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Nicolette O'Hara

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#21
Nicolette could sense the tension radiating off Celeste as she led her captain amongst the trees. She could not blame her. Not only was this sharply removed from the open ocean, but even though Nicolette had spent a good portion of her life traversing forests such as this one, she had rarely travelled through them in the dark. Anybody on the road with an ounce of sense made their camp long before dusk fell, allowing plenty of time to choose a safe place with plenty of firewood and get a tent up to protect against rains falling in the night. Only on a handful of occasions had she walked straight through until dawn, and those had been dangerous territories where she had dared not run the risk of lighting a fire and being spotted.

But she knew this trail well, and she kept her fingers curled with Celeste’s, guiding her easily through the darkness until they reached their destination. Apparently it had been worth it; the pond could not rival the sea, but Celeste seemed pleased by the pretty tableau laid out in front of them.

She seemed more pleased when she turned back to find Nicolette shedding her clothes.

They held their distance for a few moments as they both disrobed. They both liked temptation games, finding holding their desire back a few minutes adding spice to the moment when one or the other of them broke, but they had not teased each other in such a fashion since Nicolette’s return; the need had been too great. However there were shades of it as Celeste prowled towards her, devouring her with a slow kiss that left Nicolette weak at the knees, as her own hands roamed her lover. Celeste’s lips followed the line of her jaw and all Nicolette’s attention was drawn to that point, the thud of her pulse quickening as Celeste’s teeth grazed her ear…

“Last one in’s a bronto’s ass.”

Oh, that was unfair! Nicolette had no chance whatsoever of pulling herself together in time, and Celeste was already diving into the water by the time she actually registered the words. Nicolette thundered in after her - drawing further comparisons to a bronto’s ass - and splashed into the water with none of her usual grace, but she was laughing all the same. Six months of heartache and fear had been lifted away entirely, and the cool water made her feel so clean, and Celeste was close by, her legs skimming by Nicolette’s fingers as she dived towards the bottom.

Nicolette came up for air, then dived again as Celeste came back up. This time her fingers followed her lover’s leg all the way down, and she turned her head to playfully nip at Celeste’s backside as she went, before swimming between the other woman’s legs and popping back up in front of her, grinning.

“I may be a bronto’s ass, but I do not have teethmarks in mine.”

She then dived away from Celeste. They were both strong swimmers, although Nicolette would not deny that Celeste outstripped her. Still, she was not planning on playing fair. She turned about under the water, doubling back to her lover, fingers tickling along her ribs on the way past.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#22
The game was one that they had played countless times over the years, though usually in the balmy waters in the coves of Rialto Bay. Celeste was the stronger swimmer, but Nico was close behind her, and for a time, splashes and laughter rang in the stillness of the night air as they ducked and dove through the waters of the spring: now chasing, now being chased, fleeting touches followed by fast retreats, gliding past each other beneath the surface with only a fingersbreadth of water between them.

It was great fun, but each close pass and teasing caress stirred the flames dancing in her blood a bit higher; two days together had only barely touched the yearning that had grown over the months of separation and uncertainty, and Celeste wasn’t too proud to admit it. As the rapidly eddying currents announced the minstrel’s proximity, Celeste twisted, hooking a leg out to snag her lover and drawing her into a kiss, a light nudge on the sandy bottom with her free foot sending them drifting toward the surface. Lungs that were good for extended forays underwater had other benefits, as well, but Celeste was still breathless and pleasantly lightheaded when the kiss ended.

“Feels strange,” she murmured, pulling her gaze away from Nicolette’s face to glance around. “So peaceful here.” Nevarra had largely been spared the chaos of the rifts, but half a year of near-constant vigilance was not easily set aside. “Anywhere you want to go after we leave?” she inquired, once she had confirmed that no rifts had popped up while they were submerged, fingers drifting lazily up and down along Nico’s spine. The temptation to lift anchor and head north was strong, but they needed to pick up some paying work to make up for the time spent searching for the minstrel and aiding those fleeing the demons. And Celeste suspected that Nicolette would not be satisfied with swimming and sunning off the coast of Rivain when so many in the south remained in danger.

Neither would Celeste, if she was being honest with herself.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#23
The air was cooler here than it had been in the first cove they had played this game. The air had been hot and dry but clean, the water deliciously cold, and she had been unable to stop herself watching Celeste. The sunlight had turned her hair golden, and beads of water had gleamed like diamonds scattered across her skin whenever she surfaced. The captain had moved so swiftly through the water that Nicolette had been hard-pushed to keep up at first, but she was up for the challenge, and when she had caught her, breathless and laughing, she had wanted never to get out again.

