Keladry of Mindelan rode Peachblossom to the castle. It was Midwinter and she had headed down from the official town of New Hope. She was proud of her refugees and visited her legacy every chance she had.

"You're finally back? I was wondering if you were having horse problems," Domitan of Masbolle said as he warily watched Kel's horse. Her lips twitched in amusment.

"No, he only gives trouble to people who aren't me." Dom raised his eyebrows.

"Is someone getting…dare I say it, cocky?"

"No. Someone just needs to soak in the palace baths." Kel dismounted and looked up the scant few inches to see those bright blue eyes trained on her. He gave her that breath taking smile and then patted her shoulder.

It completely ruined the little day dream she had been having. Kel sighed, knowing that what she wanted-a relationship with Dom-was impossible. He was the most sought after young man of the court, and she was the one who tried to stay away from court.

"Something the matter Kel?"

"No, no, nothing's the matter. I think I should go and unpack. See you around." With that, Kel left, leaving a sergeant behind to look at her retreating back.

...

Kel soaked as her thoughts drifted. Servants came and went, gossiping as they washed, always including Kel. She would smile and add her thoughts in, but overall, she would just listen to the court gossip.

As she got up, a servant came over and handed her a towel. Kel accepted it gratefully, and dried herself off. She was pink with cleanliness. She put on a dress that Lalasa had made to make her look less muscular and more petite. Kel shook her head, thinking that Lalasa could make anything.

The dress was blue with black lace and fit her beautifully. Kel was again thankful to her former maid. She combed her hair-which was now past her shoulders-with her fingers and walked out. Then she went down into the city. She wandered, having naught to do, then went to a tavern.

"Kel?" Said woman looked up at the sound of her name and saw Neal, Dom, Merric, and Owen.

"Join us for a drink," Merric said, looking her over and raising an eyebrow.

"That is, unless you were expecting anyone?" Neal cut in, giving a mischievous smile.

"Actually, I was expecting someone," Kel said, face giving nothing away.

"Really? Who are you expecting Kel?" Owen asked, looking around.

"Most likely her lover. Isn't that right Dom?" Neal called out. Dom was still looking at Kel.

"Ah. Yes. Most likely." Kel's brows furrowed. Usually Dom didn't give answers like that.

"Can't you guys tell that I was jesting? I'm not expecting anyone. I had nothing to do so I just came here."

"Join us for a drink then. Bartender," Merric signaled and was quickly handed a mug. "Drink up Kel," Merric said with a smile.

"No, really I don't drink…"

"Then what are you doing in a tavern? Come on Kel, drink with us. It will be jolly."

Kel laughed and decided to please her audience. She took a sip.

"Aw! That was nothing! Bartender!" Dom yelled and was handed a mug. He chugged it all down in ten seconds flat. "Bet you can't do that," He said with a smile to Kel.

Well, seeing as Kel had always had to prove her own around men, she glared at them all individually before downing her drink. She squinted her eyes closed, then opened them. That was a strong drink.

"There. Was that good. Can I now just sit and enjoy your company?" She asked in a sarcastic voice, already knowing the answer.

"No. What fun would it be to just sit here and watch us get drunk? Come on Mother, don't be a baby." Neal said with a roll of his eyes.

After another drink, she was happy. Another proved to make her amused with her friends behavior. Another mad her giggle. Then she began to get rowdy. Then she got playful.

The rest of them were better off because they had started drinking way before her, but they could hold their drink since they drank regularly. They watched Kel and how she behaved when drunk. She was talking to some guy and flirting heavily, not noticing the looks the man was shooting at her chest and at her dreamy and slightly glazed eyes.

"Would you like to leave with me?" He asked, pasting a smile on. He was attractive. Until Dom threw the punch that broke his nose. He wasn't so attractive then. He ran away after that and Kel pouted at Dom.

"I was just having some fun," She said, crossing her arms. Dom did the same.

"Well, he wanted to have some fun too, just not the kind you were thinking."

Kel grabbed Dom's arm and pulled him closer to her and ran her hands from his cheek down his chest.

"Why did that make you mad, hm?" She asked as she took in the feel of his muscles. She had always wanted to do this. Her hands went up to his hair.

"Be-because it just did. I don't want to see you hurt." His eyes closed briefly and he dragged a chair close to her so that she wouldn't have to stop playing with his hair.

Neal, Owen, and Merric were watching and giggling like a pack of girls.

"That's so sweet Dom." Her hands went to his thighs then to his knees then up again. He grabbed her hands and leaned his forehead against hers. Hazel met blue and, playful met fierce, love met love.

Dom realized that he had taken her mouth, which she had given up completely willingly. Her mouth opened and their tongues browsed each others mouth. Only then did he stop, realizing what he had just done. Realizing that she was drunk and he was technically taking advantage.

"Neal…we have to get her out of here." Dom said, sober enough to reason that far. Neal was far better off than the rest of them.

"Hold her hand and guide her out. I think that if any of us try that besides you, she would pummel us in her drunken stupor." Neal paid for all their drinks and walked out into the snow filled night. The others followed after him.

Kel was loud and open, her emotions showing on her face. Every single emotion that she felt that night, was reflected in her face, something that would have never happened if she was sober.

"Neal, Owen, Merric, Dom, this was really fun. I feel so light, so free!" She said, laughing hysterically.

The other four looked at her, then each other before hurrying even more. They made it into the palace before they faced a problem.

"How are we going to get her to her rooms without her giving herself away?" Owen asked genuinely curious.

Neal looked to Dom meaningfully.

"You've got to be kidding me." Dom said.

"No. You must. She'll understand tomorrow. I'll meet you in her rooms. I suggest that you two go to your rooms and forget you saw any of this." They nodded and set off on their own ways. Kel was still laughing and talking loudly. A crowd was soon to gather.

Dom picked her up and was rewarded with a childish squeal and a giggle. He chuckled and then covered her mouth with his own. She responded enthusiastically but he kept his eyes open to navigate them to her rooms. That doesn't mean he didn't enjoy it.

When they got there he set her on her bed and began to go and sit in the chair a few feet away when she grabbed his hand.

"Please. Stay with me." She said in a pleading voice, her eyes huge and filled with something he couldn't place. So he sat on the edge of her bed and pulled her into his arms, kissing her head, taking in her smell.

When Neal finally arrived he gave her something for the hangover that she was bound to get in the morning, then something to make her sleep. Before she fell into unconsciousness though, she pulled Dom down to herself by his tunic and kissed him deeply. He was so stunned that he barely caught the "Midwinter luck Dom," before she yawned and fell into a deep sleep.

Neal said nothing and Dom followed his example. They silently swore they would tell no one of what had happened tonight. To anyone.