Kenth was distraught and consoled Ithil, telling her what she had hoped to hear and of his hardships of finding her again. Once more, he had a story to share.
“Sit with me?” She asked softly, taking Kenth’s hands in hers and slowly guiding him towards the bed where she then perched. Looking up at him, she smiled and gently kissed his fingers.
“There wasn’t much work going in the village. And when I heard the inn was being taken over by new management, Gus was good enough to take me on.” Ithil paused to sit back more comfortably. “He’s a fair boss and I’ve been pulling double shifts to pay for the roof over my head and to add to my savings.”
Ithil sighed, her eyes grave and downcast. “I haven’t been eating because I just don’t feel hungry.” She glanced at Kenth sheepishly, “I’ve missed you so much… What was this story you wanted to speak of?”
OoC: Hey Paps, I hope you don't mind me giving Ithil a teensy bit of dialogue. xP Don't worry, it's hardly anything at all, just a couple short and basic responses.
BiC:"Of course I'll sit with you. I'd have asked you if you wanted to do the same," Kenth admitted with a smile. "You look tired too."
Ithil then guided Kenth to the bed where they sat down. She also kissed his fingers, much to the dragon laguz's surprise. Yeah, she loved him alright. All Kenth could do now was scream "Yes!" in his mind, though he did not forget that he still had a story to tell. He almost hadn't paid attention when Ithil described her job at the tavern, but even so.
"I haven’t been eating because I just don’t feel hungry," Ithil continued. "I’ve missed you so much… What was this story you wanted to speak of?"
"Believe me, I've missed you too," Kenth replied. "But you should have eaten anyway. As for my story, well, do you remember the night before we parted ways?"
"Well, that night, I had a dream. While I was asleep, I saw myself soaring through the sky with you on my back again. We were having fun, just as we had when we were doing that for real. Then, I landed on a cliff that overlooked a beautiful lake surrounded by flowers. The moon was shining and the sky was dark. I transformed back after you dismounted. We both agreed the view was amazingly beautiful. It definitely wasn't the lake that's near here, but even so. Then, I turned to face you while we stood there. I said something that I should've said a long time ago."
"...What did you say?" Ithil wondered, nearly in a whisper.
Kenth then turned to face her, just as he had in his dream and leaned to whisper in Ithil's ear.
Listening intently to Kenth’s dream, Ithil felt a flush rising from her neck and she bent her head low to try and hide it.
After a few moments, Kenth leant in close and finished his story with those three words she had hoped to hear ever since the day she’d met him. Her cheeks burned as her eyes briefly met his and she smiled a little, wary and unsure though wanting more.
Shyly, Ithil placed a gentle kiss on the side of his neck. Despite the amorous tradition of Aurmordrian sweethearts, this was something infintely more tender and meaningful. Then gazing towards the small bed-side window she sighed, “Take me away with you.”
Watching the flurry of snow falling outside, Ithil reminded herself of all the restless times she had been isolated to her room with only that glass separating her from the world. And now that Kenth had returned, she had someone to share that world with and no reason to stay at the tavern any longer. “I don’t care where we go, just take me away with you. As long as I’m with you, I’ll be happy.”
Kenth smiled upon Ithil's request to take her away with him. He didn't need her to say "I love you" back. She'd already implied these words several times. It was all he needed to be sure he'd won her heart. But was this relationship a good idea? Kenth remembered the dangers he'd faced in the past, how he'd put the lives of other loved ones in danger as well because of his lifestyle. As a dragon, he often ran into large monsters, though he'd managed to best them in battle.
Kenth especially worried when he remembered Kiel nearly dying from wounds sustained in a battle the last time he was here. Kenth was the one who had invited him to help in that situation. Did he really want to risk something similar happen to Ithil? Would she want to remain with him even if she did survive any trouble they got into? What if she got tired of almost getting killed so much? Kenth knew he would do anything to protect her, but if that meant she couldn't be his woman, he'd just have to accept it...somehow. The laguz decided he'd take Ithil away from the tavern for now, if only for the sake of getting her to eat and gain back the lost weight, and contemplate the matter more later.