She had honed her technique over time and could now be a fair match for Celeste, and as they splashed and squealed beneath the moonlight, she simply forgot everything else that had transpired. All of her mind now was on darting away from Celeste’s touches while simultaneously trying to get close enough to swipe at her – a cheeky pinch, a swat slowed by the water, and far more often a suggestive brush of her fingertips.

But she did not want to be out of Celeste’s grasp for too long, and when her captain snared her leg, she easily let herself be drawn forward, into a kiss. Weightless in the water, drifting upwards, the warmth of Celeste’s body a wonderful counterpoint to their cool surroundings, she could have stayed there forever if her lungs had not started to burn.

Her head was spinning as they broke the surface, although that was only part of the reason she stayed wrapped around Celeste in the moments after. Their game had shattered the silence of the grove, but now it fell again; except not silence this time. The leaves were rustling softly, water lapped slowly against their bodies, and there was the slowing pace of their breathing. It was welcome, but deeply unusual after so long.

Celeste mirrored Nicolette’s thoughts. “Feels strange. So peaceful here.”

“It caught me off guard when I first got here as well,” Nicolette admitted. “But once I had stopped thinking that something bad was about to happen at any moment, it was…helpful.” Of course she was far better off surrounded by people, but anywhere crowded these days carried the strained air of an over-tightened string. Everybody was either recovering from something horrible or expecting the worst to happen. Taking time away from that sense of foreboding had helped her a little, enough that she could start acting a little more like herself again.

“Anywhere you want to go after we leave?”

Nicolette softly purred as Celeste’s fingers drifted down her skin. Her own hands were engaged with exploring the muscles of her captain’s back. Whenever she encountered a point of tension, she pressed it, easing it until it relaxed. She smiled lazily. “I imagine shutting ourselves in our cabin for a year would be a touch impractical.”

Her fingers skimmed Celeste’s sides, the smile easing a little as she gave consideration to the question. For months her sole aim had been finding her captain. Even long before Celeste, she had not been much of a one for making long term plans – even when she did think of places she wanted to go, a whim could send her hundreds of miles in the opposite direction because of something interesting she had heard. She had given no thought as to what would happen next at all.

The temptation to run was strong, of course. It was what she had done most of her life. Now she had Celeste back, she could ask that they run northwards, away from all of this – maybe back towards Rivain and leave the rest of ravaged Thedas behind.

She could, but she would not. For all she had been through, she was one of the fortunate – she had found her lover again, and her family lived in comfort still. She had even escaped mostly unharmed. Absently, she traced one of Celeste’s scars. She would give so much to ensure that her captain was never harmed again, but there were no guarantees for that even if they did flee. She took a breath.

“Anywhere we can help. I am not saying signing up for the Inquisition properly and fighting demons, mind,” she added, quickly. “I think I have had enough of that for one lifetime. But more – running supplies to stricken towns, or helping refugees where we can, or…anything along those lines. There were a few times when I was helped along by strangers. It would be good to be able to give that back, somehow.”
She glanced up at Celeste. “Could we do that? Or would it be too much to ask? I know you and the crew had a worse time of it than I did.”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#24
From childhood, Celeste had seldom been one for overt displays of affection; Reginald had certainly not been the type to give or receive hugs easily, even on the rare occasions where he was not exasperated by his wayward daughter. Even with Daniel, who had been considerably more demonstrative, she hadn’t been much for cuddling, except in the languorous afterglow of lovemaking. The almost instinctive way that Nicolette sought physical contact had left her nonplussed, particularly once she realized that it was not always intended to initiate sex. But she’d accepted it: the warm hand that would find hers as they walked together; the head or chin that would lean upon her shoulder when she was at the helm or standing at the rail; the arms that would twine about her waist, molding their bodies snugly to each other.

Then she’d begun to reciprocate, first because it pleased her minstrel, then because she discovered that it pleased her, as well. She’d missed it more than she had thought possible during the weeks of separation and searching, and even now, with desire simmering, the feel of Nico arching into her touch, deft fingers massaging her back in turn, was a pleasure to be savored on its own merits. The peace of the moment, and the setting, was a profound change from what she had become attuned to since the Breach had occurred; it was hard not to expect something to happen to shatter this bit of paradise.

“It caught me off guard when I first got here as well,” Nico admitted when she voiced her thoughts. “But once I had stopped thinking that something bad was about to happen at any moment, it was…helpful.”

Celeste didn’t miss the faint hesitation. “I’m glad that you found them,” she told her lover, “glad they were all right.” And not simply for Nicolette’s sake. She genuinely liked Saul and Michel … and even Clarice, for all her occasional flares of temper. They were born out of concern for her daughter, after all.

