As Mouse neared the Training Field, she could see the outline of two figures fighting in one of the training circles. Their movements were not smooth and flowing as practice moves should be, but were rather fast and hard as if they were in an actual to-the-death fight. As Mouse got closer, she could clearly see the long, flowing blond hair of her love and the dark, wavy black hair of the man she despised.
Mouse shoved past the other Knights and Squires that just stood there watching the fight without making a single move to stop it until she finally reached the spot where to two men were fighting, oblivious to the world around them. She slowly began to draw out her hidden blades as the two men's swords locked together, but then stopped, instead turning to grab the sword from the man next to her's waist.
Darien was stronger than Vyron and had begun to use that feat against him as he forced Vyron backwards, his blade forcing Vyron's lower and lower. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Darien punched Vyron across the face, surprising him and causing him to lose his grip on his sword, which Darien knocked easily from his hands before kicking him to the ground. Victory flashed through Darien's eyes as he began to bring his sword down on the defenseless fallen Knight and where he had expected to be met with flesh he instead was met with the blade that Mouse now held in her hands. This caught him off guard and Mouse was able to push the blade away from Vyron easily.
"How dare you-" Darien started to say until he realized who was now standing before him.
"Mouse," he sounded surprised. "What are you-"
"Enough!" Mouse snapped at him, pointing her sword at him and giving him a glare before looking down over her shoulder at Vyron. "Are you okay?" Shock and embarrassment covered his face.
"I'm fine," he grumbled, his pride a little wounded to have been saved by a girl. Mouse watched as he slowly got to his feet and picked up his sword, forgetting momentarily about Darien until she felt a hard force knock the sword from her hands.
"This is our fight!" he snapped at her, pointing his sword at her. "Stay out of it!"
"Why are you even fighting?" she demanded, taking a slight step away from him and his sword, her eyes darting away for a second, trying to find her lost sword.
"Because he's been trying to make a move on you!" Vyron snapped from behind her. Mouse looked back at him and saw the anger in his eyes. "It was all over the Palace this morning about a late night rendezvous between the two of you in the library last night. Care to explain?"
"Are you kidding me?" Mouse cried out. "I couldn't sleep last night so I went to the library to read. He followed me there and yes he tried to woo me again, but he was unsuccessful. Don't let him tell you anything otherwise." She went over to him, putting her hands on his cheeks to lightly turn his attention to her. "Gossip is just gossip. Nothing happened, I promise. I have no feelings for him, only for you."
"Really?" Darien sneered. "That kiss we shared didn't feel like nothing!"
"What kiss?" Vyron snapped, taking a hostile step towards Darien, though Mouse was just barely able to hold him back. "What kiss?"
"What, your girlfriend didn't tell you?" Darien laughed. "She didn't tell you about our long, passionate kiss that we had... how long ago was it?" His eyes flickered over at her. "Too long ago, I think."
"Vyron, listen to me!" Mouse tried desperately to get his attention. "He forced himself on me! You know that I would never lie to you!"
"She has such soft, tender lips, doesn't she, Vyron?" Darien grinned wickedly. "Oh, but you haven't been able to touch those in while now, have you? Maybe she's saving herself for something better. Maybe she's saving herself for me! Maybe one of my kisses just wasn't enough for her. Don't worry, my sweet, you can have another when I win this fight."
"No, she won't," Vyron growled. "Because you're not going to win." He broke free of Mouse and charged at Darien, sword swinging wildly. Darien laughed as he danced around Vyron, ducking his blows. Vyron's anger was getting the better of him. He was going to wear himself out and then Darien would have the upper hand... Unless Mouse could do something about it.
Then she saw her chance. Darien was so focused on Vyron, finally engaging himself in the fight again, that he didn't realize that his back was to her. As he knocked Vyron's sword from his hands once again, smiling triumphantly, Mouse drove her foot hard into the back of his knee, throwing him off balance and sending him to his knees, his sword falling from his hand in surprise.
