AN: Yeah I know that it has been a LONG, LONG time since I updated. Well…hereya'll go.

Chapter 7

Daine was just about to fall asleep with her back against the wall when the click of the door startled her. Standing quickly she was quiet not to make a sound. She was more nervous than she had ever been.

Numair walked into the room and dropped his books on the floor. His hair was up in an untidy tail and his hands were shaking as he tried to smooth it out. The black robe that drooped on his shoulders was dull and lifeless. She could tell by just looking at his back that he was tired. He was worn down to the bone.

"Do not turn around." She said softly, her voice shaking. "Please."

He obeyed her wishes, but she saw his posture straighten. He didn't speak, and he could hear her clearly as she moved closer to his back. She missed him, his scent, this place, all of it. All of it was overwhelming, and she could barely stand from being so bombarded with emotions.

After what felt like hours, Numair spoke, his deep voice fearful yet curious.

"Why am I not allowed to face you?"

A moment passed before there was a reply.

"I don't know if I'm actually here, or if they will take me away again. If I look at you, it might be that this is all a dream. If I look upon your face, you might just be a mean spirited dream that was cast upon me." Her tears and slow sobs shook her voice.

Numair turned around when he heard something hit the floor. On her knees, Daine buried her face in her hands and cried. Her entire body was trembling.

Hands not touching her, afraid that if he did she would be gone, Numair tried to comfort the one he had once lost. How had she come back to him? Was it really her? Thoughts were racing through his mind, and they all seemed to be illogical.

Looking up, Daine found Numair to be crying also, but his eyes held bewilderment and hope. Her own on the other hand were filled with fear and uncertainty.

Cautiously she placed her hand on his cheek and wiped away his tears. She could feel him shaking when she laid her cheek on his chest.

Numair picked her up and placed themselves on the bed. He laid down on his side with her in front of him, her back pressing against his chest. It felt like it had been so long since it had last happened. Daine continued to cry until she fell asleep, breathing in raspy breaths, with his arms wrapped around her strongly.

Numair awoke to find that Daine had not been where he had left her in front of him. All that remained was a messed corner of blankets, like someone had folded them back to leave.. Looking around the room, he found her to only be sitting on a chair with her wet brown curls framing her face.

She spoke before he could speak.

"They brought me to the Realm of the Dead. They made me chose, in a way…"

She stopped and looked down at her hands as she flexed them. "I can feel it, I can." She said softly as a tear fell down her cheek. Before he could ask what she felt, she began to speak again.

Numair was unsure of what was being spoken of, but he could sense something radiating from her.

"They sent me back because I was not supposed to leave yet."

She looked into Numair's eyes. "I need to see Jon and the others. There's something I need to tell all of you and it would be easiest in a group. Could you get them for me? I Know it is-"

"Of course I may, magelette. Will you be alright by yourself for a small time?"

Daine nodded at his words with a dazed look in her eyes.

He kissed her on the top of the head before he reluctantly left the room.

Looking around, Daine stood up and started to straighten things up, getting familiar with something she felt that she had once knew, but hadn't seen for years.

While Daine was busy making the bed neat, the door creaked open softly.

"Daine?" the strong female voice asked carefully. Something caught in Daine's throat. For some reason she knew that this would be the hardest one.

Turning around, she gave Alanna a soft, but sad smile.

"I wasn't sure – I thought that maybe he was seeing things…"

"No, I'm fair certain that I am real."

With a few quick steps Alanna embraced Daine. Daine had been shocked. Alanna wasn't one for showing her emotions, unless they were anger. Hugging her friend back gratefully, she heard Alanna sniff quietly.

Alanna pulled away and brushed Daine's hair out of her eyes.

Something caught Daine's eye and when she looked, she found Onua standing in the arch of the open door.

"Goddess bless" Onua said gently. Her hand was over her mouth and tears were on her cheeks. Daine walked over to her Horse Mistress and placed Onua's hand in her own.

"How?" She asked with wonder in her eyes.

"I'll explain when everyone arrives."

The older woman nodded and gave her a hug.

A few moments later Numair arrived with Thayet, Jonathan, and George. After a couple of gasps and shocked faces, the group sat around the room, waiting for Daine to begin.

"After…the fight; I don't know what happened to the Riders, or myself. I woke up on a beach…"

Daine continued to tell them about the meeting with Mithros and how she was able to come back and -why- she came back at all.

After she ended, she kept her eyes downcast at her feet.

Onua was the first to speak.

"So they had to make you a Goddess in order for you to return without harm?"

Daine nodded in response.

"Well, I don't see the need to inform everyone of your new status just yet." George said. His comment received nods from the others around him.

"How are you to learn what you are capable of?" Was Jon's sincere question.

Daine shook her head. "That I do not know. My Da was angry about that, but if it really was a concern I am sure that he would not have let them send me be back." She looked into the King's eyes. "Do you think it will be a large problem? If so, I will understand if you wish me to learn somewhere else."

Jonathan stood up and walked to stand in front of her, and kneeled down so that they were face to face.

"My dear. You are capable of doing more than you realize. Why else would the God's have given you such a blessing? And if I am not mistaken, all of in this room have faith in you. We see what you are unable to, and we see a strong, capable young woman who has overcome incredible obstacles in her young life."

Without thinking Daine hugged the King, gratefull for his kind words. Chuckling at her reaction, the King returned the gesture.

"Thank you." She said, blushing as she pulled back.

After the group spoke about certain possibilities, they began to slowly leave. Alanna, Numair, and Daine were the only only ones that remained.

"Numair, if you do not mind, I would like to speak to Daine alone for a moment."

Giving a small smile as approval, he closed the door behind him as he left.

Sitting in chairs, Alanna seemed nervous.

"I blamed myself for what happened to you that day."

"How could yo-"

"No. I know. You are an amazing young woman, Daine. You are stronger than many that have fought by my side for years. Also, you have a stubbornness that can get you into trouble, like most, and myself. I should have anticipated that Rawdon would go for you first. I should have stopped-" Alanna was silenced by her anger at herself, and her tears.

Daine was speechless. The Lioness and her had always had a closeness, but it had never been tested or shown.

"Goddess, look at me, crying like a child." Then she smiled, "No pun intended."

"I guess I just see a lot of me in you. Your determination, and strength. I am not much to be compared too, but it's still there."

"What are you talking about? For you to even say that I resemble you in some matter means much more than I could possibly express. And it wasn't your fault. It wasn't anyone's fault."

Alanna smiled, her violet eyes giving her thanks.

"Now, no going around telling the whole of Tortall that I was crying. I have a reputation to keep". She said with a wink.

"Why, I would never think of it."

Daine handed Alanna her handkerchief.

As Alanna was wiping her eyes and laughing at herself, the two women were interrupted by a knock on the door.

"Expecting someone?" Alanna asked.

"No one else knows I am back, and Numair knows I'll come find him."

The knock came again and they just looked at the door, not sure of what to think, or who they might find.

-end-

alright alright alright.

I think that since I've been now reoriented with writing I will be updating very soon. I hope.

please review!