Regardless of how peaceful it was here, it wasn’t the Wicked Grace or the open ocean; they’d be leaving here soon enough, and Celeste was willing to give Nico a say in where they sailed to. The Wicked Grace could find work anywhere, and she wouldn’t blame her minstrel for wanting to escape the insanity that had gripped the south.

Nicolette considered her question, her touch finding a knotted muscle and going to work at it. Celeste sucked a breath between her teeth, then groaned softly as the tension eased under her lover’s ministration. “I imagine shutting ourselves in our cabin for a year would be a touch impractical,” she murmured with a smile that sent swirls of warmth dancing along the sailor’s skin.

Celeste laughed softly. “Impractical, but tempting,” she agreed, “but I’d imagine we can manage a day here and there.” She’d guarantee it, in fact. Gideon was more than able to run the ship while the captain was otherwise occupied.

She waited, her expression giving no hint of her own preference, but she was fairly sure of what the ultimate answer would be. For all the minstrel’s gentle nature, she possessed a rare courage. She might choose flight over fight where her own safety was concerned, but she could be almost reckless when others were being threatened.

“Anywhere we can help,” she said now, adding, “I am not saying signing up for the Inquisition properly and fighting demons, mind. I think I have had enough of that for one lifetime. But more – running supplies to stricken towns, or helping refugees where we can, or…anything along those lines. There were a few times when I was helped along by strangers. It would be good to be able to give that back, somehow.”

The glorious eyes turned questioningly to Celeste, the moonlight touching them with the gleam of amber. “Could we do that? Or would it be too much to ask? I know you and the crew had a worse time of it than I did.”

Celeste had a decidedly different opinion on that, but she only said, “It’s pretty much what we’ve been doing, so it won’t be hard to keep on doing it.” The crew would have accepted a few months’ reprieve for their minstrel’s sake, but they’d all seen the same suffering that Nico had and all felt the same way. “Can’t say we won’t wind of fighting demons or crazy templars, mind you,” she added, “but we fight together.” And Nico would have the option to remain on the ship if combat seemed likely … though she probably wouldn’t.

“Jader first, then,” Celeste decided. “The Inquisition has an outpost there for trade; we can hopefully find out what the truth behind all the rumors is.” Because if Sati Adaar hadn’t actually survived, then nothing they did down here was going to be worth a piss in a windstorm, and they might as well find out what lay north of Seheron.

“We don’t have to leave right away.” She didn’t need Nico to tell her that packing up and heading out tomorrow morning would not be well received by Clarice, nor was she averse to spending a few days here, in this place that clearly held fond memories for her lover. “I seem to remember seeing a hayloft in the barn,” she remarked, angling her head to nip lightly at her minstrel’s ear as her hands shifted subtly from soothing to seduction. “I’ve been told they can be interesting places to visit.”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#25
Of course Nicolette wanted to spend as much time as she could with Celeste. Each moment felt like a new gift, a fresh celebration of their reunion. But she’d also missed the rest of the crew, and the ship itself. Over their months together, she had developed a love of the sea not far short of Celeste’s, She wanted to be on board, the wind in her hair, feeling the ship move beneath her feet, and the horizon stretching wide ahead of them. That would hold for a few more days; she owed her family that much.

But just because she had been granted her wish did not mean she was suddenly carefree. It would be so easy to sail away from everything, explore the places north and east of Thedas as they knew it. And yet, she could not countenance turning away. There were so many people who needed help, and had lost what could not be regained. She wanted to at least try to assist.

Celeste was with her. “It’s pretty much what we’ve been doing, so it won’t be hard to keep on doing it. Can’t say we won’t wind of fighting demons or crazy templars, mind you. But we fight together.”

Nicolette nodded, a smile curving her lips. “Together.”

Skies, she had felt so alone over the last few months, even in crowds of people. Even in the context of fighting, it was good to be part of a ‘together’ again.

Celeste knew more about what was useful to the Inquisition right now than she did, and selected Jader as their first destination. “The Inquisition has an outpost there for trade; we can hopefully find out what the truth behind all the rumors is.”

“That seems a good plan.”

Nicolette was about to add that it seemed a good idea to stay put for a few days, though, but Celeste was ahead of her. “We don’t have to leave right away.” Her teeth closed gently on Nicolette’s earlobe, creating a pleasant rush of heat as fingertips that knew exactly where to touch her teased patterns on her skin. Nicolette’s breath hitched a little as she leaned into her lover. “I seem to remember seeing a hayloft in the barn. I’ve been told they can be interesting places to visit.”

