DISCLAIMER: The characters herein are used without permission. No infringement intended.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Very much based on this.
FEEDBACK: To scotangelina[at]yahoo.com

Do you feel like I feel (Or am I all alone?)
By thegirl20


Chapter 1

Yennefer sighs as she trudges through to the living room after brushing her teeth and throwing her hair up into some semblance of a messy bun. She's pulled on a pair of leggings, but selected a nice, business-casual blouse as people only see her top half these days. She switches her laptop on and pads through to the kitchen to do likewise with the kettle while it boots up. Leaning back against the counter, she waits for the kettle to boil so she can make herself a shitty cup of coffee.

It's funny; the things you miss. She'd been so used to grabbing a decent coffee on the way to the train station of a morning, that she'd never bothered to invest in a machine for herself. Standing up straight, she shakes her head. She shouldn't be lamenting the loss of an overly caffeinated beverage and five minutes of banter with the barista. Not when this lockdown has robbed people of their families and livelihoods.

She's in the fortunate position of being able to do her job completely from home, so she's still getting paid her full salary. And she's never had much by way of family. Not ones she wants to voluntarily spend time with at least. So the lockdown restrictions haven't been all that difficult for her to adhere to. Sure, she misses being able to meet up with her mates for a drink on a Friday night, and she had a few concerts and shows booked for later in the year that she'll be disappointed not to get to see, but she can live with that.

Yennefer is a recruiter for various colleges and universities. She works with staff to determine markets and strategies, and she works with agents in other countries to identify candidates and manage them through the application and admission processes. It's not the most exciting job in the world, but it pays fairly well and she gets a lot of satisfaction from doing it well.

The kettle comes to a boil and she pours the water onto the waiting granules she'd spooned into a mug the previous night; a testament to her boredom. The liquid turns muddy brown as she stirs, before adding sugar and milk. She winces at the vaguely burnt taste of the instant coffee and then, as an afterthought, grabs a cereal bar from the cupboard before heading back through to the makeshift office set up on her dining table.

Tearing the bar open with her teeth, she taps in her password. Her colleague, Jaskier, had fallen ill with the virus a couple of days ago and she's spent the time since trying to get up to speed with his clients. Her calendar reveals her first meeting of the morning to be with Dr De Vries. She wrinkles her nose. She's had no dealings with the woman, but she's heard Jaskier complain about her demands and unrealistic expectations often enough for her to be a little nervous going in.

Straightening her shoulders, she inhales through her nose and lets the breath out through her mouth. Then she hits the button to open the Zoom meeting she had set up the previous day. She's the only one there for now, so she uses her image on the screen to check out her appearance. There are slight dark circles under her eyes - it's not easy to get a restful sleep when the world is going to shit - but she's presentable enough. Her hair's a bit mad looking, so she takes it out of the bun and pulls it into a tidier ponytail. She's checking out her teeth when the window halves in size and Tissaia De Vries' name shows up in a black rectangle. Yennefer immediately settles her face into a professional smile as the connection is made.

The other woman's video kicks in, and Yennefer finds herself taken aback by Tissaia's appearance. For some reason, from Jaskier's description, she'd been expecting some wizened old crone to be staring back at her. In fact, she might've been picturing Maggie Smith in the Harry Potter films. But this woman looks to be around forty, with bright, inquisitive blue eyes and a stern mouth. Her brown hair is drawn back into a bun, and her glasses have slipped just a tiny bit too far down her nose. She's wearing a tailored shirt, with the top two buttons undone. She's gorgeous, in a headmistress-y sort of way. Her backdrop gives nothing away; a plain white wall.

"Ms Vengerberg, I presume?" Tissaia says, voice clipped and businesslike. It's then Yen realises that she had been so surprised at what the woman looked like that she hadn't bothered to introduce herself.

"Yes! Yes, sorry." She swallows. "Yennefer Vengerberg."

"I am Dr Tissaia De Vries." She pushes her glasses up her nose. "Dean of the Faculty of Science at Aretuza University."

"Yes, I've read through Jaskier's notes, so I think I'm mostly up to speed on where the two of you were before he took ill."

"You'll have noticed that we haven't gotten very far at all, then?" Tissaia snaps.

"I, uh, well-" Yen stammers, but Tissaia puts up a hand.

"I do apologise, Ms Vengerberg." She takes off her glasses and rubs at the area between her eyes before putting them back on. "I'm just- I'm very concerned about how we're going to get through this. I have the wellbeing of my staff and students to think about, as well as how we're going to complete this term and get the students through their exams. Added to that is the pressure of attracting next year's students in this terrible situation we've all found ourselves in and it's-" She sighs. "I have to think about where the money to pay my staff's salaries will come from. They have families. Responsibilities. It's difficult."

"I know," Yennefer says. If she's honest with herself, she wasn't expecting an apology for the snappishness. Going by Jaskier's description, that's just what the woman is like in general. But it's clear to see that she's carrying the burden of hundreds, maybe thousands of people on her shoulders, and she's suffering for it. "It's an unsettling time for everyone. And I completely understand your frustration." She smiles in a way she hopes is encouraging. "So let's discuss our options and see if we can find you some solutions, shall we?"

Tissaia smiles for the first time since she appeared on Yennefer's screen. It changes her whole face, cutting years off Yen's initial assessment of her age. It makes Yen's own smile grow in response.

"Yes, let's do that."

They spend the next hour discussing the possibilities for distance learning, blended approaches and delayed semester start dates. They talk about securing applicants and allowing them to defer for six months rather than the full year, and what markets that might open up to them. Yennefer knows she's good at her job, and that doesn't just mean she's good at finding students; she's good at dealing with people generally. She can win people over easily and bring them around to her way of thinking. It's always been a skill of hers and it stands her in good stead when dealing with academics, in particular, who very often think that they are not subject to normal ways of working.

But she actually finds she's enjoying talking to Tissaia. She has very definite ideas about what she wants, she pushes and challenges where necessary, but she's open to listening to Yennefer's suggestions, and by the end of the meeting, she's nodding and smiling as Yen talks.

"I must say, you've helped to ease some of my concerns, Ms Vengerberg. I feel far more positive than I did before we spoke."

For some reason, blood rushes to Yennefer's cheeks. "Well, I'm happy to be able to help."

Tissaia nods. "And you're far less-" She wrinkles her nose. "-quippy than your colleague."

Yennefer lets out an undignified snorting laugh, covering her mouth too late to catch it. Tissaia's eyebrow goes up, but she says nothing. The eyebrow thing is intensely sexy, and makes Yen's throat go dry.

In fairness, Yennefer can't blame her. Jaskier's a good laugh down the pub on a Friday night, but he must be a literal nightmare to deal with for clients. He's one of those guys who thinks everything he says is hilarious, and always has to be in the spotlight. She can see how that would totally grate on someone like Tissaia's last nerve.

"Well, um," Yennefer directs her attention to her second screen where she's been making notes during their conversation. "I'll look into what we've discussed, and if you can check on the viability of the parallel courses and the distance learning options, we can go from there." She finds herself strangely sad to be ending the call. Usually these meetings are tedious, but Tissaia's kept her on her toes and made her think, and she's actually enjoyed it. "Would tomorrow afternoon be too soon to meet again and see where we are? I know you're keen to get things moving?"

"Absolutely, tomorrow afternoon would be ideal." Tissaia's eyes are on her own screen. She purses her lips and shakes her head. "Actually, my diary is very full up until five tomorrow. Would you be able to make it after that? I know that's strictly not within working hours but-"

"That's fine," Yennefer says, tapping a meeting into her calendar. "I can adjust my working day around it. I'd rather get things moving as early as we can." She hits send on the meeting request and smiles into the camera. "Done."

"I shall look forward to it, Ms Vengerberg."

"Please, call me Yennefer," Yen tells her. "Or Yen, if you prefer fewer syllables."

Tissaia's lips quirk at the edges. "Then you must call me Tissaia." She lifts that eyebrow again and it makes Yennefer's stomach dip. "But I'm afraid I can't allow you to call me Tiss."

"I wouldn't dream of it," Yennefer says. "I'll speak to you tomorrow. Hopefully with some good news."

"We could all do with some of that." Tissaia smiles. "Goodbye, Yennefer."

She leaves the meeting, which causes Yennefer's face to fill the screen. Which is why she notices she's grinning like an idiot. She quickly ends the meeting so she's not confronted with that image. She shakes her head. Tissaia De Vries isn't at all what she expected.

The following day, Yen makes a bit more of an effort before she calls Tissaia. She makes sure to take her hair out of its ponytail and arrange it over her shoulders. She might even have put a tiny bit more eyeshadow on than is strictly necessary for sitting at her own dining table. But that's just professionalism, really. That's what she tells herself as she dabs on some lip gloss at the last second, before starting up the meeting.

When Tissaia pops up this time, she looks less severe than the previous day. She smiles warmly and adjusts the chain around her neck, almost like she wants Yen to follow the path her fingers take, down to the pendant that's sitting just above her cleavage. Realising where she's looking, Yen drags her eyes back up and returns the smile.

"Hey! How are you today?"

"Oh, much the same as yesterday." Tissaia lifts a hand and counts off on her fingers. "Bored. Frustrated. Anxious."

"Ah, the lockdown trilogy," Yennefer nods. "I'm the same."

"Anyway, I don't want to take up your free time any more than I already am," Tissaia says. "So I've managed to gather the information we were talking about, if you want to cover that first."

All business, then? Yen's heart sinks a little bit, but she paints on a smile and nods.

"Let's do it."

They're almost done when Yennefer notices that Tissaia's not listening to what she's saying. Or, if she is, she's definitely not giving her full attention. She's distracted by something.

"So, is- uh, is that alright?" Yennefer asks. "Tissaia?"

The other woman sits bold upright, eyes wide as if she's been caught doing something naughty.

"I'm so sorry, dear, I missed what you were saying. I was just-" She looks like she's blushing. "I was trying to work out what colour your eyes are. They look...almost violet."

Yennefer laughs, surprised by the admission. "Yeah, I've had a few people say that to me." She gestures at her face. "They're just a really weird shade of blue. Different light makes them look different colours."

"Fascinating. So unusual." Tissaia tilts her head. "Do either of your parents have the same colouring?"

Yennefer's smile freezes. "I, uh, my mum said my dad did. But I never really knew him." She has vague recollections of a man who would show up from time to time. She remembers his smile when he'd stand in the door and convince her mother to let him in. Mostly she remembers shouting and crying.

"Oh, I'm terribly sorry." Tissaia looks mortified. "That was entirely inappropriate and I-"

"Hey, it's fine," Yennefer rushes to reassure her. "It was a totally normal thing to ask. You weren't to know I had a shitty excuse for a father, were you?"

"No, I suppose not." Tissaia doesn't look convinced.

"We did okay," Yennefer says, compelled to tell this woman her life story. "Mum brought us up on her own and we turned out not bad. Couple of us even went to uni, which, in our estate wasn't common."

Tissaia seems grateful for a topic she can latch onto. "Where did you study?"

"At, uh, Aretuza, as it happens." Yennefer swallows, rubbing at the back of her neck. "I've got a degree in microbiology."

"Oh! A fellow scientist, then?" Tissaia's leaning towards the screen now, which gives Yennefer far too close a view down her top. "Did you never pursue a career in the field?"

"Nah." She shrugs. "I actually had a pretty bad time of it at uni. My mum died when I was in my Honours year, and my dissertation supervisor and I didn't see eye to eye, so it- I suppose it just put me off the whole thing. Made me resent it. Which is kinda sad, because I'd loved it before then."

She's never really spoken about this with anyone before. It was never important, in the grand scheme of things. But Tissaia's really listening. There's an adorable little crease between her eyebrows and everything, and she shakes her head.

"That is a great pity. Educators should never make people feel that way."

"It's fine." Yen waves a hand, dismissing the notion. "I went and got a nice easy office job and here we are."

"Well, I'm sure the field is poorer for the loss of a mind like yours," Tissaia says.

"A mind like mine?" Yennefer laughs. "You've spoken to me twice."

"And I am an excellent judge of character," Tissaia says, lifting her nose into the air. "You are bright, driven, a skilled communicator, and you follow through on what you promise. The sciences need people like you. We still have the image of being mad little old men in lab coats, blowing things up."

"Yeah, well, maybe I'll go back to it one day. Who knows?" Yennefer says, charmed by Tissaia's description of her.

"I hope you do, Yennefer," Tissaia tells her, seriously. "It's a great thing, to have a passion that you have a talent for. It's such a shame you felt unable to pursue it."

"Uh, yeah." Yen's throat is oddly tight. She feels seen for the first time in a long time, and it's poking at something deep inside. "Thanks."

Tissaia nods, brusquely. "Good. Well. Is that all we had to cover today?"

Pretending to scan some notes, just so she can get her stupid emotions back under control, Yennefer nods. "Yeah, that was all I had. Unless you had anything?"

"No, I don't think so."

There's one of those pauses that feels amplified by the fact they're on a video call and they both go to speak at once.

"When do you want me to-"

"It would be good if we could-"

They laugh and Yen gestures for Tissaia to continue.

"I was just going to say, I know the actions we've agreed won't be completed for a while yet, but I wondered if, I mean, I know you'll be busy with other clients and-" Tissaia pauses, fiddling with her necklace again. "I wondered if you could perhaps just give me a quick daily update on how things are going? For my own peace of mind and so I can keep my superiors informed?"

There's a twist in Yennefer's stomach and she fights to keep from smiling. There's no way that Tissaia needs daily updates about the stuff they've discussed. They both know it. Which must mean that she just wants to talk to Yen.

