. Where were they? She wondered. Anne looked at her. ‘Come on. Shoot them before they get us.’ That was when Ann realised she had a gun in her hand.  She raised it up, aimed and pulled the trigger. Her hand was shaking so much but she kept firing.

She reloaded quickly when she ran out of bullets. It was then she realised these were her last load. Anne looked at her pleadingly. They both wanted to live but the inevitable would happen. She knew the life an outlaw wasn’t going to be a long one. Then she heard before she saw Anne fall. She had been shot. Time seemed to stand still. She could feel her heart race then warmth on her thigh. When she looked over Anne was holding her thigh. They seemed to be doomed to their fate.

She looked at Anne who had her back towards her. She was sleeping peacefully as if Ann’s dream was nothing. Ann snuggled into her wife and went back to sleep. When she woke again Anne’s side of their bed was cold. She sat up and looked around their bedroom again. Anne was seated on the floor read from one of Nelly’s diaries smiling at herself. ‘You have mastered our family code already. I knew you were smart but I was mistaken. You are a genius.’

‘Ann, it is a simple code and anyone could work it out. I did.’

‘Yeah, but you’re not anyone. Are you? You’re Anne Lister, my wife.’ Anne smiled again. ‘I’m having trouble decoding this bit here.’ She said as she passed the diary to Ann who read it. Fidk Nuspik bhenqaz seqd ja hupq  kecdq. Qdak da geppaz ja xabina da habq. ‘I thought you said this was a family code, Ann.’

‘Aunt Nelly never allowed anyone to read her diaries.’

‘So why did she write in code?’  Ann shook her head. ‘I have no idea.’

‘Breakfast is being served.’ Marian yelled from the hall. ‘We’ll be there in a few.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

Anne and Ann strolled down to breakfast ten minutes later. Marian eyed them suspiciously. Anne smiled. ‘I have been reading Nelly’s diary.’ Anne said. ‘Ann has been sleeping until about ten minutes before you told us breakfast was ready.’

They chatted while they ate. ‘Have you finished editing the videos you recorded while you were away, Ann?’ Aunt Anne asked. Ann looked at her food to avoid looking at Aunt Anne. ‘I haven’t had a chance to do that. I hope I can show you the videos soon, Aunt.’ Aunt Anne smiled. ‘That’s okay. I was just wondering.’

‘When do you think you will have it done by?’ Father asked sincerely. ‘I’m not sure. I would say about a week but I don’t really know.’ Father nodded. ‘As Anne said that’s fine. We will probably enjoy them more and you could show us the photos again.’

‘That sounds like a great idea. Doesn’t it, Adney?’ Anne said. Ann nodded. She would agree with anything Anne said just to feel good. Anne massaged her knee under the table. It felt good to know someone was there to sooth away her anxiety which had been simmering since Aunt Anne asked her about the videos.

They walked into Anne’s study after breakfast. Anne wanted to reread a diary entry that had been bothering her since yesterday. She thought she had decoded it right but it didn’t make sense to her so she showed it to Ann who read it out loud to her.  Anne couldn’t believe how fluent Ann was with her family code. Yet, Ann had told Anne her father had taught her when she was a child. ‘How long did it take you to master your family code?’  Anne asked Ann sincerely. ‘I don’t remember. That part of my life often seems like a blur to me.’ Ann said. Anne looked at her. Shock filled every core of her being. How could someone forget their childhood?

‘What happened, Ann?’ Anne said as Ann tried to swallow the feeling of despair form within her chest. She was wishing now that she had told Anne sooner, much sooner, before they had said I do and made this commitment to each other long before they had gone on their honeymoon. Anne tried to get Ann to look at her. She only hung her head further. Ann could feel tears welling in her eyes. She didn’t want to tell Anne what had happened when she was a child. Aunt Nelly knew some of it but not all of it and she had promised she would keep the secret for Ann for always.

‘I don’t know how I am going to tell you this.’ Ann said as she spoke to the floor. Anne put two fingers under Ann’s chin and gently forced her to look into her brown eyes. Then the tears did flow. She couldn’t stop them. Ann sobbed for quite some time. She felt like she was drowning in her own self pity. ‘What’s wrong Ann?’ Anne asked trying to assess what had come over Ann in the few moments since she asked her about the code. This dark and dirty secret she had hadn’t bothered her until now.

Anne had come into her life like a breath of fresh air. It seemed like an eternity now since she ‘accidentally’ fell into the hole in the park as she watched Anne eat her lunch. She hadn’t seen Anne until she looked up as she was walking across the park. She still remembered the words Anne spoke to her. ‘Ann Walker as I live and breathe can I help you up?’

Ann was brought back to the present when Anne brushed her thumb over Ann’s cheek to brush away a tear. ‘What’s up? You were doing fine until I mentioned. Only I won’t mention it again.’ Anne’s words seem to catch in her throat. ‘Are you okay?’ Tell me what is doing on in your head?’ Ann swallowed. ‘I can’t. I have left it too long. I feel you will despise me and won’t want to have anything to do with me anymore. You will want to dissolve our marriage and send me away.’ Anne looked at Ann. She was shocked to think Ann had experienced something so horrendous that Anne wouldn’t want to be with her.

‘Can you please explain to me why you think I would want to do that?’ Anne said with a hint of anger in her voice. She thought she knew the woman who had hung her head again only it seemed she didn’t. Ann sobbed loudly. ‘See you are angry already even before I tell you.’

‘I’m not angry at that. I am angry because you think I wouldn’t want to end our marriage and send you away. Ann Walker I love you and no matter what happened I am sure we can deal with it. I am certainly not the picture postcard of perfection. You do know about my past right!’ Ann nodded. ‘Well, then. What’s up?’ Ann rested her head on Anne’s shoulder. How was she going to explain to Anne what happened when she was a child? How would it seem to be possible that Anne wouldn’t think like everyone else that she had asked for it? There were times when her family had looked at her in disgust   ‘Ann tell me please. I won’t dissolve our marriage. I love you, Ann Walker.’ Ann settled for a beat. She could feel Anne wrap her arms around her cocooning her.

‘He was a friend of the family someone who would be present at every family gathering. He was so popular with everyone he became an uncle to us. I must have been in my first year at high school when he began making advances towards me that I knew were inappropriate and unasked for.’ Anne’s eyes shot up as she listened to what Ann was saying. ‘It was Christmas day and as usual he was invited. I think I was 14. He was married with twins, Charlie and Jeffery were adorable children.  His wife was mum’s best friend they would go clothes shopping together. I had been feeling unwell since the early morning. My periods were due to start in a couple of days. So, I excused myself and went to my bedroom. He followed me into my bedroom. I was stunned when he closed and locked the door. My father had only agreed to me having a lock on my bedroom door a few weeks prior to Christmas day. I tried to scream out for help. I couldn’t because he put his hand over my face. Then he threw me on my bed and sexually assaulted me.’ Ann said tears streaming down her face. ‘Ann Walker, what happened next?’

‘Nothing because no one believed me when I told them what he did. They said I forced myself on him. My father wouldn’t listen to me. I was treated .like an outcast for quite some time. I even had to convince Catherine that what I was telling her was the truth. I stressed for the next three days until I got my periods. I was petrified that I would be pregnant. My father told me that if I was pregnant he was kicking me out of home.’ Ann was sobbing loudly. ‘Ann, does Nelly know about this?’

‘Yes, she knows what father and mother were willing to tell her. She seemed unsure whether to believe them or not but she has never asked me what really happened. You seen the man in question was someone she had introduced to the family.’

‘Would you like her to know the truth?’ Ann looked at her wife smiling because she was still her wife. ‘I don’t know, Dearest. He moved away from the neighbourhood not long after that incident and we haven’t heard from him since. I think Aunt Nelly would be filled with guilt if she knew what he really did to me.’

‘Do you know that?’ Anne said. ‘I am sure she would be filled with remorse. Yet, I think she would love to know the truth. Wouldn’t you want to know if someone you knew was keeping a secret but were afraid to tell you?’ Ann nodded. ‘I think we need to tell her now, Ann.’ Ann shook her head as Anne pulled out her phone and called Nelly.

‘Hi Anne what’s up?’

‘We need to see you now. Is it okay if Ann and I come over and see you? Ann has something she needs to tell you.’ Ann frowned.

‘I’m not at home I could come there. I am in town shopping. I will be there in half an hour. If it’s what I think Ann needs to tell me. Tell her not to worry. I will listen and won’t judge her.’ It seemed to Anne that Nelly hadn’t forgotten what her ‘friend’ did to her niece.

‘I will tell her that. See you soon.’ Ann squirmed in Anne’s arms. ‘How long is she going to be?’ Ann asked. ‘Half an hour I think we should get you a drink to calm your nerves. Okay!’ Ann nodded. Anne stood. ‘Stay there. I will be back in a few.’ Ann watched Anne leave her study. Anne closed the door. Ann sat back and wondered what would happen after she revealed to Nelly what happened all those years ago.

Anne returned five minutes later with three glasses and her best scotch. ‘Who’s the other glass for?’ Ann asked as she watched Anne place the glasses and bottle of scotch on her desk. ‘Your aunt, Ann. I think she will need it.’ She passed Ann a glass half filled with scotch. Ann took a sip. It burned the back of her throat as it went down but it warmed her inside and gave her a bit of courage to do what she had to do.

Chapter Text

Chapter 12

Nelly arrived half an hour later. When she rang the door bell Cordingley answered and she directed Nelly to Anne’s study. Anne had asked her to do that. Nelly knocked on the door. ‘Enter Aunt.’ Ann said. As she walked in Anne passed her a glass of scotch. ‘What’s this for?’ She asked Anne. ‘Drink up. I think you will need more after Ann tells you what happened to her when she was a teenager.’

Would you please sit down Aunt Nelly?’ Ann said. ‘I think you need to.’ Then Ann told her aunt everything she had told Anne. It seemed to have taken Ann longer than what she had hoped. She had tried not to look at her aunt who had tears streaming down her face. The only reason Ann wasn’t crying was her wife who had Ann wrapped up in a comforting hug. ‘Annie, is what you are telling me the truth?’ Ann nodded. ‘Why didn’t you tell me sooner? He might have been a family friend only no one has the right to do that to another person especially someone in my family.’ Anne let Ann go over to her aunt. They hugged for a beat. ‘I think I need another drink if you don’t mind, Anne.’ Nelly passed Anne her glass and she refilled it. She did the same for Ann.

They spent the next hour sitting and chatting. ‘Do you want to find this fellow and press charges on him?’ Nelly asked Ann. ‘It’s been so long aunt. I don’t think anyone would believe me if I told them what he did and he could be dead.’

‘I don’t care whether he is alive or dead. You need some closure to this experience Ann. If you don’t get it you could need therapy.’ Nelly said. ‘Anyway, let’s talk about something more interesting. How are you doing with the code?’ Anne looked at Ann. ‘that’s what started all this.’ Ann said. ‘Anne asked me when I first learned the code. Then I remembered what he did to me. I didn’t feel I could tell Anne because I thought she would divorce me and send me away from our home.’ Nelly looked shocked. ‘I can tell you, Anne Lister would never do that to you because she loves you so much.’ Ann smiled. ‘Yes, I know.’

‘We are doing great now.’ Anne said smiling. ‘You do realise you are a very lucky lady to snare Anne Lister.’ Ann nodded. ‘And Anne Lister is lucky to have her in my life.’