"Well, it's really cold out, but you need to eat and I know you've been in here way too long, so I'll be more than happy to take you out of here," Kenth agreed. "Unfortunately, my pockets are a bit light right now, so I hope you don't mind me looking for work too around here."
Her plea to escape was returned with a smile, and Ithil’s face burned as she tried to picture what her future would be like alongside Kenth.
No, she didn’t care where they would go or what they would do. It didn’t matter. Her prayer of seeing him again had been answered, but could this now be called happiness?
Lifting her head, Ithil looked at him straight. Kenth was the only man she’d ever cared for and wanted to be with, and since seeing him and feeling that familiar flicker of ardent warmth grow powerful once more, she knew that was enough.
Kenth reminded her that it was cold outside and that he too would need to find work.
“Aye, the weather has certainly taken a turn for the worse and I doubt it’ll get much better the longer we stay here.” She replied, “I have savings to get us by for the time-being though perhaps we should try in the village for work.” Beaming at him, Ithil got up to change out of her work clothes.
Uncaring whether Kenth watched or not, she turned her back on him and undressed. In her own attire, she felt more like herself again and wearing that entrancing smile of hers, she already had started to look it.
“I’ll meet you outside Kenth.” Ithil said gravely, whilst fastening her quiver to the hind of her shoulder. “There’s a back entrance underneath the stairs to the rear of the tavern, it’s probably best you go that way unless...” Ithil didn’t finish her sentence. It would be nice to have Kenth hold her hand through the expected uproar to come at her sudden resignment but she couldn’t ask it of him. She was stronger than that. With forced brightness she added instead. “I can handle Gus… And I also need to say goodbye to my sister.”
OoC: Sorry for the delay, Paps. I actually had trouble coming up with a response this time lol. But it's my fault, not yours. Lack of motivation.
BiC: Kenth was relieved a little when Ithil agreed that it was really cold out and that they could look for work in the village. His eyes widened when she began to change her clothes in front of him. She definitely changed since he'd last seen her. When Kenth had gone to meet her at the lake the day they parted ways, she was so strict about her bathing and dressing privacy that she covered her chest with her arms after she'd put her tank top back on. Still, Kenth knew better than to worry about that at a time like this.
He had to figure out if Ithil loved him enough to stay with him no matter how dangerous his life could be. And of course, he needed more money. Ithil said she'd meet him outside and that there was a back door at the rear of the tavern, and that she could handle the bartender. She also wanted to say goodbye to Elmeriie. This was understandable and Kenth gladly complied.
"Alright, then I'll go out that way. I'll be in my dragon form though, since I'm much warmer in it," Kenth replied. "And if that guy gives you too much trouble, you yell for me."
With that, he exited the room and made for the stairs in the back of the tavern. Kenth obviously wasn't as stealthy and quiet as a thief or assassin, but he managed to reach the door at the base of the stairs and exit without being seen or heard as far as he knew. He would have liked to say goodbye to Elmeriie too, since she seemed like a nice girl regardless of her flirtsy ways, but figured it best to let Ithil do so for him, if she wanted. Kenth then transformed instantly, since there thankfully were no windows in the back of the building for people to see him through.
Kenth hated to have to tell Ithil he'd prefer to go to the village in human form so he didn't scare anyone, but it was a must. After all, they wouldn't get jobs if Kenth's dragon form frightened off the employers.
Watching Kenth leave, Ithil reluctantly picked up her pinafore and dragged herself down the stairs to face the anticipated wrath of Gus. Slowly, but with deliberate steps, she made her way towards the front of the bar.
“Gu- Gus?” She called, her voice broken with apprehension as she cautiously peered over the counter.
Red faced and brown eyes blazing, Gus looked up from where he was crouched. “A little help wouldn’t go a miss.” He remarked, glaring at her.
Ithil nodded and went behind the bar to assist him with the barrels. Always had she wondered how such a big brute of a man had trouble lifting something so small, and she guessed it was due to muscle wastage in result of his laziness.
Crimson from what little effort, Gus let Ithil do the rest and he slouched back to mop at the sweat running down his cheeks and neck. “Your break is nearly finished.” He said gruffly, his eyes flicking over her. “What are you doing in your own clothes?”
