I woke up after all of the events and memories. I remembered everything. (Did the Oracle. . . Did Zareh really do all of that? For me?) My head began to hurt. I looked around to see I was well taken care of. The covers kept me warm, the pillows were soft, and the room was bathed in a comfortable dim light. I shook the grogginess. Maybe getting out will clear my head. I skipped seeing him today and went right for the Courtyard. Laying on crystal grass sounded like a good idea until I saw him. His head in his hands and his hood down, revealing the familiar silver, or white, hair. He must have heard my halted approach for he looked up at me, stood, and stalked towards me. He stopped two feet from me, keeping his distance.
“Nyveen, good morning.” He gave me a half smile. I suppose I’d have to face him sooner or later. I crossed my arms under my chest and remained stiff. A long silence stretched between us. “I’m sorry, it wasn’t supposed to be like this,” he began. I raised my eyebrow.
“You’re the World Renowned Oracle AND Zareh of the White Order AND the young man I fell in love with... how long ago now?”
“A thousand years,” he answered, honestly. That knocked me off of my feet.
“What?!” (A thousand years?!) My eyes bugged, and my jaw dropped.
“How are you still alive?!” I exclaimed. His face went neutral.
“I made sure to stay alive long enough to one day free you. I couldn’t bear to leave you in there forever. I had to gain more power to help you.”
“Why the White Order?” I asked.
“It’s the White Order’s responsibility to keep watch over you. I had to make sure you were OK. When I freed you, I’d hoped my words from the past had reached you. Obviously, they did not. I was shocked when you said you didn’t remember anything.” His face dropped down to a heart-wrenching sadness you had to see to believe. “It seemed like everything was too much for you. I didn’t want to open up your memories. You seemed happier without them.”
“I don’t’ understand why you’d seal me then and free me now. If it has been a thousand years, why go through all the hell to free me? Why not just give up on me? I will ruin you!” I pointed out, poking his chest -(I think, it’s hard to be sure under all that cloak.)- as I spoke.
“Why?” He took the hand I was poking him with, knelt down, and mumbled into the back of my hand.“Because I love you.” I froze. My breath caught in my chest. I suppose that explained why I felt so safe in his room. Why he always came to my rescue when I fought with Caius. Why he promised to fight for me when he found me mostly naked after my swim in the stream, when Caius poisoned my shirt.“I know you may not accept me, but I’ll never leave you. Even if I’m the last person here, I can make up for it. I’ll do anything,” he swore, like a knight to his queen.
“You LIED to me. You withheld information from me. You didn’t let me in on anything! I trusted you! How can I trust you now?!” He let go of my hand and rested both hands on his knee, bowing his head.
“I love you, and that’s the truth!”
“You LEAD the White Order, I can’t believe you’d turn your back on a whole organization for me!”
“My interests were never with the Order! It was the only way to help you. No matter what, I’ll do anything for you.”
“Alright, go do what you do, I’ll be clearing my head outside.” I walked past him. As my arm hit the back swing on a careless walk, Zareh caught it, stopping me in my tracks.
“What did you say?” His voice went low and dark.
“You said you’ll do anything for me, yes? I’m going outside, let me go.”
“Reconsider! Please, listen to me!”
“Why should I start?” He loosened his grip since I stayed stationary. I took my arm back and turned in place. “You lied to me; my faith in you is broken. I’ll trust you with my life, but not my heart. No, that’s far too fragile. So, I’m going outside to clear my head.” he looked at the ground now.
“I can’t let you do that. Nyveen, you’re not going to leave,” he decided.
“Who do you think you are?! You can’t tell me what to do! I’m older, by two years, . . . plus a thousand. . . but whatever! You don’t get to boss me around!”
“I worked so hard to keep you safe-”
“And that’s much appreciated.”
“-You’re not going to leave me like that, ever!” He slowly stood and I was able to see that what was in his voice was also in his face. Dark anger. (Towards me? No. Towards the White Order for what they did to me. In our time, had I never been taken, we probably would have gotten married, had kids, and be long since rotting in a grave together somewhere. Instead, we’re two angry immortals fighting for dominance.) It seemed the time to talk, for Zareh, was over, now it was time to prove who was truly dominant. He gave a low growl.
