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Wedding Belles

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Serena is rummaging in her desk drawers, trying to find her stapler, which she now wonders if she’d lent to Bernie. She casts her eyes over to the blonde’s side of the desk and thinks better of trying to find it there amongst all the chaos. She is just about to ask the woman herself where it is, when her eye catches something tucked under some papers in the open top drawer. She pulls it from its hiding place and then groans despondently.

“Oh bugger, how could I have forgotten?” The sudden frustrated outburst rouses the blonde from her own paperwork.

“Everything ok?” She studies the brunette’s micro expressions, as she notices the tell-tale worry lines now creasing Serena’s face. “Serena?”

“Huh?” Serena sets the offending item on her desk and responds distractedly.

“Are you alright? You seemed to go a bit pale over whatever that is.” Bernie points to the mystery piece of card.

“It’s not... nothing important... I...” Serena starts to say more, but then waves away the blonde’s concern.

“C’mon, I know I’m rubbish at reading people, but even I can see you’re all out of sorts since you found that in your drawer. What is it?” Bernie looks at Serena the way she always does, all soft and caring, and for reasons she can’t quite explain, Serena feels like she’s something precious. No one has ever made her feel quite so cared for as Bernie does.

“It’s a wedding invitation. Frankly, I forgot all about it. I was supposed to be taking Robbie, but as you know, we broke up. It’s an old friend of Elinor's. They grew up together, Clara is a few years older, but they were thick as thieves, always in and out of each other’s houses. Edward and Liberty will be there too. I promised Ellie that I’d go, but I don’t really want to go by myself. I can practically hear Edward’s jibes about being a wizened old crone.” Serena didn’t really mean to say so much, but Bernie always made her feel like she could tell her anything.

“Don’t go by yourself then.” Bernie thinks it’s obvious.

“What do you mean?” Serena can’t quite follow the blonde’s train of thought.

“I don’t imagine you’d have any trouble finding another date. That’s all I meant.” Bernie smiles and then goes off to ask Fletch to set up an IV for the patient in bed five.

When she comes back to the office a little while later, Serena thinks she’s found the perfect solution.

“Bernie?” Serena waits for the blonde to look at her. “You know what I was talking about before? The wedding invite.”

“Yeah.” Bernie nods slowly.

“I was wondering if you might want to go with me.” Serena glances over at her through her eyelashes.

“Uh – what?” Bernie is taken aback completely.

“Would you go with me to the wedding?” Serena says it again, only she’s not as sure this time.

“Wouldn’t you rather go with a proper date?” Bernie’s confusion scrunches up her face and Serena thinks she’s simply adorable.

“We’re friends, aren’t we?” Bernie agrees that they are indeed friends. “And we enjoy each other’s company, yes?” Serena ploughs on.

“Yep. That’s true.” Bernie has always liked being caught in Serena’s orbit, like a gravitational pull was keeping her from straying too far from the brunette’s irresistible charm.

“So, we’d have a good time at the wedding together, I think. Would you join me? Please. I doubt it will stop Edward from making spinster jokes, but at least I’ll enjoy myself if you’re there.” Serena’s smile instantly melts away any words of refusal on Bernie’s part.

“Ok. If you’re sure you’d not want to bring a date instead.” Bernie gives her one last out.

“I’m sure.” Serena asserts with a grin. “Oh, one more thing.” She stops Bernie in her tracks, as she was just about to exit the office. “The wedding is in Cambridge. On the 28th of next month. I’ve booked a room at the hotel for the whole weekend, but it is a suite. Which means we’d be sharing a bed for two nights. That’s not an issue, right?” Serena studies the blonde for any signs of discomfort, other than a slight blush to the apples of her cheeks, she sees none. And even that she could put down to the heat of the confined space.

“Of course not.” Bernie barely manages to whisper the answer, before she darts out of the office.

* * *

“I appreciate you agreeing to come with me.” Serena and Bernie sit huddled together as usual on one of the sofas in Albies.

“S’alright.” Bernie smiles and takes another sip of her whiskey.

“Could be fun. Girls weekend.” Serena enthuses. “We’ll have some free time to ourselves too.”

“Hm.” Bernie is less excited about the idea.

“Are you sure you don’t mind? If you really don’t want to –” Serena senses that the blonde is not looking forward to it.

“Serena, I said I’d go. I’m not going to let you down.” Bernie holds her hand and offers her a small smile when the brunette grasps her fingers in return. “So long as you’re certain that you wouldn’t rather have a date with you.”

“I want you to be there.” Serena’s voice is quiet but certain.

“Then I will be.” Bernie reassures her.

“We can travel up together in my car. I very much doubt that my bags would fit in that tiny sports car of yours.” Serena chuckles at just the thought.

“How many are you planning on bringing for one weekend?” Bernie looks alarmed, she’d only be bringing one holdall and possibly a zip-up bag for her outfit for the wedding.

“I don’t really do travelling light.” Serena confesses.

“Why am I not surprised?” Bernie laughs and heads up to the bar to buy another round.

Serena tracks her every movement, overcome with affection for the other woman. It was testament to the blonde’s kindness and supportive nature that they’d become such firm friends in a relatively short space of time. She really doesn’t know what she’d do without her, doesn’t like to imagine ever losing her. She smiles to herself as she watches Bernie bring their drinks back over, and as she hands Serena the Shiraz that she knew the brunette loved without even having to ask. She can’t help thinking that no one has ever known her so well, almost to the point of reading her mind at times.

“Serena...” Bernie is staring at her.

“Sorry, I was miles away.” Serena ducks her head as she feels herself blush. Why was Bernie looking at her so intently? Why was it having such an effect on her?

“You alright?” Bernie rubs her arm soothingly, worried at how quickly the brunette seemed to turn in on herself.

“Yep. I’m all good.” Serena won’t meet her eye, which makes the assertion all the more difficult to believe.

“Are you sure?” Bernie keeps her eyes trained on her, and Serena can practically feel the heat of the blonde’s stare. “What’s say we head home after this one? It was a long shift and we could both do with a good night’s sleep.”

“Yeah, I think you’re right.” Serena glances at her out of the corner of her eye.

“I’ll order us a cab, eh?” Bernie kindly offers.

In no time at all they have pulled up to Serena’s house and are saying goodnight.

“I’ll see you tomorrow.” Bernie smiles at the brunette in the seat beside her.

“Goodnight, Bernie.” Serena grabs her face with one hand and pulls her in for a soft kiss on the cheek, before slipping out of the car and waving her off.

Serena had never been more than friends with a woman, but suddenly she can’t help wondering what it might have been like to give the blonde a proper goodnight kiss. For her part, Bernie feels Serena’s lips on her skin all the way home, as surely as if she’d been branded by them.

* * *

“That was a tough one.” Bernie puffs out a sigh when they finish and are washing up after surgery.

“Worth it though, to get that little girl back to her parents.” Serena rinses the last of the soap from her hands and grabs a wad of paper towels to dry them off.

“She looks a lot like Charlotte did at that age.” Bernie has a sad, faraway look on her face as she watches the nursing staff take the girl off to recovery.

“She’ll come round.” Serena places her hand on the space between the blonde’s shoulder blade and rubs supportively.

“Will she?” Bernie turns her head to face Serena and the brunette can see Bernie’s eyes are wet with unshed tears. Serena wishes desperately that there was something she could do to absorb her friend’s pain somehow.

“I know it’s hard right now, but she will reach out to you soon, I just know it.” Serena gives her a tiny, hopeful smile and Bernie feels her mood lift instantly.

“Thank you.” Bernie didn’t know what it was about the brunette, but she always made Bernie feel like the best, happiest version of herself.

“Our shift ended ages ago, why don’t we go for a bite to eat?” Serena offers.

“There’s a little Italian place over by St James that I hear is lovely. Great wine list.” Bernie suggests with a chuckle as they walk back to the locker room to change into their civvies.

“Perfect.” Serena laughs along with her.

They change in silence, the weight of such a trying day has worn them out. Serena watches her friend carefully, wondering if perhaps she could reach out to Charlotte on the blonde’s behalf. She hated seeing the blonde so deflated, so unlike herself, but she didn’t want to overstep the mark. Maybe she would bring it up over dinner.

“Ready?” Bernie was back in her own clothes and holding the door open for her friend.

“I’m starving, aren’t you?” Serena walks slightly ahead of the blonde towards their office. Bernie gets caught up with watching the sway of the brunette’s hips, and then has to tell herself to stop ogling her as she looks away with a furious blush creeping all the way up to her hairline.

“Uh huh.” Bernie says distractedly, she thought she’d tampered down her attraction to the brunette but it seemed to be rearing its head again.

“You ok?” Serena looks up from putting her things back into handbag to check on the blonde.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Bernie assures her as she pulls on her coat, and grabs her satchel to sling it over her shoulder. “I’ll drive to the restaurant if you like, that way you can have a drink with dinner. I’ll leave you home when we’re done and pick you up for our shift in the morning.”

“You’re too good to me, Bernie Wolfe.” Serena grins as she winds her scarf around her neck and slips on her own coat.

“What are friends for?” Bernie quips as she glances up at the brunette while shutting down her computer. She was happy to at least have Serena’s friendship, if nothing else.

Serena bristles slightly at the word friends but she can’t put her finger on why. Shaking herself out of the momentary drop in mood, she gathers her things and accompanies the blonde out to her car.

“You’ve gone awfully quiet. Penny for them.” Bernie had noticed a shift in her friend’s normally bubbly demeanour.

“Oh, I just... long day... hunger... exhaustion... I’m alright. Really.” Serena reassures her.

“Would you prefer to go straight home? We can do this another night if you’re tired.” Bernie is disappointed that they wouldn’t get to spend the evening together, but Serena’s wellbeing was more important.

“How about a compromise?” Serena keeps going when Bernie looks puzzled. “Why don’t you see if that Italian place does takeaway and we’ll order some and bring it back to mine?” That way she could still spend time with the blonde.

“Alright, let me just check.” Bernie taps in the info on her phone and sees online that they do have a takeaway option. “Here, why don’t you decide what you’d like on the drive over and phone it in? I’ll have the lasagne and some garlic bread please.” Bernie smiles as she hands her phone to the brunette, with the restaurant’s menu on the screen.

