Title: Who For Joys Brides Hope To Have
Fandom: Penny Dreadful
Pairing: Vanessa Ives/Mina Murray
Warnings: Pre-Raphaelite poetry. No common triggers.
Spoilers: Based on events in 1x05. Which is a flashback episode, if that makes a difference.
It was a dark and stormy night.
The air had been still and heavy all afternoon, the clouds building in the evening, blotting out the night sky. "Happy the bride whose sun shines on her wedding day," Vanessa had teased. "We must hope the storm breaks soon enough to be gone by morning, for the sake of your marriage!"
Mina had laughed, but there was no laughter now. She stood in silence at the schoolroom door, as lightning flashed outside the windows, making a frozen tableau of her dearest friend, gasping in lust, pinned to the table by the thrusting hips of Mina's own fiancé.
It could not be called lovemaking. There were no kisses, no caresses: Vanessa arched in frenzy, and Charles gripped her roughly, one hand on her shoulder and the other on her throat, holding her still as he drove into her. There was no love here, only (Mina hardly dared say the word, even in her own mind) fucking.
But it wasn't the sight of them fucking that broke Mina's heart. Or not that sight alone. What made the betrayal doubly sharp was that Mina had found them while the taste of Vanessa's sex still clung to her lips.
They had shared each other's beds since their earliest childhood; they were neighbors, their families visiting each other constantly, and while the adults stayed late in conversation, the two girls were tucked in together, at first under the watchful eye of a nursery-maid, later with only the presence of their governess to supervise their evening prayers before she left for her own bedchamber. Mina could not say exactly when their childish goodnight kisses had deepened into something less innocent, more sensual, but as their bodies grew towards womanhood, their affections did the same. A hand exploring the curve of a budding breast, fingertips stroking the new-found curls between their legs, their mouths opening in unexpected hunger, until they were flushed and shaken, clinging to each other as their passion crested and ebbed.
"Our last night together," Vanessa said as they undressed. No nursery-maid now, no governess to watch them; they were young ladies, and had left such things behind. Nor did Mina have her own maid. No doubt in India she would have native servants to unlace her corsets and brush her hair, but tonight it was Vanessa who did these services, as she had so often before. Vanessa lifted Mina's hair from the nape of her neck, and laid her lips against Mina's throat.
Mina sighed in pleasure. "I shall miss you terribly, you know."
Vanessa laid down the hairbrush. Mina could see her frown reflected in the dressing-table mirror. "And I you. You at least will have Charles; I am to be left here, without you, without Peter, entirely alone." Before Mina could say anything, Vanessa whirled away, throwing herself on the bed. When she sat up, her dark hair tumbled about her shoulders, there was a wild glint in her ice-blue eyes. "Will you miss me? Come and kiss me," she said, in the singsong voice of one reciting poetry.
Mina recognized it. They had read her volume of Christina Rossetti's poems, with its beautiful illustrations, until its covers were nearly falling off and they had the lines by heart. "Never mind my bruises," she quoted slowly.
Vanessa laughed and continued the verse.
"Hug me, kiss me, suck my juices,
Squeezed from goblin fruits for you,
Goblin pulp and goblin dew.
Eat me, drink me, love me;
Mina, make much of me."
Even as Mina came to her friend's arms, suiting her action to Vanessa's words, she shivered as she remembered the next lines: For your sake I have braved the glen / And had to do with goblin merchant men.
The chill passed in a moment, driven away by the heat of Vanessa's lips. Mina tasted sweet Rhine wine; Vanessa had drunk glass after glass of it at the party, more than Mina had ever seen her drink before. Perhaps that accounted for her wild mood. For wild she was; as Mina kissed her friend's throat, slipping her hands beneath Vanessa's nightdress to stroke her body, Vanessa shuddered, lifting her hips entirely off the bed, her legs falling open as she sank back down.
"Eat me, drink me, love me," Vanessa repeated in a whisper.
"I will, my dearest," Mina murmured. She pushed the thin white cotton nearly to Vanessa's shoulders, fastening her lips on Vanessa's nipple. Vanessa made a high, stifled noise; they had long since learned to keep quiet in their pleasure, after Mina's startled cries at the first climax Vanessa ever gave her brought Vanessa's mother at a run, and they had had to swear it was a nightmare that had caused it, no more. Mina sucked harder, moving her hand down over the curve of Vanessa's waist and hip, fingers gripping the flesh of her buttocks. A trail of kisses down Vanessa's belly, Mina's tongue flickering to taste her friend's skin, not covered with the juice of goblin fruit but only scented faintly of lilies of the valley, the scent of her soap. Mina had wanted lilies of the valley to decorate her bride-cake, but her cook had protested. Even if they were in season, Miss Mina, which they're not, I wouldn't do it for the world. They're poison, don't you know that? It seemed unfair, for something so sweet.
Now the scent was not flowers, but a musky ripeness, the taste sweet and salty at once, like the melon wrapped in smoky ham that had been among the savories at the party, as Mina lowered her head to Vanessa's sex, her tongue parting the delicate folds. She cupped Vanessa's mound with a practiced hand, thumb pressing against the pearl of flesh that brought the sharpest pleasure. She probed with her tongue, only her tongue, for they never dared to slip their fingers within each other; it would not do, should a husband expecting a maidenhead find none. Tomorrow Mina would discover at last how that would feel.
Vanessa was panting as her climax approached, whining softly between gasps. She stiffened in crisis, her hands gripping the sheets. As Vanessa slumped back in the aftermath, Mina lifted her head and saw tears trickling down her friend's face.
"Hush, dearest," Mina whispered, stretching out beside her. "No matter how far I may go from you, you'll always be near in my heart."
"Will you?" Vanessa breathed. "As near as this?" And her hands were on Mina's skin, knowing and sure, by turns gentle and rough. Her lips sucked so fiercely that Mina feared she would leave marks, and what if Charles saw them? But soon these concerns were driven from her head along with all other thought, as wave after wave of pleasure coursed through Mina's body. Vanessa did not stop until Mina was dazed and almost senseless. As she felt herself drifting off in Vanessa's embrace, Mina heard her friend's murmur: "You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one forever." Mina made no answer, for she was sinking into sleep.
She was awakened by a crash, not of thunder but of something toppling over, the sound coming from the schoolroom. It was only as she reached the doorway that she heard Charles' grunts and Vanessa's gasps. Mina could not say what she saw in Vanessa's eyes as they locked on hers: lust, resentment, victory...despair? The lightning flash went dark and the thunder rolled. The storm had broken, but even if it cleared, no sun would shine on Mina's wedding day. After this, there would be no wedding.