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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Where does this leave us? (Attn: Sandre)


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Edana dropped onto her favorite stool and Joe slid her a tankard of ale. It was standard procedure after a day like she'd had today. Sandre was on guard duty for a few more hours and she needed to relax. She had three hours until they'd arranged to meet, that gave her three hours to rid herself of this aggression before she saw him. She hated spending their time together ranting about things like trainings and new instructors. They didn't have nearly enough time together, as it was!

 

She sighed, tracing patterns in the droplets of water on the outside of the glass. "Rough day?" Joe asked, leaning on his elbows across the bar from her. The place was mostly empty, so it's not like she'd be able to hide in the crowd this time.

 

"Yeah," she said, lifting the tankard for a swig that turned into a deep gulp that nearly emptied the thing. "You could say that."

 

"I trained at the Tower for a little while, you know?" he said. He must be really bored to be this conversational. "Maggie offered me this job and I took her up on it. I get to do the same stuff, but I get to protect something that appreciates me." He grinned and jerked his thumb at the line of bottles behind him.

 

Edana laughed and slid him her empty tankard. "Aye, I'm sure they fairly heap their thanks on your head when you take that cudgel to a rowdy customer. It's their bottles that get broken, after all!" She laughed and took another drink, enjoying the little burn of it sliding down her throat. "It rained today," she said, setting the tankard down. "I hate training in the rain."

 

It meant the ground turned soggy under your feet. Most of their instructors demanded more training in the rain than they did in the sunlight. She understood why. The protection of an Aes Sedai meant in all types of weather. If you prepare for the worst, then the dry, sunny days were easy. It didn't make the barrack smell better and it sure didn't make her back ache any less. She slid her mug back across the bar, the pleasant numbness in her nose making her smile. "I have a date, Joe, so this'll have to be the last one."

 

The door opened behind her, but she didn't turn towards it. She'd been in this tavern long enough to know when someone walking in sounded bad. This one was stiff, like he was tense about something, but...

 

Whoever it was stopped at her shoulder and she wrinkled her brow and looked up. Shock shuddered through her as she looked up at Sandre. He was supposed to be on guard duty for another hour! She checked the light outside the window and closed her eyes. She'd been here longer than she'd thought! "Sandre, I..." But he didn't let her finish. It was probably a good thing, though. She had no idea what she could say to excuse herself for this...

 

~Edana

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It began to grow dark as Sandre waited by the river. He had tried his hand at cooking tonight and looked worriedly down at the basket with the food inside getting colder by the minute. (It probably wasnt that good anyways.) he thought as he nodded his head. She was only an hour late. A smile crept over his lips at the thought of seeing her again. It had been weeks and each day of it had dragged by. He sat on the blanket he had brought and watched the river for awhile. He remembered their date and how it had made the river so scenic. He had arranged for this time because of the mood it inspires. He had tried to cook her favorite foods and even had some wine chilling in a basket in the river. She had a rough day of training. A drink wouldnt harm them. The ground was a little hard even with the blanket. He had to use one of the stone floors with four posts on the corners and a roof over head because of the rain. When she got there though. Likely he wouldnt notice the floor.

 

She was two hours late. He began to pace as their time together tonight dwindled away. He had to go back tonight and pack. He didnt tell her he was not going to sleep tonight in order to be with her. He didnt like to trouble her with such little things. Tonight was important. Very important. He touched the pocket where his orders to leave tomorrow were inside his jacket. Tonight was their last night together. Maybe for a year, maybe forever.

 

She was two and a half hours late. The food was cold and so was he. He had increased the speed of his pacing but had had enough. He picked up the basket but his tolerance to carry it around was shot. He was tired and hurt and angry... he was almost certain he could clear the river when he tossed the basket out there but came up short. He searched the yard first and her barracks but when he didnt find her he knew where to look. The bar. As he walked in his heart sank yet he sighed in relief. He walked up slowly trying his best to keep his temper in check.

 

"You are late Edana... I was hoping I would not find you here." he didnt care that he had interrupted her. There was no excuse for this, they both knew how little their time together was and they had to wait another year for Edana to be raised. It had been a year already. They had had disagreements but this...

