Chapter 53 - Saying Goodbye

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Kastali Dun

Reyr was the last to leave the king's tower after their meeting that night. During the span of the evening he had packed, eaten dinner, tied up loose ends, and attended to his king. There was only one thing that remained—a single, daunting task.

When he reached Claire's door, he stood quietly outside for much longer than he intended. Claire's guards did not question him. They stood quietly aside. Laughter from within drifted through the door. It was a sort of happy laughter that rubbed off on him and made him smile.

He looked at each of the guards. He did not know their names, they changed too often, grew too quickly, and died too soon. "I am going to guess she is with Desaree and Saffra?"

They both nodded. He returned his gaze to the door. Was this prudent? Yes, it needed to happen. He owed Claire an honest goodbye. She would never forgive him otherwise. Then again, she probably wouldn't forgive regardless.

Gathering his courage, he knocked. All noise from within ceased. Desaree's face appeared moments later. She wasn't surprised to see him. She opened the door wide and stepped aside.

"Good evening, ladies." He greeted them respectfully, bowing deeply. Claire and Saffra sat at a nearby sofa while Desaree hovered in the entryway. "I have something important to discuss with Lady Claire. Would you mind allowing us some privacy?"

Claire nodded at the others. Saffra and Desaree took their leave. He waited until they were gone, then with every effort to appear relaxed, he took a seat across from her. "How are you feeling?" he asked.

"Okay, I suppose."

He had not seen her privately since the night she was rescued.

"It took a couple of days to calm down after everything happened. I've had trouble sleeping. Lots of nightmares, and more of Kane's dreams."

"Hiding more Dragon Stones, I take it?"

"Yes, he just hid his last."

"Is that so?" He fell into deep thought. Would it be prudent to use Claire's knowledge of the hiding places to hunt down the remaining stones? Perhaps that was a task for another day. There was simply too much on his mind to consider it.

"Life is returning to normal I suppose..." Claire added. "As normal as can be expected, I mean. You saw what happened at court today."

"Yes, that was a very brave thing you did. We all admire you for it."

"Thank you." Her smile did not reach her eyes. It was clear she was bothered. He quickly found out why. "Why haven't you been to visit me before now, Reyr? It's been five days."

"I...I apologize. Talon keeps me busy." He dropped his gaze. It was just too hard—he loved her too much.

"You've been avoiding me, haven't you?"

Silence fell. It was an awkward silence—nothing like the comfortable silences they were used to. Everything was different now between them. It left his heart aching.

She must have read his mind because she said, "Gods, Reyr! So what? So you love me. That doesn't change things between us all of a sudden."

Her outburst caught him unawares. He sighed. "Everything is different now, Claire. Surely you can see that."

Her face fell. "So that's it then?"

He watched her with helpless frustration. What did she expect from him? He had already given her his heart. Did she fail to understand his misery?

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