The Kiss

We’re going back to Dovetail and I don’t know how I feel about it. The other healers are already talking about what we’re going to need to do when battle begins and I’m nervous about what it will be like.

I’m not nervous about the battle itself. I have complete faith in Lisette. She’s incredible and the more time we spend together, the more sure I am that she’s going to be a great Queen. And not just because it turns out that she may in fact be chosen by the gods to do it.

Since she’s come however, I have noticed that Tristan barely speaks to me. Athena is nicer to me than she’s been our entire lives though. And I really like Aaron. He’s funny, and he clearly cares about Annalise more than just about anyone.

Today, while I was taking a break from packing up the tent and the supplies I’d learned how to use. I was sitting by the lake, which had become my quiet place, where I could feel at peace.

“I’m sorry,” I turned seeing Tristan standing behind me. “I didn’t know you’d be here.” I looked at him and nodded. “I can go, if,” he exhaled, “were you meditating? Lisette doesn’t like being interrupted when she meditates.”

“No, it’s alright,” I said and stood up. “I should get back to work, we have a lot to pack up.”

“Right,” he said softly. “I’ve missed you.” I smiled at him. “Honestly, I,” he looked down, “I didn’t mean for,”

“You don’t have to finish that,” I said softly. “There wasn’t anything,” I swallowed.

“There was though,” he sighed. “When we left, I thought that maybe when I came home, I don’t know, but then there was her, and,” he ran his hand through his hair.

Goddess, I wanted to do the same. He’s so beautiful, and the way he was talking was so sweet and made me believe that there was even a fraction of a chance he feels the same way I do. Which is why even though I knew we couldn’t, knew that he loves her and not me, I found myself kissing him.

He kissed me back! Which was even more amazing. Six months ago, if I’d kissed him, he’d have stepped away and been very dignified and said something vague and walked away. Instead he pulled me close and kissed me back. When we parted he looked down at me.

“That was wrong,” I said. He looked at me and nodded. Then we kissed again and I ran my hands through his hair. I’ve wanted this since I was ten.

“We can’t,” he mumbled, I nodded but then we kissed again. “But gods, I want you.”

“But you love her,” I said softly and stepped away. He nodded. “And she needs us.” I was crying and I didn’t know when it started. “You’re everything I thought I wanted, Tristan. I used to pray that you would see me, that you would love me, that you would save me from Dovetail, from my Dreams and the way Brayton looked at me,” he took his thumb and wiped it against my face, taking me tears. “But now, there’s Annalise and I’m not that girl anymore.” He placed his hands on either sides of my face and kissed my forehead, lingering. I shut my eyes tight.

“Can we be friends again, then?” He asked. I smiled at him.

“Yes,” I said softly, “I don’t think I want a world you’re not even my friend.” He smiled and I turned around and went back to camp. All day I was distracted, thinking about those kisses, and his arms around me, and Goddess, his eyes.

I can’t think this way and at dinner I could barely look at Annalise. She seems so happy now that we’re getting ready to move. She says that she can’t take the waiting any longer. We talked about when we got to Dovetail, and what that would be like, and how our lives would look and I felt like the guilt was going to explode inside of me. I have no idea if Tristan was looking at me, because I couldn’t look at him. I’d probably have just started crying again. After dinner I found myself with Aaron.

I like spending time with him. There’s no edge with him, and he reminds me of his father, easy to be with, quick to listen, and even quicker to cheer anyone up.

He says that he likes spending time with me because it’s nice to talk about something besides weapons for a change. Our friends are overwhelmingly obsessed with swords, for the most part. After dinner most nights the two of us sit and talk, or read, or play cards, while Annalise, the twins and Elodie go outside and spar.

“You’re quiet tonight,” he noted as we sat. I looked up from my book and nodded. “You were quiet at dinner too. You didn’t talk about the library at Dovetail or working with the sisters at the temple to develop new healing potions or anything.”

“I suppose, I’m tired,” I said simply.

“Hm,” he nodded. “I know Tristan went looking for you this afternoon.” I blushed. “Did he upset you?”

“No,” I said, “I’m just,” I swallowed, “I suppose I’m not as eager to leave as everyone else. My life here has been infinitely better than it was in Dovetail.” He raised an eyebrow.

“I suppose,” He said, “but you’re not going to be the lonely daughter of the foreign duke when you go back. You’ll be a Duchess yourself, and sitting at the queen’s right hand.” He stopped. “Or her left, I might claim the right.” I giggled.

“Her husband might want it too,” I said softly. He shook his head.

“I don’t see Tristan sitting much at all,” he said, “standing, kneeling, riding a horse, absolutely, but not sitting.” I nodded. “Something did happen.”

“Yes,” I said softly. “I don’t want to talk about it, and it’s won’t happen again, so it doesn’t matter.” He put his hand over mine. “Please don’t tell Athena, or Annalise. They’d hate me and I couldn’t stand it.”

“Of course,” he said. “But I don’t think that they would. I don’t.” I laughed. “Besides, it might not be Tristan at all. There’s the Phanian prince who’s our age, and several eligible Provenance heirs.”

“Yourself included,” I pointed out. He snorted.

“I was taken out of the running when she was twelve,” he said. I looked at him oddly. “That would be when I decided that I did in fact want to be king and I kissed her.”

“How did she handle that?” I asked. I could picture the scene.

“I had a black eye for about a week,” he grinned. “We were in the stable, I had only recently discovered that kitchen maids and village girls rather liked me, and thought that she might too.”

“She did not,” I smiled. He laughed.

“Not at all.” He smiled. “I would still marry her if it would help.” I stretched.

“I hadn’t considered Prince Eric,” I said. “Honestly, Phania never occurred to me.” He stood up.

“Spend a little more time with Lisette,” he said. “She’s obsessed with it. With him specifically. I’ve never been sure why.” I nodded. I’m going to have to ask her, but she must have Seen something.


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