Mouse sat alone on a bank overlooking the lake. Her shoes were sitting on the bank beside her as she dangled her bare feet in the cool water below. She tipped her head back and closed her eyes, smiling as she soaked in the sun's slowly disappearing rays.
She didn't mean to do it, but when the hand touched her shoulder she acted on instinct, grabbing the hand as she leapt to her feet, twisting the arm behind his back as she knocked his feet out from under him, sending him crashing to the ground. It wasn't until she found herself perched on his back, pinning him to the ground that she recognized the long, blond hair.
"I'm so sorry!" she stuttered, releasing him as she rolled off his back and got to her feet. "You startled me."
"Remind me never to throw you a surprise party," Vyron joked as he stiffly got to his feet and rubbed his sore arm. "You apparently don't take surprises too well."
"I'm so sorry," she apologized again. "Instinct just kind of took over. I guess I'm just a little skittish right now..."
"Are you alright?" concern filled his eyes as he drew closer to her, his hands reaching out and lightly touching her arms. "What's wrong?"
"It's nothing," Mouse shrugged it off, not wanting to share her burdens with him just yet, as she sat back down on the bank. Vyron sat down beside her.
"Is it about Sir Darien?" he asked timidly, startling Mouse.
"How did you-" she stuttered before Vyron cut her off.
"Everyone is talking about him," he remarked. "I've heard many things about him. Specifically the fact that he has a thing for you."
"I'm the only one who has ever rejected his affections," Mouse sighed. "Now he's made it his personal mission to win my affections, which will never happen, but he just won't give up. I don't know what to do."
"Don't let him get to you," Vyron placed a comforting and not unwelcome arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer to him. "He's probably just trying to soothe his wounded pride." Mouse had to cover her mouth to try to prevent the slight laugh from coming out, but failed.
"What?" Vyron asked, confused. "What's so funny?"
"You sound like Gaston!" Mouse giggled, gaining a smirk from him. "Now that I think about it, you kind of look like him too!"
"Oh, ho hum," Vyron rolled his eyes. "You're so funny."
"I know," she laughed.
"Oh and vain too!" Vyron exclaimed. "And you're also something else too."
"Oh?" Mouse looked at him, cocking her head slightly. "And what's that?"
Vyron just gave her a sly smile and the next thing she knew she was falling face first into the water. As she resurfaced, gasping and sputtering, she heard Vyron's light musical voice laughing.
"You're all wet!" he exclaimed.
"Well you know what you are?" Mouse asked, slowly drifting closer to the bank.
'What?" he asked warily. Mouse's arm shot out suddenly, grabbing his ankle and she yanked hard on it, pulling him down into the water with her.
"You're all washed up!" she laughed when he resurfaced.
"Funny," his sarcastic voice replied as he sent a wave of water splashing at her. She squealed as the water hit her, then instantly began splashing him back as her giggling rose into the air. They carried on their child-like, flirtatious splashing as the sun began to disappear into the mountains. Finally, they pulled themselves, sopping wet, out of the water and back onto the bank. They huddled together, shivering as the cool wind slapped against their water soaked bodies, trying to keep warm as they watched the sun disappear completely from the sky. They sat there in silence, just enjoying being in each other's company even though they were both starting to go numb with coldness.
Mouse felt Vyron's body shift and she looked up at him. The luminous moonlight lit up his face, leaving Mouse feeling mesmerized. He was so beautiful. Mouse felt her heart do a somersault as she stared at his beauty. His eyes sparkled as he looked down at her.
Everything around them fell silent and Mouse felt as if time had frozen. Her heart skipped a beat as his face began to draw closer to hers. Closer and closer until their lips were only a breath apart. Mouse closed her eyes, readying herself for the tingling sensation of Vyron's lips against hers. They were so close...
"I hope that I'm not interrupting anything," his voice came out of nowhere. Mouse's head snapped back and her eyes shot open as she turned sharply to find Sir Darien towering over them.
"Actually, you are," Vyron snapped, standing up to look him eye to eye. "Which I'm sure you already knew." Darien just ignored him, his attention on Mouse.