‘Well, how are you doing with the family code?’ Nelly asked. ‘Great but sometimes I have having trouble trying to remember what each letter is especially since the vowels are the ones before except for A which is U. Then trying to remember the order of the consonants I know I will be able to follow along soon.’ Nelly quirked her eyebrows up.

‘Well, I have a code of my own. It is a bit more elaborate than this one but my code and my journal are my saviours.’

‘I didn’t know you kept a journal. How long have you been doing that?’ Ann asked. ‘When do you get to write in it? I haven’t seen you do that.’ Ann looked at her wife. ‘Ah, there’s my secret. I write in my journal in the early hours of the morning or late at night when you are sleeping. I might tell you my code one day, Adney.’ Ann smiled. She had a feeling Anne had probably written about her. ‘Did Ann tell you the code is used when you want to write about someone without them knowing?’

‘Yes, she did. Only we found something you wrote about Ann.’ Nelly cringed. She remembered writing that in code because she didn’t want anyone to find it and see it. They would need to decode it before they read it. ‘Not everyone in the family has access to the family code.’ Nelly said. ‘I thought the code was shared with everyone in the family.’ Nelly shook her head. ‘No dear. It wasn’t. Only the ones we knew who wouldn’t use it against family members were given the code to use.’ Ann smiled. ‘Does that mean I am one of the privileged few?’ Nelly smiled at Ann, ‘You certainly are dear. Your father did the right thing to share the family code with you.’

‘Did you have a hand in him giving me the code, Aunt?’ Nelly smiled briefly. ‘I think she might have.’ Anne said as she assessed the grin on Nelly’s face. ‘I knew she would treat it with the respect it deserves and if you are asking. No, none of my children know the code especially Christopher. I don’t think I could trust him with such an important family secret. He has a knack of causing enough trouble without getting his paws on the code.’

‘So you think more highly of your niece than you do of your own children.’ Nelly smiled. She adored Ann. She was so sweet and caring. Nelly could see that Anne Lister had been good for Ann. She seemed to have more courage. Yet, there still seemed to be moments when Ann seemed uncertain of herself. Nelly knew in time Anne would give her all the confidence she needed and no one would hold her back.

Nelly was pulled from her thoughts by Anne. ‘Nelly, are you okay? You seemed to be miles away.’

‘I’m good thanks.’ She pulled Anne into a strong hug and whispered in her ear. ‘You are a good match for my niece. She has been through so much in her life. I am so grateful that you are such a bit part of Ann’s life. My story is such a wonderful bonus ‘ She said as she leaned in a pecked Anne on her cheek my second favourite niece.’ Anne grinned. ‘Thanks Aunt Nelly. Would you like to stay for tea?’

‘Goodness, I seem to be spending many evenings here tasting Cordingley’s delightful menu. Do you think we could give her the evening off and let me order my favourite meal in for us? How does that sound?’ Ann who had been listening into Anne and her aunt chat looked over and said. ‘That would be lovely, Aunt Nelly. Can I call the restaurant?’ Nelly nodded. ‘Ann reached into her pocket for her phone. She called her aunt’s favourite restaurant and ordered Nelly’s favourite Chinese meal with all the trimmings.  Nelly went to pass Ann her credit card but was too late. Anne smiled at Nelly who frowned. ‘I think that was planned.’ Ann didn’t say anything. Anne just laughed.

They strolled into the sitting room where Marian, Aunt Anne and father were seated watching football on tv. ‘Well, who’s winning?’ Nelly said. ‘I think Liverpool has this match wrapped up.’ Jeremy said with a twinkle in his eye. ‘So, what’s the score?’ Ann asked. She rarely watched football but she enjoying listening to father discussing the run of play.’

West Ham United scored the first goal. That was about ten minutes in..

‘No, father’ Marian butted in. ‘It was only five minutes into the first half.’

‘Okay, okay!’  He said gruffly. ‘Anyway, they tried to defend their goal. They were doing fine until the goalkeeper was injured just before half time. They brought out their relief goalkeeper and their game went downhill from there. After Liverpool scored three goals in a span of ten minutes I think the wind was blown out of their sails. It will be over in about five minutes. Sit down. We can chat then.’

‘We are having Chinese for tea. It should arrive in about half an hour. It’s from Aunt Nelly’s favourite Chinese restaurant. I have been there with her a couple of times and the food is delicious.’ Ann said with a grin on her face. ‘Thanks, Nelly.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Don’t thank me these cheeky varmints paid for it. I just made the suggestion after Anne Lister invited me to stay for dinner. Hell, I’m going to have to move my bed her soon. I seem to be here quite often.’

‘That you do. Yet, Anne and Ann are working on your life story aren’t they?’

‘Yes, they sure are and I am enjoying every minute. They seemed to have found diary entries that I have forgotten about.  Sometimes, I wonder if it really was me who wrote them. As strange as it might seem I feel distant from the earlier diaries I wrote when I first got married. There were a couple from my earlier life. I have searched high and low at home and can’t find them.

Ann raced to Anne’s study. You mean these.’

‘Where did you find them, Ann?’ Nelly asked. ‘They were packed in with the photo albums.’ Ann handed Nelly her diary and as she opened to the first page she smiled. It brought back a flood of memories about her childhood and teenage years. She flipped through and found another entry. She read it. ‘He (John Rawson) came courting tonight. I don’t know if father likes him. Mother seems to think he will be a good choice for a husband. I haven’t really thought that far into the future. We have only been courting for about one month. He is very handsome. I met his father and mother. They are lovely people and seemed to like me.’ She stopped reading as tears began welling in the corners of her eyes.

Anne and Ann stood and walked over to Nelly. They wrapped their arms around her. Your memories are leaking out the corners of your eyes.’ Anne said. ‘He must have been a wonderful husband. Would you like to tell us more about him?’ Aunt Anne said. Then the doorbell rang. Cordingley answered. It was their Chinese meal. ‘Tea is here. Do you want me to serve it for you?’  Elizabeth said. ‘No thanks but we want you to join us.’ Cordingley smiled. This was becoming something she loved, sharing a meal with the Listers and their visitor. They ate chatting. Nelly talking about how her husband helped her more than she ever imagined a man would after the birth of her children. He seemed to be ahead of his time.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 13

They adjourned to the sitting room. Father switched off the tv. He had forgotten he left it turned on when Cordingley said their tea had arrived. ‘Is there a movie on tonight that you want to watch father?’ Anne said. ‘I thought we were going to watch it together.’

‘I would love to listen to more of Nelly’s story. I see Anne went to her study to get a notepad to write down what Nelly says tells us. So, I am guessing she might want to take notes.’ Jeremy pointed at his eldest daughter who was perched on the sofa quite close to Nelly so she wouldn’t miss a word of what Nelly said. Ann was seated next to her wife.

Nelly continued the conversation she had started earlier. ‘John proposed to me today. I couldn’t believe how lucky I am. Now, he has to ask my parent’s permission to marry their only daughter. I hope they say yes because I love this man more than I ever imagined I would. I think I will dream about our wedding day tonight. I can’t imagine my parents saying no. I love him so much.’  Anne and Ann were close enough they both put a hand on Nelly’s leg and rubbed it. She smiled at her nieces and continued reading. ‘This entry is a few months later.’

‘What year did you get married, Aunt Nelly?’  Ann asked. ‘1977, I remember the day as if it was yesterday’

‘So do I.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘You looked so beautiful in your white wedding gown and John looked so handsome in his white tie, top hat and tails. Your cousins were gorgeous as your bridesmaids. I was never interested in getting married but I did love going to weddings. It was fun to throw confetti over the bride and groom. Sometimes we tried to get it down their necks.’ Anne looked at her aunt. ‘Why didn’t you get married Aunt Anne?’ Marian asked her sincerely. ‘Didn’t you want to be a mother?’ Aunt Anne shook her head. ‘I am happy as I am. I have you three now to make me feel like a mother without giving birth.’ Anne felt that her aunt wasn’t being completely with them but she didn’t push her luck. She would ask her later when they were alone. ‘Your aunt isn’t like that. She likes the ladies does Anne Lister.’  Father said.

‘Yeah, that’s not news, father. Everyone in Halifax knows about my love life and who I married.’ Jeremy shook his head. ‘I don’t mean you silly. I mean my sister, Anne Lister.’ Aunt Anne blushed. Nelly smiled. ‘I always thought you were, Anne because you took Anne in when she was a teenager after her mother rejected her.’

‘Anne Lister, you never told me that.’ Ann said as she looked at her wife. ‘That lady over there is my mother.’ Anne said as she pointed to her aunt. ‘She was the first person to hold me when I was born and she named me. My birth mother couldn’t think of a name so she said Aunt Anne could name me.’

‘WOW!! We are learning a lot about each other tonight.’ Marian said. ‘Do you have a story you would like to tell father?’

‘I thought you were sick of my war stories, Marian.’

‘Could you tell us the story about how you and Uncle James got caught smoking n the barn?’ He had told this story so often that Anne and Marian would pick up the story if he forgot bits of it. They laughed when he mentioned how they were caught. ‘Uncle James had accidently caught the hay in the barn on fire. Grandfather came to see what was happening. When he got there they were trying to put the fire out with buckets of water. He looked them with cigarettes still hanging out of their mouths.’ Anne said with help from Marian..

‘What did he do to them?’ Nelly asked Aunt Anne. ‘He was going to belt their behinds but thought better of it. He made them rebuild the barn. Well, it was one its last legs.’

‘James and I did a fine job rebuilding it but we never caught smoking in the barn again.’

‘No, you and James would go down to the lake. Father didn’t know that but I did.’

‘Sister dear, I am sure you did but I know about the young lady he caught you kissing in your bedroom.’

‘What young lady, Aunt Anne?’ Anne asked. ‘I have never kissed a young lady in my bedroom. He only says that because he got caught in a compromising position with your mother, Anne, in his bedroom. He had his army trousers down around his ankles and her dress was wrapped around her waist. ‘

‘Father!’ Anne and Marian said in shock horror. ‘You didn’t get her pregnant. Did you?’

‘If you must know I didn’t.’

‘I think I need to go home before this party starts to get rough.’ Nelly said. She stood. She pulled out her phone and called her chauffeur. He arrived a few minutes later. Nelly hugged everyone before she left and whispered into Anne’s ear. ‘Your father was a big flirt when he was younger. He settled down when he married your mum.’ Anne smiled. It was then that Anne realised she was a bit like her father. Thankfully she had met Ann and they had settled down into domestic bliss.

She was pulled from her thoughts by Ann who wrapped her arms around her waist. ‘Anne Lister where were you? You looked so far away, Dearest.’

‘I was just thanking my lucky stars that I had common sense to marry you.’ Ann smiled. ‘And you accepted me as I am. No one else has done that, Miss Walker. What do you want to do now?’

‘Do you think it is too late for me to pick your brains about our trip down under?’  Ann asked Ann shyly. ‘What do you want to do?’

‘Just jot a few notes down so when we have finished writing Aunt Nelly’s story we have a starting point. Is that okay?’

‘That’s okay with me. Where would you like to do it?’ Anne said not realising what she had actually said. ‘Anne Lister, you do realise what you just said.’ Anne smiled at her wife. ‘Of course, I do.’ Anne said. ‘I said where would you like to do it?’ She immediately put her hand over her mouth. Ouch! She thought. ‘What I meant to say is where would you like to jot down the notes, Adney in my study or in our bedroom?’

