((Last chapter, this. I wonder how old Thraun and Will are when they meet The Raven, it never does say. I would guess not too far from the rest of them, so that's roughly 10 years after this story.))

He had expected Thraun to call in about a fortnight, but he actually came to see him only three days later. Will heard the soft knock on the door in the late morning. He took a pan with meat from the stove and opened. A smile spread on his face when he saw Thraun, and he received a small one himself. 'She's done,' Thraun said. 'She was very excited about what she found, but I didn't understand a word she said. She says it's good you want to return it to the Julatsan.' Thraun offered the pendant to Will, who took it and nodded his thanks

'Want to come in?' he asked, and after a moment of hesitation, Thraun stepped inside. 'Jandyr still having a wish to murder me?' Thraun sighed.

'No. I tried to tell him you don't deserve it, and I think he got it.' He shook his head. 'I don't know which I want to do, run away as far as Gyernath, or … I don't know.' Will cocked his head.

'What do you mean, Thraun? What would you run away from?' Thraun snorted.

'You.' Will scratched at the stubble on his chin.

'Oh.' He glanced up at the sad eyes of the tall man before him. They were green with a yellow ring around them and absolutely unique. 'What's the alternative?' Thraun shrugged. He stared down at the smaller man. He could easily place his chin on top of his head. Will realised that too. 'I hope it's not killing me. I like my life.'

'Really?' Thraun looked at him hard. 'What do you have?' It was Will's turn to shrug.

'Time, if nothing else. I'm eighteen years old, Thraun. I can find myself a life I want to live.'

'Ideas?' Thraun sat down on the bed, and Will pulled up a chair and sat down facing him. It creaked threateningly.

'Well, if Jandyr wouldn't hate me so fervently I'd suggest working with you two. I certainly like you. A lot.'

'Running has just become even more appealing.' Will looked away.

'Why are you still here, then? Go, get out, and never come back.' Thraun didn't move.

'Want me to?' Will opened his mouth and closed it again. Slowly, he reverted his face to Thraun, trying to read his expression. There was sadness there, a lot of it. The fingers of his right hand were drumming ceaselessly on his left forearm, and there was tension in the way he held himself.

'No,' Will whispered. Thraun ceased his drumming. He reached out a long arm and cupped Will's cheek. His thumb brushed lightly over his skin and sent a shudder through Will.

'Then I won't run.' Thraun got up and squatted directly next to Will. He took his face into his hands and moved closer. Will's eyes closed before the first tentative contact of Thraun's lips with his. His hands went one to his chest, the other to the back of his neck, caressing him gently. Even though they had already been a lot closer than this, his heart was racing as if he had never done more than talk to him. A soft whimper escaped his lips and he pulled away.

'Don't hurt me, Thraun,' he said. It sounded more like a plea than he had intended. Thraun looked at him firmly, eyes alight and the sadness chased away. He smiled, his features so much softer for the change.



Thraun awoke to a warm ray of light on his face and the soft caress of breath on his skin. He kept his eyes closed for a few moments, enjoying the sensation of a warm body pressed against him, a hand on his chest, and a head resting on his arm. He sighed.

'Morning.' Will's speech was slightly slurred. 'Gods, I could stay here like this for the rest of the day.' Thraun nodded, then realised that Will couldn't see that if his eyes were closed as well.

'Me too. I'm not sure what surprises me more, that I'm still alive or that this wasn't a dream.' Will shifted, moving away. The loss of immediate contact made Thraun finally look at the other man.

'If that's what you were thinking, then what did you stay for?' There was no anger in Will's voice, but disappointment was written plainly on his face. Thraun realised he had broken his promise never to hurt him very quickly. He reached for Will's hand and held it, hoping he could repair the damage he had done to a man who was already bleeding and convey what he felt.

'I … that was a stupid thing to say, Will. I'm so sorry.' Will shrugged, pulling his hand away.

'I suppose I deserve no better.' Thraun sat up and pulled Will close to him. The little man was tense but didn't resist, and Thraun dared to breathe again. He planted a gentle kiss on his forehead.

'If I thought that I wouldn't be here. What I tried and failed to say was that I am in absolute bliss. Don't leave me, Will, please.' Will snuggled close into the warm embrace and shook his head.

'No, Thraun. Just … trust me, will you? I need that, especially from you.' Thraun smiled. He pushed Will far enough back to tilt his face up.

'I do. That's why I'm here. And I'll show you somehow if you're still willing to let me.' Gently, Thraun kissed him. His tongue caressed Will's lips, which opened and allowed him entrance. Will positively melted into his form, and to Thraun he felt small and vulnerable and very different to just a few hours previously where he had taken the lead quickly, brimful of confidence. Without breaking the contact Thraun laid him onto his back. He wasn't going to leave this bed any time soon.