Nicolette’s chuckle rolled up from her belly, catching a little as Celeste brushed the soft swell beneath her navel. She drew her fingernails lightly down her lover’s back, smiling broadly at her, eyes lidded. “I hear good things about them as well. Perhaps we should go and see if they hold up to their reputation.”

But first, she drew Celeste into a slow, hungry kiss, fingers winding in her hair, one leg pressing between the other woman’s, before pulling away with a grin. “I may start to run, before we get there. You will have to catch me.”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#26
As bad as the last few months had been for Celeste, she knew that they had been immeasurably worse for Nicolette. If any of them should have been stranded alone in the chaos, it should have been the sailor who relished a good fight and was enough of a hardass enough to walk away from a lost cause, not her minstrel with the kind heart and gentle spirit who could nonetheless be crazy-brave when acting in defense of another. Nico had emerged from her ordeal with blessedly few physical scars (though those still filled Celeste with guilt when she considered them), but the emotional aftermath of the things that she had seen and endured - alone - ran deep. Even when there were no overt nightmares, Nico awoke from sleep with a start, eyes searching and arms reaching out for her lover, and Celeste made sure to be close at hand, though that was far from a burden when the sight of her minstrel sleeping beside her still felt like a miracle.

Nico curled into her contentedly now, repeating the word, “Together,” like a talisman. Celeste was far from surprised that her lover would choose to stay where the danger was in order to help others, and with her back and safe, the sailor felt quite ready to take on the world.

A delay of a few more days wouldn’t hurt much in the grand scheme of things, however, and her lover’s grateful smile told her that her suggestion of staying with Clarice and Saul a bit longer had been a good one. Mention of the hayloft drew a laugh that curled pleasantly beneath her ribs.

“I hear good things about them as well,” Nico agreed, running her nails lightly along Celeste’s spine, trailing delightful sparks of sensation in their wake. “Perhaps we should go and see if they hold up to their reputation.”

That sounded quite agreeable, but in the next moment, Nicolette surged forward, claiming Celeste’s lips in a kiss that quickly turned ‘go’ into ‘now’. At least, for Celeste, but after a few heated seconds and the teasing press of a thigh between her legs, her lover pulled back with an impish smile. “I may start to run, before we get there,” she warned. “You will have to catch me.”

Admittedly, the idea of a naked run back to the chateau, where Clarice would no doubt be watching out a window for their return, had a certain appeal, but Celeste’s current priorities lay elsewhere. Reaching out with a laugh, she caught Nico’s ankle, tugging her back and embracing her from behind.

“I’ve spent enough time chasing you, querida,” she growled playfully, lips seeking the sensitive flesh just below her lover’s ear. One hand swept up to cup the sweet curve of a breast while the other slipped across the minstrel’s trim belly and lower, and a kick propelled them toward the edge of the pool, where a flat, grassy area beneath the stars looked to be a suitable place to pass the next hour or so. “The hayloft can wait.”
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#27
One of the many things Nicolette loved about Celeste was the other woman’s inventiveness. Where most people might express an idea for the sake of idly musing about it, her captain frequently followed through, even (sometimes especially) when there was the possibility of risk. For that reason Nicolette always enjoyed dropping a suggestion in Celeste’s direction and seeing if she would take the bait - or put her own twist on it. Nicolette was fully prepared for a flight towards the barn, before being enjoyably tackled. Her mind was already turning to how she might turn the tables - there would probably be some rope around she could put to good use before the end of the night…

But following close on the list of things Nicolette enjoyed from her lover was Celeste’s spontaneity. Nicolette had not even made it to the edge of the pond before a strong hand closed around her ankle, pulling her back towards Celeste’s arms. In the cool water, Celeste’s body was warm, and the breath that brushed over Nicolette’s ear warmer still. “I’ve spent enough time chasing you, querida.

Nicolette’s wholehearted agreement with that statement was cut short as Celeste’s teeth found the spot beneath her ear that never failed to make her knees weak. It felt as though her captain was everywhere; even as Nicolette was arching into the palm brushing over her breast, her muscles were twitching as fingernails skated her belly, heading downwards, and then they were moving towards the edge of the pool and the inviting space that looked so perfect for two lovers still rediscovering each other after months apart. “The hayloft can wait.”

