What am I doing? I thought as I stared down as the slumbering charr using my chest as a pillow, surprisingly it wasn’t as heavy as one would think. The third night in a row I had spent with Garfas, each one a bit more active than the last. I was beginning to wonder if I was getting any sleep at all. Thoc was beginning to wonder if my stay was going to be permanent, for a second I considered the idea, but brushed it aside. It would rouse too much attention, especially amongst the warband. As if they weren’t suspicious enough already. Thoc had realized what was going on right away as soon as Garfas and I returned to the warband. Itan didn’t seem that fazed, Thoc had done a good job at playing off our absence. We remembered to thank him and he immediately noticed that something had changed between us. After telling him he seemed supportive, befuddled but supportive.
Now here I was, both of us enjoying a day off and sleeping in. Not that I was complaining. As much as I enjoyed this however, I still felt a nagging voice dancing behind my thoughts. A charr’s duty is to his legion, a charr’s family is his warband, a charr must put his warband before everything else. Did that ring true to me? Was I ready to put the warband before everything else? I pondered that thought as I gently placed my hand on Garfas’ head. He purred slightly before nuzzling into me. Whenever I looked at him the mere thought of the warband vanished. It was evident to me that my devotion towards him was vastly superior than what I had for the warband, even for the iron legion. Was this love? And if it was, did he feel the same? Charr are supposed to see these “trysts” as something casual. Was this casual for him? “Do you love me?” I muttered under my breath, not expecting a response.
“Wuzzat, cub?” said Garfas with a loud yawn. His large amber eyes blinked over me as he pushed himself up, his bare body now exposed to me. Clothing quickly became a rare luxury while in his house as of late.
“Nothing, Garfas,” I said absentmindedly. “Just thinking of a spell.” I gazed into the charr’s eyes with a smile and he smiled back.
“There’s that smile I love to see,” He said before kissing me on the lips. I felt my face warm up as I pushed Garfas’ muzzle away with my finger. It only encouraged him to draw me in closer. I released a sigh of defeat as I welcomed his embrace.
“Forcing me to stay in bed past noon,” I said as I traced my claws through the charr’s neck fur. “Being a bad influence already I see.”
“Not my fault you’re so comfy,” said Garfas as he once again rested his head on my chest. “Besides don’t tell me you don’t like it here.” He looked up at me with an impish grin.”
“Tempting,” I said prodding away the charr’s nose. “But I would like to eat breakfast at a reasonable hour today.”
“No fun,” Garfas held me tighter. “depriving me of the sound your chest makes when I put my ear against it too.”
“What sound?” I asked with disbelief. “If anything it probably sounds like an ominous wind traveling through a decrepit and dank tomb.” His eyes looked back up at me.
“What’s with all the death comparisons?”
“Its a necromancer thing,” I shrugged.
“Well for your information, your ‘heart’ sounds nothing like that.” Said Garfas. “Its calm and relaxing, sorta like when you put your ear against a seashell.” For some reason hearing him compare my node into something that wasn’t bleak and ominous made something inside me stirr. I could feel my tail coiling up again as my blood began to race. My face began to feel even hotter than before. Garfas seemed to have noticed and his impish smile returned. He crawled up up the bed to meet my eyes, knowing I wouldn’t resist him.
Damn you, Garfas. I thought as I was drawn into another kiss. After finally getting out of bed we both enjoyed breakfast, sitting next to each other, Garfas occasionally rubbing his muzzle against my neck. I wasn’t vocal about it but he knew I enjoyed the feeling.
“How’s the food?” asked Garfas expectantly, it was normal for him to always ask how his cooking was. He took pride in it and his face would light up when I would say it was good. Today’s meal was something with peppers and meat in it, however my mind was too distracted to completely taste his food. I kept musing over what exactly the two of us were. Other than the kissing, hugging and the… activities that would lead to, our interactions were the same. Talk about the same things, remain the same professional behavior while working. Training would have probably been the same but Garfas wanted to give me a few more days to start sparring once again. I remembered that I was supposed to respond to his question and smiled at him.