 

"How could you..." He stopped short and closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened his eyes he tried again "Our time together is limited Edana." He turned towards the tankard and stared at it. "I thought it meant more."

 

Pain, anger, disgust, emotions battled for control and he made no effort to hide it.

 

 

 

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"I thought it meant more." Edana could only gape at him. She'd been looking forward to their time together for a solid week. It had probably made today's training more rough, since her thoughts had been on seeing him again more than which direction her throwing knives were flying. She followed his eyes to the tankard in her hand and her jaw dropped. He thought she'd come here instead of meeting him?

 

Her mind turned, trying to find a way to make him understand. "I lost track of time," she started. "I only came because I had hours until we were supposed to meet and..." She closed her eyes and shook her head. This day couldn't get much worse. "I'm sorry, Sandre."

 

She hadn't felt this knot in her stomach since the day she'd woken from that fever in Camelyn and realized she might've killed one of her brothers. She had a pile of reasons for being here, but he deserved more than that. He deserved her to be able to set all that aside and be there. He'd probably only see them as excuses, anyway.

 

Joe cleared his throat. "She told me her date was later, or I'd have been pushing her out long ago."

 

Did he honestly think he was helping? Now it sounded like she lied to him on top of all of that. She groaned inwardly. Sandre knew her better... right? He was just angry. She met his eyes and felt the burn of tears in her eyes. She fought them off, though. She wasn't the foppish girls she'd guarded in Camelyn. She had little time for tears. "I thought you'd be on guard duty until sunset." That she'd come here to calm down so she wouldn't rant all the way through their date was just irony. She turned to the bartender. "Since you're so big on helping, do you have an empty room upstairs where we can discuss this without interruption?"

 

He nodded and passed her a key before shuffling off down the bar. She turned to Sandre. "Can we talk about this?"

 

~Edana

 

 

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Sandre glanced back and forth between the bar tender and Edana. It didnt help the situation as much as make him more upset that she needed someone to cover her. (Was this planned?) He was ready to lay into her when she asked to go to a room.

 

He nodded and followed her up. This wasnt how he intended this night to go. He still had to break the news to her...

 

The narrow stairs were actually were the only sound as they went up. She stumbled with the keys and he nearly folded his arms thinking it was a stall tactic.

 

"Well... are you going to tell me what happened or do I ask the bartender?" There was no menace in his eyes or any revealing emotion. He knew he was partly angry that this was their last night though she didnt know that yet.

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Edana's hands were shaking as she slid the key in the lock and pushed the door open. That they were walking into a bedroom didn't even register with her. She entered, trying to ignore the stiffness in his posture. He probably thought her hand shaking was a product of the tankard he'd found in her hand and not her fear. And, Light, was she afraid!

 

"Well... are you going to tell me what happened or do I ask the bartender?"

 

Edana raised her head as if she'd been slapped and dropped onto the edge of the bed. "I..." she started. "I don't know where to start." She stared at her hands, the key rolled along her fingers. "I came here because I was frustrated and angry," she said, not taking her eyes off her fingers. "I had my strength and knives trainings today. I barely had time to eat in between and Master Jen was less than his usual buoyant self with the knife throwing this afternoon. I only got away when I did because..." she paused and sighed, reaching up and pulling her jacket off her shoulders. She was wearing a sleeveless tunic underneath, having come straight here after her bath. A violent bruise had purpled her arm from her shoulder to her elbow. She shrugged, leaving the bruise to be its own explanation. "I was still so mad when I left the bath, that I needed to blow off steam before our date. I didn't want to spend the whole time we were together talking about what a rotten day I had. I thought your shift on the wall would last until sunset. Thinking that would've given me plenty of time to come and relax before going back to get ready to meet you."

 

She sighed, pulling her jacket back up her arm. "I'm sorry, Sandre." She couldn't meet his eyes, though. If she did, she'd do the most feminine thing she'd ever done in her life... cry. She'd die before she let someone see that, however. Even Sandre.

