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Acelin stared at his phone after the call ended then just kind of… fell over. [Acelin: I was exhausted afterwards, okay. Celaena: How? Acelin: Emotionally. I wanted to hide in a corner.]

Romance / Humor
Age Rating:

Chapter 1

“Hmm… What’s for dinner tonight?” Celaena wondered aloud, scanning the shelves to the side of her and completely disregarded the possibility that something might have been in front of her.

Acelin, on the other hand, just stood in the middle of the aisle, daydreaming about this girl who he’d been seeing around town. He didn’t know her name, but he thought she was one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen, and in the midst of his musing he paid no attention to where he was standing. (Acelin: Okay, in my defense, I didn’t know who Celaena was and she really caught my eye! I AM NOT A PLAYER! Celaena: Sure you’re not… Acelin: Hey! We’re together and I’m not hitting on any other girls! I only have eyes for you!) Suddenly, he felt himself flying.

“What kind of idiot stands in the middle of an aisle at a supermarket?!” Celaena yelled at the person she knocked down with her shopping cart. He may have been kind of cute, but he’s an idiot if he thought it’s okay to just stand there.

“How am I the one at fault here?!” Acelin retorted, as he got up from his place on the ground. “You’re the one who crashed into me!”

“Well, you were just standing in the middle of the aisle!” Celaena huffed as she took a step towards him. “You should be watching out for people with shopping carts!”

“You’re the one with the shopping cart! You should watch out for pedestrians!” Acelin argued as he moved closer to Celaena.

“In case you didn’t notice, this isn’t the street! We’re in a supermarket! But you should be watching for people with carts!” ­retorted Celaena, stepping closer to Acelin so that they’re now in each other’s faces. He opened his mouth to speak, but at that moment, he realized that she was the object of his daydreaming. His eyes fell to her lips, which looked like two blushing pilgrims begging to be kissed. [Celaena: you just had to do it, didn’t you? You just had to throw in a Romeo and Juliet reference. Well I’m not impressed and neither is your audience…] So instead of a retort, he leaned in and kissed her. At first, this girl whom he doesn’t know at all, didn’t move, probably from shock, before she started to kiss back. After a few seconds, she pulled away and slapped him. [Acelin: You know, I’m still not quite sure why you slapped me. You seemed to be enjoying it. *smack* OW! Why did you hit me in the back of the head?! Celaena: WHY ARE YOU SO DENSE?! YOU DON’T GET ANYTHING! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND A THING! *Starts to chase Acelin around* Acelin: AHHHHH!!!]

“Ow! What was that for?!” Acelin whined, holding his warm, red cheek.

“What do you think?! You kissed me for no reason!” Celaena snapped.

“Hmm… Well… Umm… Uhhhh…” Acelin stuttered, and Celaena took this opportunity to walk away, leaving Acelin standing in the middle of the supermarket aisle.

“Wait! I don’t know your name!” Acelin shouted, chasing after her.

Celaena turned around and yelled, “And you think I’m going to tell you?” By now, quite a few patrons of the supermarket stopped what they were doing to look at Celaena and Acelin. No one actually knew who they were, just that they were two youngsters having an argument in the middle of a store and it was interesting. Celaena turned on her heel and left the store. After she paid, of course.

“Dear?” An old lady got the attention of her husband next to her.

“Yes?” He replied, holding her hand in the crook of his elbow.

“Remember when we were like those two?” She asked, smiling at the memories. Her husband knew what she was talking about, remembering their own romance. “Something tells me we just witnessed a budding romance.”

“There may very well be.” He replied, and the elderly couple continued their stroll around the market.

Celaena stood in the middle of the theater surrounded by the hustle and bustle of moviegoers as she searched for her two best friends, Miriallia and Vivian. Holding her soda in her hand, she scanned the crowd as her mind wandered back absently to the ‘supermarket incident’ and… the kiss. As annoying and idiotic as that boy had been, he was also very handsome and amazingly good at kissing. Her heart beat faster and her free hand fluttered to her face as she recalled the tingles she’d felt at the first touch of his lips on hers. (2nd Author: OUCH! Celaena! Celaena: Did you have to say that? I told you that in confidence! Acelin: A-ha! I knew you liked me from the start! Celaena: Oh, shut up, Acelin. 1st Author: Moving on…)

‘What must it be like,’ she wondered, ‘To not have to glue on a smile every day for the cameras, to not live with the constant scrutiny that was a side effect of being born into an extremely influential political family? Who could she have been if she didn’t have to live in this kind of matriarchal society, if her family wasn’t watched by the tabloids? What would it like to be free?’

