"Queen P., these bastards are swarming me, I need backup!"
"Open a portal, I'll be right there!"
Sheldor the Conqueror ran far enough away from the swarming demons to open a Townportal Scroll and started chanting. The moment the portal was open Queen Penelope burst forth, axe swinging, battle cry roaring. The portal closed behind her as quickly as it had appeared.
Sheldor followed her, longsword and kite shield ready to back her up. Fortunately, Penelope's battle cry had the special ability to send hostiles running in fear for a short period of time. It was just long enough to scatter the horde and make them easier to fight. Thankfully they weren't very powerful, but they were many, and they slowly picked at his shields. If the next room didn't have anything in it they'd have to resort to their healing potions, and they didn't have many left. He had to conserve his last Townportal Scroll for after the dragon's lair.
Sheldor was pulling his longsword from the skull of a demon when he heard a growl behind him. His blood froze. His freezing shield spell had worn off and he hadn't the mana to restore it. And he couldn't turn in time to block with his kite shield. If the thing hit him he'd be seriously injured.
Suddenly there was an explosion behind him and the growl turned into a grating howl. He felt the body hit the ground next to him and smelled the burning flesh of the demon. Finally able to cleave his sword from his enemy's skull, he turned and saw Penelope throwing another exploding potion. She must have picked them up from a fallen enemy.
Finally, the area was cleared and they were able to reach the next door. Hidden in an alcove were two healing potions and a mana potion, lying on their sides as though they'd rolled there. Sheldor sighed in relief and downed the mana potion. With a snap of his fingers his freezing shield spell reactivated.
Taking stock of their belongings, he realized Penny was out of healing potions.
"Take them," he said. "I've got one left, as well as both my shields."
Penelope nodded and pocketed them. "You ready?"
Suddenly he was gripped with panic. This was the strongest creature they'd ever challenged, and they'd been campaigning together for years now. He worried if they'd make it this time. Something the dragon had done or taken had rendered Townportal Scrolls useless this far in. If they had to run away in order to use one, he wasn't sure they'd be fast enough.
Something in him tightened and he blurted, "This is the hardest thing we've ever faced together and I might not get another chance to say this. I love you."
Then he opened the large ornate door and charged in, leaving Penelope to stare after him.
Then the roar of the dragon had her running. There was no way he'd survive this without her and she had questions, dammit.
It was a nerve-racking victory, but victorious they were. Sheldor's freezing shield had faltered after only two hits, but it was worth it to provide the distraction Penelope needed to deal a massive amount of damage. While the dragon was stunned Sheldor was able to flank right while Penelope went left. It wasn't easy, but it ended up being a lot better than they had feared. At the very least no one was required a skilled healer. They'd been right to train as much as hey had. Better to overtrain than undertrain.
With the infamous dragon finally defeated, Sheldor made his way back to the antechamber to summon the Town portal. He held it long enough for Penelope to step through it then entered himself, closing it behind him.
"Queen P AFK."
Sheldon's heart hammered a staccato rhythm against his ribcage as he remembered what he'd said before battle.
Sure enough, Penny's stomping was making its way to his bedroom. Hearing it didn't keep him from flinching when Penny threw his door open.
"Sheldon, what the hell?" she yelled.
He stood from his bed and shushed her, not wanting Leonard to come investigating. This would be awkward enough without him poking his nose where it didn't belong.
Feigning ignorance, he said, "'What the hell' what, Penny? You'll have to be more specific. 'What the hell am I doing in your bedroom?' I'd like to know that myself. You know people can't be in my bedroom. 'What the hell was that dragon about?' I know, right? We were completely overleveled for that encounter and it didn't even drop anything unique."
"Cut the crap, Sheldon," she said, hands on her hips. "You said you loved me not half an hour ago. Was that real, or was it just something you said in character in the heat of battle?"
Sheldon fidgeted and couldn't maintain eye contact. "Why does it have to be either of those? Why can't it just be something we forget ever happened?"
Silence reigned. Penny's stance became less aggressive, her hands leaving her hips and hesitating at her sides, before crossing under her arms.
"What if I don't want to forget it?" she asked him softly.
Sheldon's eyes slowly found hers. There was a vulnerable look to her that took him by surprise.
"Do you?" he asked just as softly.
She shrugged. "I don't know. Can we...talk about it first? Then decide?"
He swallowed and nodded, sitting back down on the bed. She sat next to him and looked at him sidelong. It felt as though she were trying not to spook him. Or perhaps herself.
"Do you..." she started, but hesitated, then changed her mind. "If you weren't...just caught up in the roleplay...if you really felt that...for me..." She looked up at him. He was staring at the wooden baseboards on the wall."If you did, I might...feel something too."
