A/N: Hey guys! This is just a little short romantic love story between Aly and Nawat. This is how I wanted their relationship to blossom after reading Trickster's Choice. Please review, constructive criticism is always welcome!
Disclaimer: All of it belongs to Tamora Pierce, as I'm sure you all know by now.
Nawat was on his bench early in the chilly morning as the winter day slowly began. Thoughts tumbled through his head as heattempted to fletch arrows that combined the griffin and Stormwing feathers. The three mages that attacked the castle the night Bronau murdered Mequen taught the people that although Stormwing feathers could kill mages, if the archer that shot them did not have good aim, then they were worthless. No matter how hard he tried, however, none of his combinations were working. He just simply could not concentrate on the task in front of him. He kept seeing Aly's face close to his; his fingers kept recalling the touch of her short, beautiful hair that was so easy and wonderful to preen.
But then he heard her words last night, when he again mentioned their nestlings he would like to have with her. She had smiled so sweetly to him and explained that they were just friends. Friends would mob for each other, help each other hunt for bugs, look out for hawks and snakes together, but friends do not make nestlings together. Aly had always refused his offer to mate, but he had simply thought that it was a game. In the world of animals, the male would always pursue the female and convince her of his worth as a mate. Crows brought their potential mate shiny gifts and scrumptious bugs that showed her just how skilled and talented he was at providing for her. Nawat knew that other birds did numerous dances for the one they courted, while others built a strong, sturdy nest to hold his mate and their nestlings. Last night, however, he began to see that Aly did not want his shiny gifts, although she appreciated them, and she most certainly would not eat any bugs he offered her. She did not need a nest to live in; she lived at the stone sticks with the luarin family. He had not danced for her, but somehow he knew that she would only smile and laugh.
Nawat was beginning to think that, although he rather liked this human shape, he could not master the human way of life. No matter how hard he tried to get Aly to at least show she understood his feelings, he never got ahead. He was hurt inside, but he never let her see. She did not need the burden of Nawat's feelings, too. He had finally accepted that he needed to let her go.
Why did these feelings and thoughts come to him? He was just a crow. And above all else, why did his chest ache and stomach roll constantly? He had never heard another crow mention these feelings for one another. Maybe he was more human-like than he had originally thought, but then why couldn't he get a mate? He knew cared for Aly as a friend, but there were more feelings than that, too. He knew that he wanted to see her every day, to be able to preen her and whistle songs to her every day. Why didn't she care about him; why didn't she love him? Nawat snapped the wood shaft in his hands in his frustration and anger. He put the broken pieces down and heard someone approach. Dove came up to him and sat on the bench.
"Good morning, Lady Dovasary. You are up very early."
Dove picked up part of the broken shaft. "Yes, I couldn't sleep very well, so I decided to come down and talk to you. What happened to this?"
"An accident. What did you want to talk about; do you desire some crow wisdom?"
Dove smiled up at him. "Although I do highly value your wisdom, Nawat, I wanted to talk to you about Aly." Nawat's face looked dark and sad. Aly had probably told Dove what he said last night, perhaps they made fun of him. He looked up into the sky and didn't reply. "She didn't tell me to come to you, but I'm worried about her."
Nawat looked sharply at Dove. "Is she sick? What is wrong with her?"
Dove looked away. "Well, not sick exactly, but... I think I heard her crying last night. I think it has something to do with you. Please don't tell her I talked to you, she would be so mad at me. Whenever anyone mentions your name, or whenever we see you from far away, she gets this dreamy, glassy look on her face. I think she looks like quite stupid, but I guess I don't just understand. She watches you all the time and finds excuses to be with you and talk about you. Have you ever mentioned any thing to her? I mean, I think she really cares about you."
Nawat sadly smiled. "I have tried Lady Dovasary, truly, I have, but she said that she does not feel quite so strongly about me as I feel about her. I fear that you are mistaken in how you think she feels."
"No, Nawat. I would swear that she truly cares strongly about you; she just can't express herself to you. Maybe she's afraid?"
Nawat titled his head to the side. "But then how do I get her express herself? She has already denied me quite often."
Dove rested her head in her hands and her elbows on her knees. "Well, maybe she just needs some more encouragement. Maybe some gifts – no, you already tried that. I know! Listen to this!"
Aly clenched her teeth and threw down her sewing in frustration. She was absolutely sick of sewing, sick of winter work in general, and winter had barely begun. The fact that every time she blinked she could feel Nawat's hands in her hair and could see his shy, innocent, handsome smile in her mind did not help her concentration. It was so hard to constantly tell him no; she wanted him so badly, too. She was so busy though, and she felt as if the entire weight of the rebellion was on her shoulders. She liked to be busy, but she didn't want to give herself more than she could handle. Sooner or later Kyprioth would visit her to make her life more complicated yet again.
No matter how many times she told herself she had no time or place in flirting with love and Nawat, she still could not get him out of her head. Aly put her forehead in her hands and sighed to herself.
"Are you sick?" said a voice behind her. Aly turned around to see Nawat leaning against the doorframe, his head tilted to the side, watching her very closely. Her heart fluttered in her chest like it did every time she saw him. She wanted to run to him and wrap her arms around him, breathe in his comforting warm smell of clean and spices. She wanted to be held and caressed and -- Aly realized he had asked her a question, and she had just sat there with a dumb look on her face.
"No, no, I'm okay. Just sick of sewing, that's all."
"Then let's go for a walk, it is a wonderful afternoon outside." Nawat led her outside. They walked for awhile in silence, admiring the winter flowers beginning to blossom and the birds soaring through the air. "They say they think this winter will be a harsh one," Nawat commented to Aly.
Aly glanced up at Nawat. "Yes, but I think we are as prepared as we will ever be. We will all weather out the winter together." I wish I could spend it in your arms, thought Aly.
Nawat stopped walking. "Aly, I know now that you don't want nestlings. I understand. I obviously can't make you happy." He held a hand to Aly's lips to let him finish what he was saying. "I have tried for so long for even a hint that you cared as strongly for me as I for you. I think, however, that you do not feel this way. I am just a flock-mate to you, not a life-mate. I think that by now, you would have come to see that I don't want you just for nestlings to mob our enemies, that was just a small joke for us. If you want me to stay here this winter, I will. But I think that perhaps you may just want me to leave, so that you won't be pressured by my desire to be with you. I'm sorry to have burdened you so long." He took his hand away and turned around.
Aly was dumbfounded; where was this coming from? "No! No Nawat! It's not like that at all! It's just that I'm so busy, and with so much going on, and please don't walk away!" Aly chased after Nawat and hooked her hands around his waist. "I didn't want to hurt you, Nawat! I'm just confused, and I've never been confused about men before." Aly's voice got softer and slower with each word. "This is new, and I'm scared. And I care so much about you; I don't know what do about it." She stepped away from Nawat, surprised at how quickly and easy the words came out. He turned to face Aly and lifted her face in his hands. Gently he kissed her, easing his mouth slowly over hers, taking his time.
"Don't be scared, my little hatchling. There is nothing to be confused about. We will be together and keep each other warm this winter. I care about you very much too, Aly." He wrapped his arms around her and held her close, like he had watched other humans do. She nestled close to him, breathing in his scent and resting her head on his chest. Aly let herself relax in his arms, feeling comfortable and safe since the first time she came to the Isles.
A/N: Well, what do you think? Tell me, please! All reviews welcome!