A/N: Thank you all for being patient with me over the last week. We have now reached the end of this story and thanks so much for the support from each of my great reviewers :) And, oh boy, does it feel wonderful to be able to hit 'Complete' on one of my stories at last. I'm so proud of me!

I hope you enjoy - it's been a great journey to write.

x

Of All the Lovers

All the lovers that have gone before,
They don't compare…To you.
Don't be frightened,
Just give me that little bit more.
They don't compare – all the lovers…

Lilly was smiling before she was even awake that morning and ahead of opening her eyes she felt the expression on her face. The dream which she had taken part in had been so wonderful that she was almost terrified to wake up properly, for on doing so the spell and the good mood would break.

But it didn't.

Nothing shattered as her eyelashes fluttered open and pale sunlight filled her sky-blue irises. Everything was as it had been the previous night – and Lilly's smile burned brighter.

Her body was tingling all over. She had rarely felt like this, and never before had this sensation been so strong. It was the morning after a night of love making and she was so heavy with love that it was difficult not to fall back into sleep again.

Lilly forced herself to stay awake, however, and she stretched her legs out slowly. They were weak, shaky, as if their strength had been drained away from her in the night. Indeed, her entire being felt weary and even a little sore in places. Lilly's jaw was tight and her lips were swollen. The insides of her thighs bore thin scratch lines, accidental wounds which were apologised for in the dark, and those words which murmured, "I'm sorry…" had ended in a groan…

She shuddered and bit down on her lower lip to contain a laugh. She allowed the delight to remain within her, and it made her chest shake and her cheeks turn pink. At last she inhaled deeply and welcomed the fresh morning air into her lungs, whilst she stretched upwards with her arms and let her muscles sigh with relief.

Then Lilly turned and finally cast her eyes over what she had been prolonging.

Saving the best part of waking up until last… Lilly thought to herself as she regarded Miley Stewart – entirely wrapped up in her dreams, and a quilt. Totally naked and asleep in Lilly Truscott's bed; And, at last, my life is complete…Lilly mused.

Lilly lay watching her lover in the clean light of the morning. She was so deeply immersed in sleep that Lilly wouldn't dare to wake her, even though she longed to gaze into Miley's sapphire eyes and tell her of her feelings, and how she slept. Miley was too beautiful in this early light and Lilly could not retract her eyes from taking in each of Miley's subtle features that someone on first meeting her would normally overlook.

Her face was creased with lines of sleep and of age, they crept out from the corners of her eyes and dug into her skin around her nose deeper than they had ten years ago. This did not matter for Lilly had seen each of these wrinkles form every time Miley had laughed. They were also more noticeable when she cried, and when she was really angry. Lilly had observed and comforted each of these emotions before, and helped the creases to fade – except the laughter lines. It was Lilly's prerogative to make Miley laugh, and always had been.

It was a strange, yet very warm feeling that cloaked Lilly whilst she lay in her bed beside the other woman. She felt nostalgic and full of youth as vibrant life pulsed through her veins in the love that beat with each quiet thud of her heart. Lilly rolled over carefully until she was facing Miley on her side. The other woman's head was sunk deep into the pillow and Lilly edged ever nearer until she could feel Miley's breath on her face.

Their lips were only inches apart, but Lilly couldn't bring herself to risk waking Miley. The woman needed to sleep, for it was only a few short hours ago that they had finally succumbed to the necessity. They had spent the night like teenagers, or young lovers, who had searched each other's bodies for the vulnerabilities that no other could find unless they had been just as intimate. Only for these two women, their courses ran deeper than lustful fancy or even a blossoming love. For Lilly it was as the undercurrents of the ocean start, she had loved Miley so long. It was on this night, that those swirling waters had found their way to the beach and collided with the shore so hard as to spray the air with surf and decimate the malleable shingle on the land. That was how she loved Miley – with such strength that by finally taking hold of their love she had now reached her own completion and life's mission. But it was not to be the end; it was only a different beginning, filled with the promise of happiness and less heartache.

Lilly sighed and the breath which she released tickled Miley's lips, for they parted and her best friend's eyelashes quivered. Lilly smiled and leaned in nearer to Miley, so that their lips were almost touching, but not quite. "I love you." Lilly whispered beside Miley's mouth and then she kissed her, softly before drawing away as she prepared to get out of bed.

"I love you too." Miley had mumbled the reply and Lilly's eyes flew back to the other woman instantly, for fear she had woken her. Miley only shifted her head deeper into her pillow and her breathing remained the same. Lilly shook her head in amazement and carefully climbed from her bed, finding pyjamas on the floor to change into so that she could prepare their breakfast.