 

~Edana

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As he listened he did understand. She did have a rough day. Still as the moon crossed the sky he thought he could count the minutes in his head dwindling away before he had to go. Before he may never see her again. The thought infuriated him all over again.

 

"I dont see you anymore Edana... you know what I do, you know I can be moved out at any time or assigned to another Aes Sedai. The time we have is more precious to me than anything else in the world besides you. There is no excuse when we get these few precious moments."

 

He turned away. He was tired of hiding how bad he was hurting. He couldnt face her. He didnt want her to see she had got to him that bad either.

 

"I made dinner for you tonight... I have never cooked before but I took a class for you... I was the only guy in it... I tried to make your favorite foods, what little I knew."

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Edana's eyes flashed up to him, but he'd turned his back. Her fingers covered her lips and she closed her eyes. The lump in her stomach grew and her other hand pressed over it. He'd cooked for her? He'd taken classes to be able to do it? "I had no idea," she whispered. There wasn't anything she could do to make this up to him. There wasn't a thing she could say that would do anything about the guilt weighing on her shoulders or living in her belly.

 

"We have a few hours left," she offered. "I'll help with cooking or..." she shrugged. Desperation was settling into her voice and she realized why. He was angry, more angry than she'd ever seen him. Even that first day by the River hadn't been nearly as tortured as this was. That anger had translated to him turning her away then, would it be the same now? "Sandre, please...?"

 

~Edana

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Still unable to face her he shook his head. (Maybe its better this way... if I dont come back it wont hurt her as badly.) He reached in his pocket pulled out the orders. Signed and dated today, to leave tomorrow for a one year scouting mission in the borderlands. He was the least experienced in the group on the list. The only one worse with a sword than himself was an Aes Sedai. He was literally a set of eyes, and the most likely to die should they run into trouble, a guaranteed in the Borderlands.

 

He had just wanted one night with her. One more chance to hold her for awhile and forget. Silence settled over them as she read through them and realized what was happening.

 

"I wrote a will... I left everything to you. If something happens to me you will have enough that your grandchildren will still have it if you or any children you have never work a day in your life." Anger was more present in his voice now than ever before. Truth was he wrote it with intense worry over what would become of her should something happen to him.

 

"I left you my books with instructions on what I have and how to trade... I dont expect you to make any money, one year is not much time to do that but I wanted you to try... if you cant handle it pass them over to my brother." As if to emphasize why this lack of faith in her was on his mind a loud sound of an iron tankard being slammed on a table down stairs, followed by raucous laughter, made him flinch. He closed his eyes and regretted his lack of control.

 

He felt disconnected from reality. He sat on a stool nearby. He looked up towards the door at the sound of a man and a woman coming up the stairs. A slam on the door to the room they were in and the soft moan of the woman as the man kissed her was nearly all he could take. His eyes didnt leave the door though. How jealous he was of the man to be able to hold someone. To be able to wake up next to someone.

 

When they moved on with the woman laughing. He looked towards Edana. (Do you understand? I am trying to offer you a better life. I dont think I will be coming back.) he thought. He didnt think about touching her... he was still full of rage and pain. Instead he looked east towards a familiar alley. One he had not visited since he was a trainee. An alley where he had almost died. His left hand fingered the tip of the iron scabbard of the blade on his back. It was at his hip so he hoped she didnt notice. He had not felt the need to duel since... (Last time she hurt me.) His pulled his hand away as though the scabbard were a vile thing and made a fist. He had become addicted then, he had broke that addiction. His hand shaked as he fought off the urge, stamped it down inside. He would not let an old addiction pop up, he would not risk his relationship to Edana like that. Then he remembered that tonight she had done that very thing. With a look of shock like he had barely noticed she was there he glanced over at her. She had seen him fingering that scabbard. She only watched him, the look of recognition in her eyes, she knew what he was thinking, and she knew he resisted it, and that only seemed to hurt her more.

 

"I have to pack... I have a Tower Guard Ceremony for Dante in the afternoon and have to change and leave immediately after. If I start now and get Elyan to assist me I can be done in time for the ceremony."

