Chapter 20: Danger✔️

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The days drag and these people do not warm to me. Rhovan is my only comfort and even he is not much when I can feel the way it pains him to trap me in this cottage. I walk from here to the Elderwood tree and back three times a day. Once for every meal.

He does not want me training yet. He wants me to warm up to the women and children, try to find leeway with these people until he can find a way to tell his father of our situation and to keep away from the men. I am a distraction so he says, but I still cannot see why.

I suppose I must succeed in one task if I am to be welcome here, but it has not been easy. Mothers scurry their children away from my view as I walk the halls, fetching my food and then heading to my favorite spot, the overlook that not one soul has occupied since I have come upon it. They must think it cursed.

The bird witch does not follow me so closely anymore, giving me space to roam, to watch and learn. Although it is hard to learn much of anything when I am avoided at all costs.

It is time for the midday meal. I have a wooden  bowl of grains in my grasp, carefully spooning the contents into my mouth as I watch the warriors head this way, Rhovan amongst them. Dagon is to his right, always his right hand man, Sorsasta to his left, chatting away, gripping his forearm with her nearest hand.

My rage simmers below the surface as I shove food into my mouth so ungraciously that I know my mother would be horrified at the sight, but it quiets as my tether mate brushes his soul against mine, pulling away from his old lover's grasp, watching her frown and walk away, out of view as they quickly enter the tree.

"It's been quite a while, Imp." I would know that voice in any crowd.

"Why don't you go find your witch and leave me be." Petra hasn't tormented me for days, surprisingly. I had thought she had given up, but apparently not.

"She is... otherwise occupied. It seems my father has been digging into your case these past days." This doesn't sound good at all, but I do not say anything against her, ignoring the way she closes in on me, sidling up to my left, watching over the weaved gate of branches that keeps us from falling 6 stories down, surely to our deaths if it were to break.

"It won't be long now, until he realizes that you are not so defenseless anymore. I wonder..." she trails off looking over her shoulder towards her brother.

My eyes widen at his presence. He rarely comes for me, rarely gives me company while I am here, enjoying the breeze and the open air, enjoying this time away from my cage.

Nel glides around him, hooking her body around Petra. "I thought you were with my father? Is everything alright, love?" Her voice has made a complete turn about, going from hostile to worried as she pulls Nel's bony frame an arms width away, looking closely into her eyes.

"Oh nothing. I have just missed you terribly." She replies with a giggle that she doesn't seem to be into at all.

"Come. Let's get you some food shall we?" She says as she pulls her lover away, leaving Rhovan and I to watch their strange departure.

I meet his eyes head on not giving into my fears, not letting Petra's words get to me. "Your people have yet to take a liking to me." I report, eying him knowingly. What other reason would there be for him to disturb this time of serenity for me?

He grips my forearm in his strong hand, pulling me to face him directly, my whole body shivering as his lips press against my ear. "I didn't come here to have ya report to me, Imp."

"The- then what is it?" My lips tremble. We haven't been terribly distant, but we haven't made much progress in the physical department since the night of Beltane.

He kisses the top of my head before pulling back to look me in my eyes. "Ya're always alone. I want ya to fit in more than anyone. I came because I have a surprise for ya."

He takes my hand, gliding his other arm around my waist, guiding me into the dining hall, a place that still has yet to hold a good memory for me.

People don't dare to glance in my direction with his presence near. They consider him a different kind of threat then the one I present.

I am to be watched, yet avoided at all costs, a bringer of war. He is a revered warrior, their leaders son, the next in line and respected. It is better not to provoke the threat they know is real and upset the little helpless Imp when he is not around.

He has his hair up today, trying to avoid the wind that would have it in a knotted disarray and I take note of his strong and sharp features as we head in the direction of the cottage.

He has bulked up since I first met him, his training becoming longer, harsher, more determined as the days pass.

I wonder what would have happened if I had stayed in Ellavorn, if I had left with the prince to the kingdom of Voran. Would Rhovan have bonded with the girl I know he still loves, would he be happy now? Would he have had children with the eyes of the moon? I know he would have. He is a familial man. He is a strong leader, pure hearted and kind with just the right amount of roughness around his edges.

My thoughts are stopped as we walk through the door. He has my line of sight blocked with his bulk, his hands gripping my shoulders softly. "Stop it. We may be on hard times, but haven't I told ya? Ya are the stars, the twinkling light that fills the empty space around me. Without ya, I am just the moon, a lone glowing orb, but with ya, we light up the night sky, the blanket that holds this world in a calming darkness as it rests." He grasps onto his necklace now, holding it against his chest in reassurance that what he speaks is the truth.

My cheeks have heated, my ears turning pink at his beautiful proclamation... and then he steps to the side and I am left to see the gift he has bestowed upon me.

A large wooden armoire, newly painted white, engraved with constellations across its entire surface, the door handles carved into crescent moons that, when closed look as if they are the full moon itself.

No words leave my flustered lips.

No sound to interrupt this moment as my hands reach out, my fingertips gliding over the surface feeling my way down until I am opening my gift, staring at the rows of clothes neatly packed inside, at the shelves that house shoes and all fashion of the garments these people are accustomed to.

His fingers slide through my hair, unwinding it from my braid. "Do ya like it?"

I can only nod.

Not a single Arradien has tried to make me belong, but he is making that step. He is moving me forward, giving me a helping hand, a hand that continues on to slide across my back, around my midriff, giving me the physical contact I have been craving for days now and my body goes lax in his arms.

"I thought that our people may not see ya as a threat if ya started dressin' like us, if ya accept and adapt to our ways maybe they will start to accept ya'res." He is whispering words of hope in my ear.

But I can't let my hopes become too high. I have to face the reality that I am a danger to these people. A danger to him.

He sighs at the dark cloud that has formed around my soul, his hands turning me, holding my face in a soft caress. "I have faced many a danger in this world. You, my star, are not one of them."

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