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so let me hold you, and tell you what i see

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It starts with a knock at her office door.  

Cordelia lazily lifts her head. At the same time, wearied eyes spot the late hour and protest the reading that she's been using as a distraction.   

But spells and enrolments and her usual efforts fall short. Her soul refuses to be at peace, to listen to any of her orders.   

Well, because there’s a certain blonde on her mind. And, as if by magic, it is that very blonde that momentarily creaks the door open and pokes a head through.   

On reflex, Cordelia smiles. Warm and welcoming, with just the tinge of disbelieving. What she's given, what she's been willing to do, to see the kind witch standing here in her doorway. “Misty,” She breathes, looking every bit as happy as she feels.   

If she peered in a mirror, surely she'd see some smitten fool staring back.  

As it is, there’s no mirror. Just Misty, tiptoeing forward on bare feet. Her toenails are painted, a pretty swirl of dark that Cordelia peeks at for a couple of moments before returning focus elsewhere. Mostly, the painfully obvious signs of exhaustion that Misty sports.  

Darkness clashes with the once effervescent soul, stealing where good prevails. She can sense that shift; Misty tainted by her experience.  

Still, she carries her burden well. On tall shoulders, a straight back. A sleepy smile. “Hey, Miss Cordelia." She rolls on the balls of her feet, watching, thinking.   

Cordelia shares in that curiosity and tugs her glasses off. They’re delicately placed to the desk in front of her, next to a mug of cold coffee and messy stacks of paper. While her eyes may blur slightly, Misty easily holds her attention. “Is everything okay?” she all but winces, slowly growing used to the taste of her own stale breath that she always seems to hold around the woman.   

Her answer comes in her Misty’s fingers twitch around the doorframe like there’s a scattering of electric shocks through them.   

Sitting straighter, she swallows her concern. Don’t stifle her, don’t stifle her.  

Misty opens her lips with purpose – intent. Cordelia's always admired her ability to be upfront, to say just what’s on her mind. It’s something she’s struggled with for longer than she can remember, with most of her opinions squished and belittled by her late mother.  

But courage is lost and, with it, maybe the words that Misty wanted to say. And that’s a harsh reminder that those years in Hell did change her, even if they try to pretend not.  “I, uh, could you make me some of that tea? The stuff that helps me sleep.”   

Her smile widens. “Oh course, Misty.” She can do that. Anything to help, especially to help Misty. It’s the least that she can do.   

The Supreme closes the book she’d been making notes in, on her feet all too quickly.  

For a second, just the tiniest and most miniscule of moments, she considers grasping Misty tightly by the hand as she leads her to the kitchen. Holding on with all she's got, sharing the warm buzz of magic through the brush of fingers. Maybe, if she could garner enough nerve, she'd smile over at the woman and let the admiration flow through.  

She doesn’t.   

But she does let her hand hover just around the curve of Misty’s back and encourage her to walk by her side. Misty remains quiet, if clearly grateful. Soon, there’s not a prettier sight than her sat bathed in moonlight next to the kitchen counter as she sips on herbal tea; with just a dash of magic (and Cordelia’s silent prayers for Misty to feel better).  

Their eyes meet over the mug where she can see steam just dancing under Misty’s nose.   

Her gut clenches, powers buzzing like they’re trying to yank at her arm and tell her something isn’t quiet right.  

With dark eyes narrowed and, admittedly, more tender in their regard of Misty, she sighs. “Is there anything else you need?” It is asked like she’d ask anyone of her girls. She is, after all, their leader, their protector. Even if that protection is needed to ward off bad dreams.   

But maybe, just maybe, there’s something different about the way that she speaks to Misty. More than a student, always one of her girls, and certainly in a more tender way that she'd address anyone else.  

Not even Hank had ever heard the silky and dulcet tones that her words adopt.  

As if aware of that, Misty is gulping. Accepting the gravity of her situation, maybe. Or, just still shaking the cobwebs of another disturbed night's sleep. That look appears again, this longing little thing with twinkling eyes and a childlike innocence.  

Misty suddenly peers straight down into the mug as though the tea chastises her.  

