Chapter 14 - Melkar (P4) - Words of Many Meanings
Part 4 - Words of Many Meanings
Stairs … shadowy stairs that led to an even more shadowy corridor. He wondered why those kinds of places never had a decent light. And why would such a thought cross his mind in that precise moment? His fingers wrapped around her wrist; the warmth of her skin; the sound of her steps … she was real! She was right there. She wasn’t a mere dream condemned to obliviousness once daylight touched the world.
Once on the first floor, far from unwanted, meddling gazes, Allana pulled her arm free and raised her head to face him. He’d been caught off guard by her sudden movement, she’d seen it for brief moments on his face, before he recovered his angry expression.
“This is far enough! You can go back down and join your Knights!” she told him dryly. “I’m not, and I’ve never been your responsibility! And if you ever felt that way because I left Everlyn in your company, that’s no longer a reason! I left Mithir on my own and of my own accord! I got here traveling alone! I don’t depend on you for anything!” What else could she say? What else could she tell him to make him understand once and for all?
His eyes glowed in the dim light for brief instants, anger filling those dark wells, and Allana thought he was going to shout back at her, or do something even worse. But then, like a storm that suddenly dissipates, his anger was gone, and he lowered his gaze.
“No … I don’t want to argue with you anymore … not after knowing how much it hurts. I just want to talk … please,” he asked in a whisper, his expression gentle, even a bit sad, and Allana couldn’t find in herself the courage to refuse his request.
Taking a deep breath, she ended up giving up her last ideas of resisting him and shrugged, signaling him to follow her.
She climbed another flight of stairs, her steps light, hardly making any sound against the old wood, and walked down the narrow corridor. Elian could hardly avert his gaze from her figure; from the way she moved, her gentle sway as she walked.
Under the light of the feeble lamps that tried to bring some light to that dim corridor, he saw a small key appear on her hand and then she opened a door, offering him passage and closing it behind her.
Elian examined the small bedroom for a moment. Even if she hadn’t been the one to take him there he was sure he would have been able to tell that she had slept in there, small details denouncing her presence.
“When did you arrive?” he asked, careful to sound as natural as possible, and she sat on the edge of the bed.
“Yesterday. In the evening.”
He watched her for a moment. Her answer had been dry and her golden gaze was still cold and distant. Far from the light that had glowed all over her face the moment she’d first seen him, hugging him without a thought.
“I’m sorry for before … I spent every single day since we left Mthir thinking about what had happened … about our last talk,” he confessed, averting his gaze. “Blaming myself for committing such a huge mistake. And yet, the moment I see you again … Even now, I can hardly believe you’re really here. The truth is I worry about you, even if you’re not my responsibility, even if I have no business meddling in your life, even knowing I have no right to tell you what to do or to question your decisions … Because it was never about some sense of responsibility or obligation,” he said, facing her again. She remained very still, simply listening to him. “If I worry about you is because … I love you.”
He’d finally said it … the words he had refused to even think about. But what were words? Fake, deceiving sounds of many meanings. People only heard what they wanted to hear.
She stood up, walking up to him, and held his hands. And Elian could only wish she hadn’t, that she’d kept her distance as if she were a figment of his imagination. However her expression was gentle again and a childish smile took over her lips.
“I know. But if you feel that way about me, then you must be able to place yourself in my shoes. You leave me behind, I don’t even know where to, and you ask me to wait, not knowing when you’ll return, unable to know if you’re dead or alive … What if I did the same to you? Went somewhere else, leaving you behind, protected by the walls of some palace? How would you feel?”
He searched inside himself for an answer, although he knew all too well what that would feel like, the image of those carriages disappearing into night still bright alive in his memory
She stepped back, leaving him empty handed, and looked out the small window that showed only the narrow, dark street down bellow.
“I no longer belong anywhere, if I ever belonged somewhere to begin with. This has always been my dream; to travel the world. Yet there was Everlyn, and my mother, and Heric … Those were my shackles, but now all that is gone. And although sometimes I still cry for what I lost, I’m finally free. There’s nothing else to hold me back, to stop me from following my wish … And my wish right now is to be here.”
He hugged her from behind, her frail body completely locked in his embrace, and took a deep breath, allowing his eyes to close for a moment.
“I only know that I wouldn’t be able to bear it if anything were to happen to you because of me … You can call me selfish all you want. I missed you …”
She laughed lightly, the sound of her laughter making him smile, and turned in his embrace to face him.
“You’re so silly …” she declared, standing on tiptoes to place a light kiss on his face, which seemed to catch him off guard. “Nothing bad is going to happen to me. It’s more likely that something bad might end up happening to those around me. But, as long as you’re close by, everything will be okay.”
“Allana … certain things … have changed …” he told her and her childish smile disappear, replaced by a more serious expression as she looked up at him, waiting for him to go on. Just tell her! Tell her once and for all!
“What is it? Is something wrong?” she asked, now worried … and how could he possibly tell her the truth while facing her like that?
“No. It’s okay, it can wait,” he replied, smiling, and held her hand. “Just tell me! How was your trip? I want to know everything!”
Allana smiled again, that same smile that children put in their faces when they have something special and important to share, and pulled him towards the bed, making him sit.
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