Still scanning the crowd, her eyes landed on a familiar figure, sitting with his back to her. She was furious. For the last several days, he’d been showing up nearly everywhere she went and she was convinced he did it on purpose. Gripping her drink tightly, she stalked toward him.

Acelin looked up as she neared, his dark eyes widening in shock as he identified her face. She wasn’t the least bit deterred by the pretense of surprise. Obviously, he fancied himself to be her admirer but she wanted no part of whatever game he was playing. She was determined to stop it in its tracks.

When she reached him, Acelin scrambled out of his chair and thrust out a hand. “We haven’t been properly introduced. My name is Acelin. What’s yours?” he asked as his hand hovered between them. She ignored it.

“Oh, just shut up and leave me alone. I’ve seen you following me and I don’t know what game you think you’re playing but I’m not interested in you and no amount of persistence is going to change my mind.” With that parting shot, she took the lid off her cold drink and dumped its contents on his head. Placing the empty cup in his hand, she turned and walked off toward the door, leaving him dazed and speechless behind her. [Acelin: Why did you have to do that? Soda is cold!] She was so distracted by her annoyance at him that she didn’t notice her friends calling out behind her.

“Ceely? Ceely! Celaena!” Finally, Miri’s hand caught her shoulder and she turned, remembering where she was.

“Hey Miri. Hi Viv.” She tried for a smile but it probably looked about as real as it felt.

“What has you so worked up?” asked Vivian. “Is there some new gossip I haven’t heard? Should I be worried? Cause, you know, if you need me to beat someone up, I—“

Celaena cut her off. “It’s nothing, really. Now let’s go! I think our movie is about to start!” as the three of them hurried through the theater, she glanced over to where Acelin had been standing and felt satisfied when she noticed he was gone. [Celaena: I was also feeling pretty guilty. Having a stalker, especially a cute one, was a little exciting… Acelin: I WASN’T STALKING YOU!] She moved on with her day, ignoring the lingering thoughts of him that broke through her ironbound control over her mind.

Acelin, however, was not quite as fortunate. The cold, wet, stickiness of his soda-drenched shirt was a constant reminder as he walked home, the reason he’d been sitting there at all totally forgotten. Belatedly remembering his friend, Acelin sent Marco a text and let him know that he’d left the theater and didn’t need a ride home.

Acelin hesitated for a moment before picking up the phone whose strident ring had welcomed him into his apartment, bracing himself for what was sure to follow.

“Just where’ve you been? I’ve been calling you all afshernoon!” His mother’s drunken slur was no surprise, despite the early hour of the afternoon.

“I was out to see the movie that we agreed on this morning. I had originally intended to get a ride back home with Marco, but he got delayed so I just walked. Hey, listen mom. Can I call you back in five minutes? I want to change out of my shirt.”

“Why could you possibly need to change?” she yelled.

“It got wet,” he responded.

“And why is your shirt wet?” She apparently wasn’t going to let him go without getting a good yell in first.

“A girl spilled her soda on me.” Acelin tried to curb his mother’s anger with rationality.

“Tripped her, did ya? I always said you were a clumsy idiot! I hope you replaced her soda and paid for it with your own money because I refuse to fund you if you’re going to spend my money fixing your stupid mistakes. You need to learn to—“

He cut her off before she settled into her rant any more. “I didn’t trip her, she slipped on a rug and her drink was open.” While he was pretty sure that wasn’t what happened, he didn’t want to rule out any possibilities yet. After all, he didn’t even know her! Sure, he had seen her around and thought she was the most beautiful creature he’d ever seen, but that didn’t mean he would resort to following her around just to get her attention!

“Oh.” His mother seemed to be searching for another thing to yell at him about. “When are you coming over here again? The laundry needs doing and your sisters’ husbands can’t cook to save their lives. Not that you can cook any better, but at least you know the difference between salt, sugar, and flour.”

Never in a million years would he dare to suggest that she or his “wonderful” sisters actually cook the food themselves, so instead he settled for “It’s been very busy at work but I’ll be over as soon as I can.”

“Don’t try to fool me. You’re not busy, you’re just lazy and a worthless piece of s*** who doesn’t give a flying fart about the family that raised you and fed you and clothed you all your life. I’ll probably be dead before you remember to come around here again, you ungrateful wretch!” [Celaena: Gosh, Acelin, your mother is a really mean drunk! Acelin: It’s not just when she’s drunk…]

Acelin knew there was nothing he could say that would stop her rant, so he just stood there and took the abuse like he always did. When she was finished, he hung up and stood there for a minute before changing into a fresh T-shirt and heading out for a run.

