When he awoke the next morning, he found himself able to sit up. He could tell the bandages on his shoulder had been changed sometime during the night and wondered how Morwen had done it without waking him. The cats had to have had something to do with it. Someday soon he'd have to study cats' magic. He couldn't think of any prominent research on it.
Moving his shoulder around experimentally and finding that it didn't hurt too badly, he decided to try standing up. He got to his feet with no problem except for a little shakiness from being bedridden for the past day. The standing up went so well, in fact, that he decided to try using his arm.
That, however, turned out not to be a very good idea, and he yelled in pain just as the door opened.
"Telemain, what are you thinking?" Morwen demanded. She rushed to his side and helped him back into bed, ignoring his protests that he was perfectly capable of sitting down, it was just his shoulder that hurt. When she had him settled back in to her satisfaction, she quirked an eyebrow at him and remarked, "I take that to mean you're feeling better this morning."
"I am, but I'm starting to wonder if I can't trust how I feel, since you've been telling me that I should be feeling worse."
"Nonsense," Morwen said. "I'm only worried about you. I don't want more damage to come about as a result of that wound."
Telemain met her eyes. "You're worried about me?"
She colored slightly. "Of course I am. You're my friend. I couldn't bear it if something happened to you." After a brief pause, she added, "And clearly I need to protect you from yourself."
"That would be a full-time job." As soon as the words left his mouth, Telemain groaned inwardly. Yet another awkward statement.
"Yes," Morwen said softly. "Yes, I suppose it would be." She looked like she wanted to say more, but she simply closed her mouth and looked at him.
"Er." He cleared his throat. "Um. That is..."
"I should go help Cimorene," Morwen said quickly. "There's sixteen years' worth of cleaning to be done, after all."
"Oh, right. Yes," was somehow all he could managed to get out before she left.
That had been stupid. Things were becoming strained between them. He needed to just tell her how he felt and if she rebuffed him, then that would be that. But at least then he would know and this nearly twenty-years dance could be over.
He would tell her. Next time she came to check on him, he would tell her how he felt.
Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on her reentering the room almost immediately. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't know what came over me..." She seemed to steel herself and looked directly at him. "You seemed like you wanted to say something."
"Er...well, yes," Telemain stammered. He couldn't ever remember being this at a loss for words. "I'd like to sit up, though, if that's all right." Silently, she helped him to do so. "Morwen," he began, wondering where to go from there. She just looked at him expectantly through her glasses. "I've been thinking quite a bit over the last day about my life and my work and about...well...our friendship." He paused to gauge her reaction, but her expression was unreadable. "I realized yesterday that there's something I should have done a long time ago."
When he fell silent, Morwen prompted, "Yes? What is it?"
"Something I need to tell you." Telemain swallowed. "Ever since I saw you again in the Enchanted Forest, I've felt...that is...I think...um...I'm..."
"In love?" she suggested quietly.
"Yes!" He couldn't keep the relief out of his voice. With his good arm, he took her hand "I've loved you for a very long time, Morwen."
For a moment she remained silent, just looking at him with thoughtful eyes. Eventually, she said, "I wondered how long it would take you to tell me."
Telemain blinked in surprise. "You knew?"
Laughing and giving him a helpless look, Morwen said, "Oh, you hopeless man, I've been waiting for years to hear those words."
His stomach was performing happy somersaults but he couldn't help giving her a nonplussed look and saying pointedly, "I haven't heard them yet."
Morwen sat down next to him on the bed, taking care not to bump his shoulder. "I love you, too."
Without thinking about it, he reached up with his good arm, pulled her close, and kissed her enthusiastically. After a wonderfully long but somehow still too-short moment, they separated. "There's one more thing," Telemain said to her.
"And what's that?"
"I was wondering," he began carefully, "if you'd considered putting up with me for much longer?"
"I've been thinking about it," Morwen replied, a smile tugging at her lips.
"And," she said, "I accept your proposal." She kissed his forehead and added, "As long as you're willing to take in all the cats."
"Bring as many cats as you want." Telemain paused to think for a moment. "Actually, you do fascinating inter-species magical conjunctures with your cats. It would be an excellent research opportunity --"
Morwen snorted. "Telemain, I'll love you either way, but right now, would you rather discuss magical theory or celebrate our engagement?"
"I suppose there'll be plenty of time to theorize another time," he said hastily. Then, gladly, he pulled her close for another kiss.