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“I’m not sick,” Anne rasped, even as her wife pushed her back into bed. “Adney-”

“Absolutely not,” Ann said firmly as she wrapped Anne firmly in sheets and blankets. “You’re probably running a fever, your nose won’t stop dripping, and you spent half the night hacking away.”

“Did not,” Anne grumbled before her darling wife shoved a thermometer between her lips.

“Dearest, I’ve shared a bed with you for what? Four years now? Nearly five? I know your snores and your coughs, love.” Ann pulled out the thermometer and shook her head. “Bed. I’m serious.”

“Can I have my book?” Anne wiggled the blankets loose. “Journal too, darling.”

“No.” 

Turning on her heel, Ann disappeared into their closet. Anne sat up forcefully in bed, brow furrowed.

“What d’you mean ‘no?’”

“What I said,” Ann called; Anne could hear the telltale sound of her dressing in the other room. Anne tried to climb out of bed, but her head pounded. She fell back into the pillows with a groan. “Don’t even try it, Pony. I’ve got to run to the school, and I’ll be back around twelve-thirty.” Ann reappeared, as stunning and brilliant as the day of their wedding. “If I hear you’re out of this bed before then, you’re in big trouble.”

Anne caught her wife’s wrist as she moved to the door.

“And what?” Anne’s dry throat only augmented her attempt at a husky drawl. “You’ll have me over your-” 

Then, of course, she broke out into a fit of coughing. Ann chuckled, shook her head, and kissed Anne’s clammy forehead. 

With her wife gone, Anne disintegrated into the bed. She really did feel unwell. It had been ages since she’d had a cold, and she had forgotten just how much they debilitated her. Her body ached, and not even in the satisfying way that hard work brought. Her head spun, and she had a lump in her throat. Swallowing was painful. With a groan, she curled herself into a tight ball and fell asleep.

Bleary-eyed, Anne blinked awake several hours later. The hazy outline of her clock read just past noon. Even though her head still pounded, Anne found herself smiling weakly. Not long until Ann would be home again soon.

Four years of marriage, and Ann still filled her with a singular kind of joy. A peaceful sort of excitement - no nerves or stress, just warmth and the tender touch of her hand in Anne’s. The sun slanted into their bedroom by this hour, and Anne admired the way it caught her rings. Scratched and dented now, the twin engagement and wedding rings were her prized possession. Even in the fog of her sickness, Anne felt a rush remembering their trip to Paris, Ann’s proposal, the floor and the wall and the bed. Anne shivered. Maybe she could shake this thing and pull her wife into bed when she got home.

After all, Anne mused, a good orgasm was supposed to help clear congestion, wasn’t it? Ann wouldn’t be home for fifteen minutes, and now that Anne had the idea… she couldn’t much shake it. Closing her eyes, Anne rolled onto her back. 

Choosing a memory was a rare treat. Usually, Anne had the pleasure of holding her wife in her arms when she felt on the amoroso . It had been weeks since Anne had the diminished pleasure of her own hand between her legs. She tried to avoid it, but no couple had perfect synchronicity with these things. Of course, Ann was infinitely better, in every way. Still, there was a freshness to it, a little change of pace. Anne conjured the slope of her wife’s ass a few nights ago, the way her hips had felt in Anne’s hands, the slickness of their bodies that night in the chaumiere. 

Oh, yes, Anne thought as her hand slipped into her boxers, this will work nicely.

Ann had been a maddening tease that evening. They’d been out to dinner - Ann had worn that dress - she’d traced her hand over Anne’s thigh as they drove home. It had made Anne wild. She’d been nearly feral by the time they got to Shibden, driving directly to the hut and tearing her wife’s clothes from her before the door even closed. 

Slow circles over her center. Anne sniffed a gob of mucus back in her throat and spread her hips a bit further. 

The taste of Ann on her tongue, the warmth of her skin, the intoxicating tenor of her breathless cries. 

Yes, yes, Anne thought impatiently as she fast-forwarded the evening in her mind.