Upon glancing softly back at Cordelia, a glum acceptance wanes. The Supreme calls out her name in the chilly night air, a low hum.  

It startles Misty into speaking. “It's silly,” she says.   

“What is?”  

More pauses, pupils that dart about with an unwillingness to settle on anything.  

She sighs and leans over like some great tree sagging with the overbearing weight of branches. How many of those does Misty have? Sitting atop her; a crushing weight. Cordelia has no idea what she's been through and yet her heart pines as though with her the entire way.  

“Nothin’.” Misty whispers, and that ache intensifies.   

Each palpation of her chest brings a painful squeeze, a discomfort that has Cordelia crossing the room closer to be near Misty. To offer a gentle hand on her shoulder, a sincere smile, a stifled love that she wishes the would be noticed  

Their eyes meet.   

Misty glances away and sighs once more. “Maybe I should just try sleepin' again.” She lifts the mug slightly. “The tea always helps. Thanks, Miss Cordelia.”   

“You know you can come to me any time.” Cordelia offers, hiding the tinge of disappointment at never having delved right through those layers of Misty. She tries, one more time. “Are you sure there wasn’t anything else?”  

The color of panic resides in her cheeks, slightly spread eyes. But she purses her lips and gives a half hearted shake of her head. “Nah, I’m actually feelin’ a lot better.” She sips the tea again, and succumbs to maybe one whim. “Will you stay with me while I finish it?”   

Cordelia may be stifling her own yawn but nothing, not even the tug of sleep, can stop her from smiling at the question. Lips curve higher, and she shifts closer until a hand reaches to absentmindedly play with the ends of Misty's hair.   

“I’ll stay.”   

The relief is all too evident, radiating in her suddenly growing aura. “Thank you.” Misty shifts a little closer, head tilting as she regards Cordelia with thoughts she wants oh so much to decode.  

She gets no great revelations.  

But she is sure that Misty is purposely slow as she sips the tea like they have all the time in the word.   

...  

She gets used to it, that particular knock. Three sure rasps on the wooden door that always has Cordelia intent on the door.  

Upon seeing Misty there, she is grinning. Like always. She comes to expect those knocks, get giddy at the idea of Misty seeking her out of all people. Cordelia is the Supreme, after all. Even if she’d expect her to gravitate towards the younger girls. More her age, surely. With advice and their own stories and perhaps more than Cordelia can give.   

Yet here Misty is.   

Smiling like the serene angel she is. Devoid of wings, she still floats. And somehow lands at Cordelia’s desk.   

Misty sits herself atop it, far more comfortable than the previous times she’s ventured here. Still, there’s an air of melancholy about her.  

Outside, the night pushes on. Others drift into dreamland, bringing a peace and quiet to the streets surrounding the Academy. These two are not beckoned there. In fact, they are chased and barricaded from it. As she peers at Misty through blurry eyes, she finds exhaustion there.  

Her heartstrings tug and vibrate in show of sympathy. “Can’t sleep?”   

She shakes her head, smiling sadly. “You think I'll ever be able to?” Misty sighs out, lamenting in a rueful hum. She sounds angry, almost. She ought to be.   

But then those sparkling blue eyes find purchase on Cordelia and steal the air from her lungs. With the remains of distraught stained into her expression, Misty is hauntingly beautiful. A rare sight, one that she fears may disappear if she dares remove her eyes.  

So she doesn’t.  

Misty stares right back, a potency there. It takes root inside of Cordelia and flourishes inside of her chest. “Do you want some tea?” She asks. And she can’t help herself; with sure fingers, she reaches out to grasp hold of where Misty is wringing hands together over the cream material of her night dress.   

She goes to agree, the faint precursors to a nod there, but Cordelia already has herself jumping from her seat. Oh so zealously. All to help Misty, right? It’s just an fortunate coincidence that helping her means sitting (closer and closer ) and laughing and drinking tea until the dark of night ebbs away.   

They make it within the walls of that welcoming kitchen, and she concocts Misty a midnight snack that has her chortling when some of the crumbs ripple down her chin in the excitement to eat.   

For the most part, Misty seems okay. Free from the shackles of another nightmare.  