Sheldon's shoulders were stiff with tension, but even his breath stopped as he tensed further upon hearing her.
He didn't show any signs of talking so she kept going. "But if it was just you being caught up in the heat of roleplay then we can just go with that. Sheldor can love Queen P."
His shoulders relaxed the smallest bit and he let out the breath he was holding; it wasn't quite a sigh of relief but it was close.
"But before we get further into that I'd just like to try something, if you don't mind," Penny went on.
At that, Sheldon chanced a look at her. Her eyes were wide open, her pupils dilated. It gave her a certain kind of vulnerable look he'd never seen directed at him before and his heart thudded in his chest. He wanted to give her everything, but at the same time he wanted to keep everything to himself. She couldn't hurt him if she didn't know for sure. But he was curious. It was his biggest asset and his fatal flaw.
"What do you have in mind?"
Penny's wide eyes dropped to his lips. "I'd like to kiss you."
Sheldon's heart thudded again and butterflies came to life in his stomach. "Why?" His voice was husky.
A corner of her mouth twitched up as she said, "Because I've wanted to for a long time. Because if we're going to forget this, pretend it never happened, then we may as well have something worth forgetting."
The more she talked, the less he wanted to forget. He wanted nothing more than to kiss her and declare his love again. But he was afraid. Sheldon and change didn't go well together and a romantic relationship changed everything. Amy had proved that when she'd tried wooing him. Penny had proved it every time she and Leonard tried it. Sheldon was comfortable with his life and his social circle as it was. He was perfectly fine loving Penny from afar. Why did he have to panic and open his mouth? The status quo was fine just the way it was.
He was afraid. But she said they could forget it. Sheldon couldn't forget anything even if he wanted to, but he could ignore things he was uncomfortable with better than most. And he really wanted to kiss her, if only to experience it once. So he nodded.
Penny scooted closer to him on the bed and ran her fingers through his baby soft hair. Sheldon braced his hand on the bed as she pulled him closer. He wanted to keep his eyes open, memorize everything to store in a neat little box that he could ignore for all eternity. Instead, the instant their lips touched his eyes fell closed and all he could do was feel. Her gloss covered lips, so soft against his. The breath from her nostrils fanning across his face. The hand in his hair, now anchored at the base of his head. The fingers of that hand lightly rubbing his scalp, playing with his hair.
It was mere seconds, but as she pulled back it felt like they'd been fused for hours. Sheldon's eyes remained closed and his heart hammered in his ears as he rested his forehead against hers. He didn't want the moment to end.
He didn't want it to end.
His eyes flew open. He wanted it more than he feared the change it would bring.
Sheldon surged forward and captured her lips again, forcing her to remove her hand from his hair to balance herself. She recovered quickly, though, and brought her other hand up to his face, holding him to her. The hand he'd braced himself with tangled in her hair and he tilted her head to get a better angle.
Penny, without breaking contact, rose up and knelt on the bed, using Sheldon's shoulders for balance. However, without a hand to brace him he fell back against the pillow, and with his hand in her hair she had no choice but to follow him down, but she was able to catch herself so she didn't fall on him. So now they were simply staring at each other, breathing heavily.
Suddenly, laughter bubbled up from Penny and she dropped to her elbows above him and rested her forehead on his shoulder as she laughed.
"I'm sorry," she said through her laughter. "I didn't mean to push you."
Sheldon smiled. "It's fine." His hand was still in her hair.
Penny dropped to the bed beside him, leaving her head on his shoulder.
"Sheldon, I don't want to forget this," she whispered.
"I don't either," he replied, running his hand through her long blonde hair. "I couldn't forget it if I wanted to. I have an eidetic memory, if you recall." He brought his hand back up to rest on her shoulder and caressed the skin there.
"I'm afraid," he confessed. "I don't handle change well, and I fear the others wouldn't handle it well either. Especially considering your history with Leonard and my history with Amy."
Penny traced the Green Lantern logo on his shirt and said, "I'm afraid, too. I'm afraid that you and I might not work out and it would destroy our friendship. I'm afraid that it might be perfect. I've never had perfect before. And yeah, I'm afraid that with our histories it might break up the group." She propped herself up on an elbow and continued. "But I'm willing to try if you are. I said it before. If you want, we can pretend this never happened. But I couldn't forget it if I wanted to either."
"I don't want to forget it," he said, mirroring her position. "I want this more than I fear change. Penny, I love you."
Penny leaned in to kiss him again, and when she pulled back she smiled.
"I love you too."