Nicolette turned her head, arm winding up to catch the back of Celeste’s head and pull her forward into a kiss; one that was purely hunger, and she deepened it as she turned in Celeste’s arms. Somehow without disentangling themselves from one another they made it out of the pool, falling back against the grass; the wildflowers crushed beneath them released a sweet scent into the air. Nicolette curled her leg around Celeste’s, turning them over so she sat astride her captain’s hips, leaning forward with a playful grin. “And here I thought I spent all that time chasing you, amante. Which one of us catches the other first, hm?” she teased, fingertips running up the other woman’s belly, before brushing her thumb over Celeste’s nipple as she claimed another kiss.

Skies,she doubted as though she would ever have her fill of her captain. Even before their separation, it could take as little as a playful look for Nicolette to want to drag Celeste off to their cabin. And now after months apart, even with the two days they had already spent together, Nicolette still felt as though she was starving.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#28
The night air was cool against wet skin, but that discomfort faded quickly in the heat building between them as they managed to make it to the grassy hummock at the pool’s edge without breaking contact, arms and legs intertwined and mouths hungrily seeking, tasting, needing. Celeste landed on top, but with a dancer’s lithe grace, Nicolette quickly reversed their positions, a victory that Celeste was more than happy to cede to her.

“And here I thought I spent all that time chasing you, amante, the minstrel teased, her smile impish. The moonlight gleamed gently on the damp, copper-hued skin, casting curves into an erotic play of light and shadow as she shifted forward, fingers splayed on the sailor’s stomach, the feather-light touch setting the muscles beneath the skin to jumping. “Which one of us catches the other first, hm?” she inquired archly, letting one hand glide upward. Celeste felt her breath catch as a thumb ghosted across her nipple; in the next moment, Nico’s mouth was on hers, the kiss fierce and demanding. Celeste matched her lover’s fervor, levering herself upright with one hand and wrapping the other around her minstrel’s waist to draw them even more closely together.

“I’m good with calling it a draw,” she murmured, pulling back just enough to speak, closing the distance once more, letting their lips brush lightly together, then ducking away when her lover tried to deepen the contact.

“Slow down, love,” she purred, nuzzling the soft hollow behind one ear before trailing slow kisses down her lover’s neck, tracing the racing pulse with the tip of her tongue. “We’ve got all night.” The last two days, their time alone had been intense, both of them desperate to make up for the weeks of separation and worry, both of them - truth be told - fearful that it was a dream that could vanish into wakefulness at any moment. Celeste was finally beginning to accept it as reality (for one thing, any dream involving the minstrel would not involve half a day on a horse’s back), and her lover looked utterly beautiful in the moonlight. Making love under the sky was a rare treat once they left the isolated beaches of the northern latitudes, and she was reasonably certain that Clarice would not be sending anyone to look for them any time soon.

Still, she found herself hard-pressed to take her own advice, intoxicated by the softness of her minstrel’s skin against her lips, the lingering scent of the cinnamon soap from the bath they had shared before departing the ship sweet in her nostrils. “Love you,” she breathed, letting her teeth graze flesh as she followed the line of Nicolette’s collarbone, lingering briefly at the slight hollow at the base of the throat before slipping lower, kisses trailing into the soft valley between her lover’s breasts, nuzzling at each in turn before choosing a path, then following the swell of the breast to its peak, brushing her lips over the taut skin, then biting lightly, eyes flicking upward to watch her face.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#29
This was one of Nicolette’s favourite places to be; Celeste sat up and Nicolette straddled her lap, not conceding one inch of space as they kissed, passion backed by the secure comfort of feeling Celeste’s arms around her. They had enjoyed some lovely days in the past of just sitting like this, a long, sensuous series of kisses curls up on the bed in Celeste’s - their - cabin. As if recalling it, Celeste eased back a little, leaving Nicolette already breathing a little heavily, a soft, protesting whine escaping her at the loss of contact.

“Slow down, love. We’ve got all night.” Lips brushed her neck, inciting a small jolt of need, but Nicolette heeded the words; as much as her body cried for her to catch Celeste’s hand and guide it downwards, her captain was right.There was no need to hurry; neither of them were going to be stolen away in the night, and nobody was likely to come looking for them here. Instead she tipped her head back, allowing herself to luxuriate under the touch, as she drew her fingernails lazily down over Celeste’s breasts and draw intricate, teasing patterns over her stomach. She had almost forgotten this more languorous style of lovemaking, but she was fast remembering.

Celeste might be underneath her but she was subtly regaining control, and Nicolette had no mind to wrestle her for it when Celeste was doing such wonderful things with her mouth. Warm heat closed over her nipple and Nicolette’s eyes lidded, then snapped open as the slight press of teeth elicited a sharp - but pleased - gasp from her, and she turned an impish smile towards her lover.

