Emily stretched, placing a bookmark in what she was reading, and lifting her arms above her head. Darkness had well and truly fallen outside, the fire the only source of warmth. She glanced down at her watch, surprised to see it read tem pm. She hadn't realised three hours had passed since they had finished dinner.
After a moment of contemplation, Emily decided that a hot drink was a pleasant idea, followed by bed. The book she was reading was carefully placed on the coffee table, before Emily made her way to the kitchen
When she got there, she discovered the kettle was already boiling. Wong was standing at the counter, making food of some sort from what Emily could tell.
"Enough water for me to have a cup too?" Emily asked, startling Wong for a moment.
He turned, looking at her expressionlessly. Then he nodded.
"Stephen and the other masters have had their tea. This was for me, and I did add water for you too."
"So they're still in the library talking?"
Wong nodded just as the kettle switched off. They both went about making their drinks, a chia for Wong and hot chocolate for Emily.
Once both Emily and Wong had finished their drinks, they went their own ways. Wong had said he was going to do some more research on a relic they had recently come into possession of. Emily, however, made her way to the library. She still intended on going to bed, but they had a rule in the sanctum (put into place after an incident with sleep dust). Each person had to tell the others when they were going to bed. As such, Emily had to tell Stephen as well as Wong, plus she wanted to say good night to her partner anyway.
Voices floated out of the library, the door to the room slightly ajar. The door swung open with a slight creak, but no one in the room paid any mind to it. Arranged around the room were Doctor Strange and three other masters, who had arrived from Kamar Taj to talk with the Sorcerer Supreme. Other than at dinner time, they had barely acknowledged Emily or Wong and hadn't spoken more than the required pleasantries to each.
The masters certainly noticed Emily when she came to stand next to Stephen's chair. Stephen, though, just reached out his hand and took Emily's. Then he noticed that the masters had stopped talking and were simply looking at Emily.
The Sorcerer Supreme resisted rolling his eyes, barely. It wasn't like they were talking about anything dangerous or confidential. Instead, Stephen looked up at her.
Emily nodded. "Yea. I was just going to tell you good night."
Stephen looked at her suspiciously.
"I know you don't have the best sleeping patterns, but it's already 10.30."
"Huh. Suppose we should start wrapping things up here." Stephen commented, looking at each of the masters.
"Probably, but I'm going to bed now either way." Emily replied.
"You've told Wong?"
"Yep." She popped the 'p' before leaning down and kissing Stephen on the cheek. "Night."
Then Emily walked out.
Stephen turned back to the masters.
"I didn't realised it was so late. My apologies for keeping you all up."
They nodded, then one master spoke up.
"I don't believe it's appropriate for apprentices to just walk in to meetings purely to say goodnight." He frowned at Doctor Strange. "I also don't believe it's appropriate for the Sorcerer Supreme to be courting an apprentice."
Stephen blinked in surprise, glancing at the other two masters. Their facial expression s gave nothing away, so he returned to his gaze to the master who had spoken.
"I would assume Emily did knock, but we didn't hear it. I didn't hear the door creak either and I know for a fact that it does. She did come in to say good night, however it is now required that all inhabitants of the Sanctum notify each other before going to bed. This was established after an unfortunate incident with some sleep dust. I expect Wong will be by in a moment to inform me that he is retiring for the night as well."
One master looked impressed. "We heard about the sleep dust briefly. That's certainly a simple and effective protocol to prevent it happening in future."
Stephen nodded his thanks.
"Regardless, your apprentice could have asked to speak to you outside, rather than intruding on this room."
That one master just would not let up. Stephen could see it was starting to embarrass the other two masters, who evidently had no issue.
He wondered if the issue was that Emily was female, that she wasn't a master, or just simple that she was dating him, the Sorcerer Supreme.
Either way, Stephen had worked in a male dominated profession before, and he knew quite well the best in their field could be female and get absolutely no recognition because of it. He was going to end this, now. He was Sorcerer Supreme and the guardian of the Sanctum they sat in. This was his turf.
Stephen pulled himself up to his full height, while still staying seated, and turned to the master who had spoken.
"I don't see why she should have to wait outside. If not for your interruptions, her statement would have taken all of about a minute. Emily had every right to come into this room and could have been in here all evening if she had wished. The Sanctum is, after all, her home. And one last thing. There is no vow of celibacy to be a master of the mystic arts. Nor did I take a vow of celibacy when I became Sorcerer Supreme, it was not required of me. My relationship has no impact on my ability to protect this dimension, therefore it is quite frankly none of your business."
The master huffed while the other two stayed diplomatically silent.
Stephen clapped his hands and rose.
"Now, if that is all. I will show you to your rooms for the night. If you have anything further to discuss with me, I am free tomorrow morning. I have a prior engagement in the afternoon that I will not postpone."
Wordlessly, the masters also rose and followed the Sorcerer Supreme out of the room and to their own rooms.
Emily came down to breakfast the next morning to find two masters, Stephen and Wong in the kitchen. The third master was nowhere to be seen.
"I must apologise for out colleague's behaviour last night." One master said. "It was unbecoming of a master and a resident of Kamar Taj."
"I thank you for your apology." Stephen nodded.
"He has left to return already. There is one other small thing we would like to discuss with you, regarding the sleep dust. We would be grateful if Emily and Wong would join us." The other master informed them.
All three residents of the New York Sanctum saw the olive branch that the request was, and agreed.
So the morning was spent in a pleasant discussion over tea and biscuits. And the two master promised action would be taken regarding the other master.
After they left, Wong spoke up.
"He shall never step foot in this sanctum again."
"Give him a chance to redeem himself." Stephen replied, but privately he agreed with Wong wholeheartedly.
Maybe they could look into warding the sanctum against that sort of attitude?
It was certainly something to consider.