Disclaimer: I don’t own the characters. I make no claim.
A/N: If you haven’t seen or read Fingersmith (probably seen, since the show seemed a little more explicit than the book in my opinion), then this probably won’t make sense. But, I can’t imagine that Maud was all that well adjusted, given her upbringing. Not that she’s unbalanced, just that there’s more to her than she would want people to see. If you have comments, I’ll be at Xfjnky2@yahoo.com.
Maud feels the darkness creep over her like the night. She pushes back against it, but it is a living thing, a feral thing. It was born so long ago that it has burrowed down deep inside her, ensconced as a part of her that she wishes she could excise and bury. Wishes to no end, for it is systemic. It is a force she cannot control.
The blush on her cheeks is a mingling trace of desire and shame as she looks down at Sue, sleeping so peacefully beside her. Sue is sharp enough to catch the faint hints of the animal that lives within her, but she does not know its face and, thus, is not afraid. Maud very much so wishes she were afraid, that she would have the good sense to protect herself. Instead she lays so innocently, so trustingly, so bare and vulnerable.
Maud tries not to blame herself. It was inevitable, she whispers reassuringly to the dark, angry corners of her mind. It is not your fault that you are this way.
She began her tenure as her uncle’s secretary as a little more than a child. She has known the world of his books longer than she has known anything else. Unlike the daughter of other respectable aristocrats, she learned not from primers and history and geography texts, taught by fresh faced governesses and tutors brimming with knowledge they wished to share. She learned from a demon incarnate, from books filled with pictures and words that appealed to the basest of human desires. Where others recited poetry under the watchful eyes of proud parents, she extolled the virtues of the lash for gentlemen who watched her with lust in their eyes, sure that in her they would find the slut described so eloquently by her words, transformed into something human by the soft timbre of her voice.
She has been infected. She is like them, looking down at Sue with a malevolence that she can feel burning through her. She allows herself these thoughts only when Sue is asleep, when she can picture her hand wrapped around that slender neck as her fingers drive Sue higher and higher and not see horror reflected back at her for she is sure that, then, Sue would know her for who she truly is. When Sue sleeps, she can imagine her fingers wrapped tightly in her hair, pulling back hard so that her love cries out in pleasure and pain as she uses her teeth to leave marks of possession on fair skin. She can imagine the red bloom left by the palm of her hand on tender, pale flesh, the chafing burn of rope on delicate skin. She can imagine herself outfitted as a man, heaving and thrusting like a rampant bull as she pushes those slender wrists into the softness of the bedding.
The thoughts leave her breathless with her shameful desire, red-faced and trembling as she reaches out an unsteady hand to brush the lightest of touches across Sue’s lips. She fears she is losing the war, and she remembers the startled shock in Sue’s eyes in those seconds before, a day not so long ago, she kissed her fiercely then spun her around, pressing small hands up against the wall as she roughly hiked mountains of skirts up and nearly ripped fine linen in a quest to find the sweet warmth of her lover’s center. She remembers how she shivered at Sue’s choked cries, how she forgot herself long enough to sink her teeth into the back of a vulnerable and exposed neck.
She despises the way that Sue looked at her then, eyes glassy with surprised satisfaction. She wanted to slap her, wanted to shake her so that she became afraid, so that she realized the precariousness of the line that Maud was scrambling fiercely not to cross.
But then, sometimes she doesn’t dream of viciousness… at least not in the same way. Sometimes she watches Sue, watches her nimble fingers thread a needle or select a single hairpin from a box of hundreds and she imagines those fingers on her, pinching and pulling and twisting until she arches up in pleasure and pain. She imagines Sue’s full, expressive lips clamped down harshly in a scowl, imagines herself on her knees looking up in supplication as she begs for the chance to be allowed to please the other woman. On the rare occasion when Sue becomes the true aggressor in their intimacies, she tries to ignore the way the weight of her lover on top of her makes her writhe and squirm with a desire so intense it nearly consumes her.
An increasingly large part of her brain argues that it would do no harm to share these things with Sue, to let her know of the pleasure she feels when the other woman holds her down and takes her without relenting. And once she has told her, surely it won’t hurt to elaborate further, to coax Sue into bringing to life some of the scenarios that run through her head. She could claim it was research, perhaps, a need to test the feasibility of the stories she puts to paper, the stories that keep them fed and clothed and away from society’s eye. Surely Sue would be game to try one, or perhaps two, and maybe by purging them from thought to action, Maud would be able to expunge the darkness. Maybe, she thinks desperately, she only needs to experience these things once and then her curiosity would be sated. And if she lets Sue be in charge, if she lets her control the flow of the activities, then it won’t be so bad. Sue might even enjoy it. After all, Sue has had precious little control over most of the things that have happened to her in her life. Perhaps the complete possession of it would please her.