“There’ll be no kissing tonight with all that garlic.” Serena had meant it as a joke, but then goes a deep shade of crimson when images of kissing the blonde fill her head. She leans her cheek against the car window, hoping it might cool her down, but to no avail.

Bernie laughs loud and carefree, seemingly oblivious to the hidden weight of Serena’s words. “No such luck, I’m afraid. The women of Holby are impervious to the Wolfe family charisma it seems.” She shrugs, it didn’t really matter since she hadn’t really put herself out there on the dating front.

“Not all of them.” Serena whispers unheard.

“Decided what you want yet?” Serena looks panicked for a moment. Had Bernie heard her after all? The blonde indicates the phone still in Serena’s hand. Oh, she meant the food. Serena sighs in relief.

“Um... yeah... yes... I think I’ll take the chicken carbonara. If I order some chips, we could share.” Serena chances a quick look over at the blonde while she drives.

“Yes, and you can have some of my garlic bread as a trade.” Bernie smiles as she indicates at the traffic lights and turns towards the direction of the other hospital. “Do you mind phoning in the order? Check with them how long it will be and how much. I’ve just got to stop at an ATM. My treat.” She spots one at the garage by the post office and pulls in.

“We can go halves, if you want.” Serena closes the menu and taps on the phone number from the website, giving their order to the girl who answers the phone. Bernie shakes her head as she jumps out of the drivers seat and sprints off to the machine. Quick as a flash she’s back beside the brunette. “Twenty minutes and £32.95 apparently.”

“I could drop you home and swing back for the food?” Bernie kindly offers.

“Would you mind? I just want to put my pyjamas on now. But here...” Serena hands off £20 to the blonde for her half of the takeaway. They mock fight for a minute or two as Bernie tries to refuse the money, and eventually convinces Serena to put it back in her purse.

“Right, let’s get you home.” Bernie raises both eyebrows and starts the engine to head towards Serena’s house. “Oh, what about Jason? Would he like something?” Bernie realises she’d forgotten the young man.

“No, he’s with Alan tonight.” Serena is struggling to keep her eyes open.

“Should we cancel the food? You look like you could go straight to bed.” Bernie notes that the brunette is almost asleep beside her.

“I want to have dinner with you, love.” Serena doesn’t realise what she’s said because she’s so sleepy, but Bernie looks at her wide-eyed for a moment. “I’ll just close my eyes for a sec.” Within an instant the brunette is fast asleep. She doesn’t stir again until Bernie stops at her front door. “Oh, that power nap has done wonders.” Serena exclaims around a yawn and a stretch, feeling a little bit more human again.

“I’ll be back soon with dinner.” Bernie toots her horn as Serena opens the door to step inside her house. The whole time she’s gone all she can think about is Serena calling her love. It might not mean anything, of course. Just a term of endearment between friends, but as she racks her brain, she can’t seem to think of another occasion where Serena had said it to her. Best not to overthink things, Wolfe, she tells herself as she presses the brunette’s doorbell.

Serena answers, already in her pyjamas, slippers and fluffy dressing gown. With not a pick of makeup on and her hair a little messy, she takes Bernie’s breath away. “Come on through, I’ve got everything set up in the dining room.” She leads them into said room, which even has some candles lit, and makes Bernie think it’s all terribly romantic.

The blonde dishes up their food and pour them each a glass of the Shiraz Serena had left opened and breathing. Then they settle side-by-side at the table to enjoy their meal.

“Bernie?” Serena wants to broach the subject of Charlotte.

“Hm?” Is all Bernie says around a forkful of pasta.

“I’ve been thinking about the situation with Charlotte. Would you mind if I tried speaking to her?” Serena asks cautiously.

“No, Serena, I couldn’t ask you to do that.” Bernie shakes her head, making all of her curls bounce. “I appreciate the offer, but this is my mess.”

“I want to help if I can.” Serena grabs hold of her hand and implores the blonde to at least let her try. “I could hardly make things any worse.”

“That’s true.” Bernie says sadly. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course I wouldn’t. You are important to me and I want you to be happy. Let me see if I can go someway to fixing this.” Serena runs her thumb along Bernie’s knuckles and then rubs it over the inside of her wrist at the pulse point.

“Alright. If you think it might help.” Bernie agrees with a tiny, hopeful smile.

“Great.” Serena enthuses. “Send me her mobile number and I’ll arrange to meet her.”

“Thank you.” Bernie would be eternally grateful if Serena could help her mend the rift between her and her youngest.

“You’re welcome, love.” There it was again, Bernie starts to think that perhaps Serena meant it after all.

* * *

“Charlotte?” Serena decides to meet the young woman at a cafe away from the hospital, so they were on neutral ground. It was obvious that this girl was Bernie’s daughter, she was almost a carbon copy of the trauma surgeon.

“Hi, you must be Serena. I suppose my mother put you up to this.” Seems like the girl was angling for a fight from the get go then.

“She is aware that I’m here, yes, but this was my idea. Can I get you something?” Serena smiles and offers to pay for whatever the young woman would like.

“I’ll have the strawberry and banana smoothie please.” Serena places the order for a smoothie and an americano for herself at the counter, and then sits opposite the girl at their table.

“If you’re here to try to make me talk to her, then you’re wasting your breath.” Charlotte fixes her with an icy stare that might have worked if it had come from the girl’s mum, but Serena had dealt with far too many headstrong F1s over the years to be intimidated.

“Why is that?” Serena thanks the man who brings their drinks over, and she adds a dash of milk to her coffee. She slides the young woman's drink to her.

“Thanks.” Charlotte takes a sip through the straw. “What she did to dad is unforgivable. I want nothing more to do with her. You can tell her to stop phoning and messaging me too.”

“Charlotte, your mum is only too aware of the mistakes that she’s made. She never meant to hurt any of you, and she is so sorry that she has. I’m not condoning what she did, neither is she, but imagine being in a position where you can never possibly be who you really are. Cracks are bound to show eventually. She would be the first person to admit that what she did to your father was selfish and unkind, and that he didn’t deserve it. If she could do things differently, then I know she would take back the hurt she’s caused in an instant. We all make mistakes. No matter what, she will always be your mum. Take it from me, you will always regret it if you don’t talk to her ever again. Time is precious, don’t waste it being angry. Will you think about it at least?” Serena can only hope that some of what she’s said has gotten through.

“Is she ok?” What Serena sees now is a girl who misses her mother, and not the tough exterior she’d tried to convey earlier.

“She’d be better if she could see you.” Serena admits honestly. “I know she adores you and Cameron.”

“Ok.” Charlotte replies thoughtfully.

“She’s here now, you know?” The young woman looks up at her for confirmation and Serena nods. “She waited outside in her car, in case you weren’t ready to see her yet. I can tell her to come in, if you want?”

Charlotte is too overcome with emotion to answer, so she just nods. Serena fires off a quick text to Bernie that she could join them, and seconds later she rushes into the cafe.

“Charlotte.” Bernie speaks quietly, not sure if this is really happening.

“Hi Mum.” Charlotte stands and lets Bernie bundle her up in her arms.

Bernie looks at Serena over her daughter’s shoulder and whispers a thank you to her friend, who shakes her head that there was no need to thank her.

“How about I leave you to it?” Serena stands and decides to give the pair some space.

“No, Serena, you can sit with us.” It’s Charlotte who makes the offer with a watery smile.

“Are you sure?” She glances between the girl and her mother, who both seem to be nodding. “Aright, I’d like that. Bernie, what can I get you?”

“Just a coffee please.” Bernie watches the brunette all the way to the counter, with a look of wonderment on her face.

“So, you and Serena are...” Charlotte watches her mum watch the other woman, clearly she is head over heels for Serena.

“Friends.” Bernie finishes the thought firmly.

“Mum, who are you kidding? You have it bad.” Charlotte isn’t buying it.

“I...” Bernie flounders, what could she say? She knows it shows on her face that Charlotte is right. “She’s straight. I have no chance.” Bernie admits sadly.

“I’m sorry in that case, but don’t give up hope, people can surprise you. She did all this for you so she must care about you a lot. Mum...” Charlotte blushes then, more than a little ashamed of her past behaviour, “... I’m so sorry about shutting you out all this time.”

“We’re here now, that’s what matters. How I treated your father was deplorable, I’m so sorry for causing all this.” Bernie hangs her head in shame.

“I know. I can only imagine how difficult it was for you all these years.” Charlotte holds her mum’s hand tightly.

“That’s no excuse. And whatever else I’ve done wrong, I will never regret having you and your brother. I love you, Charlotte. Always have, always will.”

“I love you too, Mum.” The young woman lets her mother pull her in for another bone crushing hug. “Serena’s coming back.”

“Don’t mention what we talked about, please.” Bernie implores her.

“Not a word.” Charlotte winks at her mum. “So..., Serena, what’s it like working with Mum?” She had promised not to say anything, but that didn’t mean she couldn’t meddle in other ways.

“It’s wonderful. She’s easily the most fantastic, fearless doctor in the entire hospital.” Serena grins at Bernie, and Charlotte thinks her mother couldn’t be more wrong. The brunette definitely has feelings for her.

“It’s bound to be difficult having a personal life, you must be so busy. Do you find time for dating?” Bernie fixes her youngest with a look that says I know exactly what you’re up to!

Serena is thrown by the girl’s question and her directness. “Oh, well I... yes it can be a challenge sometimes, but I’m single at the moment.” Serena looks to Bernie for support.

“Charlie, I really don’t think Serena’s love life is any of our business.” Bernie is a dark shade of pink.

“That’s a shame. How about you, Mum? Anyone special in your life?” Charlotte bats her eyelashes, seeming all sweet and innocent.

“Nope.” Bernie sips her coffee, just so she doesn’t have to say any more.

“Ooh, I know! There’s a new gay bar opening near uni. We could go sometime, Mum.” Charlotte knows there is no gay bar, she just wants to see Serena’s reaction. And bingo! The brunette is definitely jealous.

“Um... ok...” Bernie isn’t sure about the setting, but she’d do just about anything to spend time with her daughter. “Won’t I be too old though?”

