Hours later, after they both had slept for a while, he was running his fingers along her bare arm. She was gazing into the fire and thinking about everything that had transpired. Her entire “childhood” was a lie. She guessed it was a necessary creation to help heal her own mind. She still saw an image of a cat like a ghost when she looked at Aryeh sometimes. Hazy like overlapping images kept creeping into her mind. She saw most people as they were. Yet for instance in the forest when she had been running to get home. Those were not the raccoons that chased her. Her fragile mind assigned them to that, for that is how the stag's vision worked. They were thieves, bandits, creators of mischief and disharmony. She was losing her thoughts to the flames, thinking of all that had transpired. She also knew some of her memories were gone. They must have cast spells of forgetting on her, to protect her. She had hazy images of almost kissing Aryeh a year ago. She had vague images of Aryeh walking with her from the town. It just made her so angry, everything. How her people had to learn to live without a ruler. How she had not grieved the loss of her parents, the sacrifices of Tym and Quay. She chose to act like a child for 17 years until they could figure out how to break the spell.
Aryeh leaned up and turned her towards him, looked into her yes. “Rory, can I call you that? Are you all right? I can smell it on you, you are angry. Are you angry at me?” She looked down she could not help it, but truth be told she was. “A little bit yes, why didn't you just kiss me sooner? Look at all this time I have wasted for all of us.” He ran his fingers over her eyelids and her face, to her lips. D tell he wanted to kiss again. His eyes met hers, “At first, you were sick and when you came out of it you thought you were a child. It was like you were 7 again. You had to grow up all over again. That, plus I needed to realize I was in love with you, that you were not just betrothed to me.” She closed her eyes, tried to shut them from the pain. He whispered softly, “You were not just a duty or responsibility. That I really loved you, wanted you for my own.” Her eyes flew open and gazed into his. Aryeh was looking at her very intently and sincerely. He meant what he said. “When did you know?” Taking a deep breath she finished her sentence, “When did you know you loved me?” He reached down and ran his finger along the chain of her necklace and lifted the locket and opened it.
“The day I gave you this, you looked at me and blushed like you had that day so many years ago. Only this time it was the face of a woman not a child that did it, suddenly I knew I wanted you. It has been a frustrating arrangement, to watch over you every night for months and months turning into years. O'Beth asked me if I had ever tried to kiss you. After that night I thought of it many times, for weeks. One night I held my lips barely over yours like this.” He then bent his head down towards her and just waited, their lips almost touching. “Then you moaned, at first I thought I had done something wrong. I left the next day and I told O'Beth it wouldn't work. I didn't watch you that night. Instead I ran through the forest as a cat and the Stag visited me and asked if I loved you. An exercise in futility it was, for I could not know if you really felt that way about us.” He continued whispering against her lips. Her breath was getting more and more shallow. “Then I was sleeping above the falls, where I usually go to be apart. You never go there, yet as I lay sleeping you came onto the ledge. Usually if I met you in the forest I would run away from you. I did not like you envisioning me as the cat. This time I had no time to leave.” He closed his eyes, looked like he was lost in thought. He swallowed and then looked again into her eyes with a fierce light and continued, “O'Beth had to cast a spell to hide the color of your eyes, to disguise your appearance. Yet that day, they were blue, the same blue I recalled when you were a child. You were fighting it, fighting the spell trying to break free.” His hand began to caress her cheek. “The one thing, you wanted was to see me. It awakened me to possibilities I dared not hope for.” He started to gently kiss the corners of her mouth and across her cheek. While his fingers trailed through her hair tucking it gently behind her ear. They then glided along Rory's jaw to her chin, raising it. He took a deep breath, then his eyes fell to her mouth and he bent his head and kissed her.
When he kissed her it made her feel elated and helped to chase away the anger. She realized he was going to win every argument they ever would or might have, just by kissing her. She needed to talk though. “Aryeh stop, I...” her breath fluttered out of her as he found an especially nice spot on her collarbone. She became very quiet, losing the grasp of her thoughts. He slowly raised up on one arm and said “Yes? Do you want to talk about something?” It took a moment more for her to get her equilibrium. The longer it took her to respond, the larger his smile grew. He bent his head and nuzzled her neck a bit, nibbled on her ear. She could not help herself and moaned his name. “Yes Rory? Was there something you wanted to discuss?” He waited this time, unable to keep the grin off his face.
When she finally came out of it, she looked up at him and started laughing. “How will we ever get anything done, if you can't stop kissing me and I cannot stop you from doing so?” He rolled over on to his back, chuckling. He pulled her over so she was laying on top of him, tangling them even more in their blankets, so she could talk to him. She pushed up on one arm from his chest, her hair hanging down to one side. “What do I need to know or learn before we get there? What are we going to do? A part of this, I want justice for my parents. Truth, I want some for myself as well. I feel cheated of so much time getting to know you, getting to know you courting me. The time lost when I could have been learning more spells. Learning to track, hunt, fight and mostly…” she took a deep breath and quietly whispered, “Learning to rule a kingdom.” She laid her head down on his chest, loving the feel of his heartbeat through his skin. Whispering against his skin she said, “There are so many things I have missed out on. That I feel I need to know, now.”
Aryeh hugged her close and began to rub the middle of her back in a slow lazy circle. “Tym has been teaching you how to track, how to hunt, to shoot a bow. He has given you some weapons training with your dagger. I need to teach you how to use your Staff. I have one too and we can start today if you want.” His hands trailed lower, making her gasp. “Yes, you have a lot to learn, but if Tym can teach you how to hunt and track while you were in that dream state. You should be able to learn the rest easily.” He rolled her back over onto her back. “Now, wife, I want some more time with you before we start our responsibilities tomorrow.” She soon lost track of time.