I entered the home with Luna’s mother not long after being introduced to her. She was silent as she guided me up a set of stairs until we reached the bathroom. Fresh warm water was already drawn and ready.
“Go ahead and get yourself cleaned up.” She requested kindly. “I’ll get you a fresh set of clothes.”
I nodded silently and walked further into the bathroom while she closed the door behind her while exiting. Disrobing, I stepped into the water and felt all my stress melt away in the warmth of the water. I let out a sigh and relaxed for the first time since Luna and I had been taken by the King. Taking my time, I washed myself until I felt clean. Stepping out of the bath, I found a towel and wrapped myself it in while I used another to dry my hair.
A knock came to the door. “Elora? I have some clean clothes for you.”
I held the towel close to me and walked over to open the door.
She smiled as she entered carrying the dress in her arms. Luna’s mother set the clothes down on a nearby chair. I bowed a thanks, which gained a small chuckle from her.
“I know you’re nervous being here.” She said while lifting my head with her hand. “But you don’t need to worry. Any friend of Luna’s is welcomed here.”
I cleared my throat. “Thank you.”
“Go ahead and get dressed.” She indicated to the dress. “I’ll help you with your hair when you are done.”
She left the room once more. Looking at the dress, I grabbed it by the shoulders and held it up. It was a floor length purple dress that looked about my size. With a sweetheart neckline and sleeves that reached the elbows, it was a very elegant dress. I first put on the underclothes and then slid the dress over my body. I was going to need help with the corset lacing on the back. Even then, I found that this dress was made for someone who was thinner than I was. It was tight around my hips and bust.
Another knock, and I called back to it. “Come in.”
Luna’s mother entered once more and a hand went to her mouth. “That dress is beautiful on you. You look like a princess.”
My eyes widened. “I’m certain it’s just because of the dress.”
She chuckled. “Let me lace up the back for you. And then we’ll do your hair.”
She went around me and grabbed the long ribbons and cinched them tighter until the dress conformed to my body. It was tighter after that, but nothing I wasn’t use to when I was at the castle. She guided me to a chair and sat me down where she began to brush through my hair as it dried. She took some sections and began to braid them together until it was pulled back away from my face more than normal. Finally, she twisted the ends into itself and hid it behind my head. My long-pointed ears were exposed.
When she finished, she smiled. “There we go.”
My hand went up to my one of my ears. I was still living like I was in an area that hated my kind. Though I could tell that Luna’s parents weren’t like that. I was still scared. A kind hand reached over and grabbed my hand and pulled it away. Luna’s mother walked around me still holding my hand and smiled at me.
“There is nothing wrong with you being an Elf.” She said softly. “This Kingdom has grown to hate your kind because of what happened to the King and Queen. And the words of King Rory don’t help. But in this house, we stand by our belief that everyone is inherently good. And Luna trusts you. My husband and I have no reason to go against that trust.”
I avoided her gaze. “I’m sorry. It’s just been a while since I’ve felt truly welcomed somewhere. I’m just not use to it.”
“This attack on your people has taken a lot out of you.” Her eyebrows went up with concern. “But don’t worry about any of that here. You’re safe and welcome.”
“Now,” she stood up straight. “Shall we see how the menfolk are doing?”
I nodded again and followed her out of the room and down towards where Luna and his father was. Though I could hear their voices, I didn’t make out any of their conversation. As we got closer to the stairs, I heard a deep voice laugh.
“Now, you can’t have all the fun without us.” Luna’s mother said as she walked down the stairs.
I followed behind and began to step down the stairs. My eyes went to find Luna. He was just standing there, staring at me. I took a deep breath in and finished stepping down the stairs. His eyes never left me as he walked over and gave a bow before offering a hand. I curtsied in reply and took it. He moved my hand to the crook of his elbow.
“I’m going to speak to Elora for a moment outside.” He announced before leading me towards the veranda.
“I’ll call you when supper is ready.” Luna’s mother called back.
Luna opened the door and guided me through. Spring was starting to set in. I could feel it as we stepped out into the open air. The air was getting warmer, and the day’s longer. The sun was beginning to set, when it would already be dark when I first arrived at Obrenor. Luna closed the door behind us and took us forward a bit to see the gardens and the sunset.
Luna brought us to a stop. “How are you doing?”
I let out a sigh. “I feel so awkward.”
He cocked an eyebrow at my statement. “Why?”
“I don’t know.” I explained. “Your mother was so kind, but I just felt like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
“You’re waiting for King Rory to suddenly show up, aren’t you?” He stepped around to stand in front of me.
I nodded. “Yes. It just feels too good to be real.”
His hand went to my cheek. “If he does come here to search for us, I know my parents will help hide us.”
I knew he was trying to comfort me. But my mind was stuck in a state of fearing the worst. “I don’t even know if this feeling will end when I get to Alovia. What if King Rory sends in assassins to kill me? What if he sends in spies to kidnap me? What if – “
“What if the sky falls on our heads? Or the ground breaks open and swallows us up?” Luna countered. “I know your scared, Elora. But if we live in a world of ‘what if’s’ then we won’t be able to focus on the joy we experience.”
I gazed into his eyes. “We?”
He wiped away a stray tear from my cheek. “I’m with you all the way.”
Those six words eased the anxiety in my chest. I let out another breath and fell forward into his chest. His arms went around me and he hugged me tightly. One hand went to pet my hair, as the other rested on the small of my back. It was the safest place for me. Being surrounded by Luna’s warmth. His kindness, his generosity, truly saved me countless times. I wouldn’t be where I was if it weren’t for him. But at the same time, I truly wondered if my feelings were because of his kind actions, or if they were genuine. Were my feelings because it was like me passing him on a bridge high up in the air and I confused the speed of my heart rate due to the height with feelings I had because of him? I had to figure that out fast, because if he had feelings for me he deserved better than being lied to unintentionally.