The clock on the kitchen wall told Lilly that it was already past nine and she wondered how she had been able to sleep for so long. Normally she was up earlier to do chores, to go to the gym or take a walk along the beach, but she had slept soundly in the few hours that she did get. Lilly began to smile while she thought over the reasons why she got so little sleep and her mind was barely on the food which she prepared – apparently in automatic mode.

Lilly opened the fridge and the cold air struck her heated cheeks whilst she looked for the milk. She was lost in daydreams where she saw Miley's uncovered skin, stretched out and trembling as she sank her fingertips into every inch of Miley. It was exactly what the other woman had wanted her to do. The words that were emitted from Miley's pouted red lips bade her to succumb to Miley's will, and the hoarse cries that filled her bedroom were the sweetest results from all of Lilly's efforts…

Lilly shivered and closed the fridge door, yet the smile remained and the feeling of joy was a powerful bubble in her chest that had expanded and couldn't be burst, perhaps ever. The floorboards creaking above her head stilled her movements and Lilly's eyes darted at once to the ceiling and then in the direction of the stairs as she heard Miley make her descent.

When Miley entered the kitchen, it was as if Aphrodite herself had instilled her presence in the humble room. Lilly's breath was lost and for a moment she didn't know whether she would ever be able to find it again. She had never been caught off guard by anything so beautiful before and she almost dropped the glass she held in her hand.

"Mornin'." Miley greeted her and Lilly moved her lips, but no sound came out.

Miley was perfect in the morning after a night of love making. Her hair was a wild tumble of curls that fell about her face in a chaotic waterfall of chocolate brown mixed with hints of gold and deep reds. Her eyes were a dark, swirling blue, and they were focused solely on Lilly. They sparked with life, even though the day for the women was still early, and the small creases around them were already scrunching into a delicate laugh. Her lips were the colour of pink tulip petals and they were full and curling into a smile that had Lilly smiling with her.

"What is it?" Miley asked gently, "What's wrong with you this morning?"

Lilly laughed, "Miley, for the first time in my life I can honestly say that nothing is wrong with me. Everything is right."

Miley shook her head, "You're being dramatic."

"I'm not." Lilly crossed the kitchen, "I'm telling the truth at last. Up until today, you have been on my mind from the moment that I wake up, and I carry you with me until I go to bed. Miles, I have dreamed of this morning for so many years and now that it's here I'm going to enjoy every second of it."

Miley blushed, "Don't be so nice to me."

"Why?"

"I don't know." Miley grinned, "It's strange to feel so wanted, so cherished by another person."

"I've wanted you and loved you for about half of my life. If I don't get to say these things now that we've gone so far, I think I'll go crazy."

Lilly drew Miley into her arms and kissed her pouting lips, "Okay. You can say them." Miley sighed as she pulled reluctantly away. "But only if I get to say something."

"Must you?" Lilly teased.

Miley's eyes glittered, "Thank you." Miley kissed Lilly again and then she rested her palms against Lilly's neck, cradling the other woman close to her, "Thank you for being so patient with me. If you hadn't waited for so long then… Well, I don't know what I'd have done. I would have woken up one day realising that I'm hopelessly in love with you and spent the rest of my life in misery that you could never be mine."

Lilly shook her head, "Miley, waiting for you was my only option because without you my life is a very dark place. The fact that you are my best friend and inevitably always in and out of my life, and my house, has kept me sane because I never lost hope."

Miley kissed Lilly again and they stood, swaying in each other's embrace on Lilly's kitchen tiles. "Can I say something else?" Miley murmured against Lilly's lips.

"What's that?"

"You are very adorable in your pyjamas and beautiful first thing in the morning. I mean, I always knew you would be and I've seen you like this before, countless times, but nothing prepared me for this morning. You're glowing Lilly." Miley raised a hand to run it through Lilly's hair and Lilly sighed into the touch, "I don't think I've ever seen another woman, or person, ever give off so much life and warmth."

"Try looking in a mirror." Lilly smirked, "You're gorgeous. And, might I ask, why are you wearing so little?"

Lilly had tried to keep her eyes from straying away from Miley's face, yet she had failed and she was brazenly trailing hungry glances up and down Miley's body. Her best friend hadn't helped the situation though. She had delved into Lilly's closet and pulled out a large shirt which used to belong to Lilly's father and Lilly sometimes wore it to sleep in, or when she decorated her house. It was pale blue and showed off the fairness of Miley's skin. Her eyes burned darker in comparison to the colour, yet Lilly was not paying attention to Miley's eyes. Miley had purposely left the top buttons undone and the material was open so that Lilly could admire the curve of Miley's breasts. She was also certain that Miley had neglected to put anything on underneath and Lilly inhaled sharply, for the shirt only finished a few inches below Miley's bottom. Miley's long legs were on display and Lilly longed to crash their bodies together and re-enact some of her passions of the night before.

