He doesn’t realise that it’s already dark out until a pair of familiar hands slide down his chest and he looks up, catching a glimpse of the window as he does. James is leaning over his shoulder. “Are you done yet?”
“Just about. Is something wrong?”
“No. I just miss you.”
“Miss me? I’ve been here all afternoon, James.”
“And you’ve shut yourself up in the office. Neptune and Fagin miss you too, you know. I’ve had to stop them from scratching the door up four times.” As if he has sensed his mention, Neptune comes bounding into the room and sitting at Francis’s feet, his tail thumping the floor furiously. Francis reaches down to scratch him behind the ears. “See?” James asks. “Look at how happy he is to see you.”
“Are you honestly using Neptune to get me out of here?”
“Yes. And I’ll use Fagin too if I have to. I’m a man of many means, Francis.” James takes Francis’s hands in his own. “You must be going mad reading some of these. What’s the worst of it?”
“You really want to know?” James nods. “Someone wrote about sex in a pond. The detail is excruciating and I hate that I kept laughing at it.”
“Then take your mind off it for a while. I’ve got a fire going.” Francis rubs his eyes. To tell the truth, it is rather cold in the office now that the sun’s gone down, so he might as well warm up for a few minutes. He stands and lets James lead him to the small den, where Fagin sits curled up on the couch. He raises his head for a second, yawns, and rests his head on his paws again, evidently disinterested. Neptune wags his tail happily when James gives him another scratch behind the ears and settles himself in front of the fire, which crackles away merrily.
Francis waits for James to let go of his hand and sit down, but instead he pulls him close, his lips curving into a warm smile that reaches his eyes and makes them shine in the way that always makes Francis smile right back. “Dance with me?” he asks softly; Francis nods and James starts humming an accompaniment as they begin to sway more than properly dance. More often it’s a tune he’s made up in his head, but this one Francis recognises, and his mind fills in a few of the lyrics: She rules her life like a fine skylark/And when the sky is starless-- They move around the room behind the couch, half-waltzing, half-swaying, Fagin now watching with such an expression of utter bafflement that when they see it, they both snort with laughter. Francis rests his head against James’s shoulder, holds him closer. The best warmth of all.