 

He made it to the door and heard more people coming up. In case it was a Tower Guard he did not want to risk Edana's reputation by having them both seen in a room together, so he had to wait for whoever it was to pass.

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Edana took the page as he passed it to her, eagerly looking for anything to distract herself from her horrible error. The message that met her eyes was NOT what she was looking for, though. He's leaving? her thoughts paused so quickly she almost felt the pull in her head. TOMORROW! She made a sound in her throat, barely resisting the urge to shred the orders in her hands.

 

She heard him talk about his will through a haze, since her mind was still trying to process the fact that he would be gone tomorrow. It wasn't until she saw his fingers caressing the hilt of his sword and that ugly light in his eyes that told her he was remembering that foolish dueling he'd done when he was still a trainee that what her thoughts turned to his words. He was preparing to leave her, preparing himself to die out there, and preparing her for... what?

 

She heard the laughter, the sounds of pleasure coming through the walls, taunting her with her folly yet again. There were other noises in the hallway and Sandre stopped. He was waiting on the noises to quieten, to ensure she wasn't caught here with him. He was protecting her. Again.

 

And it annoyed her.

 

"STOP!" She shouted. She was loud enough that the noises from the other side of the wall even stopped. "You're not leaving like this. I did not do this on purpose! Light, if I had known..." she paused and shook her head sharply. "I'm not a drunkard, I don't bury myself in ale! I refuse to let you leave thinking I preferred a tankard of ale in a nearly empty bar to being with you." She stood up, dropping his orders on the bed behind her. She didn't touch him, though she wanted to so badly she ached with it. He'd reject her, anyway. "You're not leaving here thinking I don't love you. We have hours until sunrise and I mean to spend every minute of them dogging your every step until you forgive me. You could make it easy on yourself and not leave this room."

 

She stepped closer, crossing her arms to keep from launching herself at him and sobbing on his shoulder. "I don't want your money. I don't want your job. I don't want your protection or your name or your family's blessing. I want you. Those contorted trollocs can't have you and you'd do well to tell them that!"

 

~Edana

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The outburst was completely unexpected. (Trollocs cant have me. What is she talking about?) "I know you love me." Did he ever say she didnt? "But I have to go." He stepped out the door and as promised she was on his heels. He shook his head not entirely too interested in this new game. He wondered if she would actually follow him into the Tower Guard barracks.

 

Sure enough she followed him right into his room and didnt seem to care who saw either. He started tossing stuff on to his bed which was made for two... definitely not standard issue. He wondered if she knew that or would know he bought it for when this was her room too. When he opened the cabinet that held his clothes he was almost embarrassed that all his clothes were on one side, also for when she moved in. Come to think of it as he looked at his bed even one side had ever been slept in. It was making him angrier that after this night she was seeing the length he cared about her. Carpet on her side so her feet wouldnt get cold if she needed to get up,an extra desk, an extra armor rack.

 

The icing on the honey cake was when he pulled out a ribbon she had in her hair on the night she wore a dress for him and tucked is away in his bracer.

 

She didnt deserve to see this... not like this... and she sure didnt deserve to know the hold she had on his heart. Though as embarrassed as he was it also showed the depth of how much she had hurt him.

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Edana paused for only a moment outside the door to the barracks. What she was about to do may as well broadcast how she felt about him. There would likely be repercussions. Worse, he'd escape them by leaving tomorrow and she'd be stuck here paying for them. She'd followed him this far, she may as well see it through!

 

She entered his room half a step behind him and stood to one side as he started tossing clothes around. Her eyes combed the room, but since she'd never seen a Guard's room, she had no idea that what was she seeing was any different than anyone else had. The two desks made her pause, but she shrugged it off.

 

Seeing him turn towards his closet, she sighed, then moved to the bed. She folded his things neatly, then rolled them so they could be packed in his bag without wrinkling too much. He had his back to her, so she had plenty of time to pack his things for him.