“No, that’s the thing. You’re a woman of a certain age, very appealing to a younger crowd.” Charlotte explains making Bernie spit out her coffee and have to wipe it up with a napkin.

“I don’t think... I mean... I don’t want to date someone who’s young enough to be my... my...” Bernie waves her hand at Charlotte to highlight her point. The young woman notices Serena relax at that. She’s almost certain now that her mother’s feelings for Serena are not as one-sided as her Mum believes them to be.

“Well, where can we find someone more your own age then? Serena?” Charlotte has a wicked sparkle in her eye, hoping the older woman will take the bait.

“Me?” Serena flushes furiously.

“Do you know of anyone who would be interested in Mum?” Charlotte pretends that the brunette has misunderstood what she meant.

“Oh... oh I see... I... um...” Serena shrugs helplessly.

“Anyway, enough of that.” Bernie hates to see the brunette so uncomfortable. “Tell me what you’ve been doing with yourself, young lady.” She turns the spotlight away from her non-existent love life to what Charlotte had been up to.

The three of them chat amiably for a while longer, until Charlotte has to get back to uni for an early class in the morning. She nods her goodbyes to Serena and thanks her for arranging this meet-up. Then the brunette leaves Bernie to say goodbye to her daughter in peace.

“Let’s do this again soon.” Bernie hugs her daughter close and whispers how much she loves her and how much she appreciates being given another chance.

“I’ll call you soon, I promise. By the way, you’re wrong about Serena. She has feelings for you too.” Charlotte nods emphatically when her mother stares at her wide-eyed and open-mouthed. “Talk to her, Mum. I meant everything I said before, and you do deserve some happiness now that you have a chance for it.” She kisses her mother gently on the cheek and waves on her way out the door, leaving Bernie to wonder if her daughter was right about Serena. Maybe, just maybe...

Chapter Text

Unfortunately for Bernie, there never seems to be a spare moment to allow her to speak to Serena. Before she knows it, the weekend of the wedding is looming, and she’s not entirely convinced that it would be the ideal opportunity to talk to Serena in such closed quarters with no escape if it all went south.

“I’ll pick you up at yours at 2pm tomorrow. It’s only a 4hour drive at most to Cambridge. We could have dinner at the hotel when we arrive, or find a nice pub or something to eat at. Although, I have heard whispers of dinner already being arranged for everyone at the hotel, so we might have to go to that.” Serena was surprised by how much she was looking forward to spending the weekend with Bernie.

“Sounds like a plan.” Bernie was incredibly nervous about the whole thing, but she couldn’t deny that a weekend away with Serena would be great, even just as friends.

Serena calls for the blonde as planned the following day, and pops the boot so that Bernie can throw her bag and zip-up inside.

“My God woman, you were not kidding about your bags.” Bernie laughs and hops into the passenger seat.

“One has to be prepared for every eventuality.” Serena says in mock-offence.

“Right... and if one of those eventualities is that we have to sell some of your things for money to get home, then I think we’re all set.” Bernie teases her good-naturedly.

“Oi, you can get out and walk to Cambridge!” Serena winks at the blonde beside her.

“Ok, ok.” Bernie holds up her hands like she’s surrendering as they both laugh.

“Have you had lunch yet?” Serena asks once the last of their laughter has subsided.

“No.” Bernie turns towards the brunette with a question in her eyes.

“There’s a nice little place that I would often stop at when I’m visiting Ellie. If you fancy it? Be nice to go there with some company for a change.” Serena is feeling a bit selfish with her time with the blonde, she’s not quite ready to share her with the other wedding guests at the hotel yet.

“Sounds lovely.” Bernie offers her a soft smile and Serena’s stomach flips over a few times. She thinks that she just might be in love with Bernie Wolfe. She’s just not sure if this weekend was the right time for that particular conversation.

“So... did you and Charlotte ever make it to that gay bar?” Serena tries to make it sound light and casual, just friendly curiosity, but jealousy churns inside her, till she can practically taste it in the back of her throat.

“What?” Bernie raises her eyebrows for moment, confused by the question. “Oh, right... um not yet, no.” The blonde shrugs off the notion, she wasn’t really interested in being in such a crowded place with girls her daughter’s age.

“You think you will, then?” Serena seems determined to break her own heart. She didn’t want to hear about Bernie meeting someone else, so why was she asking this?

“I don’t know. I’m not keen on it, but if it means I get to spend time with Charlie then maybe... it’s not really my scene. Maybe I can persuade her to go somewhere else.” Bernie stares unseeingly out the passenger window, not really comfortable all of a sudden.

“I could come with you, if that might make you more comfortable. The oldies sticking together.” Serena can hear how desperate her own voice sounds and hates herself for it. As if she’d really want to be there to witness Bernie flirting and being flirted with.

“I’m not interested in anyone so young. Age is just a number, obviously, but I don’t feel like I’d have anything in common with uni students. I’ll probably not go.” Bernie still hasn’t turned to look at Serena yet.

“I imagine there might be some women our age there, if what Charlotte said is true.” Shut up, Serena. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up!

“Why are you pushing this?” Bernie thinks she knows: Charlotte was wrong, Serena wasn’t interested in her.

Even Serena herself doesn’t know the answer to that. “I’m not. Just making conversation.” She mumbles and then turns the radio up so that the music might drown out all the thoughts and feelings swimming around her head.

They drive a little way like that – uncomfortable silence, covered only by the radio playing songs Bernie doesn’t recognise, until she turns it back down again to speak. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to snap. I’m just not very good at dating, and I don’t actually want to go to the bar with Charlie, but if it’s the only way she’ll see me, then I’ll just have to suck it up I suppose. I don’t want to spoil our weekend, so let’s just forget it. Ok?” She glances hesitantly over at the brunette, praying she’s not ruined the whole weekend.

“You could tell her that you don’t want to go, that you’d rather spend time with her on your own.” Serena smiles, letting the blonde know that everything was alright between them.

“I might just do that.” Bernie squeezes Serena’s hand as it settles on the gearstick. “I have been kind of looking forward to this weekend. Well, apart from the wedding.” The blonde says it so seriously and Serena can’t hold in a laugh.

“Which just happens to be the main reason for this weekend.” Serena can’t suppress another tiny giggle.

“You know what I’m like at social events.” Bernie pouts jokingly and that only makes Serena laugh again.

“I’ll be there beside you the whole time.” Serena vows, as they pull up to the pub for lunch.

“Oh look, there’s a walk around the forest trail.” Bernie stops for a look at the map.

“Food first, Major.” Serena hadn’t realised she was this hungry until they were within sniffing distance of all the lovely pub grub.

“Yes ma’am.” Bernie holds the door open for the brunette and extends her arm to let her past.

The food is absolutely delicious and they are even able to sit by one of the log fires after they’ve eaten because they’ve missed the lunchtime rush. They just relax and drink their coffees, chatting about everything and nothing.

“Shall we do this walk of yours?” Serena is full and content and doesn’t really feel like moving, but it would be nice to walk the trail while it was still light out.

“We don’t have to.” Bernie gets the attention of a passing waitress and requests the bill.

“I’m getting this. You never did let me repay you for that Italian takeaway we had a few weeks ago.” Serena stands firm when Bernie tries to protest. “Besides, you’re doing me a huge favour by coming to the wedding with me.”

“It’s hardly a trial to spend time with you, Serena.” Bernie smiles at her out of one side of her mouth, and Serena has to dip her head to hide her blushes. “Let’s have a go at this trail then.” Bernie sees the brunette’s discomfort and wants to ease it.

Serena links their elbows as she starts to walk, wondering what it might be like to hold Bernie’s hand. She isn’t sure how much longer she can ignore the elephant in the room.

“It’s a gorgeous spot you’ve found up here, Campbell.” Bernie scans the horizon and sighs to herself, she can’t remember the last time she’d stopped to really take in the beauty around her and appreciate the now.

“It is, isn’t it?” Serena had never walked the path before. It seemed there was a plethora of things she’d never done before Bernie Wolfe had snuck into her life and turned it upside-down.

“Thanks for inviting me.” Bernie uses her free hand to squeeze the one that the brunette had looped through the blonde’s arms.

“I’m the one who should be thanking you.” Serena replies quietly.

“Let’s not worry about who should be thanking who, let’s just enjoy the weekend.” Bernie sees the brunette start to shiver beside her. “Are you cold?”

‘A little.” Serena hadn’t wanted to ruin their walk by mentioning it.

“Here.” Bernie slips her scarf from her neck and wraps it around the brunette’s instead. “Better?” Serena nods as Bernie ties the scarf to hold it in place and runs her thumb along Serena’s cheek, making the brunette’s breath hitch. “Huddle in to me and we’ll head back to the car.” Bernie holds Serena tightly against her side, trying to share her body heat.

Serena immediately turns the heater up full blast when they are back inside the car. “Oh here.” Serena moves to take off the scarf and give it back to Bernie.

“Keep it. At least until you warm up properly.” Bernie kindly offers.

Serena is touched by the gesture and she can’t resist breathing in the blonde’s scent clinging to the fabric a while longer. She has no idea how she’s going to get all the way to Sunday without declaring her ever-growing feelings for Bernie and throwing herself at the blonde, if she’s reduced to this state just from a bloody scarf.

“That was a nice walk.” Bernie feels like the brisk exercise and fresh air has cleared away the cobwebs. She had been a bit lax on her fitness regimen of late, so she had brought her gym gear and swimming suit. That way she could use the hotel's facilities this weekend.

“Yes, looks like this weekend won’t be so bad after all. Thanks to the company.” Serena sets her hand on Bernie’s thighs momentarily, a little smile tugging at the corners of her mouth, before placing it back on the steering wheel.

“I hate to sound like the child of the car, but are we almost there yet?” Bernie tries to take her focus away from the heat on her thigh where Serena had touched it.

“Yep, should only be another forty-five minutes or so.”

“Mind if I doze off? Bit full from all the food.” Bernie already has her eyes closed.

“That’s ok, love.” Serena has to stop calling her that. She turns down the radio so that it won’t disturb the blonde’s nap and steals quick glances at Bernie’s sleeping form as she drives.

* * *

“Bernie...” A voice calls to her from somewhere outside of her dream, then there is a warm touch on her cheek.

