Libba Bray. Not me.

Ithal's POV

His eyes flare when I tell him of my affections for her.

"You cannot fall in love with an English girl! It is not how things are done here!" His words are frantic, as if I had already gone and consummated my love for her.

"I can't control these things, my friend, I feel what I feel, and what I feel is for her."

I know it is a disastrous relationship, but I cannot resist the alluring Felicity, passionate and powerful in her own charming way. I know I am just a means for her, but I do not mind. She is mine, an English rose of my own, if only for the moment.

He tries to protect me from this girl. For what reasons, I do not know. "These girls are nothing but temptresses, toying with us because they know it is the last chance they have to be rebellious," he says angrily.

"I know," I reply. "I know it won't last, but that is what gives it all the more meaning."

It is true, what I said. Felicity and I will go our separate ways, but we will remain a part of each other's memory, a comforting fact. I don't know why Kartik cannot accept this.

"How can you be content knowing that you'll never have the one you love?" His anger is beginning to wane. "How can you just let go of something that means so much to you?"

"That is just how I do things. Things come and go, and I am happy knowing that they were once a part of me."

I suspect that he has never known the comforts of a woman, but this much I do not say. He seems appalled at the notion of letting go of a girl so easily.

"But what if you miss her?"

The sadness in his eyes reveals a sentimental side I never knew he possessed. I wonder if this tenderness has anything to do with the red headed girl that kissed him.

"There will be other women in my life. I do not think I will miss her terribly."

This quiets him. I am content to let him sort out his thoughts. When he speaks, he sounds different. "But what if there won't be any other women?"

I raise my eyebrows at him. Does he perhaps prefer the company of men? If so, I'd rather not speak of this subject any longer with him.

He notices my expression and frowns. He is very good at reading people, I will give him that. "I mean, what if you are committed to one girl for life? What if…you cannot marry and the only woman in your life is her? What if you are doomed to spend the rest of your existence in her shadow, always watching, always wanting? What then?"

"I don't suppose we are talking about Felicity anymore, are we?"

His face hardens, but he does not answer. There is much about this stranger that I do not understand. He came to stay with the caravan in September and seemed friendly enough. We are about the same age, but he mostly keeps to himself.

"Does this have anything to do with your little redhead?"

His quiet temper flares to life. I have struck a nerve, it seems.

"How dare you imply that I have any feelings for her! She is just a – a…"

"A what, my friend?"

"Nothing. She is nothing to me. I am not stupid enough to make the mistake of falling for an English girl."

The look in his eyes says otherwise. "I do not think my feelings for Felicity are a mistake."

"Which is exactly why you are setting yourself up for heartbreak!"

"No, my friend, I think it is you who is setting himself up for heartbreak."

Kartik looks as if he has been slapped. His eyes narrow at me. "What makes you think I am doing anything of the sort?"

I shrug. "I just have a feeling, that's all."

"Well, you are wrong."

"I see."

He sighs and rests his face in his hands. His voice is muffled when he speaks. "I do not know what to do, Ithal."

I unscrew my flask and pour him a drink. "Here," I say. "You look like you need this."

He eyes the liquid warily, as if it will kill him. After some inner battle of morals, he takes it and quickly drains the cup, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. "Thanks," he mumbles.

"So tell me, what is it that troubles you about this girl?"

"She'll rip you apart."

"No," I say, laughing at his ignorance. "Your girl."

He scoffs. "She is not my girl."

I hold up my hands and shake my head. "You said it yourself, you know."

He looks like a startled deer. "I did not mean it!"

"Then why the kiss?"

He purses his lips, trying to hide the hint of a smile. "She is an eager and curious school girl."

"Eager and curious for what?"

We look at each other and burst out laughing. We know what these girls want. They act as if they are prim and proper and think we are the scum of the earth, when in reality, they are just as tempted by us as we are by them.

"Then teach her what she'd like to know!" I say, slapping him on the back.

His face suddenly goes sour. "It is not like that."

"Oh?" I ask as I take a swig of liquor from my flask. "What is it like then?"

He runs a hand through his hair. "I cannot tell you."

"Is she pregnant?"


"Have another drink." I hand him the flask and he takes a generous mouthful.

"Ithal," Kartik eyes me cautiously. "What do you do with the blonde?"

