Part 3

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When Nobelle woke up the next morning, Danna was nestled in the crook of her arm watching her sleep. Strangely, she didn't mind being watched, though she did hope she hadn't been drooling or something. It was nice to wake up with someone, and even nicer to have someone look at her with that tender, sweet look lighting Danna's eyes.

"Good morning, Highness."

Danna smiled at her, her blue eyes sparkling like a lake basking in the sunlight. She pushed a stray strand of hair out of Nobelle's eyes. "How'd you sleep?"

"Amazing. You?" Danna raised her eyebrows at her, and Nobelle grinned sheepishly. She'd forgotten already. "Right, sorry."

Danna shrugged, pulling her hand back. "It's all right." She looked down at her hands, playing with her fingers.

There was a moment of silence, and Nobelle felt like she ought to say something—just what, she wasn't quite sure. "How do you feel?"

A slow smile spread across Danna's face; a hint of a blush lit her cheeks. "I feel wonderful."

Nobelle smiled too. "That's good."

They shared a long look, and Nobelle felt a fluttering in her chest. When she couldn't bear it any longer, she gave in, leaning forward and kissing Danna long and sweet.

Danna broke the kiss, her breathing a little harder than normal, her face flushed prettily. "Should we... I mean, we should keep moving... right?"

Nobelle nodded, trying to think logically, not with her heart—which wanted to curl up with Danna and go back to sleep. They did need to keep moving. It didn't take them long to make breakfast and then clean up the camp. Nobelle watched Danna out of the corner of her eye. From time to time, Danna's face would light up with a slow, personal smile full of memory, and Nobelle would smile too.

*~*~*

The week that followed was one of the happiest of Nobelle's life, but she knew it would be short-lived. It was only a matter of days before they returned to the capital and the real world. There, Danna would be reunited with her family, and Nobelle was about to be married. Married! That was something she still couldn't fully wrap her head around. She'd had a lot of time to think during the days of steady hiking through the forests north of the capital, but thoughts of Danna still made her heart race.

One thing she had come to terms with was the fact that she had to tell Danna the truth—and soon. Once they were back in the capital, Danna would find out the truth about Nobelle's past, figure out why she'd come to rescue her, and whatever was between them would be irrevocably damaged. Nobelle had to tell her, soon, before they got to the capital. She felt terribly guilty, like she was lying to Danna. More than once, Nobelle had started to tell her, only to lose her confidence and quickly change the subject.

The problem was, she couldn't force herself to risk ending what they had. She didn't want to endanger their newfound—love? Were they in love? Nobelle had the sneaking suspicion that maybe she was, but the thought of being so open, so vulnerable, with someone scared her.

They crossed a road perpendicular to their path shortly before making camp, and that was when Nobelle saw a wanted poster—one with her likeness on it. She tore it down and ripped it to shreds before Danna could see it, but after that she kept a wary eye out for any other signs, a sick knot in her stomach. How long could she keep this going? How could she tell Danna the truth but still keep what they had?

Danna cuddled up to Nobelle after dinner. The forest was dark beyond their campsite; the fire crackled merrily, casting light over Danna and Nobelle sitting near it. The stars were bright overhead, but there was no moon in the clear night sky.

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