Aarindarius first realised something was up when he opened his eyes to find a bunch of freshly cut flowers on his pillow. That was the first clue.
The blooms were small and pale, a species which he knew to grow in the woods around the area, although few would be blossoming this early in the year. Whoever had found and cut them must have taken a lot of effort. He sat there pondering the flowers for a while, before getting up to find some water for them.
It was Vaarsuvius of course. No-one else would have been able to sneak into his room – let alone his tower - not if their intent was as harmless as leaving a gift. His apprentice had been acting oddly recently. First there had been the increasing amount of time spent away from the tower – well, that was to be expected, and if anything he was glad the elf was interacting with other people. But then when the younger elf was to be found, she always seemed distracted. Mind elsewhere. Staring into space.
He could have sworn she had kept staring at him, too. It was unnerving to look up from the book one was reading, only to see your apprentice blush and look away. His concerns were briefly laid to rest (and a whole new set of concerns acquired) when he found out that Vaarsuvius had started seeing an adolescent from the village. Soon after, the staring had stopped much to his relief.
And now the flowers.
Maybe he was simply looking into it too much. They weren't as communicative as they had been; when once Vaarsuvius had followed him around all day hanging onto his every word, he now was lucky to see her at all except when she approached him to ask help with a particularly tricky spell or translation, and even that was becoming less and less frequent. While it saddened him that they were drifting apart, he let her have her distance. She was just growing up.
So maybe this was a peace offering of sorts?
He carried the small bouquet down to the kitchen, where he took a tall cut glass and half filled it. He trimmed the stems with a knife then placed them in the water.
He put the glass on the table.
He sat down, and for some time he just gazed at the flowers, thinking.
There was a small noise behind him. He spun around and was just quick enough to catch a glimpse of purple hair snatching out of sight. With a sigh, he turned back to the glass. The other thought he had was pushed away, out of sight and out of mind.
The next morning, he could smell the fresh flowers before he even looked.
For the next three days, each morning there were flowers.
On the fourth day, he opened his eyes to see purple hair. That was the second clue. There was a brief moment where his trance-addled mind flailed wildly, but he quickly assured himself that his apprentice certainly hadn't been there when he had gone to bed. However there was still the matter that the younger elf was certainly there now, and that she was pressed up against his side with one arm wrapped around his waist. Thankfully they were both clothed.
The name was said more sharply than he had intended, and the arm was rapidly withdrawn as the elf in question sat up, looking very guilty. Aarindarius squirmed away from her and also sat up, raising an eyebrow.
"…I had a bad trance memory?"
Aarindarius paused. When she had first been apprenticed to him and the tower become her permanent residence, there had been several occasions she had found him in the middle of the night for that same reason – usually in his study, but once of twice in his room. In both cases, he would have read something to her, and once her eyes where starting to droop shut he would have carried her back to her room and tucked her into her own bed. True, in those times when she drew him from his trancing, she would cuddle against him under the blankets while he read, but never had she stayed there the whole night.
She had not done that for years. He didn't think this was the case now, and as if to confirm it the smell of those flowers reached his nose. He spotted today's offering on the opposite bedside table, delicate lilac petals this time. They had almost certainly been picked less than half an hour ago.
He gave the flowers a purposeful look, and then glanced back to his apprentice. A second later Vaarsuvius was off of the bed and out of the door.
With a sigh, Aarindarius got up and headed down the stairs to follow her.
He found her in the kitchen, leaning against the counter and staring at the wall, her face flushed bright pink. He noticed that her shoulders tensed slightly as he entered the room.
"Vaarsuvius, I'm not angry with you."
The shoulders relaxed. Slightly.
With a sigh, Aarindarius went and stood next to her, taking up a similar pose. Vaarsuvius fidgeted.
"I thought you were in a relationship with someone… Inkyrius, wasn't it?"
"We- I was. I broke up with Kyrie. We had an argument."
Aarindarius sighed, and put an arm around her shoulders. "When?"
Vaarusvius hesitated a moment, then mumbled "…a week ago."
She raised a hand to her face, and vigorously rubbed her eyes. It was rare for her to cry, and she wasn't going to let it go on this time. Aarindarius tightened the one armed hug. "It's alright to be upset." There was no reply "You know I'll always be here to listen if you need someone to talk to? I appreciate the flowers, but you don't need to-"
Vaarsuvius kissed the corner of his mouth quite purposefully.
She tried to kiss him again - possibly fully on the lips - but the older wizard would never know because before she could do so he stepped away, leaving a gap between them. Vaarsuvius stared for a moment, and then burst into tears.
"You hate me!"
Alarmed, Aarindarius stepped forward and hugged her again, wrapping his arms around her shaking shoulders.
She buried her face in his chest. "I love you, but you hate me!"
He stood there, hugging her until the sobbing quieted down, but still not letting go. "I don't hate you. I love you Vaarsuvius, but not in the way you think you want me to."
"I do love you! I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you! I don't need anyone else!" She tried to kiss him again, but once more he held her at arms length.
"I'm your teacher, your mentor and your friend, Vaarsuvius. But I can't be your lover. You know that too, you're just upset and you need someone to sympathise with you."
Vaarsuvius stared mutely at him. "I still love him." She whispered finally, and began to talk.
It was a month later that Vaarsuvius and Inkyrius were back on talking terms, and a year before they were going out again. It was another ten years later that they married.
Aarindarius watched and was happy for her, but he had lied. He could have loved her and have been in love with her; it was Vaarsuvius who had never really wanted that. And so, for her sake, he had to let her go.