Disclaimer: I don't own. Tamora Pierce does.
Kel dug around in her porridge tiredly, her spoon leaving raised lines in its place. All she could think about lately was, well, Dom. His blue eyes, his ruffled dark hair, his muscled, perfect body, his heart-melting grin, and most of all how he always could make her laugh, were constantly on her mind. During the day she could ignore it, true, but for yet another night she had dreamed about him, and didn't sleep the best to say the least. And when she saw him, it took every inch of her to stay focused on anything.
Kel succeeded there, but she couldn't stop herself from slipping into random daydreams whenever she was reminded of him, nor could she keep the friends who knew her best from realizing something was bothering her – though they had no idea what exactly it was. Of course, she didn't know any of this. She only knew what a fight it was.
Yes, she admitted to herself. She was officially head over heels in love with Dom, one of the most unattainable men she could have possibly picked to love, of course. He was in the Own, he was her good friend whose friendship she would hate to ruin, he fell for the ladies of the court and not warrior maidens, and less importantly his family was in the book of Gold and of the highest esteem in Tortall. Kel, his friend, a Lady Knight, a warrior-girl who wasn't particularly pretty, scarred, worn, and only ennobled two generations back, could not possibly compare. Why him?
She sighed again.
"Not feeling too jolly, today, Kel?" an all-too cheery voice said. Owen grinned at her and sat. "And it's late morning already. You slept in, and you're not awake at all even though you're second only to me for energy early in the day. Now, what's eating at our dear Mother?"
Kel gave him a lopsided smile. "Oh, nothing. I'm just jolly, jolly, jolly, Owen. Nothing's eating at Mother, although she is eating breakfast."
Owen rolled his eyes. "Sure, Kel. I'll figure it out."
"Nobody else has, not even Neal," she muttered, hoping Owen wouldn't hear.
"Really? Well, then, it's up to me, isn't it?"
Kel sighed in exasperation, and shrugged, putting on her Yamani mask as she went to her porridge again.
Kel said nothing.
"Been going on for a while? Something less than jolly? Are you homesick, or something?"
"Owen, I'm not playing Questions with you. And isn't that a child's game?"
"You of all people should know I'm a child!" Owen exclaimed with a grin.
"Fine. But I'm not answering."
"Hmm. Well, I think you're missing something. Is it friends or family? Or maybe you're bored. Is Sir Neal bothering you again? Is somebody else?"
Kel growled, "Owen, please stop."
"Ah, so it is about somebody."
Kel sighed, partly in irritation with Owen, and partly because, once again, she was reminded of Dom. She took another spoon of porridge and stuck it in her mouth.
"So, somebody's bothering you. Or you're missing somebody. You're worried for somebody, maybe?"
Kel was amused by now. "You're so far off that it's absurd, Owen. Just quit it." He doesn't think like I'm female all that much, so maybe he won't guess. Even Dom, who flirts with me sometimes, doesn't think of me as a girl. At first she smiled that Owen would never get it, but then she slipped on her Yamani mask to ignore her sudden disappointment at the thought. Even if he did think of you as a girl, it wouldn't matter, she told herself. But at least then I'd have a chance, another side of her replied.
Kel looked up to the ceiling, keeping her face blank.
Suddenly, Owen laughed. She looked at him sharply. "Care to share the joke?"
"You looked just like my sister for a moment. She-" Owen cut himself off abruptly, his mouth forming a small "o."
He shook his head out, and grinned. "Why didn't I think of that? You have a crush on somebody, don't you? I mean, you are a girl and all, and – um, not that I forgot or anything, I mean, just – you know, and well you were acting kind of like my sister, so I kind of figured…"
"Owen, you think I have a crush? Are you joking?" Kel scolded him, nearly laughing. She'd had a crush on Dom ages ago, but this went far beyond a crush.
Owen frowned. He looked her over carefully, inch by inch. Kel was puzzled. Then it clicked, and he turned bright red, not from embarrassment or anger, but rather from holding back laughter. "Nope. I don't think you have a crush. I think you're in love," he said, struggling to stay composed. He failed, and burst out laughing. Kel blushed, accidentally confirming it. Owen laughed harder.
"By Mithros, what's so funny Owen? Even for all your jolliness, you're laughing pretty hard," Neal said. He walked over and sat down next to Kel. "And what's got our dear Mother as red as a strawberry?"
Kel groaned, and buried her face in her arms.
"Kel's in love," Owen said, grinning.
"Kel's in love."
"Oh," Neal said, going over the thought in his head. He scowled at Kel (who glared at him, half-daring him to comment), then at Owen. "You didn't tell me? Your best friend? And why did you figure it out and not me, Sir Jolly of Jollyville?"
Owen shrugged, and Kel slapped her head, still red. "How exactly are you finding amusement in this, Owen?" she asked.
"Well, it's not actually all that funny in itself. Mostly I'm just laughing because I figured it out before Neal, and was right," he admitted, a little sheepish.
Kel sighed. "I never said you were right."
"You didn't need to, Kel, even Sir Jolly here can see it written all over your face," Neal said dryly. "Now, who's the lucky person?"
"I was enjoying my breakfast-"
"Didn't look like it when I came along," Owen said.
"-but now I think I'll have to leave. Good-bye," Kel announced. Imagining she was like Lord Wyldon, who had always worn an air of superiority about him, she picked up her things and left wordlessly, leaving the two boys as confused as ever in silence.
Owen broke it. "A gold noble says it's not a nobleman."
Neal looked over at him, and a slow, sly smile spread across his face. "Deal," he said, shaking the younger knight's hand eagerly."So, what are you going to do for today?"
"Oh, perhaps find Raoul for a jolly little chat, and then look around to see if Merric wants to have a little wager with me. And you?"
"I think I'll be visiting my dear cousin and the Own, and perhaps some of my other friends I don't see as much. It should be entertaining, I think."
Owen and Neal nodded to each other in complete understanding, both grinning evilly. This would be one of the biggest nights for gambling the palace would ever see.
Random thing I just have to say: Hooray! The lines finally work on my computer! I CAN USE THEM NOW! AS SEEN ABOVE! YES! Okay, I'm done.
Well, sorry for those of you waiting for the anticipated already-finished-ahead-of-time KD fic I've been hinting at for a while. This isn't it.
This is just something to appease you all while I perfect that particular story, and also to serve as an outlet for the other billions of KD ideas my mind has gotten caught up in for the past month or two. So, if you like it, review and let me know, and if not, review anyway and tell me what you don't like. This isn't the big-really-awesome one anyway. It's just a little fun with a secret let out, a series of wagers, one final bet and a love begun (should I actually finish this). Don't expect regular updates. Do review, and enjoy it all!