Fenris came home to find Sara with Anders. He watched them for only a couple of moments before quietly closing the bedroom door and walking back down the stairs. He hesitated in the hall. To the mansion, to lie alone in a dusty bed? Or to the library, to wait out their lovemaking?
He chose the library, and poured himself a drink from the liquor cabinet before settling into a chair in front of the fire. He swirled the amber liquid around in the glass.
It had been a successful night. Aveline’s tip had paid off – they usually did – and he had cleared out an entire warehouse of slavers. Fourteen slaves set free, many of them young children kidnapped from Lowtown or the undercity. He had wanted to celebrate with Sara. Instead, he toasted the fireplace, and downed the whole glass by himself.
He was being unreasonable, he knew. They were taking the chance to enjoy a night alone, just as he would if their positions were reversed. But it hurt more than he had expected to find himself on the outside again. Partly, he realised, because it had been so long since he had.
He stood up and poured himself another drink, before returning to his seat in front of the fire. He sipped from it slowly this time, and closed his eyes to relive the pleasure of ripping out the hearts of the operation ringleaders. But his mind kept wandering back to the tableau he had witnessed in the bedroom upstairs.
She had been on top of him, her knees on either side of Anders’ hips as she rode him. It reminded him of that first night he and Sara had spent together, though it shamed him to think of it now. He took another sip of the brandy. He wished that he could have been, then, more like Anders was now… He was not lying beneath her like a wet rag. His hands were on her hips, guiding her movements and setting the rhythm. Fenris could have taken more control.
He imagined that he had come home to a different reception. To Sara and Anders waiting for him. Sara would greet him with a smile, and embrace him. Anders would screw up his nose and insist that he scrub up before he get anywhere near the bed, no matter the time. The mage would at least heat the water for the bath, and it was only with a show of reluctance that Fenris would climb into the steaming tub. Sometimes Sara would get in with him. Other times, she would help to wash his hair from the side, using the same rosemary extract she used for her own. He wouldn’t be able to get rid of her smell for days.
And finally – they would fall into bed together. To sleep, sometimes. But more often than not, Fenris would still be keyed up despite the bath. He’d start by nuzzling the back of her neck. A finger trailing down her side, tracing the contours of firm muscles on ribs, waist, hip. She would murmur something softly and, if she were interested, push back against him. She would reach behind and slide her hand into the hair at the nape of his neck; twist it, almost painfully, and…
Fenris blinked awake, realising only then that he had fallen asleep. Amazingly, the glass still hung from his loose fingers, poised above the ground with the remains of the brandy within.
“You’re here.” She came forward then, out of the shadowed doorway and into the room. In the light of the dying fire, he could see that she was wrapped in an Amell house robe, her hair in disarray. “I woke up and was worried because you weren’t back.”
Fenris stood, and crossed the room to place the glass on top of the liquor cabinet. Orana or Bodahn would see to its cleaning in the morning. “I… did not want to disturb you,” he said.
“Disturb me?” Sara frowned. “Why would you disturb me?”
“You and Anders were… busy, when I returned.”
Sara walked closer, and took gentle hold of his forearms. The shadows were deep on her face, and he could not quite read her expression.
“Why didn’t you come in?” she asked.
“You wanted me to?”
“Of course,” said Sara. “We left the door ajar for you.”
“I… did not think of that.” He had only seen a moment to which he did not belong. Not the fact that the door was open to him.
Sara smiled, but her brow was still creased with worry. She shook his arms gently.
“This is your home,” she said. “You are always welcome to join us.”
“Does Anders feel the same?” he asked.
“We might take advantage of being home alone to spend some time together,” Sara admitted. “But that does not mean, will never mean, that you are not welcome.” She took a hand off his arm to gesture to the room. “I never want to see you sleeping in the library because you think our door is barred.”
“I almost went back to Danarius’s mansion,” Fenris admitted.
“Even worse,” Sara said with a grimace.
“So if I had…”
“Pushed open the door and crawled onto the bed?” Sara suggested.
“Yes. I would have been welcome?”
“Anders might have complained that you needed a bath.”
“But otherwise, I would have been welcome?”
“Yes,” said Sara emphatically. She leaned toward him and kissed him. The lightest brush of her lips against his. “I missed you,” she said. “When I woke up and saw that you were still gone… I was worried that Aveline had gotten you into something too deep.”
The glowing coals of the fire were reflected in her eyes, suddenly shiny. And Fenris realised that he had been a fool, again.
“I am sorry that I worried you,” he said.
“Just come to bed,” Sara said, tugging on his arm. “You can make up for it in the morning.”