CHAPTER TEN

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     Elise should be ecstatic that she was now working for herself. She still saw Chloe everyday and helped her as much as she could, but now she had her very own patients to tend to. She should be delighted, proud and excited about her future, but she wasn't. Her mind was somewhere else. She blamed the elf. She couldn't get that bloody elf out of her thoughts.

     She had helped him, just like she said she would. Every night after working in the care-house she would go home and expect him to be gone, but he never was! The worst part about it was each night when she opened the door to her quarters she felt relief that he was still there. She was happy that she would be able to dress his wounds one more time and run her hands over his smooth skin, or have one more conversation with him. He no longer looked like a young child, he was taller than her, still slender but muscular and defined. Though his features remained soft. He made her laugh, gut wrenchingly so, laughter that she hadn't experienced since she was a child. He teased her about what she was, but she felt safe with him.

     She didn't think one person on Valterra knew what she really was. Those who did were dead. She had kept her true self hidden, afraid of the consequences. With the Elf? Light! She didn't even know his name! With him, she could let her guard down and it felt wonderful. She felt free in his presence. She felt a connection with him when she got close to him, more so when she touched him. He was so beautiful and serene, and such a horses ass that she knew deep down she was smitten.

     Of course, it was only because of what he was. He had probably put a spell on her to make her such a dim whit. Though now, at the end of her day, as she walked towards her quarters, all she felt was dread. Would he still be there waiting for her?

     When she made it to her door, she stopped and placed a hand on the knob and waited. She was scared to death she would open it and he'd be gone.

     "Are you going to make me wait all night?" he called from inside the room. Elsie felt instant relief at the sound of his voice, then she squinted her eyes. That little devil!

     With anxiety replacing her dread, she produced a calm exposure and reminded herself to be professional when she entered the room. She had already let her guard down about what she was. She didn't need him thinking she had fallen head over heels these last few days. Had she? Well, there was no escaping it now, she opened the door and stepped in.

~~~~~

     Faeron still lay on the cot she had set up for him. It would look like he had lain there all day, but secretly he had been out scouting in the city for any signs of danger in the guise of a young boy.  Tracking her with his magic was easy enough, but he simply knew when she was going to be finished her work day. He looked forward to being in her quarters when she returned. He didn't want her worried about him, though he thought it odd that he cared about her feelings at all. Human or witch, he should feel nothing but the need to protect her. Maybe that was all this was.

     "How have you been feeling today? Are you in less pain?" She asked as she sauntered in the room.

     "Aye, your salve seems to be doing the trick." He winced more than he needed to as he sat up, letting her think he was still suffering. He wasn't sure why he had stayed here as long as he did. He could have just taken the salve she had made him and left with it the first day. So why all the fuss and tending to? Was it because she made him feel like a child again? Because she was able to help him where he could not help himself? Perhaps, but most likely it was because of his dreams.

     Since being with her here in Bolster, he no longer fought the draugs in his dreams each night. Now his dreams had changed. Each night he stayed close to her, his dreams were filled with the most unusual imagery. Sometimes of he and her together, joyously dancing in the sky surrounded by a rainbow of lights. Other times, she was with another. Though he was always happy for her, watching her enjoy herself. He even dreamed of home. It was all very odd to him. 

     One thing he knew for sure was, it felt good. Surely if he was entitled to anything while on Valterra, it would at least be that. He had been alone for so long, he almost forgot what it was like to smile at someone. To hear laughter or feel the touch of someone else's skin was so foreign to him.

     He looked at her then, and she was looking at him. They both smiled at each other. They hardly had to say a word. In all honestly, he didn't know much of anything about her at all. When they had spoke he had made jokes, he loved her laugh in particular, it came from the gut. She seemed to think he was pretty entertaining. She had mentioned her family briefly, but made it clear she was alone in this.

     Still, it was something else he felt. Simply being close to her, something in his magics that told him she felt right. He suddenly fought the urge to tell her she wasn't alone any longer. This was not good. He squirmed in his seat and as she walked by him to her own room. He raised his hand to grab hers, but stopped himself. He lay back again and settled on the cot.

     "Chloe should be finished supper by now," she called to him. "I'll make sure to bring you something back if I can," she added as she came back and stood over his cot. "If not, perhaps we can get you up and walking later, I'm sure there's plenty to eat at the Inn."

     "I'd rather stay here if it's all the same. Too many questions in the city." Though it was true, he knew he was still making excuses. What is keeping me here? He thought as he watched the side of her mouth round up to a smile at his half truth. It could be that, he decided, as his own lips parted into a grin.


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