"Of course," Yen says, then clears her throat because her voice came out way too high. She scans through her diary; it's jam packed now that she's taken half of Jaskier's clients as well as her own. "Uh, would this time suit you for an update each day?"

Tissaia shakes her head. "Oh, no dear. I don't want you using your own time just to give me an update. I'm sorry, of course you're busy and-"

"Tissaia, it's fine, honestly. With this being the first time we've worked together, it would be reassuring for me just to check that what I'm doing is in line with your expectations." There, that was pretty smooth. Better than 'I just want to look into your pretty blue eyes for thirty minutes at the end of my working day to help me destress', which is what Yen's actual thought process is. "And the end of the day works best, as it gives me the opportunity to gather together the progress we've made."

"Well, if you're sure," Tissaia says.

"Totally and completely sure," Yen says, pressing send on a recurring meeting request. She hears it ping into Tissaia's inbox. "There. It's in your calendar now. It's legal and binding." She winks.

Tissaia rolls her eyes. "I'm not sure that's quite accurate, but fine. Please do tell me if it becomes too onerous."

"I will." Yen bites her lip. This is ridiculous. She's never met this woman and here she is getting excited at the thought of seeing her on a screen once a day. "Well, I better let you go now."

"I'll speak to you tomorrow," Tissaia says, her lips quirking at the edges. "Enjoy your evening. As much as you can."

"I'll try," Yen says. "You too." She ends the meeting and sits staring at the appointment in her diary at five o'clock each night. She smiles. Lockdown's not looking so bad all of a sudden.


Chapter 2

They continue the updates for a couple of days and, as predicted, they are the highlight of Yennefer's lockdown life. Considering there's very little to 'update' on, they usually get that bit over in the first five minutes and then afterwards they just drift into chatting about whatever comes into their heads. It's so odd, especially for Yennefer, to find it easy to be herself around someone she hardly knows. Yes, she can turn on the charm for clients, but it's a facade. It's not her. But with Tissaia, it's different.

On their fourth day of updates, they're talking about the Professor who had turned Yennefer off science for life - turns out Tissaia is no fan of his either, when Tissaia seems to grow distracted. Her eyes keep flicking to the side. At first Yen thinks she's reading her other screen but she's looking at different spots every time. She's just about to ask if Tissaia needs to go, when the other woman lets out a sigh and shakes her head.

"Yes, darling, I'll be with you in a minute."

It feels like being punched in the gut. For some reason, Yennefer hadn't once considered that Tissaia might be living with someone. Other clients have had spouses walking by in the background in their underwear and children practically swinging from the light fixings, but Tissaia's surroundings have always been quiet and calm without any signs of life. She tries not to show how gutted she's feeling when Tissaia turns back to the screen with an apologetic smile.

"Sorry about that."

"Hey, don't worry about it," Yennefer says, far too breezily to be real. "I've seen and heard much worse these past few weeks. The perils of working at home, yeah? I live alone so I don't have that problem." She decides to be a bit forward, just to cement her own heartbreak. "So...who am I keeping you from? Husband? Partner?"

Tissaia seems amused. She turns to the side and purses her lips, making two kissing noises in quick succession. It sounds so foreign coming from her that Yen almost knocks over her water bottle. "Come here."

A beautiful, pure white cat jumps onto Tissaia's shoulder. She turns back to the screen and lifts an eyebrow. "This is my only living companion." She narrows her eyes as the cat starts to groom itself, unaffected by Tissaia's glare.

"Oh my goodness, she's gorgeous." Yen hopes her wide grin can be attributed to a love of animals, and not the overwhelming relief she feels at hearing Tissaia lives alone.

"She's a spoiled princess who constantly demands my attention," Tissaia corrects. "Aren't you, Sabrina?"

The cat gives no sign that she's aware of being spoken to.

Yen decides to go for broke. What harm can it do? "So, you're single, then?"

Tissaia's lips twitch at the question. "I am. Happily so."

Oh. That's not great.

"Bad break-up?" Yennefer guesses, aware she's taking liberties in this very new professional relationship. It's really better for everyone if she knows this is a lost cause. In fact, it probably would be better if it turned out that was the case. It'd only save heartache down the line.

Tissaia inhales through her nose, scratching at Sabrina's head. "I went through a rather messy divorce just over a year ago. My husband had an affair." She tilts her head. "Several, in fact." She sighs and takes her glasses off, rubbing at the top of her nose. "I really should have known. He was part of one of those-" She makes an odd gesture with her hand. "-societies. You know the ones that get together at the weekend to reenact medieval battles and such?"

"Oh my God." Yen presses her lips together. "Seriously? What, with dressing up and everything? Swords and jousting and stuff?"

"Indeed." Tissaia smiles at her amusement. "Well, it turns out his sword wasn't the only thing he was wiggling around and sticking into people."

Yennefer almost chokes on the sip of water she's just taken, only just managing to not spit it out, but unable to hold back the snorting laugh Tissaia's words have prompted. "Oh, wow. That's-"

"I do so enjoy it when you let yourself laugh properly, Yennefer," Tissaia says with a smile.

Her face floods with heat immediately. Nobody has ever found her laugh cute. It's why she tries to hold it in wherever possible. At school, the other children had made fun of it. As well as her terrible haircut and clothes from the charity shops. All that added to the mild scoliosis she developed just as she was starting high school was a recipe for extreme bullying. Luckily the brace sorted her back out, eventually. When she started earning money, her hair was the first thing she allowed herself to really splurge on. She's not stupid with money, but she makes sure she looks good. Because, inside, there's a big part of her that's still that little girl who wants someone to like her.

"Oh God, no. I hate it," Yen says, ducking her head. "I sound like a dying sow."

"Nonsense," Tissaia says. "You sound like a little piglet. It's very endearing."

"You're the first person to ever think that," Yen mumbles.

"Well, you should be able to tell by now that I'm fairly straightforward in what I say, Yennefer. So you know I'm telling you the truth."

Yen laughs, still a little embarrassed. "So, uh, nobody since the sword wiggler, then?"

"Nothing of note," Tissaia says. "My assistant has insisted on setting me up a few times. But none of them were really my type." She lifts her eyebrows. "And I'm convinced that the last woman she sent me out with was clinically a psychopath."

Nodding along, Yennefer tries not to smile. She knows pointed information dropping when she sees it. Tissaia wants her to know that she's not just into men.

"What about you?" Tissaia asks. "Now that I've shared all the sordid details of my atrocious lovelife, it's only fair that you do the same."

"Not much to tell, I'm afraid," Yen says. "I'm terminally single."

Tissaia's brow creases. "My dear, how is that possible? I'm sure you own a mirror. People must be throwing themselves at you in the street."

It is quite incredible how Tissaia's able to say these things so matter-of-factly. It doesn't sound like a line. It doesn't feel creepy or anything. It's just like she's stating a fact.

"Oh, people ask me out," Yennefer says. "And sometimes I even say yes." She shrugs. "But I've never really had that thing you know? That thing where you meet someone and you know it's right."

"Does such a thing exist?" Tissaia asks. "I've never had that either. My past relationships have generally been based on being able to spend time in the person's company without wishing to murder them."

"Well, that's as good a reason as any, I suppose," Yennefer says, with a smile.

"That, or really good sex," Tissaia continues, rendering Yen mute. "It's best if you can find both at once."

"Uh, yeah," Yen manages to get out. "That's...that's a good combination."

Tissaia sighs, eyes flicking off to the side again. "Her ladyship is demanding my attention again. She wishes to be fed. And I suppose I should eat something as well. I forgot to stop for lunch today."

The abrupt change of subject leaves Yennefer thrown and she glances at the clock on her computer, surprised to find it's after six. "Shit. I'm sorry I've kept you so long."

"Hmmm?" Tissaia must also see the time, and her eyebrows go up. "Oh. I didn't realise we'd been speaking for so long."

"Me neither." Yen shrugs. "Must be the charming company, yeah?"

Tissaia smirks and shakes her head. "Something like that."

"So, what are you having for dinner, then?" Yen realises she should just have said goodbye, but wants a few more minutes of adult, non-work conversation.

"Oh, I don't know. I have some odds and ends in the fridge that need to be used up." She stretches her arms above her head, causing the button on her shirt to gape just a little. "Perhaps I'll throw some gnocchi and spinach and something else together. What about you?"

"Me?" Yen shrugs. "Dunno. Pot Noodle or something, probably."

Tissaia sits up straight and frowns. "That's not an adequate dinner."

"I'm not much of a cook," Yennefer admits. "I get by."

Shaking her head, Tissaia starts typing furiously. "I'm sending you over a list of staple ingredients. The next time you go food shopping, pick these up and I'll provide you with some basic recipes which will ensure that your meals include vegetables and nutrients."

"You really don't have to do that," Yennefer tells her, though she's touched by the thought and concern. "But I was gonna go shopping tonight, as it happens. It's quieter in the evenings."

"Very well." Tissaia hits a key with a flourish and then clicks her mouse. "Pick up what you can of those and I'll pull together some recipes tonight. It'll give my brain something to think about that isn't a budget or a staffing plan."

Her e-mail pings and she sees it's from Tissaia. She scans through the list, hoping it's not all fancy herbs that you can only get from Waitrose, but finds that everything is simple and cheap and recognisable. "Cool. Thanks."

"It's not a problem." Tissaia lifts her nose. "I find you a very effective person to work with. I don't want you wasting away to nothing during this lockdown."

"I think the opposite is probably far more likely," Yen says. "But it's appreciated."

A couple of days later, she's trying out one of Tissaia's recipes when she finds herself totally lost. The sauce she'd been attempting had started off smelling great, but has gone a bit darker than she expected. Glancing at the clock, she sees it's nearly eight, but since nobody can go out or do anything fun, she's pretty sure Tissaia will be available, even on a Friday evening.

Using her phone rather than her laptop, she zooms Tissaia. It takes a few seconds, but she answers. Yennefer nearly drops the pot she's stirring. Tissaia's hair is down and flowing over her shoulders, which are bare save for a couple of thin straps.

"Yennefer? Is everything okay?" Tissaia asks, sweeping her hair over her ear with her free hand; it looks like she's also answered on her phone.

"I, uh-" Seeing Tissaia in what looks like her pyjamas was not what she expected and her brain is not cooperating. "I'm trying that first thing you sent over and I just wondered...should the sauce look like this?" She reverses the camera and shows Tissaia the pot. She can tell from the other woman's face that it should not look like that.

"Umm," Tissaia squints. "Maybe try adding a little cornflour and a little more water and stir vigorously. You might be able to salvage it?"

"Cornflour, cornflour." Yen flips the camera again. "I'm just gonna pop you on the counter for a sec, okay?" She pauses. "I mean, sorry, I've probably disturbed you and-"

"You haven't," Tissaia assures her. "Go and get the cornflour. I'll wait."

After much vigorous stirring, they agree unanimously that the sauce is not able to be saved. Yen sighs as she tips it into the bin.

"Do you have enough ingredients left to start again?" Tissaia asks. "I haven't eaten yet, so I could make the same dish and step you through it?"

"Seriously?" Yen asks. "Like a cooking lesson?"

"Well, it's a long time since I stood in front of a class of students, Yen, but I think I still remember vaguely how to do it." Tissaia smiles. "It could be enjoyable." She tilts her head. "Unless you're planning to be an unruly student?"

"No, Miss," Yennefer teases. "I'll be good."

"Excellent. Let me just gather what I need together." She gets up and heads into what Yen assumes is her kitchen. She's holding her phone at a very distracting angle that allows Yennefer a good view of her chest from underneath as she stretches into cupboards to get things, and Yennefer busies herself tidying up her own workspace so that she can follow along. Eventually Tissaia puts the phone down so that she can tie on an apron.

"Right, then," she says, raising both eyebrows. "Shall we begin?"

Under Tissaia's tutelage, the actual cooking bit goes much more smoothly. Yennefer's sauce stays the colour it's supposed to, and it smells divine. She tips the phone up to give Tissaia a better view.

"Excellent," Tissaia tells her. "Give it a taste and see if it needs more seasoning." She smiles. "Not something I advise in my chemistry classes, I must say."

Yen laughs, as she blows on the spoonful of sauce before tasting it. "Oh my God. It's, like, actual food. Like proper food that people make in restaurants!"

That earns her a throaty laugh from Tissaia. "Cooking is just science, Yennefer." She stirs her own pot. "Apply heat. Change matter. Balance flavours. All to achieve the reaction you require." She brings her wooden spoon to her lips, her eyes closing when she tastes her creation. "And, on occasion, it's pure alchemy."

"Wow. Can't you be, I dunno, sacked from the Chemistry department for talking about stuff like that?" Yen asks, as she fills her plate with pasta and vegetables, covering them liberally with sauce.

Tissaia pauses in her own plating up to give Yennefer a look. "I'm the boss of the Chemistry department, dear."

The combination of the apron, the bare arms, and the authoritative tone is really working for Yen and she doesn't want this to end.

"Do you, uh-" She swallows. "I mean, I thought it might be nice to, you know, eat together. If that's something you'd like. I don't know if that's weird or-"

"I'd like it very much, Yen," Tissaia says. "If nothing else, I want your verdict on the meal." She bends down and Yennefer swears she's doing this on purpose because it offers a great view of her backside. She emerges with a glass and proceeds to grab a bottle of wine from a rack. "Will you join me?"

