Even in their page years together he had known that her being a girl wasn't the only conflict between them. When she was with her friends he would watch, see her lips twitch into a reluctant smile, see her eyes flash with anger at the ill treatment of the younger boys when he and his friends tortured them, and he couldn't understand why his heart would start to race. Surely he couldn't like this girl with hazel eyes, a quiet nature, and a passion for justice?
Through the years he watched as she grew, watched as men won their way into her inner circle, watched as men flew from their saddles when they vexed her enough. He wanted to be one of the men to make her smile, one that she would actually talk to, not glare at and ignore.
So he tried to make amends, tried to be her friend, but to no avail. She wouldn't accept him. So he sated his want with watching her, going where she was, and on one delicious occasion touching her soft, silky brown hair.
But her refusal to be his hurt him, angered him to where he wanted to hurt her, to be even. So he plotted to steal her maid away and hide her, planned to do it on the day that would determine her becoming one step closer to being a knight. He planned to do it on the day of the big examinations.
He had known that she would go and try to retrieve her maid, had known that she would do anything in her power to help one in her service. So he had planned to put the maid in Balor's Needle, the highest place in all of Corus.
However, he hadn't planned on getting caught.
No matter, He had remembered thinking the night before his trial, I can humiliate her and that windbag at the same time. And he had, insulting them both until they both turned crimson with anger. He had thought that she looked glorious at that moment, but his feelings of awe would not be superior to his feelings of betrayal.
Entering the Chamber had been one of the most frightening things in his life. No one knew before hand what was to happen, and no one was allowed to talk about it. So he was unprepared to hear a voice inside his head.
You will do no good for your country. His jaw dropped and he was about to retort before remembering not to make a sound.
Images assaulted him, over and over, but one kept resurfacing, kept drawing his eyes to it. A flash of Kel sometime in the future, completely naked with her arms above her, eyes bright with a promise of rough love-making. He couldn't tell who she was waiting for, and he was put to multiple tests, seeing if he would succumb to defeat.
He refused. And finally the image showed itself once more, but he saw who she was waiting for, and his heart broke into millions of pieces. Zahir, standing tall and proud, raw desire in his dark eyes as he slowly crawled over the bed to Kel.
"No! No, no, no, no, no! How could he?! I knew it! I knew he watched her too often! Watched her too closely! No! I can't believe it!" Joren was thrown into a rage as the Chamber listened with mild interest.
This is why you aren't fit to be a knight. Your jealousy is too great to bridge over. Your obsession with the girl page is too distracting for you to last long enough to do something that would actually help. You are useless, worthless. The sad part is if you had actually forgotten about her, you would have been great, one of the best.
Joren was given a sword and multiple opponents, but his body refused to move. His mind couldn't understand what the chamber had meant…couldn't wrap around one part.
If you had actually forgotten about her…
How would he have forgotten about her? He had been the bane, yet at the same time pleasure, of his existence for the last seven years.
And as he was getting ambushed by the men with swords, he smiled, blood trickling out of the corner of his mouth. He could finally come to terms with what he had been ignoring for seven years.
He loved her.