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En Garde

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Bill wasn't sure exactly how it happened, but here she was at Whitehall, fencing with Hortense Mancini while wearing only a nightie.

“Is this your usual way of coming on to girls?” she asked while hurriedly dodging Hortense's first thrust. “It's just, I know you and Anne of Sussex got caught fencing in your underwear—which really sounds like some kind of weird euphemism, but...”

Hortense threw her head back and laughed, exposing her white throat and collarbone to the moonlight. Bill swallowed hard. Focus, you useless lesbian. “I can assure you, cherie, it is not a euphemism,” Hortense purred. “What can I say? I like to make pretty girls sweat.”

She lunged forward. Bill let out a little yelp of surprise. She stumbled to the side and threw her sword up just in time to block Hortense's next attack, and for a moment they were at an impasse, staring at each other over the cross of their two blades. Hortense's eyes were neither blue nor grey nor hazel but changed colour with each light and shadow that passed over her face. Oh, God, Bill thought, swallowing again. She could murder me and I would thank her for it. She leaned in closer, pushing her weight onto the sword as Hortense bared down—

Both swords clattered to the ground. Hortense wrapped her hand around Bill's waist and pulled her close, and suddenly Bill Potts was at Whitehall kissing Hortense Mancini, and the nightie she was wearing was the least of her problems.