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marmolady

Rekindling

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Basically, my 'New Year's Kiss' entry and its follow-up. 

 

Title: “Rekindling"

Book: Endless Summer

Main Pairing: Taylor (f) x Estela

Genre:  Hurt/Comfort, Romance

Warnings: mild language

Summary:  Post-ending (Rourke ending). Memories from La Huerta are returning to Estela in dreams, and she finds herself drawn irrevocably to Taylor.

 

Part One

 

Lights danced across the frigid landscape. Light snowfall… soft and fluffy.

“Hey.” Taylor’s face was lit with affection. She wore a long, elegant dress that shone silver in the light reflected off the snowy mountains that surrounded lodge.

“…Hey,” Estela returned the smile.

A countdown… until Taylor finished. “…Two. One.”

“Happy New Year!”

Estela stepped in close. The night chill seemed to vanish as her lips met with Taylor’s. She reached out to hold her lover’s hands, taking them in her own.

Lying in her bed, Estela tossed and turned, lost in a memory or a dream.

She walked into a cosy, luxurious bedroom, lit by a burning fire. She reads a note in a long-forgotten journal: ‘Regarding the new researcher: I feel like I recognise her from somewhere. Do another background check and get me her history. -E.’ Estela’s stomach lurched. She threw the note into the flames, her body tense as she watched it crackle and burn. Then Taylor’s hands are on her shoulders, soft and firm, taking away the tightness in her body.

“Just remember that I’m here for you, to the end.” Taylor spoke with utmost sincerity. “Both to help you get what you came for… and after, when it’s all over.”

“I know.”

And then Taylor began undressing her, kissing down her neck, then her back.

“I can’t stop thinking about you,” Estela breathed, her body bare before Taylor.

“Then don’t.”

Estela slowly removed Taylor’s clothes, the silky dress falling to the floor.

Gasping, Estela sprang awake, a hot feeling rising at the back of her neck, her heart pounding. For several minutes she lay there, grounding herself, bringing herself back to reality. Or at least… another reality.

It started at the beginning of Freshman year. The dreams. Dreams that were like… echoes from a twisted future. Growing stronger, more vivid. Out and about on campus, Estela would make eye contact with Taylor… strange, intriguing Taylor, who could almost be believed to be from another world, and the dreams would always come. And then, the night that followed would be a whirl of memories that were never made; bizarre visions of a disturbed island… eleven faces… a snarling sabre-toothed cat… blue elven people in a village around a tree… a swirling vortex… and always, Taylor.

There was something about Taylor that Estela couldn’t help but admire. She was so certain of her fantastical story that one would almost want to believe her even if it weren’t for the dreams that followed her contact. She was so doggedly determined. Taylor knew too much. Things about Estela that she shouldn’t- couldn’t- know. Of course, she’d aggressively confronted her. Who was she? But Taylor had no fear of her… none. It was that which had thrown Estela most of all; Taylor trusted her implicitly and with no reason. And when their eyes met, Estela was overcome by a warmth, a feeling of belonging. She might drive herself insane wondering why, but she trusted Taylor back.

Estela glanced at the clock beside her bed. Forty minutes until midnight. Had she not been jolted awake by her dream, no doubt the fireworks would soon have done the job anyway. She sat up and ran her fingers through her hair. By now she was used to disturbed sleep. It was getting difficult to separate the dreams from reality. Slowly, the pieces were falling into place, and a grim reality dawned upon her night-by-night. A vision of her mother murdered, shot point-blank by a woman she’d called a friend. She’d watched the footage with Taylor by her side. Rage bubbled up within her, real and agonising, and then she was awake. Her mother was alive… but a different one to the woman she barely knew, Rourke’s Second Empress. She’d toss and turn some more. She’d see Taylor, lying beside her, pressed up against her chest, hand lovingly tracing her side. And once more she’d jerk awake, frightened by the intimacy, intimacy with a woman she barely knew, yet knew better than anyone. Who was she?

Fighting with herself, Estela succumbed to the urge to leave her bed. She hastily pulled on her clothes, and, having paused before committing to subjecting herself to the world on New Year’s Eve, made her way out the door.


 

Taylor lay on her belly, laughing, legs kicking in the air. She plucked a piece of popcorn from the bowl in front of her.

“Hey- catch!” she cried.

Diego lurched forward, his mouth open, and spectacularly missed the popcorn that flew his way.