"My Lady," he extended his hand to her, offering to help her to her feet. Vyron's eyes flashed as he noticed the gesture, offering his hand to Mouse as well though his eyes never left Darien's face. Mouse took Vyron's hand gratefully, not wanting to touch Darien's, and he quickly but smoothly helped her to her feet. He put a protective arm around her, as if that were all if would take to keep Darien away. Mouse was still thankful for the gesture though, and huddled closer into the nook of his arm, half for warmth and half for the security it gave her standing before the older Knight. Darien's eyes flashed with anger at the silent insult, but he quickly regained his former composure.
"Can we help you, or do you just enjoy interrupting people when they are in the middle of something..." Vyron's eyes flickered over to Mouse and a smile quickly crossed his lips. "Important to them." Darien's eyes flickered briefly over to Vyron, looking him up and down, sizing up his opponent.
"Her Majesty has been looking for you," he said at last, turning his attention back to Mouse. "I decided that I would come looking for you and escort you back to her." Vyron was about to comment back to him, but Mouse stopped him, placing a gentle hand lightly on his chest.
"Thank you for the kind thought," she spoke formally to him. "But I already have an escort this evening and do not need two. Heck, I barely even need one." This made Vyron smirk as they both recalled their earlier interaction.
"Vyron," she said softly, accentuating his name as she looked up at him. "I'm afraid that I will have to cut our evening short. Duty calls. Would you honour me by walking me back?"
"It would be my pleasure," he smiled, starting to lead her away. "Good day to you, Sir Darien."
"Good day, my Lord," Mouse said without looking back.
They left him there without another word. If he called out anything after them, they did not hear it. They made their way swiftly away from there, but slowed as they passed through the Royal Gardens.
"You have no idea how badly I wanted to punch him out back there," Vyron commented softly, breaking their silence. "I understand now why he upsets you so much."
"Please don't," Mouse sighed. "That will cause nothing but trouble and he's not worth it. Do you really want to jeopardize your position in Court because of him? You know better than I do that they don't accept quarrels between Knights!"
"I know," he sighed. "He just irks me, that's all. The look he gave me..." He left out a deep, angry breath. "If looks could kill..."
"Then he would of died a long time ago," Mouse commented. "I've been in this battle a lot longer than you have."
"Really the egos on some people are just disgusting!" Vyron exclaimed. "Like that he has to chase after you to prove that he can get any girl, it's just disgusting! I would never do that!"
"You've never had to," Mouse shrugged.
"What does that mean?" Vyron asked defensively, stopping suddenly.
"Oh come on," Mouse exclaimed. "Look at you! Why would any woman reject you? You're gorgeous!" Vyron was taken aback by her comment. His startled face surprised her.
"You think I'm gorgeous?" he asked softly, slightly blushing, though he quickly hid it.
"I.. well I, uh..." Mouse stuttered, caught off guard by his reaction. She did think he was gorgeous, but she had never meant to say it out loud.
"That's the first time that anyone has ever called me that," he spoke quietly, softly, as if he almost didn't believe it to be true.
"I don't believe that," Mouse remarked. "Surely you've had plenty of women tell you that!"
"No," he replied softly, confusing her. "There have been very few women in my life and never have they called me gorgeous. And trust me, I'm not like him. I've been rejected more than my fair share of times."
"I don't believe that either," Mouse shook her head, not able to comprehend it all. He was gorgeous. How could someone like him get rejected?
Then again, you rejected Darien, whom no one else ever did... she reminded herself.
"It's true," he shrugged. "I'm not the ladies man you may think me to be. I get rejected just as much as anyone else."
"I'm sorry," she said softly. "I didn't mean to-"
"It's ok," he laughed half heartedly. "Don't worry about it, no big deal."
Mouse envied the way he could just laugh things off as if they were no big deals. That was something that Mouse struggled to do. The chimes of the clock tower jolted her back to reality.
"The Queen!" she exclaimed. "She's looking for me! I have to go!" She turned to leave, but Vyron caught her arm.
"Wait, I'll walk you there," he said, releasing her arm, then offering her his own. "I did say that I would, did I not?"
