From the coast, it had looked like just another stretch of shoreline – unbroken save by the mouth of a minor river, emerging from the dense trees. Follow that “river” inward, though, past the dense undergrowth and vicious thorn bushes, and one came here: to a minor paradise, a sparkling lagoon nestled in a cleft in the hills, screened and half-shaded by the canopy of leaves, with one stretch of white sand laid bare to the noontime sun.

“This is my haven,” said Tasven’s companion. “No other two-legged being has seen it in five years. Do you like it?”

“It’s beautiful,” the white weasel breathed. He’d never seen the like of it, didn’t know if such a place could even come to be through the actions of nature alone; but given the manner of woman beside him, perhaps nature had been guided. “Just seeing it makes all the fighting of the past fortnight worthwhile.”

“This is the land’s gift to you,” the druid replied, leading him across the beach to an ancient, hollow stump, then turning to face him, webbed hands splaying against his waist as she smiled up at him – a very delightful sort of smile indeed; a smile that made his heart race. “There’s not so many city-folk who’d see it as you do, but I thought you might. And for my share of your reward, I had in mind something more personal.”

He managed not to shiver. Barely. “Merra, if you’re suggesting what I think you are…”

“I rather think I am, northerner,” she crooned, one hand sliding inward, cupping against the front of his trousers, feeling him.

“No mistake,” the sorcerer sighed. He cupped one hand behind her neck, leaning in to brush his lips against her brow; with the other, he gestured over the lagoon. “Out there?”

“I was hoping that would appeal to you.” Grinning, she brought both hands in to undo his belt.

Once his clothes and her leathers had been stashed in his enchanted pack, and that in the hollow stump, she brought him in close again, fingers running along the chain that encircled his neck. “Do you trust me, Tasven?” she murmured, warm breath stirring his whiskers.

“With all we’ve done together? I should hope so.”

“Trust me once more,” she purred, lifting that chain up over his head and hooking it over a branch, silver and gold gleaming in the sunlight. “To bear you up in time.”

He could see what she was after then; and he shivered in mingled anxiety and anticipation, and nodded.

The water was perfect – comfortably warm, yet it pulled the day’s excess heat right away from his body. Her sex was no less perfect, smooth and snug and so very warm around his needy shaft. Deeper and deeper she pulled him, into the centre of the lagoon, the sunlight fading into shafts that danced all around them from the rippled surface. Again and again he drove into her, fingers sliding over her oily fur, her claws raking his back, urging him on.

His chest burned  for want of air, but she kept pulling him down, deeper still. Part of him tried to struggle, to escape, to strive for the distant surface; but part of him clung tighter still to his lover, even as he grew dizzy and the world shrank to her alone.

In the throes of climax he gave himself to her entirely, the last of his breath fluttering past her whiskers and up to the surface in a silvery shimmer, only for another gasp of it to come to him from her kiss. That moment of ecstasy seemed to go on forever, drawing him into eternity.

Then, just as the dizziness threatened to overcome him, his head broke over the surface.

She stayed with him – holding him not as a lover, despite his manhood still firm inside her, but as a friend and helper – until his gasps had eased and his shivering started to steady; then she coaxed him into another kiss. “Once for me,” she breathed with a roguish grin.

“Once?” he repeated, and laughed. “Dare I ask what else you have planned?”

“Nothing so intricate,” she purred, starting to make for the beach, pulling him, trembling from the shifting around his aching shaft, along with her. “Only to make love on the beach as many times as you can manage by dawn.”

Though still shaken by that first experience, Tasven grinned. That was a challenge he’d be glad to rise to.