It started when they were children. Bethany would fall and scrape her knee trying to keep up with her big sister and Marian would immediately stop, turn around, and run to the younger girl, kneeling beside her and pulling her into a hug. She would kiss away the tears that fell down round little cheeks, then kiss the bruised knee and help Bethany to her feet again.

It continued as they grew, Bethany asking the elder girl endless questions about boys and courting and, when she got brave enough, kissing. And when Marian would give up on trying to explain what kissing was like, she would lean over and press her lips to Bethany's in a chaste, very non-familial kiss.

As they became adults, they would discuss more intimate matters, and when Bethany would breathlessly ask, "What is it like, sister? To be with a man?" Marian could not bring herself to cross that line and show her little sister as she once had with innocent kisses. So she told Bethany that it was something she would have to experience for herself, and ended the conversation.

Later, after their lives turned upside down, Bethany stopped asking questions, and Marian found herself missing them. She missed the way amber eyes sparkled and soft cheeks flushed. She missed the longing that she was so used to beating back.

So she asked the questions instead. Prodding into her sister's life, discovering that no, Bethany's intense curiosity hadn't been sated, although the younger sibling did shamefully admit that she had attempted to find out how it felt with her own hands.

Marian carried that image with her for days that passed into weeks that stretched into months, until her own need urged her to do the same, despite the presence of her sleeping sister in the room, deep into the night. She could only assume it was her desperately stifled moans and whimpers that woke Bethany, as one moment she was furiously working herself to the edge, and the next, her sister's quiet voice was cutting through the stillness, asking, "Sister? Are you… being intimate with yourself?"

Hands dropping away from her body, Marian panted softly, fingers curling into fists at her sides.

"Sister?" Blankets rustled and Bethany's silhouette appeared, leaning over her. "I heard you moaning," Bethany whispered. "Can… can I… watch? I-I want to know what it's like. I can't figure it out on my own."

Marian took a deep breath and blew it out slowly. "Watching won't help," she whispered back. "It's something you need to experience."

"You said that about sex, too!" Bethany plopped down on the bed, her shoulders hunched moodily. "If you won't tell me and you won't let me watch, then show me!"

Startling, Marian sat up, her eyes wide. "You mean… be intimate with you?" Her heart jumped in excitement even as her stomach lurched in fear.

Bethany's answer was to turn and push her lips against Marian's desperately, hands clutching at her sister's hair.

It took a second for Marian to react, but when she did, she wrapped her arms around Bethany and turned, pulling the younger woman to lay on the bed beneath her. Smallclothes were quickly shed, and Marian trailed her mouth over curves she'd always told herself she never wanted.

She followed an invisible trail down Bethany's neck and across her collarbone, pausing to flicker her tongue into the hollow at the base of her throat. The path continued down, over Bethany's chest, into the valley between her breasts, then across each one to briefly worship their firm peaks. Then down again, over the contracting muscles of Bethany's stomach, and across to one hip bone, grazing her teeth over it gently, then kissing the mild sting away.

By the time Marian's mouth had moved between pale thighs, Bethany was panting and fisting the blanket, hips twitching upward, seeking the sensations her body instinctively knew were coming.

And then they did.

Marian lowered her mouth, dragging the flat of her tongue over Bethany's sex, reveling in the high-pitched whine it pulled from her, even as she worried that Mother or Gamlen would hear.

The same thought seemed to occur to Bethany, because she let go of the blanket with one hand and shoved her fist against her mouth, whining against it as Marian slipped one, then two fingers into her.

Her tongue played over the sensitive nub, flicking it, then curling around it. Her fingers curled, and Bethany's hips moved against them, finding a rhythm that Marian accommodated. It wasn't long before the younger sister was panting and whimpering against her hand, and then it happened.

Bethany's back bowed, her hand fell away from her mouth as she pulled in a deep breath. And then she was shuddering, jerking against her sister's hand and mouth.

The bonelessness came next, Bethany relaxing into the bed with a long hum. Marian grinned when she pulled away, the younger woman's hips twitching at the slight stimulation. Crawling up, she lay beside her sister and gently stroked her face.

"Are you okay, Bethy?" she whispered.

"You were right," Bethany sighed back. "I did have to experience it myself."

Yes, it started when they were children. But it didn't become something new and complete and glorious until they grew up and acknowledged it.