Taylor gave a shout of laughter.

“How could anyone catch that?”

A knock at the door takes the two by surprise.

“I guess I’m getting that.” Diego stumbled to his feet. “But pause- pause! Dobby is not allowed to die without me fully prepared to pay my respects.” A little inebriated, he bashed his shin against the table, causing Taylor to giggle some more.

“I’m on it! You can invite our guest to our house elf memorial service, if you like.” Taylor reached clumsily for the remote, glancing at the time on her phone as she stretched over. Fifteen minutes to midnight. With a bittersweet pang, she found herself taken back momentarily to her last New Year’s Eve. Sitting around the piano as Michelle sang… wishing a happy birthday to half her friends all at once… Estela descending the staircase in that dress…

“Hey, I think it’s for you!”

Taylor sat up, alert despite the several beers she’d already downed. Her breath caught in her throat as Estela followed Diego into the room.

Diego caught Taylor’s eye with a look of mischief. “I’ll leave you ladies to it.” From behind Estela, he gave an enthusiastic thumbs up.

“E- Estela.”

Estela glanced around the room awkwardly, wondering what she was thinking to come here.

Taylor scooted across the couch, making room beside her. She crossed her legs and held her hand out.

“It’s good to see you. I’m, uh, guessing you haven’t been out partying.”

“I couldn’t sleep,” Estela said, quietly regarding Taylor with great curiosity. She hesitantly sat down beside her. Being near to Taylor felt so much more comfortable than she’d anticipated. Those dreams- memories? - whatever they were, were screwing with her mind. “I… don’t know why I’m here.”

“Maybe you just wanted some company.”

Almost imperceptibly, Estela nodded. She leaned back into the chair, finding herself relaxing. Then Taylor’s hand brushed against hers. She found herself aware of her heart thumping in her chest, adrenaline pulsing through her.

“Taylor… I believe you. All those things… the island, Rourke, our friends. You. I know you’re telling the truth.”

Taylor felt her stomach do a giddy somersault. “I’m not crazy?” A wry smile played on her face.

“No.”

Estela lay her hand beside Taylor’s, touching it ever so slightly. At first contact, her cheeks flushed. She closed her eyes, embracing the silence, the feeling of being where she was supposed to be.

Taylor snuggled into the back of the couch, and she placed her fingers over Estela’s hand. It had been so long. So long. Her wife, the person she loved most in all the world… to her she’d been a stranger, and it was torture. Feeling her eyes grow misty, Taylor hastily collected herself. Estela didn’t give of herself easily. It was okay… it was part of her, and she loved all of her.

The clock ticked onwards, echoed voices in the corridors chanting each step in the countdown.

Eight. Seven. Six.

Before she knew what she was doing, Estela drew into Taylor, pulled by an invisible force she couldn’t understand. So close, she could read each freckle, each line in her face. And it was as though she’d been there before.

Five. Four. Three.

Taylor looked back at her with a desperate hunger, an aching need that Estela felt in the thundering of her own heart. Images whirled through Estela’s mind as the world appeared to slow; hands entwined together in ribbon, reaching out desperately for Taylor as she tumbled out of a lurching helicopter, swimming through a bejewelled cave… and what they did next.

Two. One.

A dull roar rang from outside the room.

Happy New Year!” Diego stuck his head out his bedroom door. As quick as he made an appearance, he made himself scarce once more.

Taylor turned away from Estela, pulled from a trance. “Happy New Year, Diego!”

Estela raised her hand to Taylor’s face, catching it gently as she turned back to meet her eye once more, surprising herself with the ease of the contact. It felt familiar. For a split second, her eyes widened in shock at the sensation, at memories… memories of a past that was a future that had taken place in some since-lost timeline, crashing over her like a wave. She stroked away a tear with her thumb.

Estela,” Taylor breathed. She closed the space between them, their foreheads touching. Estela, I love you.

And then Estela felt her lips brush against Taylor’s. And then she was kissing her… soft, tender. And the arms that embraced her carried her back to what was real. And she was home.

 

 

 

Part Two

 

 Taylor pulled away from the kiss first, worrying that she’d overstepped, despite the fact that it was Estela who’d initiated it. It was a bizarre feeling, to lovingly embrace her wife, as she’d done so many times before, but to have no idea if it meant to Estela what it did to her.