“Sweet,” I said. Garfas looked at me with an arched eyebrow. He looked at his plate then back at me.
“Are you sure we’re eating the same thing, cub?” He asked looking at my plate. I laughed and set the plate aside. I drew him in for a kiss and he seemed to understand what I was referring to. We stayed silent after we moved into an embrace, for a moment at least.
“Any plans for today?” I asked breaking the silence.
“Not until later,” said Garfas. “We have the morning to ourselves. Is there anywhere you want to go?” I thought about it for a bit, I did needed Mara’s advice, but it was best if Garfas wasn’t there for it.
“We could go for a walk,” I offered.
Some time later we found ourselves walking through the old ruins below the citadel. Strangely enough, Garfas shared my fascination with ancient, dead cities. As we walked through the ruins I absentmindedly talked about the history of the area, how it was the capital of Ascalon, when the charr took it and made it into the Citadel.
“A bit poetic if you think about it,” I said as I balanced myself while walking on a ruined yet stable wall. Garfas held my hand as I did, should I fall. “Land that originally belonged to charr, the humans took it, they lost it during the searing and now it belongs to the iron legion.”
“I wouldn’t exactly write poems about it,” chuckled Garfas as he helped me off the wall. “But then again I’m not good with words.”
“I would say you’re rather proficient with them,” I leaned on the charr’s shoulder as we continued walking. A few passing guards looked at us with curiosity and it made me self conscious. I returned to walking normally, but felt Garfas place his hand around my shoulder and keep me close.
“Don’t be nervous, cub,” he said. “I know what we are isn’t normal but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.”
“Its just the attention,” I explained with a nervous laugh. “I guess I’m still not used to it. That and I guess I still don’t know how I’m supposed to behave.”
“Just do what feels natural,” he said.
If only it were that easy, I thought. The mere concept of this situation was out of my comfort zone, then again it was my idea to go out for a walk. My way of trying to get more comfortable with the idea, it only made me more nervous.
Am I being too distant? How do I make sure he isn’t bored of me? Does he really want to be with me?
I never had all these questions when we were simply friends. I felt so conflicted, it was so difficult to relax, I just felt like something small, insignificant, yet at the same time in the spotlight. Ironic that I had no issue with fighting, yet this made me tremble like a cub afraid of the dark. I didn’t like this constantly retreating and assaulting anxiety.
“You’re shaking,” said Garfas which caused me to jump. “Are you cold?”
“A-abit,” I stammered. Now I’m stammering, perfect. “I suppose it’s the winter chill.” That was a lie of course, the cold rarely ever bothered me, another trait of being a necromancer I suppose. Without another second of delay, Garfas began to guide me back to the citadel. I immediately felt much warmer once we were back in the city, granted there was a giant smelter not too far away that did a good job of keeping everyone warm. We both wandered over to a spot not many people frequented, when you’ve lived as long as we have in the citadel you can find quite a few of those. The occasional scrapper wandered by, but they never took notice of us. I suddenly began to relax, now that I knew that no one could see us.
“Better?” Asked Garfas as he began to hug me closely, trying to act like a giant blanket.
“Yes,” I said, now that I was able to control myself. “Much.” We both remained as such, He rested his head on top of mine, avoiding my horns, though I could feel them poking his neck slightly. He didn’t seem to mind, however.
“Cub,” said Garfas. “Can I ask you something?”
“What is it?” Garfas looked upward, towards the sky, I discovered that as soon as my gaze followed his. There wasn’t anything in particular about the sky that was fascinating, it was the afternoon but there will still no starts. Even if there were they would be hard to see with how ,much light the city produced.
“Do you ever think about what happens next?” He asked. “You know, the future and stuff.” I thought about my answer for a second. To be honest it was something I did my best to avoid, the future was something that I found daunting.
“Sometimes,” I answered. “I try to avoid it to be honest.”
“Why?” I sank into the charr’s warmer body as I thought about my response.
“It frightens me,” I said. “Everything just seems so…uncertain.”
