Chapter 24

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Buddar and Link slipped into the den, Navy and Shadow were already awake. "Good morning!" Buddar greeted them. "We brought breakfast!"

She held out her cap, which was filled with peaches. Shadow smiled weakly. "Thanks, Buddar..." He mumbled as he and Navy each took a peach.

Buddar frowned when she saw Shadow's face, his burn had worsened, and had spread a bit more while they had been sleeping. She grabbed her bag, which had been sitting against the wall of the den, and grabbed a jar of water and a rag that she had packed. "Hey, Shadow?" She asked.

"Hm?" He asked as he was finishing his peach.

"Mind if I clean your burn after you're done eating?" She asked.

Shadow shook his head, then quickly finished off the peach. Buddar sat down next to him and dripped a bit of the water onto the cloth. She then patted her lap, gesturing for him to rest his head on her lap so she could help him. He gently lay down on her lap, and she began to gently soothe his burn with the dampened cloth. Shadow closed his eyes and sighed in relief, a small smile creeping onto his lips. A strange feeling blossomed within Buddar's chest, it was like nothing she had ever experienced before. What is this feeling? She wondered, confused. Is this... Love?

She shook her head the slightest bit. No, from what I've heard, love is a much stronger feeling than this. She thought. She glanced down at Shadow, who had fallen asleep in her lap, and the feeling intensified. It made her feel as though she needed to protect him, to never let anyone or anything harm him. She smiled slightly as she put the rag and the water back in her bag. She gently lifted Shadow's head off of her lap, and lay down next to him. She felt exhaustion begin to take over. She could've sworn she saw Link watching her and Shadow, a longing look in his ocean blue eyes.

But before she could take another look, sleep took over, and she slipped into oblivion.

***

"Buddar, wake up."

"Hmm?" Buddar mumbled, her eyes fluttering open, only to meet a pair of glowing red ones only a few inches away from hers.

"It's time to get going," Shadow whispered. "It's nighttime."

Buddar yawned and stood up, then helped Shadow get up, since he was still weak. She glanced around and realized that everyone else was already awake and ready to go. She quickly grabbed her bag and slung it over her shoulder. "Alright, let's go." She said.

They all crawled out of the den and into the dark forest, which was slightly illuminated by the light of the moon. Buddar turned to Link. "Which way do we go?" She asked.

Link glanced up at the moon, then at the shadows of the trees. He turned to the right and began to walk into the trees. "This way." He said, motioning for the rest of the group to follow.

As they walked, Buddar noticed that Link kept glancing over his shoulder at her. He had a complicated expression on his face that she couldn't read. What's going on with him? She wondered. He's been acting weird lately, especially around me.

She stared at him for a few moments, then shrugged. Eh, I'm probably just making a big deal out of nothing. She concluded.

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