 

She stared at his back another moment, then reached for her belt knife. She separated a lock of her hair and put a quick braid in it, then tied off either end and cut it free. It was hardly a silk ribbon, which most lovers took into battle with them, but the leather she cut free of her bracers would just have to do. Short notice made preparations a little moot. She tucked the lock of her hair in his bag where he'd find it when he left and then tucked her knife in with it.

 

Only when that was done did she turn back to him. His back was still turned to her so she settled on the bed, drawing her legs up under her and crossing them. How can I make this right? she asked herself as they waited to see who was the more stubborn of the two. "Tell me what I can do to make this better, Sandre. I will do almost anything..."

 

~Edana

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She was begging him. Edana never begged. He turned to look at her and walked over to sit close by her. "Im angry Edana... but its not the end of the world." He places a hand on her knee. He was just angry, he was not going to be cruel though. It bothered him to no end that she was drinking though. "I know you were relieving stress... You always do that for me... just being around you. I showed up tonight thinking I could leave here tomorrow and die but it would be ok because I had this night with you. It was not just that you didnt show up. I could have forgiven that. I still would have been mad. It was also that you felt the need to relieve stress before you saw me... I dont do for you what you do for me and yet I have tried and tried to be that for you. I just cant deal with the fact that I cant compete with a tankard of ale."

 

He stood. He didnt like pouring out his heart like this and it wasnt making the situation any better. She didnt deserve it right now he felt and this would only make his time away even more precarious. Who knows if she would tire of the stress and dive even harder into a tankard. Or maybe she would just find someone else and his life he had now would be gone if he returned at all. There was nothing that could be done now though. He paced, glancing on occasion at the wall with a large book shelf. It covered the entire wall and was full of books. Some worth a fortune. He had read them all and memorized them yet none of that helped with matters of the heart. Nothing did.

 

He turned to look at her. He was thankful she was not looking at him. The anguish on his face was something he wouldnt want anyone to see... ever. (Im going to lose her while I am gone...) He didnt talk until he regained his composure.

 

"I am conflicted Edana... I have to decide if I am ok with living with the idea that you are more to me than I am to you and that you feel you need to drink to be around me."

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"I just cant deal with the fact that I cant compete with a tankard of ale." Edana blinked, her expression going vacant. Is that what he thought? He really thought she cared so little for him that a tankard of ale could replace him? She shook her head, but he wasn't looking at her. Was it wrong to not want to spend the precious time they had together talking about what happened inside these walls? Was it really so horrible to want to be able to focus on him, his smile, his walk, the easy cadence of his accent...? If she'd walked straight into his arms after leaving the bath this afternoon, she wouldn't have been able to focus on any of those things. Letting things go just wasn't in her nature.

 

"I am conflicted Edana... I have to decide if I am ok with living with the idea that you are more to me than I am to you and that you feel you need to drink to be around me." Ed stopped, realizing that she'd been staring at her hands in her lap. Her head snapped up at that. His tone was accusing, it was something else. She didn't like that, either!

 

"That's not true and you know it!" she snapped, standing up in a fluid motion and turning on him. "I can count on one hand the number of times my day has been bad enough that I sought a drink to deal with it. I'm not a drunkard, damnit!" She paced, her anger making her motions jerky. She'd been ready to do anything he asked, her guilt turning her stomach faster than any sour milk ever had. And for what? To be accused of... this? She stopped in front of him, her hands on her hips. "Is that what you really think of me, Sandre? That I have to lower myself to drunkenness to spend time with you? That I see you as little more than a diversion? That I am so loose with my affections or that this relationship is so dangerous that I would risk the one place I've been accepted since leaving Caemlyn just to play with you?"

 

She stepped back, her head shaking. "I spent today getting beat on because I was so eager to see you that I couldn't keep my head focused on what I was doing. Master Jen said I was worse than useless more than once. Light help, if I'd been guarding an Aes Sedai, she'd be dead because of it. I stopped in that bar to relax, so I could focus on the joys of being with you, instead of carrying that with me. I went early enough that I wouldn't miss you, that I still had time to get back to you. Perhaps me losing track of time was an omen. I don't know if I can spend my life with a man who thinks I prefer a drink to his company!"

