Title: I Would Not Miss You Again
Fandom: The Duchess
Disclaimer: I don't own them.
Summary: Takes place while Georgiana and Bess are in the country waiting for Georgiana to give birth to Eliza.
Bess paused in the doorway of Georgiana's bedroom. She stared at the prone figure on the bed for a moment, and then she turned and slowly began to close the door, taking great pains not to make too much noise and wake Georgiana. The Duchess seemed to be resting peacefully for once, and Bess did not want to disturb her slumber.
"Bess?" Georgiana called out just as Bess finished closing the door.
'Not sleeping then, just resting her eyes', Bess thought breathing in and out deeply to calm her nerves.
She hadn't expected to hear Georgiana's voice and the sound of it had given her a start.
"It's me," Bess confirmed turning back towards the bed.
When she was facing the bed once more she found Georgiana's deep chocolate eyes regarding her thoughtfully, and paused where she was, taking in the sight of Georgiana in bed, illuminated only by the gentle flicker of candlelight.
Bess had always found Georgiana beautiful, so very beautiful, but never more so than at night, when she lay scrubbed clean, stripped of all of the extravagant accessories of her daytime life. Georgiana in her natural state was breathtaking, and as much as Bess enjoyed seeing Georgiana work a room, decked out in the latest fashion, charming everyone who came within speaking distance of her, it was at times like this that Bess found herself completely enthralled by the other woman.
"It's late," Georgiana said as Bess began to walk towards the bed.
"Yes," Bess acknowledged, a small rueful smile touching her lips as she continued towards the bed. "I brought you some water," she continued glancing down at the cup in her hands. "I was going to see if there was anything else you needed. I know you don't like to ring at night, so I thought that I would … that perhaps you might need something. But when I arrived you seemed to be asleep and …" Bess trailed off as Georgiana smiled at her, the smile turning into a soft laugh a moment later as Georgiana continued to regard her with now twinkling eyes.
"You're rambling," Georgiana said softly, her voice light and playful as she extended her hand towards Bess who had stopped walking at the sound of her laughter. "Thank you," Georgiana went on as Bess began to walk once more. "I was thirsty, but moving is such a bother these days."
Bess smiled softly at Georgiana as she reached the bed and extended the cup towards her. Georgiana's pregnancy was far enough along that getting in and out of bed was a bit of an effort for her, and Bess knew that she went without at night sometimes because she didn't want to be bothersome by ringing for help.
"Ring if you need something, darling," Bess said softly, perching herself delicately on the edge of Georgiana's mattress. "I'll come. It won't be any trouble to the house staff."
"You need your rest too," Georgiana responded before lifting the cup to her lips, taking a long sip from it.
"I don't mind," Bess said, her voice impossibly soft and tender as she reached out to take the cup from Georgiana's hands, placing it carefully on her beside table a moment later to save the Duchess the effort of stretching to put it down. "You know I don't mind," Bess continued, her eyes finding Georgiana's and holding them as her hands fluttered uncertainly onto her lap.
She wanted to reach out to Georgiana, to cup her cheek in her hand and stroke the soft skin with her thumb like she used to. She longed to lean forward and press her lips to Georgiana's forehead, and nose and cheeks and lips like she had so frequently and freely done in the past.
Simply put, she longed for Georgiana.
She missed everything about her and how things had once been between them. She knew that the distance that had formed had been almost entirely of her doing, but she had had to act the way she had acted for the sake of her children and so could not regret her actions. But, even though she would not change what she had done, she still longed for the relationship her decision had cost her. And being alone, sequestered away with Georgiana, the two of them wiling away their days together just like they had in the past made those old but still strong feelings throb more powerfully within her.
"I know," Georgiana breathed out, her voice little more than a whisper.
At times Bess was an enigma to her, but at other times Bess's feelings seemed to be so clearly etched across her features that Georgiana had a hard time believing that the woman could feel anything without it showing on that beautiful face.
Of course she had learned, in the most painful fashion imaginable, that Bess was quite capable (and quite adapt) at subterfuge and deception, but at moments like this the other woman was as easy to read as a book.
Georgiana knew the look in Bess's eyes. She had seen it on a daily basis once. And though she pretended to ignore it, she had often caught Bess gazing at her with the same impossibly fond expression over the years.