‘In your study, Dearest that would be the best place then we won’t be distracted.’ Ann smiled. She was always ready for Anne to fuck her but she wanted to get these holiday notes jotted down before she forgot.

‘Where are you going, Anne and Ann?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘To jot down some notes about our trip to Australia before we forget.’ Ann said. ‘In hopes we can write a story about our trip when we have completed Aunt Nelly’s story.’

‘Okay!! I was just wondering. What did Nelly whisper in your ear before she left, Anne?’ Anne blushed. ‘What did she say to you, Dearest?’

‘Just that father was a big flirt when he was younger.’ Anne said sheepishly. ‘I could have told you that. I think he kissed every girl in the neighbourhood and then some.’ Yeah, you were like him once. Aunt Anne thought. She didn’t want Ann to know about Anne’s past unless Anne had already told her.

Ann followed Anne to her study. Ann opened her laptop then she opened a new word file. Anne proceeded to tell Ann what she remembered. They worked like that for about an hour. Anne remembering the places they visited. Ann made a list of them in the order they visited the places. Then she wrote next to each location in note form what they did there. Ann was glad Anne was helping her otherwise she would have forgotten half of what they did. ‘Do you remember the trip across Bass Strait on the Spirit of Tasmania?’ Ann nodded. ‘What about the restaurant we went to in Melbourne?’

‘Wasn’t that a Korean restaurant? Ann asked. Anne nodded   ‘But you don’t remember the name of the restaurant. Do you?’ Ann shook her head. ‘We did keep the receipts from our trip. Didn’t we, Anne?’ Anne had to think. She had thought she did. Of course, she could always check their bank statement. Wouldn’t it be written on there if they paid with a card? She couldn’t remember that.

‘Ann are you ready to go to bed?’

‘I think so Dearest. I am tired and my brain feels like mush.’  They strolled out of Anne’s office to find that Marian was still up watching tv. ‘Why are you still up, Marian?’

‘I couldn’t sleep.’

‘What are you watching?’ Ann asked Marian. ‘I don’t know. You woke me when you came into the sitting room.’

‘Night Marian.’ Anne said.  ‘Night Anne and Ann.’ Anne and Ann were snuggled between the sheets after they had changed into their pjs. Anne sat up in bed writing in her journal. Ann hadn’t seen her do that all the time they had been together. Anne usually wrote in her journal in the mornings when it was quiet. Ann snuggled next to her wife. She was snoring quietly.

Chapter Text

Chapter 14

Anne continued writing in her journal it had been a few days since she had written in it and it took her some time to remember what they had done. When Anne had completed her task she lay down next to Ann and was nearly asleep when Ann rolled around to face her.  Ann leaned in and crashed their lips. ‘Ann what are you up to? I thought you were tired but it doesn’t seem that way.’

‘Well, I was when we came to bed. Now, I am getting a second wind, Dearest. I want you to fuck me now. You know how to make me feel so good when you fuck me.’

‘Ann Walker, I think we need to get some sleep.’ Ann whined as she grabbed Anne’s hand and put it near her clit. Anne felt how wet Ann was for her. ‘See what you do it me, Anne. Come on, just one fuck then we can go to sleep.’ Anne just wanted to sleep. They’d been busy all day with Nelly and talking about Nelly’s story and how their family was a part of it then their honeymoon story but Ann could be persuasive. Anne knew that she couldn’t say no. Only Anne was so sleepy. She pulled her hand out and Ann whined louder. ‘Adney, sorry baby but I am so tired.’

‘Anne, why didn’t you tell me you were tired? Let’s get some sleep. There’s always tomorrow when you and I can have sex. Okay!!’ Anne smiled. They snuggled and fell into a deep sleep.

Anne woke early the following morning. She was itching to go for a run. She couldn’t remember the last time she went for a run. She thought it was probably before she went into partnership with Gemma Foster in London. She couldn’t remember where her running shoes were. She stood up and went looking for them. Then she heard Ann. ‘Dearest, where are you? It’s the middle of the night.’ Anne poked her head out from the closet. ‘I am looking for my running shoes. For some reason and I don’t know why it is I want to go for a run round Shibden.’

‘But it’s the middle of the night. Come back to bed. We can always go for a seven mile jog between the sheets.’ Anne looked stunned. ‘What do you mean seven mile jog between the sheets?’

‘Isn’t that what they say about sex? It’s like going for a seven mile run.’ Ann said. ‘Ah here they are.’ Anne said as she pulled out her runners to show Ann. I won’t be that long. Okay!!!’

‘Okay.’ Ann said but she didn’t sound convincing so Anne walked over to their bed and placed a kiss on her forehead. ‘I will see you in about an hour, Adney.’ Ann smiled. She could roll over and go to sleep then when Anne returned she would be ready for some fun. Yahoo!! Well, that’s what she thought. 

When Ann woke which felt like only an hour later Anne was in bed sleeping again. She tried to wake Anne up but that wasn’t going to happen. Ann rolled out of bed and went fossicking for something to wear. She found Anne’s shirt and put it on. She put on Anne’s sweats. Then she strolled down into the kitchen for breakfast. Marian was at the kitchen table eating her breakfast chatting with Cordingley. ‘Morning, Ann. Where is my sister?’

‘She’s still in bed. She decided to go for a morning run. It was the middle of the night and now she is sleeping.’

‘Who’s sleep?’  Anne said as she strolled into the kitchen. ‘You were half an hour ago. Dearest.’  Anne looked her up and down. ‘And you are wearing my clothes again, Ann Walker. I think I might have to hide them. I had to go searching for something else to wear.’ Ann looked at her wife sheepishly. ‘Well. They are covered in your scent, Dearest.’ Anne laughed. She couldn’t believe how Ann loved to have her near even when she wasn’t.  ‘Do my clothes smell that good?’ Anne asked as Marian and Elizabeth listened. ‘What about when they are washed?’ Anne asked sincerely. ‘Dearest, there is still a hint of your scent there.’ Anne blushed. Marian grinned. They all laughed. ‘What’s so funny?’ Aunt Anne said as she walked into the kitchen. The sound of her cane heard even before she appeared. ‘It’s just Ann.’

‘What has my eldest niece down now?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘No, it’s me, Aunt. They are laughing at me because I love the smell of Anne’s scent on her clothes.’  Aunt Anne frowned but when she saw Ann laughing she joined in. ‘I’ll get them back one day but I might need your help, aunt.’  Ann whispered in her ear when she thought no one was listening.  Aunt Anne nodded. 

‘So, what’s for breakfast, Cordingley?’ Anne asked. ‘Eggs and bacon, ma’am I was just about to start preparing them when Miss Marian came into the kitchen. She wanted to chat with me about. What was it, Miss Marian?’ Elizabeth asked Marian who couldn’t remember. ‘I guess I don’t remember.’ Marian said shyly. ‘It must have been a lie.’ Yeah, sure thing, Anne thought. ‘Breakfast will be ready in a few minutes.’ Elizabeth said as she stood up and walked over to the fridge to retrieve the eggs and bacon. ‘Would you like me to help you, Elizabeth?’  Ann asked.  ‘No, I am fine but thanks for asking.’ Ann looked at Elizabeth sternly. She walked over to her and whispered in her ear. ‘That’s right I forgot. Yes, I need you to help me toast the bread, Miss Walker.’ Ann grinned and it wasn’t unnoticed by Anne.  

‘What is Ann up to?’ She asked her aunt. ‘I saw her whisper in your ear a few minutes ago. Now, she’s cooking breakfast for us with Cordingley. I know she’s up to something.’

‘Anne Lister. There you go imagining things again. You know she likes helping Cordingley cook.’ Aunt Anne said. Anne still wasn’t sure if she was going to eat breakfast after the ribbing they had given Ann when she mentioned she liked the smell of her clothes because they were covered in her scent.  Anne wondered what Ann was up to with Cordingley.

‘Miss Walker, are you sure you want to do this to Miss Lister?’ Ann nodded. She had a feeling her wife would take the joke as it was intended. ‘Now, don’t forget which eggs are Anne’s. Okay!! I am sure she will see the funny side.’ But it was too late when the food had been taken to the table by Cordingley. ‘Where’s Ann?’ Aunt Anne asked Elizabeth. ‘She said she had something that needed attending to upstairs.’ Anne looked at Elizabeth and wondered.  Aunt Anne smiled.

She knew there was something amiss but she didn’t say anything. The lemony smell coming from Anne’s eggs was so strong but Anne didn’t seem to smell it. She certainly tasted it when she put a fork full of egg into her mouth. ‘Ann Walker, show your face before I have to come up there after you.’ Anne said as angrily as she could muster behind the grin on her face. Ann walked into the dining room from the kitchen. She was getting ready to apologise when she saw the biggest grin on her wife’s face.

‘I guess this means we are even. Sorry for laughing at you before. I shouldn’t have. It is so sweet that you love my scent, Adney.’ Ann raced over to her wife and wrapped her arms around her neck then she kissed her in front of everyone. Father blushed. Only no one noticed.  Ann sat next to her wife and dished Anne up two more eggs after discarding the ones already on her plate. ‘I hope these ones are better, Dearest.’ Anne smiled.  Ann plated eggs and bacon for herself. She buttered two pieces of toast.

She eyed Anne cautiously as she bite into her first piece of toast. ‘Don’t worry it’s not sour like my eggs were.  Ann laughed when she realised Anne was right.

‘What have you got planned for today?’ Father said as he looked at his daughter and daughter in law. ‘We plan to edit our videos. Then we might show them to you tonight if you are lucky.’ Anne said sincerely. Ann nodded, it wasn’t what they had planned to do but she could see how eager father and Aunt Anne wanted to see their video.

‘How’s the reading of Mrs Rawson’s diaries going?’ Marian asked. ‘Good good.’ Ann said. ‘It seems Aunt Nelly has had an interesting life.’ Father nodded. ‘I had a crush on her when we were going to school together. She was a year below me but she was the cutest girl in the school.’ Aunt Anne remembered hearing the stories from their mother how he chased Nelly around the school just to get a kiss from her only she wouldn’t kiss him like he wanted her to.  ‘Mother told me he tried to kiss Nelly but she wouldn’t have a bar of it.’ Father blushed. ‘So, it is true. The rumours I heard from my dad were true. He told me about you and Nelly, Father.’ Ann said. He blushed so more then stood up and left.

‘I suppose we won’t see him for awhile.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘You should ask your aunt about his crush on her.’ Aunt Anne said as Anne and Ann stood up to go to and collect Ann’s laptop from their bedroom. At least that’s where she thought she had left it. ‘I think I will. That might be something to add to her story if she wants us to ‘

Chapter Text

Chapter 15

Anne and Ann spent the next three hours editing and re editing the videos they took while they were away. Ann wanted to add some music to the video but Anne thought that would spoil it.  The problem Ann had was her voice she didn’t like to listen to it. That was the only reason she wanted to add music to the videos she was hoping that music would drown out her voice. Anne looked at her confused. ‘What’s the matter? I thought you were enjoying our editing session, Adney.’

‘I was. I just wish you would let me add some music to the video.’