She kept herself in check, however, and the blood flushing her ears wasn't quite enough so that she couldn't hear Miley's answer, "I thought you would approve of my outfit choice." Miley murmured and Lilly's lips quirked into a smile.

"Oh I most definitely like." Lilly grinned and, as her eyes sought to find Miley's again, she became momentarily distracted by a dark mark just inside the shirt. "Did I do that?" Lilly gasped and her fingers flew to the spot.

It was like a bruise, for it was purple in colour, but then Lilly's eyes widened in realisation of what her teeth had done. She had bit the skin of Miley's breast and in the night her action had been hidden. Now she almost felt guilty of the pain she must have invoked and she leaned in to kiss the place with gentle lips.

Miley stroked Lilly's hair and in the dark corner of Lilly's mind she was struck with a sharp memory…Oh, yes Lilly…Just there! Oh! Lilly…

Lilly blinked and drew away. The close fragrance of Miley's bare skin and the warmth that lurked beneath it was enough to get her blood thick and pulsing in places that were waiting to be stirred once more into seething life.

"Do you want to eat?" Lilly shuddered, "Do you want to eat breakfast?"

Miley smiled, and then took her place at the island in the middle of Lilly's kitchen, "Sure, what's on offer?"

"Erm… Blueberry pancakes?"

"Sounds great."

Lilly smiled weakly and sprang into her duties. Soon she had a hot stack of pancakes and was dishing out the first couple onto Miley's plate.

"Did you hear something?" Miley asked suddenly, and Lilly paused the journey of her fork on its way to her mouth.

"No…"

"I think someone just knocked on your front door."

Then Lilly heard her doorbell ring, "Hmm. I wonder who that is." Lilly shared a look with Miley who only shrugged, "I'll be right back."

A curious frown settled across Lilly's expression whilst she crossed the room and made her way to the hallway that her front door opened into. She checked her reflection in the mirror that hung there, tidied her hair, and then eased the bolts across.

Swinging open the door, Lilly came face to face with a chestnut-haired teenage girl, "Aunt Lilly?" Lilly's eyes widened and she swallowed nervously when a pair of grey-blue eyes pierced her own.

"Good morning Emily."

The girl on the porch was standing with her arms crossing her chest and she was twitching from foot to foot, apparently agitated by something. "Can I come in?" Emily asked, but was across the threshold before she had even finished the question.

So like her mother… "Of course you can." Lilly replied and closed the door carefully behind her.

"Aunt Lilly…" Emily had twisted around to face her and Lilly stopped abruptly in her tracks, keeping time with her adopted niece. Emily's build was slight but she was already the same height as Lilly and keeping up with Miley in stature. Her eyes shifted from worried to curious, to almost frustrated, and Lilly wasn't sure which emotion she was going to be presented with when Emily finally came around to speaking. Eventually she did, and her tone was cautious, "…Have you seen my mum? It's just that I know she was out with you last night, but she never came home. She didn't leave a message or anything so I guess I assumed she'd still be with you." Emily blushed, "But you're in your pj's and now I don't know…Oh, can I just have a glass of water or something? I walked over here this morning and I forgot how long it takes."

Lilly could only nod and follow in the wake of the vibrant young girl. She reminded Lilly so much of Miley when she was sixteen – her mind always flitting from one idea to another. Emily, however, was sharper than her mother, and protective of their small family. Miley had always had Robbie Ray and Jackson on her case, but Emily only lived with Miley, and she loved her more than anyone.

"Emily, you really don't have to worry," Lilly had found her tongue at last, "your mum is fine. In fact she's…"

The kitchen door had opened once more and Emily had stopped just inside it, "Mum?"

"…here." Lilly finished weakly and carefully slipped into the room from behind Emily.

"Good morning darlin'." Miley was smiling casually at her daughter, but Lilly saw that she had buttoned up the shirt further and attempted to pull the material down her legs. Anyway you looked at it, however, the situation was still incriminating.

"So," Emily crossed her arms over again, "you did stay here last night."

Miley blushed and Lilly would have laughed if the circumstances hadn't been more serious. No one could make Miley nervous quite like her own daughter could. "Yeah, I did. I'm sorry I didn't tell you, I didn't really have the time."

Emily put her hand up, "Mum, I don't want to know what you've been up to. I'm just glad you're alive."

"It won't happen again sweetie, I swear." Miley promised and gave her daughter the same pleading blue eyes that Lilly fell ever more in love with. She could forgive Miley anything for that look, and always had done.

Emily sighed, "It better not." Then she suddenly smiled, "And I know you two are going to be spending a lot more time together, so you need to get more acquainted with your cell-phone in future, you got that?"

Miley smiled, "I think so."

"Good." Emily grinned, "So, what are we having for breakfast?"