“It is hardly fair to tell me to slow down when you do things like that,” she murmured, fingertips slipping down further, one finding the soft skin just inside Celeste’s thigh, drawing a light, teasing pattern so close to where Celeste would want the touch the most. “And when you look at me as though you could just eat me up.” The touch lightened, then drew away as Nicolette smiled teasingly at Celeste. “But, as you wish.”

She folded her fingers around Celeste’s hand, drawing it up to her mouth, paused. “Love you, too.” She then pressed her lips to inside of the wrist, a soft kiss followed by the slow, deliberate circling trace of her tongue as she kept her gaze locked with her captain’s.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#30
Drawing such sweet sounds from her minstrel had long been one of Celeste’s favorite pastimes. The urgency in their time alone in the days and nights since reuniting had been too great to leave much room for slow and easy, but here and now, with the moons shining gently through the trees overhead, the breeze whispering through the reeds at the pool’s edge and the gentle embrace of the night all about them, a more leisurely mood claimed the sailor … though she wouldn’t resist over much if her lover were to push them back toward the fierce passion that was all too ready to flare to life. They had time now; all the time in the world, and so long as a significant part of it was spent in this glorious, skin-to-skin contact, she wasn’t going to quibble over details.

“It is hardly fair to tell me to slow down when you do things like that,” Nicolette protested, but mischief touched her voice, and her fingers danced ever so lightly against the sensitive flesh of the sailor’s inner thigh. “And when you look at me as though you could just eat me up.” That definitely seemed an idea worth exploring further, but in the next moment, the teasing touch vanished, and her lover was giving her a saucy smile that was completely at odds with the exaggerated innocence in her voice. “But, as you wish.”

Game on, then, and the minstrel caught Celeste’s hand in her own, lifting it to her lips. “Love you, too,” she murmured before kissing the inner wrist, the ghosting caress of her lips followed by the delicate brush of her tongue over the skin, sending a shiver of pleasure coursing through Celeste. Those glorious eyes were spellbinding, amber in moonlight, playful and passionate and challenging all at once. The sudden wave of tenderness that surged within Celeste was overwhelming, and for a long moment, all she could do was capture her minstrel in a crushing embrace and hold tight, feeling the thrum of her lover’s heartbeat against her cheek. Not doubting reality, not anymore. Drinking it in, relishing it. Part of her would have been utterly content to remain just like this for the balance of the night, but for now, at least, that part didn’t quite have a majority vote, so after a few slow breaths spent savoring the close contact, she resumed her unhurried explorations. Her hands drifted down Nicolette’s back, fingertips exerting gentle pressure along either side of the spine before sweeping out to caress hips and thighs, then back in and up, ghosting over waist and belly, up further still to cup each breast, circling each taut nipple with the pad of a thumb.

Her lips claimed every inch of skin they could reach, pressing open-mouthed kisses to her minstrel’s throat, shoulders, arms, breasts. Teeth nipping lightly, tongue flickering against soft skin, she let everything slide away but the woman in her arms, sensation and emotion swirling together into a heady mix that very nearly made her forget about slow and easy.

“I want you,” she growled softly, one hand lifting to cup the back of her lover’s neck and draw her into a deep kiss. The other glided back downward until fingertips teased ever so lightly over soft curls, but no further, awaiting her minstrel’s choice.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#31
In the next moment after Nicolette had spoken, Celeste had suddenly pulled her into a tight embrace. This had happened quite a few times since they had found their way back to one another; whatever they were doing was temporarily put on hold as they just held each other in an almost crushing grip, using the press of their bodies and warmth of their skin to drive away the vague notion that this, still, was a pleasant dream from which they might awaken at any moment. Celeste’s head rested against her breast, and Nicolette held her close for those few moments, her heart thrumming. Both of them needed this reassurance. Nicolette had woken in the night more often - no doubt thanks to the demon that had left marks deep in her mind - but it was clear from the way Celeste had held her at every opportunity since leaving Cumberland that she was not the only one who was still recovering from their long separation.

But the heat did not die down. After a few moments, Celeste traced Nicolette’s spine, finding the sensitive spot at the base, causing Nicolette to arch into her with a soft sound. Fingernails traced up over her hips, her belly, leaving trails of sparks, and Nicolette reciprocated, finding the places she remembered from before that could make Celeste squirm, both of them refusing to give in to the urge to hurry their touches. At one point Nicolette bit down slowly on the join of Celeste’s neck and shoulder, and felt her captain’s pulse racing faster; she traced it with her tongue, wanting to feel it pick up the pace even more, goading Celeste a little. But neither of them had advantage over the other; Celeste brushed the pads of her thumbs over Nicolette’s breasts, eliciting a sharp gasp. They were teetering on a balance which might swing towards either of them at any moment, and Nicolette was tempted to give in, to beg Celeste for more. Celeste spoke first, catching the back of her head.

