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a hit between the eyes

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Ninon accepts the cup and takes a sip. “That’s an unusual choice,” she says, into the quiet. When de Winter offered her a drink, she expected water, or whiskey, or maybe a cocktail laced with some potion that would kill her and leave no trace. Not tea, carefully home-brewed and left to sit until it cooled, a little.

“I thought you might be less likely to throw it at me.”

The idea hadn’t even occurred to Ninon, but now that it’s been presented to her, it’s oddly tempting. The ceramic would make such a satisfying noise as it smashed into the wall behind de Winter’s head.

“I suppose,” Ninon says evenly, “that that means you’re not going to apologise.”

“Is that what you came here for?” de Winter’s smirking behind her own cup, but it’s more playful than cruel. “You should know me better than that.”

“I don’t know you at all,” Ninon says, and de Winter’s eyes cut away from her abruptly. Shaking her head, Ninon gulps at the cup, swallows too quickly, burns her throat.

“Careful,” de Winter says, and Ninon cradles the cup to her chest, goes, “Mmm.”

de Winter still can’t quite look at her. The circles around her eyes are darker than Ninon remembers, but her hair is as shiny as ever. It feels oddly powerful to look and not be seen, until suddenly de Winter looks up and Ninon’s caught in her headlights.

She looks down at her cup and takes another sip, more slowly this time. She won’t be flustered that easily.

“It tastes a bit like rosemary.”

“Yes.” de Winter coughs. “I thought it was appropriate, given the circumstances.” Ninon frowns, confused, and de Winter looks up at her, her face usually open. "The first potion you taught me, do you remember?"

Ninon’s smile is as sour as her drink isn’t. “And look how far you’ve come, Milady. Or would you prefer I called you Anne?”

de Winter’s face goes utterly blank. “Athos.”

“He sketched out the situation,” Ninon says. She glances at the twist of fabric around de Winter’s neck, then back at de Winter’s burning face. “I was able to fill in the rest.”

“I don’t expect you to understand,” de Winter says tonelessly, and Ninon snaps out, “Make me.”


“You let me believe we were friends,” Ninon says. “I trusted you. You owe me this. And don’t even think about lying,” she adds, when de Winter swallows. “I don’t make the same mistakes twice.”

de Winter puts her cup down and exhales, slowly. “Fine,” she says, and begins.