Until the mug of tea is empty and their eyes a haze of sleepy stupor. And Misty's head is tilting lower toward Cordelia’s shoulder with every second. At the contact, her breath hitches.  

It shouldn’t.  

It’s not unusual for hugs to be seen and gifted in this house. It is, after all, brimming with girls. Mostly all amidst a love hate relationship that drives Cordelia crazy.   

So hugs are no big deal. A common occurrence.  

So, when Misty lets out this contented sigh and reaches a long arm to slink around Cordelia’s waist, why does it feel different?   

Her lungs cry out, demanding to be fed their so desired oxygen. She acquiesces, pulling in a gulp full of air that just so happens to smell like Misty. An earthy, mildly sweet scent that curls and dances in her nostrils until her eyes close.   

Another arm moves, planted neatly on top of her other that sits adorned with rings. It gives Misty the anchor she needs to bring Cordelia in impossibly nearer with this half mewl that fans flames within the Supreme.   

Unprepared, Cordelia squeaks. There’s heat and softness, and pressure on her body that it hasn’t felt in a long, long time. Not like this. Her soul weeps at the memories of intimacy, almost in mourning.  

Especially when it all slackens, a hasty breath pushing from Misty’s lips. Panic spreads where serenity once sung within, and Cordelia blinks one eye open to peer at the suddenly timid Misty. “Is – this is okay, right?”  

All words have evaded her mind in wake of the impromptu embrace.   

Misty continues with cheeks puffing out. “Queenie says I don’t get what personal space is. That I bother people too much.” Already, she's retreating, a sad lull of limbs that too seem a little disheartened.  

Not on Cordelia’s watch.   

With a flash of her own movement, she has that touch back and Misty practically cradled in her arms. “You never bother me.” She says, a fierceness in how she insists that. Misty could never burden her with anything, not a single problem; not her Misty. Fingers are in her silky hair, holding her head, and she experiences the dryness of a lump forming in her throat. It's almost reminiscent of the day Misty had appeared back in her life, and her heart pangs. She holds Misty tighter. “I’m always here for you.”  

The simple touch of another person appeases the Cajun in her arms, just like the sun perks up the nature it graciously basks over. “Thanks, Cordelia. I knew you - " Her words finish sharply. There she is again, hesitant. So much more even a few weeks after coming back.   

“Knew I what?” She pushes, daring. On the border of needy and desperately trying not to be.  

Maybe she needs this, too. Maybe the life of a Supreme is just as lonely as all her predecessors made it seem.   

Her question is just the confidence Misty needs. “You make me feel better.” Then, with a coy laugh and this airy giggle. “You give good hugs.” It’s a compliment,  a fairly plain one, and yet Cordelia beams as though the entire moon has been dragged down and gifted to her with a pretty pink bow.  

She squeezes Misty’s frame, breathes in her scent again where it courses through her veins. “So do you.”  

Misty gives out another bout of laughter, right into Cordelia’s shoulder. Neither make to move apart, not that she'd want to. If this could be the rest of her night, she wouldn’t complain. There is solace to be found in this arms, something that she's never felt before. And yet it prickles in a delightful sensation within.   

Her defences weaken; all the power and show she reserves for her role vanish with ease. She’s suddenly not some all powerful witch, a leader, a teacher.   

She's just Cordelia, and this is just Misty.   

“I don’t mind you being in my personal space.” She jokes, muttered into Misty's hair.  

Part of her wants to hide and burrow at the idea of being so open, so vulnerable, but another side of her wants Misty to see this. Wants it to be pulled from its lasting eclipse and feel the kindness of another person.  

As the Cajun chortles and reclines to flash her this adorably goofy grin, she all but spasms on the spot. “Well, I’ll hold ya to that.” Her eyes narrow, almost mischievously.  

If she feels heat creeping from her neck, onto her cheeks, she doesn’t draw attention to it.   

“Good.” Another slip of the tongue.  

Misty's eyebrow quirks up, “good?”   

