A/N: This is my first story that will be more than a oneshot - I'm planning on it being around ten chapters, if you all want me to continue that is :P.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Sherwood Smith is the uber owner.

The lingering threat of rebellion and further war had been plaguing Remalna since Galdran's reign had been ended. Though I'd been given the task of ruling, I had been painfully aware of the possibility of a recurrence of a Merindar threat. However, when the time came to act against the Marquise and her co-conspirators, I had a new obstacle to solve. Meliara, my Meliara, had shown up during my journey. I did not know where her allegiances stood, for how would she know where to travel. And, the more pressing matter, why was she? Either to help me (which I wished for wholeheartedly), or to help them. To gain the power she had unexpectedly lost during the Tlanth rebellion. I could not in all honesty believe the latter as it went against all I knew about her – it went against her character.

Imagine my relief when I was happily proven right. After alerting her to my specific plans, we branched off. I, to end the Marquises' venture; Mel, to stop the shipments of kinthus. Though Meliara completed her task efficiently, I did not. We arrived too late to intercept the Marquise, and so we regrouped. News arrived that the Marquise and Flauvic (how had I overlooked him) had joined together to seize the throne. They were headed to Athanarel, mercenaries in tow. I quickly ordered the evacuation of the residence and, if needed, the outer city to ensure the safety of all. With Meliara's arrival, I knew it was dire to get her to safety. However, always one to vocalize her opinions, Meliara would not acquiesce to my wishes.

And so, here we were, conversing together with several wing commanders on the next course of action. Realizing I had drifted, I concentrated my gaze and attention once again on Caerd, who glanced at me questioningly.

Silence met my admittedly blank stare. I looked to the others, hoping for a save, so to speak.

"What were you..." I was stopped mid sentence when I was whacked on the arm. Shocked, and sitting amidst gales of laughter, I turned to stare open mouthed at Mel.

"Exactly what was that for?" I must admit I was verging on laughter, and iridescent happiness – finally Mel seemed comfortable around me.

"Daydreaming doesn't become you", Mel said, smiling sweetly. Little minx.

I smiled sarcastically back at her.

"It suits me well. It also suit you very well."

She blushed, sent me a little glare, and turned back to the laughing soldiers sitting next to us.

Clearing my throat, I returned to the business at hand.

"Caerd, what is the status of the northern groups?"

He smirked at me before answering, "Not satisfactory. They're under attack from Merindar mercenaries from across the border. We must send more supplies, more soldiers. Unfortunately, our previous reinforcements never reached their destination. "

My skin prickled with warning. "They never reached the northern commanders? The border must be held."

"Indeed. How do you intend to proceed?" He asked.

I glanced at Mel, who had been suspiciously quiet since the conversation returned to the war. Knowing she would resist, I spoke anyways.

"I will take several ridings with me to aid the soldiers in the north. Ales," the man next to Mel straightened, "you will join me with your group."

The two men rose to leave, but I stopped them by raising my hand.

"Caerd, wait a moment. You will stay and escort the Countess to her home in Tlanth where she will be met by her brother and Lady Nimiar. Since Athanarel has been deserted, it is the safest place for her to be."

I could feel Mel's shock and absolute anger without looking at her. Caerd nodded and the two men quietly left the tent. I took a deep breath, and turned to face the wrath of a rather stubborn Countess.

She was still staring me down, and I was beginning to feel uncomfortable. I stood and walked to the nearby table, intending to review maps for the next journey. I heard her stand up and walk behind me. Bracing myself, I turned to face her.


"How dare you?" She spoke through thin lips. Oh yes, she was furious. Rubbing my cheek, I looked down at her infuriated expression.

"I am ensuring your safety."

She stepped closer to me, and I caught the scent she used in her hair. Momentarily stunned, I made the mistake of gazing once more.

Mel, further angered by my seeming complacence, turned and walked to the table to gather her cloak. She picked it up, fastened it, and stated, "You have no right to order me about. I won't sit around in Tlanth knowing I could be of use here. I will join the ridings heading north."

She made to leave the tent, but I was quicker than that. I quickly moved and grasped her arm, successfully holding her in place. I sighed, knowing she would want to go north. I knew I seemed arrogant in ordering her to return home – I just wanted her to be safe.

She whirled around to face me, but stopped abruptly when she realized how close we were. I slowly released my grip on her arm, but she didn't move back. I locked eyes with her, and she blushed, but didn't look away. I had waited a year to tell her of my feelings, and now that we had become more than acquaintances, I could not stop myself from revealing myself as her Unknown. I slowly lifted my hand to her cheek, our eyes still locked, and brushed my thumb across her skin. Her eyes fluttered closed for a moment, her anger seemingly forgotten. Her hand lifted to cover mine, and a brief shudder went through me. I leant closer to her, her lips a breath from mine...

"My Lord?" A voice inquired from outside the tent.

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