Author's Notes: Please be kind, this is my first posting. Reviews are more than welcomed. Somewhat A/E'ish (don't say I didn't warn you!)
She looked down on her hands, and to her surprise she found them to be twisting and fidgeting, almost without her thinking them to. They were always like that whenever she was nervous, worried, when there was something bothering her or whenever all these three were unfortunately present. Now, such an act was an apt thing to do, because she knew that there was something bothering her, and she was nervous and worried because of it, but for the life of her she couldn't identify exactly what it was. All she knew was that even in the midst of a gigantic celebration, even in the midst of all these people surrounding her, she had never felt more alone, more bothered, more agitated.
A glance at her left showed her husband-to-be engaged in a drinking spree with some of the locals in town. He seemed to be quite enjoying himself as he downed another glass that one man had poured for him. Was it wine or beer or what type of liquor it was, she didn't know; but one thing was for certain, that this little wine bonding with the locals will keep her husband-to-be occupied for some time. Could this be what was bothering her, that her husband-to-be was neglecting her for the company of wine? She looked away as she mused with mixed feelings within her, until her eyes crawled over to her right… until she found another pair staring at her quite curiously, quite fervently. She looked away from those smoldering eyes until she settled hers over the burning flare of the bonfire, over the mixing red and black of the embers.
She knew he had been watching her all this time, watching her all night in fact. Whatever she do, wherever she go, whenever she looked at him, be it an accidental or an intentional glance, she would find him always, always looking at her. At first she thought she was fooling herself, or perhaps even flattering herself for even thinking it, but after confirming it a few times, she knew that she wasn't either fooling or flattering anyone. She began to question his intentions, his stares, his eyes, but before she could she never could seem to summon enough courage to do such an act. Walk towards him on wobbly legs, talk to him with a stammering tongue? She thinks not. Does she wish to make a fool out of herself in front of such a man? Besides, though his eyes were watching, though his stares were burning, they were never disturbing, never intrusive. No. On the contrary, they felt assuring… almost comforting, really. They felt… safe. Protecting.
Why does he stare at her the way he does?
Has she finally realized what was bothering her so? Is this why she felt worried, nervous? Because a man was paying an extra amount of attention on her, on her own wedding night? A man besides her husband?
Hands still twisted and interlocked, she glanced at him, and noted with a small smile of satisfaction that he was looking at her still.
"Miss Carnahan, please accept this." A glass of clear liquid was handed to her by a kind elderly. "It would give us much pleasure to have you sample our own making."
She blinked at the woman, then blinked again at the cup of wine. She never knew what happened to her the last time she felt inebriated, and she thought it better to keep her ignorance about the matter, so what harm could one glass possibly bring? "Thank you." she said with a smile as she reached for the glass. As the woman bowed before her and turned to leave, she brought the wine to her lips and took a sip. The wine was not too strong; no… it actually suited her taste. It was sweet, a tad little sour, and the flavor of honey overpowered her senses. Honey on wine? She took a larger sip, and this one confirmed her thoughts. She was given a honey-flavored wine, a first of its kind and in her own opinion probably the best one she had ever tasted.
Before long she had finished half of the cup. Feeling good about herself, she brought the cup to her lips and sipped again. As she did so, her eyes did their own part and sought for a duel, and they found it in the smoldering ones that belong to the man in her right. If earlier she was quite reluctant to meet his gaze, this time she didn't look away. Boldly, she held his stare, her stomach doing flip-flops that she knew wasn't because of the wine.
She detected a smile playing on his lips, and as she lowered her cup she felt one coming to her own. Without breaking his stare, she allowed her tongue to dart out and taste the wine resting on her lower lip, strangely naïve of what an act could do to a man. She caught him following her movement with his eyes, eyes that now burned with a fiery glow that could mock the ones made by the bonfire. A blush crept to her face and she looked away, and without thinking she brought the cup once again to her lips. She took a hearty swallow, and before she knew it the cup was empty and she felt a certain fire in her stomach erupt out of nowhere. Feeling disconcerted about holding an empty cup, she stood up on wobbly legs and went out to get some more.
The knowledge of where to get her share of the honey-wine eluded her, but at this she didn't care. All she knew was that she just had to have some more. The sands beneath her feet were soft and smooth, so how in the world did she stumble on it, she didn't know. All she knew was that before her face could hit the sand and before she could taste it in her mouth, she felt hands gripping her shoulders in a death-like grip and soon she was standing again.
