Chapter 29 - Happiness

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"Are you afraid of her?" Ethan asks casually, sending a fist towards me and I quickly dance out of the way. My own fists are at my chest, up and ready to block his hits. He will never hurt me, that I know but this is the closest I am going to get to a real fight without actually getting into one. The bright and hot summer sun shining from above makes it difficult to look at Ethan directly.

"What?" I say, distracted and lunging myself backward as he sweeps a kick towards my chest.

"I said," Ethan takes a moment to wipe the sweat from his eyes with the back of his hand and I take the opportunity to hook my leg with his, hoping he will fall down to the ground. But Ethan is faster and he side-stepped from my leg with ease and his eyes closed. "Are you afraid of her?"

I'm starting to pant from exhaustion. "I'm not afraid of an old witch, Ethan," I say, eyeing him with the cool, soft grass beneath my bare feet.

"I'm not talking about Naerys," he corrects me. His fists are now down at his sides lazily, almost taunting me at my lack of skills. His raven hair is heavily messed from the training he is giving me but his chest is without a pant despite the sweat on his collarbone. "Laila, I mean."

The name sends slight pinpricks down to my spine despite the heat but I do not allow it to bother me. It has been a good month since that happened, I should not be worried. "Of course not. Why would I?" I send a punch towards his chest as that is the easiest place I can reach him.

"From what you have been telling me, I think we both know that your sister is quite mad." His eyebrows crease as he brings a forearm to block my fist but I reach him and he stumbles a pace backward.

I smile triumphantly when he looks at me, unbelieving that I finally hit him for the first time on this lesson. Ethan has the audacity to return my smile before quickly moving closer to my body and doing the same move I did earlier, hooking his leg with mine and pulling it towards me so that I fall.

And before I know what is happening, I am falling to the ground. I shut my eyes waiting for the impact but instead, I feel a strong hand on my arm, steadying me up again. He will never hurt me, I thought as I open back my eyes to find Ethan directly in front of me. We are almost nose to nose as I look at him straight in the eye which is almost covered with black hair but, the green iris still shines brightly.

"Next time," he pants and I can feel his heavy breaths against my lips, "Do not close your eyes, no matter how scared you are. You need to show your enemies that you are not afraid." Ethan grins and I am stunned for a moment before feeling unbearably stupid.

I push him away after punching him in the chest a second time.
Ethan stumbles back a few steps, the smile still lingering. I shoot him a glare and try to ignore the rising blush on my face. The heat is strong this summer with sweat dripping from both of us.

Some of it is the result of our little training but the sun shines too bright this summer. Thankfully, the wheat fields of the Outlands have not yet dried up. It might even survive to the harvest season.

The water of the lake is clear, giving me the sight of moss at the shallow bottom. Kneeling down, I splash the cold water onto my face, cooling my skin a little while Ethan sits down underneath a nearby tree. "I'm not afraid, Ethan. I'm not afraid of my sister or anyone."

I can almost hear him scoff while I turn around to him. "What?" I ask him.

"You're stubborn, you know that?" Ethan says, sounding amused at me for whatever reason.

"I am not. I am just stating the truth." I move closer to him, trying not to roll my eyes. I am a little stubborn, maybe. But I am no coward.

"It's not the truth. Everybody is afraid of something." He states and something in his voice makes it sounds true to my ears. Under the shade of the tree, Ethan pulls out skin of water from my sack and drinking it.

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