Acelin ran, away from his family, away from the unfairness of his situation, away from everything. He just happened to be born into a society where women rule, not that he had any objections, but even though he was male, there was no reason he deserved to be used as a verbal punching bag, among other things. His family threw insults at him all the time, but today, something, he didn’t know what, hit him harder than anything before. It just made him want to scream, cry, punch something, or all of the above. Soon, Acelin found himself at the park.

“AURGHHHHHH!!!” He yelled to no one in particular then punched a tree. [Acelin: You know, that really hurt. Trees are harder than they look. Celaena: Of course they are! Why are we together again? Acelin: I don’t know! You’re the one who said yes! 1st and 2nd Author: Can we get back to the story now? Acelin and Celaena: Yeah, sorry…] “Ow…” He groaned, holding his hand. By chance, he saw another figure walk through the park. Normally, he would ignore the person, but she turned and Acelin noticed it was Celaena.

“Celaena!” He shouted to get her attention. ‘Ugh, who is it?!’ Celaena grumbled in her head. She turned around and saw Acelin making his way towards her.

“What do you want?” Celaena shouted once Acelin was close enough.

“Why do you assume I have an ulterior motive?” Acelin questioned as he walked closer to her. She shrugged.

“You seem like the type.” She replied.

“And what, pray tell, gave you that impression?” Acelin took a step closer to Celaena. She had a million thoughts running through her head, most of which were centered around her companion.

“I’m always seeing you wherever I go. Are you stalking me?” Celaena accused. Acelin immediately dropped the easy smile and pain flashed through his dark eyes. One of his sisters had said that he followed girls around, trying to get them to like him, but they never would and Acelin would stay single forever. It probably wasn’t true, but it really hurt him because he was constantly trying to get the approval of his family, and having them think he was going to be forever alone didn’t help his case at all. “Are you that desperate for someone to love you?” Celaena pressed. (Acelin: You know, asking that question was a really bad idea, Celaena. Celaena: You think I don’t know that now?! Acelin: When did you become so hot-headed? You used to be so mellow.*Fake sniffle* Celaena: It’s all your fault, you know. You always do idiotic stuff that makes me yell at you. Acelin: True…)

“What do you know?!” Acelin lashed out. “Knowing you and your family, you would never prioritize love! All the children get married off to establish more connections, and the ones getting married never get a say. But I guess the fact that it’s emotionless and hassle-free allows you to feel safe, which makes the empty feelings in your heart okay to deal with.” Acelin tilted his head down a little and looked at Celaena with shadowed eyes.

“How can you say that!? You don’t even know me!” Celaena cried.

“I’m more observant than you think.” Acelin stated. “I’ve seen your actions every time we’ve interacted. I see you. You may act as if you don’t have any emotions, but your eyes give you away every time.” After Acelin finished, Celaena could only stare at him in shock. For once, the emotions she felt showed themselves on her face. Then she ran, much like Acelin did earlier. Away from him, away from the truth in his observations, away from her thoughts.

‘You don’t know a thing.’ Celaena thought as she ran. ‘You’re not the only one that’s desperate. I’m desperate too. You don’t understand the reason I hide my emotions from others. It’s so I don’t get hurt again.’ Then she felt something wet roll down her cheek. A tear. The first one in years.

“I know you’re lonely, Celaena. I know what it looks like, because that’s what I see every time I look in the mirror.” Acelin whispered to the sky as he leaned his head against a tree and closed his eyes. (Celaena: Why did you have to tell that part?! It’s the saddest part! Actually, no… but still! Why do you do this to us?! 1st Author: It’s our job to tell your story as it happened! Acelin: But still! Even I get tears reading what you wrote. Celaena: Acelin, you’re the emotional one in this relationship… Acelin: Says you! Celaena: Says everyone! You cried when we watched a character die on TV! And it wasn’t even a main character! 2nd Author: *Sighs* Why do you keep revealing parts of your life in the middle of our storytelling? Don’t you want some semblance of a private life? Acelin and Celaena: You’re right, as always…)

On the way home, Celaena decided she needed to rant, so she called Viv because she knew the other girl would kill her if she didn't tell her what was going on.

"Hey Ceely!" Viv picked up the phone with her usual cheer.

"Hi Viv, how's it going?"

"I'm just a little bummed that my friend wouldn't tell me what has her so worked up and I really hope she knows she can trust me to keep it a secret, if that's what she's worried about," came the pointed reply.

"Actually, I can tell you what happened now if you still want to know."

"Do you even know me? How could you ask that question!? Of course I wanna know!"

"So I've been seeing this guy around town."

"Is he cute?"

"Well, yeah"

"Ooh! Continue"

"Well he's been showing up everywhere I go! Obviously, he's following me. Earlier I saw him at the movies and got annoyed, so I dumped my soda on him. Then he showed up again at the park! And that's not all. He had the nerve to tell me what I think! So I got annoyed and yelled at him a little but then he touched a nerve with his insults and I left."

