DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
SERIES: The second story in the 'there is strength in your softness' series.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
FEEDBACK: To scotangelina[at]yahoo.com
Because your love was waiting there for me
"Oh, come on, girls. None of you seem to have made any meaningful progress from the last time I saw you attempt this task!"
Tissaia sighs and resists the urge to follow it with a cough. This is her first time teaching a class since Sodden. Her recovery had taken much longer than she had anticipated, and she feels removed from the academy and its students in a way she never has before. Life went on without her at the helm, and that is more humbling than she would care to admit. Although, the students are nowhere near the level of attainment they should be at this stage. She takes some small victory in that. If she'd been here, they would all be able to complete this simple enchantment with ease by now.
She shakes her head, leaning heavily on the desk in front of her with both hands. The simple lesson has taken more of her energy than it ever did before. Apparently being on her feet for an hour is now beyond her capabilities.
"You are dismissed," she tells the class. "And the next time you set foot in my classroom, I expect to see a redoubling of your efforts. Today's display was pitiful."
The girls mumble their agreement and jostle to leave the room. Tissaia closes her eyes, letting even more of her weight rest on her hands, gripping the edges of the desk tightly. She hears several sets of footsteps approach and steels herself, forcing her spine to straighten and her head to lift. She opens her eyes, hands clasped in front of her, and regards the three girls who have stayed behind.
"Have you developed hearing difficulties since I've been gone, girls?" she asks. "I very clearly instructed you to leave."
The tall girl - Fola - turns to do as she's told, but the little one - Glacella - grabs her dress and drags her back. It's Glacella who addresses her.
"We just wanted to say we're very happy to have you back, Rectress."
Tissaia thinks about giving her a lecture on telling barefaced lies, but she hasn't the energy for it. So she settles for giving them a tight smile and a nod. "Thank you, girls."
Again, Fola tries to leave, but the others hold her back. This time, it's Murta who steps forward.
"Is- is it true what they say about Sodden, Rectress?"
Tissaia stills. The wound is still too raw, the loss too visceral. She still sees their faces at night; hears their cries and feels their pain. She is not ready to discuss this with three teenagers with as much magical talent as the stones they still can't lift. She pauses long enough to be sure her voice won't tremble when she replies.
"I'm quite sure they say many things, Murta. You'll have to be more specific."
"About what Lady Yennefer did?" Murta clarifies. "They say she burned a whole army to cinders. Destroyed everything in her path."
"Except you," Glacella puts in, her eyes round and bright. "Is that true?"
Busying herself by straightening some papers on her desk, again Tissaia finds herself buying time before responding. She's still in awe of what Yennefer did that day. Not only the extent of the chaos she unleashed, but the control she demonstrated in keeping Tissaia safe in that inferno. Tissaia had never seen the like of it before, and she would wager she never will again. She'd always known Yennefer was capable of greatness, but even she had underestimated the woman.
"Yes, that's correct," Tissaia says, lifting an eyebrow. "What of it?"
The girls all look at each other with wide eyes at this confirmation, uttering sounds of admiration. Tissaia's heart sinks; they were already infatuated with Yennefer after her little herbal lesson. This must have elevated her to goddess-like status in their eyes. Well, it's not as if Tissaia can't relate to that a little. She's more than a little enamoured of Yennefer herself.
"Did you teach her how to do that?" Fola asks, her voice hushed. "Will we learn how to do that?"
She can't contain the laugh that erupts from her throat. "Oh, my dear," she says, shaking her head. "There are some things that cannot be taught. Cannot be learned. There are some things which simply are. And what Yennefer did took immense control." She takes a moment to meet each of their eyes. "None of you have shown the slightest promise in that area."
They nod, solemnly and in their faces she sees the hundreds, the thousands, of girls who've come through these halls. Some of whom perished at Sodden. Because she asked them to.
"Please make no mistake, girls, that the things we had to do at Sodden were not undertaken lightly. Lady Yennefer did what she had to. She took no pleasure in burning those people to death." Fola flinches, taking a step backwards. "Be aware that if you aspire to that level of power, with it comes great responsibility."
Glacella barely graces her very serious lesson with a nod before she jumps in with another question. "I've seen her around the halls a few times recently. Does she live here now?"
Fola's eyes widen. "Is she to teach us?"
"Here you are." All four of them turn to the source of the new voice to find Yennefer striding towards them. She completely ignores the girls; all her attention is for Tissaia. "I expected you to be done by now."
"I am," Tissaia tells her. These three wish to hear details of your accomplishments at Sodden. They are quite taken with you.
"Oh." It's as if Yennefer hadn't noticed there were others in the room. "Hello girls."
This causes a flutter of excited murmuring and tittering. One of them actually curtsies. Tissaia only just manages to resist rolling her eyes as Yennefer arrives by her side and places a gentle hand on her back.
"We were asking the Rectress if you had come back to be a teacher," Glacella says to Yennefer. "I'm sure we could all learn a lot from you."
Yennefer meets Tissaia's eyes, amusement playing at the edges of her lips. By the Gods, can you even imagine? Me as a teacher? What subject would I teach?
