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Much later, Nell propped herself up on one arm and watched Con's face in the moonlight. "Con? Are you awake?"

"No." Her eyes didn't open, but she smiled and wriggled a little closer, wincing slightly as she did. 

"You really ought to go to Matey about your arm, you know." She felt a slight pang of guilt as she recalled her earlier derision, however affectionate.

"Hmph. Now? It must be quite two o'clock at least, shall I tell her you sent me?" Con opened her eyes as she spoke, turning a questioning look on the woman beside her.

"Silly. I meant in the morning."

"Mm."

"Constance!"

"I didn't say I wouldn't. But I really don't see what the use is - this is just the way it always is for me. Do you remember those stinging nettles at Mayrhofen? It took at least a week to go down again. My skin is -" she searched for a word - "disagreeable."

Nell laughed soundlessly, a nocturnal laugh acquired through necessity, instinct, practice - somehow the thought of any of their colleagues overhearing laughter at this hour seemed even more damning than voices alone - and placed a gentle kiss on the nearest shoulder. "Precious, my love. Your skin is precious." She lay back down, looked up at the ceiling. The bed was emphatically not designed for sharing, but these stolen moments of closeness would make the morning's backache tolerable. "I'm serious, though. See her tomorrow, get it all sorted out before the start of term. No use storing up trouble for later."

Con wriggled slightly with displeasure, but said nothing.

Suddenly Nell realised, and smothered another laugh. "Oh, my dear. I wonder just how patient and understanding you would be, if it was one of the Fourth form trying to get out of going to Matron because she was too scared? Con!"

Without turning to look, she knew her lover was scowling again. "I'm not scared. I just - don't much want to. That's all."

She chuckled softly once more. "If you don't go to her, I will; that's a promise."

Con prodded her in lighthearted annoyance. "You would, as well. I know you." And she flung the arm in question around her partner's waist, closed her eyes, and the room was silent once more.




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