At first Ithil faltered to reply, her tongue dry like crepe paper in her mouth. Scanning the tavern for her sister in hope of some support, Ithil realised that she had gone and her heart sank. Hesitantly, she turned to Gus. “I’m resigning.” She said, glancing at him warily.
There was harsh laughter and Ithil shrank from it.
“You’re required to give two weeks notice if I’m not mistaken.” He replied callously, a sardonic smile playing across his lips. “And you owe me 400 for the shower! You’ll never pay that debt off in those two weeks, no matter how many shifts you pull.”
Ithil stood her ground. “That’s not fair, the shower was faulty afore I got here!” She cried.
“You’ll work four weeks with no pay and only then will I release you with a reasonable reference.”
Shaking with anger, Ithil was about to retaliate until a forbidden thought struck her suddenly. “Fine.” She replied, shrugging and reaching into her pocket for a few gold coins. “This will be my first payment.”
Gus triumphantly held out his hand in a manner of agreement and Ithil shook it with a shrewd smile, her grip tightening about his. “And this will be my only payment.”
Frowning, Gus looked confused though the hardness of his face was easing. Much to his unknowing, Ithil was using an ability to sway his mind. Concentrating feelings of compassionate understanding and exemption and letting them flow though her into Gus, she eventually loosened her hold and looked him in the eyes. “I’ll be leaving now.” She said, still smiling and handing him the pinafore.
“Yes. Yes, you should go.” Replied Gus, taking the pinafore blankly and returning the coins in exchange.
Ithil patted him on the arm and left through the back entrance calling over her shoulder. “Thank you Gus, you’ve been good to me for the most part.”
Outside it was cold and snowing, not that Ithil cared. The sharp bitter wind dashed her hair across her face making her very bones shiver yet her smile widened, elated just to be out in the open again. It grew even wider when she saw her dragon man waiting for her.
Love had nothing to do with what she expected to get, it would be what Ithil expected to give and someday that would be everything.
Kenth turned around when he caught wind of Ithil's scent and soon saw her emerge from the tavern. Though cold and shivering, the smile on her face widened. This was a good sign. Perhaps even in this harsh weather, Ithil would never leave Kenth. However, Kenth was soon reminded that he'd told Kiel he'd look for him when he came back. Unfortunately, he doubted the wolf laguz was around now. He'd be colder than Kenth would be due to the fact that he rarely wore a shirt. Oh well, someday Kenth would have to apologize...if he ever saw Kiel again.
"Ithil..." Kenth spoke up moments later in his deep dragon voice. "If you don't mind, I should go to town untransformed. Don't want to scare any employers off, after all..."
Even after saying this, however, Kenth was reluctant to change. He was so warm, while Ithil was so cold. Would it hurt to try breathing through his nose to warm her up first? Certainly not. It wasn't like nose breath smelled anyway.
"But first, you should be warmer. I can try breathing through my nose," Kenth suggested. "I just hope I won't accidentally blow too hard and knock you over."
With that, Kenth leaned over towards Ithil and gently breathed with his mouth closed, letting off the same warm air that had kept him from being cold.
Smiling, a little uncertain of Kenth’s deadly suggestion, Ithil closed her eyes tight and braced herself.
Soft gushes of damp sweet air swept over her, warming her to her very bones and Ithil laughed almost in relief, not only from the bitter cold.
Exaggeratingly, Ithil patted herself down to make sure she was all there and risked a peak at Kenth. “Am I still here?” She asked jokingly, flashing him a stunning grin.
•.¸ .••.¸.••. ¸.••.¸. ••.¸ .••.¸ .•
Before they left, Ithil stole one last look behind them.
It seemed hundreds of summers ago since she had stood outside the Prince and Pauper, waiting for those unfamiliar faces. Then looking away towards the black ocean, Ithil thought of the first time she’d watched it, marvelling. And Kenth who had stood with her on this very grass, scared and unsure as she to what powerful affection was weaving between them.
So this was how it was going to be: Two sweethearts, the beauty and the beast, setting off into the darkness of the night. Unknowing of what was to come or whether their love would see them through thick and thin. Tomorrow would always be theirs to win or lose.