At one time, when that adorably smitten look would come into Bess's eyes, Georgiana would have grinned at Bess and nodded to her, acknowledging that she understood what the other woman was feeling, and then they would have carried on with whatever it was they were doing for another few minutes before she feigned exhaustion and called Bess away with her. And, though it was always a struggle, they would have walked slowly back to Bess's room (or some quiet private corner of the large estate) and the moment the door closed and they were hidden away she would feel Bess's lips pressing against her own, a wide smile coming to her face as Bess pressed her against the door and kissed her passionately as she drew their bodies together as much as their dresses would allow.
Georgiana knew that Bess was thinking of those times now, and remembering them herself, she felt that old longing for Bess rising up inside of her once again.
If she was truthful, she had to admit that her feelings for Bess had never really died, she had simply buried them beneath the feelings of betrayal and hurt that Bess's affair with the Duke had created. However, sometimes, when her eyes had caught Bess's she had almost smiled at her, and sometimes, when Bess walked at her side she felt her body swaying towards her, gravitating towards the warmth and familiarity of her body. And at night, she sometimes turned onto her side and gazed at the empty space beside her, longing for the days when Bess's body had rested there, keeping her warm, wrapping her in love.
Bess's gaze turned somewhat searching as she looked at Georgiana, something in the Duchess's tone capturing her attention. Bess regarded her silently for a long moment and then finally took a deep, shuddering breath, her eyes closing briefly as she did.
"Georgiana," Bess whispered, her eyes opening again as she reached out for Georgiana's hand, grasping it and holding it tightly between her own.
"I know that too," Georgiana sighed, holding Bess's eyes for a second longer before she broke their gaze to look down at their joined hands. "I've always known," Georgiana added as she gazed at their hands, her voice so soft that Bess almost didn't pick up the words.
And then Georgiana lifted their joined hands, and pressed her lips tenderly to Bess's fingers.
Bess shivered slightly, her eyes closing again as she focused on the sensation of Georgiana's lips on her for the first time in longer than she could remember. She had despaired that she would never again know the bliss that accompanied the press of Georgiana's lips; that they would never again be as close as they had once been before. She hoped, oh she had never given up hope, but as time had worn on and distance had remained between them, she had thought the probability of them becoming real friends again was less and less likely.
"Stay then," Georgiana said, lowering their hands. "If fetching water and blankets for me will really make you happy, the least I can do is help reduce the distance you must travel," the Duchess continued, lifting her eyes to meet Bess's once more.
Bess stared at Georgiana for a moment, her heart thundering almost painfully in her chest as she did. Georgiana was asking her to spend the night in her room, in her bed. Bess's mind swam, her brain refusing to believe that such an offer could actually be true. For a moment she wondered if she was sleeping, if she had never come to Georgiana's room at all, but had retired to her own right away and fallen sleep. For a moment she was convinced that she was asleep in her own bed, dreaming of this wonderful happening.
Georgiana's thumb stroked the back of Bess's hand, causing the raven-haired beauty to focus on the Duchess once more.
Bess breathed in shakily. It wasn't a dream. She really was there with Georgiana, and Georgiana really was asking her to stay the night.
"Are you certain?" Bess asked quietly, uncertainly, though her hand clutched at Georgiana's tightly, showing Georgiana just how much she wanted her to be sure.
"Yes," Georgiana responded holding Bess's eyes, "I'm certain."
Georgiana then removed one of her hands from Bess's grip, reached for the sheet covering her and lifted the edge, inviting Bess to join her.
Bess lay still and rigid on her back, staring up at the canopy above her.
She had longed to be beside Georgiana like this for so long, but now that she was, she found that she wasn't quite certain how to behave.
She longed to turn onto her side and wrap her arms around Georgiana's torso like she used to in the past. She longed to draw the Duchess back against her, until she could feel Georgiana along the length of her entire body. She longed to kiss the back of Georgiana's neck, and her shoulders before nuzzling against Georgiana, breathing in the clean slightly floral scent of her.
She longed for these things, but was hesitant to try and have them, lest she push Georgiana too far and find herself exiled back to her own room – or worse still back to London.
"Are you very comfortable? You look it," Georgiana said teasingly, her voice drawing Bess's eyes over to her.
Georgiana was lying on her side, gazing at Bess, her lips curved up playfully, her tone matching her expression.
Bess knew that she didn't look comfortable at all. She knew that she likely looked like a plank of wood in a dressing gown.
Bess forced her body to relax; Georgiana's teasing words and relaxed posture helping to calm her nerves.
"More so now," Bess said softly, a small smile touching her own lips.
"You don't need to be so timid," Georgiana said, her voice and gaze more somber. "If I didn't want you here, with me, I wouldn't have asked you to stay."
