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The Battle to Belong.

He watched her as she sat at his desk, immersed in the book of alchemy from his brothers library. She was oblivious to his increasing interest, her gaze wondrous over the pages beneath her eyes. The light caressed her hair, lending a glorious glow to skin and being as well.

He could no longer deny to himself how much she belonged here, just as she had belonged in his rooms at all souls, his lab of science. It was all too easy to believe that she belonged in his arms, in his bed. Something in her called to him and some part of him answered, even though he remained apart from her, forcing himself to stay in his seat, drink his glass of wine and gently interrogate her about the book of life.

As she answered his questions, the need to be near her became irresistible. Before he was aware of his movements he had risen from his seat and made his way over to her. He used his curiosity about her magic as his excuse, though he could not hide his fascination when he discovered that her magic was instinctive, the possibility that the book of life had appeared to her because she needed it.

He was reluctant for their day together to end. Slowly they departed from his house, he answered her questions about his origins, reminded once more of the darkness within him that eclipsed any right he had to deserve her.

Yet he could not help but accept her invitation to dinner, the desire to spend more time in her company conquering his conscience. He had learned all she knew about the book of life, the only reason to remain with her was if she was willing to try and retrieve it again for him.

However there was another reason, one he should ignore, they both should, lest they wished to risk the wrath of the congregation by breaking the covenant. He was all too aware of what could happen to the both of them, his brother would not protect him.

From the way she refused to hide her attraction towards him, she was either oblivious or ignorant of the law that forbade them being able to have an interest in each other. A desire for each other.

It would be all too easy to take advantage of that ignorance, if he could keep the congregation from finding out. He rarely talked to his brother, so the only concern was Knox. He had made his interest in the book of life clear, he would stop at nothing to get his hands on it. He had to protect her from him, as well as from himself, even if the latter was fast becoming impossible to do.

Perhaps the dinner would put an end to it. He would be able to make it clear to her as well as to himself that they could not, should not break the covenant. That he was dangerous to her, unworthy of her. That they should work together to retrieve the book, then their partnership, their acquaintance should end.

Already he could feel the pain it would cause, the ache upon his heart, his soul. He hoped that she had yet to fall as deeply as him, that the wrench for her would be less. Given her manner today he doubted that.

It would be a fight to retrieve the book of life, a fight he had been preparing for since he first heard of it. Was he ready for what it would take to be with her? Was she for him?

There was only one way to find out.