Dusk came quickly this late in the season, but Lien was long abed.

She was lucky to have her own room. Most of the crew didn't. Or even the nobles. Last time she checked, even Hinjo was bunking with the captain and first mate, though as his quarters had facilities for twelve concubines, private bathing, storage and it’s own kitchen this probably wasn't such a sacrifice.

But Lien had put her foot down, and so had wound up with a ten foot by ten foot room in the back. It was austere, which was a polite way of saying I was empty except for her spear, a trunk containing a few changes of clothes and a bed, but at least she had some privacy when she wanted it.

She slept in a bed. She was used to sleeping in a hammock, even on dry land, but he hated the swaying feeling, and it wasn’t fair to keep locking Elan out of his own room, so she’d pulled in a feather bed, and assembled it in her room, as the frame was too big to get through the door.

It was comfortable, and she was slowly warming to it, but it still felt odd, and she had difficulty knowing exactly where to position herself. Everything she tried felt awkward. At the moment she was lying on her side legs curled together and her hand on his chest. It was deceptively wide, and not structured like a human one, the muscles fitting together differently. It was also covered in thick brown hair that tickled silkily when she touched him.

He was already asleep, she noted enviously, eyes closed as though he hadn’t a care in the world, his left arm holding her close. He never had any trouble sleeping.

She had begun to feel an ache between her legs as the afterglow faded, that was only just disappearing now. It was a good ache, she could feel his seed in her. For a moment she worried what would happen if it quickened there, but then she looked at his face, weathered and craggy, hardened over the years but surprisingly gentle and tender in repose, and she felt her worry seep away.

He was here, and he loved her, and with him by her side, she knew they could get through anything.

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