“Just five more minutes.” She shifts to get comfy again, ready to fall back to sleep.

“Bernie, we’re here.” Serena is stroking her fingers through the blonde’s hair and Bernie begins to blinks awake.

“Hmmm, that’s lovely.” Bernie revels in Serena’s hand in her curls, and nuzzles into the touch, like a cat enjoying being fussed over.

Serena smiles fondly at the pleased look on the blonde’s face until Bernie’s eyes spring all the way open and they are left staring at each other. Neither can help but notice that there is a telling darkness in the other’s eyes as their gazes flit over the other’s face.

“Bernie...” Serena’s voice is low and hoarse, loaded with the desire she feels pulse through her body.

“Yeah...”  The blonde sits up straighter in her seat, scarcely able to believe what she’s seeing. Serena was looking at her as if...

A knock on the drivers side window startles them both into pulling apart.

“Mum!” Serena’s daughter shouts through the glass.

“Ellie!” Serena quickly opens her door and steps out to greet her with a long hug.

“I saw you pulling up, we’re just going to explore the grounds. Do you want to come, or you could settle in your room before dinner tonight?” Ellie steps aside to reveal her friend Clara and the other bridesmaids.

“Oh Serena, thank you so much for coming!” The bride-to-be hugs the brunette close.

“Clara, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. It will be great to catch-up with your parents!” Serena returns the embrace warmly, and shakes hands with the other bridesmaids as Clara introduces them in turn.

“My parents aren’t here yet, but they should be here before dinner tonight. You can meet Tim’s parents too. Tim and the groomsmen will arrive in the morning.”

“I can’t believe you’re getting married tomorrow. Seems like only yesterday you & Ellie were this height.” Serena moves her hand to indicate a small child.

Bernie grabs everyone’s attention by opening the boot to start unloading the bags. “Hi.” She holds her hand up in greeting, a little quiet and shy.

“You must be Bernie!” Ellie enthuses. “Mum never stops talking about you.” Serena squawks at that, blushing deeply.

“Hello, Elinor. Nice to finally meet you.” Bernie shakes the girl’s hand with a friendly smile.

“Likewise. I like her much better than Robbie already, Mum. You’d have had no chance of him helping with your bags for a start. You were right to dump him for Bernie.”

“Well... I mean... that’s not why... Bernie and I... we aren’t dating.” Serena explains lamely.

“No, your Mum and I are just friends.” Bernie confirms, head low with disappointment. She starts grabbing bags to bring them in to the hotel lobby.

“Who are you trying to kid, Mum? It’s written all over your face that you like her.” Ellie whispers it to her mother, under the guise of another hug, then she pulls back to look at Serena. “I take that back, you more than like her, if your expression is anything to go by.” The young woman winks at her mother.

“Ellie, please...” Serena tries to deny it, silently begs her daughter not to say a word to Bernie. At least not before she had spoken to the blonde herself.

“Why don’t the pair of you check in and get comfy in that suite of yours?” Ellie fixes her mother with a pointed look. “Talk to her, she has a rather sizeable crush on you too in my opinion. She seems nice, I’m happy for you, Mum.” She gives Serena a final squeeze before joining her group to go off exploring.

“Everything ok?” Bernie sees the shocked look from the brunette as Serena tracks her daughter’s movements away from them. “Serena?”

“Uh... what... yes, yes, everything’s fine.” Serena swats away the blonde’s worry. “Let me give you a hand with the bags.”

“I’ve got most of them inside already.” Bernie grins pleased with her progress.

“Let’s get inside and settled then, I can’t wait to see the room.” Serena looks like a kid on Christmas morning.

“Have a thing for hotel rooms, Campbell?” Bernie bumps her hip against Serena’s, her tone light and teasing.

“It’s nice to feel pampered every once in a while.” Serena winks and lifts the zip-up bag with her dress in it.

It takes a couple of trips, but they’re quickly unpacking their things as Bernie winces because her back has gone into spasm.

“Bernie, you put your back out lifting all these bag, didn’t you?” Serena’s eyes flash with concern.

“L’il bit.” Bernie hisses out through gritted teeth.

“Let’s be having you.” Serena signals for her to lie down.

“What?” Bernie does an on point impression of a deer in the headlights then.

“Take your top half off and lie on your stomach.” Serena uses her best uncooperative patient voice.

“Um... I’m sure it’ll pass...” Bernie doesn’t know what to do as she glances around the room for an emergency exit. Not that she’d ever make it without Serena catching up to her because of her blasted back.

“You’re in pain. Let me help you. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am a doctor.” Serena tries to lighten the mood.

“Uh – right – yes – ok –” Bernie tries to remove her jumper and shirt but her back protests too much. “Could you?” She mumbles for assistance with her jumper halfway over her face.

“Here.” Serena undresses her and then searches for her anti-inflammatory gel in her wash bag. “Bra too.” She calls to Bernie as she looks for the gel.

“Ok.” Bernie’s voice shakes, as she unhooks it and lets it drop to the floor, but not from pain. She lies prone on her belly and tries to brace herself for Serena’s hands on her bare flesh. As if she could.

Serena starts and stops a few times on the way over to the bed. She’d have to straddle Bernie’s hips to massaged her properly, and there was so much smooth, pale, gorgeous skin exposed that she isn’t sure she can do this. “Um... I’ll just have to...” Serena mimes climbing to sit over the blonde’s hips and Bernie blushes wildly.

“Alright.” Bernie would not survive this, she just wouldn’t. She forgets how to breath as Serena moves to sit astride her backside.

The first few passes of the brunette’s hands are met with moans of discomfort and pain, but they are swiftly replaced with moans of something else entirely. The blonde’s pain starts to ease and then she is left more relaxed and thoroughly enjoying Serena’s hands working against her skin. “Urgh... oh God, that’s good.” It slips out unbidden before Bernie can even register that she’s said it.

Serena flushes at the blonde’s obvious pleasure and feels her body start to react as though she was hearing it in a completely different context. Jesus, you can’t go getting aroused while you’re supposed to be helping a friend who’s in pain, Serena! She internally berates herself. An involuntary moan leaves her as she cants her hips down, almost grinding on Bernie’s arse.

Consciously she knows she can’t be doing this. Subconsciously she starts to wonder if there is a legitimate way to keep rubbing her groin against the blonde’s back until she reaches orgasm. It definitely wouldn’t take long at this point. But she knows she can’t use Bernie like that, no matter how much the need between her legs is begging her to. “Bernie... I...” Her voice catches in her throat and she has to clear it to try again. “I think we’re done.” Serena slides off the bed and tries to regulate her breathing. She knows without even touching herself that she is soaked.

“Thanks.” Bernie has her bra back on now and makes Serena jump when she reaches out to her, the blonde’s touch making her feel like she was on fire. “Serena, what’s wrong?” She forces the brunette to meet her eye.

“I... just... I... should have a quick shower. Freshen up before dinner.” Serena rushes off into the bathroom, quickly locking the door behind her.

“Serena, what’s going on?” Bernie raps her knuckles against the door. “Are you alright?” The blonde can’t figure out what had made Serena dash off like that.

“I’m fine. Just going to take that shower.” Serena starts running the water and hopes Bernie can’t hear her heart hammering through the door. She strips off and steps into the spray, desperately wishing for it to wash away the barrage of images of the gorgeous expanse of Bernie’s back. Bernie.  Who was on the other side of the door utterly clueless to Serena’s feelings for her. A stifled sob escapes her as she covers her mouth with one hand. She can’t do this anymore. She has to talk to Bernie. She has to know if there’s any chance that Bernie might want her the way she wants Bernie.

“Serena, are you crying?” Bernie knocks on the bathroom door again, ready to break it down if need be to comfort her friend.

“No, I’m ok Bernie. Really.” Serena washes herself quickly and then wraps a towel around her body. She stands staring at herself in the mirror for a moment longer. Then she comes out of the bathroom in a puff of steam, and paints on a tight smile.

Bernie has already changed into a fresh pair of skinny jeans and a dark green shirt styled like a chef’s jacket. Her unruly curls frame her face beautifully and she has touched up her makeup. “Is this ok for dinner? I wasn’t sure how formal it would be...”

“You look great.” Serena smiles and Bernie swoons under the brunette’s praise.

“Are you sure you’re ok? I thought I heard you crying in there.” Bernie studies her, worry lines etched on her features.

“I’m...” Serena’s eyes dart all over the blonde’s face and she starts to get emotional again. “... I just...” Her voice breaks then as a single tear slips down her cheek.

“What’s wrong?” Bernie wraps her in a fierce hug and makes soothing noises. “Did something happen to make you this upset?” Both forget that Bernie is holding Serena in nothing but her towel. “I know thirteen ways to kill a person with my bare hands, if that helps?” She pulls back to face Serena and is rewarded with a tiny smile. Bernie holds the side of Serena’s face in her hand and wipes at a stray tear with her thumb, making the brunette shiver at the touch. It’s then that Bernie takes in that Serena is still in her towel. “You must be freezing.” She observes. “Why don’t I head downstairs to the bar and get us a couple of pre-dinner drinks and you can have some privacy to get dressed?”

“No, will you stay here with me and we can go down together?” Serena asks, grabbing hold of Bernie’s wrist.

“Ok.” Bernie perches herself on the end of the bed and wonders if Serena is going to get dressed right here in front of her, the thought makes her face colour and her mouth go dry. She’s not sure whether she’s disappointed or relieved when Serena gathers her clothes and goes back into the bathroom to change.

When Serena comes back out she’s wearing black dress trousers and a chiffon blouse in a gorgeous pink colour that suits her perfectly and makes her look beautiful.

“Serena, you look amazing.” Bernie is vaguely aware that she’s gaping at the brunette.

“Thank you. So do you.” Serena smiles in the reflection of the mirror she’s currently applying her makeup in.

Bernie is enraptured watching her, it’s like there is nothing else in the whole but her sitting here while Serena works at the mirror. “So, are you going to tell me what’s up?”

“I’m sorry, I’m alright now.” Serena knows it’s a lie.

“I hope you know that you can tell me anything. I’d do anything I can to help.” Bernie is certain in that moment that she would walk over hot coals or anything else she had to do just to make Serena’s anguish disappear.