 

Her chest was pounding, her heart beating double time in fear that he'd leave her and never come back. What was worse, him thinking she was a drunkard, but coming back to her, or him thinking she didn't love him and not coming back? Or worse, coming back bonded to a woman she despised. Her thoughts raced, her heart continued it's wild tattoo in her chest. He was leaving in a few hours...

 

~Edana

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He frowned and at the same time his eyes became red with the pain this caused him. "I never said you were a drunkard. I needed you Edana!" He had not realized he had even moved to stand over her. "I have never asked you for anything but to meet me when we can arrange that. Ive not asked for the affection I crave when Im with you or any sort of chore a man usually wants from a woman. I just wanted your time! Just your time Edana!" He also had not realized he was shouting.

 

As though scared of what he just did he stepped back. She looked at him with wide eyes. He didnt even care that she saw when a tear from each eye rolled off his cheeks. He turned and walked towards a chair in the corner like he was exhausted. Truth was that he was exhausted having been up for 24 hours now. He collapsed in the chair and could not even look up at her. (I showed weakness... she wont love me now... I showed weakness...) His energy spent and his nerves shot he shook with the horrible feeling that he would not have her to come home to... and he would rather die than lose her.

 

 

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It wasn't often that Edana stood near a man who was taller than she was. It was much less often that one shouted at her. That it was Sandre was the only reason she hadn't knocked him on his backside. He turned away as if only then realizing what he was doing. She didn't miss the tears in his eyes or the pain that echoed there. She stood where she was, shock rooting her to the spot. Her eyes burned and the sight of him sprawled in that chair blurred.

 

Her thoughts turned inward in the silence, away from him and back to herself. She'd changed so much since arriving here and she laid those changes at his feet. He'd softened her edges, curbed her aggressions; he'd even made her think about things she'd never considered before. Marriage, kids... Her eyes focused on him again. Had she been so focused on those things she hadn't considered what he was giving up? He deserved a woman he could come home to, one who fit neatly into the lady he needed to wear on his arm, and who would not be so distracted in her own life that she let her attention for him slip.

 

She couldn't stop the tears from slipping down her cheeks, but she didn't acknowledge them, either. Her eyes moved over him again. "I'm sorry," she whispered. "You deserve so much more..." she stopped and swiped at her eyes. She hadn't cried the night she destroyed her life in Caemlyn. That she was crying now... She loved him so much it frightened her. Had she been holding back because of it? She sighed and walked towards him, leaning forward and kissing him softly before turning away and moving back to the door. She stopped when she got there, her hand on the door and her eyes closed. "I love you, Sandre. I love you so much it scares me. I want you to be happy and I'm sorry I can't do that. I'll understand if you find someone who can do this better than I can."

 

~Edana

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He couldnt let her leave like this. As soon as she turned away he was on his feet. He took her hand from the door and threw her arm around his neck and held her close. He couldnt say a word for the first few minutes. He couldnt let go and couldnt move. This was all he wanted.. just this. "Neither of us are perfect... neither of us know what we are bloody doing. We both have a year to think about it and figure it out though." He pulled back and looked her over. "Im sorry if I hurt you. When I get back in a year if you still want me... I will be to you whatever you want me to be. Friend, lover, hu...husband." The last he stuttered and turned red. "Or we can go our separate ways and I will not hate you for it."

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She gasped, but closed her eyes and melted against him for a few minutes. It was all she could allow herself. When he started pulling away, she lifted her tear-streaked face to his. He spoke as if he expected her to not want him, anymore. She doubted that day would ever come, especially if the ache she felt in her chest was any indication. "I will be right here waiting on your return," she said softly. "I won't promise not to be extremely angry if you choose to leave me. I shall hate her, whoever she is that takes you from me." She smiled, though it was just a slight lift of her lips. "The prettier she is, the more I won't like her."

 

She could stay here forever, but she knew he needed to rest before making that long journey to the Borderlands. "Be careful and come home to me," she whispered against his lips. "Whatever capacity you come back in, just make sure you come back."

 

~Edana

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