Well I have to admit that I had totally forgotten about this story which I began writing in 2006. Though I no longer have any idea where I was going with the original concept, I decided it still had potential. I also happened to receive a review right at the end of the year from the lovely Sadrainand remembered just how much I dislike unfinished stories and since I'm on break and have the time….why not!? So there you go, you review stories and sometimes you bring the author out of 5 year hiatus! So here it is, the final chapter of A Little Lesson About Being Drunk.
"I KNEW IT!"
Varden found himself on his feet, flushed with exhilaration. Lei'ella gaped up at him, newly revealed bangs just gracing her wide eyes.
In the frozen moment when he towered above her, his mind registered everything about her. Her eyes seemed so much brighter when freed from the shadow of the cloak, the color all the more peculiar. In combination with the glowing sweep of her hair, she looked somewhat ethereal. In her left ear a strange earring hung glinting in the dim light and Varden considered for the first time the wealth of questions about Inverloch he had for her, ones that she could perhaps spend a lifetime answering for him.
And then the moment was gone and Lei'ella's pure surprise melted immediately into something like panic. In one jerky motion she was reaching back over her shoulders to pull the hood over her head. Still poised practically on his tiptoes, Varden threw out a hand to stop her.
"No don't!" He cried, and forced himself back into his chair. "I didn't mean to startle you, only you startled me and I…I…"
She had stopped trying to put her cloak back on though her arms still hovered awkwardly right at her shoulders and her gaze was somewhat scandalized.
"…I like your ears!" It was quite possibly the stupidest thing Master Thief Varden had ever said. Was she blushing? "What I meant was that I've known about the Elvin thing all along" he explained hastily "I was pretty sure all the way back in Muirfold, and then when I saw you speak with Kayn'dar—sorry Silvah—I knew for sure."
"'The Elvin Thing'?" she replied, hands now lowered but with one eyebrow arched so high it had disappeared beneath her bangs.
"Oh I said it wrong" said Varden with a cocky semblance of his old ways. "What I meant was that you are of Elvin heritage. There, is that better?"
There was a smile starting in the corner of her mouth and Varden could feel his heart rate returning to some semblance of normality.
"So you've known all along all you were just waiting like a noble knight in shining armor for me to reveal it myself?" She asked, eyebrow still raised to the nth degree.
"Basically, yeah." Said Varden leaning back in his chair, surveying her with half lidded eyes and a grin. "I was just waiting until you figured out that I like you for who you are and that the size of your ears is no big deal."
"Yeah" she said weakly, looking down at her empty bowl. "No big deal".
As much as he wanted to sit and drink her in with his eyes, he figured that she needed some time to herself. It wasn't every day that a person had to sober up their traveling mate, make dinner in a rage, and then reveal their largest secret. Varden stood again, this time less violently, and picked up her bowl and his before carrying both to the kitchen and busying himself with the dishes. Out in the other room the second chair squeaked back and he heard her make her way across the room to the window.
Varden lay sprawled on the somewhat lumpy sofa, having demanded Lei'ella use the bed. It was raining in earnest now and the hard water droplets against the window were keeping him wide-awake. Well, that and the extreme physical awareness of Lei'ella lying in the bed less than fifteen feet away, also clearly awake. He was certain that if he peeked over the edge of the sofa he would be able to see her peculiar eyes glowing in the dark room. About forty minutes ago he had heard her slide out of bed and walk back over to the window where she had passed a good deal of the evening. What or who she was looking for, he had no idea. The agitation that had accompanied her trip to the bar and subsequent de-hooding seemed to have left her completely and so he wondered what on earth this fixation was about.
These thoughts spinning around in his head, he was still thoroughly awake a quarter of an hour later when she slipped out of bed and tiptoed across the floor again. Feigning a sleepy sigh he turned over so he'd have a better view of her over the arm of the sofa. She was standing at the window with her forehead against the glass, arms wrapped around her middle. The streetlight outside was creating a halo around her and the rumpled day clothes she was still wearing seemed far more grand than they really were. Maybe it was the elf in her that made her seem so graceful and self-assured in everything she did, he thought. But then there were moments when she was all too human, so why did he have such an inflated vision of her? Maybe it was love. The thought had slipped into his head unabated and he didn't immediately force it away, but instead continued to watch her at the window. Finally he spoke.
"What are you doing?"
She practically jumped out of her skin, spinning around at the window to look at him with wide eyes. Clearly she had not been as painfully aware of his wakefulness as he had been of hers. He quietly congratulated himself on his superior thief qualities.
"You scared me!" she said, but didn't move from the window. "I'm just watching the rain, it's my favorite kind of weather."
"In the middle of the night?" Varden asked with disbelief.
"Well, I couldn't sleep. I have too much on my mind." She replied.
Detangling himself from the covers he crossed the room to stand beside her and look out of the window. "What's on your mind?"
She didn't seem inclined to share, however, and instead surprised him with her next statement.
"Rain like this—it reminds me of that song, oh how does it go? If you like Piña Coladas and getting kissed in the rain…"
"Caught" Varden corrected immediately.
"What?" she replied, turning from the window slightly to look at him.
"Getting caught in the rain—those are the words. It's not kissed, it's caught."
"Oh." She said thoughtfully, back to looking out of the window. There was a comfortable pause in the conversation and then she said quite unabashedly; "I'd much rather be kissed in the rain than caught in it."
Varden started at her. He had known a lot of women, and he knew without a doubt that they liked to drop hints left and right. If this wasn't a hint, he didn't know what was. It was raining. It had been raining all night. She wanted to be kissed in the rain. He wanted to kiss her. What the heck? It had already been one of the strangest days he'd ever experienced. He reached out and grabbed her hand, leading her across the room, out the door, and into the rain.
The first thing that she did when they stepped into the night was shiver. Being the chivalrous manly thief that he was, his instinct was to throw an arm around her shoulders. She reacted positively, leaning heavily into his side and wrapping both arms around his waist. They stood frozen like that for several minutes; both aware of what came next, neither willing to make the first move. Finally Varden spoke, though not about the fact that they were holding each other in the rain in the middle of the night like idiots.
"What does your earring mean?"
One of the arms she had around his middle went up to touch the earring in question and his midriff mourned the loss. "Do you like it?" she asked.
"Yeah," he said, "it's cool. I figured it has some serious Elvin meaning—like the code of your tribe or something."
He felt her laugh, rather than hearing it. "My tribe? She laughed. "No, I just like it"
It was then that she looked up at him and he realized with a start that he had never been this close to her. It was very thrilling. The earring in question was dripping onto her shoulder and half of her body was pressed against his. He leaned down towards her and she seamlessly tilted her head a little to the left as if they had rehearsed it. As their lips made contact she leaned more completely into him so that their bodies were practically fused in the rain.
He wasn't cold in the slightest anymore and as her hands slid down his neck and into his collar he actually felt quite warm. They continued in this way for a very satisfying amount of time and probably looked like quite a spectacle—the human man and the Elvin woman embracing in the rain, glued to each other in a completely wonderfully natural way. Finally though they did break apart and Varden opened his eyes to find her grinning up at him.
"Yup." He said. "I like getting kissed in the rain."
"But do you like Piña Coladas?" she asked, playfully raising an eyebrow.
"Only if you're serving" he laughed "I'm never going anywhere near that barmaid again!"
Judging by her next kiss…and the ones after that, it seemed to have been the right answer.