"Why not?" Yen grabs a bottle she'd opened the previous evening and pours herself a glass. Looking between it and the plate, she realises she has no hands to carry her phone. But two can play at the teasing game so she picks it up and smiles. "Sorry, just gonna have to shove you down my top for a second." She sees Tissaia's face go slack and then she follows through, sticking her phone inside her top and picking up her meal and drink.

Once she's settled on the couch, she pulls the phone back out to find Tissaia has also retired back to the living room. The other woman lifts an eyebrow.

"Well, that was unusual." Taking a sip of her wine, she licks her lips. "Usually I wait until after dinner before I try to get that close to a woman's chest on the first date."

Yen doesn't even bother trying to cover the snorting laugh, now that she knows Tissaia likes it. And it feels good to just let herself be herself. She does it so infrequently, sometimes she forgets how to be.

"Yeah, well, don't take that to mean I'm easy, okay?" She winks.

"Oh, I think you're anything but easy, Yennefer," Tissaia says. "But I never did learn to take the path of least resistance."

Holding her glass up to the screen, Yen smiles. "I'll drink to that. Cheers."

Tissaia does likewise. "Cheers."

Still floating on the clouds from her weird dinner date, Yen is surprised to get a text from Jaskier the following morning.

Feeling a bit better. (Still dying.) Want a catch up?

She shakes her head and types out a response.

You should be resting. And it's Saturday!! Everything's fine. Don't worry about anything. I've got it covered.

The three little dots indicating that Jaskier is responding pop up immediately, so she waits.

I know it's going above and beyond, but I really feel shitty for landing you in it. Especially with Cruella De Vries.

Yen frowns. She'd somehow managed to forget how Jaskier felt about Tissaia. Her immediate reaction is to type back something snippy and defensive, but she refrains; he's ill, after all.

Like I said, nothing to worry about. Tissaia's been perfectly well behaved. She smiles. She's a bit of a dream client actually.

No dots come this time, but after a couple of seconds, Yen's phone starts to vibrate with a FaceTime call from Jaskier. She rolls her eyes and answers. He swims into view looking paler than usual, his cheeks a little hollow.

"Wow. You look like shit," Yen tells him.

"Oh, thanks." He coughs pitifully. "It's a side-effect of all the dying I'm doing." He shakes his head. "Now, please explain to me what you meant by that last text. Because it looked like you said that Tissaia De Vries was a 'dream client', and that cannot be what you meant."

"That's exactly what I mean. She's been amazing." Yennefer bites her lip before she gushes too much. "I like her way of working, Jask. She knows what she needs and she's upfront about it. Which is a step up from three quarters of my other clients. Most of those academics don't know their arse from their elbow. I'd take Tissaia any day."

Jaskier shakes his head, like he's dazed. "Okay, let's put aside all that stuff for one second, why are you calling her 'Tissaia' like you're old buddies?"

"She told me to call her Tissaia." Yen shrugs. "Why, what do you call her?"

"To her face? Dr De Vries!" Jaskier exclaims. "I've worked with that bitch for over a year and she's never once told me to call her Tissaia."

"She's not a bitch," Yennefer says, all levity gone. "Don't call her that."

It takes a moment, but Jaskier's eyes go wide and he points at the screen, leaning away as if he's going to catch something. "Oh my fucking God. You fucking fancy her."

Yen's mouth drops open to deny the accusation, but then she decides against it. "Well, is that so surprising? She's gorgeous, and funny and interesting and intelligent. It would be weird if I didn't fancy her."

"No, no it wouldn't." Jaskier shakes his head like a toddler. "It would be completely normal if you didn't fancy her." He points at himself. "For instance, I don't fancy her. See? See how easy it is not to fancy her?"

"You, my lovely, are what is colloquially known as an extremely gay man." She rolls her eyes. "It would be weird if you did fancy her."

Slumping back against the cushions he's propped up on, Jaskier sighs. "Yennefer, I'm on my deathbed here. I can't believe you're using up what little energy I have left to talk about your fucked-up taste in women."

"It's not fucked-up!" Yen frowns. "As I've just pointed out, it's perfectly reasonable for me to fancy Tissaia."

"Are we talking about the same Tissaia, here?" Jask coughs again. "Are you sure you there hasn't been some mix up and you've accidentally been talking to her assistant? Triss? She's much nicer and very cute." He nods. "I could see the two of you hooking up, actually. Triss. Tiss. Easy mistake to make."

"It's definitely Tissaia. She introduced herself, very formally, on the first call." Yen smiles as she remembers it. "Oh, and she doesn't like to be called Tiss."

"Jesus fuck, did you call her 'Tiss'?" Jaskier hisses, looking both horrified and delighted that Yennefer might have attempted this.

"No. She just told me she doesn't like it." She taps her fingernails on the back of her phone, debating whether or not to tell him the rest. She decides she might as well. She's nobody else in her life who knows Tissaia and she wants to talk to someone about what's going on. "We, uh, we've been talking. Like, outside of work." She bites her lip. "I think we kind of had a zoom date last night."

Jaskier just stares at her for a full ten seconds. He turns and looks offscreen. "Geralt, babe, are we sure my fever broke? Because I think I'm fucking hallucinating again."

"Oh for God's sake," Yen says. "You're being ridiculous."

"I am not!" Jaskier almost yells, then dissolves into a fit of coughing. "Yen, she makes Cersei Lannister look like someone's nice old auntie. She's a fucking demon."

"Maybe you just don't have my way with women, Jask." She hears Geralt make a noise that she assumes is a laugh in the background. Or maybe he's agreeing. It's often hard to interpret his grunts.

"If it means not going on zoom dates with Dr De Fucking Death Stare, I think I'm quite happy not to have your way with women, Yennefer."

"Your loss." She winks. "Anyway, weren't you calling for an update on work?"

"How am I supposed to care about work when this is going on?" He rolls his eyes. "Right, you better tell me all about how this odd crush started. I'll try to refrain from judging you, but I can't promise anything."

She gets comfy on the couch, pulling a blanket over her legs and smiles. "Well, it probably started when she didn't look like the Wicked Witch of the West…"

She spends another hour on the call, telling Jaskier all about the things she likes about Tissaia, and all the compliments Tissaia's paid her. While they're talking, someone buzzes her door. She frowns. She hasn't ordered anything, but she tells Jaskier to hang on and goes to answer it. She opens the door to find a large box sitting on the step, with the courier six feet away, nodding when he sees she's picked it up.

It's heavy, so she dumps it on the table and opens the note that's attached to the outside.

This is a little token of gratitude for all the work you've put in over the last couple of weeks on my recruitment campaign. I've noticed you wrinkling your nose whenever you take a sip of coffee. Have a decent one on me. TdV x

Her breath speeds up and she rips into the box, revealing a very fancy coffee maker and several bags of beans. She covers her mouth before grabbing her phone from its resting place on the coffee table.

"About fucking time. I thought you'd been abducted by-"

"She bought me a coffee machine, Jask!" Yen turns the screen so he can see the gift, and then flips it back. "She bought me a fucking coffee machine because she knew I was drinking shitty coffee!"

"That bitch," Jaskier mutters. "A fucking year and I've never had so much as a 'thank you' from her."

Yennefer's face falls. "Oh God." She widens her eyes at him. "I think I could fall in love with her."

"Christ al-fucking-mighty." Jaskier blows out a breath. "I better be the best man at your wedding."

Yennefer can't even bring herself to laugh. She doesn't know this woman. She's never even met her. But, for reasons unknown, a hypothetical wedding doesn't sound ridiculous.

Oh shit. She's in trouble.


Chapter 3

Her first sip of good coffee in weeks is like manna from heaven. The machine had taken her a good while to get up and running, what with all the fancy attachments and running water through to clean it, but that first taste makes it all worthwhile. She snaps a selfie holding up a mug with the machine in the background and goes to send it to Tissaia. Frowning, she realises that she doesn't have her phone number. Pressing her lips together, she debates whether or not it's really bad form to zoom people out of the blue on a Saturday morning. But Tissaia hadn't seemed too bothered the previous evening, so without second-guessing herself too much, she goes ahead.

The call is answered after a few seconds and Tissaia's face swims into view. She's breathing quickly and there's sweat shining on her brow. "Yennefer? Is everything okay?"

It's then that Yen realises she's just staring and hasn't greeted Tissaia despite being the one to initiate the call. "Yes!" That was far too enthusiastic. "I, uh, mean, yeah, everything's fine." She squints and tilts her phone, seeing blue behind Tissaia's shoulder. "Are you outside?"

"Yes, I've come out for a little run," Tissaia says, wiping a wrist over her brow. "I've not been getting the opportunity during the week so, when it was a nice day, I forced myself into my running shoes and, I must say, I feel better for it."

"You look-" Amazing. "-like you're enjoying it." Yennefer bites her lip. "I'm sorry to bug you and take you out of the zone."

"No, no, I needed a rest anyway." Tissaia takes a swig from a bottle of water and Yen watches her throat bob as she swallows. It's making her feel a bit funny but she tries not to show it as Tissaia turns back and smiles at the screen. "So, is this a social call or did you need something?"

"It's a thank you call," Yennefer says, grateful to have a safe subject. She holds up the cup of coffee. "You absolutely did not need to send me a coffee machine, but my God it's appreciated."

Tissaia laughs softly. "Good. I'm glad you like it."

"How did you even get my address?" Yennefer asks, the thought only just occurring to her.

"I took a chance and contacted your admin person and simply asked for it." She frowns. "You really should tighten up on data security, you know. She asked if I was planning to murder you. When I said I wasn't, she said that was a pity and e-mailed me the address."

Fucking Fringilla. They've never really seen eye to eye. But encouraging randoms to murder her is a bit much, even for her.

"Well, thank you again." She takes a sip of the coffee and sighs. "It's amazing."

Tissaia shrugs and then rolls her shoulders, stretching out her neck. "Well, if things were normal, I'd probably have asked you out for a coffee by now. This was the next best thing at my disposal."

Everything inside Yennefer simultaneously freezes and catches fire. "Y-you'd have asked me out for coffee?" She swallows. "Like, on a date?"

Tissaia tilts her head, the side of her mouth curling up. "Yes, Yennefer. Like on a date. Isn't that what people do when they find each other attractive?"

Her cheeks burn at the compliment, but she can't hide her grin. "You find me attractive, then?"

With a sigh, Tissaia rolls her eyes. "Come on, Yen. Playing coy doesn't suit you. You're well aware I find you attractive." She lifts an eyebrow. "Just like I'm aware you find me attractive."

Yen laughs, but doesn't deny it. "Pretty full of yourself, aren't you?"

"My dear, the dilation of your pupils when I answered this call was almost worrying." She tuts. "It doesn't take a genius to work it out."

"Fine," Yen says, pretending to give in. "So maybe I think you're hot or whatever." She enjoys the smile this earns. "So, a coffee date, eh? How do you think that would have gone?"

"Well, I imagine we'd have gone to my favourite little coffee shop," Tissaia says, starting to walk. "It has an upstairs area with lots of window seats where you can look out over the city. Lovely in the evenings to see all the lights come on. And it has a very good selection of cakes."

Yennefer hums her approval, curling her legs under herself on her armchair. "What would we do after our coffee and cake?"

"Oh, I don't know," Tissaia shrugs. "Maybe we'd go for a walk?" She purses her lips in thought and it makes her nose wrinkle adorably. "I might ask if I could hold your hand."

Those words, those images, hit Yennefer square in the chest. She closes her eyes, imagining how it would feel for Tissaia's hand to slip into her own. How their skin would touch and their fingers would slide together. It feels impossible and erotic and God she wants it.

"Yennefer?" Tissaia's voice draws her out of her mind and she opens her eyes and blinks.

"Sorry." She swallows. "I was just picturing the evening you were describing. It sounds wonderful."

Tissaia's lips twitch at the edges, but her smile is almost sad. "Isn't it amazing what we took for granted? Who would ever have thought that grabbing a coffee together would become an impossible dream?"

That's a thought Yennefer's had many times during the lockdown. Every time she's had to stand in a queue to get into a shop. Every time she's found herself feeling suffocated under a cloth face covering. Every time she's had a fleeting desire to do something and then remembered she can't. She hopes that she, that everyone, will really appreciate their freedom once it is returned.

"What, um, what other dates would we go on, if we had the chance?" Yen asks.

"Well, I asked you on the coffee date," Tissaia says. "It's only fair you come up with the next one."

"Dancing," Yen says, immediately. "I'd take you dancing."

Tissaia nods her approval. "So you're an old-fashioned girl at heart?"

"Or maybe I'm a girl who would just love to have an excuse to have you in my arms all night?" Yen says. "Can't do that at a restaurant or the cinema, can you?"

The image of having Tissaia pressed against her, to feel every curve and dip on her body and wrap her arms around her, kind of makes Yen want to cry a little bit. It's been so long since she touched anyone. And not in a sexual way. Handshakes, accidental brushes against another person, hugs hello and goodbye with friends. All feel like a relic of a past she can't quite remember. She doesn't feel like she's the kind of person who needs a whole lot of physical contact, but going without it suggests otherwise. She craves the feeling of her skin touching Tissaia's like a drug.

"That's true," Tissaia's saying. "And we've already been on a dinner date of sorts." She smiles. "Dancing it is, then. But I'm afraid you'd have to lead. I'm not very skilled in that area."

Being handed that little bit of power is intoxicating. Knowing that Tissaia would let her be in charge of her body like that is a degree of trust she wouldn't ask, and wouldn't expect, of anyone at this point. She smiles.