“Was that… okay? I don’t know why I…” Estela stopped. That wasn’t true. She knew why. She didn’t understand how- how on earth she was in love with this woman. She didn’t go around falling in love with people, opening herself up to them. But it wasn’t just memories now… she could feel it. Deep within her bones, a wonderful ache that all but overwhelmed her. And Taylor… Taylor wanted it too. Her eyebrow furrowed, she ran her fingers along Taylor’s face. God, she’s beautiful. “I think I…” Love you? Shit, shit, shit, you can’t just come out and say-

“That was… wonderful,” Taylor murmured, feeling alight at the touch. “Do you… do you remember? Any of it?”

 Estela closed her eyes. “I remember. I can feel so much… as real as any memories I’ve ever had. How did I have a whole other life that I forgot? How did I forget… you? I lo-“ She caught herself. “I’m so confused.”

 Before she could respond, Taylor was pushed back into the couch by a desperate hug.

 Jesus, what’s wrong with me?”

Taylor wrapped her arms around Estela, her heart simultaneously soaring at the feel of her closeness and breaking at her turmoil. This was never going to be easy. “Nothing’s wrong with you, okay? It’s just Rourke screwing with everything.”

 Estela recoiled, bristling. She ran her hands through her hair. “My mom… she’s with him. She’s not safe… she’s not…”

“Hey,” Taylor said, reaching out to grasp Estela’s hand. “it’s gonna be okay.”

“You don’t know…” Estela growled.

“No… I don’t. I- I can’t promise that no one will get hurt. But… I know that we’ve got each other now, and I know we’ve beaten Rourke before. I can promise that I will fight for you, and for everyone you love, to my dying breath.”

 Estela squeezed Taylor’s hand, wincing. It was all too much… she was suffocating. She’d been walloped with a whole other lifetime’s worth of emotions, and it was turning into a sharp physical pain in her head. Feeling it all come back; the happiness she’d felt with her friends and with Taylor, a warming blast of sunshine that she didn’t know she’d missed… and the realisation of how much danger her mother was in, how she was so far away with her life in the hands of a man who’d had her murdered by a trusted friend… it was just too much. She had to do something, but the sheer overwhelm of lost memories left her in a raging storm that she simply couldn’t fight. Her free hand tightly holding her head, willing the sudden, crippling pain to stop, she cried.

Her heart wrenching, Taylor reached out, holding onto Estela, pulling her close, loving her. “I’m so, so sorry,” she whispered. She didn’t know if she’d ever hated Rourke more. “It… it’s gonna get easier. More clear. I know you’re not gonna want to… but I think you need to just be gentle on yourself and let yourself adjust.”

“Sit back when I know he has her?” Estela’s whole body trembled as she spoke.

 Taylor held her tighter, realising how close they were teetering toward a very dangerous situation. “Yes.” She spoke forcefully, but her voice quickly softened. “I need you… to trust me. I know everything’s overwhelming right now… but we’ve gotta be careful about this.”

“I know that… but it feels like my head’s gonna explode. I need to do something.”

“I think for now, ‘doing something’ means getting your head straight. I get it. Really, I do. I’ve been trying so hard to reach out to you all, but it’s felt like I’m getting nowhere. You know Zahra’s in the next room? It’s been months, but she’s still closed off. I know some of it’s coming back to her, but she acts like I’m crazy. But you came here. You remembered. I just don’t think it’s possible to do this any faster. We need each other- all of us- but it’s easier said than done when no one wants to know.”

 Estela became quiet. Her breathing steadied from a raging pant, and she let herself relax, slowly but surely. She was tired. Drained. She could understand why the others might resist the startling dreams and visions; to actually have allowed herself to succumb to the memories had knocked the stuffing out of her. Even now, certain as she was that everything she’d seen and felt was real, her mind was a jumble of questions, and of different realities competing. It was gut wrenching to know that she couldn’t get to her mom. Olivia had kept away, minimised contact. For Estela’s protection, that now seemed clear. Surely… surely, she’d be trying to somehow take Rourke down, to put things right. Estela had seen little of her mother growing up, for Rourke had recruited her early and made certain to keep her close. But now… now their life together, a life that the snake had taken away, had become clearer. That son of a bitch had stolen every joy from her life. Estela felt her hands curl into fists against Taylor’s back, and then once again she softened. Taylor… her Taylor was holding her. She closed her eyes, just taking in the feel of her, letting her focus be on nothing other than the scent of her partner’s skin, the comforting rhythm of her heartbeat, the touch of her fingers stroking her back.