“What about stuff you want to be? Like master your necromancy, maybe a place you’d like to visit?”
“It’s always fun to learn more I suppose,” I said. “As for places I’d like to visit… maybe just traveling.”
“That sounds like fun,” said garfas as he held me tighter. “Traveling and seeing everything…” There was something in his voice, a certain emotion that was hard to distinguish. Mixtures of emotions actually, there was an undertone within his words. Was he hinting or trying to hide something? Did he want to travel? was that what he was asking for?
“What about you?” I asked. “What do you think about the future?”
“…maybe less fighting,” was all he said. I must say it was something I didn’t expect to hear from him.
“Less fighting?” I looked up at him as I felt his body tensed up.
“N-Nevermind,” I felt him release me, and lean back. I rounded to face him, trying to take his hand. He flinched but he didn’t move away. I wondered what that was all about. “Can I ask you something else?”
“Um…” I paused, noticing the sudden change in topic. I didn’t press any further however. “Ofcourse.”
“You like fighting don’t you?” I tilted my head at the question.
“Heh, well,” I could feel my face flush as a smile crept up my face. “Perhaps I was a bit reluctant to close quarters combat at first, but ever since I was able to use the deathshroud…” I trailed off, remembering the rush, the way the power made my breathing race, how clarity and ferocity melded into something intoxicating. I snapped out of my reflecting once I saw a warm smile slapped onto Garfas’ face. “What?” I asked prodding the larger charr with my foot.
“You’re cute when you smile, that’s all,” I looked at him stunned. There was something within those words, he was telling the truth of that I was certain. But…
“I am not!” I said, unable to control my laughter. I once again found myself in his arms, but there was no denying that glint of an emotion within him. Something that I couldn’t quite pick out. What was he hiding? Garfas snapped my out of my thoughts by ruffling my hair.
“Well I gotta go work on that project,” said Garfas as he stood up, I followed suit.
“What are you working on?” I asked.
“Just another weapon shipment,” he answered. “Gonna be tinkering with a few of them, some sort of asura information was given to us. We’re trying to see if we can replicate the process.”
“Interesting,” I said. “Any way I can help?” Garfas simply shook his head.
“Mostly just about materials and how the metal is treated. I know you don’t find that exciting so I’m not gonna force you to tag along.” Garfas gave me a sheepish smile. “Besides you’d keep distracting me.” He drew in close to me to give me another kiss on the lips. I felt my face flush.
“Its not my fault you can’t stay focused,” I said pushing away the charr by the nose with my index finger. “Regardless, I have some notes I need to discuss over with Mara. Magic and such, I don’t want to bore you with the details.”
“You can never bore me, cub,” he said before hugging me. “So will you be spending the night with me again?”
“Not tonight, sadly.” I said. “Besides, Thoc is probably wondering if I’ll ever come back.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” said Garfas as he released me.
“Try not to have too much fun now,” I said as bid him farewell. He lingered slightly, staring into my eyes and I into his. I did my best to try and see what he hid behind them once again but at this point he had completely shoved that emotion to the darkest recesses of his mind. Once he was gone I began to slowly make my way towards Mara’s hut.
“You’re off,” said Mara as she lounged on her couch while reading one of her tomes.
“It’s not me, its the key,” I grumbled as I my fingers slid of the surface of the piano keys. Mara had insisted on me playing something while I explained why I came over so suddenly.
“The key is fine,” replied Mara. “it’s your mind that is amiss, sounds like conflict to me. Everything alright between you and Garfas?”
“You can tell that much from my playing?” I asked as I continued to gently press down on the key that was out of tune.
“I could tell the moment you stepped in my house!” said Mara as she sat up. “Three days and you two already have problems? I don’t have much experience counseling couples but I know it takes longer than that for your run of the mill quarrels.” The older charr tossed her book onto the coffee table and began make her way towards me.
“I wouldn’t call it a quarrel,” I said. “Things between Garfas and I are fine. Fantastic even. Its me, its always about me…”
“Elaborate,” said Mara sternly. She swatted my hand away from the key that I had been unconsciously playing. I focused my thoughts into something more understanding and verbose.