"Well what did he say?"

"He said that I'm hiding from my emotions because it's safer but he couldn't possibly know about what happened in high school! That was years ago and I didn't tell anyone but you two!"

"It's okay, he was probably just guessing. I'm sure he has no idea. I have to go, my mom is calling on the other line, but don't worry yourself too much, okay? He's just another stupid boy who doesn't know what he's talking about."

"I really hope you're right," Celaena said said before hanging up.

“Ugh. He’s an idiot,” Celaena muttered to herself as she reached home. She pressed the intercom. “Hey Lawrence, it’s me. Can you buzz me in?”

“Of course, Mistress Celaena,” he replied, followed by the telltale snick of the gate being unlocked before it opened to let her in. [Acelin: I still don’t get why you couldn’t just take a key. It’s so much simpler than waiting for someone to buzz you in every time. Celaena: I forgot my key, you nitwit! Acelin: Hey, I was just asking! No need to resort to name-calling! Celaena: “Just asking” something doesn’t mean you get to be an idiot…]

As she entered the house, Celaena heard the lilting melody of her mother’s voice coming from the living room. “Celaena? Is that you, dear? Come join us in here for tea.”

“Hi Mother,” she said as she took off her coat and handed it to a waiting maid. She then walked into the living room to join her mother and sisters.

At fifty-one, her mother Natalie had the physique of a much younger woman. Her strict exercise regimen and controlled diet meant she was much stronger than her tall, slender appearance suggested. Always perfectly coiffed and impeccably outfitted in designer apparel, her willowy stature was further aided by the ever-present stilettos that lent an extra something to her larger-than-life political presence and allowed her to stand out no matter where she went.

Kirsten and Isadora, her eldest twin sisters, were much like their mother with their long hair and tall, elegant demeanors. Both of them had followed the family tradition and gone into politics with their arranged husbands by their sides and expensive rings on their fingers. Celaena had known for a long time that the political life wasn’t for her but she kept trying to live up to her mother’s idea of the perfect daughter. Still, she was the family black sheep with her petite frame and lack of political tact, and nothing she did ever changed that. [Acelin: I couldn’t care less about your lack of political tact. I much prefer someone who isn’t afraid to speak his or her mind, you know. Celaena: Aww, thanks honey! I do know but it’s still sweet of you to say.]

“Oh, Celaena, I'm so glad you’re home. We were just discussing the new family that has moved to town. Did you know, they come from a place where men are in charge? How odd!” Celaena’s mother seemed perplexed by the thought that a society could ever remain afloat without feminine leadership.

For once, Celaena was similarly intrigued. “That sounds quite interesting, Mother. Have you met them yet?”

“Well, as a matter of fact, I haven’t yet. But the son, Tyris, is apparently quite the charmer. He wants to take you out on a date and should be calling here any minute to ask you out. Being friends with this family could be great for our political appearances, so I expect you to say yes.”

Celaena immediately flashed back to the last disastrous date that her mother had said would be “good for public appearances.” That egotistical idiot had been one of the worst dates of her life but her mother was unaware of the truth. Nevertheless, ever the dutiful daughter, she didn’t offer any objections and instead commented on how she looked forward to the date.

Celaena stood in front of the mirror in her bedroom, examining herself before she went on her date with Tyris. She was wearing a little black dress with thick straps that crossed in the front before they made a halter type strap in the back. On her feet were a pair of black four inch stilettos and in her hands was a little clutch. A soft knock came from her door.

“Mistress Celaena?” One of the maids called softly from behind the closed door. “Mr. Tyris has arrived and is waiting downstairs.” Celaena opened the door then nodded in acknowledgement to the maid who came to collect her. She then made her way down the staircase, and halfway down, saw her date. He was speaking with her mother and they laughed. [Celaena: You can’t possibly imagine how fake it was. Acelin: Well, high society must do high society things which means establishing relationships. Celaena: You take your job too seriously. Acelin: Ordinary people must do ordinary things, and the ordinary thing to do is work. Celaena: You don’t need to take your lessons home. Acelin: But I want to teach you! Celaena: I learned this stuff already. Acelin: Too bad.]

“Hello Tyris,” Celaena greeted with a smile. “Are you ready to go?”

“Yes, I am.” He smiled then offered his arm to Celaena, which she took. “You look wonderful this evening.” He led her out of the estate and into his waiting limo.

“Where are we going?” Celaena asked politely once the limo started to move.