“Taylor,” she breathed. “I’m sorry too. I wish… I wish you weren’t so alone.” Thinking back to her early indifference, annoyance even, towards Taylor was painful. What Rourke had done to her was just so… so unspeakably cruel. “I’ll help you. I don’t know how I’ll help… it was hard enough opening up to them the first time round… but I’ll do it with you. We’ll reach them.”

 Taylor was looking at Estela with a gaze so warm and affectionate that it made her blush. There was a silent longing there.

 Estela felt her heart thumping hard against her chest. “You can kiss me, you know. You… look like you want to. I don’t bite.”

“My love, I know it’s all still coming back to you, but I’m pretty sure you do bite.” Taylor smirked, amused as Estela’s cheeks turned a deeper red. “I, uh, I just don’t want to push you too much. This has all been… intense.”

 “Kiss me. I want you to. Please.”

 Caught off guard, Taylor felt her breath catch in her throat. She could feel heat radiating between them, drawing her closer and closer. Estela’s gaze was heavy with desire and it lingered on Taylor’s mouth. She tipped Estela’s face gently towards her with one finger so they were just a breath apart, and let her eyes flutter closed. Taylor pressed her lips against Estela’s… tentative at first, but powered further, harder, by the pleasurable jolt of electricity that pulsed through her body. Estela moaned against her mouth as Taylor’s tongue caressed her lip. Their arms wrapped around one another in a tangle, fingers delving into hair, hands pulling one another closer.

 After an age, they came apart. Taylor leant back into the couch, grinning from ear to ear. “So… that ring any bells?”

 Estela’s face was bright with the sweetest of smiles. The confusion, the fear, the agonising pain in her head… it all seemed to fall away. For now, the only thing that made sense to her was Taylor, and she had no idea why she’d spent so many weeks fighting what had always been true. “You can give me a few more reminders, if you like.”

Exhausted, she collapsed against Taylor’s chest and nuzzled in. “I need to get some sleep. I haven’t been sleeping well… all the dreams. I guess it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.”

“We’ll fix it,” said Taylor confidently. “I know with Diego it took a little while, but it’s kinda settled. He gets the odd dream, but it’s not like a constant onslaught anymore.”

“I hope so.”

“Hey… do you… do you wanna sleep with me tonight?” She added hurriedly, “I’m not pushing for anything to… er… happen, but since you’re already here and it’s late, I… I’d like to wake up with you next to me again.”

“You don’t mind someone tossing and turning next to you all night?”

“And snoring,” Taylor said with a smirk. “But that’s just how much I love you.”

 They crept into the room Taylor shared with Diego. It was a cramped space, really only intended to house one student, but as Diego had begun to recall their friends and the events of La Huerta, the room had become their sanctuary. By now, he’d fallen into bed and was sound asleep. With a glance over to the slumbering Diego, Estela followed Taylor onto the other bed. Her mind wandered back to her handfasting… Diego had been there too, making his own commitment. What had Rourke done to Varyyn and his people?

 Taylor made to undress and paused. “You don’t mind if I…?”

Estela took the bottom of Taylor’s shirt and carefully pulled it over her head. “Does it look like I mind?”

Stripped down to their underwear, the two women tucked themselves into bed, immediately appreciating the warmth that skin to skin contact gave them. With no prompting, Estela edged in close to Taylor’s back and nuzzled her face against her neck. She wriggled one arm around her shoulder and draped the other over her chest. The steady rise and fall lulled her into a state of quiet bliss. It was just as it had been.

“I don’t snore, by the way…” Estela grumbled into Taylor’s shoulder.

Sure, you don’t.” Taylor gave a tired giggle and put her arm over her chest so that her fingers rested against Estela’s. “But you have any weird dreams and want to talk, just wake me up- anytime. We’re gonna get through this.” She felt Estela’s body relaxing around her, seemingly finding the same security that she was giving Taylor. “Sleep well, Estela.”

 And then, the words that she’d feared she would never again hear…

“I love you, Taylor.”

Just a whisper, muffled and tired, but full of certainty and without a trace of fear. Taylor’s heart skipped a beat.

“I love you too, Estela. I always will.”

 

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