Mischief and Mayhem? Tissaia suggests and Yennefer presses her lips together to keep from laughing.
"I have no plans to join the teaching staff," Yennefer tells the girls. "I will be undertaking diplomatic duties, in the first instance."
Gods help us all. Tissaia earns a squeeze to her hip for that thought.
"Girls, I believe your lesson is over and I'm sure you have reading to do for tomorrow," Yennefer says, her tone leaving no scope for argument. "Go on." She nods to the door. "Back to your rooms."
They babble some agreement and scarper to the door, grasping at each other and whispering. Most likely thrilled at having been spoken to by the now infamous Yennefer of Vengerberg. Once the door is closed, Tissaia lets out a relieved sigh, her elbows bending beneath her weight as she sags. Yennefer's hand slides around her waist and urges her to let go of the desk, turning her and wrapping her in an embrace. She hums in pleasure as her head comes to rest against Yennefer's shoulder.
"I don't want to say 'I told you so'-" Yennefer begins.
"Yes you do," Tissaia says, closing her eyes as Yennefer starts to sway them.
"Well, maybe a little," Yennefer concedes, her lips brushing over Tissaia's forehead. "But I told you it was too early to go back to teaching. The cough may have eased, but your body is still healing."
"I'm needed here," Tissaia protests. "The girls need-"
"Yes, you are needed here." Yennefer tells her, tightening her arms just slightly. She pulls back and waits for Tissaia to lift her head. Yennefer cups her cheek. "By me." She leans in and presses a gentle kiss to Tissaia's lips "These idiots can get by without you teaching them for a few more weeks. Aretuza will still stand if you allow yourself adequate time to recover." She brushes a thumb beneath Tissaia's eye. "But I could not stand it if you were to hurt yourself further by pushing yourself too hard."
"My darling," Tissaia begins, running her fingertips along Yennefer's jaw and pressing her thumb to full lips. "I'm fine, honestly. I'm just a little fatigued, that's all."
Yennefer purses her lips to kiss her thumb against them. "Well then, I think that's an excellent excuse for us to spend the rest of the day in bed, don't you?"
Lifting an eyebrow, Tissaia tilts her head. "Spending time in bed with you generally makes me more tired."
Yennefer's eyes widen and she gasps in mock outrage. "Only if you have a filthy mind, Rectress." She cannot maintain her demeanour and breaks into a smile. "Fine, that is usually what I would have in mind. But today I only mean for us to rest."
An evening in bed, in Yennefer's arms sounds like a delightful indulgence. She lets her body droop and be held up by the other woman, revelling in her strength. She sighs.
"Very well, then," she says, squeezing Yennefer's waist. "Take me to bed."
A portal opens beside them and she stands up straight, keeping hold of Yennefer's arm as they step through it, arriving in their bedchamber. Tissaia reaches behind herself to loosen her dress, but Yennefer's hands bat her own away, taking over the job until the dress falls away and ends up on the floor. Yennefer's dress follows suit, leaving them in their undergarments. Yennefer smirks.
"Probably best if we keep these on if we're planning on resting."
Tissaia nods, watching as Yennefer folds the bed covers down. She's struck with the need to say something to correct an earlier assumption of Yennefer's. "You know, I can see you as a teacher. I asked you before to come back to be one." She smiles. "Those girls look up to you. They want to be like you. That's not true of many of the teaching staff, including myself. They see us as old and stuffy."
"They don't know you," Yennefer says. "You make very sure of that."
"Yes," Tissaia nods. "I try to maintain a professional distance." She lets her eyes drift meaningfully from Yennefer to the bed they are about to share. "It doesn't always work."
"Which I am personally very grateful for," Yennefer says, sweeping over and pulling Tissaia into her arms, bringing their lips together. "Come then, to bed. Before I feel the need to renege on my earlier promise of sleep."
Tissaia exhales a laugh against Yennefer's mouth and kisses her again. "Thank you," she whispers. "For saving me. I'm not sure I said that before."
Yennefer tuts and shakes her head. "I'm only alive because of you. My life is entwined with yours. I cannot imagine it ever being otherwise." She smiles, almost tentatively. "You asked me if I was ready to die once before. You told me I still had much to give. It turns out you were right, and I want to give it all to you."
"Oh, Yennefer," Tissaia says. "You've given me more than you know." She takes Yennefer's hand and presses it to her chest. "You've given me love."
Violet eyes shine in the candlelight, and Yennefer's smile is bright. She stoops, winding her arms around Tissaia's thighs and lifts her up. Tissaia squawks in protest, her hands flying to Yennefer's shoulders to steady herself as she is spun around. Yennefer grins up at her and she can't help but frame her face with her hands to try and imprint her happiness on her memory.
"Put me down before you hurt yourself," Tissaia says, shaking her head. "Ridiculous girl."
"Nonsense," Yennefer scoffs as she shuffles towards the bed. "You weigh nothing." She tilts her head. "Which is ironic, because to me, you're everything."
Everything. She is everything to the most powerful woman the world has ever seen. It's been so long since she has been anything to anyone that this is almost beyond her comprehension. Rather than trying to find words to convey how she feels, she dips her head and kisses her, letting their connection do the talking.
I love you.
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