I laugh, my suspicions of his experience confirmed. I think of my Felicity, sharp and dominant, with only one thing on her mind. "I try to converse with her, but she just wants to, well, you know."

His eyes widen. I know what he is thinking, and I know that he is mistaken.

"She is hungry for kisses only, my friend. Do not let your mind run wild."

"I wasn't letting my –," he stops and grins widely. "So I was. Are they all like that?"

He has so many questions. I feel almost like I am speaking to my younger brother. "Well, don't you do the same with yours?"

The frown is back. "I told you already – she isn't mine!"

"But you wish she was."

He looks at the ground, silent. His hand finds the flask and he takes another swig. I do the same when he is finished.

"And what if I did?" he asks softly.

"Aha! I knew it!" He doesn't return my smile. "Play with her like Felicity plays with me. It does not need to last and you know it. Who cares if anyone finds out? We're gypsies; we are already damned by the English."

He stares into space. "It is not like that."

"How can it not be? It is your decision. Make of her what you want to. She is just a school girl."

"She is no mere school girl," he says.

I shake my head. Will he never understand? "Fine, then put her upon a pedestal and let your heart be broken."

His mood is dropping fast. If he starts to cry, then I am out. "Have another go," I say, holding out the flask.

He obliges, barely wincing at the force of the drink.

"Let me lay it out for you, Kartik," I say, the drink beginning to take effect on me. "Do whatever you want with the redhead. Carnal acts are a beautiful thing. Women are a beautiful thing. It is human nature…and we're just a bunch of animals!"

"But wait," he says, glassy-eyed. "If it is human nature and we are animals…that doesn't make sense. We're humans…?"

"We're animals!" I howl like a wolf for effect.

"I like women," he says, slurring slightly. "She kissed me."

"Yes she did."

"She tasted good."

"I'm sure she did."

"Perhaps she should be mine."

"Take her away! She is yours!"

He cracks his neck with a sigh. "Why are the English girls so tempting to us?"

I drink again and hand it to him. Some of the liquor misses his lips and trickles down his shirt. "Maybe because they are not for us to have. The forbidden fruit!"

He frowns slightly. "No, that's not it. I think it is because she looks as if she should taste like cream and sugar."

"You are the coffee and she is the cream!" I shriek.

A dreamy look crosses his face. "Dusted with cinnamon, too."

I do not understand this last comment. "Cinnamon?"

He licks his lips and nods. "Freckles," he says, gesturing to his face. "She has freckles."

"So you want to eat her up?"

He nods. "I think I do." He shakes his head. "But I cannot."

I stand up and point in the general direction of the school. "Go!" I bark. "Go take her and make some coffee!"

He tries to stand up, but falls right back down. "How can I climb the rope to her room if I cannot stand up?" he whines, slowly getting to his feet again.

How can he not be doing what he should be doing if he has a rope to her room? There must be some shred of reason here, but for the moment, I cannot grasp it. "You have a rope to her room?"

He claps his hand over his mouth in an exaggerated fashion. "I should not have said that!"

"Why do you?"

He shakes his head wildly, and then sways in his spot. "I cannot tell you."

So many secrets he has. There are never any secrets in our camp. Unless I am out of the secret, then I cannot say if there are or not. So then there must be, because he has secrets, and he is in our camp. This thought confuses me to no end.

Kartik stretches and yawns. A sudden thought has him laughing loudly. "Coffee and cream, that's clever!"

I grin proudly and puff out my chest. "Of course I am clever – I am Ithal!"

I must have a love for minor characters. It was supposed to be a character study, but Kartik sort of took over. Anyway, I tried to make Ithal speak simply, so if some parts seem a bit um, simple, that's why. And honestly, it was not my intentions to get Kartik drunk. I swear. -shifty eyes-

Named Irish Coffee because of the coffee references. And of course the whole drunkeness.

Random oneshot before I buckle down on studying for midterms,
LunaEquus (because apparently that is a closing thing)

PS: The moral of the story is, don't drink and climb ropes to confess your drunken love to your love interest's roommate as said love interest watches bemusedly from her bed. But I am not saying that happened, per se, I just think it would be a laugh. In fact, I doubt Kartik even got drunk with the gypsies, what with all the Mad-Eye Moody-esque CONSTANT VIGILANCE and all. But I'm sure he'd be a sloppy drunk. But that's another oneshot for another time.