"But what does it mean to stay, G? Bess asked, her tone bolder than it had been in quite a while. "Does it mean to lie here, like this?" she continued looking down at the space between their bodies. "Or does it mean to stay … like I used to?" she asked, her voice soft and shaking slightly as she spoke. "What will you allow?"
Georgiana exhaled noisily, her eyes closing as she did. She had hoped that Bess would make things easy for her. She had hoped that once Bess got into the bed that she would reach out for her and draw her against her like she used to. She had hoped that Bess would kiss her shoulders and slowly start to undress her and that she could simply fall into Bess's touch.
"Everything," Georgiana breathed out, opening her eyes once more.
She didn't want to have to say it, to have to voice her desires, but she knew that if she wanted Bess she would have to say it. When they were younger, Bess had made the first move, had taken the lead. She was more experienced, and Georgiana had been more than happy to let Bess guide her and teach her. But things had changed, Bess had hurt her terribly and she knew that Bess would not presume to touch her like she had in the past. If she wanted Bess, she would have to tell her.
"Do as you wish," Georgiana whispered, her voice cracking minutely as the words escaped her lips.
Bess shivered, overwhelmed by the idea that she would finally be able to touch Georgiana again, and then she surged forward, pressing her lips tenderly against Georgiana's as her hand moved to rest on the Duchess's hip.
Georgiana lay gloriously naked with her eyes closed panting for breath as Bess's face hovered above her, Bess's trembling fingers alternating between tracing Georgiana's full lips and reverently stroking the Duchess's cheeks.
Georgiana luxuriated in the gentle touches as she recovered from being so thoroughly dismantled by Bess's hands and mouth, and likely she would have been lulled to sleep by the combined effects of physical exertion and the sweetness of Bess's touch if she had not felt a drop of wetness touch her cheek.
Upon feeling the tear, Georgiana's eyes immediately opened and found Bess's face. For a moment, Georgiana was captivated by Bess's beauty, enthralled by the healthy flush tinting her usually pale skin and the way her dark hair hung around her face looking wonderfully disheveled. But when Bess's dark eyelashes fluttered closed and another warm tear bathed Georgiana's cheek, the Duchess's fascination turned to concern.
"Bess?" Georgiana whispered, lifting her hand so that she could wipe away the trail of tears lining Bess's cheek.
"I'm sorry," Bess breathed out, her lips quirking slightly in embarrassment before she closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, trying to regain control of her emotions. "I just … I've missed you so much, G," she choked out, opening her eyes to gaze down at the Duchess once more. "I know I have no right, but …" Bess stroked Georgiana's cheek again, "I have missed you, missed this, so very much."
Georgiana's chest rose deeply, and then released the breath slowly. Her dark eyelashes fluttered and then her eyes closed as she tilted her face into the warmth of the hand Bess had pressed against her cheek.
"I have missed you too," Georgiana finally breathed out, her eyes opening to meet Bess's as the last syllable left her lips. "I would not miss you again," she continued softly before turning her head slightly to press her lips against Bess's palm.
Bess exhaled shakily, and then leaned forward to press her lips against Georgiana's, her other hand lifting so that she was cupping the Duchess's face in her hands. "I would not give you reason to miss me again," Bess sighed against Georgiana's lips. "You are and always have been so dear to me. I promise I shall never again give you cause to doubt that."
Georgiana nodded and reached up for Bess, stroking Bess's cheek before drawing her into another kiss. It still hurt her to think of what had happened between them in the past, but it hurt her more to keep Bess away. Mistakes had been made, and they had hurt each other, but that was in the past and Georgiana was determined to look forward. She knew now what a complicated and precious thing love was, and she was not prepared to give it up again, not for the sake of a man she had never loved and who had never loved her.
"Hold me as you used to," Georgiana whispered softly, "if you can," she added dryly, stroking a hand over her rounded stomach, knowing that it would make it somewhat more difficult for Bess to snuggle up to her as she had in the past.
Bess smiled and leaned forward, capturing Georgiana's lips. She kissed the Duchess slowly and thoroughly, seeking to convey the love and affection she felt for Georgiana through the press of her lips and the caress of her tongue, only pulling back from Georgiana's lips when she started to feel faint of breath.
"You shall have to pry me away from you in the morning," Bess swore, pressing her lips to Georgiana's shoulder once before she shifted to settle more comfortably against the Duchess's side.
Georgiana smiled as her eyes fluttered closed. She quite liked the sound of that.