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It was getting harder to keep a straight face. Cordelia watched them both and tried hard not to laugh. They thought they were being so good, keeping to their Barrayaran oaths, clinging to their Barrayaran honour, repressing their mutual attraction when their body language betrayed them at every step. Like all Barrayaran men, Aral was tactile with his male friends, casually clapping them on the back or taking their arm as he walked, embracing and, with close friends, exchanging the cheek-kissing greeting that was used here. But with Simon Aral was different, reaching out to touch him, then jerking away as guiltily as a small boy trying to snatch cakes in the kitchen, deliberately stepping back and keeping his distance. But later, when he got carried away by the flow of ideas, he'd touch Simon--on the arm, the shoulder, the back, his hand lingering a second too long each time. And Simon always oriented himself towards Aral from the moment he entered a room, his gestures unconsciously echoing Aral's even when an entire crowd separated them. It was adorable.

Cordelia was starting to think she would have to say something, even if it was just, "For God's sake go to bed and stop fretting." In the end that was pretty much what she did, only with more talking. It was entirely worth it to see the look on Aral's face.

It took Aral and Simon several days to sort themselves out, but then they did exactly what she'd told them to do, and Cordelia thought it would solve the problem.

But the next day, though, they were worse than ever--and they'd swapped roles. Now it was Simon who couldn't keep his hands off Aral, and Aral who tracked Simon around the room. And Cordelia still couldn't keep a straight face.