"I'd keep you right," she promises. What they're talking about suddenly feels very far away. "We'll get there, won't we? I mean, I know it'll take a while, but we'll get there at some point?"

"Yes, we will," Tissaia says, her voice firm. "It's difficult just now, with no defined end point. But it will pass. We will find ways to move forward. And when we do, I will hold you to your word; we will go dancing."

Yennefer bites her lip. "Do you think this is weird?" she blurts out. "Here we are planning dates and we've never even met."

"Don't be ridiculous, of course we've met," Tissaia says, frowning. "We may not have physically been in one another's company, but we have met."

"I suppose," Yen says. "And it's not all that different to those dating apps everyone uses, really. People meet through technology, talk a bit, then meet in person later, right?"

"Yes." Tissaia frowns. "Although I'd say our meeting was a little more organic, wouldn't you? We spoke. I didn't just see a picture of you on my phone and then swipe in whichever direction is deemed to be positive."

"You would have, though, right?" Yen curls into herself a bit more. "You'd have swiped right?"

"If you're asking if your looks alone would have caught my attention, Yennefer, then yes." Tissaia shakes her head. "We've covered this." She stops walking and just looks into the screen, a soft smile on her lips. "You are stunning."

Feeling a bit foolish for having asked, Yen can't help but be thrilled at the compliment. "So are you," she murmurs.

Tissaia rolls her eyes. "Oh, yes, I'm sure I'm a vision of loveliness right now." She tilts her phone to show Yennefer her running outfit, which is perfectly nice. She brings the camera back up to her face. "Sweaty faced and in old running clothes isn't my best look."

"It's working for me," Yennefer tells her. "A lot."

Laughing, Tissaia scoffs. "You're being ridiculous." Before Yen can interject, she carries on. "Anyway, I should finish off this run. What are you doing this eve-" She closes her eyes. "Sorry. Stupid question."

"Nothing," Yen confirms. "Which probably literally means 'nothing'." She shifts in the chair, moving her leg out from under herself where it's starting to cramp. "I'm finding I can't really concentrate on anything at the moment. I don't know if it's like, low level anxiety or something, but I just- I can't settle myself to anything."

"No, I know what you mean," Tissaia says. "I have a pile of books by my bed that I've started and then discarded."

Great. Now she's picturing Tissaia's bed. And Tissaia in that bed, reading. Maybe with her glasses on. Maybe they're sliding just slightly down the bridge of her nose. And maybe one of the straps of her pyjama top is hanging off one should-

"Would you care to try and watch a film together?" Tissaia shrugs. "Perhaps it would be easier to concentrate while making conversation with someone else?"

"Yeah, that might work," Yennefer says. She grins. "So, would this count as our cinema date, then?"

"The lockdown equivalent, yes," Tissaia says. "But without the opportunity for one of us to pretend to yawn and put our arm around the other."

"No snogging in the back row either," Yennefer laments.

Tissaia sighs. "Soon."

"Not soon enough," Yennefer murmurs. But she paints on a bright smile. "Okay, go and finish your run in peace. I'll try and find a film we might both like and I'll see you tonight, okay?"

Nodding, Tissaia smiles. "I'll see you tonight. Bye."

"Bye," Yen whispers, and disconnects the call. Her smile drops. "What the fuck are we gonna watch?"

When Tissaia zooms her later that evening, Yen is already set up on the couch with her laptop and a bowl of popcorn. She accepts the call, smiling when she sees Tissaia's face pop up.

"Hey," Yen says, waving.

"Good evening." Tissaia lifts her eyebrows. "What are you eating?"

Yen holds up a handful. "Popcorn. I found a bag of Butterkist at the back of a cupboard. It felt appropriate."

"Indeed." Tissaia sighs. "I'm jealous." She tilts her camera down to reveal a bowl of carrots and some kind of dip. The camera comes back up to reveal Tissaia pouting. Yennefer laughs.

"You should be jealous. That's far too healthy."

"I know. But I don't have much by way of snacks in the house," Tissaia explains. She holds up a carrot and takes a bite, snapping it with her teeth. "These will have to do." She chews. "So, what are we watching?"

"It kind of depends," Yennefer says. "And this may be a dealbreaker, but how do you feel about Marilyn Monroe?" She'd figured that something old would be better than something contemporary. With old films there's that degree of familiarity and you don't have to concentrate as much.

"I find her fascinating, to be honest," Tissaia says. "As with many women of her era, her public persona appears to have been very different to her private one. I've read quite a few biographies about her, and I enjoy quite a number of her films."

"Excellent," Yennefer says, intrigued by Tissaia's reasons for liking Marilyn. They echo her own. Growing up the way she did, Yennefer learned at an early age how to perform the way people expected. That performative element of Marilyn's life has always drawn her in as well. "So, I'd thought we could watch Gentlemen Prefer Blondes."

Tissaia smiles. "It's one of my favourites," she says, and then glances to the side. "Oh, it appears we have someone else joining us this evening." A tail appears on the bottom of Yen's screen, moving across it like the shark's fin in Jaws. Then a head pops up and bumps against Tissaia's chin.

"Hi Sabrina," Yennefer says. The cat pays her no heed whatsoever, but presses her head into Tissaia's hand when she scratches her ears.

"Ignore her," Tissaia says. "She's very possessive of my attention."

"I can't say I blame her," Yennefer says, tilting her head. "If you were doing that to me, I'm not sure I'd want someone trying to talk to you and distracting you from your task either."

It's hard to tell through the screen, but it looks like Tissaia's eyes darken. She lifts her chin. "Hmmm. Now that is an interesting thought." She presses her lips together. "Maybe you should start the film. Before either of us get too...distracted."

"That's...probably a good idea," Yen says. She's already got the film ready to go, so she shares her screen with Tissaia and they settle down as the credits come up and the first number kicks in.

It turns out it is easier to concentrate on a movie when watching with someone else. They both comment on scenes, acting and songs, arguing their points where necessary, or laughing in agreement. It's fun. Yennefer is genuinely having real fun. In a way she can't ever remember doing on any 'real' dates she's gone on.

As the evening gets later and the movie slows down, Yennefer notices Tissaia's eyelids drooping. At some point, she'd rested her head on the arm of her couch, and it looks like she's falling asleep. Yen's not sure when she stopped watching the film in favour of watching Tissaia sleep, but she must have done, because the film is finished and Tissaia's snoring adorably and Yen wants nothing more than to be able to drape a blanket over her and kiss her forehead.

Reaching out, she touches Tissaia's cheek on the screen, trying to imagine what her skin would feel like. She draws her thumb over her lips. She's trailing her index finger along her eyebrow, when Tissaia disappears and the whole screen is taken over by two huge eyes.

"Fuck!" Yen pulls back from the laptop, knocking over her empty popcorn bowl, sending it clanging to the floor.

The eyes disappear and reveal Tissaia blinking sleepily. "Yen? Is everything okay?"

Putting a hand over her heart, Yen tries to bring her breathing under control. "Uh, yeah, everything's fine. Sabrina just gave me a bit of a scare, that's all."

"Was I- did I miss the end?" Tissaia asks, stretching and rubbing at her eyes.

"Yeah, you fell asleep," Yen says. "I'll try not to take it personally."

"You should take it as a great compliment," Tissaia says, covering a yawn. "Sleep doesn't come easily to me at the best of times. I must have felt very comfortable in your presence."

Yen's chest grows warm. Trust isn't something that she grants quickly or often, and she has a feeling the same is true of Tissaia. So this feels very special.

"I'll take it as a compliment, then," she says. "But you should get off to bed now."

"Yes, I think I shall." Tissaia smiles, a soft stretching of her lips. "Thank you for tonight. I enjoyed it very much."

"Me too," Yennefer says. "Best date I've been on-" Ever. "-in ages."

Tissaia laughs softly. "Yes, likewise." She sighs. "Just imagine what it will be like when we can be in the same room."

Yen lifts an eyebrow. "Oh, I do imagine that. Pretty frequently, to be honest."

She's sure Tissaia's eyes darken this time, and she bites her lip. "Well, on that note, I think I should probably go to bed." There's an implication that hangs heavy on Tissaia's words and it makes Yen's throat go dry.

She nods and swallows. "Yeah, okay. I probably should go to bed too."

"I'll speak to you tomorrow?" Tissaia asks.

"Of course," Yen confirms. "Oh! Before you go, I realised earlier I don't have your phone number. The only way I can contact you is through zoom."

Tissaia smiles. "How funny that we forgot to exchange numbers." She rattles off her phone number while Yen enters it on her phone.

"Great, got it." Yen smiles as Tissaia smothers another yawn. "Right, go to bed. I'll text you so that you have my number too, yeah?"

"Sounds good." Tissaia nods. "Goodnight, Yen."

"'Night." Yen waits until Tissaia disconnects before typing out a quick text and sending it. Tissaia looked absolutely knackered, so she doesn't expect a response tonight, so she's surprised when her phone pings. It's a message from Tissaia. Just a single red heart emoji. Yen shakes her head, placing the phone against her chest.

"So, you spent the night watching her sleep via a video link?" Jaskier asks.

Yennefer frowns. "That's not-"

"That's well creepy, mate." He shakes his head. "That's, like, stalker level stuff."

"We were watching a film together." Yen rubs at the bridge of her nose. She shouldn't have called him to talk about this. "She fell asleep just before the end. I wasn't watching her sleep on a fucking hidden camera."

"It's a slippery slope, Yen."

"Anyway," she glares at him. "Her cat frightened the shit out of me and my scream woke her up. So it was, like, five minutes of watching her sleep at most." She shudders. "I'm sure that cat hates me."

Jaskier smirks. "Why does it not surprise me that Tissaia De Vries has an intimidating puss-"

"I thought you were going to try to be supportive?" Yen snaps.

He puts a hand on his chest, like her words have wounded him. "This is me being supportive."

"Well, you're shit at it."

"Look, Yen, I'm just looking out for you, that's all." He's clearly trying his best to look earnest. "I mean, I know this is all new to you and it's not your fault you have some kind of scary headmistress dominatrix kink or whatever-"

"What? I don't have a-"

"Hey!" He holds his hands up in surrender. "No judgement! We all have our things that get us going. But I feel like you've got this idea of her as this nice person, and I'm scared that one day you'll see the real her and it'll break your little lesbian heart."

"I've seen the real her, Jask." She believes that completely. Whatever image Jaskier has of her is wrong. She shakes her head and continues. "We've talked, really talked, about nothing and everything." She shrugs. "I feel like I've known her forever, you know? And it's only been, like, a month."

He sighs. "Well. If she ends up turning into some massive spider-y thing with horns and teeth eats you alive, don't come crying to me."

Yennefer rolls her eyes. Geralt appears on the screen behind Jaskier. "Ignore him, Yen. Fuck who you wanna fuck."

"But I don't want to fuck her," Yen whines. "That's the problem." She sighs. "I want to hold her hand. I want to put my arm around her shoulder. I want to know what her hair and her skin smell like. I want to dance with her. I want to feel her lips on my cheek."

"Alright, alright, calm down Jane Austen." Jaskier rolls his eyes. "At this rate you'll faint if she flashes an ankle at you."

She looks between the two men. "Am I being pathetic?"

"No," Geralt says, just as Jaskier replies in the affirmative. Geralt nudges him and he sighs.

"Fine," he relents. "I suppose it's quite sweet, really."

"I just-" She closes her eyes. "I just want to be near her. And I can't be. And it's shit."

"You can be," Geralt says. "Just go for a walk at the same time in the same place."

Yennefer frowns. "Is that allowed?"

Jaskier claps his hands together, his eyes wide and bright. "Why wouldn't it be? You're allowed to exercise, she's allowed to exercise. Why shouldn't you exercise at the same time in the same place? Keeping six feet between you at all times." He puts both hands over his mouth. "Oh my God. The sexual tension is killing me and it's not even happened yet."

Stomach churning with nerves, Yen sits up, suddenly unsure what to do with her hands. She could see Tissaia. She could be near her. They could be in the same space, breathing the same air, close enough to touch.


"I'm gonna do it. I'm gonna ask her." Yen wets her lips. "Oh shit. I'm gonna see her."

"I want you to film every second of this meeting and send it to me," Jaskier says. "I feel you owe me that much, since I practically introduced the two of you."

"I'm not filming it," Yennefer tells him. "And if you don't shut up, I'm not going to tell you about any of it, either."

Geralt shakes his head at the pair of them. He kisses the top of Jaskier's head and nods at the screen. "Good luck, Yen."

"Cheers." She waves as he wanders off. "Right. I'm signing off now. I'm going to ask my-" She pauses, forehead wrinkling in thought.

"Girlfriend," Jaskier prompts. "I know you've not had many of them, Yen, but that's what you lesbians call it when you find another lady you want to bang. And immediately move in with."

"I don't know if she's my girlfriend," Yen says. "She's my something."

"Oh, she's something, alright," Jaskier says. He winks. "Go on. Go and have a socially distant date with your terrifying potential girlfriend."

She smiles. "I will. Thanks. And thank Geralt for the idea. I don't know why I never thought of it before."

"He speaks rarely, but when he does, it's generally useful," Jaskier says. "Bye babes."


She disconnects the call and bites her lip. Her stomach is flip-flopping all over the place. She really might be able to be close to Tissaia in the very near future. The thought is both wonderful and frightening. What if it changes things? What if Tissaia sees her and changes her mind? What if it makes everything worse? She sighs.

What if it's everything?