“I know. I’m fine. Honestly. Now, let’s go meet everyone for dinner.” Serena picks up her small clutch bag from the chair by the window and pops her lipstick inside.

“Ok.” Bernie puts her purse and phone in her pocket and they both make their way down to the restaurant.

The blonde feels very uneasy throughout the meal. She doesn’t know anyone there apart from Serena and everyone keeps mistaking them for a couple. The brunette’s daughter keeps looking at them strangely, and Serena is close to inducing in her some sort of cardiac episode with her heightened tactility. She could sob with relief when her phone pings and it means Serena has to release her hand to let her check it.

“Something wrong?” Serena sees Bernie frown at the screen.

“Just a message from Charlie. She wants to go to that bar next weekend.” Bernie would rather pull out all of her own teeth.

“Oh... well that will be nice for you. Get back on the horse, as it were.” Serena is almost blinded by jealousy. “I think I might head up to the room.” She barely looks at Bernie as she says it, before hastily wishing their party goodnight and dashing off.

Bernie is left at a table full of strangers to stare after her. It takes a few moments for her to gather herself and follow Serena. She finds the brunette stepping into the lift and just manages to slip in before the doors close to join Serena inside.

“Serena, what’s going on? Why did you run off like that?” Bernie tries to reach out to her, but Serena shrinks away.

“It’s nothing.” Serena says a little too quickly to be convincing.

“Please, tell me what’s upset you.” Bernie pleads, she hates to think of Serena hurting.

“I don’t know.” Serena replies until Bernie raises an eyebrow, she wasn’t buying it. “I don’t know!” Serena begs herself not to cry.

“I think you do. Is the reason you won’t tell me because I’ve done something?” It saddens the blonde deeply to think that she’s caused this in some way.

“It’s...” Serena’s eyes flit over the other woman’s face and something inside her breaks. “... it’s the thought of you going to that bar.”

“I’ll be with Charlie, it’ll be perfectly safe. Thirteen ways, remember?” Bernie chuckles and hugs Serena to her.

“It’s not that.” Serena lifts her head to look straight at the blonde.

“What then?” Bernie scrunches up her face, totally confused.

“I don’t want you to go.”

“Neither do I.” Bernie laughs again until she sees the serious expression on Serena’s face. “What is it?” She runs her fingers through the brunette’s hair, smiling when Serena leans into the touch.

“I don’t want you to go because –” Suddenly Serena’s phone buzzes, forcing them apart. “It’s Robbie.” Serena glances uncertainly up at the blonde, who tenses from head to toe. “He wants to try again.” Serena notes the flicker of pain ripple over Bernie’s features for just a moment.

“That’s good, if you want the same.” Bernie stomps off to their room when the lift stops at their floor. Sliding the key card into the slot to open the door, she steps inside and tries to regulate her breathing. “I should go.” She throws her bag on the bed and starts packing up her things. “If you tell Robbie yes, then he could be here for the wedding tomorrow.” Her hands are shaking and she clenches her fists, annoyed that she had clearly not put this silly infatuation behind her.

“And how exactly would you get back to Holby?” Serena places her hands on her hips, wishing the blonde would see sense. “We drove here in my car.”

“I’ll ask reception to call me a taxi to the station.” Bernie refuses to look at her.

“Bernie, just stop for a second.” Serena puts her hand over both of Bernie’s trembling ones. “I invited you because I wanted to. There’s no one else I’d rather spend this weekend with. Certainly not Robbie. I’m not getting back together with him.”

“You aren’t?” Bernie looks half puzzled half hopeful.

“No.” Serena reassures her. “How could I be with him when I’m falling for someone else?” Serena hopes it shows that she means the woman in front of her.

“Oh...” Bernie’s heart sinks, Serena hadn’t mentioned that there was anyone else. “... well, I should still go then. You can invite this other guy to join you for the wedding.” Bernie tries to free herself from Serena’s grasp, but the brunette holds firm.

“Bernie, stay please. I don’t want anyone else to be here with me...” Serena searches for some spark of understanding on the blonde’s part and is sadden to not see any. “... besides, it’s late and we have a long day tomorrow. We should get some sleep.” Serena grabs her pyjamas and heads in to the bathroom. She angrily wipes at the day’s makeup wishing she could shake the blonde to make her see what was right in front of her. Once she’s brushed her teeth and changed into her pyjamas, she switches places with Bernie to let her do the same.

When Bernie comes back out in her pyjamas, Serena is already in bed with her back to the blonde but her bedside light is still switched on. Bernie slips in beside her as gently as she can so as not to disturb Serena in case she’s asleep. Serena closes her eyes tightly when she feels the mattress dip as Bernie gets into the bed. It breaks Serena’s heart that they are mere inches apart physically and yet it may as well be miles. A sudden chill seeps into her bones, making her shudder.

“Are you cold?” Bernie’s touch makes Serena spring away and the blonde pulls her hand back sharply.

“No.” Serena snaps, even though she is cold.

“Do you want me to see if there’s a spare blanket anywhere?” Bernie offers in a small voice.

“Go to sleep, Bernie.” Serena refuses to turn and look at her.

“We could...” Bernie starts to say and then thinks better of it. “Never mind. Goodnight, Serena.”

“We could what?” Serena shuffles until she is facing the blonde.

“I just thought that if you were cold, I could... I mean... I wouldn’t mind... um...” Bernie bites her bottom lip, nervously trying to finish the sentence. “I could cuddle you.” Bernie only hears how pathetic that is when she says it out loud. “Stupid idea. Let me go see if I can find a blanket.” She pulls back the duvet to get out of bed.

“I’d rather have the cuddle. If... if that’s ok.” Serena looks up at her shyly, cheeks flushed with embarrassment and something else.

“Alright.” Bernie slides back in beside the brunette, opening her arm for Serena to settle into.

Serena snuggles up to the blonde, entangling their legs and resting her head on Bernie’s chest. She fidgets and fusses trying not to get worked up at being so close to the object of her crush.

“Relax. I don’t bite.” Bernie chuckles, feeling the brunette go as stiff as a board in her embrace. “Not unless asked to of course.” Serena reels at the thought and a strangled whimper slips out just imagining Bernie’s mouth all over her body. “Serena, are you ok?”

“Yep. I’m fine.” Serena lies and hopes that Bernie can’t see how flustered she is. “Goodnight then.” She tries to pull away, but Bernie holds fast.

“It’s ok, if you're comfy here and I don’t mind keeping you warm.” Bernie lets Serena settle into her again, and despite the fact that they’re both quite keyed up by their proximity they somehow manage to drift off to sleep.

Chapter Text

The first thing Bernie sees when she wakes the next morning is the top of Serena’s head. The brunette is fast asleep. She’d stayed burrowed into the blonde, with her head still resting on Bernie’s chest. All at once, Bernie feels a heaviness inside her ribcage which has nothing to do with Serena lying on top of her. She has no idea how she’s going to get over the woman in her arms, but she knows she has to, because the brunette had told her last night that she had feelings for someone. Selfishly for now though, she would just enjoy having Serena wrapped up in her embrace. As she falls quickly back to sleep, the sweet, intoxicating scent of Serena’s shampoo invades her dreams.

When Serena stirs a little while later she is confused by the fact that she seems to be lying on a warm body. Blinking the sleep out of her eyes, she soon realises who the body belongs to. She feels as much as sees the gentle rise and fall of the blonde’s chest as she sleeps, and the steady beating of her heart against Serena’s ear makes her ache for Bernie in ways she didn’t even know were possible.

As if she could sense the brunette watching her sleep, Bernie slowly awakens and reflexively pulls Serena even closer, breathing her in with a contented hum of appreciation. “Morning.” Her voice is rough with sleep and it hits Serena right between her legs.

“Morning.” Serena mumbles as she moves away, trying to remain calm.

“Sleep well?” Bernie pulls back her side of the duvet slightly and stretches to wake up. The movement makes the hem of her sleep top ride up, and Serena licks her lips at the exposed skin of the blonde’s toned midriff.

“Yes, thank you. Did uh...” Serena is momentarily distracted by the action and her fingers itch to find out if Bernie’s skin is as soft as it looks. “... um, did you... sleep well I mean?”

“Like a log.” Bernie chuckles and gets out of bed to use the bathroom and brush her teeth. When she comes out she still has her toothbrush in her mouth and tries speaking to Serena at the same time. “Warsash th pl frr tidst?”

“Sorry, what?” Serena doesn’t catch any of it.

“What’s the plan for today?” Bernie takes the toothbrush out for a moment to speak more clearly.

“Well, the ceremony starts at 2pm. I was thinking breakfast, and then maybe we could have a wander around the grounds. Ellie said they’re beautiful. Is there anything you what to do?” Bernie thinks there are any number of things she wants to do with Serena, just none that are appropriate.

“I fancy using the gym or maybe going for a dip in the pool.” Bernie shrugs, she wasn’t really expecting the brunette to accompany her.

“I’m no gym bunny, but I did bring my swimsuit.” Serena smiles and gets out of bed to start getting ready.

Bernie’s brain misfires when she realises that she’s inadvertently invited the brunette to join her. How in God’s name would she cope with seeing Serena in only swimwear?!

“Let me just use the facilities and brush my teeth, then I’ll be right with you.” Serena has to mentally prepare herself for Bernie wearing a swimsuit. She breathes deeply a few times, which absolutely does not work.

“Serena, I might just head on down to the pool.” Bernie figures she could be changed and already doing laps when Serena appears, so she’s less likely to see much of the brunette’s swimsuit covered form.

“Alright, I’ll join you as soon as I’m ready.” Serena calls back to the blonde through the door. Will I ever be truly ready for Bernie Wolfe in lycra swimwear?!

She brushes her teeth and doesn’t bother with anything else because she’ll shower after their swim. She won’t admit to it, but she is relieved that Bernie had decided to start swimming without her.

The blonde has just started another lap in the opposite direction when Serena lowers herself into the water. And she is a only few laps in when she feels a tug at her ankle and stops with a yelp.

“Come on, Campbell! You can do better than that. Loser buys breakfast!” Bernie throws down the gauntlet.

“Two things: 1) I am not racing you, Wolfe; 2) breakfast is included in the price of the room.”