“I’m just taking you out to dinner and after that we can walk home, for the city looks very romantic at night.” He replied. [Celaena: That is a terrible date…] Although Celaena was unimpressed, she kept her mouth shut. The vehicle stopped in front of an Italian restaurant, one of the fanciest in the vicinity. Celaena made a move to exit the car, but Tyris, with his patriarchal society ways, stopped her, got out of the limo first, then assisted her in getting out of the car.

‘Tch. People who think men should rule.’ Celaena thought as she accepted Tyris’s hand. Once inside, the pair was led to a private room and left with menus. Tyris made small talk with Celaena while they were choosing their food then waiting for said food to arrive, but nothing Tyris said piqued Celaena’s interest. At all.[Celaena: that was, by far, the worst date I've ever been on. Acelin: I don’t even know the guy and I know he’s super boring. No fun at all. Celaena: I know, right? I’ve been on terrible dates during high school, but that was the worst by a wide margin. Acelin: Aren’t you glad we’re together? Celaena: Eh, I could’ve done worse. Acelin: You’re so mean! *fake cries* Celaena: No, don’t cry! I was kidding! Acelin: *sniff* Promise? Celaena: Yeah.]

After an agonizing two-and-a-half-hour long dinner of talk about Tyris and his life, the pair finally exited the restaurant and started to take a walk to the park. They were in an urban area, so the restaurant wasn’t isolated from everything else in the world and it was a quick walk to a nearby park. Tyris chattered more about himself and Celaena just kind of ignored him. Until he pulled her into an alley and shoved her up against a wall. And the alley was dark too.

“Tyris? What are you doing?” Celaena demanded as she tried to wiggle free, but he locked her in with his arms.

“Give me a kiss, pretty lady.” He demanded, but didn’t give her time to answer and just forced his mouth onto hers. Celaena tried her hardest to fight back, but she simply wasn’t strong enough. Sometime during her struggled, Tyris had forced his tongue into her mouth and moved his hands to below her hips. But just because his arms were not trapping her in didn’t mean that he wasn’t holding onto her with an iron grip.

‘Is this what’s going to happen?’ Celaena thought to herself, tears rolling down her cheek. ‘Am I going to get raped here and now? IS IT GOING TO END LIKE THIS?!’

Then Celaena stopped fighting. Because she did now that it is going to end like this. There was no was to get herself out of this situation.

And then all Hell broke loose. Sort of.

Acelin just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

So he went out for dinner with Marco to make up for movie night, along with Ace, They had a nice dinner, full of laughs, reminiscing, the works. It just so happened that he was in the same area as Celaena that night. As he walked home, he saw, out of his peripheral vision, that a man was sexually harassing a girl in an alleyway.

“Hey! You! GET YOUR HANDS OFF OF HER!” Acelin yelled as he ran across the street. It didn’t matter how many cars he stopped, the only thing that did was getting to the other side and saving her. After they heard his shout, both the man and woman turned to look at him. The man to glare at him, but the woman’s eyes had a little glimmer of hope, that maybe, just maybe, he would save her. After a moment, the woman’s face registered in Acelin’s mind and he realized it was Celaena. That just made him even more determined to save her.

‘This is it. This is how I’m going to lose my virginity. To a man who thought he could control me, and I let him think that. In an alleyway. At the wrong time.’ Celaena fought back tears as she came to her realization. But her tears didn’t stay back, and Tyris notices. He LICKED the tears off her cheek.

“I thought you wanted this. Then why are you crying?” Tyris inquired as he started kissing her neck. Then Celaena saw Acelin running towards them, and when he arrived, he pulled Tyris off of Celaena. After Tyris was pulled off, Celaena fell to the ground, unable to move while Acelin beat the c*** out of Tyris.

‘Why am I doing this?’ Acelin wondered to himself. ‘Why did it anger me so much when I saw Celaena like that?’ He kept on hitting and punching Tyris until his anger was sated and Tyris’s face a bloody mess.

“Eh, I can just leave him there.” Acelin commented as he surveyed an unconscious Tyris. He turned to Celaena and saw her shaking by the wall. He immediately went and pulled her into his arms, hugging her for support.

‘I know why I did that for Celaena.’ Acelin thought with sudden realization. ‘It’s because I LOVE HER.’ So he just sat there with Celaena in his arms, not saying a word, because he knew that was what she needed.[Celaena: Aww… The night started out terribly, but it turned out okay in the end. Acelin: Wait! They’re not done yet! Celaena: Oh yeah…]

The pair say there for who knows how long before Acelin decided that they had to get up so Celaena could go home. It was then that Acelin realized that Celaena had fallen asleep. He blushed a bit because of her clothing, but carried her sleeping form to the sidewalk, where he waved down a taxi to take her home. He gently woke Celaena so she could tell the driver her address.