Sue’s voice is sleep rough and confused, and Maud looks up to see Sue looking at her, eyes squinting to see in the dim light. “It’s late.”
For a moment, Maud is struck dumb, terrified that the echoing boom of her thoughts has pulled Sue from sleep, has somehow flowed into her lover’s dream world, infecting the other woman with her darkness. But, Sue’s eyes are innocent, loving even as she looks up, a slight smile on her lips.
“I couldn’t sleep,” Maud finally says, voice hoarse, chagrined when the words cause Sue to stir, to push up on her palms. But despite that, something pushes her, prods her, and she says further, “I was thinking of you.”
Sue’s smile is pleased and lazy. “Well, I’m right ‘ere, aren’t I? No need to think of me when you can have me.”
Her heart jumps with excitement at the unwitting promise, and Maud can’t help but think, I’m sick… sick with the thoughts that plague me, the dreams that haunt me, the desires that tease and torture me. Sick like the perverted old men who listened to me read aloud and then sought release later, pictures of me painted across the backs of their eyelids.
The thoughts bring with them panic, and Sue mistakes the rapid rise and fall of her chest as burgeoning excitement. Maud can see the answering excitement start to light her eyes, flashing brightly in the darkness of the room, and she works hard to calm her breathing. Her lips tighten in a scowl as she pushes back against the encroaching darkness, the battle harder now in the dark of night when her defenses are low. “Like you said, it’s late.”
Sue scoffs, inches closer. Her hand slides teasingly up Maud’s thigh, the nightgown having ridden up high enough to allow unlimited access to her flesh. The hand continues unabated, over the soft curve of her hip and up her stomach to cup her breast, and Maud watches the shadowed movement with widening eyes, breath quickly accelerating to a rough pant.
Sue’s voice is husky, almost splintered. “And what? We can’t sleep in tomorrow morning, then?”
Maud feels herself being pulled under, succumbing to the wave. She is drowning, lungs crushed beneath her ribcage as she gasps for air, eyes clenched tightly shut against the ghostly images her mind calls to life.
It is too much.
She has pinned Sue to the mattress before she makes the conscious decision to do so, her mouth vicious as it presses against Sue’s soft lips. Sue is shocked. She can see it in the widening of hazel eyes, the slight look of panic that traces across fine features. But then the panic is gone, replaced almost instantly by lust, and Maud mourns its passing. Panic can save Sue. Acceptance will only bring her closer to the edge of the abyss Maud has long since tumbled into.
Her mind yells at Sue to run, to buck free of her hold and flee. Instead, Sue moans, braces her feet on the bed and pushes her hips up, pressing shamelessly against the length of Maud’s thigh. Her arms wrap tightly around Maud’s back, pulling her closer.
Maud pulls away with a growl, teeth nipping savagely at Sue’s bottom lip. She hovers above her, face dark and foreboding, eyes tinged with a hint of evil. Her hands squeeze Sue’s wrists tightly, press them down into the mattress with all of the force she can muster as she holds herself there, perched above Sue, chest heaving as she fights a demon she’d rather set free.
Sue’s eyes are shrewd, cunning. “Do it, then,” she husks, hips pressing up again to underscore her willingness. “Or are you afraid I won’t love you any more?”
Maud doesn’t question how Sue knows. Sue has always known more than she should. “I’m not afraid.” she hisses angrily, the demon aroused. “I love you too much. I won’t ruin you, like I’ve been ruined. You don’t deserve that.”
She is serious now. Sue is an innocent, for all her faults, her schemes, her thievery and past lies. Maud will not take that from her.
Sue slides a hand free from a suddenly loosened hold. It trembles as it cups Maud’s chin, and the tenderness of the gesture brings tears to her eyes. “I love you, too. This won’t change that. I know you, better than you think I do. I see you wanting things. I see you struggle with it, the wanting of things. I see you deny yourself from having them. I’m offering you a chance.”
Sue pauses, eyes painfully open and honest. “I trust you, Maud. You won’t hurt me.”
Maud only wishes that were true.
She can take only so much temptation, and this has moved beyond the limits of her tolerance. Her fingers tighten reflexively, digging into pale flesh as she feels the acceptance wash over her. The demon inside sneers as it flexes, stretching out to press against the very inside of her skin, overtaking her.
She would cry at this small death, this murder of the last remaining shreds of good sense that keeps her from indulging in things she wishes she didn’t want, but she can’t.
Freedom feels too good to mourn.