Aarindarius opened his eyes, then immediately shut them against the sunlight shining in his face. He rolled onto his back, raising a hand to shade against the light, and squinted at the ornamental clock on the dressing table. It was late morning.
He groaned and lowered his hand, closing his eyes once more. He had spent all night first pacing his room, and then simply lying there, worrying. Worrying that Inkyrius would leave, worrying that Inkyrius would never want to be anywhere near him ever again. His imagination had happily doled out endless worst case scenarios and played them out in front of his eyes. Inkyrius never looking at him again with anything but fear… As far-fetched and as some of these ideas may have been, he had all but convinced himself that they were true. Needless to say, it had been the early hours of the morning before he had finally drifted into an uneasy trance.
He rolled back onto his side and was confronted with the full length mirror hanging from the wall. A small and – at the moment – rather ruffled looking elf stared back, long hair splayed over the bed behind him. He self-consciously pulled the tangled strands away from his face.
What was he doing? He was fawning over the baker like a young elf barely a century old with their first crush. It was embarrassing; he wasn’t that desperate was he? He certainly hoped his reasons for liking Inkyrius were more than just wanting to get the other elf into bed with him. If he was serious about trying to court Inkyrius – something he still wasn’t sure was a good idea – he needed to start acting his age.
Aarindarius stood up and stretched, his limbs slightly stiff. Well, maybe acting a few decades younger than his age wouldn’t hurt. The wizard smoothed the creases out of his robe with a Prestidigitation spell, checking his appearance again in the mirror.
Before he could do anything else, he had to go and apologise for what he’d done yesterday. As he began climbing down the stairs, he wondered what exactly had caused Inkyrius to react so fearfully to the kiss. Was there something about him that the baker found repulsive? He wasn’t that old… Maybe it was that until now, Inkyrius had only viewed him as Vaarsuvius’ Former Master, and the blurring of social roles was too much to deal with alongside recent events. Or it could be because he was a somewhat powerful wizard, although didn’t see why that should bother the elf since Inkyrius had been married to one for yea-
Oh. Maybe that was it. Inkyrius had spent so long in an unfulfilling relationship with a magic user and feared the same happening again. Or perhaps feared that arcane power itself; there were so many ways magic could be used to make things go your way, at least if someone was desperate and immoral enough to use them. Recently, Vaarsuvius may well have seemed both. He wondered whether his former apprentice had actually threatened to use magic against Inkyrius, in which case the baker’s fear was certainly justified. He wished Inkyrius had given him more details about what had happened.
Aarindarius reached the study, and a quick check confirmed that there was nothing in there but his books, lining the curved walls ceiling to floor. The drawing was no longer on the desk.
Nor was anyone in the guest bedroom, or any of the other rooms, and he soon found himself down in the hall and certain that he was the only one there. He sighed; it seemed the apology would have to wait until Inkyrius got back from… wherever Inkyrius had gone. Dejectedly, he headed back towards his study. The climb up the stairs had never seemed longer.
Three hours later the sensors around the tower indicated to him that someone was approaching the tower. He shut the book he was studying and was halfway down the stairway before questioning the intelligence of rushing towards the other elf at full speed. He slowed down to a more leisurely pace.
A few minutes later he sidled into the kitchen where Kyrie was making a cup of tea.
“Hello.” He said, smiling nervously.
The other elf looked up, almost visibly shrinking away from the other’s presence. The movement tugged guiltily at Aarindarius’ conscience. “Er, I was making some tea.” The baker said, gesturing needlessly at the mug and the tea leaves on the counter.
“Inkyrius…” Aarindarius began, and the baker stiffened, the hand resting on the wooden surface clenching slightly.
“Inkyrius, I’m sorry about what I did yesterday. I shouldn’t have put you in a position like that.”
Inkyrius avoided meeting the wizard’s eyes, instead turning to pour boiling water onto the tea leaves. “It’s fine.” The elf said, running a hand through hair like green silk, before turning to look at the other elf. Aarindarius was suddenly acutely aware that his own hair was a tangled mess. “I just… don’t know what I should do. I don’t even know what I want to do.”
“About your marriage?”
“You saw the divorce papers.” It wasn’t a question.
“Have you tried talking to someone about it?”Aarindarius asked slowly.
“I’m talking to you, aren’t I? Unless you think your opinion on the matter will be biased.”
“I think I don’t know much about how best to deal with long-term relationships. Maybe…” He hesitated “maybe you should try contacting Vaarsuvius.”
“What good would that do? Even in light of recent events, my mate still probably thinks that being a wizard excuses you from other parental duties. What would I say anyway? ‘Hello dear. Since you sold out your soul, saved us, threatened us, then ran off again, I think we need to talk about our relationship.’”
Aarindarius winced, but persisted. “I could just find out Vaarsuvius’ general disposition. But I won’t unless you want me too.”
“Fine, go ahead.” Inkyrius said sulkily, taking a sip of tea.
The wizard paused for a moment, and then moved towards the door.
The wizard stopped and looked back and the baker. “Yes?”
“You said you didn’t know how to deal with relationships. Have you ever been in love?”
The wizard gave a pained smile “I said I didn’t know about long-term ones. And I haven’t been in a relationship for years.”
“It was back when I was still adventuring now and then, almost half a century ago. I dated a red-haired human woman for a while. It didn’t last long; neither of us ever had any plans to settle down back then.”
“Did you keep in touch? What happened to her?”
Aarindarius shook his head sadly. “I don’t know.”
Inkyrius fell silent. Once he was sure the conversation had concluded, Aarindarius took his leave and headed back up to his study.