“Celaena? Wake up. You need to tell the driver where you live.” Acelin gently shook her and she stirred enough for him to ask her to tell the driver where to go and for Celaena to actually tell the driver where to go. She remained awake for a while and they chatted about their interests for a while but soon enough, she was nodding off again.Before she drifted off to sleep he overheard her murmur "I think I love you" and he smiled. Once at Celaena’s family’s estate, Acelin paid the driver and carried her all the way to the door, after being let in through the gate. A maid opened the door and instructed him to lay her down in her room. Acelin left after he did that.[Acelin: You looked so cute while sleeping *cheeky smile* Celaena: You creeper. You stared at me when I was sleeping. Acelin: I was carrying you! You expect me to NOT look at you when I’m carrying you?! Celaena: YES! Acelin: Too bad for you. I will just be staring at you in the morning until you wake up, then. Celaena: *growls in frustration* Since when did you get cheeky? Acelin: I actually don’t know…]

The next morning, Celaena woke up and found herself in her own bed. ‘How did I get here?’ she thought groggily. A maid knocked on her door.

“Come in.” She called out. The maid entered.

“Good morning, mistress.” The maid, Sophie, greeted.

“Hello, Sophie. Do you know how I got home last night?” Celaena asked, sitting up in bed.

“As a matter of fact, I do. A young man who was not Mr. Tyris carried you in, sometime around 2 AM. Anne let him in.” Sophie responded then left. Why did Celaena blush and felt her heart flutter when Sophie told her it was Acelin who brought her home? She shrugged it off, but later, she realized that she was falling for him.[Celaena: It was really disorienting when I woke up that morning. Acelin: Why? Celaena: Imagine falling asleep in one place then waking up at home. Doesn’t that strike you as strange? Acelin: Huh? Yeah, sure. Can I go back to watching my cartoon now? The main character just won a game of chess using romantic tactics. Celaena: Okay, fine, whatever. Acelin: YES!]

“Hello, is Celaena there?” Acelin asked once someone picked up the phone at the number Celaena gave him the night before. Truthfully, before he called, he had dialed several times, but each time had stopped with his finger hovering over the call button before finally pressing end. [Acelin: I must have done that at least twenty times… Celaena: Wimp. Acelin: Well, excuse me for being super nervous. How would you feel if you called the house of an extremely well-known family, in a matriarchal society, to ask out their daughter? And you were male too! 1st Author: But seriously, 2nd Author: 20 times?! Acelin: YES! IT’S SCARY! 1st Author, 2nd Author, and Celaena: *shakes their heads*]

“Before I answer your question, who are you and what is your business?” The male voice demanded. His voice was so scary that Acelin felt the urge to hang up, run to a corner, and dissolve into a puddle of fright.

“My name is Acelin and I would like to take Celaena out to a friendly outing, sir.” Acelin threw in the ‘sir’ part for good measure.

“You mean like a date?!” The man asked incredulously.

“…Ah.” Acelin agreed, not quite sure how to respond.

Celaena had just walked into the living room when she heard her father restate a question loudly with evident shock. She didn’t catch the question in question, though.

“Father? Who are you talking to?” She inquired. He covered the mouthpiece before responding.

“It’s some guy. Oh, he was asking for you. Something about a date.” He answered. Celaena’s face burned. “And it was really weird too. HE called to ask YOU out.”

“Give me the phone, Father.” Celaena requested.

“No! At least put it on speaker. I want to listen too.” He put the phone on speaker then on the coffee table and stood a little ways away.

Even with the mouthpiece covered, Acelin heard everything. Not that there was much to hear anyways.

“Hey Acelin.” Celaena greeted the person on the other side of the call.

“Hey Celaena.” Acelin rubbed the back of his neck nervously even though Celaena couldn’t see him. “Listen, I’ve been wondering, would you like to go out with me on a date?” A thud then silence answered him from the other end.

“Sure.” Celaena finally answered after a minute of silence. No, Celaena wasn’t indecisive, she just had to help out her father, who fainted after hearing Acelin’s question.

“ Would tomorrow night at seven work for you?” Acelin asked.

“Yes, it does. See you tomorrow.” Celaena then hung up and stared at something far off in the distance.

Acelin stared at his phone after the call ended then just kind of… fell over. [Acelin: I was exhausted afterwards, okay. Celaena: How? Acelin: Emotionally. I wanted to hide in a corner. Celaena: Yeah, we got that. Acelin: You try doing that! Celaena: Acelin, would you like to go on a date with me? Acelin: Hey! No fair! WE’RE MARRIED!]

“Celaena.” Acelin said to Celaena, who was lying down with her head on his stomach, a few days after their date.

