|â€œWhat are you doing?â€ Danial said curiously from the doorway. â€œWho are you talking to?â€
â€œSaving a spider,â€ I explained, blushing. â€œHeâ€™s in there most times because we donâ€™t use this tub too often anymore, and heâ€™ll die if I donâ€™t scoop him outâ€”â€
Danial had become still as a statue, watching me. â€œWhy did you save him, Lady?â€ he said raggedly. â€œWhy?â€
It suddenly hit me: he remembered that other night with me years ago.The spider in my old house whom Iâ€™d saved in front of him, the night Danial had asked me to give him my Oath. Oh shit. â€œBecause I canâ€™t watch him struggle to live without helping him,â€ I said, tense as a coiled spring.
â€œWhy not just move him somewhere else?â€ Danial whispered. â€œHe would be safe, if you moved him.â€
His old but still familiar words made my heart race. I took a deep breath and tried to slow it. â€œHe might not be able to survive where I put him. Outside right now, itâ€™s too cold. Winter is comingâ€”â€
â€œWhy do you bother to save him, knowing you will only have to save him again?â€ Every one of his words echoing down from years past was raw agony, tortured.
I took another deep breath and faced him. â€œBecause I canâ€™t let him die, not when I know I can save him.â€
Danial came to me hesitantly. He almost reached out for me, but then he drew his hand back. I held his gaze with my eyes, but didnâ€™t reach out for him.
My reason said to break the moment, to stop what was happening with a few cruel words. But I felt the same for him as I had that long ago night Iâ€™d first saved him. I just couldnâ€™t leave him in his grief, because it was so much easier for me to let him think I was dead, not if there was a chance that he would remember me. Heâ€™d done so much for me, to save me, to make me happy, and he was the father of my firstborn child, and my Oathed One. Even if he didnâ€™t remember that any more, I did.
I owed him this. And God damn it, whatever else I was, I always paid my debts.
â€œI remember a night, years ago,â€ Danial said hoarsely, his expression fearful and also hopeful. â€œA night I never told anyone about, not Theo, not my brother, no one. I remember another place, another woman, and another bathtub that held a drowning spider.â€
I thought frantically. What did I say to him that night?Â I needed the exact words.Â What were they?
â€œShe saved its life in front of my eyes, even though she was embarrassed after. I told her that she wasnâ€™t crazy for saving a spider. I compared it to her saving me, when an attacker was trying to kill me.â€
Danial had said that and more, the night heâ€™d asked me for my Oath.
â€œShe said to me a single phrase,â€ he whispered. â€œBut it was enough for me to know that she was the one I wanted. I asked her to promise herself to me that very night.â€
There was so much hope in his voice, so much pain and fear that he might be wrong, that I wouldnâ€™t know the words, or even what he was talking about. Reliving the memory, my words of that long ago night suddenly came back to me. â€œI told you I couldnâ€™t let you die, not if I could save you.â€
Tears spilled out of Danialâ€™s eyes as he reached for me, embracing me as if he would never let me go. â€œYou are her,â€ he rasped, shaking with joy and realized hope. â€œYou are my Sar. God, itâ€™s true.â€
â€œYes, Iâ€™m her,â€ I whispered.
He sank to his knees, still holding me, and I eased down to the floor with him, unwilling to let him go. For a long time Danial just cried in my arms, his tears soaking the front and shoulders of my bathrobe. I stroked his hair and told him not to cry, that he was loved and I was here, in his arms.
He pulled back from me finally, and looked at me for several moments, studying my face. â€œWhy do you not look as I remember you?â€ he said softly. â€œYour hair, your face, even your voice, itâ€™s completely different.â€
â€œIt was the injury you took at the hands of Ulysses,â€ I said carefully. â€œMy choker with your symbol fell off. Dev and I got to you as soon as we could. You almost died, your heart was stopped for minutes, and it affected some of your memories.â€
â€œWhy could it not be of my youth!â€ he said angrily. â€œOr of all the years I spent alone! I have spent almost a year without you! Months thinking you were dead, and grieving for you!â€
I felt myself wanting to give in to the moment. Hadnâ€™t this been what Iâ€™d hoped for?Â And now itâ€™s finally happening.Â Â â€œIâ€™m not dead, Danial,â€ I said, taking his face in my hands. â€œIâ€™m here with you.â€
Danial leaned forward, and kissed me. I slid my fingers into his hair, caressing him as I kissed him back. He picked me up in his arms, still kissing me, and carried me in, to Lashâ€™s bed. He left me for a moment to shut and lock the door, and then he was back, easing down beside me. Danial kissed me gently at first, but soon he was crushing my body against his, his hands sliding over my feverishly hot body, caressing and squeezing me through my robe as he kissed me. I pushed him back gently, and pulled off my bathrobe, revealing my nakedness. Danial looked at me darkly, and then he was pulling off his shirt and jeans, tearing the black cloth in his haste.