‘Why?’ Anne asked sincerely. ‘If we do that we won’t hear your lovely voice.’ Ann cringed. It was then that Anne realised what the problem was. ‘You don’t like the sound of your own voice, do you?’ Ann shook her head. ‘Adney, you have to sweetest voice I have ever heard especially between the sheets.’ Ann laughed. ‘That’s my girl. Come on, let’s finish this video. I think we have done enough today. Don’t you?’Ann nodded. She wrapped her arms Anne.  ‘Are we ready to show our family the video and photos tonight, Adney?’

‘I think so, Dearest.’ Ann said with a smile on her face. ‘I think we should surprise them. Do you want to invite Aunt Nelly? When you call her tell her we want to quiz her on some of her diary entries. Okay!’ Anne picked up her phone that was lying on the desk between them. She called Nelly who agreed to visit later today. Although Nelly did seem a bit confused. She had offered to visit now as she wasn’t doing anything. ‘I can visit now if you like. I’m not busy.’ She said with a curious tone in her voice. ‘Okay!! How long will you be?’

‘About half an hour, do you want me to bring some snacks?’

‘No, I think we have enough but you could bring a bottle of rum if that’s okay!’

‘I will. See you in half an hour.’ Nelly said.  Anne disconnected the call.  ‘All done. She doesn’t have any idea what is going on.’ Anne said.  ‘That’s great, Anne. I hope they like what we have done.’ Ann said sincerely. ‘I am sure they will, Adney.’

Anne and Ann had baked some biscuits with help from Cordingley.  Of course, Anne and Ann had to taste test them. They gave them a thumb’s up. They were so delicious Cordingley had to hide them after Anne and Ann were about to devour more than what Cordingley thought they needed to.

It was more than half an hour before Nelly arrived at the hall. ‘Sorry I am late. The bottle shop was crowded. I was hoping to get in and out but Catherine saw me there and you know what she is like Annie when she gets talking.’ Ann nodded. Yeah, I sure do and I know who she takes after. Ann thought. ‘I got a bottle of their best rum and a bottle of their best scotch. I hope that’s okay!!’ Anne smiled.  ‘It is more than okay. Thank you. Now, that everyone is here we have a surprise for you all. If Ann will get her laptop we can show you the video of our trip down under. Okay!!’ Everyone smiled.

Ann returned with her laptop. She placed it on the coffee table where she had put it before when they had watched the photo slideshow. Everyone packed the sofa. Ann sat on Anne’s lap on their favourite chair. Marian sat on the arm of the sofa while everyone else perched themselves on the sofa. ‘Where’s Elizabeth?’ Ann asked. ‘She’s preparing tea.’ Ann jumped from Anne’s lap and raced into the kitchen to find Elizabeth huddled over the sink peeling potatoes. ‘Put that down and come watch our video. I want you to see where we went on our honeymoon.‘ Ann said. Elizabeth smiled.  She dried her hands on the hand towel draped over the oven door handle and followed Ann into the sitting room. Elizabeth sits next to Aunt Anne while Ann hits play on her laptop.

‘If you have any questions we will answer them as well as we can.’ Anne said. The video played. ‘Isn’t that the Sydney Harbour Bridge?’ Aunt Anne asked. ‘Yes, Australians call it the coat hanger.’

Why do they call it that?’ Marian asked. ‘Are you watching the video at all, Marian?’ Anne said grumpily. ‘If you look closely you’ll see it is shaped like a coat hanger.’

‘Oh!! Okay!! I can see that now.’  Good Anne thought. There was silence for another ten minutes. They were on the Spirit of Tasmania heading to Tasmania. ‘I didn’t know you took the ferry over to Tasmania.’ Father said. ‘Yes, it was an overnight trip. I called Aunt early in the morning.’

‘Yes, i remember that. You said Ann was sleeping.’

‘She was.’ Ann looked stunned. ‘I don’t remember you telling me about calling your aunt, Anne.’  Anne blushed.  ‘Ann you woke just as I was disconnecting the call with my aunt. You were upset that I didn’t wait for you so you could chat with her.’ Ann blushed. She remembered that. When the Spirit docked in Devonport. They had raced to collect their luggage and disembark in time to collect their rental car.

Then the video showed them travelling across a bridge. That was when Ann called her email pal. The video resumed. Ann smiled. She could see Matilda and her three children walking towards where Anne and she were seated outside Banjos. ‘I think we sat talking for longer than what we intended. Matilda and the kids were visiting their Pop in Burnie. We went to the Devonport Bluff.’

‘Where are you there?’ Nelly asked. ‘We are heading into Burnie. The building coming up to the left is what use to be part of a paper mill. There isn’t much left of it now as most of it was torn down. There’s only this building on the eastern end and the administration block on the western end. I think Matilda’s Pop said it was now his doctor’s office.’  We didn’t video as much of Burnie as I would have liked. That’s the local swimming pool. The outdoor one is the original. They had an indoor one built for winter. Maybe we should have gone for a swim.’ Ann said. ‘Adney, it was April when we were there and if I remember it wasn’t very warm. Was it?’ Ann just smiled. What more could she do. Her wife was right as she usually is. Well, as she usually thinks she is.

The video played on as everyone silently watched. Ann could see everyone wanted to ask questions but they didn’t want to miss out on seeing anything. She was certain they would have a question or two they wanted to ask when the video ended which it did ten minutes later. ‘How long was Port Arthur a convict settlement?’ Nelly asked. ‘For about 47 years.’

“That long’ Marian chimed in. ‘Was it really a bad place?’

‘From what I have learned and what we saw while we were there it was a pretty awful place for the convicts.’

‘I thought the blow hole in Bicheno was amazing. How long did you have to sit waiting for that to happen?’ Aunt Anne said. ‘I don’t remember. We had fallen asleep. When we woke the wind had picked up and there was a decent spray. So, Ann filmed it.’

‘Does Burnie have a manufacturing industry now the paper mill has closed down?’ Father asked. ‘I don’t think so. There is Lactos where they make cheese. I think that’s about it.’ Anne said as she tried to recall what she read about Tasmania. ‘There were quite a few small towns you went through while you were there.’ Aunt Anne said.

‘Yes, they only have a small population and the south west of Tasmania is far as I know.’

‘What is Tasmania’s population?’ Marian asked. ‘I think it’s around 500 thousand.’

‘Do you have a map of Tasmania to show us.’ Nelly asked. Ann couldn’t remember if they bought one. Anne jumped up and strolled to her office. She returned with a map in her hand. She unfolded it and laid it on the coffee table pushing Ann’s laptop to one side. ‘Here I have mapped out our trip around Tasmania in red. The arrow points the direction we went.’

‘It looks so small on a map of the world but it isn’t. Is it?’ Marian exclaimed. ‘You haven’t seen that much of Tasmania. Have you?’

‘No! I would love to go back there and see more of the island state of Australia. That would be great. Would you like to come with us, Marian?’ Ann said. Marian smiled. Then she wondered how she could afford that. She only had a small income. ‘Don’t worry about how you going to pay for you airfare. Okay!!’ Ann said. Marian’s smiled so much it nearly split her face. ‘You’d do that for me. What about Aunt Anne and father? Who would take care of them?’

‘One thing at a time Marian.’ Anne said. ‘Well work that out when the time comes. I am sure we can come up with a solution. Can’t we?’ She could see Aunt Anne and father looking at her, Ann and Marian. She wondered what they were thinking. She wasn’t prepared for their answer so she didn’t ask.

‘You didn’t just call me to show me your Honeymoon video. Did you?’

‘Well, yes we did actually but if you want to we can get you to read some more of your diary entries to us.’ Anne said. ‘Is that okay?’

‘Yes, that’s what I would like to do on the condition I buy tea tonight. I am over here so often that I don’t remember the last time I ate a meal at home.’ Nelly said.

Chapter Text

Chapter 16

‘I am sure we can accommodate you, Aunt Nelly.’ Ann said. They stood up and walked to Anne’s office. The box that contained Nelly’s diaries was perched on a chair near Anne’s office desk. Ann placed her laptop on the desk and sat on the chair after she placed the box on the floor. She encouraged Nelly to sit next to her in the other chair. Anne stood watching what was happening.  Ann smiled at her wife then stands so Anne can sit down. She does so and Ann sits in her lap. Nelly smiled. It seems the right thing to do. Nelly could see they were so much in love and it made her remember how much she had loved John no matter how hard their life together had been. She smile as tears roll down her face. ‘Aunt, are you okay?’  Anne asked her. ‘Yes and no.’ Nelly said. ‘Why that?’

‘It’s so adorable that you two are so in love but it reminds me so much of John and how he loved me so much and I miss him so much.’ Ann stood and wrapped her arms around her Aunt. Sometimes it is good to let your love for someone who is no longer with us seep from your eyes.’  Nelly sobbed so hard. Ann held her so tight until her sobbing subsided.

‘He was a good man, John. We had good and bad times but that is how life is. Isn’t it?’ Nelly said as Anne and Ann listened intently. Anne picked up her notepad and wrote down what Nelly was saying. ‘It was hard for us when Catherine died and then ten years later Delia passed away. I miss my daughters every day and I am so grateful that Stansfield named two of his daughters after their aunts. Catherine and Delia are very special granddaughters and I love them so much.’ Ann sobbed as Nelly told her story. Anne wrapped her arms around her wife. ‘She’s always cries when someone else does.’ Nelly nodded. ‘I didn’t want to upset her.’

‘That’s okay, Aunt.’ Ann said. ‘Do Catherine and Delia know how special they are?’ Nelly looks at Ann. ‘Well, they know they are named after their deceased aunts.’

‘Yes, but have you ever told them they are special to you?’ Nelly shook her head. ‘Do you want to?’ Nelly nods her head.  Ann retrieves her phone from Anne’s office desk and calls her cousin, Catherine. ‘I need you and Delia to come over to Shibden right now. Your grandmother is here and she has something she wants to tell you.’  Ann said. ‘Okay! I will find Delia. We will be there in half an hour or so. Do you want me to bring something to drink?  I get a feeling we might need it.’

‘Okay, bring a bottle of rum and a couple of bottles of coke.’ Ann said. ‘See you soon.’ Ann disconnected the call. Anne had gone into the kitchen to get some more glasses. The three they used before needed to be washed. Anne and Ann had left them in her office.

Anne appeared with clean glasses. She placed them on her desk and they waited while Nelly flipped through one of her photo albums. She had tears rolling down her face. ‘This is probably the last photo I have of Catherine and Delia together. There are photos of Delia after her sister passed away. Yet, this one of the two of them means a lot to me.’ Ann smiled. ‘When was it taken, Aunt?’

‘Only a few months before Catherine passed away. I have a copy of it in the sitting room a Stony Royd. I treasure this photo above all others.’ Then she found a photo of her husband. ‘This is John just before we got married. He was so handsome then.’

‘Yes, I can see in your eyes how much you loved him and still love him, Aunt Nelly.’ Ann said. ‘I remember Uncle John. He used to play backgammon with me. Didn’t he? He let me win until I got so good I won without his help.’ Nelly nodded her head. Anne smiled. ‘So, that’s why you so good at that game?’ Ann nodded.

An hour later Catherine and Delia arrive with a bottle of rum and two bottles of coke plus a bottle of wine for their grandmother. ‘Sorry we are late. It took me forever to find Delia. I should have known she was shopping with her friends.’ Delia scowled at her. ‘Yes, Delia but you are here now and I am so pleased to see you both.’ Nelly said as she stood and hugged her granddaughters. ‘What do you want to tell us, Granny?’ Catherine asked as she eyed her grandmother. ‘There are some things I haven’t told you about your namesakes.’ Nelly said. ‘And I don’t know where to begin.’