“Hmm?” She responded, craning her neck to get a look at him. Instead of responding, he sat up, causing Celaena’s head to fall into his lap. He stared into her eyes and softly smiled.

“I have something to tell you.” He told her, stroking her hair. Celaena bolted into an upright position once she heard his words.[Celaena: I did not ‘bolt into an upright position’. Acelin: Yeah, scrambled, more like. Celaena: Why, you! *Chases him around again* Acelin: Help!!!]

“Yes?” Celaena waited warily for his question.

“Now, I know it’s a little early, way too early, actually,” Acelin began. “But I have come to a conclusion.”

“And what is that?” Celaena asked. Instead of answering again, Acelin’s eyes bore into Celaena’s and he took her hand in his.

“Celaena, I have only known you for a short while and our romance was even shorter. We may have started out extremely on the edge with each other, but I already know I love you. So,” He got up, knelt on one knee, held a diamond ring produced from who knew where, and proposed. “Will you let me be the Romeo to your Juliet? Minus the dying part, of course. And the multiple deaths. And I think we can do without the warring families too.” Celaena was in shock, but soon recovered and lept into Acelin’s arms, which knocked him onto his back. She pulled him into a deep, passionate kiss, and when they pulled apart for air, she said yes, which caused them to kiss again. And again. And again. And again. You get the point. [Acelin and Celaena: Hey! We didn’t kiss that much…]

“What are you going to tell your parents?”Acelin murmured in between yet another kiss. They had been kissing for a while now.

“They can’t control me. I’m my own person.” Celaena responded.

“It’s getting late. You should get home.” Acelin got up and gave Celaena a hand.

“I know, I will. I’ll tell my parents too. If this blows up in our faces, we’ll grab some things and run.” Celaena pecks him on the cheek before heading home.

‘And I’ll be ready,’ Acelin thought. ‘I’ll always be there for you.’

On the way home, Celaena was bursting with happiness . Quite literally. NO! SHE DIDN’T ACTUALLY BURST! Anyway, she was skipping, humming smiling, all those signs of extreme happiness. Someone actually stopped her in the street and asked her if she was high. She wasn’t, of course. When she got home, she was immediately summoned to her mother’s office.[Celaena: I really wasn’t drunk or high. Acelin: Sure you weren’t…]

‘Great! I can tell her about my engagement!’ She thought happily as she walked to her mother’s office. She knocked softly before she headed inside.

“You must be wondering why you’re here.” Her mother began. Celaena nodded and fought to keep her legs from swinging like a child’s. “I have arranged a marriage for you.” It took a minute for it to sink in, but when it did, well…

‘WHAT! HOW CAN SHE DO THIS TO ME?!?! I AM TWENTY-TWO YEARS OLD! I SHOULD BE MAKING THE MARRIAGE DECISION! NOT HER!’ Celaena's first response was anger. Then, she thought about Acelin and realized the best thing to do was to start making plans. Her mother was still waiting for an answer, so she gave the expected one.

“Very well, mother. To whom am I to be wed?” she asked, keeping up a façade of fake happiness on her face.

“Excellent.” He mother approved. “You are to be wed to Tyris and the wedding will take place two months from today. You are excused.” Her mother turned back to her computer and Celaena walked calmly out of the room, breaking into a run the second she was out of eyesight.

Tears burned in her eyes as she ran to her room, closed the door, and threw herself on her bed, sobbing. All this, and neither of her parents even noticed. A few maids gathered around her room and sympathized with her.

“Poor mistress. She can’t control her own future.” One of the maids commented sadly.

“I can’t see Acelin ever again. I can’t see the pain in his eyes when I tell him.” Celaena realized sadly, and went to sleep.

“No, I’m sorry, I can’t do this. I can't marry you. I'm sorry.” Celaena then flung the fabric swatch on the ground and bolted out of the room with her mother, father, Tyris’s mother and father, and Tyris himself staring at her in shock.

‘What is she thinking?!’ Her mother thought furiously.

‘Good job, Celaena. Although duty matters, following your heart matters more. I’m proud of you.’ Her father thought, smiling inwardly.

“What is the meaning of this?!” Tyris’s parents demanded vocally.

‘I was so close to having her. WHY DID SHE RUN?!’ Tyris thought, extremely angry. He ran out, hoping to follow her. The parents thought he was doing it out of love, but Tyris had a different reason.

‘If I can’t have her, no one else can!’ He thought, but was immediately met with a lamp to the head, which knocked him out.[Celaena: AHAHAHAHAHA! That was the funniest part of the entire story. Acelin: I really wish I could have watched that. For all the things to get beaten by, he gets beaten by a butler with a lamp. 1st and 2nd Author: *deadpans* We’re not done.]

