A/n- Just one of the JatD fanfictions I have lined up. I really hope they have more episodes soon. Oh! By the way, I've never really cared for AU- like when the characters are older so the romance seems more- er- appropriate. So, Jane and everyone else are the ages that they are when you see them.
Disclaimer: Don't own!
Summary: The most insignificant thing can change everything you feel in an instant.
Jane could pinpoint the exact moment it had happened; the exact second in which it had all changed. She had thought, when the notion had entered her mind in times previous, that it would have been a slow process, a platonic movement of forces, which steadily, encroachingly, would envelop her.
Oh, to be wrong.
It had been afternoon, early yet, as the sun had just reached its pinnacle in the sky, awaiting its arch back towards the earth. The light beat down upon anyone who walked outside the cloistered confines and shaded overhangs of the castle; sweat gathering upon one's brows.
Yet, it seemed as if this was the perfect atmosphere for the knights-in-training to do some chores. At least, that's what Sir Theodore and Sir Ivon had told them.
"Hard work in even the most trying of times will strengthen one's fortitude and stoutness of heart."
"Yer gotta be able to work yurself in the most hellish of elements!"
Or... 'stop complaining'
Jane wasn't so upset by this sentencing. She only had to help Smithy with the horses. Gunther, well- she felt rather bad for him, to be honest. It seemed as if Sir Ivon was trying to break the boy sometimes. Jane could see it. While she would be given the more challenging tasks, the more thought provoking, Gunther had always wound up with the hard labor.
She had wondered about this with Dragon once, but he had only countered by commenting on Gunther's obvious shortcomings.
Jane had tried, feebly, to defend the boy. "It's not his fault he falls behind, he does a lot of work with his father."
Dragon had snorted, a plume of hot smoke curling into the air. Jane pursed her lips, feeling uneasy speaking about Gunther's lacking in people skills, but unwilling to correct her friend because, well, the boy annoyed her too.
He always annoyed her.
"Jane, over here with that. Set it down right there. Jane? Jane!"
The girl was snapped out of her memory, head whipping over to where her friend was calling her name.
Smithy pointed at the barrel she was rolling and then over next to a trough of dirty water. "Just put it over there."
"What's in here? It's so heavy," she exclaimed, using nearly her whole body to coax the barrel round and round so it shuffled along the earth.
Smithy looked up from where he was cleaning a horseshoe pick, "New water for the horses. It's very hot, they need some refreshment."
"Quite right." Jane ducked to pull out the cork from the bottom of the dirty trough and quickly jumped away as the muddy water splashed onto the dirt in great glugging sloshes. The large wooden watering hole for the horses was built just up to Jane's knees, but it was wide, wide enough for four or five horses to drink at once.
"Good job, lad!" Across the yard Gunther was receiving praise from Sir Ivon as the man inspected his now polished weapons. The broadsword gleamed in the sunlight as he swung it back and forth.
Jane saw Gunther lean back on his heels, grinning, watching Sir Ivon, soaking up the words of encouragement. "Does this mean I'm finished?"
"Yes lad," The man wasn't paying attention at all, "Yes."
Gunther quirked an eyebrow but turned quickly on his heel, ready to stalk off towards the kitchens for a quick bite and a cool glass.
"Hold on there!"
Gunther froze and caught Jane's eye, the note of despair clear, before his face fell back into a mask of simpering complacence. "Yes, sir?"
Sir Ivon looked over his weapons at him. "Where du you think yur going?"
"Kitchen?" He tried hopefully.
The Knight chuckled, tossing a wooden sword to Gunther before motioning to the practice dummy. "Practice," he stressed the word at his apprentice's look of mortification.
"But, sir, it's hot."
"All the more reason, lad! Practice!"
Throwing a baleful look at Jane, Gunther swung the weighted sword in his hand, stalking over to the scarecrow-turned-adversary. With a particularly energetic thrust, he caused the dummy to swing around at an alarming rate, faux arms flailing.
Jane turned slowly away, tearing her eyes from her adversary. " Smithy?" she turned to her friend, the trough nearly empty. He looked over to her.
"Excellent Jane! Just pop off the top of the new one and pour it in. Be careful, the barrel can be top heavy."
Jane struggled for a moment to pry off the round plank of wood, but eventually she was able to set it aside. Peering in, she saw was blackness save what the scorching sun illuminated at the bottom- the other end of the barrel.
She skimmed her hand upon the surface, wondering at the tiny rainbows and diamonds of light the water refracted. Sneaking just a tiny taste, Jane dipped her palm into the water, sipping at the liquid draining through her fingers.
