Chapter Twelve: "Everything"
The ceremony didn't last long. Only two hours, and Caelin was no longer hers to control. "I'm leaving it in your capable hands," she said to Lord Hector before punching his shoulder. "Don't screw it up."
He scoffed, and looked down at Florina, whose hand was resting on her swollen belly. "She won't let me screw it up," he pointed out.
The balcony was huge, but she managed to find Kent standing a few feet away from the railings. "Afraid of heights?" she asked him as she approached.
He flushed lightly and inclined his head. "Of falling," he admitted.
She smiled. "There are some things I will miss about this place."
He turned to her as if he expected her to continue. He was a good listener…he always had been. If she had confided in him much sooner, perhaps a lot of hurt could have been avoided.
"The garden, and this balcony, and the pillows. I hated them at first, but I think they've grown on me."
He gave her a small smile and said, "You can take the pillows with you if you like."
She patted his arm. "Maybe I will."
"How are you doing?" he asked her after a few moments of silence had passed peaceably between them.
She took his hand and held it in her own before bringing it to her lips to lay a kiss upon his knuckles. "Well," she said, holding his palm against her cheek. "I have been too busy preparing to go home, and too excited knowing I'm going back to do so much as think about anything else.
"I'm glad," he said, smiling at her enthusiasm before he pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head.
"Lady Lyndis?" Sain smiled at her from the doorway to her room. Her things were packed, and the castle staff bustled back and forth to carry it to a wagon that waited outside. It was nothing more than an old farm wagon, but it would suit their purpose well enough.
"What is it?" she asked, approaching him.
"I wanted to say…"
"I could never say goodbye to a beauteous liege such as yourself," he teased, but his expression turned serious as he knelt before her and took her hand, pressing a light kiss against her fingers.
She remained speechless, waiting, he supposed, for him to speak.
"I am terrible with goodbyes," he said, and he could not help the soft quiver that invaded his voice. "And so I will not say goodbye, but that I hope to see you again, someday." He bowed his head. "Lady Lyndis, it has been an honor and…a pleasure to server under you these last few years." He wanted to say other things, important things, about how she had affected him—affected everyone!—and that he would never forget her kindness, or her smile.
But she fell to her own knees in front of him and squeezed him so tightly he could scarcely breathe. It felt nice, and he blinked back tears. Oh, how he would miss her!
"Lyn," he said, his voice strained. "Thank you."
She kissed his cheek. "You will come to see us someday, won't you?" she asked.
"Fear not," he said jovially, getting to his feet before helping her to hers. His voice still wavered as he spoke, but it was almost back to normal. "Your faithful Sain will make time to pay you a visit, surely."
Months later, Kent awoke to the sound of Lyndis singing. It was the same song, the one she had said the Lorca had sung to guide the souls of the dead.
She stopped only when he wrapped his arms around her from behind and pressed his lips against her neck.
"For whom were you singing?" he asked, letting his chin rest atop her head.
She sank back against him and sighed. "Promise you won't laugh or think me foolish?"
She jabbed back with her elbow playfully, and he chuckled. "I promise, I promise."
"I was singing for Lord Lundgren, for Uhai and General Eagler, for Linus and Lloyd, for Brendan, for Leila…"
She twisted in his grasp to poke at his sides. "Never!" she said. "I could sing for years and it'd never be enough!"
He chuckled, but pushed her hands away from his sides. "How are you feeling today?" he asked, as he had asked every day since their arrival in Sacae.
"Stronger," she said. "I think I can help with the work today."
"Don't overdo it," he cautioned.
"Some of the work, then," she said. "But twice as much as yesterday." She knew he wouldn't argue with her. "I'm much better today, I assure you. Remember, it's been a couple of months since I've had any episodes."
She had initially had some trouble adjusting to the complete lack of alcohol, the worst being unstoppable shaking. But Kent had been with her every step of the way, and after a few months, those symptoms had seemingly disappeared.
"Do you ever…crave it?" he asked, pulling away from her to get ready to work.
"I'm happy here," she said, blinking at him. "Everything I want is right here with me."
"And everything you need?" he asked.
"Is you," she answered, taking his hand.
A few notes on alcoholism:
1.) It can happen to anyone under the right circumstances.
2.) It occurred in every time period.
3.) The only way to recover from alcoholism is to stay away from alcohol. Lyndis could escape it entirely by going back to Sacae, but we do not have that same luxury in modern times. You see it every time you go to the grocery store.
4.) If someone you know is trying to quit drinking, the most important thing you can do is offer a shoulder, a listening ear, and your love. It is not something easily overcome, least of all alone.
I broke this into short chapters, not to be evil, but because I felt that it fit the flow of the story and helped show time as it passed. Thank you all very much for reading. I always appreciate feedback, and this story is no exception. I read each and every review, and hold them all close to my heart.