Lilly rolled her eyes, it was always the same with these two, but she went to retrieve another plate for her goddaughter anyway, "Blueberry pancakes." Miley confirmed whilst Lilly passed the meal over.

"Mmm… My favourite of all of Aunt Lilly's treats." Emily stated and then tucked into her food enthusiastically.

"Sometimes I wonder if she was actually my daughter after all…" Lilly muttered quietly to Miley whilst she watched Emily wolf down her plate of food.

"Yeah, maybe the doctor got it right when she called you my partner." Miley replied and then nudged Lilly playfully.

Lilly's hand found Miley's underneath the counter and twisted their fingers together contentedly whilst the three of them finished their breakfast. Regretfully, Emily at last pushed the empty dish away, after her third helping, and hopped to her feet.

"I'd love to stay but I've got to be at the mall in an hour. Thanks for the breakfast Aunt Lilly." Emily wandered over to Miley and pecked her on the cheek, "See you later mum. Just let me know when you're gonna be home."

Miley smiled, "I will."

Emily flashed a grin at both of them, but before she left the kitchen, she turned and gave each of the women still sat there a contemplative look, and then addressed Miley, "Mum?"

"Yes?"

"Take care of Aunt Lilly."

Miley laughed, "Shouldn't that be the other way around?"

Emily's gaze wandered back to Lilly, where she studied her for a moment longer. A soft smile fell upon Emily's lips when she replied, "No. I will never need to tell Lilly to do that. She's never stopped caring for you."

"See you later Emily." Lilly murmured as she watched the girl's back retreat from the room and then she glanced over to Miley, "You have a beautiful daughter."

Miley smiled shyly, "Yeah, well, you helped raise her."

Lilly squeezed Miley's hand tighter, "Thank you for letting me take part in her life."

"Thank you for always being a part of mine." Miley breathed and leaned in to press an unexpected kiss upon Lilly's lips. Lilly sighed and, as she did so, Miley's lips parted whilst she deepened the kiss.

Lilly felt blood flare to her cheeks when Miley's hand separated from Lilly's for a moment, only so that it could join the other in delicately tracing the angles and curves of Lilly's face. Her touches were so light, yet they created such a movement beneath Lilly's skin that she knew they wouldn't be able to last much longer before she was dragging Miley back up to her bedroom once more.

When her teeth sunk into Miley's bottom lip and drew it hungrily into her mouth, Miley's entire body trembled and Lilly released with a sly smile.

Miley was panting and her cheeks were flushed pink, but her eyes were dark when they locked into Lilly's once more, "Lilly… Of all the lovers that have ever gone before in my life, they don't compare – to you."

Lilly wrapped her arm around Miley's waist and almost pulled her off her seat as she held her close, enough so that she could hear the longing pound of Miley's heart. "Then let me love you. Let me love you for the rest of our lives." Lilly breathed into Miley's ear, knowing that her words were drenched in lust, but the sentiment shivered through alongside and Miley was drawing back.

Her eyes were glistening and Lilly realised that she too was close to tears.

Miley was fumbling with a ring upon her right hand. It was a plain gold band, decorated with a simple diamond, but it was one of her most precious belongings. "Lilly…" Miley finally pulled the item clear from her hand and she glanced at it once more before she held it out between them, "This was my mother's. I have worn it every day since my dad gave it to me out of my mum's belongings and I have worn it knowing that I would one day give it to a person who meant as much to me as she did." Miley paused, and then took a deep breath, "I was unfortunate to have lost my mother so early in my life. I was only twelve years old when it happened, but that doesn't mean I love her any less now. I still feel her within my heart and she's everywhere I go, and a part of everything I do. And there are two other women in my life who are as close to me as that – you and my daughter. Lilly Truscott, sometimes it feels as if you're close enough to be a part of me. It's like you're a whole other piece of my soul and we've always fitted together so well. And, now, I'd like to give you this ring. I want you to know how much I love you. Lilly, I love you with all that I am. Please," Miley reached out and took hold of Lilly's left hand, "wear my ring on this hand so that everyone will know you're mine forever."

"Marry me?" Lilly gasped, and with her right hand she had taken hold of Miley's face and tangled her fingers round, into the hair at the base of her neck.

"Yes." Miley sighed and then she sobbed, "Of course."

Lilly clashed their lips together and kissed Miley hard. Miley's hand trembled as she pushed the ring down to rest on Lilly's finger and Lilly sighed against Miley's lips when she became still once more. Then she was kissing Miley gently, with a delicate art that soothed over her lover's bruised lips.

It almost hurt and was nearly painful to be as close as they were. Miley's kisses were burning and throwing Lilly into a fiery blaze of longing – but all she wanted was more. This, being in the arms of the woman she had loved for over twenty years, was all she had ever needed, and all she would need again.