WARNING: Mild Spoilers for Pax Romana
The headache which had been threatening for the past half hour had finally blossomed to life, a low gentle throbbing directly behind her eyes. She tried to smile at whatever Will was saying through her pain, but from the sharp narrowing of his eyes as he glanced at her, she suspected she had failed to fully convince.
His words confirmed her fears. "Magnus?" he asked in alarm.
She felt her smile widen in genuine gratitude for his concern and trusted that, in the soft glow of her study's electric lights, he wouldn't notice the sudden moisture in her eyes. "I'm fine, really. Just a bit tired, that's all." Her smile wavered only a bit as she observed, "It has been rather a long day."
Will's features relaxed. He'd failed to notice. He usually did. "Aren't they always?" he asked with a roll of his eyes.
A sudden noise across the room attracted his attention. He glanced to where the remainder of their small celebration stood clustered together near the drink cart, Kate gesturing wildly as Henry, voice raised in a sudden burst of excitement, could be heard explaining, "And then... BOOM! You should 'a been there, Big Guy!"
Her old friend looked doubtful and a bit confused, clearly failing to grasp the appeal of being zombified – Henry's expression which, unfortunately, seemed to be sticking – and then nearly blown up. "I... suppose..." As though sensing they were watching, he glanced up towards Will and Helen, blue eyes beseeching.
She couldn't resist. Chuckling despite herself, she arched an eyebrow at Will. "Perhaps...?"
His laughter joined hers. "We should go rescue him?"
"Absolutely," she agreed. And together, still laughing, they stepped forward to join their friends, the small circle opening as they came, welcoming them in.
It was at least a champagne glass and thirty laughter filled minutes later before Helen realized her headache had gone. Their companionship might never fully dissipate the empty shadows lurking in the corners of the room, but at least for now, surrounded by the warmth of their love, she could pretend it was close enough.