disclaimer: I own nadda.

Alright people...suspence is how i work. Hence the fact that none of you know what is going on. I shall clarify in following chapters, so just brace yourselves until then =p

Note: Any strange names used over the course of this fic are taken from the maps of Edil-Amarandh.

The weeks passed slowly with the same unpredictable weather; one day's wind blowing down winter from the icy plains of Arkiadera, chilling her already lonely heart while the next bound Lirigon to the fairer seasons of the Suderain. It was a perplexity Maerad had yet to decipher, for her own mood swings prevented much in depth thought over something so trivial.

In the month he had been away, Maerad had come to understand the true meaning of desolation. In the Cot, she had nothing motivating her to live. Each day was another tally on the road to death, a path she so desperately wanted to see the end of. But it all had changed; one complete stranger had saved her from that miserable existence and brought her to know everything about life, including love. And now that she had a life worth living, it scared her to know she could fall so far and lose it in the blink of an eye.

It was because of this realization that she didn't loathe the women who clung desperately to their husbands, never letting them shine with their own separate light. It made sense; the two were one, a riddle Maerad had solved. She wished Cadvan to reappear at her door so she could throw her arms about him and never let him go. But he wouldn't. It was an empty hope. She would just have to wait for her other half to return.

Sighing, Maerad found a robe and made her way to the bathhouse; its soft luminous glow relaxing her tense muscles as she entered its humid atmosphere. She sank into the hot water until it reached her collarbone, its warmth enveloping her in a soothing embrace.

He put his finger on either side of her face, caressing, drawing her closer until they stood with their bodies nearly touching. "Do you still fear me?" he murmured, his mouth mere centimeters from hers.

"No," she whispered, her eyes closing from the pleasure of his touch.

"You are sure of this?" he asked, tracing the sides of her mouth with his thumbs. "I don't want to hurt you."

Maerad had never heard anything so ridiculous. "You wouldn't hurt me, Cadvan," she answered, raising her arms to slip them about his neck.

He lightly touched her lips with his own; the barest of caresses, murmuring her name, then covered them more fully. One of his hands slid to the back of her head, into her soft hair, holding her, while the other moved downward, his fingers spread wide as he pulled her flush against himself. She made a sound of surprise as their bodies met, then relaxed and willingly obliged to the sensation. Her body continued to liquidate as the kiss grew in intensity and before long she felt herself submerged in its beauty.

Barely aware that she still rested in the lavender bath, she collected her thoughts. It would do her no good to dwell on the past, especially when there would be a future.

Her stomach twisted itself as she stood, cramping causing her to buckle in brief discomfort. Her period managed to affect her this way each visit, a curse Maerad vowed to find a solution to. She sneered at men who found their lives difficult to manage..."if only they knew the troubles women face on a daily basis."

"Maerad?" she heard a voice sound across the darkened room.

Pausing a moment, she knew it was Mira, a women who had befriended her in Cadvan's absence. "Yes?" she flushed, quickly covering herself.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but there is someone waiting for you inside."

"Who?" Maerad inquired; it was late in the evening for receiving visitors.

"I-I'm not entirely sure. I went to your door and found it locked. I figured it was you but noting the time, I knew you would be here," she explained, turning to offer privacy.

Maerad had no idea who would lock it; it accomplished little to nothing as her room towered above the streets of the School so escape through anything other than the door would prove deadly. It made her laugh to know Mira had worked out her schedule. "Am I that predictable?" Maerad joked, sliding her arms through the robe's sleeves.

"I'm afraid so," Mira admitted, a smile covering her face. "Well, at least as far as taking a bath goes," she added.

Maerad was thankful that Mira had entered the room, however rude it might have been that she didn't knock; if she had fallen asleep in the bath, she could have easily drowned.

"Here, let's get you to your room. I want to find out what is going on!" she interuppted her thoughts, a dead whisper that Maerad could barely hear.

"You look ghostly," Mira observed.

"I don't know what you're talking about," Maerad shrugged. She didn't have the skin of a sun drenched bard of the South but she certainly didn't feel ghostly. A smug look covered her face as they approached the stairwell.

"I meant no harm, Maerad, I'm just worried about you." Mira smiled wanly; Maerad hadn't acted herself since Cadvan's departure. "You act lovesick."

Maerad blushed. "I'm not lovesick. If anything, I'm glad to have time for myself," she lied; her friend didn't need to be included in her private life.

Reaching the door, the handle turned easily. Raising a questioning brow, Maerad chuckled. Mira looked quite abashed. "I-" she began, searching for an explanation.

"It's alright," Maerad replied. "I needed to get ready for sleep anyway," she said truthfully.

"Not a problem," Mira answered, hugging her goodnight. "Meet me in the library for breakfast?"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Maerad giggled, entering her pitch black room. Setting her robe aside, she felt vulnerable to the dark expanse that stood between her and the bed. It proved threatening somehow.Come now, Maerad. It is a few feet of empty space; nothing is here.

Feeling cowardly, she closed her eyes. "I am Maerad of Pel-" she started before correcting herself. "..Lirigon. Lily of Fire. Elednor." Her arms were stretched out before her as she spoke aloud, pride billowing in her chest. I don't need to fear anything.

"I dare say, Avaunt dark spiri-" she stopped, feeling light hands brushed across her midriff. Shocked, she nearly cried out until a soft voice silenced her fear.

"Nay, I am no dark lord," was the tender answer she received.

"Cadvan?" she exclaimed softly. "What are you-"

"Shh..." he whispered, a faint mage light illuminating the room. "I wanted to surprise you," he spoke convincingly, unaware of the affect he had on her.

Shuddering in disbelief, she hugged him tight. "You didn't fail," she murmured. "You could never fail me."

To be continued...

=o A epic surprise? :insert major rolling of eyes:

Next chapter a bit more explanatory..I just didn't want to rush things too quickly.

Please review! I'm counting on them to keep this fic going!!!!

And as I always leave off, if it is horrid, I'll fix in. Enough said. =p