Chapter 4

Tissaia is involved in an emergency staff meeting that takes most of the afternoon and evening - on a Sunday - so, apart from a couple of texts back and forth, Yennefer doesn't get a chance to speak to her until much later than usual. She attempts to find things that will keep her mind occupied. She plays a game on her phone, tries to read a book, decides to clean out her kitchen cabinets. All of which last around fifteen minutes before she finds herself daydreaming about getting to breathe the same air as Tissaia De Vries.

Somehow she makes it through the evening and when her phone buzzes with a FaceTime call just after ten, she finds her hands are shaking as she answers it.

"Hey," she says when Tissaia appears on her screen, looking tired. "How was the meeting?"

"Tedious." Tissaia sighs. "And pointless, in the end. It was just some of the people in finance panicking and needing reassurance. Which I had already given them." She pinches the top of her nose where her glasses have left a mark. She sighs again and offers Yennefer a tired smile. "What about you? What have you been doing?"

"Missing you." It's out before she really has time to consider it, but it's the truth. She blushes. "I mean, you know, we usually talk in the evenings and I- I suppose I'm just used to that happening now because I-"

"Sshhhh," Tissaia says, still smiling. "It's okay, Yen. You don't need to babble until you find an excuse. I missed speaking to you too."

"Did you?" God. She hates being this needy. She hates that she's never been loved well enough to believe that people might want to spend time with her.

"Yes." Tissaia nods. "I found my thoughts drifting to you several times during my interminable meeting." She laughs. "More than once I found myself imagining how you might describe one of the attendees, or what you might say in response to their nonsense. It kept me goi-" A yawn steals the end of the word away and Tissaia covers her mouth, shaking her head. "Oh, I'm sorry dear. I don't know where that came from."

"You're knackered," Yen says. "No wonder, being forced to sit through all that on your day off." She tuts. "You need to get yourself to bed."

"Yes, I probably should." Tissaia's bottom lip protrudes almost imperceptibly. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be daft," Yennefer tells her. "You need sleep." She bites her lip. "Listen, before you head off, I've had an idea and I wanted to see what you thought of it."

Tissaia lifts an eyebrow. "Sounds intriguing." She nods. "Go on."

"So, we're both allowed to exercise once a day, right?"

"Yes," Tissaia says, tilting her head.

"And there's no rule against us both doing our daily exercise at the same time, in the same place, is there?"

Despite her exhaustion, Tissaia's eyes widen. "No," she says, slowly. "I don't suppose there is."

"And we live pretty close to each other," Yen continues, heartened by the response. "So we could easily meet in the middle and go for a walk, right?"

"Oh." Tissaia smiles. "I thought when you mentioned 'exercise' you meant that we should go for a run together."

Yen wrinkles her nose. "I don't really run, if I can help it," she admits. "And I don't really want the first time you see me in real life to involve leggings, a red face and sweat."

The tip of Tissaia's tongue peeks out and moistens her lips. "Oh, I don't know. I might quite like that."

"Shut up," Yen huffs. "I'm being serious. Do you want to meet me after work tomorrow for a socially distant walk?" She swallows. "I promise to stay six feet away from you at all times."

"How gallant of you." Tissaia's pursed lips soften into a smile. "Yes. I'd like to meet up with you."

"Okay. Okay cool," Yen says, trying to let out the breath she'd been holding in a non-obvious way. "That's...that's- wow. We're really gonna see each other. In real life."

This causes Tissaia to let out a full throaty laugh. She quirks an eyebrow. "As opposed to the elaborate fantasy world we're currently interacting in?"

"Stop teasing me!" Yen whines, even though she's kind of enjoying it. "You know what I mean. And I'm, like, nervous!"

"Why on earth are you nervous?" Tissaia asks, tilting her head. "It's hardly a blind date."

"No, I know, I just-" Yen bites her lip. She shakes her head, and closes her eyes, shoulders slumping. "I'm-"

"Yennefer." Tissaia's voice is soft, inviting. "Look at me." She looks up and finds Tissaia looking back at her, gaze sure and unwavering. "Whatever it is in your past that has undermined your confidence and made you nervous about people liking you, you needn't worry. I want to see you tomorrow. I want to be in the same space as you." She smiles. "I like you, Yen. I like you very much."

The frankness of the statement floors Yennefer. Generally people spend their time building up an image of themselves that they want to project to the world and hide behind. They worry about how they are being perceived, if they are good enough, or pretty enough or popular enough. Validation is sought through likes and comments on false representations of a life unlived. But to have someone see you, really see you, and simply state that they like you and want to spend time with you is a rare and precious thing, and one that Yennefer can't remember experiencing before.

She clears her throat so that she's able to reply. "I like you too."

"Well then," Tissaia shrugs. "That's not going to change tomorrow, is it?"

"I suppose not." Yen rolls her eyes. "Okay, enough of my neuroses keeping you up. Get to bed and get some sleep." She smiles. "And I'll see you tomorrow."

"See you tomorrow, Yen," Tissaia says, returning the smile, albeit sleepily. "Goodnight."

"Night." Yen waves until Tissaia ends the call and then she flops down onto the couch, looking at the ceiling. She smiles, grabbing her phone again and typing out a quick message to Jaskier.

Got a hot date with a pretty lady tomorrow!

His reply is almost instant.

Well, I'm glad you've moved on from Tissaia. Good for you babes. xxxx

She frowns, and is about to respond when he sends a winky face emoji to follow his message and then keeps typing.

I'm kidding. I mean I'm still baffled by this whole thing. But I'm happy for you. It's been far too long since you had any action of a sexual nature.

Her mouth drops open, but he's typing another message.

It was getting to the point where I was thinking of lending you Geralt for a night.

She wrinkles her nose. Geralt's fit, if you're into that sort of big, muscled hunk thing. But she can't imagine spending time in his company where they would have to converse on a one-to-one basis, even just as a prelude to sex. Just imagining the stilted conversation is giving her second hand embarrassment. He and Jaskier work fine as a couple because Jaskier talks incessantly and all Geralt has to do is grunt his agreement or dissent. She types a response and sends it.

That won't be necessary, but thanks for the thought.

You are very welcome. Now go and get your beauty sleep. You've got a socially distant date to go on and document every second of tomorrow. I want you well rested.

She snorts.

I am NOT recording any of it for you.

Spoilsport. I want details after. Byyeeeeeeee!

She sighs and lets her phone fall onto her chest. How can she possibly be expected to get any sleep when her brain is buzzing with excitement and nerves and everything in between?

The following day, work somehow both drags and flies by and it's five o'clock before Yen knows what's happening. Tissaia had texted her a park where they could meet and they'd agreed on six o'clock.

She takes far too long to decide what to wear. Tissaia's seen all of her 'office' tops and a fair number of her casual ones. She has a good rummage in her wardrobe, attempting to find something that's not too casual and also not only suitable for clubbing in Ibiza when she was twenty three. She finally settles on a pair of black jeans, paired with a white vest top and a dress shirt, a couple of sizes too big. She rolls up the sleeves to make it a bit more summery and tucks it into her jeans.

"Calm down, Yen," she tells her reflection. Her hands are shaking so badly she takes more than a few attempts to fasten her necklace and she shakes her head at her own stupidity. Blowing out a breath, she lifts her head, meeting her own eyes confidently. "She told you she likes you." She sprays some perfume on her neck and wrists. "That's not going to change. You've showered. You smell nice. You look half-decent. There's nothing to scare her away."

The 'yet' in her mind is quiet, but still there and she decides to leave before it gets any louder. With a final deep breath, she gathers up her handbag and keys and marches out of the flat.

Having left a little too early, and her pace being quicker than intended, she reaches the park before Tissaia gets there. There are a few people around, walking dogs or jogging mostly. Probably not on dates, Yennefer thinks. The play equipment is empty, roped off with hazard tape to remind people it's not to be used. It's one of the sadder sights she's seen. It's a lovely evening, kids should be out playing, running around with their friends. Instead the majority of them will be cooped up at home. In front of screens or confined to the back garden if they're lucky enough to have one.

She's stirred from her musings by movement in her peripheral vision and she turns in time to see Tissaia approach. She's wearing a blue summer dress that skims the top of her knees and leaves her shoulders bare, revealing pale, unblemished skin; acres of it. It's all Yen can do to stop her mouth dropping open as she draws closer, smiling. Here's this person, who's previously only existed on her phone or laptop, and she's in the real world. And that's not even the most surprising thing.

"Oh my God," Yen says. "You're tiny!" She covers her mouth. That absolutely should not have been the first thing she said.

Tissaia frowns, stopping the regulated distance away from Yen. "I'm very slightly below average height for a woman."

Glancing at Tissaia's shoes, Yen notes that she's in a slight heel. She shakes her head, grinning. "You seemed so much taller on the screen."

Tissaia tilts her head. "Is my height going to be a problem for you?"

"God, no. It's the opposite of a problem." She lifts an eyebrow. "It's just given me a whole new perspective. You know, when I'm-" She trails off and clears her throat. "Thinking about...stuff."

A flush appears on Tissaia's cheeks and, interestingly, across the top of her chest. It makes Yen want to press her lips there to see if it's warm. "Yennefer," she begins, her voice just a smidge lower than it was previously. "It really isn't fair for you to say such things when I must remain six feet away from you."

"Why?" Yen's earlier nerves have dissipated. It's still Tissaia. It's still just them. She flutters her eyelashes in an exaggerated manner. "Because it makes you want to grab me and ravish me against the swings?"

Nose wrinkling adorably, Tissaia tuts. "I can't think how that would be practical. Or comfortable."

"True," Yen agrees. "It'd probably do my back in, but it might be worth it."

"Oh? Are you into pain, Yennefer?" Tissaia asks, as if she's enquiring if Yen takes sugar and milk in her tea. The question hits something low in Yen's belly and she has to wet her lips with her tongue before she can respond.

"Uh. That's- I don't- I-"

"A conversation for another time, perhaps?" Tissaia's eyes are dancing with amusement now that she's managed to turn the tables on Yen. Thankfully, she decides not to press the advantage, because Yennefer's not sure she'd survive much further into this kind of conversation without embarrassing herself. "Well, we came here to walk. Shall we walk?"

"Yes!" Yen is grateful for the reprieve. "Let's walk. Let's definitely walk." She gestures for Tissaia to go first, to dictate their route, and follows her lead. It feels- well, odd. The distance between them is all Yen can think about. That's not strictly true. She keeps thinking about all the things she could be doing if the distance wasn't there. She could be holding Tissaia's hand. Or maybe Tissaia would take her elbow, like they were in some olden day film. She could kiss her cheek. Or her lips. Or-

"This just makes it worse, doesn't it?" Tissaia says, after barely twenty steps.

Yen stops walking, Tissaia doing likewise. They stand, six feet apart, having come to the same realisation.

"Shit." She sighs. "Yeah, it definitely does." She holds out a hand between them, emphasising the gap. "I mean, you're just there. You're so close and I can't touch you." She clenches her hand into a fist. "And I want to touch you."

Tissaia closes her eyes and Yen thinks she sees her shiver. When she opens them again, they seem darker than before and Yen takes a step forward without thinking. Tissaia steps back, shaking her head.

"Don't," she shakes her head. "Please. Don't make it harder."

She can hear Jaskier in her head, making an innuendo. But she steps back. "I'm sorry," she whispers. "I'm sorry I suggested this. It was stupid and-"

"No!" Tissaia shakes her head and smiles. It's the saddest Yennefer's ever seen her look. "No, please don't be sorry. It's...it's lovely to be close to you." She shrugs. "It's just hard not to get any closer. It feels so unnatural to be standing here-" she points to the ground at her feet. "-when I want to take four more steps and be standing there." She points to where Yennefer is.

"Well, in your case, it would be more like eight steps," Yen says, trying to get a proper smile to return to Tissaia's face. She succeeds, and gets an eyeroll into the bargain.

"You know what I mean." Tissaia sighs. "I'm closer than I've ever been to you, and you're still too far away."

Yen's throat tightens to the point of pain, and she has to blink her eyes rapidly to clear them. No-one's ever said anything like that to her before, and meant it. "I know," she manages to whisper. She sniffs and clears her throat. "Look, why don't we sit on the grass for a while, eh? That way we won't drift closer to each other by mistake. We can just talk, like we always do."

Tissaia smiles. "Yes. Let's do that."

They sit and talk about everything and nothing, teasing each other and laughing often. It's only when Yen notices Tissaia's hands rubbing her upper arms that she realises how late the hour is, and that the heat of the day has given way to a cool dusk.

"You're cold," Yen says, frowning.

"A little," Tissaia admits. "It crept up on me."

Yen checks her phone and sees it's been over three hours since they met. "Shit. We should probably call it a night."

The reluctant sigh Tissaia lets out warms Yennefer's heart. "I suppose we should."

They get to their feet, brushing grass and leaves from their clothes and then standing, awkwardly.

"I hate this," Yennefer says, finally. "I hate that I can't kiss you goodbye. Or even hug you. I'd settle for a nice hug."

"Yennefer," Tissaia warns. "Pointing out the obvious doesn't make it any better."

"I know," Yennefer whines. "But it's just shit, isn't it? That we can't."

Nodding, Tissaia wraps her arms around herself, rubbing at her biceps again and Yen has to physically hold herself back from going to her. Instead, she shoves her hands into her pockets.

"We should go," Tissaia says. "We're just drawing it out now. Making it worse."

"Okay." Yen tries to smile. "Goodnight, then."

"Goodnight," Tissaia says. "We'll speak soon."

"Of course we will," Yennefer agrees with a wink. "We've got an update meeting at ten tomorrow morning."

