Hey, guess what???? It's another M+C FanFic!!!!!! Happy Birthday!!!!!

Disclaimer: I do not own Maead, Cadvan, or all of those folks...just the writing. Thank you for believing me.

Able To Admit

Maerad ran into her room sobbing, and she slammed the door so it echoed with a loud bang. She flung herself onto the bed and cried, her tears staining the rich red fabric. Everything was going wrong. Ever since she and Hem had defeated the Nameless One (with the help of Cadvan and Saliman, of course), she had felt a huge anti-climax. Her life was filled with luxury, and that she enjoyed, but….well, things were just so different. She felt estranged from those that she knew, as they now knew her as the amazing Maerad of Edil-Amaradh, the Fire Lily, the Foretold herself, instead of just plain old Maerad. She also missed the days when she and Cadvan had traveled together, and she had secretly loved those terrifying and suspenseful journeys. She missed the peace and quiet of traveling; now she was flocked by all kinds of people wanting to know her, touch her, see the "amazing" Maerad. There was no more intimacy. And also she felt estranged from even her closest friends, as now they had nothing to speak of, and conversation was usually awkward. Especially with Cadvan. They had once been so close, and now….he was leaving. He had announced that just before, which was the reason Maerad had come upstairs to her room crying. It was so hard. Now that she no longer needed his help, he didn't need to stay, but she still wanted him, and she still felt she needed him. He was more than just a person in her life, he was more special than that, he was………………

The door was flung open just as she thought these things, and she started. Through the dark fall of her hair she could see that it was Cadvan. She made no effort to get up. Maybe he'll think I'm asleep if I just lay here, she though, although she doubted it. She heard his footsteps approach the bed, and heard the bed squeak as he sat on it. Softly his hand brushed back the hair from her forehead. He saw the tearstains on her cheeks and sighed.

"Oh, Maerad," he whispered, knowing that she was awake, "I didn't mean for you to feel this way. What's wrong? Is it because I'm leaving? Or something else, I think?"

For a long time she didn't answer and simply lay there as Cadvan stroked her hair. When she did speak her voice was muffled.

"I don't know. I think you leaving is only part of it. It's just that everything is so different, and I kind of wish I hadn't defeated the Nameless so that things could go back to how they used to be. Well, I don't really, but… I miss it, Cadvan. You know, traveling and fighting and singing and laughter? It was all part of what I used to know, and now…..everything is different. Even you. We used to be, well, friends, and now I don't feel anything anymore. I want my old life back." She choked back the tears, and Cadvan could see just how distressed she was. It stirred a strange emotion within him, something he had only been feeling recently. It was like that he had felt on the journey from Thorold, or that when he had seen her asleep in Rachida, only stronger, more intense.

"Maerad, you must know: Nothing has changed. Yes, things are a little different now, but we will soon get used to it. I promise you. And I am no different than I used to be, and Maerad, above all, I am still your friend. I don't know whatever made you feel I wasn't, and I want you to know that we will always be friends. Nothing can change that. Not even the Nameless himself could have changed that."

He cleared his throat and continued; his palms were starting to sweat a bit and his heart was pounding faster and faster as he realized what he was going to do. "Also, I am not leaving because I have forsaken you. It is because…..well, I feel it is because…………..Maerad," he asked her abruptly, changing the subject, "are you still afraid of The Ways of The Heart?"

She glanced up sharply. What did he mean? If he meant love, well, no, she was not afraid to love or be loved, she now knew it was impossible to elude. She loved Hem and Silvia and all of her friends, but is that what he meant? She knew love was all part of life's natural cycle. But what did he mean? What did The Ways of The Heart have to do with her?

"No," she said slowly, her eyes suspicious.

"Maerad," he said, going back to subject," I wanted to leave because I have….I have feelings for you," he said with a rush. "Not just as a friend, but as something more, a, a love, if you will. I was afraid that you would not return that love; I thought you were still afraid of love and its doubtful gift. I knew that I could not stay, knowing I would be tormented by my love and not being able to tell you. I know I couldn't have stayed with a burden like that to bear. Now, do you understand?"

Maerad felt a huge shock run through her body, as if someone had dumped freezing water over her head. Cadvan…loved her? How could it be? But I thought he wanted to leave? No, he wanted to leave because he loved me, that's right. Do I love him back? These thoughts ran freely through her mind, and she felt very, very confused.

"No," she said in answer to his question, her eyes now fearful and confused.

