I suppose you want to know why, when push came to shove, it was me. Me that she chose. Me, and not you.

Well, I dare say that it was because, in the end, I was the one who knew her better. I understood her better. I treated her better.

Most of all, dear cousin, I loved her better.

She always did look for the good in people; mayhap she didn't find much in you.

No, I'm sorry; that wasn't fair to you, and nor was it true. She liked you well enough; that much was obvious. And I'm pretty sure she had a soft spot for you some time in the past. I quite clearly remember someone joking about it to me once.

But it hurts, doesn't it? To forever obtain the knowledge that even though you held a place in her heart as a friend, and possibly also as a brother, it would never amount to anything more. And I'm sure you'll still keep trying to change her way of thinking. I wouldn't blame you for trying; I know I would do the same had I been the one placed in your situation.

And, no, my dear cousin, I do not feel guilty for being the one to be able to hold her in my arms. You had your chance and what did you do? You ought to have grabbed it and held tight, but instead you kept her at arms length, refusing to let her in at all.

Yes, I suppose you're right when you say that I would probably hurt her more than you ever would; after all, I know her weaknesses and where to strike if my intentions were to harm. But cousin, understand this: I would never do that. And for you to say that I would never stay faithful to her is simply preposterous! After all, out of the two of us, the flirt has always been you.

Is that not true?

Do you dare refute that claim?

Oh, cousin, I will surely laugh in your face if you do.

We may both be somewhat alike in nature, but you are far more outrageous than I could ever hope to be. I mean, stories of your latest conquests always seem to be flying through the air wherever we go. And do you know what's even funnier? That was the number one reason for her to turn away from you. No woman wants to be in a relationship with a man when there's an extremely high chance of infidelity on his part.

And, of course, feel free to retaliate by saying that I was no worse than you when it came to mooning over women. But know this too: unlike you, I didn't act on my hormones. My gods, cousin, haven't you ever heard of self-restraint?! Being manly is one thing; being a man whore is another. Please, learn the difference.

Another thing. She is my counterpart. And I have always been her counterpart; it is something everyone acknowledged starting from when we were Pages together. I'm not saying this to sound like a braggart. I am being honest. And you know it! Do you seriously think she would ever truly forget me?

Let me tell you something, cousin: did you know she harboured feelings for me when we were Pages? Oh, she'd probably deny it now – she never told me; I was smart enough to figure it out myself. And, yes, I admit, her maid may have informed me in whispered conversations once or twice about her mistress's change in behaviour towards me. Wonderful woman, she was.

Yes, I suppose you do have a point when you question the fact that I publicly courted one of her best friends even after acquiring such information about the Lady's heart. Oh, cousin, don't you see? Do you ever see? At that time, she was being courted by a friend of mine – I believe you know him as 'that red-headed oaf'.

Cousin, I'll have you know that if I ever hear you referring to him in such a crude manner ever again, I will publicly thrash you unto humiliation. You may be the elder of us all, but he is a good man and I shall not hesitate in defending his name.

Besides, to question the gentleman would be to question the Lady's good judgement. Aha, cousin; I've got you there, haven't I?

Anyway, had I been to attempt to prise apart my best friend and her beau, you know she would have been likely to send me on a premature trip to the Black God's realm. Gentle the Lady's disposition may be, but even she would not stand for such treatment – what would have been even more insulting was that it would have seemed as though I was patronising her!

In any case, she was youthful at the time; I thought it was good for her to be able to experience a taste of being in love – she had been younger still when she had thought herself to have a crush on me!

What in Mithros' name do you mean by saying that I became engaged to her best friend?! Who told you that? I'll have you know that that is an outright lie! Cousin, I think you ought to learn not to believe everything you hear – only fools do that. Had I been engaged, do you really believe me to be a cad enough to lead two women at once? Hah! That's your forte, is it not?

Honestly, I don't know what is wrong with you! I'll have you know that the courtship between myself and her friend ended on perfectly platonic terms; we knew that we were most definitely not suited for each other – had we broached the subject of wedlock and gotten married, the union would most likely have ended some time in the near future due to homicidal urges from either of us.

Oh, would you hush?! Accept that Keladry and I are about to be married and move on. I'm sorry, Dom. But she's a wonderful girl and I am not letting her get away that easily.

I love her.

Feel free to taunt me and call me Meathead. I don't care.

I know what my heart wants.

I love her.

This one is dedicated to Noorah. Because she rocks. Because I felt like it.

Now, review! Pretty please?