‘I guess the beginning would be the best place.’ Catherine said. Nelly nodded. ‘When your namesake aunt was born Catherine. She was the most beautiful child I had ever seen. I felt so lucky to be her mama. She gave me so much joy. I have some photos of both Catherine and Delia I will show you when we find them.’  Then she looked a Delia. ‘Darling, when you namesake was born her sister was the happiest person in the world. She finally had a younger sister. Her older sisters barely spent any time with her. Yes, even Ellen who was nearly a year older than her. Delia, Catherine love your namesake so much and when Catherine died aged 13 she cried for weeks. She couldn’t believe her favourite sister had died. Then Delia passed away ten years later. I thought that losing one child was hard but when I lost a second child I fell apart.’ Nelly said sobbing loudly. Catherine and Delia wrapped their arms around her. She felt cocooned by them. ‘Now, where is that drink you bought for us?’ Nelly said. ‘It’s here granny.’ Delia said as she passed her granny a glass of wine. Nelly sipped the wine and nodded. ‘This is good just as I like it thank you, girls.’

‘Is there anything else you want to say to us, granny?’ Catherine asked sincerely. ‘Yes, I am so happy to have you two in my life. I love you both more than you could ever imagined and it’s not because your father named you after your deceased aunts.’  Delia and Catherine stayed close to their granny. They were quiet for awhile. Anne could see they had been crying. What their granny had said to them had certainly affected them so much.

They sat in companionable silence while Catherine and Delia fought hard to keep their tears at bay Ann had pulled Catherine and Delia into a group hug both girls had put their head on Ann’ shoulder. Their granny wasn’t prone to showing her emotions or telling her family what they meant to her. She was more of an action lady. She showed them her love for them in what she did for them.

Yet, since she had begun reading through her diaries and old photo albums Nelly Rawson had become a bit sentimental. She was looking into a past filled with lots of bright moments and many sad ones.  ‘Here, this is a photo of your grandad and me on our honeymoon.’ Nelly said as she passed the photo to Delia to show her sister, Anne and Ann. ‘Aren’t we dashing?’

‘Granny you are the prettiest girl I have ever seen.’ Delia said. ‘Oh I beg to differ on that. I think I am with the prettiest girl I have ever seen.’ Anne said. Ann blushed. She knew how much her wife loved her and doted on her.

It was getting close to tea time. ‘I guess we had better go home or else or mother will be wondering where we are.’ Delia said as she pointed to her sister who seemed to be engrossed in one of Nelly’s diaries. ‘What’s this gobbledy goop?’ Catherine asked her granny. ‘A family secret you never learned because your father didn’t.’ Nelly said. ‘Why granny?’ Delia asked. ‘If I had shown your uncle Christopher he would have wanted to know and that was not going to happen.’ Ann leaned over and read some of it to her cousins. It wasn’t anything too personal.

‘I gave birth to a bouncing baby boy. He is so sweet. I just hope he stays that way.’ Ann said shyly because she could see the way Catherine and Delia were looking at her. It was Delia who spoke up. ‘How does she know the code when we don’t?’

‘I taught it to her father and he taught it to her. I insisted he do that.’

‘Why granny?’  Catherine asked. ‘I trust Ann not to use it against anyone in the family. She knows she can write in code about others but not about members of her family unless it’s done kindly.’ They all looked puzzled. ‘What do you mean by kindly?’

‘I mean in a manner that treats them with respect. Okay!!’ They all nodded. ‘We really need to go now, granny.’ Catherine said. ‘Or else mother will wonder where we are.’

‘Call her and tell her you are having dinner at Shibden with your granny and the Listers. Okay!’ Delia smiled. ‘I am buying tonight.’ She knew her granny would make sure they had something delicious to eat. ‘Would you like Italian or Chinese? Nelly asked them as she pulled out her phone to call to order their meals. ‘I think we should ask Aunt Anne and father what they would like.’ Anne said as she strolled out of her study and into the sitting room. ‘Aunt Nelly is buying us tea tonight. What would you like to eat Italian or Chinese?’

‘Either would be fine. Thanks.’ They both said. Nelly ordered Italian while Catherine called her mother and told her what they were doing. She seemed happy they were spending time with their granny and told Catherine to call her when they were on their way home.

Chapter Text

Chapter 17

‘This is becoming habit forming. You do realise I don’t remember when I spent a night at home.’ Nelly said as she twirled a fork full of pasta then ceremoniously plopped it into her mouth moaning softly as the taste hit her tongue. ‘I still think we should do this more often. Well, at least, until you have finished writing my life story.’

‘I think we should stretch it out as long as possible.’ Anne said cheekily to Nelly. ‘That’s fine by me. I love spending evenings with your family, Anne.’

‘Thank you, Auntie. We love having you here.’ Ann said sincerely.  ‘Ann, could you tell us about your honeymoon down under?’

‘When we have finished eating,’ Ann said. I’m not sure if everyone here wants to hear our story again.’

‘I would love to hear it again.’ Aunt and father said in unison. So after dinner Anne and Ann told their story to Delia and Catherine. She mentioned the videos and photos. Both girls wanted to see them and with the okay from everyone there Ann retrieved her laptop and they had a repeat showing of the photo slideshow and the videos.

Delia and Catherine asked many questions. They were in awe when the blow hole appeared to shower Anne and Ann’s rental car.  They were quite surprised to see the chair move in the Commandant’s house at Port Arthur. Delia thought that Matilda’s kids were cute especially Isabel.  

‘Where do they live?’ Catherine asked. ‘In Tasmania. I can show you a map of the island state of Australia.’ Delia nodded. Ann stood up and went to Anne’s study to retrieve the map again. She spread it out on the coffee table again. ‘This is where Matilda lives. The red line we drew on the map shows you were we visited and the arrow shows the direction we went.’

‘I thought Tasmania was a small island. It is so much bigger and there seems to be so much to see. Are you going back again?’

‘Hopefully sometime in the future Marian wants to go with us this time.’ Ann said as she looked at her wife who seemed to huff loudly. ‘That would be great, Marian.’ Delia said without looking at Anne who didn’t seem to like the idea. Only Ann wanted to take Marian with them.

‘Granny can you read some more diary entries for us?’ Delia asked. ‘I don’t know if anyone wants to hear anymore about me, dear.’ Nelly said as she looked around the room. Everyone smiled at her. Ann stood up and strolled to Anne’s study. She grabbed the first diary she could find and gave it to her Aunt. 

Nelly reads the dates on the front. ‘Why did you put the start and finish dates on the front, granny?’ Catherine asked. ‘So I can find one if I need to. That way I don’t need to open any notebooks to find the one I looking for.’ Anne nodded. That made sense to her.

Nelly opens the diary Ann brought to her to a random page and starts reading.. ‘I was visited today by a very interesting young lady although that isn’t what I would call her. She is very much like the aunt she lives with.  Yet, I would say they are more like mother and daughter. I think Anne Lister will grow into a fine young person with the aid of her Aunt Anne. They dote on each other so much. It’s possible that Anne senior knows everything and more about Anne junior./ Nelly stops reading. She looks over at Aunt Anne and Anne who are smiling through their tears.

‘I didn’t know you knew so much about me, Aunt Nelly.’ Nelly smiled. ‘You would be surprised young Anne what I know about you.’ Ah Anne thought as her wife leaned in and kissed her. Ann whispered in her ear. ‘I think I need to have a chat with Aunt Nelly about you, Miss Anne Lister.’ Then she chuckled loudly. Anne smiled. ‘I think you know everything about me already. Don’t you?’

‘Yes, but she might have some juicy titbits you haven’t told me about, Anne.’ Anne blushed.  How well did Nelly know Anne Lister?  They were all about to find out as Nelly skipped a few pages and found the entry she was looking for. ‘Anne Lister is spoken about rather nastily in Halifax. It’s a wonder she hasn’t moved to live somewhere she isn’t known but she seems to ignore what they say about her and lives her life her way. I am proud to call her a friend.’ Nelly said. ‘Now, I am proud to call you my niece, Anne Lister.’ Anne stood and hugged Nelly. Nelly kissed her cheek. ‘I still think of you as a very determined and proud person, Anne. I never thought you would marry little Annie Walker. Yes, that’s what the tribe called her. Sorry, Annie.  I never did.’

‘I know you didn’t aunt. I am so grateful that someone in the family saw that I was more than what other tribe members saw me as.’ Ann smiled. Nelly kept thumbing through her diary until she came to the second last page. ‘Anne was with Mariana Lawton today. I happened to be out shopping for a new dress. John and I have been invited to a twenty first birthday bash.’ Nelly said as Ann continued. ‘Yeah, that was my twenty first birthday. You looked so lovely in your dress aunt.’ She said as she looked at her wife who was invited too but didn’t come. Now, Ann knew why.’

Anne smiled at her but when Ann didn’t smile back she knew why. ‘Ann looked adorable. I cannot believe our sweet Ann Walker is twenty one. Yet, she did seem a bit sad. I wonder who she had invited and didn’t show up. Oh dear. I don’t think they should have done that.’ Nelly said as Anne made an excuse to leave the room. No one else noticed tears streaming down her face. That entry had no only embarrassed her but made her feel silly. She had spent the day with someone who didn’t want her. She realised now what a stupid decision she had made.

Anne stood in the kitchen looking for something to occupy herself so she could forget what Nelly just said when Ann walked over to her and wrapped her arms around her wife. ‘Dearest, are you okay?’ Ann asked sincerely. ‘I don’t blame you if you want to end this now after what your aunt just said. It’s all true. I didn’t come to your twenty first because I was with Mariana. I don’t know why I stuck with her for so long.’

‘Shush! It’s in the past now.’ Ann said although she could have berated Anne. Anne was doing that and she was hurting. ‘Dearest, we are together now that is all that matters. Come on. Let’s say goodbye to Aunt Nelly, Catherine and Delia. They are going home. Okay!!’  Ann grabbed Anne’s hand and walked with her into the sitting room. Nelly was putting on her coat. Ann went to Catherine and Delia. She gave them a hug and then she hugged her aunt. They stood at the front door and watched them as they left. Ann held Anne close as they walked back into the sitting room. Aunt Anne was still up. Marian and father had gone to bed. ‘Why did you sprint out to the kitchen, Anne after Nelly read her diary entry?’ Anne blushed. ‘Anne was upset because she thought I would leave her. I will be honest and say I was going to tear her to shreds but didn’t she did that herself.’ Anne looked shyly at her wife. ‘You should trust Ann more than what you do. Okay!! She loves you and would never leave you. You do realise that.’ Anne sighed. ‘Yes, I don’t know how I got to be so lucky.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘Neither do I?’ Aunt Anne said the laughed loudly. ‘Look here, Anne. She fell over so you would see her. She moved back to Halifax to be with you. She married you. You share a home with her and she shares her life with you. You call that luck. I call that someone making wise decisions to be with someone who they love.’

They pulled Aunt Anne in for a group hug then helped Aunt Anne to her bedroom. ‘Anne Lister, why didn’t you tell me about why you missed my twenty first birthday party?’