He laughed softly. "I didn't think so. It takes time to understand such things. I'm not sure I fully understand it myself," He paused and looked out the window, a faraway look on his face. "What I do know now is that I love you. It is something I can't describe; this feeling is like none I've ever experienced before, not even with Ceredin. Yet even though I can't describe it, my feelings are sure and true. I now know this, as well: We do not always understand things like this in life, yet we must not let that lack of understanding get in the way of life," he looked back and smiled softly at her, and Maerad, her perceptions confused from Cadvan's long speech, had no time to react as Cadvan gathered her into his arms and kissed her.

His lips were so soft; she had never imagined them like this; she had always imagined them hard, for his mouth was nearly always set in a firm, grim line (not that she imagined his lips all that often, or anything like that). She was in a state of shock, first his announcement, then his confession, and now this. She dared not open her eyes. His hands held her close, and she could not struggle nor move, but she couldn't have anyway. Her thoughts were running madly through her head, and her heart was pounding in her breast in a strange and exhilarating way. It felt………wonderful.

She had no idea how long they kissed; but she felt it was an eon, and at once a small second. Quite suddenly Cadvan stirred, and she felt his hands pull back as if in shock. She opened her eyes slowly, and saw him draw quickly away from her and cover his face with his hands. She stared after him curiously. What was wrong? She watched him a while longer and then realized he was crying. She suddenly felt ungracious and awkward before him, uncertain of what to say or do. Her thoughts stopped whirling so madly and her heart stopped beating so quickly, and instead she felt……well, she didn't know. Why was he crying? Was it because of her? What had she done?

Cadvan abruptly straightened himself and sat up, looking at her sadly.

"Maerad, I'm so sorry. I'm afraid I forgot myself. It is hard to remember that you are still so young, and I guess I just let my emotions carry me away. It will not happen again. I promise. Can we pretend this never happened?" he asked her quickly.

"Why?" Maerad blurted it out before she could stop herself.

Cadvan looked surprised for a moment, and then looked away. Maerad felt yet again ungracious. Quite suddenly he laughed softly.

"Well, I guess I don't feel the same as you. You still regard me as a friend, and since that is all you want from us, then that is the way it shall stay."

Maerad felt unexpectedly angry. "Why do you always assume that no one cares about you?" she asked him, annoyed. "You must know that not everyone hates you, and yet you seclude yourself, trying to live in your own little world. Others care for you, Cadvan. Others know that the mistake you made…..well, it was just that: a mistake. I forgive you. So does everyone else. You need to let the past go, get on with life, and remember that everyone deserves a chance to be loved."

Cadvan looked staggered by the force of her words, and sat silently again. Maerad, after putting all her emotion into that sentence, felt drained beyond belief. She looked out the window, trying to order her thought again. The waxing moon shone brightly on the earth, and its gentle light filled her with an inner peace. She sighed loudly, prompting Cadvan to turn and look at her.

Around his left eye curled the whiplash marks, although now they were simply faint lines on his face, memories of an incident long ago. So many things happened long ago, and now that she thought of it, she didn't really want her past back, maybe just some parts.

Cadvan spoke to her. "I know I must learn to let go. I will try, Maerad. But, I must know…." He trailed off, looking down at his hands. Then he spoke again, his words slightly muffled.

"I must know, Maerad: If I deserve a chance to be loved, then so do you. Please tell me, Maerad," he said looking earnestly at her and clasping her hands, "Do you love me? And therefore, in loving me, accept the love I offer, and let me accept yours in return?"

Maerad felt a sudden tenderness wash over. She now knew what she had known all along, but had never admitted to herself. "Cadvan," she said her voice wavering, "……yes, I do love you. I love you."

It felt so wonderful to at last say what she knew, to not have to hide anything anymore. Cadvan looked just about as joyous as she felt.

"Oh, Maerad," he said embracing her tightly, "I knew you would come through. You have been so good to me. Ever you repay my faith in you." He held her for a long minute, then drew away just a little. He looked down at her. "Maerad, thank you." Somehow, he didn't need to say anything more. He leaned down and kissed her again. Maerad, this time, was able to enjoy it. Her heart soared as she felt the slight pressure of his lips on hers, his smooth hands on her back. She felt his body close to hers, and she could feel how it was strong and sure. Relaxing into his arms, Maerad felt one thing: utter contentment. When he at last pulled away, she smiled at him, and he at her, and they need say no more.