Flawed to Perfection

Chapter Two

The pain of love is the pain of being alive. It is a perpetual wound.
-Maureen Duffy

"No. Enough. Comte De' Chouis and you mother will have every guard out for you soon. Did you give any hint that you were thinking of running?" He turned back into the cold ceaseless protector. He turned and walked quickly down the steps, his feet pounding - sounding loud to his ears - upsetting small puddles.

Can we get away?

He asked himself helplessly, when he heard nothing but the regular sounds of the market, voices, bantering, and music.

Her hand was outstretched in a gesture of despair, reaching toward him as if to stop him. She realized there was nothing to stop. How could she know how he felt? She had just done something close to sin.

"Where were you planning on running to?" He stood there still trying to catch any sound out of the ordinary.

"Namarre." Her voice was low and quiet, full of youth.

"If they searched for us..." He paused knowing something of how ruthless the Comte and his charges mother could be.

"Mother would think that I would go to Kusheth not Namarre...Am I not a clearly marked one of Kushiel's line?" She stepped forward, brave and too brash at times.

He looked at her then, eyes searching her face, searching her eyes. "Someone there in Kusheth would give you sanctuary?"

Acidly she raised her chin proud, without hesitation. "Yes."

"And yet they can't hide you from your mother even if she comes looking?" A vague smile curled at the corners of his mouth and he tried to stifle it.

"I don't doubt they could hide me, but De Chouis...he has enough power in Kusheth to easily find me...but not I think, in Namarre." With that she made to walk past him, he caught her arm before she could. She looked up at him, sapphire eyes burning, he remembered what had happened a few minutes before and he dropped her arm in shame.

Her scent. Her taste still lingers.

Aware that his thoughts were not at all that of a celibate man, or a priest he became grim.

"Wait. Where do we go? Have you thought this through?" He trailed after her watching her light blue lace dress, the ends of which swung heavily, full of water.

Just like her to leave without a cloak. Unprepared...But her mother would take that as a sign that she wouldn't be gone long.

He thought quickly, trying to sort things out as he walked and rubbed his hands of the cold that was beginning to settle as twilight fell. It was only early spring.

Taking off his ashen gray cloak as they traveled toward Mont Nuit he walked right beside her and offered her it. She glanced at him everything about her face showing that she was busy thinking and not at all paying any attention.

With a resigned sigh he paused and she did as well, timidly he placed the cloak around her shoulders, and tying the strings so it wouldn't fall. It was almost to large for her. He was around 6' 0' so on a female around 5'4' it was perilously close to dragging on the muddied ground.

Nodding she whispered, "Thank you." To which he merely replied, "I protect and serve." Bowing to her, they continued on there way. Taking all the small cobbled side streets as to avoid being caught they made there way to buy cheap mounts.

Watching her in the dim light he could tell that she was biting her bottom lip, worrying. It had been a habit of hers for as long as he had been in her service. She wrapped the cloak around her, a tremble going through her body. He wondered if it was from the cold or because she knew that he was watching her.

In due course they came upon the Tsingani stables, darkness around them. He feared her being seen and loath to leave her, he begged her to cover her face with her hood and follow him.

A half-tsingano came forward and Alexander spoke softly not bothering to barter; two fresh, tentatively young mounts for the journey. With a curt nod he turned away from the tsingano, his pockets lighter.

"I can see that you are fleeing." The words were uttered so quietly he almost wasn't sure he heard them until she turned a cry on her lips.

"Please, we are, my..." He saw her blink and look slyly at him from inside her hood, she continued without much pause. "He and I, our families hold no love for each other and even though they are disobeying the edict of Elua they won't allow us union. So I am asking as a child of Elua, please have you any food so we may being our journey? Even now we throw away valuable time!" Her voice sounded heartfelt and sweet, but he knew she was capable of mischief such as this and acting was within her grasp.

"Ranaul", he bowed, "I can see your plight, but I don't have much..." He uttered quietly still and with more observance as he made his way to cupboards and casings on the other side of the stables Alexander saw why he spoke thusly, he has scars on his neck, from some injury and that was his ailment.

Much too slowly he worked gathering food, and mayhap other foodstuffs as he packed two saddles and placed them on the mounts securely. He smiled looking at them both adding, " Tis no extra cost, I've charged you well enough for them. Elua guide your steps and may you find your way on the Lungo Drom." He turned away then and she sought to say somewhat else but didn't.