And that’s where Cordelia succumbs to her awkwardly embarrassing flush and words that just won’t come out right. God, why is she blushing ? This is only Misty, and she's her friend – and in this proximity there is an even more dazzling quality to her aura. The same one currently wrapped around the woman in this embrace. “Um,” She licks her lips, chuckling in hopes it will diffuse the growing heady tension between the two.  

She isn’t plunged under by that awkwardness. In fact, Misty disregards it with ease. “How about another tea?” she suggests softly with a slow drawl to her pretty accent.   

“Aren’t you tired?”   

Cordelia draws some of Misty’s hair back, admiring where she most definitely appears lost in a sleepy stupor. Her alluring smile is the envy of every star in the sky, and Cordelia is the sole audience. “Nah.”  

“Misty, that tea is enough to knock someone out,” She exclaims in bewilderment.  

“Mhm.” Misty eyes her. Then, she embraces her own vulnerability with all she’s got. “Okay, maybe I am. A little.” Her hands twitch around Cordelia’s back and smooth over the curve of it.   

Cordelia presses herself toward the touch, craving it. “You don’t wanna sleep?” The overprotectiveness bursts out, unremitting. “Are the nightmares that bad? Do you need anything else? Do you - "  

“Can we just sit?”  

“Hm?”   

Misty’s eyes grow beautifully wide, holding things that Cordelia can’t recognise but she wishes she could. “I just wanna sit with you.” Misty shrugs, thumb grazing again. Enough to drive the Supreme towards the cusp of a frenzy. Even quieter, she adds. “ And hug .”   

Quiet as it may be, Cordelia catches it and shifts. They end up with her cupping Misty’s jaw ever so tenderly, a smile on her lips. Just as with a lot of things, she can’t deny that. “Okay.”  

That’s how they find themselves curled up on the couch until a stupidly late hour as Misty practically leans onto her. She moves and tucks legs under herself, not quite able to find the perfect position. All the while, her arms lock onto Cordelia like a life raft. Like she needs the sensation of another touch. And Cordelia is forever glad that it's hers she seeks.  

She falls asleep just like that, enough to keep Cordelia smiling for the entire next day.  

...  

It soon becomes a ritual, one so strange and surreal to her but oh so welcome.   

Each and every embrace truly reminds her just how starved of it she's been her entire life. An absent mother, an straying husband. . .she’d merely put on a brave face and told herself she didn’t need that. She could cope by herself; she could bury herself in work and tasks and the Coven.  

She’d watched others have what she'd pretended she didn’t want.   

A connection.   

Something destined, maybe, written in the stars. And her friendship with Misty grows to be just that, as just merely waiting to happen. It’s so easy, so right.  

The times when it feels best are just these, as their arms lock around one another and any stresses just melt away. Today, the backdrop for their lasting hug is the greenhouse.   

Students had fluttered out after her class, and Misty had sauntered in their place. All fluttering eyelashes and smirks that make Cordelia go weak at the knees.  

She'd been cleaning away a spilled potion when those arms coiled around from behind. Her stomach had swooped, skin buzzing, and she'd easily spun around to face Misty.  

“I have a meeting to go to soon.” She begins, tone laced with apology. All she wants is one thing in particular, and it certainly isn’t going to talk to a Coven representative from another state.   

Misty sighs, toying with the hem of Cordelia’s flowery blouse. “How long you got?”   

“For you?” she smiles sweetly, “fifteen minutes.”   

“Oh, you spoil me, Miss Cordelia.” Misty swings them slightly, a joy in her movements. Is her heart racing, too? Does she feel the same tug as Cordelia?  

And their usual routine continues, until Misty throws a wrench in it. “Can we, uh, can we do something different?”  

Every last drop of motion in her chest stops.   

“Is something wrong?”  

There Misty goes again, all shy and nervous in a way Cordelia never sees around anyone else. “No.” She assures her in a whisper. “I just – look, c’mere.” With that little warning, she's leading Cordelia to a nearby seat, one that is set slightly lower than the stools across the room. Maybe there is questioning on her lips, but she’s held silent by curiosity.   

Just as she's adjusted and made herself comfortable, there is suddenly a Misty. In her lap. All long arms and even longer legs that still manage to hit the floor even in their position.  

Nervous laughter takes hold of her. “What are you doing?”   