“Oh... well... I was... just kidding around...” Bernie feels a blush creeping all over her face.

“Ha!” Serena pushes off from the pool floor and swims for her life towards the other side.

“Oi! No fair, that’s cheating!” Bernie kicks off after her, but Serena’s head start means she wins easily.

“I win!” Serena sticks her tongue out, forever the gracious victor.

“You should forfeit really, those were blatant diversionary tactics.” Bernie teases once they’re bobbing face-to-face in the water.

“Sore loser, are we?” Serena winks playfully at the blonde.

Bernie’s gaze shifts when she spots something moving behind Serena. She quickly pulls the brunette to her as someone cannonballs into the water, narrowly missing the brunette and splashing them both.

“Are you ok?” Bernie runs her fingers through Serena’s soaked hair, stopping just short of patting her down for injuries. The brunette’s arms are wrapped tightly around Bernie’s neck and their bodies are pressed closely together.

“Yeah.... I think so...” Serena doesn’t immediately let go, very much enjoying being this close to the blonde. “Thanks for saving me.” Serena’s fingers play with the blonde’s now drenched curls and she desperately wants to kiss Bernie.

“You’re very welcome.” Bernie smiles shyly as she notices Serena staring at her mouth. Her arms hold on more tightly around the brunette’s waist and all of a sudden she is millimetres away from kissing her. Serena’s eyes flick up to Bernie’s at the last moment, making sure that there are no objections, and she is elated to see none.

“Mum!” Serena internally curses Ellie and her terrible timing. “Oh sorry, am I interrupting...” She fixes her mother with a knowing look from the seating area of the pool.

“Unfortunately.” Serena hisses under her breath.

“Hello Elinor.” Bernie waves up at the young woman by the side of the pool and Elinor smiles and waves back. “I might just do a few more laps. Why don’t you go have breakfast with Ellie? I’ll meet you in there in a bit.” Bernie swims away frantically, hoping the exertion will clear her head.

“You still haven’t talked to her, have you?” Ellie practically scolds her mother.

“If you hadn’t interrupted us, I might have been about to.” Serena walks with the young woman towards the changing room to put her clothes back on.

“Sorry Mum, why don’t I head back up to the girls and you two can talk over breakfast?” Ellie offers apologetically.

“No, I’d love for you to have breakfast with us.” Serena tucks some of her daughter’s hair behind her ear and kisses her forehead.

* * *

“She’s really great, Mum. I hope this works out for you. I’ve never seen you so happy.” Ellie had grilled Bernie over breakfast, she seemed so nice, and she very obviously cared about her mum a great deal.

“You really think she likes me?” Serena had to admit she wasn’t completely sure.

“Of course. I mean, the two of you were almost snogging in the pool!” Ellie kisses her mother goodbye, and then heads up to meet the other bridesmaids to get ready for the ceremony.

“All good?” Bernie had waited for Serena by reception and she smiles when she sees the brunette coming.

“Yep.” Serena says nothing more.

“Still fancy exploring the grounds?” Bernie glances quickly at the brunette beside her as they walk.

“Absolutely.” Serena surprises the blonde by sliding her hand into Bernie’s as they head outside.

Bernie doesn’t really take in their surroundings, she’s too busy wondering what Serena’s hand in hers means. Did friends hold hands like this? And had they been about to kiss in the pool before Elinor showed up?

“You’re awfully quiet.” Serena observes, studying Bernie to gauge what was going through her mind.

“Just thinking.” Bernie never was a woman of many words.

“What about?” Serena probes.

“Oh... nothing really.” Bernie isn’t sure she wants to find out why Serena is holding her hand, in case it’s not the answer she’s hoping for. “So... who’s the lucky chap?”

“What?” Serena has no clue what that means.

“Last night, you uh, you said that you weren’t getting back with Robbie because you were seeing someone else. I didn’t know you were dating anyone.” Bernie has no justification for why she would bring this up. Morbid curiosity perhaps.

“I’m not.” Bernie frowns at that.

“But you said –” She starts to challenge.

“There is someone who I have feelings for, but I haven’t told them.” Serena confesses.

“Why haven’t you?”

“It’s complicated. We’re close friends and I wouldn’t want to jeopardise that.” Serena explains. “I’m scared that they won’t feel the same way and I’ll lose my friend.”

“You won’t know until you tell him I suppose.” Bernie releases Serena’s hand then. “I think I might just go back to the room. I’m a bit cold after the swim.” She begins to walk away.

“I’ll come with you.” Serena calls out to her and rushes to catch up.

“Alright, I thought maybe I would just relax in the room for a while and then perhaps order a light lunch from room service.” Bernie smiles and lets Serena grab her by the hand again.

* * *

“You look amazing.” Serena is just putting her earrings on when Bernie comes out of the bathroom fully dressed and ready.

“Thank you, so do you.” Serena had never seen Bernie wear a dress before but by God did it suit her. “Shall we?” Serena does one final check in the mirror before lacing her fingers in Bernie’s as they make their way down to the ceremony room.

Serena relishes the feel of Bernie’s hand firmly in hers, and she takes it as a good sign that the blonde seems happy for them to be holding hands.

As they sit through the ceremony, Bernie can’t help but notice that Serena won’t let go of her hand. The blonde isn’t sure if Serena knows she’s doing it, but every so often the brunette will squeeze her hand or stroke Bernie’s pulse point with the tip of her finger. She steals little glances at the brunette when she’s sure Serena isn’t looking and she is struck by how radiant she is.

“I’m so happy you’re here with me.” Serena whispers just to Bernie, as they watch the happy couple walk back up the aisle to raucous applause, before kissing her softly on the cheek and then rubbing off the resulting lipstick stain with her thumb.

“I’m having a great weekend with you, Serena.” Bernie’s heart somersaults inside her chest.

“That was such a beautiful ceremony.” Serena leaves the blonde for a moment to hug the bride and groom, and to tell Ellie how beautiful she looks.

Bernie watches Serena effortlessly chat to everyone, ever the social butterfly, and knows she has to talk to her about her feelings. They may not be reciprocated, but she owed it to both of them to be entirely honest with Serena.

“Mum, talk to her for God’s sake. The poor woman is totally smitten with you. Have you seen the way she looks at you?” Ellie was determined to see the pair admit they were crazy for each other.

“I don’t know where to even begin.” Serena’s face lights up when she catches Bernie’s eye from across the room. “I really like her, but I’m terrified that she doesn’t think of me that way.”

“Are you blind?” Ellie is incredulous. “She hasn’t taken her eyes off you all weekend, and you were most definitely about to kiss in the pool earlier. I say go for it.”

“Well, well, well.” Serena’s eyes roll at the sound of her ex-husband’s voice. Here we go. “Serena, I must say it’s a real shame that you haven’t brought a date with you this weekend. At your age, one can’t be too choosy or you’ll end up permanently on the shelf.”

“Edward, how is your health? No crippling scoliosis of the spine? No excruciating hernias?” Serena eyes are like skits as she glares at him, wordlessly wishing the man unspeakable pain. “Oh look, here’s Liberty.” Serena casts her eyes to the heavens and pleads for the ground to swallow her whole.

“Serena, how are you? Edward told me you’d broken up with that policeman. I’m so sorry.” Liberty looks at her with false pity and Serena wants to stab her in the foot with the heel of her shoe.

“Elinor, I just wanted to say that you look lovely. All the bridesmaids do.” Bernie winks at the brunette, stepping in just in time to save her from this awkward conversation.

“Thank you, Bernie. I think you and Mum look great too. You make a cute couple.” All eyes spring over to the young woman with that.

“Couple?” Edward guffaws at the insinuation.

“Serena, why don’t we go to the bar and get a drink, and then we can find our seats for the meal.” Bernie comes to rescue her yet again, and guides her away by the elbow without even looking at Edward or Liberty. “So..., why does Elinor think we’re a couple?” Bernie focuses completely on Serena then. A tiny spark of hope ignites inside her.

“Search me.” Serena lies and can’t look at the blonde. “I’ll have a Shiraz please.” Serena gets the bartender’s attention, anything to move off this topic.

“I’ll just go check which table we’re at.” Bernie points dejectedly at the sitting plan.

Things are less tense between them during the meal, and Serena keeps reaching for her hand again. They’re barely even aware that there are other people at the table, as they chat and laugh and generally have a great time.

“I’m just going to go say hello to the bride’s parents.” Serena whispers to Bernie who nods and watches her walk over.

“Hi Bernie.” Serena’s daughter takes the seat her mother had just vacated.

“Hi Elinor.” Bernie gives the young woman a closed mouthed smile. “Would you like a drink?” The blonde swallows thickly, her nerves after the Spanish inquisition over breakfast mean she’s none too keen to be left alone with Serena’s daughter.

“I would like to know what your intentions are with Mum.” Elinor gets straight to the point.

“Um... I don’t have any.” Bernie says truthfully.

“She likes you. You like her. You’ve treated her better in the past two days than Robbie did their whole relationship. I think you should talk to her. And you’d best not hurt her or you’ll have me to deal with.” Elinor gives her a cold, hard stare that she clearly learned from her mother.

“I would never hurt Serena. But we really are just friends.” Bernie gulps down the rest of her wine. “I think I’ll just pop outside for some fresh air.” Bernie grabs her clutch and heads for the double doors at the other side of the room. She takes stock of what Elinor had just said and begins to wonder, not for the first time, if perhaps Serena might feel more than friendship for her. The ringing of her phone pulls her out of her thoughts, glancing at the screen she sees that Charlotte is calling her.

“Where’s Bernie?” Serena finds Ellie in her seat with no sign of the blonde trauma surgeon.

“She needed some air.” Ellie points to the doors Bernie had just walked through.

“Please tell me you didn’t say anything to her.” Serena looks pleadingly at her daughter.

“I might have –” Serena feels the blood pounding in her ears.

“Ellie!” Serena turns and strides purposefully towards where Bernie was.

“How’s things at the wedding? Have you spoken to Serena yet, Mum?”

“Charlie, I really don’t think this is the time or place –”

“Oh come on! This is your perfect opportunity to tell Serena how you feel.”