Catching the leads of both well built animals, Alexander drew them and his charge outside. "I don't savor traveling at night so hurry it might not be wholly dark outside the city." He announced as they mounted, Alexander glad for once that she wasn't too pampered or lazy to not know how to ride.

"He was kind to others, when he should not have been. I lied." He saw her head droop.

"Yes, you lied about a union. Our union." He answered as he waved to the guard at the gates, trying to keep his face serene.

It wasn't so dark when one was outside the city, the sun had not yet fallen. Here they began at a slow pace trying not to make a scene the guards would think of remembering two D'angelines on there way to some distant place.

"I lied about you being my lover." A familiar note of petulance and haughtiness was creeping back into her voice and if he wasn't much mistaken, her features as well.

"Well and so you did also about a union." He argued. "I can still recall your words."

She laughed freely then looking at him and picking up the pace her mount bouncing her a bit, enough that it was her hood that fell back to immortalize her forever in his memory, the fading sun twinkling in her eyes, her hair in waves and dark shadows falling into the corners of her perfect smile.

I love you. I'll follow you to the ends of time.

He caught his breath to see her and his thoughts shocked him enough that a shade of pink colored his face as he smiled back.

"Oh Alexi why do you blush in such a way? Have the Cassline rigors and celibacies finally melted away so that your thoughts go easily into Naamah's chambers?" Her voice rang away into the distance more at the thought that she got away with shortening a cassiline's name than teasing him.

He straightened his features, fought the urge to cough and spoke. "Be kind. I renounced the passions of Naamah when I took my vows."

He sounded so serious that she sobered too. "I wasn't trying to be mean, I know you honor your vow."

"Yes, well at times I wonder." But he smiled when he said it, looking away to hide it.

Was he being honest?

The thought only made her feel a little better.

"How long until Namarre? Is it even wise to stay at any inns with the trouble of small towns?" Her voice was quiet, feeling tired she had her mount speed up, trying to make better time.

"Miles yet. Without a tent? It is cold. What would you rather risk? Wolves or strangers that we know not, but who know your mother or the Comte?" He could barley make her face out anymore it was so dark...they could ride to a close town and get an inn.

"We have a tent. That man..he packed us one. He was so kind." She looked at him sad and worried.

"Ranaul...maybe one day we can return the favor. Turn left then, toward the woods. We shall risk the wolves."

After getting the tent up with many hushed curses from Alexander he turned to his charge and nodded for her to go inside, he handed her a blanket. She knelt down and crept inside and then once in turned to look back at him questioningly.

He shook his head gravely not speaking.

"It is not as if I will rip your celibacy to shreds!" She turned the flap of the tent down disgruntled.

"If only you knew," he mumbled wrapping himself in a blanket and settling down outside the tent.

She heard. I know, she thought shifting into a more comfortable position.

When sleep claimed them, it wasn't long before she was awake listening to Alexander murmur in hushed tones, shivering, his teeth chattering.

"Elua, Namaah and Cassiel save him from his foolishness." She muttered throwing the covers from herself. Aching and tired she got up to beckon Alexander inside.

He opened his eyes and looked at her stubbornly.

"It's cold." She insisted her hand whipping back and forth trying to make him come inside. "Your cold."

"I mustn't." He angrily, not to mention freezing turned away trying to get warm by rubbing his hands together.

"Stupid Cassiline!" The next thing he knew he was being pounced upon.

"Get off!" He yelped and squirmed as she woke him up completely, indeed, woke up parts that shouldn't be responding.

"Come inside and I shall." She said simply as she sat atop of him, his hands went instinctively to her hips to throw her off.

He didn't, they stayed frozen there and he blushed. Her felt her warm on top of him, sitting on parts of him that he was quickly becoming aware of.

"Uh." He said stupidly.

She was quiet looking down at him.

She felt him, warm beneath her and she hated him for the hand that fate dealt them.

"I-I..I will come into the tent." He said shifting his face to the side, his cheek against the cold, hard ground.

"You do that." She said finally slightly breathless, and she got up reluctantly. Maybe he was imagining that.

Slowly he followed her inside hoping with only his Cassiline honor and not his heart that he would stay celibate.

Darkness all around them both, he sensed her move, laying down, covering herself with the blanket. "Don't be a fool. We have to start early tomorrow. You doubt my integrity? What need do I have of a celibate man other than as a protector?"

Her words were waspish as she meant them to be. He soon crawled down beside her and covered himself with his blanket.

He didn't think anything. Or he a least damnably well tried not too. They both had shifted so that they were as far away from one another in the tent as possible. They stayed that way for the rest of the night.

A/N: Edited even more.