Jester appeared out of a side door then. He waved to Jane, who smiled back.
The cask was nearly as big as she was, but Jane was able to tip it sideways, as long as she supported it with all her weight. Slowly, a stream began to pour.
Jester came to stand in the stable, under the protection of the shade. "Having fun, Jane?"
A voice cut across the heat, clear, with a quiet humor tucked between the words, "Wouldn't mind some of that clean water! Could use some, seeing as I'm the only one doing any work!"
"This water is for the horses," Jane called back to Gunther, who gave a harsh, monosyllabic laugh.
A surge of determination swelled within Jane. He always thought she saw so weak! Redoubling her efforts, Jane leaning dangerously across the trench. More liquid splashed out.
"Careful, Jane," Smithy cautioned.
"I'm fine," but she leaned out further, tipping the barrel up so that all the water could spill out.
Gunther hit the dummy hard and it swung round.
Jester gasped, "Jane!"
The barrel slipped from her hands and Jane suddenly had nothing to hold on to, nothing to root her feet onto the solid, dry, earth. She fell headlong into the crisp, clean water.
There was a long moment, perhaps not longer than a split second, but it felt as if the moment dragged on and on as Jane's skin screamed from the immersion into the cold water. Sound was muted. It felt… amazing.
Gasping, she resurfaced, a hand on her shoulder to steady her as she sat up on her knees. Jester was holding onto her arm.
She blinked; once, twice, and spluttered. Her hands flew up to run through her hair; pushing it back against her skull.
"Jane? You alright?" Jester's voice was concerned, but she wasn't focusing on him.
Her breath slowed, and everything seemed to be going at half speed.
Over his shoulder, Jane saw Gunther with his wooden sword. He had stopped to turn and stare at her, the weapon limp in his hand.
Slowly, she blinked again, and little drops of water flecked and sparkled in the air. Their eyes locked.
Gunther's lips were parted, just so, and he looked transfixed upon her as she sat, drenched, within the trough.
Her heart was loud in her ears.
It was then she saw it. That moment. That exact second, millisecond in time, where the look in his eyes changed.
There it was.
And she saw the way his hair caught the light and how his eyes, wide, reflected like clear silver. His neck was craned from where he had paused; the sheen of sweat upon his skin matted with peculiar luster. A tingling sensation shot from the tips of Jane's fingertips to the pit of her stomach.
"Oiy! Look out, boy!"
The bucket fastened on one of the dummy's arms had swung around. Gunther didn't even try to duck; he didn't even see it. It hit him on the side of the head and he spun on the spot, overbalancing, and fell to the ground.
Smithy let out something between a laugh and a gasp; Jester turning to stare. Jane, the heat rising in her face, ducked around her friend to clamber out of the water.
Gunther sat up and shook his head as if to clear it. Brining up his fingers he dabbed at the small amount of blood upon his lips. He looked round at Jane again and met her gaze with a confused stare. It was like he was looking for the first time, and didn't know what to make of her.
"Watch yourself!" Sir Ivon barked, and Gunther looked away, flopping back on the ground, breathing hard from the heat and from-
Jane squeezed the water out of her now limp hair and realized she was shaking.
"My goodness, Jane! You've got to be more careful."
Smithy's voice was low, "You don't look well."
Jane grunted, "I don't feel well either."
"It's probably the heat. Go inside and get out of the sun."
"Right. Will do," and she stalked off, shoes uncomfortably soggy, leaving her two friends behind.
She felt Gunther's eyes on her, but she ignored them, trying to quell the urge to turn around and yell at him- shout at him.
Jane wanted to scream in the most compromising way.
What had he done? What did he do? Adrenalin was making her head swim.
There was a flighty feeling beginning within her heart, and she found that she had to force herself to walk.
No. No, no no! He couldn't. He can't.
She turned, slowly, to watch as Gunther got to his feet. He leaned on the point of the practice sword for leverage.
"Are you alright?"
Innocent question. He was just concerned. No. No, he wasn't concerned. He wasn't allowed to be concerned.
"Fine- I'm fine, I'm-"
Slowly, Gunther nodded, ignoring her stammering. He walked around her, back towards the armory, but passed too close. Their shoulders- upper arms- brushed as he left her standing there.
Jane closed her mouth, looking at the ground.
She could pinpoint the exact moment it had happened; the exact second in which it had all changed.
A/n- the end! I will be doing a couple more (at least two) more JatD stories. Both are Gunther x Jane!
Thanks for reading!