“Bring it, boy,” I taunted. He charged, same time I did. I slid on my knees under him and came up on the other side. He skidded to a stop and turned to see me waving at him. I gave a half smirk as he ran for me again. I managed a running start, leaped, pushed off from his shoulders with my hands and landed on my feet behind him, facing the Grand Hall. I could hear him turn around to charge again. I stepped around, and tripped him in the process, it worked and backfired. He tripped, but had enough time to grab me around the waist to take me down with him. He managed to pin me down. (Well, that didn’t last long.)
“You are NOT leaving the realm. . . Nyveen,” he panted.
“We’ll see about that. Put my hair up,” I ordered.
“What?” The look on his face was priceless.
“You still have my hair band don’t you? Put my hair up.” Zareh stood up and grabbed my arm, not giving me the option to say no to his “help” up. He turned me in place and put my hair in a braid.
“A perfect braid, I’m impressed. See you when I get back.” I skipped off, my braid waving side to side like a flexible broom. Zareh was right in front of me in seconds.
“I told you, you’re not leaving the realm!” he commanded. I smiled childishly. He managed to gather me up in a bear hug, pinning my arms to my sides.
“Aren’t you very strong, Zareh? It must have taken forever to be this strong.” I murmured. His hold slacked for a second, but only a second. He brought me to the room I’d been in all of this time and lay me on the bed. In order to keep me in his hold he had to lay behind me.
“Just like our days in the cabin.” I sighed happily. My rebellious reaction was almost played out. He froze, with a slackened hold. I rolled him onto his back and straddled him.
“You put up a good fight, but I’ve won this war. Worry not, I reward good sportsmanship.” I honeyed my voice, and hooded my eyes.
“Reward?” His face softened a bit. “I seek no reward.”
“Aw, come now, Za-za. You’re mine, and I choose to reward you. So, shall we get on with it?” I inquired, caressing his cheek. It took him a minute to comprehend what I said.
“W-what did you just say?!!” (This never crossed your mind?)
“Don’t worry, only you are allowed to touch me,” I poked his nose, lightly.
“Nyveen, are you in the right mindset?!” His eyes widened to the size of dinner plates, and his voice went up an octave.
“You don’t have to shy away from me, Zareh.” I leaned in closer.
“S-stop it right now!” He rolled us over so I was on my back now and he had his hands up by my shoulders.
“This is a reaction to the memories, if you continue-”
“Nothing wrong with a positive reaction, is there?” I let my hand slide up on top of his shirt, feeling the cotton under my touch.
“H...hey! If you continue-” He kissed me. ‘Then I can’t hold back.’ a projected thought. (My first projected thought in a thousand years!) Too much pressure on my shoulders!
“Ow!” I complained to let him know he was hurting me.
“Are you OK?” He instantly backed off; hopped off the bed and everything. Flashes of other versions of Zareh raced through my mind. The child I spoke to while rescuing Nova, and the child in my dreams. The young man I remembered spending every day with at the cabin and the one who visited me in the Frozen Essence. “Nyveen, are you OK?”
“You’ve always had my best interest at heart.” I sat up as I made the out loud realization. I hopped off the bed and hugged Zareh around the waist. “I’m sorry I was so mean to you, Za-za. You deserve so much better than what I just displayed. I always believed you deserved someone better than me, but I never dreamed I would prove that true.” I let go, disappointed in myself. (I should have reacted so much better than that! I-)
He rested his knuckle under my chin and slowly rose my head up to face him. “It’s alright,” he said softly, encircling me in a gentle bear hug. “Welcome back, Nyveen,” he said softly.
“You’re not such a crybaby anymore, are you, Za-Za?” I pushed him against the white wall behind him, stood on my tiptoes and kissed him. I don’t remember what thrilled me more, that he kissed me back, or that he didn’t hesitate. He spun us in place, pushing ME against the cold white stone wall, holding both of my hands above my head and rested his left hand against my right hip all without breaking the kiss. My heart picked up to a million miles an hour, while my mind went totally blank. His hand slowly slid down from the bodice to the shortened skirt of the salamander dress. To beat him to the punch, hoping to encourage him to just go for it, I jumped successfully wrapping my legs around his hips. He was surprised by the movement but didn’t stop my advancements.
'Here?’ he sent.
‘No. Your room.’ I replied. He complied without question.