“I want you.”

The kiss that followed did not break their pace, but was all fire; there was nothing soft, it was all desperate need, and Nicolette returned it, moaning Celeste’s name as fingertips found their way to where she desperately wanted them most. It took a moment to lift her gaze, hazy with desire, to meet Celeste’s, as her hand slipped down to crook against her lover, her forehead resting against Celeste’s.

“Together.”

There were times when Celeste was very much in charge, and Nicolette was happy to follow; then others, when she took a lead and found the results surprisingly appealing. But right now she wanted to touch Celeste as she was being touched, she wanted them to share the moment, and she caught the back of Celeste’s neck, pulling her into a fiercer kiss as she found the place she knew would draw moans - and later, cries - from her captain.
 

Celeste Monroe

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#32
“Together.”

The single whispered word and the need in the honey-gold eyes looking into her own sent a shiver of anticipation rolling down Celeste’s spine and a spark of exultation flaring in her chest. Maker’s blood, she loved this woman! Her breathless laugh of approval twisted into a groan at the feel of her minstrel’s touch mirroring her own, deft fingers teasing for a few racing heartbeats before slipping deliciously into her just as soft lips claimed hers.

Finding a rhythm required no effort, and they maintained the unhurried pace as they moved together. Lips sought out the most sensitive points before coming together in one hungry kiss after another. Free hands alternated between caresses and embraces when even the scant distance between them was too much. Celeste wanted it to last - not forever, because they did need to get back to the ship at some point, but as long as possible. The things that Nicolette was doing to her, however, and the way that the minstrel responded to Celeste’s attentions pushed her closer and closer, and the feel of her lover arching against her in release finished any further thought of holding back.

Not a plunge over a steep precipice, this climax felt like one of the great, deep ocean waves cresting: slow and almost gentle, but no less powerful and overwhelming. Her arm looped tight around her minstrel, Celeste pressed her face into the curve of Nicolette’s neck, breathing her name over and over as pleasure rolled through her body, crested, and finally ebbed.

Feeling delightfully boneless, she let herself fall back onto the grass, drawing Nico with her, letting silence reign for a bit longer, broken only by the songs of the crickets and frogs, the whisper of the wind in the trees, and the call of some bird - an owl, perhaps. Very different from the night sounds the sailor was accustomed to, but present company made all the difference, and Celeste wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in Thedas.

“I love you,” she said softly, brushing a few errant strands of hair away from her minstrel’s face, then tracing the curve of her cheek to the line of her jaw with gentle fingers, drinking in the sight of her in the light of the moons. “I didn’t take anyone to bed the whole time,” she told Nico. “No time, mostly, but … it just felt like it would jinx it if I did … like I’d never find you.” The freedom to take other lovers was something that had held between them from the beginning, and while Celeste had found herself taking advantage of it less often in the last couple of years, knowing that she could had mattered. Most of the time now, when someone caught her fancy, her first impulse was to share them with Nicolette. With the minstrel missing, her fate unknown, that instinctive line of thought had burned like hot coals, searing away desire, leaving cold ashes in its place. “Sailors are a superstitious bunch,” she said with a self-deprecating smirk before sobering again. The superstition had cut whichever way she turned. Taking a lover felt like a jinx, not doing so felt like mourning Nicolette as gone, which felt like another kind of jinx. “I didn’t want anyone else,” she admitted. “I wanted you.” The time would come when she would want someone else and act on it, but she suspected that would not happen for a while. She had her ship and her minstrel; right now, that was all she wanted.
 

Nicolette O'Hara

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#33
The world faded from Nicolette’s awareness. In these moments, only her captain existed, the taste of her lips, the sound of her moans, the warm pine-leather-tar scent of her hair and the feel of her beneath her fingertips. The little time they’d had together had yet to scratch the surface of their separation, and she could have stayed right here until the sun came up. Even now she was rediscovering things that she’d had to forget in order to stay sane these last few months, and each one a delight - Celeste’s stomach muscles quivering, the hazed look of need in her eyes, the way they could so desperately keep kissing each other that it felt as though they were merging into one.

And her captain led her to the peak, one that consumed her so utterly that when she opened her eyes again a few seconds had passed and her breath was still juddering. Celeste wrapped her arms tightly around her, and Nicolette did the same, holding her lover steady as Celeste followed her.