“Garfas is a citadel charr,” I began. “Born and raised here. I was raised here as well, I came from who knows where and how Fumus and you raised me made me stand out for obvious reasons.”
“I made sure of it,” said Mara. “Didn’t want you coming out as a simpleton like most charr here.”
“My point being,” I continued. “I genuinely love Garfas. I can say that with certainty. But, he’s a charr of the citadel. And—”
“You wonder if he loves you as well,” nodded Mara. She began to pace around the room, meanwhile I drew away from the piano and waited for her to continue speaking. “It is a valid concern. Charr here are different than you and I after all. They have an unhealthy loyalty to their legions, their warbands. So naturally charr out here don’t take their relationships with too much seriousness.”
“Then you understand where I am coming from,” I said.
“You are not the only exception to the norm however,” Mara crossed her arms as she sat down besides me. “Was it you or him that made the first advance?”
“Him,” I said.
“Did he tell you how long he had been waiting for you to regain consciousness?”
“…No.” Mara started playing a soft tune, very slow, yet it was a mirthful one. I was familiar with it. The soft and graceful tune would skip about, hesitantly, but almost excitedly.
“He was there the entire time,” said Mara as she played. “I had to take him away to go bathe, he was still covered in blood and was stinking up the place.” Mara released one of her extremely rare chuckles. “He loves you too, Anavari. He probably doesn’t know it, or maybe he’s scared to tell you.” I looked at my mentor, surprised.
“Why would he be scared?” I asked.
“Because he’s a citadel charr,” she said while looking into my eyes, still playing the music. “You contradict everything he believes in, or used to believe in. For the legions! they say, for Anavari, he will say.” My gaze trailed down to the piano before me. Something stirred inside me, a painful grip within me. If I had a heart, I would have thought that someone was squeezing the life out of it. I began to play. I joined Mara in the duet she invited me to, I knew the melody, I knew the notes, the tempo the emotion that I should play behind it.
I began to play, the heavy and thundering creature that would join with the softness. Is that why you chose this? I thought. The melodies collided, as if both gave each other a hasty introduction. Then began their wrestling, each one trying to outpace the other. The heavy tone charging through while the light melody entered with grace. Then they both danced. Both sounds would enter harmony, supporting eachother, encouraging each other. Was this Garfas and I? Was this how we were in that bloodbath, was this how we fought alongside each other, how we argued, how we loved? Was this my love for him? Was love supposed to feel like a stabbing pain within me.
The pain show’s you that it’s real, I realized. The pain shows you that it’s worth the effort. He’s worth the effort. I suddenly stopped playing, noticing the tear running down my face.
“Do you understand now?” Asked Mara. I nodded to her, wiping the droplet from my face.
I returned to my house that day to find Thoc enjoying a late dinner, a look of surprise came over him as he glanced over at me, perhaps a bit of shock as well.
“Hey,” said Thoc. “You look…ecstatic.”
“Do I now?” I said as I took a seat in the table. “I feel normal.” Then again I couldn’t deny that I was grinning from ear to ear.
“I’ve never seen you smile like this,” said Thoc. “It’s a little scary to be honest. Can you go back to scowling?” I was surprised to find myself actually laughing at his joke. Thoc was even more confused. “So I take it you and Garfas are doing well?”
“Yes,” I said looking around the table for some food. “They’re fantastic.”
“Well that’s great!” said Thoc. “I’m happy for you two.”
“I’m in love with him,” I said suddenly. Thoc was taken aback.
“Um… I don’t know what to say to that. Good for you?” He offered. I laughed again.
“That felt good to admit,” I said. “Well I think I will go to bed early. All this pondering has exhausted me and I didn’t get much sleep the past few days to begin with.”
“I could have gone the rest of my life without the myriad of implications that statement contains,” said Thoc as he ate. I took a bun from the table and began to go to my room.
“I’ll be sure to be more vague in the future,” I said as I nearly jogged up to my room.