‘Adney, I have forgotten about that until Aunt Nelly read it from her diary. You’re not mad at me, are you?’  Anne asked shyly. ‘No, not really, i am surprised that someone who used you so much would take up so much of your time and you must have known it wouldn’t end well would it?’ Anne sat down on their bed with her head in her hands. She was quietly sobbing. Ann didn’t notice.

She snuck into the bathroom to get ready for bed. She stood looking in the mirror cleaning her teeth. She was surprised when Anne didn’t follow her in but thought she would be behind her in a moment. Only when she didn’t appear Ann began to worry. She bit her lip and winced at the pain.

When she walked back into their bedroom Anne was still sitting on their bed with her head in her hands. Ann could hear her sobbing. ‘What’s wrong Anne? She asked as she walked up to her wife and knelt down in front of her. ‘I made a fool of myself staying with Mariana when it was obvious to everyone but me that she was only using me. What a twit I was.’

‘Anne Lister, You aren’t a fool. You were in love with her only she didn’t love you. Did she?’ Anne hung her head and whispered. ‘No she didn’t.’ Just loud enough for Ann to hear!

Chapter Text

Chapter 18

‘I think we should crawl into bed. I should ravish you so much that you will forget about you know who.’ Anne smiled. She quickly relieved herself of her clothes and climbed into bed not before Ann looked her up and down. Ann smiled as she removed her pjs and climbed into bed next to Anne.

She leans over and placed a gentle kiss on Anne’s cheek. Anne moved closer. She wrapped her arm around Ann’s waist. They stay like that for a few minutes Anne wondering whether Ann will ravish her because Ann seems so sleepy and Ann wondering if Anne will ever get over Mariana.

‘How long were you with Mariana? I don’t remember you telling me.’

‘Too fucking long I gave her two decades of my life in return I got used like an old sweater you want to get rid of but can’t force yourself to do that.’  Ouch. Ann thinks. ‘That’s too long a period to spend with someone who goes off and marries a man. How did you feel when that happened?’  Anne cringes. She couldn’t remember. She would need to go through her journal to find the entry and tell Ann. What she could remember was it wasn’t a pleasant experience. ‘I don’t recall how I felt. I do recall that it wasn’t a pleasant feeling.’ Ann nodded. ‘I understand that. It wouldn’t be nice when your supposed girlfriend marries a man. Why did she do that?’

‘I wasn’t rich enough for her. He had buckets of the stuff and is higher up in society that what I was being a doctor and all.’

‘All what?’ Ann asked. ‘I had an university debt to pay off and I was working long hours at the hospital. She didn’t like that.’

‘So she left you then.’ Ann asked quizzically. ‘No, she stayed with me until I had been in the partnership with Gemma for a year, I think.’

‘What did Gemma think of Mariana?’ Ann asked sincerely. ‘She would frown every time Mariana came to the practice to visit me. She would often say why are you with a married woman? How she knew I don’t know and I never asked her.’  Ann frowned. ‘Why the long frown Miss Walker?’

‘You seem so sad when you talk about Mariana, Why?’

‘The memory of who she was before she married Charles to who she was after she married him is black and white.’  She didn’t get the chance to say more because Ann had crashed their lips together and was kissing her passionately. It took Anne a few minutes to realise Ann had her hand between her legs. Ann was thrumming her clit. She wondered when that happened. She moaned loudly as Ann continued to thrum her clit.

‘I need you inside me, Adney.’ Anne whined.  ‘Or else I will combust. I know you wouldn’t want that to happen.’  Ann smiled at her wife.  Then she pushed three fingers inside Anne who moaned loudly. ‘Ohhhhhh Adney that feels soooo good.’  Ann pummelled Anne with her fingers. Anne moaned louder as she lifted her hips to meet Ann’s thrusting into her centre as she thrummed Anne’s clit. ‘Ann, Ann Yes, Ann. Right there don’t stop, Adney.’  Ann continued pummelling Anne’s centre until she felt Anne’s wall squeeze her fingers. Then Anne arched her back and fell into the deep pool of her orgasm.  Ann gently pulled her fingers from Anne’s centre and lay next to her exhausted wife. She leaned in and softly kissed her lips. And in between softly kisses. ‘I need you inside me please, Dearest.’

Anne didn’t need to be told a second time. She scooted down to put her head between Ann’s legs. The aroma of Ann’s arousal had Anne thinking she was in heaven. ‘Please Dearest, don’t tease me.’  Anne didn’t realise how long she had been enjoying Ann’s sweet smelling scent.

Anne knew what Ann wanted so she rolled her tongue and inserted into Ann’s centre. Ann was so wet Anne had to swallow often to stop herself from choking yet she was lapping up Ann as much as she could. Ann lifted her hips off their bed as Anne pushed her tongue as far as she could inside Ann while she strummed Ann’s clit with her thumb.

Anne could feel rather than see her wife squirming above her. She smiled as she pulled her tongue out and then pushed it back inside Ann. ‘Ann spread your legs a bit wider.’ Ann did as Anne asked her. Then Anne pushed her tongue further into Ann’s centre. She heard a moan from above. Anne could feel that Ann was so close. Ann’s walls were closing in around Anne’s tongue. She kept up the pace until Ann arched her back and came so violently she nearly fell asleep. Anne gently pulled her tongue from Ann’s centre. She crawled up and kissed Ann softly on her cheek.

‘How is my gorgeous wife now?’ Anne whispered. ‘I am feeling so good. WOW!! I don’t think I have ever come that hard.’

‘Anne I was supposed to make you come so hard you would forget about you know who.  Only you made me come so hard you made me so sleepy.’ Ann said as she yawned. ‘Ann Walker my very sleepy wife. I think we should get some sleep, Adney’ Ann nodded.  ‘Would you read to me for a few minutes? Please Dearest.’

How could Anne refuse Ann? She hadn’t read to Ann for some time. They had been so wrapped up in reading through Aunt Nelly’s diaries and looking through her photo albums they found they were too tired and even though Anne knew Adney was sleepy she couldn’t refuse her request.  She reached over for her book about Ned Kelly and began reading where she had stopped last time. ‘When Ned’s mother was sent to jail that is when his whole life changed. He was convinced and probably rightly so that the law had a grudge against his family.’  Anne stopped for a moment and looked over to Ann who had snuggled in beside her and was fast asleep. Anne gently put her book down and slide down beside Ann. It wasn’t long before Anne was sleeping peacefully next to her wife.

It was dark when she was woken by someone screaming. Anne couldn’t make out where the noise was coming from as she was still trying to wake up. As she slowly woke she realised it was Ann who was screaming. She had never had a nightmare in the time they had been together. Why now? Anne wondered. She tried to wrap her arms around Ann but couldn’t Ann keep flaying her arms everywhere and the screaming was bound to wake everyone up. She was expecting to hear from Marian. She tried to get Ann to wake up. She spoke to her softly at first then a bit louder until. ‘Adney, wake up, You’re having a nightmare. Adney, you are safe here with me darling. Please wake me.’ Ann seemed to stir. Then her eyes popped open. She looked at Anne and screamed again. Anne did her best to wrap her arms around her wife. ‘Adney, it’s me Dearest. What’s wrong?’ Ann didn’t answer but from what Anne could see in the dim light of the moon coming through their bedroom window Ann was still half asleep and in shock.

Anne held her tightly for a beat until Ann was fully awake. Then Ann began sobbing. It was breaking Anne’s heart because she truly didn’t know or understand what the nightmare was about and wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to ask Ann what the nightmare was about.

She waited patiently until Ann settled and remembered where she was. Ann wrapped her arms around Anne when her sobbing subsided. Anne could see she was still slightly conflicted by the nightmare and where she was. Ann gazed into Anne’s eyes. ‘I didn’t hurt you did I?’ Ann shook her head. ‘You just frightened me. What happened?’

Ann remained silent for more minutes than what Anne could bear but she knew she had to be patient and wait for Ann to put what she wanted to say to Anne together in her head. Not everyone was Anne Lister. She seemed to have a knack of knowing what to say and when to say it. Anne waited. Then Ann spoke. ‘I was dreaming about Ainsworth. It has been some time since I had that nightmare. He chases me I think I get far enough away from him until I turn around and he is so close to me. That’s when I scream. I guess you heard that.’ Anne nodded. ‘I just barely got away from him and he was after me again. I stopped to catch my breath and there he was behind me again. That’s when I thought he grabbed me so I screamed again. Now, I realise it was you trying to wake me up. Thanks Dearest.’ Anne kissed her forehead and pulled Ann close to her.

‘Why didn’t you tell me about this nightmare before, Adney?’ Anne said sincerely. ‘I had forgotten about it for a long time. It’s not a constantly recurring dream and I don’t know what triggered it this time.’ Ann said shyly. ‘I didn’t wake anyone else up. Did I?’ Then there was a knock on the door. ‘Yes. Come in.’ Anne said.

‘Is everything okay here? I heard screaming. Was someone hurt?’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Sorry it took me awhile to get here. I had to pee.’

‘We are fine now. Ann had a nightmare. We talked about it and now she is doing okay.’ Aunt Anne looked at her with concern. Then walked over to Ann and motioned her to stand up. They hugged for a beat. ‘Are you okay, Ann?’ Aunt Anne asked. Ann smiled at her. ‘So, much better thanks to Dearest.’

 ‘That’s good.’ Aunt Anne said as she strolled out of their bedroom and back to bed.

Chapter Text

Chapter 19

It took Ann quite a while to fall back to sleep. She watched her wife sleeping peacefully. She couldn’t believe how lucky she was to have someone who cared for her so much. Ann smiled. Remembering back to a time when she loved Anne from a distance. How was it possible that Anne Lister would be interested in her, fall in love with her then marry her? Now, they were living in Anne’s ancestral home. Ann still couldn’t believe this was her life. She often wondered if Anne would love to open up a practice in Halifax or move back to London. There was still so much they hadn’t talked about.

Ann wanted to be a mum but was too afraid to ask Anne what she thought about motherhood. It was probably something Anne Lister couldn’t see herself being. Ann knew it was a lot of hard work. Yet, she was prepared to put in her time and effort. She always liked the idea. Being a mum was something that she was willing to try with the right person. She knew Anne would be the right person because Anne was her forever wife and lover. Only would Anne like that? She didn’t know.

She couldn’t remember when she fell asleep but she woke to warm hands caress her back. Ann was lying on her left side. Anne was behind her. She heard a moan and realise it had come from her mouth. Anne moved closer and placed a kiss on Ann’s shoulder. Then she peppered kisses down Ann’s back which made her moan louder.

Anne rolled Ann onto her back and in that moment Ann knew there was nowhere else she wanted to be and she smiled.  Anne leaned in and crashed their lips together in a searing kiss. Ann felt Anne’s hand on her clit.  Then she moaned loudly when Anne ghosted her fingers over it. The sensations she felt too her breath away. She wondered how it was possible that someone could make her feel so good just from a touch or in this case a near touch. Then Anne thrummed her clit. Her hips lifted off their bed. She was surprised at how just from one touch Anne could bring her body alive. It had been less than twelve hours since Anne had made her come so hard it exhausted her.

Then she felt Anne’s tongue inside her. When did that happen? Was she so distracted by the feel of Anne’s fingers against her clit she didn’t realise Anne had moved down to her body to put her head between her legs. Ann couldn’t believe how amazing it felt. Anne below her with her head between Ann’s legs, Her tongue inside Ann and her thumb gently strumming her clit. It was too much and not enough at the same time.