Time moved in slow motion. Vyron realized that he had the upper hand. Mouse could see that plain in his eyes as he grabbed Darien by the front of his shirt. She knew that he could seriously hurt Darien, but as much as she hated him, she didn't want that to happen. She didn't want Vyron to get in trouble, to jeopardize his position as a Knight.
"No!" she screamed at Vyron. His eyes flickered up to her for only a second, before he shook his head and punched Darien across the face.
"That was for kissing my girl," he spat, before he punched Darien again, this time square in the face. "And that was for punching me." He let Darien go, let him fall back to the ground as blood began to gush from his probably broken nose. Vyron stepped over him and went to Mouse, taking her in his arms.
"No one punches a Queué and gets away with it," he muttered into her hair as his face nuzzled her head protectively.
"I'm so sorry," she whispered, tears starting to trickle down her cheeks. "I should have told you."
"Why didn't you?" he asked, pulling her away from him to look her in the eyes. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because I knew how much you already hated him," Mouse sniffed, trying to avoid eye contact. "And I didn't want something like this to happen! I didn't want you to jeopardize your Knighthood for me!"
"I would do anything for you, Mouse," Vyron said, turning her face towards him, forcing her to look deep into his eyes. "Don't you know that? Mouse, I love you."
Mouse felt her breath catch in her throat. He loved her. She wanted to say it back to him, but he had left her speechless. Instead, all she could do was reach up and pull him down closer to her until his lips touched hers. She kissed him fiercely, hoping that everything she felt could be conveyed through that kiss. As she pulled away, she finally found her voice, "I lo-"
"WHAT THE DEVIL IS GOING ON HERE?" the loud, outraged voice startled both of them, making them jump. They turned towards the source of the voice and found themselves under the heavy stare of Sir Torden.
"He started it!" Darien snitched, pointing at Vyron while holding his nose, trying to stop the flow of blood.
"No, he did!" Vyron cried, pointing back at Darien. "He kissed my girl!" Torden's eyes flashed at Mouse quickly before he turned his attention back on the two men before him.
"The Code of the Knight is very strict when it comes to fighting," Torden's voice was stern and unhappy. "I don't care who started it or why. But I will end this, right now!" He grabbed a small towel that was hanging on the railing encircling the ring and tossed it to Darien.
"Clean yourself up," he ordered. "We are going to see the Queen."
"But-" Darien began, looking from the towel in his hands back to Torden.
"No buts!" Torden cut him off. "I will not tolerate quarrels between my Knights! This will be an example to the rest of you of the consequences of breaking the Code! Your actions will not go unpunished. Now, the three of you, come along. Yes, you too, Mouse. You were just as involved in this as I can see." He looked at the three fallen swords scattered across the ground.
"I should have guessed that you would be," he sighed, beckoning with his hand for them to follow him as he turned and began to walk away. They all reluctantly followed him, Vyron purposefully placing himself between Mouse and Darien, wanting to keep him as far away from her as possible.
They soon found themselves stopped before the doors of the Throne Room.
"But we can't go in there!" Mouse exclaimed. "Her Majesty is in the middle of a meeting!"
"I'm sure that she will make an exception for this," Torden replied, pushing open the doors and entering the room, Darien following close behind him, trying once again to unsuccessfully plead his case. Mouse sighed as she followed Vyron into the room, stopping dead in her tracks as she looked upon the scene before her.
Sir Gordon and Lord Penton sat tensely in their chairs that were set around a small table covered with maps and charts. At the head of the table sat Arya, just as tense. And right behind her stood none other than Lord Gregory, the former Duke of Raye, holding a long, sharp dagger flat against Arya's neck.
Mouse could feel the bodies of the people around her stiffen as they realized what they had walked in on and Mouse felt her breath catch in her throat as King Terian's haunting words of warning flashed through her mind once again: Protect her.