Twenty-Two: Verre

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Verre still couldn't believe that Baen was here, with her. She almost wanted to run a shard of glass through her palm to check if she was dreaming, but that would affect her throwing accuracy and she couldn't afford to be injured.

Glancing over at Baen who walked beside her, she grinned again. A silly, happy grin that made her feel like a fool.

"What's on your mind?" he teased, elbowing her affectionately. "Thinking of how much you desperately love me?"

It was true, though normally she would never admit it. Things had changed, though. She now realized how short life really was, and how easy it was to lose everything.

"Yes, I am thinking about how much I love you. Baen, I love you more than life, my abilities as a fighter, more than my parents, or anything else in this world. You're my jester, and I'll always be your ice princess."

Next thing she knew, Baen was kissing her. His hands held her waist firmly as he pressed her up against a tree, stopping any other words she could have said.

And Verre didn't care. She didn't care about the mission, the fact that they were in serious danger . . . none of it. All she cared about was that Baen was here, his arms wrapped around her, enveloping her in their reassuring warmth; the simple act saying so much more than words ever could.

All she could think about was his lips on hers in a desperate sort of kiss, as if to make up for all the time lost. Her hands tangled in his hair, pulling him impossibly closer.

She broke away, already regretting it.

"We have a mission to complete. I'd love to continue but-"

He nodded, his eyes twinkling. "Of course, the mission. But I'm not letting you forget that you confessed your love for all the world to hear."

She laughed, kissed him once more, and pushed him away. "Come along, jester, we don't have time for spontaneous kisses." Oh, how she wanted to grab him once more and resume from where they had left off, but she couldn't let emotion dictate her actions, not when Baen's life was on the line.

"What a pity, beloved," Baen remarked, playful sadness evident on his features. "Spontaneous kisses are among the best."

It was so good to have his cheery annoyance back. Perhaps everything would work out after all. "Did you bring anything with you that could help us detect magic? Apparently there are all sorts of dangerous spells planted along this mountainside."

"Spells? Magic? Dangerous! Darling, I was trying to be heroic and noble by coming to find you, but I did not expect to die from an unknown spell. Unfortunately, this does put a damper on our relationship." He sighed heavily, making a light tsking sound. "Also, no, I did not come prepared to deal with magic. A warning might have been nice."

It appeared nothing had changed between them, for which Verre was glad. Rolling her eyes, she socked him on the shoulder. "My dear man, if a simple spell should deter you from pursuing a woman, perhaps you shouldn't pursue her at all."

With a repentant look, he snaked his arm around her waist as they walked. "Precious Verre, I would pursue you to the ends of Atulau should it mean that I get to spend every moment of life with you."

"Cut the flowery words short, you know I prefer simple language." She gently pushed him away and strode on ahead. "We're looking for an extremely powerful and dangerous object which is most likely hidden deep within the heart of the mountains. This should be easy, right?"

Now that Baen was here with her, it made it all the more dire that she execute this flawlessly. The task seemed impossible, but Madame Rose was brilliant--despite the fact she seemed insane-- and she had a plan for all of this. If it had been impossible, she would not have sent them. It was time to clear her mind and look at it from a sensible manner; no emotions attached.

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