Anne kept strumming Ann’s clit while she pushed her tongue inside Ann as far as she could push it making Ann squeal with delight. It felt so good for both of them Anne inside Ann and Ann relishing the feeling of Anne’s tongue inside her. What joy? It wasn’t long before Anne felt Ann’s walls clench around her tongue.  Ann screamed out her name over and over again until her body went taut and she came over Anne’s face.

Anne gently removed her tongue from Ann’s centre and crawled up next to Ann and crashed their lips together. Ann and Anne smiled into the kiss. Ann then looked at Anne and could see she wanted Ann to touch her. Ann smiled.  Then she peppered kisses down Anne’s neck to her breasts. She sucked gently on both breasts which made Anne’s nipples hard and erect. She peppered kisses down Anne’s sternum across her belly and down to find her clit which was hard and swollen ready for Ann to sweep her tongue across it which she did so when she put her head between Anne’s legs.

Ann licked and sucked on Anne’s clit as she pushed three fingers into Anne’s centre. She could faintly hear Anne moaning above her. Anne had Ann’s head in a vice like lock with her knees. Ann didn’t mind. She loved it when Anne did that. Ann licked and sucked on Anne’s clit and Anne lifted her hips when Ann pummelled her fingers inside her.

Anne was moaning above her. She could feel Anne’s walls clench around her fingers then Anne screamed out Ann’s name. She arched her back and came with a shudder. Ann gently removed her fingers from Anne’s centre. She licked them clean before she crawled up next to Anne and kissed her lips gently. ‘How was that, Dearest?’ Anne smiled. There were no words to explain how Ann made her feel. Ann smiled back at her. She was feeling so much better. She still didn’t understand why she had the nightmare last night. She was so grateful that Anne was close by. When she was alone and had the nightmare she would lay awake for hours trying not to go to sleep for fear she would return to the nightmare.

Anne looked at Ann. ‘Are you okay, Adney? You seem lost in your own world.’

‘I was just thinking about every other time when I have had that nightmare and how I tried to stay awake because I was afraid I would return to it when I fell asleep. This time that didn’t happen. You wrapped your arms around me and I felt safe.’

‘I am glad you feel safe around me. I want you to always feel safe around me, Adney. I will never put your life in danger and I hope you will tell me if I do. Okay!!’ There was a soft knock on their bedroom door. ‘Can I come in?’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Of course you can Aunt.’ Aunt Anne entered the room and stood looking at Ann for a moment. She was certain Ann would be distraught this morning. Only she didn’t seem to be. She walked over to Ann’s side of the bed and sat down gently. ‘How are you, Ann dear?’

‘I am doing great. Thanks for asking. I have my guardian angel here to look after me. She is so sweet. Isn’t she?’ Ann said.  Anne blushed.  She had never seen herself as a guardian angel. Aunt Anne smiled. ‘I came up to see if you were coming down for breakfast. I see you are snuggled in bed so I guess that is a no.’ Then Ann’s stomach rumbled like a freight train. ‘I guess that means we will be down for breakfast after all.’ Aunt Anne stood up and left. As she walked out the door she said. ‘I guess I will see you soon. Okay!!’ Anne and Ann nodded. Aunt Anne closed the door after she walked into the hall. They heard her cane thump down the stairs.

Anne and Ann dressed and were in the dining room twenty minutes later.  Marian and father were in a deep discussion about the football match they had watched a few nights ago.  Marian said that Liverpool only won because West Ham United had to bring in their backup goalie. Father said backup or not he could have done a better job. Anne, Ann and Aunt Anne just rolled their eyes and ate their breakfast. There was no point getting involved in an argument about football since they weren’t avid fans like Marian and father.  Aunt Anne had her interests which definitely didn’t include watching grow men chase a round ball around a field just to kick it into a net and score a messily goal.

Anne and Ann were more interested in Nelly’s diaries than anything else right now. They excused themselves from the table and went into Anne’s study.  The diary Nelly had   read from was still open on Anne’s desk. She picked it up and flicked through it to the page she thought Nelly was reading from. Then she looked up. Ann had her head in her hands. She had something on her knees. Anne didn’t know what it was. She leaned into Ann and then she could see It was a photo Aunt Nelly had of Ann when she was a child. ‘Adney, you are so cute. How old are you?’ Ann looked up at Anne. ‘You think I am cute. I always thought this was a horrid photo of me. Mum always insisted I wear really girlie dresses most pink ones. Yes, I like pink but not that much.’ Anne looked at the photo. It looked like Ann was dressed to go to church.

‘Why are you dressed up, Adney?’

‘It’s Sunday we are going to church. I still think mum made me wear too much pink. Can’t you see my pink socks? The only things that aren’t pink are my patent leather shoes. I loved those shoes but only got to wear them on Sundays.’

‘Did you go to Sunday school?’ Ann nodded. ‘Did you Dearest?’

‘Yes, when I moved into Shibden to live with Aunt Anne and Uncle James. They went to church every week. I enjoyed it until well, I got older and thought I didn’t need it.’

‘Do you think you need it now?’ Anne shook her head for as long as she could remember she didn’t need to go to church to commune with God. .She could do that anywhere and she did. ‘I have never thought about it that much over the past few years. Now I have you well, I suppose we could go to church if you want to.’ Ann looked at Anne quizzically. ‘No, that isn’t what I asked you, Dearest.’ Just answer the fucking question. Okay!! Ann thought.  ‘TBH I’m really not sure. I think Aunt Anne would like me to go with her but now you are here I love to stay in bed with you, Adney.’

‘Yes, I love that you stay in bed some mornings with me but I also know how much you enjoy taking a walk around Shibden before everyone is up. It must be so peaceful.’

‘You could come with me then you would find out what it is really like. Wouldn’t you?’  Come with you. I’d come anywhere for you, Anne Lister. Ann thought then smiled. ‘What thoughts are rolling around in that head of yours, Miss Walker.’

‘It’s always Miss Walker when you think I am thinking dirty thoughts.’ Ann said smugly. ‘But you always have dirty thoughts now. Don’t you?’

‘Not always. Sometimes I have clean thoughts because I wash my mind out with soap.’ Ann said with so much sincerity that Anne believes her but just for a moment. ‘How can you do that?’

‘When I shower and wash my hair.’

‘Oh, very funny Adney.’

‘I try. Don’t I?’ Ann said. ‘You do. Now, let’s take a break. I would like to see what we are doing for tea tonight. I think it might be our turn to cook.’

Chapter Text

Chapter 20

They strolled downstairs and into the sitting room. Aunt Anne was knitting furiously muttering something under her breath Anne and Ann only her mumblings from their aunt. Marian and father eye’s were glued to the tv. They were watching a reality show. Anne couldn’t make out what it is. Ann knew. She sat next to Marian on the sofa and smiled at her warmly. ‘How often do you watch this show?’ Ann asked Marian. ‘Only when I get a chance and that’s not often. I’ll have to get up and cook tea soon. You do know it is Cordingley’s day off.’

‘Yes, I do know that and we are here to offer to cook tea for everyone.’ That made Marian smile. She could watch her show. ‘What are you watching, Marian?’ Anne asked sarcastically. ‘We are watching a fixer upper show on HGTV. Father enjoys them until he falls asleep.’ They both looked at their father who was snoring loudly. ‘Which it seems he has done. I think he only watches it to make himself sleepy.’

‘What were you going to cook for tea tonight?’ Ann asked. ‘I’m not sure. I got some chicken thighs out. They should be thawed by now. ‘We could make a chicken casserole.’ Ann said. ‘We do have enough vegetables in the fridge. Right?’ Anne asked. ‘Yes, Cordingley went shopping yesterday and got all we need for the next week. I think there are some apples too. So, you could make an apple pie.’

‘My, we are getting a bit bossy. We give you the night off and you proceed to tell us what to do. Goodness, what’s this world coming to.’ Anne said as Ann laughed at her. ‘Dearest, you give orders every day yet when someone tells you what to do you get a bit snooty.’ Ann said with a chuckle. ‘Snooty? Me! Why you should know I never get snooty.’

‘Anne Lister, do you ever hear what you say?’ Anne shook her head. She couldn’t understand what Ann was talking about. She dutifully followed her wife into the kitchen. The chicken pieces were on a plate on the stove. Ann strolled over to check them. ‘Yes, they are thawed.’ She said as she made her way to the fridge to collect ingredients. She talks mainly to herself as she pulls them out although she knows Anne is listening. Well, she hopes she is. ‘I’ll need one onion, two rashes of bacon, mushrooms and a red pepper.’

‘What are you going to create tonight for tea, Adney.’ Anne asked sincerely. ‘That’s for me to know and you to find out when it’s done. You can help by chopping up the onion.’ She places everything on the counter and grabs a chopping board for Anne. ‘Here you go. Please, Dearest.’

‘If I end up a blubbering mess you will be the one I will blame.’ Ann grins. They worked for the next hour getting everything ready. Ann peeled, cored and sliced the apples. She used bought pastry for the base/ She thought why should I make pastry from scratch when we can buy it already made. Cordingley must have been having the same thought.. Ann stirred the chicken stew. The smell was amazing. Aunt Anne commented a couple of times. Anne smiled to herself. Cooking a meal with Ann was her second most favourite thing to do with Ann. Her first most favourite was watching Ann come apart underneath her as Anne strummed her clit with her thumb and gently nipped and sucked her nipples. Anne smiled. ‘Get your mind out of the gutter, Dearest. That can wait until later.  Can’t it?’ Anne grinned. ‘Can you promise me that?’

‘Cross my heart.’ Ann did. ‘And hope to die. Stick a needle in my eye and hope I won’t cry.’ Ann said in a sing song voice. ‘Ann Walker, don’t you dare do that.’ Anne said seriously. ‘Never Dearest. It’s just something you say when you make a promise. I am not dying any time soon. Okay!!’

‘Thanks for clarifying that. I don’t want you to die any time soon. Okay!! I love you, Adney.’

‘I love you, Dearest.’

‘We’re getting a bit mushy out here.’ Marian said as she strolled into the kitchen. ‘It smells so good.’

‘I hope so.’ Anne said. ‘It was created with our sweat and blood.’ Marian smirked. ‘Yeah, I can see that. You look so exhausted she said sarcastically. ‘You don’t need to be like that, Marian.’ Anne said.

‘How much longer do we have to wait before we can eat?’ Aunt Anne said as she stood next to Marian. ‘My stomach thinks my throat has been cut.’ Then Aunt Anne’s stomach growled. ‘Oh I see. It won’t be much longer. Okay!!’

‘How much longer?’  Marian said. ‘About ten minutes. You could set the table. Would you do that?’ Marian nodded. She collected the plates and cutlery from the cupboard and drawer. She found the place mats in the drawer below the cutlery drawer and grabbed them. She proceeded to place everything on the dining room table neatly. Then Marian called Father and Aunt Anne to come to eat. She assumed rightly that tea was ready as it had taken her ten minutes to set the table.

Anne and Ann brought out the wooden chopping board and saucepan containing their chicken stew. Of course, Anne remembered to grab a ladle to serve it with. They all sat and ate in companionable silence. Ann glancing at her wife often to see if what they had created together was good enough for her wife to eat. Anne smiled at her and mouthed   ‘This is delicious. You need to give me the recipe.’

