A/N: I don't like this chapter anymore, so I'm rewriting it. If anyone really wants a copy of the Scottish Prayer…send me a PM. I'll give it to you.
So, rewritten! All shorter than usual…but fun. I'm making themes for every chapter from now on. This chapter's theme is contact.
Dedicated to the Grammarian, my wubable Minlayne shipper.
FaileBerelain: So fun to write. And very sexy.
Summary: Berelain wants something, and will stop at nothing to get it.
MinElayne: Eeee, cuteness. I understand why tG ships this.
Summary: Contact: Min discovers something about herself and Elayne.
MatNynaeve: Eh, my least favorite of this chapter, but still fun. Wub it.
And as always review, review, review!
Berelain was a conundrum to Faile.
Her gaze was like a caress over her body, gliding over the curves of her dress, an eyebrow lifting, lips quirking in an admiring smile that dared Faile to answer her back.
Her eyes! They steamed, promising so much and giving nothing. They alternated between burning heat that smoldered and suggested, and a cool assurance that Faile would not be able to resist. At first, she had fought, turning away from that lingering gaze that was almost a touch. Then she challenged, meeting that gaze, daring Berelain to come closer. But Berelain was not afraid. She knew what she wanted. Her smile widened, her eyes dilating. Faile's heart beat faster, and she almost fled, but she stood her ground. Berelain was hunting, and no matter how much she resented it, Faile was on the run.
Berelain blided to her, her eyes glowing with intense desire. Faile's pulse throbbed, heat rising behind her eyes. Her throat felt stuck, her breath sticky and harsh in her own mouth. She closed her eyes and exhaled, but Berelain's fingers walked up her arm, her touch feather light. Faile's skin tingled. She had to force herself to stand her ground. Berelain was smile, her long, slender hand tracing the line of Faile's chin.
A shudder of pure pleasure rippled through Faile, and she moaned softly, flinching away from Berelain's hand tracing the curve of her body. Her skin tingled as though the dress was not there, and she stood naked before Berelain, her eyes piercing through her and seeing her soul laid out before her eyes.
Then he mouth was on Faile's hot and hungry, her lips soft and warm. Faile twined her arms around Berelain and kissed her back, giving into desire, relishing the feel of Berelain's lips, basking in everypoint of contact between her own body and Berelain's. Looking into her eyes, blazing with desire, Faile could see her own reflected back, burning with the same heat.
When did it change? Min wondered as she stared out the window at the gardens of Caemlyn. When did it change from a simple bond of friendship to something more, something so small and subtle, a difference so quiet that neither of us noticed it? Until…
Elayne was beautiful – Min had always known that, but never envied it. She would never be beautiful as Elayne was, with her pixieish face and delicate features, a full, laughing mouth, flowing red hair – yes, Elayne was beautiful. But she had never looked at her as more than a friend, never seen her as someone like Rand, someone to be desired and loved in a different way. But then, she had never thought of herself as desirable either. But today, suddenly, everything had changed, everything had been turned on its head, and suddenly she was looking at herself and her friend as she never had before.
All those conversations, all those deep sharings of secrets, those bonds that they shared with no one else…Elayne's eyes, trying to tell her something as she spoke of love, trying desperately to communicate something that Min could not understand. Until…
Today. Today everything was different. Today they had been talking, and suddenly Elayne's arm had slipped around her waist, suddenly their hips were touching, Elayne's breath on her neck suddenly so much clearer than before. Suddenly every sense of the way they were standing had changed, and suddenly Min did not want to let go. Elayne's eyes were watching her, and Min realized with a start that her almost-sister was trembling. She wanted to kiss Elayne, she wanted to hold her and feel Elayne's body close to hers. They had frozen. That moment of contact, that moment of change…
And all Min's certainties were blown away.
When did it change? She wondered. Or did it ever? Did she always love me, tremble with the effort of keeping still when I held her close?
So strange, Min thought, so strange, how the meaning of one moment could change forever…just by the touch of a hand on your waist, a realization that you were cradling beauty in your arms, beauty that you wanted to kiss and hold and love.
And Min was afraid of that…
But part of her wanted it, too, wanted it desperately.
The door creaked open, and Min wheeled around. Elayne flushed and then smiled, looking abashed. She was holding a rose. "I wanted to apologize…for this morning. I acted most improperly. I should not have…"
"No," said Min quietly. "It wasn't you. I wanted it too."
And then they were in each other's arms, Elayne sobbing into Min's shoulder, Min stroking her hair. That beautiful hair. And they kissed.
It was wonderful.
Matrim Cauthon was confused, and confused was not something Matrim Cauthon wanted to be.
Mat had never seen himself as the kind of man to fall in love. Girls were pretty, good for a quick cuddle and maybe a kiss or two, but no more than that. Commitment was not Mat's farte. But what he felt now, that itch in his throat, the tight feeling around his heart - he had a sneaking suspicion that it was love.
He had heard it described so many times - even felt it a few, in his memories - that he recognized it for what it was, and what it should not be. That quickening in his throat when he saw her. The whisper of longing when she met his eyes. But it was so peculiar, so impossible...
Mat knew that love knew no poundaries, did not pick and choose its victims, but somehow Mat felt vaguely cheated.
Nynaeve was not the woman he had imagined himself loving, not by half. She was everything he was not, and besides, it was obvious that she hated him.
Or did she?
Did he just imagine the glimmer in her eyes when he looked at her? Did he dream the quickening of her pulse when they touched? Was it just his hope, or his mad love, that saw her following him with her eyes?
He wanted to ask her. He wanted to ask her, What if we touched? What would you do if we touched, if I held you and caressed your face? Would you laugh? Would you push me away? Or would you let me hold you close? Mat wondered if she was afraid, too. If she feared what she felt, if she felt anything.
"What would you do if I kiss you?" he asked the air. "Would you flinch, and slap me, refuse to let me into your life?
But Matrim Cauthon knew that he would never know, never ask.
Simply dream - and imagine those gazes, long for her touch, drink in the hope that someday she would let him hold her, let him touch her, and would not flinch away.