"Did you see that?" She said to her companion, her lips twisted into an expression of both wonder and embarrassment. "I almost fell, and I didn't even know why!" A sound akin to, but never really quite, a giggle escaped her lips, and she lifted one hand to cover them.
He said nothing in reply; only brought his face an inch closer to hers. Those dark brows of his knitted in annoyance. "They should not have," he muttered low as he brought his face farther from hers.
Her own brows knitted in confusion. "Sorry, who shouldn't have… what?" Her eyes widened when she burped quite loudly, and she darted a glance at him, her fair cheeks reddened in shame.
His dark face lighted with a twinge of smile. "They shouldn't have given you that wine," he elaborated. "It is too strong for you."
She straightened her stance and only the slight swirling in her vision caused her to frown. "It is not!" she said indignantly. "The wine was delicious, like… like honey! And lemon! Honeyed lemon with sugar even! It's like… candy!"
"It is too strong," he repeated, his smile melding within his tone. "Even the strongest men don't dare drink much of it for fear of making a fool out of themselves."
"And think you I am making a fool out of myself?!" She seethed, hands lifting on their own and resting on his chest, their first intention to push him away. But the swirl in her vision became slightly stronger, until he was only but a swirl of lights in front of her eyes. Lights of black, brown and red, mixing and melting together until they formed a form resembling his blurred face. She foolishly shook her head, if only to sharpen her vision, but the act only caused the lights to dance more briskly than before.
"Evelyn," He said, his tone concerned. "You should rest. I have to take you to—"
"You're the one who's making a fool of yourself," came her slurred words. She tried to focus unfocused eyes on him, her hands still lying on his chest. "You've been staring at me for the entire duration of the evening. Admit it!" Accusation heightened her tone.
He was silent for a moment, his eyes betraying nothing. Even if she wasn't drunk she couldn't have read anything from them, for they tell nothing of his thoughts.
She grinned triumphantly. "I take your silence as proof," she told him as she raised one finger to poke him on the chest. "You've been watching me." A slight poke highlighted each word.
Unfocused eyes blinked uneasily at his admission. "What?"
"I was watching you."
Was it possible, that his voice became as dark as his face, as his eyes? Midnight dark it was, pitched black in its obscurity. The alcohol in her system helped her voice out her answer to his words. "Oh." Her eyes blinked again.
"Now that you've had your answer, perhaps maybe you will allow me to take you into your tent? You don't look well." Hands tightened again on her shoulders, firm but never hurting, ones that told her he wouldn't take no for an answer.
She nodded, then cursed loudly at the dancing in her eyes. "Ow."
"Stop moving your head. It will only make the hurting worse."
He began to guide her, one hand traveling towards her waist, the other staying on her shoulder. She was only dimly aware of the irritating hurt in her head, for all her senses, heightened as they were because of the alcohol, were only focused on the warmth of the man beside her; the warmth of his hands on her skin. His touch was, oddly, not disturbing or intrusive. Only assuring, comforting. Safe, protecting.
Soon they were enclosed within the safe confines of her tent.
"Lie down," he ordered her, his hands pushing her down as soon as she was within a touch away from her make-shift bed. When she was sitting on her bottom, he pushed her still until she was laid over the bed. The hands left her shoulder and then she felt her feet being lifted off the side of the bed and into the cushions.
A smile crept over her face as she watched him fuss over her. "Thank you."
He looked up from his job of removing her shoes from her feet. He looked up and looked at her, those eyes smoldering hot once again. "A friend will do everything for a friend," he stated. He then rose after finishing his job. She watched him curiously as he walked over to her and bent, his face inching closer and closer to hers until his lips rested over her forehead. "Good night, Evelyn."
She nodded her reply, and then closed her eyes.
Then without any warning, she felt the lips that grazed her forehead bless her face once again, only this time it rested over her own lips. His lips on hers were warm, soft, the kiss gentle and sweet. Without opening her eyes she gasped her surprise, and at this opportunity he kissed her deeper, his tongue darting out and subtly tasting hers.
And then it was gone.
When she opened her eyes, the last she had seen was him leaving her tent, his midnight robes disappearing behind the cloth door.