‘You helped create this meal.’ Ann mouthed back. Then the oven timer buzzed. The apple pie was done. Ann retrieved it from the oven and sat in on the counter to cool and returns to the dining room to finish her main course. That’s when Ann realised they were talking about children. Anne seemed to be smiling but Ann knew it was something they hadn’t talked about. She wanted to be a mum but wasn’t sure if Anne was ready to face motherhood. Maybe Anne thought she was too old and too different. ‘Ann.’ Aunt Anne said to get her attention. ‘Have you thought about being a mum?’ Ann had to think about that. She never did think motherhood was possible because she was gay. ‘Not really. Anne and I haven’t had a chance to talk about whether we want to be parents or not.’ Aunt Anne looked at her quizzically. She could see Ann was worried she would say the wrong thing.

She is pulled out of her thoughts by Anne who seemed to want an honest answer from her. ‘Adney, do you want to be a mum? I would be proud to help you fulfil your dream. If that is what you want, darling?’ Ann’s eyes lit up. She couldn’t believe her wife was saying this. She really did think Anne would think she was too old or too different.

It seemed that while Ann had been thinking Marian had cleared the table and served the apple pie. Somehow she hadn’t remembered requesting ice cream on her serving but there it was sitting in front of her waiting to be eaten. Anne nudged her to eat up as it was the best apple pie she had ever tasted. Ann gingerly picked up her spoon and dove it into her slice of pie. When she wrapped her lips around the spoon the taste sensations were amazing. The cold of the vanilla ice cream against the still warm apple pie it was a sweet sensation. All previous thoughts about babies, children and motherhood forgotten in that moment Ann knew Anne and her would need to have that conversation sometime soon. If that was what Anne wanted to do?  She didn’t know.

Anne cleared the table and they put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Then they adjourned to the sitting room to watch a movie. Anne had decided she would have Ann on her knee. She pulled Ann into a tight hug and whispered, ‘Sit with me please, Adney.’ Ann only nodded and smiled. Anne sat in their favourite chair and Ann sat on her knee. When they were comfortable Anne reclined the chair. It wasn’t long before Ann had closed her eyes and was sleeping soundly if not a bit noisy for everyone else.

Anne nudged her gently. Ann rolled onto her side and continued to sleep. She was quiet again. Anne cradled her in her arms. It was such a sweet sight that Marian took a photo of them much to Anne’s annoyance but she did smile when Aunt Anne said the photo was something they could look back on when they were older. Gee, I already feel old. Anne thought.

The movie ended. Anne tickled Ann to get her to wake up. Only that didn’t seem to stir her. So, she carried her bridal style up to their bedroom. When she reached their bedroom she gently lowered Ann onto their bed. She didn’t get a chance to stand up when Ann grabbed her by her collar and pulled her down and crashed their lips into a searing kiss. ‘Miss Walker, you little minx I thought you were asleep./

‘As you can see, Miss Lister I am wide awake. What movie did you watch tonight?’

‘We watched Mamma Mia. We all knew you had watched it before but we also knew how much you enjoyed it and would like to watch it. I think the movie was only a couple of minutes in when you fell asleep. I had to bump you to stop you from snoring loudly.’

‘I don’t snore.’

‘Ann Walker, you were a freight train just ask Aunt Anne.’ Ann blushed. ‘Sorry. I must have been sleepier than what I thought.’

‘That’s okay. I am sure you need to nap. Only you know you missed a good movie.’ Anne said sincerely. ‘I know but I can watch it again and again and maybe again. It’s that good isn’t.’

‘I guess so.’ Ann said as she changes into her pjs and slips into bed. Anne follows a few minutes later. She spooned into Ann’s back and in no time both women were sleeping peacefully. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 21

The following morning Anne and Ann decide to take a trip to Stony Royd to see Aunt Nelly they’re hoping that because she is home it will help jog her memory more than what it had been jogged at Shibden.

Anne is up long before daylight. She has been going for a jog most mornings while Ann sleeps. She is learning to love the peace and quiet of Shibden more than what she ever did before. As she jogs slowly around Shibden estate she wonders what changes she could make. She imagines Ann might have some ideas too. She considers asking Ann later when they have more free time.

When she returns to the hall Ann is seated at the kitchen table chatting with Elizabeth who is preparing their breakfast. ‘What’s on today’s breakfast menu?’ Anne asked as she sat down next to her wife. ‘Miss Walker and I had been talking about that. She suggested pancakes with maple syrup. What do you think? Or would you prefer eggs and bacon with toast?’

‘I think the pancakes would be delicious especially with maple syrup. How long will that take, Elizabeth?’ Anne asked. ‘With a little help from my sous chef I think about twenty minutes.’ Elizabeth said as she smiled at Ann who stood up from where she was sitting a walked over to Elizabeth. ‘Okay. I am going to take a shower and dress. Don’t forget we are going to see Aunt Nelly today, Adney.’ Ann nodded. She has been looking forward to their trip to Stony Royd since she called her Aunt last night to see if it was okay for them to visit her.

They ate breakfast with everyone. ‘What do you have planned for today?’ Aunt Anne asked them. ‘We are going to see Aunt Nelly at Stony Royd. Would you like to come with us, Aunt? I am sure she wouldn’t mind and you could pick each other’s brains and help her remember events that took place in her life.’ Anne said. ‘I don’t know. Marian wants me to go shopping with her.’ Ann looked at Marian with sad eyes. ‘Okay, we can go shopping another day.’  Marian said.

‘Well, then it looks like I will be visiting Nelly with you and Ann.’ Ann smiled. After breakfast Anne drives them over to Stony Royd. Nelly is standing outside waiting for them as they pull up near the front door. ‘Hi, how is everyone doing today?’ Nelly asked. ‘We are doing fine. Thanks!’

Nelly directed them to come inside. She walked them to the sitting room where she had a tea pot and cups ready for when they arrived. ‘I have spent the last couple of hours jotting down some memories. It has taken me to places I haven’t been in a long time and I have been thinking about family members who are no longer with us today.’

‘That must have been hard to deal with?’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Yes it was. I had a good cry then a few good laughs. Isn’t that what life is about?’ Anne nodded. ‘Yes it is and always will be. Now, what did you remember?’ Nelly passed Anne the notepad she had been writing on. Anne reads what Nelly wrote mostly to herself. ‘Ann Walker visited today. I think my niece has a crush on Anne Lister. She smiles when I mention her name. I ask her and she blushes but doesn’t speak to me. So I don’t know what’s going on in that pretty little head of hers.’ Ann blushes. ‘Is that true?’

‘Anne Lister, you know it is true. Don’t you?’ Anne smiled. ‘I do!’ How is it possible that she didn’t know? She had known for a long time about little Ann Walker’s feelings for her. She never thought Ann would be her forever partner but here they were. There were times when it still felt strange and good at once to Anne.

She continued to read more of Aunt Nelly’s notes. ‘Jeremy Lister is handsome and all but I wish he was stop trying to get me to kiss him. It’s not that I don’t like him but my heart belongs to someone else. I don’t know how to tell him to stop without breaking his heart. I think he loves me.’  Anne said. ‘What did you tell father when he wouldn’t stop trying to get you to kiss him?’

‘I didn’t need to say anything when he saw me with John he backed off. Then I saw him two months later with his arm around a young girl. I think it was your mother.’ Anne isn’t surprised. Her mother was much younger than her father.  What Anne didn’t know until know was that her father was in love with Nelly Rawson. Yet, Anne could see that was possible because Nelly Stansfield was a stunner when she was a young woman. Then Anne reads more of Nelly’s notes.  ‘We had the most amazing day John and I. He is my husband now and will be for the rest of my life. I am the luckiest woman alive. He is so caring and understanding.. I don’t know what I would do without him.’

‘Did you actually write that in your diary, Aunt Nelly?’

‘Yes, I did because that’s how I felt at the time and as you can see I have changed since then. I have been a widow for quite some time now. I do miss John but I enjoy the freedom I didn’t have when he was alive. I know that seems strange but if there is one thing I have learned is that you cannot expect someone to be there for you all the time and you can’t be expected to be there for them all the time. Yet, he was the head of the household. That’s how it was while we were married and that made me feel that my freedom had been taken away.’

Anne was stunned by Nelly’s words. She had always Nelly was a strong formidable woman. Yet, she was like other woman of that era she always looked to her husband to make all the decisions. Anne couldn’t imagine being like that. Then Nelly broke into her thoughts. ‘I was a dutiful wife always behaving in a proper manner which doesn’t make sense to me now because while it seemed right then it really wasn’t right.’

‘Now, you might understand why I didn’t marry a man. I never felt the need to be tied to someone who would have control of my life and expect me to be there for him all the time.’ Aunt Anne said vehemently. She didn’t mean to sound annoyed only she was. ‘Aunt, are you okay?’ Aunt Anne looked away. She had tears in her eyes and couldn’t hold back her sadness. ‘There was someone I wanted to marry only we couldn’t and she didn’t want to be seen with me. I was too......I don’t know but I think you know, Anne. Don’t you?’

Anne wrapped her arms around her aunt. She knew there was something about Aunt Anne that always puzzled her. Now, she knew what it was. ‘Why didn’t you tell me, Aunt?’ Anne said sincerely. ‘Even after I came out to you why didn’t you say something? I love you Aunt.’

‘I just had so much fear inside me I always felt I would never tell anyone not after the way she treated me. It was as if I didn’t exist. I haven’t heard from her in years. I doubt if I ever will.’

‘What was her name? Nelly asked. ‘I might remember her.’

‘I doubt if you would remember her, Nelly. She is the same age as me. So, you would have been married when we were together with about three or was it four kids under your wings to take care of.’

‘Yes, that is true but I do remember seeing you with tall very masculine looking woman. What was her name? Now let me think.’ Nelly said. It was only a moment later when Nelly remembered. ‘Wasn’t it Frankie Pickford?’ Aunt Anne blushed. ‘Why did she marry a man?’

‘She didn’t marry a man. She married his money.’ Nelly was shocked when she heard that. ‘I would never marry someone just for their money. Have you seen her since then?’

‘Not to talk to but I have seen her often. She is a grandma now. She seems happy only I’m not so sure about that.’ Aunt Anne said. ‘What makes you say that, Aunt?’  Ann said sincerely. ‘It’s just something seems missing from her life. I am not sure what.’

‘Well, you did say she married his money not him. If that is the case then maybe she is miserable.’ Nelly said. ‘Is it possible you could see her and talk to her?’ Aunt Anne shook her head. ‘No that can’t happen I don’t want to be the one to destroy a marriage. Would you want to do that?’

‘Aunt, if she is as miserable as you think she is you wouldn’t be destroying a marriage you would be saving a life. Wouldn’t you?’ Anne said sincerely. Aunt Anne smiled. She hadn’t thought it through properly. She had wanted to talk to Frankie but had never found the courage to do so. ‘Do you think it would be a good idea to talk to her when I see her?’

‘It might be.’ Ann said cautiously. ‘You never know she might be missing you more than you think.’

‘Is that possible it has been so long since we were together?’ Aunt Anne said. ‘Anything is possible.’ Nelly said. She could see the older Anne Lister wasn’t sure if it was the right thing to do but Nelly could see she wanted to do something.  ‘What would you like to do, Anne?’ Nelly said looking at Aunt Anne who looked back at her shyly. Oh how she had loved Frankie. She loved her so much it was hard to move on and find someone who would love her.  What should she do?