“Hmmph!” Laurence grunted, holding the offending lamp in his hands. “Serves you right.” He walked away, pretending nothing happened after replacing the lamp.

‘Follow your heart, young mistress Celaena. We’re all supporting you.’ Laurence thought as he resumed his butler duties.

Meanwhile, Celaena climbed out of her window after she grabbed her pre-packed bag from months before.

“Mistress!” A maid called out to her as she climbed out her window. Celaena looked down and saw that a ladder had been brought to assist her. Celaena smiled gratefully before climbing down.

“Go, mistress!” the maid whisper-shouted once Celaena’s feet touched solid ground. “Don’t ever forget to do what you truly want to. The staff are helping you however we can. Now run!” And Celaena took off running until she reached the garage, where a driver was waiting.

“Where to, milady?” He asked once Celaena got in the car.

“Drop me off at the station, I can’t risk any of you being tortured to find out where I am.” She gave her last order. The driver tried to protest, but Celaena wouldn’t have any of it. Finally, he relented and drove her to the station.

“Thank you for all you have done. You may not get any thanks for everything you do, but know that I am eternally grateful for everything you have done for me.” Celaena thanked the kind old driver who tipped his hat in response, before she got out of the car and stepped away from her old life. A while later, she found herself on a train to the destination she and Acelin agreed on.

Once off the train, she immediately set to work looking for her love. She ran around town, asking residents if they have ever seen him, but no one had. Her search lasted three weeks, and her search included all the neighboring towns as well, before she finally gave up, exhausted.

“Where are you, Acelin?” Celaena sobbed into a pillow that belonged to the inn she was staying at. “Are you dead? Do you not love me anymore?” That second to last sentence made her sit upright.

“Oh my God, what if he’s dead?!” She realized gravely. “He must have died. That’s why he isn’t here! Oh Acelin, wait for me! I’m coming for you!” And she dashed out of her room.

Acelin was wallowing in self-pity. “She married him…” He moaned sadly. The only reason he wasn’t at the town he agreed to meet Celaena at was because he was, well, wallowing in self pity and just taking his sweet, miserable time. (Acelin: You know, wallowing is such a funny word. Wallowing. Celaena: This is sad. Acelin: It’s fun to say! Wallowing. Say it with me! Celaena: Do I have to? Acelin: Yes. Celaena: Ugh, fine. Wallowing. Huh, you’re right, it is kind of fun to say.)

Celaena found herself on the dangerous side of the bridge railing, staring down at the rushing water and rocks beneath her.

“Just wait, Acelin, I’m coming.” She whispered, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Stop!” Acelin yelled as he ran towards the girl who was about to throw herself off the bridge. He didn’t know who she was, but he got the same feeling the night he saved Celaena from Tyris. ‘Can it be her?’ He thought hopefully, then crushed his own hope. ‘No, it can’t be her. She’s marrying Tyris.’ But he ran towards the girl anyways.

“Hey! Don’t do it!” The male yelled, and his voice was so familiar… The moment she recognized the voice, which belonged to the person she spent three weeks searching for, the shock was so great that she lost her hold on the railing and she started a downwards plunge into the river.

‘This is really the end.’ She thought and closed her eyes, waiting for an end that didn’t come. It didn’t come! (Acelin: Of course it didn’t come! I was there. 1st and 2nd Author: Shut up! We’re getting there.)

‘NO!’ Acelin thought when the girl started to fall. Somehow, he managed to race forward and grab her arm, saving her from harm.

A few minutes later, Celaena was sitting on Acelin’s lap, who was sitting on the ground with his back resting against the railing. They were on the safe side of the railing this time.

“I thought you got married.” Acelin stated, though it was more like a question.

“No, I didn’t. i realized about three weeks ago that I didn’t want that life. I came here to look for you, and after three weeks of searching, I gave up. Then I somehow came to the conclusion that you were dead, and decided to suicide to be with you. why did you take so long to get here?” Celaena explained.

“Well,” Acelin began. “I was wallowing in self-pity… So I delayed my coming here as much as possible. I didn’t know you would call it off and run!” He defended himself.

“It doesn’t matter anymore. All that does is that we’re alive, we’re together, and free from our family morals.” Celaena told him, and he hugged her tighter. And they stayed there, watching the sun go down as well as enjoying each other’s company. (Celaena: You know, Acelin and I now watch sunsets every evening because of that day. 2nd Author: Aww, you do? 1st Author:That’s so cute! Acelin: We never talk too. And we’re always on a bridge. Why are we always on a bridge? Celaena: Because it started on a bridge, so we will watch the sunset on the bridge since it started there. Acelin: Okay. Let’s go watch a sunset!)

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