“I– I can’t... What do I do if she doesn’t...” Bernie leaves the rest of the question unfinished, but Charlotte hears the meaning loud and clear. The blonde digs her fingernails into her palm, hoping to stave off tears.

“She does, Mum. I promise you.”

“I won’t ruin our friendship... Anyway, how’s your weekend going?”

“Yeah, not bad. Listen, if you’re not going to speak to Serena –”

“Charlie...”

“No, hear me out. How about a blind date?”

“A blind date? Charlie, what are you talking about?”

Serena stops dead by the doors when she hears Bernie talking to her daughter about a blind date. She knows she shouldn’t listen in, but she can’t help herself.

“Yeah, one of the girls in my lectures says she has an aunt who is about your age, single obviously, works as a GP. Maybe we could set you up?”

“Charlie, I really don’t know. I’ve never been on a blind date before...”

Serena’s heard enough as she clears her throat loudly to announce her presence.

“Oh Charlie, Serena’s here now. We’ll talk about this later, ok? Yep.... I love you too... bye sweetheart.” Bernie smiles as she hangs up.

“Everything ok?” Serena pretends she wasn’t eavesdropping.

“Yeah, she’s just been telling me about someone in one of her lectures who has an aunt or something. Wants to organise a blind date. She’s determined to see me with somebody.” Bernie shakes her head at her daughter’s meddling ways.

“Sounds promising.” Serena tests the waters.

“I... maybe... who knows?” Bernie shrugs off the idea.

“You don’t fancy it?” Serena tries to keep her tone even, disinterested.

“I haven’t really thought much about dating lately.” That much is true.

“Any particular reason?” Serena urges her to continue.

“I’m not sure.” Bernie stares out over the grounds, not convinced she should show her hand.

“Dance with me.” Serena surprises them both.

“What?” Bernie’s head turns sharply to look at the brunette.

“I’d like to dance with you.” Serena repeats, extending her hand to the blonde.

“I’ve never... um... slow danced with a woman before. Even in a non-romantic way.” Bernie sets her bag on the ledge she’d been leaning against and chews nervously at her bottom lip. “Are you sure you want to? We can’t even hear the music out here.”

“Please.” Serena links fingers with Bernie, encouraging the blonde to hold her by the waist as she puts her free hand on Bernie’s shoulder.

They sway on the spot to some imaginary song, both lost in holding each other. Serena unlinks their joined hands and slowly runs her hand up Bernie’s bare arm. She notes with some satisfaction the resulting goosebumps along the way. Bernie sucks in a sharp gasp at the touch, as Serena brings her arm up to meet the other around Bernie’s neck, while Bernie’s now free hand moves to the brunette’s hip. There is no space between their bodies as Serena rests her head on Bernie’s shoulder.

“This is nice.” Serena softly confesses into the side of Bernie’s neck, her breath making the blonde shiver.

“It is.” Bernie concedes and tries not to lose herself in Serena’s perfume. “You smell good.” Bernie freezes, she hadn’t meant to say that out loud. “I... I mean... I...” She flounders, not sure there’s a way to cover it up. “I should just...” She tries to free herself from Serena’s grasp, to run away, but Serena won’t let go.

“Hush, love. We’re ok.” Serena smiles into Bernie’s neck and the blonde could swear she feels the tip of Serena’s nose run along her jugular up to her ear. She’s not certain but she also thinks maybe she even feels the faintest brush of Serena’s lips on her skin, making Bernie’s blood pressure dangerously high and her breathing ragged. “Bernie, I need to tell you something.” Serena’s voice is hushed and her warm breath against the shell of Bernie’s ear makes the blonde feel faint.

“Ah, here you are.” Serena’s ex-husband walks unsteadily onto the terrace, his speech is slurred and he’s spectacularly sloshed. “Exploring our Sapphic side are we, Serena?” He has a glass of something in his hand, but his wild gesturing makes the liquid splash all over the ground.

“You’re drunk, Edward.” Serena states the obvious.

“What’s wrong? Couldn’t find another real man, so you’re sleeping with women now instead?” He leers at the brunette and Bernie’s blood boils.

Serena feels Bernie stiffen in her arms, and then the blonde starts to move at the man, but Serena keeps hold of her wrist.

“Bernie, leave it. Please. He’s not worth it. Go back to your wife, Edward.” Serena grabs Bernie by the hand and leads them back inside.

“What a prize prat.” Bernie bites out the insult. “Sorry, I know he’s Elinor’s father.” She instantly regrets her words, and Serena can’t help thinking how very Bernie it was to be so forgiving.

“Forget Edward. I’d like to go upstairs now. I’ll just say goodnight to the happy couple and Ellie. Will you come too?” Serena kisses her warmly on the cheek and keeps hold of her hand the entire time.

When they’ve done the rounds saying goodnight and thanking the bride and groom again for inviting them, they go up to their room in silence. Once inside they go about their nightly routine of removing makeup, brushing their teeth and putting on pyjamas, before slipping under the covers. Without either having to say anything, Bernie takes Serena in her arms and the brunette places her head on Bernie’s chest just like the previous night.

“Thank you for being here with me this weekend. Even with Edward’s little outburst, I’ve really enjoyed myself.” Serena absentmindedly traces her fingertip along the neck of Bernie’s pyjama top.

“That’s ok, I’ve had a nice time too.” Bernie tries to think of anything but Serena’s touch.

“Bernie, I don’t want you to go to that bar with Charlotte. Or on that blind date. Please.” Serena blurts it out because she can’t hold it in anymore.

“Why not?” Bernie tilts Serena’s chin until their faces are level, so she can see the brunette’s eyes. “Serena, what was it you wanted to tell me before when we were dancing?” Bernie can only hope that it’s what she's wanted Serena to say for months now.

Serena’s answer comes in the form of her placing her index finger to Bernie’s lips. She runs it down from her cupid’s bow to her bottom lip. The blonde’s gasp and the sudden darkness in her eyes make Serena press herself further into Bernie’s arms and kiss her gently on the mouth.

Bernie freezes initially, not sure if it’s really happening, and Serena pulls away slightly, worried that she’s made a mistake.

“Did I read this wrong? Don’t you want this too?” Serena’s eyes dart nervously over Bernie’s face, hoping for any signs that she’s not alone in how she feels.

“I definitely want this too.” Bernie gently runs her fingers through Serena’s hair for a moment and then draws her back in. She kisses Serena with everything she’s kept in all these months, letting every unspoken desire pour out into the kiss.

Serena fists her hand in Bernie’s pyjama top, holding on for dear life. If she’d known that kissing her would be like this, she would have plucked up the courage ages ago. When her lips part slightly on a gasp, Bernie’s tongue slips into Serena’s mouth. Her head swims at the unexpected intrusion, but she happily grants Bernie access. She’s aware somewhere that Bernie tastes like chocolate and honeycomb and coming home. She breaks the kiss only to breathe before kneeling over the blonde and straddling her thighs, leaning down for more of her gorgeous mouth.

At this point, with Serena in her lap, kissing her with a hunger Bernie didn’t expect, the blonde is certain she must be dreaming this. “Serena, wait. Hang on a sec...” Bernie continues speaking when Serena looks sure she’s being turned down. “No, no, no. It’s not that I don’t want this to continue. It’s just... are you ok with this? I mean, I’m not going to pressure you in any way.”

Serena feels like her heart could burst at how amazing the woman underneath her was. “I’ve never been with a woman before.”

“I know, and that’s why there’s no rush. We can just go back to cuddling if that’s what you’re comfortable with.” Bernie laces her fingers with Serena’s and squeezes to let her know she would never force her to move faster than she was ready for.

“I want this. I want you.” Serena crosses her arms over her front and reaches for the hem of her own pyjama top and pulls it off over her head.

“Um... wow...” Bernie splutters out and then doesn’t really know what to do with the semi-nude brunette in her lap. “Serena... I don’t know what I’m doing either.” Bernie verbalises the thought, face apologetic and bright red. “I’m sorry, I’m –”

Serena takes one of Bernie’s hands, kisses the fingertips softly and places it on her bare chest. “We can figure it out together. Honestly, I’m so turned on right now it won’t take much.” Serena huffs out a laugh and bends down to kiss Bernie again. “I need you, Bernie. Please.” Serena looks desperate as she writhes above the blonde.

“God, Serena. You’re so gorgeous.” The brunette’s movements are rubbing against her aching core perfectly, and she moans into Serena’s mouth as she grabs her face and kisses her passionately. Her mouth trails fire over Serena’s skin as she moves her lips to other parts of the brunette. Warm, wet kisses and just a hint of teeth.

“I thought you said you didn’t bite.” Serena grins as Bernie’s mouth crosses her sternum to clamp around her other nipple with a sharp nip of more teeth.

“Do you want me to stop?” Bernie teasingly threatens.

“No please, please, don’t stop.” Serena cries out and pushes the back of Bernie’s head until her mouth is back where she wants it to be, the pleasure only heightened by the halo of blonde curls splayed on her chest, tickling her skin. “Bernie...” Serena bows into the blonde’s mouth, wanting more. “Take your pyjamas off. Take everything off.” Serena almost rips at the fabric, trying to find out what Bernie’s bare flesh will feel like against hers. In a flurry of discarded pyjamas, they find themselves in the same position, with Serena above the blonde.

“Are you sure about this? We can still stop at any time, ok? You can tell me to stop and I will.” Bernie’s eyes shine with so much care that Serena has to swallow a lump of emotion in her throat.

“Bernie, please. I don’t want to stop. Unless you do.” Serena knows that this is about both of them, not just her.

“Serena...” Bernie flips them suddenly and presses the brunette to the mattress, no inclination to stop whatsoever. “... I want you so much.” She finds she can’t get enough of the taste of the brunette’s skin, as she works her way lower until she is close to where Serena needs her most. “Is this ok?”

“Bernie, don’t stop. I want your mouth.” Serena buries her hands in blonde curls and tries to prepare herself for the onslaught. “Please, Bernie...” Serena doesn’t think she can hold on much longer, although she is thoroughly enjoying the teasing from the other woman.