Tissaia's lips twitch at the edges, showing just a hint of her dimples. "We'll speak before then, no doubt. In some form or another."

"Not had enough of me yet?" Yen asks, starting to walk backwards.

There's a pause that goes on just long enough to make Yen's stomach lurch with nerves, but then Tissaia shakes her head.

"Not nearly enough," she says.

After they eventually say goodbye, Yennefer's walk home passes in a blur of emotions; elation, regret, frustration. She's just letting herself into her flat when her phone buzzes in her pocket and she's surprised to see Tissaia calling. She answers the call just as she closes the door behind her.

"Hey. When you said we'd talk before the meeting I didn't think-"

"We can't do that again." Tissaia interrupts her. "I can't meet you again."

All of Yennefer's thought processes seize up, her brain grinding to a halt. She has to peel her tongue away from the roof of her mouth to respond. "What...like, ever?"

"What? No!" Tissaia sounds appropriately horrified and Yen starts breathing again. "Until the lockdown restrictions are lifted."

"Fucking hell, Tissaia," Yen says, dropping into an armchair and putting a hand over her racing heart. "You nearly killed me just then." Shaking her head, she closes her eyes. "So, no more meeting until after lockdown?"

"No. If we did it again I'm really not sure I could stop myself from-" She stops talking and Yennefer can hear her swallow audibly. "Well, what I want to do to you is the opposite of social distancing and it wouldn't do for me, an educator and scientist, to be seen to go against governmental guidance."

Yen sighs and nods, then realises Tissaia can't see her. "I wanted to touch you too," she says, translating Tissaia's meaning. "And kiss you. God, I wanted to kiss you so much." She brings her fingers to her own face, letting them brush over her skin and trying to imagine that it's Tissaia's face she's caressing. She's already wet. "I want-"

"Please, stop," Tissaia whispers. "I don't want the first time-" She clears her throat. "I know everyone has phone sex and video sex and all manner of remote sex these days-"

Yen has to bite her lip; Tissaia saying 'sex' over and over is not helping her situation at all.

"-so you can call me old-fashioned if you wish, but I want our first sexual encounter to be in person." Yen can picture then nod at the end of that statement, like punctuation. When Tissaia speaks again, there's an uncertainty in her tone that Yennefer's never heard before. "Is- is that alright?"

"Of course!" Yen assures her. "Sorry, I'm used to us being on video. I keep forgetting you can't see me."

"I chose to phone on purpose," Tissaia says. "I- I thought that if I saw you right now I might change my mind. That I'd be reminded just how much I wanted to run my tongue along your clavicle and-"

"Jesus Christ," Yen mutters, balling her hand into a fist and pressing it against her thigh.

"I mean, I knew from our video encounters that you were beautiful, but seeing you in person...it was all I could do to keep from reaching out, touching your exquisite skin, kissing between your-"

"Fuck, Tissaia!" Yen pushes herself up and stands, pacing back and forth. "You just said you didn't want to have long-distance sex and now you're describing what you want to do to me, which is pretty much the definition of phone sex and I...I can't-."

"Oh. Oh! Sorry, I didn't realise-" To her credit, she does sound genuinely sorry. "Yes, that was inappropriate."

"I think I have to go now." Yennefer licks her lips to moisten them. "I think I need to...attend to something."

Tissaia's response is immediate and understanding. "Yes. Me too."

They say hasty goodbyes and Yen stumbles to her bedroom. Chucking her phone on the bedside cabinet, she throws open the drawer, fumbling for her vibrator. She quickly gives up on that notion and just falls onto the bed, her fingers clumsy as they undo the buttons of her jeans enough that she can get her hand inside her underwear.

She lets out a whine at how wet she is. She's so slick she struggles for a second to find the friction she requires. It's fast and it's messy, and she doesn't even bother to go inside, instead focussing all her attention on just relieving the pressure that's been building for hours. Maybe fucking weeks.

She closes her eyes as she nears release, imagining her hand to be Tissaia's. The spike of arousal that goes through her from just the mental image is almost painful and her back bows off the bed seeking contact from a body that's not there.

Growling with frustration, Yennefer increases her efforts, finding a rhythm she knows works for her and finally, finally, she comes with a strangled cry, panting and pulsing. She removes her hand, wincing as it brushes by still sensitive flesh. Letting out a sigh, she looks at the ceiling. As much as she needed that, it wasn't enough. It wasn't what she wanted.

With another sigh, she hauls herself up and goes about her evening routine, getting ready for bed. She crawls under the covers and closes her eyes, not expecting sleep to come easily. Her phone buzzes beside the bed and she grasps blindly for it, surprised to see it's a FaceTime call from Tissaia. She answers it and when Tissaia appears on the screen, it's clear she's in bed as well. She's lying on her side, her shoulders are bare and she has the covers pulled up over her chest.

"Hey," Yen says, softly, turning onto her side to mirror Tissaia. "What's up?"

"Nothing." Tissaia smiles and shrugs. "I thought it would be rude to just turn over and go to sleep after that without at least saying goodnight."

Yen starts throbbing again at the thought of what Tissaia's just been doing. She grins and rubs at her eye. "You are such a fucking tease."

"You say that like this is easy for me," Tissaia retorts.

She hums in response, tilting her head so she's at the same angle as Tissaia. "You rethinking that no zoom sex rule?"

Tissaia sighs. "Look, I'm in favour of progress and technology and all of its benefits. But there are some experiences and sensations it has not yet been able to replicate. And I want...when we…" She sighs, clearly frustrated at her inability to express herself. She looks at Yen for a long moment. "I don't want the first time I see you, intimately, to be through a screen. I want to be able to experience you completely."

"I get it," Yen says. "I want that too." Seeing Tissaia naked on a screen would be a thrill on some level, but it would only add to her frustrations in the long run. Because it would still just be her and her hand. She sighs again. "I fucking hate this lockdown."

"I know it's frustrating," Tissaia says. "But if it weren't for the lockdown, we might never have met." Her eyes widen. "Not that I'm grateful for the existence of this horrible virus, and I'm not being dismissive of the pain and grief that it's-"

"Hey," Yen cuts in. "I know what you mean. I'm glad I met you too."

Tissaia nods, her brow creased slightly in thought. "Before lockdown, besides going to work five days a week, I barely left the house and had little desire to do so." She pauses. Her eyes are bright in the light from her phone and Yen would give anything to be able to just touch her arm or squeeze her hand. "After my divorce, and the few disastrous dates I told you about, I pretty much gave up. On love-" She laughs, bitterly. "On life, you might say. So having a governmental mandate to stay in felt like almost a relief." She meets Yennefer's eyes and holds her gaze. "Until I met you."

Yen's heart starts thudding in her ears. "And now?" she whispers.

"And now?" Tissaia smiles. "Now I've remembered what it's like to want to do things. To have experiences and share them with another person. Does that- Am I making sense?"

"Yes!" Yennefer tells her. "You're making perfect sense." She bites her lip. "Do you remember, not long after we met, I told you I'd never had that thing with someone? Where you just know it's right?"

"I do." Tissaia smirks. "I remember questioning the existence of such a 'thing'."

Yen lets out a soft laugh. "Yeah, I remember that too." She sobers. "Well, not to, you know, be dramatic about it or anything...but I think, no, I know, I have it with you."

Tissaia's smile spreads slowly over her mouth and she nods. "I may have to revisit my hypothesis about this 'thing'. Because I may well have it with you too."

Despite her heart feeling like it's going to erupt, Yen manages to keep her expression somewhat normal.

"You still like me, then?"

Rolling her eyes, Tissaia nonetheless indulges her. "Yes, Yen. I like you." She sighs. "I like you very much."

"Good, 'cause I like you too." Yen covers her mouth as a yawn takes her by surprise.

"We should sleep," Tissaia says. "It's been an exciting day."

"Mmhmm." Yen nods. "But can- can we stay like this? On the phone?" She wrinkles her nose. "Is that too weird?"

"Well, I suppose it would be useful to find out now whether you snore or not," Tissaia says, settling more against the pillows.

"I do not snore!" Yen protests, her eyes growing heavy.

"I'll let you know in the morning," Tissaia says. "Sleep now. Goodnight, Yen"

"'Night," she mumbles, laying the phone down on the pillow beside her head and closing her eyes. She can hear Tissaia breathing. She smiles.

It's been a good day.


Chapter 5

They stick to their promise of not meeting up again, and life continues much the same as it had before. They talk every day. They veer dangerously close to the kind of sex Tissaia wants to avoid on a number of occasions, but manage to control themselves for the most part.

Both of them eagerly follow each Government announcement, keen to hear about reductions in the R value and the lifting of restrictions. It's slow, but progress is made and key indicators are met and it becomes clear that the country is heading back towards some sort of normality. In preparation, both Yen and Tissaia agree to isolate completely so as to ensure they are both virus free and able to meet up safely when it is allowed.

The day comes where speculation is rife that the Prime Minister will announce that single person households can form 'bubbles' where they are allowed to see each other without the need for social distancing. Yen and Tissaia tune in to watch the daily update together.

"Do you really think it's gonna happen?" Yen asks, as there's the usual faffing around and introductory bits.

"Well, the political commentators certainly seem to think that we're-" Tissaia frowns. "Yen, why are you jumping all over the place?"

"Oh, sorry." Yen stops her bouncing her leg, on which her laptop was resting. "Nerves."

Tissaia's expression softens into a smile. "I know. But please try to refrain from the jumping. I was feeling quite queasy."

"Oh, here we go," Yen says, as the PM addresses the camera. She grips the edge of her laptop and sighs. "I really wish I could hold your hand right now."

"Me too," Tissaia says. "Now shhh."

"Yes, Miss." Yen murmurs, smirking at Tissaia's narrowed eyes in response.

After the initial statistical update, with the less than useless slides, the Prime Minister finally gets to the bit the nation is waiting for.

"-and it is with great pleasure, ladies and gentlemen of Great Britain, that I can announce this evening that, through your efforts and your sacrifices,-"

"For fuck's sake, Boris," Yen whispers. "Get on with it."

"-it is now permitted for single person households, or households with a single parent and children under the age of eighteen, to form what we are terming 'bubbles', where they can join another household without the requirement to social distance-"

Tissaia shuts off the broadcast; they've heard all they needed to. They're left in silence, staring at each other.

"It's really happening," Yennefer says. "I can't believe it's really happening." Her mouth is suddenly dry and she swallows with difficulty. Tissaia looks to be lost in thought, her face unreadable. "Is- are you- umm, happy about it?"

Broken out of her reverie, Tissaia finally smiles and it's so warm and genuine that it feels like the sun on Yennefer's face. "Is that really a question you need the answer to?" she asks. She tilts her head "But here's one you can answer for me; would you like to come over this evening and have dinner with me?"

"Yes. God. Yes." Yen closes her eyes. "I want that more than anything."

"I didn't realise you were so keen to taste my cooking," Tissaia says, her nose wrinkled in mischief and Yennefer lets out a snorting laugh.

"Among other things," she says, flushing afterwards when Tissaia's eyes widen. It hits her, then; this isn't just banter anymore. It's not harmless flirting to tease or frustrate. It's actually going to happen.

"I hope you won't be disappointed," Tissaia says.

"Never," Yen promises. "I could never be."

Tissaia nods. "Well, what are you waiting for?" She smiles. "You could be halfway here by now."

Scrabbling to her feet, Yen balances the laptop in one hand as she bounds to her bedroom. "I just need to jump in the shower and then I'll head over, okay?" She's not shaved her legs since that time she got bored a couple of weeks into lockdown.

"I should do the same." Tissaia purses her lips. "And I'll need to pull something together for this dinner you're so interested in."

Yen rolls her eyes to demonstrate exactly how much she cares about the dinner. "It's you I'm interested in."

Again, she's rewarded with that brilliant smile. "I'll see you soon."

"Soon," Yen confirms. "Can't wait."

Blowing a kiss, Yen disconnects the call or she'll never get herself organised to get over there. She's just testing the temperature of the shower when her phone beeps with a message. Thinking it to be Tissaia, she checks it immediately, only to find it's from Jaskier.

Congrats on all the Government sanctioned sex you'll be having this evening! Enjoy yourself and stay safe!

Another message comes through while she's reading the first.

And by that I mean take dental dams and don't look her directly in the eyes in case she turns you to stone. Byyyeeee!

Yen tuts and snaps a selfie while giving the camera the finger. She sends it as a reply to Jaskier's texts.

That's basically the lesbian equivalent of a dick pic you've sent me. I shan't show Geralt in case he flies into a jealous rage and challenges you to some sort of duel. Maybe involving swords.

Yen laughs and shakes her head as another message pops in.

Oh. Now I'm a little bit aroused…

PS Tissaia's a lucky lady

He punctuates this one with a winky face and she tosses the phone onto her bed, not willing to waste another second on his nonsense that could be getting her closer to Tissaia.

The walk to Tissaia's place passes so quickly Yen's not convinced she didn't break into a run at some point. She's definitely made good time, and the pace and the early evening sun make her glad she opted for a pair of cropped jeans and a vest top. She turns onto the quiet street, the white Georgian houses gleaming even in the fading light. As she counts off the numbers as she makes her way up the street, a door opens a few houses down and Tissaia steps out, looking in the other direction before turning and locking eyes with Yen. She's also changed after their phonecall, Yen notes. She's gone for another simple summer dress; red with a white floral print. Yen feels only slightly guilty when her first thought is that it will be easy to remove. Tissaia smiles, locking her hands at her stomach and waiting for Yen to reach the bottom of her steps.

