It was spring. The trees all throughout Bay'Zell were covering slowly with green leaves, and as Tessa looked at them it seemed to her as if a pattern was building amongst them. As she sat in the old kitchen of Mother Emith's house, she couldn't believe she had been here for a year. Exactly a year ago, this day, the ring pulled her to this very city.
Instinctively, Tessa's hand shot to her neck, in search of the ring and its assuring warmth against her skin. Although it had been months since the ring has gone in its way, Tessa still secretly hoped that someday it will be back. It didn't. And she knew it wouldn't, either. The ring's only purpose in bringing her to this world was to free the Barbed Coil, and now that it was gone the ring moved on in its way.
Tessa sighed and switched her gaze from the window back to the vegetables she was peeling. It had been a long, cold winter, and the warmth of the sun was so appealing to her that she found it hard to focus on anything else.
From the back of the house she could hear Emith bade farewell to the children. There were the cracking of many chairs being moved, and the patting of many small feet on the wooden floor, and then the door slammed and she could see the children running to the sun-flooded street.
After a minute or so Emith came and stood next to her. Tessa looked at him and saw a smile in the corner of his mouth as he watched the children he loved so much to teach walk away to the deep of the city. They were good kids, full of life, and being with them has brought a spark of light to his eyes.
"Was it a good day?" she asked, anxious to hear what he had to say. His stories were all she was interested in these days. Except for drawing some patterns and learning to cook she didn't do much in the house, and remembering her promise to Ravis before he went to the east, she didn't go out much. Bay'Zell was a much quieter city since Izgard's death and the removal of the threat of war, but dangers were still there, and she hadn't known the city well enough to travel on her own.
"Yes, miss." Emith said. Tessa smiled upon his answer. In spite of their long acquaintance and the fact she was a married woman, he insisted on calling her miss. Some things never changed, and this was one of the things that had made him who he is. "I believe young Edwin is ready for scribing lessons. Perhaps next week I will start teaching him about powders and pigments." His smile widened as he talked about the boy who might become a scribe, and Tessa couldn't help but return his smile.
Nodding, she went back to her vegetables. The sound of chopping and cutting filled the air as Emith went to fetch a flask of arlo, and Tessa found it relaxing.
"Miss," said Emith when he entered the door, "Perhaps you would like to try and contact with your family again some time soon? It has been a long time." His voice was soft.
Tessa frowned. She hated to think of what happened the last time she painted a pattern in order to contact her family back in her old world. She could still hear her mother's scream and see the doubt in her eyes. They had not believed her message that last time, why would they listen now? The thought hurt her so much her chest actually ached.
The thought of her old world brought her mind back to the fact that it was today one year ago she had met Ravis in the alley. Sometimes she could not believe she had lived here for only a year. It seemed like such a long time. Yet again, all her life had led her to this place, so it was one and the same. Thinking of Ravis, she touched the golden ring on her finger and swallowed hard. She had missed him very much in the past months.
News from the east that Emith had brought from the streets had told her Camron was doing a hard job in uniting the Garizons around him, but not a word was spoken about Ravis, and Tessa knew he must be working for Camron's aid in the backstage, as he always used to. He had sent her several letters with Pax, who was Camron's messenger to Bay'Zell and back, but from the short sentences he wrote she knew he hadn't much of a time to write more, and it wasn't nearly enough.
The sound of hoofs tapping against the stone came from the street, and Tessa's gaze shot to the window. She could not see that part of the street from there, but she had no need to. She knew only one person who rode a horse like that.
The knife she was using fell to the table, and she made her way to the door.
"What is it, miss?" said Emith with a slight concern in his voice. Tessa knew if there was anything wrong, he had to be there to take care of it.
"Ravis," she said, panting. "Ravis is here." And she ran outside, through the back door and onto the street, just in time to see the horse come to a halt and Ravis sliding off from the saddle. A mad smile springing across her face, Tessa lifted her skirts and ran toward him. He turned to her at the sound of her footsteps.
"Tessa," he said, and took the last paces needed to come close to her.
As he hugged her close, Tessa thought she had never felt more pleased. The attempt to message her parents, the cold lonely winter, the frustration on being inside for all those long months – all of that seemed meaningless. It was only the warmth of Ravis' arms around her that was important.
Heart pounding wildly, Tessa raised her eyes to examine him closely. He looked good, she thought as she ran a hand across the scar on his cheek. Younger, somehow. But he also had certain tiredness in his eyes, and seeing it, Tessa knew he had missed her too through all the hard work he and Camron had done in Garizon. Grinning, she told him that, not surprised to see his smile widening to her words. He laughed heartedly and leaned over to kiss her.
Tessa felt her cheeks growing hot at the touch of his scar against her lips. She was fully aware of them being out in the open and it being the middle of the day in the city, yet she couldn't resist the softness of his skin against hers, and as her eyes closed she devoted herself to him completely and held him as close as she could. It had been a long time since he last kissed her, and every nerve in her body was grateful to have him back.
The back door of Mother Emith's house opened behind them, and they pulled apart. Blushing, Tessa turned to look at Emith approaching.
"Welcome back, Lord Ravis," he said and shook Ravis' hand. "Come inside, lunch would be ready soon, and we can all have a glass of arlo first." With that he smiled and walked back into the house, and Tessa wondered if he wanted to give them more time alone.
Ravis tied his horse's reins in the yard, then offered his arm to Tessa as he turned to enter the house. Just before he opened the door for them to walk inside he looked at her and, running a knuckle across his scar, said, "Do you think you'd like to live in a castle? I'm returning to Veizach next week and I want you to come with me. I think you will like it there. There are a lot of patterns on the walls for you to explore."
Grinning, her heart so wide inside her chest she thought she could burst, Tessa kissed him once more, then nodded, and together they crossed the threshold.