Bernie knows in that instant, as she catches Serena’s eye and sees the brunette’s heated gaze staring straight back at her, that she is completely in love with Serena. With that thought firmly in her mind, and heart, she makes it her mission to show Serena just how much she loves her. Every look, every touch, every kiss will be her way of saying all the things she would never be able to with words. She has always been clumsy, flustered and awkward when it came to speaking her emotions. She was better at showing these things with her actions. So that’s what she would do now.

* * *

“I’d never done that before.” Bernie rests beside Serena again, softly stroking at all the bare skin on offer with her fingertips.

“What?” Serena turns her head until their noses are almost touching.

“Made love to a woman with my mouth.” Bernie confesses. “Made love to a woman at all I suppose.” Her hurried fumblings with Alex in the desert would hardly count as lovemaking.

“It was so incredible.” Serena had never known pleasure like it. “You are incredible. I’ve never felt anything like that before.” Serena kisses her gently and can’t resist threading her fingers through those tousled curls again. As her mouth becomes more insistent, her tongue probing, she wants to touch Bernie everywhere.

Serena’s hand trembles slightly as she wonders where to touch first. She settles for experimentally squeezing the blonde’s right breast, guided by Bernie’s reactions. Running her hand across Bernie’s chest she repeats her actions on the left side, fascinated by the feel of the blonde’s breasts. “You’re so soft. So smooth. So beautiful.” Serena smiles into another heated kiss as her hands map the blonde’s body. Once she realises how good touching Bernie feels, she finds she can’t get enough.

“Serena... oh God that feels good...” Bernie is lost in the pleasure of it all.

“You know you said that exact thing yesterday when I was massaging you. It made me want to bring myself off right there on top of you. That or flip you over and ravish you.” Serena’s voice casts a spell that makes a new rush of wetness pool between Bernie’s thighs.

“Jesus, Serena...” Bernie can’t believe what she’s hearing, it was the stuff of pure fantasies for the brunette to say something so, frankly, hot. “I ... oh...” Serena’s fingers move ever lower until she is teasing between Bernie’s thighs. “Yes, oh yes...” Serena’s touch becomes more insistent and her pace quickens as she reacts to what Bernie needs. “My God, you... oh... yes... that’s...” Bernie’s hands fist in the sheets, she is desperately close to orgasm. “Oh, Serena I’m... I... please... oh... I’m coming!” Bernie lets go and every part of her goes rigid as the waves of pleasure pull her under until she would happily drown. When she breaks the surface again, Serena is there holding her, kissing her mouth, her eyelids, her cheeks. “That was amazing, Serena...” Bernie kisses her softly, a declaration of love threatens to burst out of her but she has to hold it in. They were only at the beginning of whatever this was and she wouldn’t scare the brunette away.

“Was it ok?” Serena asks timidly.

“Much more than ok.” Bernie grins sleepily and Serena pulls the covers back over them.

“I hope you’re not too tired. I was rather hoping we might do that again.” Serena’s eyes grow dark and she quirks an eyebrow, before slipping her arm around Bernie’s waist and kissing her senseless.

“Oh really?” Bernie seems to get her second wind then, as she pins Serena down on her back and aims to make her forget time.

* * *

Serena is the first to wake, early the next morning. The weight of Bernie’s arm wrapped around her makes her smile, and she lifts the duvet to discover that they are both still very much naked. Her body aches everywhere from last night’s activities, but as she quickly runs to the bathroom and brushes her teeth she finds she rather enjoys the reminder in her muscles. Bernie is half awake when she comes back out and the sight of her birds nest of curls sticking up in every direction makes Serena love her even more.

“What time is it?” She asks groggily.

“A little after 6.30am I think.” Serena climbs back into bed, and Bernie uses the bathroom and brushes her teeth too.

“I might go for a run.” Bernie announces when she comes back out naked as the day she was born.

“I’d prefer it if you came back to bed.” Serena rubs the spot beside her on the mattress.

“Well, if that’s the alternative, run be damned!” Serena laughs as the blonde flings herself back into bed and curls herself around Serena’s body.

“Bernie?” Serena wants to make sure they’re on the same page about the night before.

“Ummmhmmm?”

“About last night...” Serena starts to say and Bernie goes rigid. Was she going to say she regretted it?

“Oh...” The blonde’s face falls. “... was it a one-off?” Bernie almost chokes on the question. She closes her eyes and waits for the inevitable rejection. She doesn’t even know that she’s crying until Serena’s thumb wipes away the first tear.

“No, it wasn’t. The truth is, I was upset on our first night here because I was jealous just thinking about you possibly going to that bar, meeting someone or tonight thinking about you going on that blind date. I said that I didn’t want you to go because I want to be with you.” Bernie’s eyes shoot open and she lunges at Serena and kisses her deeply, her relief obvious. When they pull apart again, Serena is smiling. “I think I might be falling in love with you.”

“I feel the same way.” Bernie admits instantly. “Last night was beyond wonderful.”

“I want to keep seeing you. Go on dates. Definitely more of what happened last night. The whole shebang.” Serena clings to Bernie’s body as they kiss languidly.

“I want that too.” Bernie breathes out the confession when they stop for air.

“I’ve wanted this for a long time. I see that now.” Serena’s hand traces the dips and curves of the blonde’s silhouette. “I want you.” She kisses Bernie and then lets her lips wander over the blonde’s throat.

“Serena...” Bernie’s nerve endings fizzle as the brunette’s talented fingers roam and explore. “Oh God...” She arches up when Serena finds a particularly sensitive spot.

“I requested late check out, so the room's ours until 3pm. I had planned on doing a little sightseeing today, but there are some sights right here that I think I’d much rather see.” Serena whispers seductively into Bernie’s ear, before slowly crawling down the blonde’s body to settle between her legs.

If pressed for details later, Bernie would have no discernible explanation as to how she managed to stay conscious with the inimitable Serena Campbell working stridently to make her unravel with that wicked mouth of hers.

* * *

“I suppose we need to get going soon.” Serena squirms slightly in bed beside Bernie as the blonde’s fingers tickle over her bare hip. They had only ventured out of the hotel room to eat breakfast, and even that had only lasted until they couldn’t keep their hands off each other all over again. They both knew that they’d have to check out soon, but neither wanted to be the first to move.

“Do we really have to?” Bernie pouts making Serena chuckle.

“Unfortunately, I doubt our ward will run itself.” Serena was ever the pragmatist.

“Yeah, reality beckons.” Bernie dips her head and starts to climb out of the bed.

“We are going to carry on with whatever this is between us when we are back in Holby. Bernie, I’m not rethinking this.” Serena wants to quell the blonde’s anxiety.

“Aren’t you?” Bernie’s head turns back slightly towards the brunette, but she won’t look directly at Serena.

“Not for a second.” Serena quickly follows Bernie out of bed and wraps her arms around the blonde’s waist from behind. “Last night was incredible.” Serena’s lips move over Bernie’s bare back and shoulder, and she reaches up to cup the blonde’s breasts. “Several times over, and well into today.” Bernie can feel Serena smiling against her skin.

Bernie leans into the brunette and can’t stop herself from smiling too, even through a moan of pleasure. “It really was.” She covers Serena’s hand as it slips down over her torso and moans again more loudly when Serena kisses her under the jaw, before nipping her earlobe between her teeth while pinching her nipple between thumb and forefinger. “Serena!” Bernie finds her body reacting of its own accord, and she mewls and then cries out at the headiness of it all.

“I’m not going to change my mind. I don’t regret anything that happened last night or this morning. In fact, I think you should join me back in the bed for a quick reminder of just how much I want this.”

The blonde spins in Serena’s arms until they are facing each other. “Is that so, Campbell?” Bernie grins and then surges in for a long kiss.

“Let’s have dinner at mine tomorrow tonight. Jason’s not back till Tuesday.” Serena clings to Bernie’s neck and kisses her again, ecstatic that she can now, finally.

“I’d love to.” Bernie rubs her nose against Serena’s, she’d never been this happy before.

“Come here you.” Serena pulls her in and kisses her. Suddenly goosebumps appear when Bernie’s hands start to caress and explore. “You know, we could request the room for another night. Or we could stay elsewhere and still do some of that sightseeing.”

“We both know you have the luggage for it.” Bernie teases and pinches Serena’s shapely bum, making the brunette jump and swat at Bernie’s arm. “Now, tell me more about this reminder of yours. Or better yet, why don’t you show me, soldier?” The implied order makes Serena shiver with anticipation.

“Yes, Major.” Serena pulls Bernie in for more of her lips, their mouths crash together in a heated mix of teeth and tongues. “God, Bernie. I’ve never been this turned on before.” Serena had always been a sexual person, but she had never burned for someone like this. “I need you.”

“I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere.” Bernie’s eyes shine with a sincerity that steals Serena’s breath.

“Bernie, I...” Words fail her as she is overwhelmed by her feelings for this amazing woman.

“What’s wrong? If it’s too much we can stop.” Bernie cups the side of Serena’s head tenderly.

“No.” Serena kisses her with renewed enthusiasm. “What I said this morning, that I thought I was falling in love with you... that wasn’t strictly speaking true, because I’m already in love with you.”

“What did you say?” Bernie looks shocked.

“I love you, Bernie.” Serena feels lighter, happier now that she’s said it.

“Really?” Bernie clings to Serena, hardly able to believe that this is happening. “I love you too, Serena. I love you so much.” Bernie is glowing with joy. She presses her lips firmly to the brunette’s, eager to show Serena how much she means to her.

Serena feels like she might burst open with pure glee. She knots her hands tightly in Bernie’s hair and returns the kiss with fervour. “I love you.” She whispers it into the spaces between breaths and clutches onto the blonde in her arms. “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Each one is punctuated with a soft kiss as Serena’s hand snakes over the blonde’s body.

“Maybe we should book the room for another night after all.” Bernie's fingers seeking out Serena’s core make the brunette’s head flop back and a strangled sob of desire escapes her.

“It’s all booked and paid for. I phoned down to reception when you were in the bathroom changing for breakfast.” Serena somehow manages to croak out the words while Bernie’s mouth makes a beeline for her breasts.

“In that case...” Bernie’s eyes meet Serena’s with a glint of mischievousness. “... get back in that bed, Campbell.” Bernie scoops up a giggling Serena in her arms and carries her back over to the bed.