"Couldn't even wait inside for me to get here?" Yen says. "Keen, aren't you?"

Tissaia's eyes drop to what is very clearly an overnight bag on Yen's shoulder. She lifts an eyebrow. "I could say the same about you."

Glancing down at the bag, Yen frowns, suddenly unsure. "I- I hope I'm not- I mean. I didn't mean to presume-"

"I was just hoping you didn't bother to pack pyjamas in there, that's all," Tissaia says, her lips quirking at the edges.

Allowing herself a relieved grin, Yen puts a foot on the bottom step. "So, you going to invite me in or what?"

"Oh!" Tissaia rolls her eyes at herself. "Of course, do come in." She goes back into the house and steps aside to let Yennefer enter. While she's setting her bag down, Tissaia closes the door and leans back against it, facing Yen.

Unable to wait any longer in the electrified atmosphere, Yen closes the distance between them until they are standing inches apart. This is the closest she's been to another human being in months and it's not without that tiny spike of fear that the virus has instilled in everyone. It's quickly chased away by a multitude of other emotions.

Up close, she can see every detail of Tissaia's skin, and every shade of blue in her eyes. She can smell her perfume and feel the warmth emanating from her body. After so long, it's almost like sensory overload and they haven't even touched yet.

Slowly, letting them both get used to the idea, Yen lifts a hand to Tissaia's face. She hesitates only for a second before letting her knuckles skim over her jaw. Tissaia's eyes close at the first contact and she turns her face so that her lips are touching Yen's fingers. Yennefer opens her hand, cupping Tissaia's cheek now, her breath coming fast just from the sensation of skin under her fingertips. The sharp intake of breath from Tissaia indicates that it's the same for her and a hand comes up to grip Yen's wrist, holding it in place as their eyes meet.

"Can I kiss you?" Yen whispers.

Tissaia's answer is just as quiet. "I think you'd better."

They're so close now that, when Tissaia nods, her nose brushes against Yen's. They barely need to move for their lips to meet, but when she eliminates that last tiny space between them, everything in Yen's world slots into place. That's the only way to describe the feeling of kissing Tissaia. It's as if everything has stopped whirling in her mind, all the self-doubt, all the pain and insecurity is swept away and in its place there's a quiet calm; a feeling of rightness. This is right. This is how it should be.

Slender fingers dig into the back of her neck, pulling her closer if that were possible. Yennefer lets her hands frame Tissaia's hips, their shape awakening something low in her belly as she slides one hand to Tissaia's back, holding her.

It's not clear how long they spend just kissing in the hallway, but when Tissaia eventually pulls away, laughing and holding Yen's face in her hands, her lips are stained with Yennefer's lipstick, and swollen from her kisses.

"So," Yen says, returning Tissaia's smile. "Wow?"

"Oh yes," Tissaia agrees. "'Wow' would be an accurate summation." She tilts her head in thought, pressing her thumb against Yen's lower lip. "And yet, still an utterly inadequate description."

"That good?" Yen asks and then rolls her eyes. "What am I saying? I was there. It was definitely that good." She inhales through her nose and lets out a deep sigh. "I was a bit worried about it, if I'm honest."

"Worried?" Tissaia scoffs. "I can assure you, you have no need to be worried."

"No, but," Yen sighs again, pulling Tissaia close, resting their foreheads together. "When I started thinking about how long I'd wanted to kiss you, how often I'd imagined what that would feel like, I just- I just worried about living up to it."

Rather than reply, Tissaia uses a gentle finger to tilt Yen's chin, and kisses her again. "As I said," she murmurs when they part this time, pecking Yen's lips before continuing. "Nothing to worry about."

"Good," Yen nods. "Because I could do this for hours."

"Hours?" Tissaia's eyes are sparkling.

"Conservatively," Yen confirms, squeezing Tissaia against her for emphasis. "Days might be more accurate." She shakes her head. "I can't believe this is real. After all this time, wishing I could be close to you, it's-"

"A little overwhelming?" Tissaia suggests.

"Yeah." Yen laughs, dropping a kiss on Tissaia's nose. "A little."

Laying her head on Yen's shoulder, Tissaia tightens her arms around her, sighing out warm air against her neck. Yen closes her eyes, just concentrating on the feel of another person against her; the weight, the heat, the soft skin and strong arms. Tissaia inhales deeply, her chest expanding against Yen's.

"This may sound odd," Tissaia begins. "But you smell amazing."

She turns her face more fully into Yen's neck, causing some delightful sensations to course through her nervous system. Yen swallows as Tissaia lifts her head.

"What perfume is that?"

Already feeling her face flush, Yennefer rolls her eyes. "It's not perfume."

Tissaia lifts an eyebrow. "Please don't try and tell me it's your natural aroma?"

"No!" Yen laughs and shakes her head. "No, it's- you're going to laugh, but it's a bodywash thingie out the Avon catalogue. My granny used to have it in her bathroom when I was little and I always loved it so I tracked it down a few years back and I use it all the time." She shrugs. "It's meant to smell of lilac and gooseberries, but I just think of- I suppose it reminds me of feeling happy and safe."

Tissaia nods; Yen's told her about her past and how it was when she was growing up, so she doesn't need to go into any further detail. She smiles up at her. "I like it. It's unique," she says.

"Oh yeah, unique to me and about a million grannies, probably," Yen says, her voice gruff with embarrassment at Tissaia's praise and her attention. She clears her throat. "Anyway, how about we talk about whatever it is I can smell cooking instead?"

Tissaia's eyes go wide. "Oh my God. I forgot all about it." She pulls away from Yen and sprints off down the hallway to what Yen knows to be the kitchen from her video calls; she's been carried all over this house. She wonders about taking her shoes off before going any further in, but she's pretty sure Tissaia was wearing shoes at the door, so she keeps them on for now as she heads in the direction Tissaia had taken. A hissing noise close to her ear knocks her off balance and she spins to see the cat sitting on a bookshelf, looking at her with what appears to be intense hatred. She tries to smile and wiggles her fingers.

"Hi Sabrina," she almost whispers, not wanting to aggravate the animal. "It's nice to meet you."

The cat just hisses again, baring her teeth and Yennefer carries on down the hall, glancing back a couple of times before making it to the kitchen in case Sabrina's decided to follow her. She's met with the sight of Tissaia at the cooker, stirring a pan and checking something in the oven. She nods and closes the oven door, standing back up to give the pan her full attention. She turns and smiles at Yen.

"I think I've just about salvaged it," she says, holding out a wooden spoon. "Want to taste?"

Yennefer drifts across the room, settling her hands on Tissaia's hips and leaning in to blow on the sauce before tasting it. Her eyes close briefly and she hums her approval.

"Delicious," she confirms. She lets her head fall forward, her lips resting over Tissaia's pulse point, just because she can. She slides her hands further around her waist until she's fully hugging her from behind. One of Tissaia's hands covers her own and she lets her twist their fingers together. Her throat tightens into a painful knot and her eyes begin to burn. She tries to swallow, to blink away whatever inconvenient emotion threatens to interrupt her moment with Tissaia, but something in her body must give her away because Tissaia's hand lifts to cup face, her nose brushing against Yen's opposite cheek.

"Yen?" she murmurs. "Yennefer? What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Yen says, tightening her hold so Tissaia can't turn around and see her. "Nothing at all is wrong."

And that's the problem. There's always something wrong in Yen's life. Always something waiting to happen. A father leaving, or worse, coming back. A mother taking ill. A sibling falling in with the wrong people. There's always been something for Yen to worry about. And yet, here, in this warm kitchen with an intelligent, funny and beautiful woman in her arms, everything feels good and right, like it never has before.

She laughs into Tissaia's shoulder, even as tears spill over her lashes, and shakes her head.

"I'm just-" She pauses, the words reticent to come out. "I'm just happy, that's all. At least, I think that's what it is."

Tissaia wriggles in her arms enough that she has no choice but to give her the room to turn round. When she does, her face is sheer determination. She takes Yennefer's face in both of her hands, tilting it down so they're looking into each other's eyes.

"It pains me that you're unsure what happiness feels like," Tissaia says, the muscle in her jaw working with some unspoken tension. "Let's see if we can change that, hmmm?"

Yen sniffs and swipes at her eyes. She nods. "Yeah. I'd like that."

"Good." Tissaia pulls her closer and gently kisses her before releasing her and pushing her back. "Now, I need to finish this, so if you could set the table, that would be a great help."

"I don't know where anything is," Yen says. "I hope you don't mind me rummaging in your cupboards."

"Rummage away," Tissaia says, bending again to check whatever's in the oven and giving Yennefer a very pleasant view as she sets to work finding plates and cutlery to lay the small table in the kitchen.

The meal is delicious; pork with some kind of mustard and cider sauce, Tissaia'd said. As they eat, they talk and laugh and touch probably more than is normal during a meal. But it's still surreal to have Tissaia so close that sometimes Yen just has to reach out and brush her fingers over her wrist, or drop a hand to squeeze her knee. It's a bit of a relief that Tissaia appears to feel the same way; wiping sauce from the edge of Yen's lip with her thumb or grasping her hand while telling a particularly animated story. After going so long without, every touch feels forbidden, intimate.

When they're finished, Tissaia carries the plates to the sink and puts them in. She turns and surveys the kitchen, which is fairly untidy from the preparation and consumption of the meal. She waves a hand.

"Normally I'd clear all this up just now, but it can wait," she smiles at Yen. "As long as you can stand the chaos, I think we have more pressing matters at hand."

"Chaos?" Yen laughs as she stands from the table, handing Tissaia her glass of wine and picking up her own. "My family-" Tissaia knows about her family, so she doesn't have to elaborate. "-the social workers used to say we had a 'chaotic lifestyle'. When they were being polite. So, I'm used to far more chaos than a few dirty plates."

Tissaia nods, a thoughtful look settling on her features. But not pity, never pity. She inhales through her nose. "I think, when it comes down to it, it's a balancing act." She presses her lips together. "Total chaos is unsustainable. But so is total control." She clears her throat and offers Yen an embarrassed smile. "I tend more towards the control side than I'd like, at times, but I think we all need a little bit of chaos in our lives now and then."

"Is that what I am, then?" Yen asks, keen to lighten the mood as they head through to the living room. "Your little bit of chaos?"

Turning, Tissaia looks up at her, a tiny hint of a dimple showing in her cheek. "Perhaps." Her voice is soft, almost a whisper. "You've definitely brought balance to my life. As I've told you before, work was all I had, all I cared about." Her smile grows. "And now it's not."

She thought she was used to Tissaia saying things that stole her breath away, but it takes on a whole new dimension when they're in the same room. Yen sets both their glasses down and wraps Tissaia up in her arms, pressing her lips against her temple and closing her eyes. She sways them both, just enjoying the closeness.

"When you promised to take me dancing, I thought there would at least be music," Tissaia murmurs against her shoulder.

Yen smiles, pressing a kiss against Tissaia's hair then pulling back to look at her. "I did promise to take you dancing, didn't I?"

"You did," Tissaia nods, stepping out of Yennefer's embrace and retrieving her phone. She opens Spotify and hands it to Yen. "Pick something."

"Picking a slow dance song? That's a lot of pressure for a first d-" She wrinkles her nose as she scrolls through Tissaia's recently played items. "Oh my God, you have shit taste in music."

Tissaia's mouth drops open. "I do not!"

Yen turns the phone around to show her Steps' Greatest Hits. Tissaia frowns. "That's...those songs have a nostalgia factor, for me."

"Yeah, yeah, excuses," Yen grins as she types in a search for slow dance song playlists. "There, 90s Slow Dances, that's your era, right?" She selects random and holds out the phone. "Hit play and we'll dance to whatever comes on." Off Tissaia's look, she lifts her eyebrows. "Little bit of chaos, remember?"

Clearly trying to hide a smile, Tissaia does as she's bid, and the room is filled with the opening bars of 2 Become 1.

Tissaia rolls her eyes. "Cheesy, but appropriate for this evening, I suppose."

"Oh yeah?" Yen asks, mostly to hide the blush threatening to climb up her throat. "Pretty certain about that, are you?" She holds out her hand for Tissaia to take. "What if I'm planning to play hard to get?"

Folding herself into Yennefer's arms, Tissaia's hands slide to her backside and squeeze gently. Yen inhales sharply, her body pressing itself against Tissaia without conscious thought, seeking out more contact. Then Tissaia's lips are beside her ear, warm air brushing over the lobe.

"I don't think that's the case, do you?"

"Uh, no." Yen swallows, turning her face so that her cheek is pressed against Tissaia's. "No it's definitely not."

Tissaia hums in amusement and Yen feels the vibration in her chest. She tightens her arms as they move together. Move is perhaps an overstatement; they're shifting their weight from foot to foot, really. It's not exactly Strictly, but it's somehow perfect.

"This is nice," Yen murmurs. "I like h-"

The rest of her sentence is lost forever in an almighty screech of pain. What felt like four white hot knives just swept across the back of her calf and she lets go of Tissaia, hopping away, trying to cradle the injured leg while not falling on her arse and looking ridiculous.

"Sabrina!" Tissaia scolds. "You know that's naughty!"

Naughty? Yen thinks. Fucking assault with a deadly weapon is what it was. The cat is completely unperturbed. She's sitting licking her paw, probably to get Yen's blood off it, the little witch. Tissaia shakes her head and comes closer to Yen, who's using the couch for support.

"Let me see," she says, starting to bend down.

