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Armored - Chapter Four (Confession)

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He watched them both, at the other end of the table, his thoughts dark and turbulent. He had been observing them where they sat across from each other, dining with the others after having returned from destroying the bridges, exhultant with victory. Laughter, music, and hopeful talk filled the hall to it's rafters, and the cook had gone all out, preparing a feast in Ceadra's honor. He had barely tasted it. Now, the half-elf in question was laughing at something Khelgar had said, and the paladin was frozen in mid-motion while reaching for his goblet, looking at her with near naked longing in his eyes. He scowled; it was written all over his face, the fool. And Ceadra didn't even seem to notice it; more the fool him, to to be led around by his nose by a woman who didn't even realize that he was in love with her.

And then he caught her glancing over at Casavir, a smile creeping across her face; something brilliant and burning shined in her eyes, so bright that it was painful to look at; he had never seen such a thing in her eyes before. Or in the eyes of any woman, for that matter.

And why should you? No woman has ever looked at you like that, before

He clenched his jaw, his teeth grinding together as he watched the paladin lean across the table, his hand over hers; he whispered something into her ear and after a moment she nodded. They rose, and laughingly waved off the wolf-whistles and shouts of encouragement from the soldiers as they made their way across the room, disappearing together into a passageway that led up to the battlements. A elbow nudged him sharply in the ribs, and he was snapped out of his reverie by Neeshka's voice in his ear, sitting next to him. "Where do you think they're going?

He frowned. Where, indeed?

o o o o o o


The air was crisp and cold, a shock compared to the relative warmth of the dining hall. Casavir stood away from me, staring out over the wall, and I contented myself with my own warmth, for now; I was sharply remembering the last time we were on these walls, merely a night ago, and a torrent of conflicted feelings were raging through me. Was he going to apologize? Kiss me again? Tell me he doesn't have feelings for me? Throw me over the walls?

Paranoid, are we?

"There's death on the air, this night," he said, his face turned away from me.

Well. That wasn't what I expected. I kept my voice lightly teasing, but my heart hammered nervously in my chest. "You sound calm, despite it. I'm glad one of us is."

He looked at me then, smiling; the bittersweet tenderness in his eyes pierced me to the bone, and I was frozen under his gaze as I watched the moonlight play across his features. "There's nothing that could touch me in your presence, my lady." And then, sweet Morning Lord, his arms went around me; he had forgone the plate armor earlier, and my hands slid up as he pulled me close, pressing lightly against his chest, feeling the tensed mucles underneath the fabric of his shirt. My mind's eye still gleefully held the image of his bare torso so many nights ago, and I could feel the heat creeping into my face as I looked up at him.

His hand trailed up my back, fingers sinking into my loose hair and brushing it back from my face and shoulders. He didn't quite meet my eyes. "There is something that I need to tell you, before the battle is joined again. I...I need to thank you, Ceadra." He smiled, but his eyes were sad. "I was so terribly...weakened, when we first met. I went to the Well to die, die honorably; despair had become my way of life." I shivered as those fingers traced the slightly sharpened tip of my ear, slid down along my cheek, trailed across my lips. "I remember one of the first things you said to me, when I asked you about Lathander's teachings..."

He had been nearly mocking when he asked it, questioning my joyful obedience to my faith; he had seen a young, foolish woman, naive in her acceptance, while he had learned better through loss and hardship. The raw cynicism dripping in his voice had been enough to tell me that. My lips quirked in a smile as I stared up at him, now. "I said that every day was a chance for a new beginning. A second, third, fiftieth chance, if you needed it." My smile widened. "Your face was priceless; you looked as if you'd swallowed a toad."

He chuckled, his chest rumbling pleasantly underneath the touch of my hands. "You shocked me. It seemed too simple, and yet...I have learned it is profoundly true, and such a truth coming from the lips of a woman so shamed me, that day, shamed me into realizing that I was the cause of my own pain, nothing else."

Then, the arm around my waist tightened, and his lips brushed against my forehead. When he spoke next, his voice was near a whisper, hoarse with restrained desire. "You shine so brightly to me, Ceadra..." The sensual feel of his lips trailed across my eyes and down the bridge of my nose. "...and there is nothing, in this life or the next, that can stand between us." And then his mouth hovered over mine in a tantalizing non-kiss; my blood rushed through me in a raging torrent when his words came again, soft and sweet and broken with emotion. "I've loved you since the day you stood under that brilliant sun, shaming me with the truth and with your kindness." Sorrow, joy, passion, laughter, fear; all weaved together in the undercurrents of his voice as he whispered against my lips. "My heart, if you would have it, is yours."

What words could I have thought of to answer him? There is no language in the worlds that is intended for such things; my arms slid up from his chest and found the smooth, tensed muscles at the back of his neck, pulling his lips down that scarce half inch to meet my own. My mouth opened welcomingly under his, and for a moment there was nothing but clean crisp smell of him, the feel of silk as my fingers sank into his thick black hair, his chest pressed firmly against mine. His hands gripped me tightly, the heat from his body permeating around me in a wave, familiar and exciting all at once; and with a panicked, joyful pang, I realized that I loved him too.

His kiss was quickly turning into something more, and I inhaled sharply, fingers digging into the back of his neck as his lips found the sensitive tip of my ear. "That's not fair," I whispered, and he chuckled, the sound of his voice rippling through me and twisting my insides into a knot. That tears it. "You know," I said, trying to keep my voice calm (which was difficult, considering the location the paladin was now exploring with his mouth), "my chambers are a lot warmer then out here."

He laughed then, with such exhultant joy in his voice that my heart near broke itself, thudding wildly at the sound of it. His hands slid around my waist, and before I could utter a protest, I was lifted up and over his shoulder, slung face down as he began walking into the keep.

"Put me down!" I whispered furiously, giggling incessantly.

"I remember the last time, when my lady nearly broke her foot against the battlements." He had a hand on the back of my thigh, steadying me as he walked through the abandoned halls, and it's warm pressure was making me wish he'd walk a little faster. "I must make sure that she does not hurt herself again."

I was laughing outright when he finally kicked open the door to my suite. "Are you going to carry me everywhere, then?"

"No, my lady." He shut the door behind him, and then I was being dropped backwards onto my own bed; almost instantly, his body was hovering over mine, and his hands were working the knots of my robes with very un-paladinlike speed. He began kissing my neck, whispering, "If I carried you, I'd be unable to watch you walk; a pass time I've grown extremely fond of, recently."

I was laughing intermittedly after that, the raw happiness filling me until I thought I'd burst with it. A long while later, when we lay spent, his arm holding me snugly against his chest, I wriggled an arm free and touched my face.

I felt a wetness on my cheeks, and realized I'd been crying, too.

Armored Ch. 4 - Confession © Avariel

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