Ann slipping the strap between her lips, squeezing Anne’s ass as she took her deeper. 

Ann flipping onto her back, looking over her shoulder, playfully wiggling her ass in the air.

Ann saying the filthiest things in that perfect, breathless, daring way of hers.

Fire burned between Anne’s legs at the memory; she strummed her clit more harshly. She was so, so close.

The delicious rhythm of their bodies moving together, underscored by Ann’s increasingly loud moans. The crisp slap of Anne’s palm against her ass. The rosy blush that started to spread across Ann’s back, contrasting so perfectly with the whiteness of her knuckles. 

With a gasp, Anne curled upward as her release washed over her. She fell back into the pillows with a sigh, wiping snot from under her nose with the back of her hand. Perhaps, she thought ruefully, it was better that Ann hadn’t been around to see that. Still, her headache was almost entirely gone. She felt all-around invigorated. She’d have to remember this the next time one of them was under the weather. 

Her eyes flicked to the clock once more. 12:40. Ann still not back. Suddenly, Anne’s good mood ebbed. She should be back by now. Where the hell was she? Anne checked her phone - nothing from Ann, but several messages from Washington. Her head clear and adrenaline still coursing through her veins, Anne blew her nose, washed her hands, dressed, and stomped out into the late summer day.

They were preparing for the new term - Anne, her wife, and the estate. Marian was off doing - well, whatever Marian usually did. Father was getting harder of hearing, but he was still mobile. Aunt Anne seemed younger than ever. Ann’s presence in the house had brought her to life. Twisting her wedding ring absently as she trotted up to Washington’s truck, she realized Ann had done much the same thing for her. 

Fifteen minutes later, Anne felt a possessive hand tug on the back of her shirt.

“She’s got to be going, Mr. Washington,” her wife said primly. “Have a lovely day.”

“But I -” Not for the first time, Anne marveled at the strength of her wife’s small hands. “Adney, I wasn’t done with him.”

“Yes, you were,” Ann said forcefully. “You’re sick, and you’re meant to be in bed.”

“I am not sick,” Anne said, pulling her wife into a secluded spot near the back door; Ann tried to pout, but she draped her arms around Anne’s neck nonetheless. “I’m feeling much better.”

“I gave you instructions, Pony.”

“I stayed in bed until 12:30, as instructed.” Anne kissed her pouting lips. “You can’t be cross with me.”

“Maybe I can,” Ann teased, leaning in for another kiss. “Maybe I don’t want to.”

“Why not?” Anne caught her lips again, pressing her wife into the stone.

“I have big news.” Anne kissed the side of her wife’s neck, running her hands along the curves of her hips. “It’s important, Pony.”

“I’m sure it is,” Anne husked, fitting her thigh between Ann’s.

“Listen,” Ann giggled, tugging slightly on Anne’s hair. “Pony, really!”

“You’re so sexy,” Anne whispered in her ear. “I touched myself while you were gone.”

Ann pulled her hair again, forcing Anne to straighten and meet her gaze. Ann’s eyes were wide, her lips parted. A crooked smile curved across Anne’s face as she kissed her wife again, a little more deeply this time. She was already calculating the risk of being caught against the desperation already creeping into her fingertips, when Ann pulled away.

“I have to tell you something,” she said, breathless. “It’s important.”

“Can’t it wait?” Anne slipped a hand under Ann’s shirt.

“No,” her wife said firmly, one hand pressing flatly against Anne’s sternum. “There’s a - there’s this girl. She’s - uh, she’s, well, she’s young and she’s - her mum works at the school. She’s made up her mind, and she - well, she knows me - knows us! She’s going to uni in the fall, and she - it’s all set up, you know, but the - well, it’s just she - she’s pregnant.”

Anne held her breath. They’d set up that nursery a year ago, gone through heartbreak and false starts and dead ends. They avoided the topic most days, keeping the door closed and their hearts guarded. Ann cupped her cheek gently, smiling softly.

“She wants to meet us.”