"No, hey, it's fine," Yen tries, catching Tissaia's shoulder and keeping her upright. "It was more of a friendly pat, really. I'm sure there's not even a mark." Such a lie. She can feel blood running down her ankle. And it's fucking excruciating. But she doesn't want to ruin the mood with a break to administer first-aid. She stands up straight and moves closer to Tissaia, sliding a hand onto her hip. "C'mon, let's get back to the dancing."

Tissaia rolls her eyes and grasps her firmly by the elbow, leading her through the house. "Kitchen. Now. I need to take a look at it. And I don't want you bleeding all over my carpet."

"It's fine," Yen protests, but she doesn't actually mind being manhandled by Tissaia, so she allows it.

Patting the counter, Tissaia gestures with her head. "Hop up. I want you to take the weight off it while I clean it."

"Honestly, it's fine," Yen tries again, but under Tissaia's intense gaze, she does as she's told and hops up onto the counter. She watches as Tissaia opens cupboards and fills a bowl with water. "Just stick a plaster on it and I'll be good as new."

Tissaia drags a chair over and sits just in front of Yen, taking her foot onto her lap and slipping off her shoe. Yen bites her lip so no embarrassing noises slip out from the feel of Tissaia's fingers on her ankle. Tissaia winces as she appraises the damage. "Oh, Yen. She really got you. I'm so sorry."

Sabrina saunters in while this is going on and has the audacity to sit and watch, her eyes locked on Yen's over Tissaia's shoulder.

"I don't think she likes me very much," Yen says, breaking eye contact with the cat in favour of looking at Tissaia.

"She doesn't like anybody very much." Tissaia turns and shakes her head at the cat. "But that doesn't mean she can go around slashing people, does it, Sabrina?" The cat just blinks at her and Tissaia sighs, returning to her task. "Well, she's just going to have to get used to you."

"Oh?" Yen grins at the top of Tissaia's head. "Planning on keeping me around, are you?"

Tissaia looks up. She nods once. "If that's alright with you?"

She hadn't expected a serious answer, but she finds herself nodding as well. "Uh, yeah. That's- that's fine with me." She groans internally; she should've said something more suave than that.

As she's trying to come up with something better, Tissaia applies something to the back of her leg and she has to grip the edge of the counter to keep from screaming at the sting. She manages to only let out a muffled cry as Tissaia looks up in sympathy.

"Sorry, I'll be quick," she promises. "I just need to make sure it's clean before I dress it. I don't want you to end up with a bartonella henselae infection."

"It's fine," Yen bites out, trying to smile. "I can hardly feel it."

"You're lying," Tissaia says, still focussed on Yen's leg, drying it off.

"Yeah, little bit." Yen laughs, glad when Tissaia finally unwraps a plaster and applies it. She lets out a slow breath, but it catches in her throat when Tissaia leans down and presses her lips to her ankle.

"There," Tissaia says, smiling up at her. "All better."

She stands up, but before she can move away, Yen hooks a foot around her waist and tugs her back, wrapping both legs around her and draping her arms over her shoulders. Leaning down, she brings their lips together, harder than before, with more intent. Tissaia kisses back, matching her for pace and need. She moves closer, her stomach pressing against the seam of Yen's jeans in a most distracting and delightful way.

When she pulls back, Tissaia's eyes are dark and her breath is coming fast and it makes Yen throb harder. "Upstairs," Tissaia says, her voice rough. "I don't want a quickie against the kitchen cupboards."

That's not what Yennefer wants either. Not when they've waited so long to be together. She unlocks her legs from around Tissaia's waist and slips off the counter. Tissaia holds out a hand for her to take, but she can't resist using the grip to pull her back into another bruising kiss. It's like each little touch throughout the evening has been stoking a fire, building and burning hotter and now there's an inferno inside her, needing to be released.

Tissaia turns out of the kiss, moaning when Yen's lips move to her cheek, then her neck. "Yennefer," she murmurs, a hand winding into Yen's hair, urging her up. "Yen, we need to-" She gasps when Yen bites her shoulder, then soothes with her tongue. "We need to go ups- upstairs."

"I know, " Yen says. The thought of letting go of Tissaia right now to navigate the stairs is an unpleasant one. So Yen starts shuffling them in the right direction, still kissing. They bump into the bookcase, giggling when a few volumes fall to the floor. How they make it up the stairs without injury is a mystery to Yen, but she can barely remember anything from the journey. She must have kicked off her remaining shoe at some point, and her jeans are unbuttoned.

Finally arriving in Tissaia's bedroom, they're both breathless and Yen is almost painfully aroused. It's not going to take much at all. Then Tissaia slides her hands up Yen's sides, pushing her top up with them, leaving her in just a bra. She steps back and shakes her head.

"My God, I've wanted to touch you for so long," Tissaia says. She trails her short nails up Yen's abdomen until her knuckles skim the underside of a breast. Yen sucks in a breath when Tissaia's hand turns and cups that breast, her other hand coming up to do the same to its twin. She leans in, then, and kisses Yen's chest, turns her face and kisses the top of her breast, then up to her clavicle. Yen has to close her eyes and try to stop from rubbing herself against Tissaia. Instead, she gives her hands something to do, sliding up Tissaia's back, looking for a zip. She locates it and slowly slides it down. Rather than push the dress of, she slips a hand inside the fabric, exhilarated by the new expanse of skin available to her. Tissaia's thumbs press into her hard nipples and she cries out.

Needing to get rid of the barriers between them, Yen reaches behind her own back and unclasps her bra. Tissaia lifts her head and looks up at her, before slowly sliding the straps from her shoulders and letting the bra drop to the floor. She bites her lip as Tissaia appraises her and then meets her eyes again.

"You are stunning," Tissaia says.

Yen blushes and resists the urge to cover herself, instead stepping closer to Tissaia and touching the straps of her dress. "Can I see you too?" At Tissaia's nod, she slides the garment off, allowing it to pool around their feet. Tissaia shoves Yen's jeans over her hips and they join the dress in a heap. Tissaia moves back into her arms, tipping her head back for a kiss that Yennefer is happy to grant her. While they kiss, Yen removes Tissaia's bra and whimpers as it falls away, increasing the skin to skin contact. Her hand slides down Tissaia's back, inside her knickers, raking her nails over the swell of her backside.

She whines when Tissaia pulls away, but she doesn't have long to complain because Tissaia takes her hand and drags her over to the large bed, sitting her down on the edge of it. Yen's head is now level with Tissaia's chest, and she takes full advantage of the position, wrapping her arms around Tissaia's waist and yanking her close, lavishing attention on Tissaia's breasts with lips and tongue. Tissaia's fingers tangle briefly in her hair, keeping her close, but then they push at her shoulders, and she lets herself fall backwards onto the bed. Tissaia removes her own knickers, then Yennefer's, and pats her thigh.

"Move up," she instructs, watching as Yen does as she's told, then climbing onto the bed and crawling up, settling on top of her. Yen cranes her neck up for a kiss as she cradles Tissaia's body, relishing the solid weight of her. Their bodies move together now in a different dance, finding a rhythm that feels right and learning the steps as they go. Tissaia shifts down, kissing at every inch of skin available to her. Yen's heels dig into the bed, pushing herself up, looking for more. The fire inside has now transferred to her skin and she's half scared Tissaia's going to be burned by it.

Tissaia looks up, into her eyes, and smiles. She moves back to kiss Yen again, soothing and cooling her fears. A hand skims over her hip, settling there, asking permission. Yen nods, her body lifting up to meet Tissaia's hand as it dips between her legs. At the first touch, Yen gasps and closes her eyes.

She's had sex before, with a fair amount of people, but she never really got it. It never seemed like it was for people in books or films. But this? This is pure magic. It's a visceral connection flowing between them as they move together, eyes locked.

"T-Tissaia, I'm- this-" She clenches her teeth, trying to find the words to explain that she's never felt like this before.

"Sssssh," Tissaia soothes, nuzzling at Yennefer's cheek. "It's alright. There'll be plenty of time for talking later. Just enjoy."

Yen nods, giving herself over to pleasure. Tissaia is gentle with her, tender and caring in all the ways Yen craved without even really knowing they existed.

There's laughter and there are kisses, in between touches so intense Yennefer fears she might just combust. But when Tissaia's eyes change, determination settling in dark irises, Yen can barely breathe. Tissaia's strokes become longer, deeper, reaching places in her soul no-one ever has. Featherlight touches become firmer, almost dizzying. Yen tries to hold onto the sensations, to feel this way for as long as she can. Connected, protected, cared for.

"Let go, Yen." The whisper by her ear is all it takes and she's powerless to disobey. Rising up to meet Tissaia, she cries out her name, her muscles singing with relief as the tension in her body dissipates, exploding into the ether and crackling in her ears.

As she comes down, she's vaguely aware of Tissaia kissing a trail between her breasts, down her stomach. She shakes her head, swallowing through a dry throat. There's no way she's got enough energy to go through that again and ensure that she takes care of Tissaia.

"Tiss- Tissaia, I can't-" She moans when Tissaia's tongue dips into her belly button.

"You can," Tissaia insists, taking Yen's hand and squeezing.

"Well, maybe if you give me five minutes to catch my breath," Yen says, squinting down at her with one eye closed. "I'm fucking spent."

"Oh, my dear," Tissaia says, shuffling further down and settling between Yen's thighs. She smiles and it's pure mischief. "You still have so much left to give."

It turns out she's right.

They spend hours lost in each other, drowning in pleasure and being revived. Yen's kissing marks she's left on the inside of Tissaia's thighs, trying to decide whether she feels guilty or proud, when Tissaia's hand lands on her shoulder. She looks up into tired, happy eyes.

"Can you come up here?" Tissaia says, nodding to the pillow.

"Ha!" Yen grins. "Shoe's on the other foot now, yeah?"

Tissaia's hand moves to cup her cheek and she tilts her head. "Please?"

It's tempting to make her beg a little more, but Yen knows not to push it, so with a final kiss to Tissaia's belly, she hauls herself up the bed and collapses beside her. Tissaia immediately moves in, resting her head on Yen's shoulder and draping an arm over her waist. In turn, Yen wraps an arm around her shoulders and kisses the top of her messy hair. Tissaia smiles against her chest.

"So," Yen says, even though she knows they both need sleep. "Now we know for sure I pass one of your tests for an acceptable partner, how about the other one?"

She gets a confused huff in response, before Tissaia props herself up on an elbow, looking down at Yen. "Darling, you're going to have to clarify."

Yennefer grins at the term of endearment, then frowns. "You call the cat 'darling'."

Tissaia returns her frown. "What?"

"Sabrina. You call her 'darling'. You can't call us both 'darling'." She wrinkles her nose. "She already hates me for being your new favourite."

"Don't be ridiculous," Tissaia says, smothering a yawn with her hand. "Now, what were you talking about passing a test? My brain isn't exactly firing on all cylinders right now."

"You're only proving my point more." She surges up and kisses Tissaia's chest, between her breasts before lying back down. "Now that we've proved that we have mind-blowing sex, we just need to see whether or not you can be in my company for a prolonged period of time without wanting to murder me."

Tissaia's smile is sleepy and slow, but genuine and she shakes her head, leaning down to press her lips to Yen's. She pulls back. "Well, I've formed a fairly firm hypothesis during the time I've already known you, but I look forward to continuing my research into the subject."

"And what's your hypothesis, Dr De Vries?" Yen asks.

Tissaia's expression grows serious, lines forming between her eyebrows. "I- I think it's a bit early to tell you. I don't want-" She bites her lip. "I don't want to frighten you off."

"It takes a lot to frighten me," Yen says, even as her stomach twists around itself. All her life, she's longed to be important to someone, to matter, to be loved.

"Still," Tissaia runs her finger down Yen's nose and presses the end of it. "I think grand declarations are best kept for a time that's not essentially the first date, don't you?"

"Fine," Yen concedes. The implication of feelings is enough for now. "And, you know, me too. With the hypothesis thing."

Tissaia smiles before she settles back down on Yen's chest. "Glad to hear it."

Somewhere in the distance, Yen's phone beeps in the pocket of her jeans. She rolls her eyes. "That'll be Jaskier asking something rude. I'm ignoring it."

"Good," Tissaia mumbles. "Because I'm not moving."

Yen smiles against her hair. "You know, he's been going on at me for ages to let him get me a girlfriend. And I suppose he did, in the end."

"No he did not," Tissaia protests.

"No, I know it was my charm and wit that hooked you," Yen says, laughing when Tissaia slaps her belly. "But if he hadn't been ill, we'd never have met."

"True." Tissaia sighs. "Fine. I'll send him a gift of some description as a thank you."

"Or maybe just, I dunno-" Yen presses her lips together to keep from laughing. "-stop frightening the life out of him whenever you speak to him?"

There's a pause. "I'll consider it," Tissaia says. "Now, are you going to let me sleep?"

Yen smiles and yawns, tugging Tissaia closer. "I suppose so. But I plan on keeping you in bed for most of tomorrow, and maybe the day after that. Just to warn you."

"That can be arranged." Tissaia lifts her head and kisses her. "Goodnight, Yen."


As they finally settle down to rest for the night, Yen's mind is surprisingly calm. Her right shoulder is aching as it always does when she overexerts herself. The scratches on her leg are stinging. But she's content in a way she's not sure she's ever been before. She always scoffed at the notion that people needed another person to complete them. She's still not sure that's the case, but there's definitely something about Tissaia that enriches her life, makes it better, makes her better. She wants more of that. She wants to feel this way for as long as she can. When she looks at Tissaia, she knows she wants a future with her. She wants all the cheesy romantic things she's shunned.

She wants everything.

The End

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