They both flopped against the grass, Nicolette finding her place alongside her captain easily, face resting on her shoulder and limbs twining around her. Something had lifted from her in the last few minutes. The queasy sense of unreality, that this all might be snatched away from her and she would find herself in a random inn somewhere crying out for Celeste, had finally released her. With a drowsy happiness, she looked up at Celeste to find her captain already looking down at her.

“I love you.” Fingers traced her jawline, and Nicolette leaned into the touch, contented as a cat in the sunshine; she turned her head fractionally to kiss her captain’s palm.

“I love you too, amante.”

Celeste then surprised her with a confession. “I didn’t take anyone to bed the whole time. No time, mostly, but...it just felt like it would jinx it if I did...like I’d never find out.” She smirked a little, although there was a shade of discomfort in her eyes. “Sailors are a superstitious bunch. I didn’t want anyone else.” Her gaze met Nicolette’s. “I wanted you.”

Nicolette mirrored Celeste’s gesture, before following the line of her arm down, coming to rest her hand on her captain’s hip. Their relationship had always allowed for a great deal of personal freedom, and while either could ask questions about what the other one was getting up to, the other could withhold their answers. More often than not they had shared a game at a tavern where they would point out attractive people to each other and arrange to meet afterwards to give their verdicts - assuming they were not inviting the object of their interests to join them both. But Celeste hadn’t just abstained out of a sense of loyalty. She simply...had not wanted anybody else, and that idea was almost as startling as it had been the first time Celeste admitted she loved her.

So Nicolette felt that honesty was due. “I tried, a couple of times,” she admitted. “I knew you were alive somewhere, or at least I heard enough rumours that I had strong hopes of it. And sometimes I missed you so much that I thought I could ease the pain with distraction.” Music worked well, alcohol was also good, but nothing really matched physical intimacy, and certainly not physical intimacy with Celeste. “The results were...not as I hoped,” she added, ruefully. “They were not you. After a couple of attempts, I stopped trying. I did not want to have anybody else in my bed until I could have you with me again.”

She traced her thumb over the line of Celeste’s hip. The bone was a little more prominent than it used to be. The last few months had been hard on her captain, and Nicolette had tried to spend every spare moment since their reunion kissing each new scar, replacing the evil of their origins with happier memories. She smiled softly up at Celeste. “We have many horizons to explore yet. I had no intention of ever giving up on finding you.”
 

Celeste Monroe

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#34
Nicolette was visibly surprised at Celeste’s admission of temporary chastity, likely with good reason. They each enjoyed sensual pleasures, and while they enjoyed them most in each other’s company, neither had either expected monogamy from the other. The minstrel had not known Celeste in the months following Daniel’s death at sea, when sorrow had robbed every pleasure of its savor and the only thing keeping her going was the ship that she now commanded and the crew looking to her for leadership.

This time had been worse. The guilt of having left her lover behind to save the ship, not knowing if Nicolette was alive or dead, and the awareness that she might never know, had very nearly driven her mad. Sex with anyone would not have come close to calming the storm of emotions that beset her waking hours and haunted her sleep; only fighting - killing - had relieved it for any time at all.

Nicolette nestled a bit closer. “I tried, a couple of times,” she murmured, looking somewhat abashed. “I knew you were alive somewhere, or at least I heard enough rumours that I had strong hopes of it. And sometimes I missed you so much that I thought I could ease the pain with distraction.”

Celeste pressed a gentle kiss to her minstrel’s forehead, hoping to soothe away any needless guilt that might linger. She’d had her crew, and their company and support had been the sole thing keeping Celeste anchored at times. Nico had been alone in a world gone mad, and Celeste did not fault her for seeking comfort and companionship where she could.

“The results were...not as I hoped,” she concluded ruefully. “They were not you. After a couple of attempts, I stopped trying. I did not want to have anybody else in my bed until I could have you with me again.”

Celeste reached down to capture the hand at her hip, raising it to her lips, kissing the tip of each finger, then the center of the palm. “You’ve got me now,” she promised, “but it may be a bit before I’m ready to share you again. Maybe Isabela, if we run into her,” she mused with a smirk. The pirate was always an entertaining addition to the bedroom.

“We have many horizons to explore yet,” Nicolette told her with a sweet smile. “I had no intention of ever giving up on finding you.”

Celeste laughed softly and rolled to pin her lover in the soft grass, letting her hands resume their explorations. “A few more days here, then, querida,” she murmured, trailing kisses along the line of her lover’s throat, “and we can go looking for more adventures.”

She definitely had an adventure or two in the hayloft in mind before they left, though.
 
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