"Yes, I believe you did," she smiled, taking the offered arm. They quickly, yet slowly made their way through the Gardens and back into the Palace. Too soon they found themselves halted before Mouse's door.
"Well, here we are," she sighed, not wanting him to leave, but knowing that she had responsibilities.
"Yes, here we are," Vyron sighed as well.
"I had a wonderful evening with you," she smiled, her mind replaying their time in the lake.
"As did I," he smiled as well, starting to lean towards her.
"Please," she put her hand against his chest, stopping him. "Can we take it... slow?"
"Slow..." Vyron echoed the word confused, this eyebrows furrowing. "What do you mean?"
"What we have happened very quickly and things happened very quickly and-" she took a deep breath. "And I'm not sure that I'm ready for it to all happen this quickly."
"So what are you saying?" he asked, slightly worried and a bit defensive.
"I'm just saying that I need you to slow down a little," she replied. "I've never had feelings like this for someone before and I just really need you to slow down a little for me because I want this to last... I'm just afraid that if we jump into this too quickly that the feelings won't last, and I want them to... Do you know what I mean?"
"I think so..." he replied after a moment. "Does this mean that I cannot kiss you good night?"
"I think that we should start slow and go from there," she replied, getting up on her tippy toes to give him a light peck on the cheek. "Start small then get bigger."
"Very well," he sighed, lightly taking her hand in his and kissing it. "Until next time, My Lady,"
"Until then, My Lord," she smiled, watching him as he departed down the hallway until he disappeared around a corner. Only then did she enter her room, and, remembering why she had come back to them, went to the door that separated her room from Arya's and slipped through it.
"Arya?" she called out, looking for her.
"In here," her voice came from within the sitting room. Mouse quickly made her way into the room, stopping just inside the doorway as she realized that Arya was not alone: a young man stood by the far window, watching her.
He was rather tall, with a slender but muscular body, and nicely tanned skin. His light brown hair was wavy and cut just above the chin. He had a strong nose and determined lips. His clothes were elegant and fine, displaying the fact that he had great wealth. His tunic was a rich blue while his breeches were a pure black. At his waist hung a small scabbard that displayed a silver hilt encrusted with jewels. His blue eyes twinkled with curiosity as he looked at her.
"Your Highness," Mouse bowed to him.
"Please, you don't have to do that," he waved away her protests. "There is no one else here, Mouse. You can drop the formalities."
"I'm sorry, Donavin," Mouse shrugged. "Habit, I guess. I'm not used to seeing you in Arya's chambers this late at night."
"What, there has to be a set time when I can visit my sister?" he inquired.
"You know that you are always welcome here, Don," Arya laughed. "I love it when my favourite little brother comes to visit me."
"I'm your only little brother," Donavin pointed out.
"I know," Arya smiled. "Well actually, you are my favourite brother, period."
"Don't let Marcus hear that!" Donavin exclaimed. "He might get jealous!"
"Him? Jealous of that?" Arya scoffed. "Yeah right! He hardly cares what I think anymore. He can barely even stand to be in the same room as me! I don't get it! It's not my fault that Father picked me to rule over him! It's not my fault that I am more responsible and more ready to be ruler than him!"
"Sorry to have brought it up," Donavin grimaced.
"No, it was my fault," Arya sighed. "I was the one who really brought it up. But never mind that." She turned her attention back on Mouse. "You were looking for me?"
"I was under the impression that you were looking for me," Mouse replied, startled.
"No, I knew that you were out... having fun," she remarked slyly, not letting Donavin in on their secret, even though it would be common court knowledge soon enough.
"Then that means..." Mouse gasped as realization flooded her. Darien had made the whole thing up. Arya hadn't been looking for her. He didn't have to interrupt them. He did it purposefully. He really did not like the fact that Vyron liked her.
Thank goodness Vyron was there with me, she thought to herself as Arya and Donavin looked at her oddly. I would hate to think of what would have happened if he hadn't of been there... She shuddered at the thought. Darien may have raised his game in trying to win her, but there was a new Knight on the playing field now and this one had already succeeding in checkmating her heart.
Check mate, Vyron, check mate.