With the moonlight shining on her golden hair, Daphne looked every bit the leading lady that Mary-Lou was going to have to be the following day. She sighed, her heart pounding frantically as she thought about it. It had been doing an awful lot of that recently. She had worried that perhaps she was developing a weak heart like Clarissa, but when she'd confided this to Darrell, Darrell had just laughed and told her that it was just nerves about being in the pantomime, and that she was going to be fine.

That was all very well for Darrell to say. Darrell was strong and confident and had no idea what it was like to be timid and nervous, and to have difficulty breathing every time you thought of having to appear on stage in front of everyone, and sing, and act, and have them watching you.

Daphne would understand. She prodded the sleeping figure gently, knowing that Daphne would open her eyes if she was only half-asleep, but also not willing to wake her if she had fallen into a deep sleep. Daphne needed her sleep, she always said. She grew terribly cross if she didn't get a proper night's sleep, and worried about shadows under her eyes. Mary-Lou thought she always looked beautiful, no matter how much sleep she'd had, but Daphne was not inclined to agree.

There was a murmur into her pillow before Daphne turned over. "Hmm? Oh, it's you." She lifted up the bedspread so that Mary-Lou could get in. Mary-Lou welcomed the warmth; her feet were bare and she was starting to feel the cold. "What's wrong, darling?"

"I couldn't sleep," she said, already feeling better for this wonderful warmth – not just the bed, but of Daphne's body beside her, and the arm curling around her waist. She always felt so safe around Daphne, quite different from being around Darrell or Alicia or Moira, when she knew how inadequate she was in comparison to them all. They seemed to know who they were and to be very sure of this fact. Mary-Lou wasn't sure at all just who she was in the wider world, but when she was with Daphne it didn't seem to matter.

"You're not fretting over tomorrow, are you?" Daphne asked, a hand reaching out to stroke Mary-Lou's hair. This, too, was comforting; the reassuring movement of fingertips over her scalp soothed her immeasurably.

"I can't help it. Everyone's been lovely, and Catherine has been so kind, but I can't help but feel that I won't be able to do it, once everyone's watching me. I don't want to let everyone down, and I'm so worried that I will -" She could feel the tears falling already, and then Daphne's fingers moving from her hair to her face, brushing the tears away.

"You're going to be wonderful," Daphne said softly. Her lips touched Mary-Lou's cheeks, kissing away the last of the tears, and then pressed against Mary-Lou's own for a moment. Mary-Lou had been worried at the beginning about having to kiss Mavis for the sake of the play, and that Daphne would be upset, but as it turned out she only had to pretend to kiss her prince, which had been a huge relief. She didn't want anyone else's lips on hers; it couldn't possibly feel as right as it did when Daphne was there.

"Do you really think so?" Mary-Lou asked, but already she could feel her anxieties swept away. Her heart was once again beating far too fast, but she was used to that happening when she was around Daphne, and somehow it felt much nicer when it happened at times like these, and she didn't need to worry that she was ill.

"Yes," Daphne said firmly, before kissing her again. "Now, my darling, I think we both need our sleep."

Mary-Lou watched the moonlight illuminate Daphne's shining hair once more before allowing herself to close her eyes, and let go of her thoughts, and sleep.

fin