“Sittin' on your lap.” She states like it’s the most obvious thing in the world.  

Perplex is suddenly coded into her body. “Misty.” She shifts beneath her, pinned down by her weight. “You can’t be comfy.”   

“I am.”   

Her expression says so, smug and happy; she reaches around Cordelia’s shoulders then peers down at her. The Supreme holds her back, hands seemingly made to fit around Misty's small waist. In the greenhouse, a sanctuary for the two of them, magic arises from every corner, each plant. None is more strong than their own rising to meet in a harmonious song.   

Misty leans forward, hugging her with intent, and her face is almost pushed into Misty's breasts. She grows a dark red, breathing becoming heavier. This is. . . interesting . Misty's chin comes to rest on her forehead, arms squishing Cordelia within them. She feels more like a soft toy that the girl is cuddling rather than a person.  

“Hey,” she begins, groaning. “I need to breathe.”  

She jumps, ever so slightly, then gives a sheepish smile. More shifting happens above, where Cordelia can’t see, but she’s pretty sure she can feel Misty’s nose burrowing in her hair and inhaling deeply.  

Her chest seizes. “ Misty .”   

“Just hold me, will ya?” She orders. Even if jokingly, that need is there. A need that Cordelia can wholeheartedly understand.  

So she does hold Misty, as lovingly as she can. Maybe it’s a little awkward, the taller girl curled up in her lap, but Misty seems happier than she’s ever seen her before. She exhales, content, like she feels safe for the first time in a long time.   

And Cordelia admires that with adoration in her gaze.  

“I thought about this a lot.” She feels the vibration of words in the Cajun’s throat that her ears strays closer to.  

Dopey eyes blink. “About sitting on my lap?”   

“’Bout you. Holdin' me.”  

Her smile grows enticingly. “Go on.”   

Misty's chuckling, but all the while fighting a sombreness.   

“I could feel you doin’ this, you know? When I did that descensum. . . ” She must feel how Cordelia’s winces at that painful memory because her fingers flex tighter around her neck. “I –  you held me on your lap and you said somethin' to me. I could feel it. And it felt. . .I – I still can’t believe the only time we'd done that was the day I died.”   

Cordelia hadn’t expected her to say that, even been aware of Misty's knowledge over that day. One that could haunt her own dreams for years to come.  

“You felt me?” She asks in disbelief, voice far too easily bearing her emotion.  

Above her, Misty nods. “I thought about that a lot since bein’ back. ‘Bout what it would feel like for you to hold me like that again, minus the dyin', ‘course.” Her ill placed humor doesn’t earn a laugh.  

The witch weighed down by both her weight and the gravity of her words fights tears, equally saddened and overjoyed in a strange little concoction. “ Misty .”   

“No one’s ever cared about me like that.” Now, she stares down. Face shadowed by her own wild hair and thoughts, and Cordelia can’t look anywhere but at the younger witch. “No one ever held me like you did.”   

She opens her mouth, only for silence to fall open them.  

Misty is still watching, still brimming with emotions that Cordelia marvels at. Then, there is a set of lips on hers, saying words in a way that neither quite know how to yet.  

Craning her neck, she allows the push of those lips, lets them dance over her own. Her once frozen hands grip onto the nearest skin they find, grasping with all they have. They want Misty and Misty is there. Giving. Always so doting. Cordelia sighs into her mouth, wondering if the girl really is some ethereal creature.   

When her eyes open briefly, giggling at how Misty has to lean forward to lean into the kiss. “Are you seriously comfortable?”  

The Cajun, a little flushed and far too smitten, grins, “this is how I like to cuddle.” She peers down where her legs sit over Cordelia’s, how they stretch far down across her. “It makes me feel safe.” A pause. “It makes me think of you.”   

A whoosh of euphoria finds her. As if not lightheaded enough from the kiss, Cordelia blinks away the stars in her eyes and drags Misty in for a real hug. The Cajun is cradled and held, just like she deserves to be.   

Against the top of her hairline, Cordelia chortles. “Maybe I can push that meeting back a little bit for you.”  

Misty's smile is worth any complaints that she'll get.