Djaq had always found it fascinating how Will could bare his soul to her with just one look. There was something she loved about the way she caught him looking at her, when he glanced at her then looked away when he saw her watching, or she looked up from a book to find him staring at her across the fire. There was something charming in the way he smiled at her across camp, bumping his shoulder against hers as he purposefully chose to sit next to her.
What's more as each day passed she found herself increasingly enchanted and all the more eager to spend time with him. For all the time they spent together, the countless hours they spent talking and laughing, she never grew tired of it; she always found herself wanting more. It seemed strange to her that his smile, his laughter and those shining green eyes all had a special place in her heart, but she found herself utterly captivated by him nonetheless. She thought it funny how everything they did together became a treasured memory; there was something in the back of her mind that told her to cherish the time they had together; she could never know which conversation would be their last or when would be the last time she saw him smile, any day could be their last.
Besides, Djaq knew it was clear how close they were; which only added to her confusion that despite the millions of words she could use to describe Will and the countless emotions she felt when she was with him she still wasn't sure exactly what she felt. But all the same, whenever they were together she was reminded of how amazing he was; when he'd laugh with her and act like they were the only two people on earth or he'd just stop, and look at her like she was some kind of miracle, she'd smile back and just thank him for being him. She knew without a doubt that he was the reason she found herself loving life; despite all the troubles of being an outlaw, all the fights and the sorrow they endured, she found that he always had her smiling when she fell asleep. Will was her escape from the world.
Even so, it wasn't just the laughter that had her so enchanted by him; through all the pain and the hard times he was always there. He noticed when she was feeling down; he'd see her wander into the forest alone and go after her. She always noticed this saddened look in his eye as he came and sat with her, and she loved the fact he knew that he didn't need to say a word; just being there was enough. She admired the way he let her be vulnerable when she needed, that he looked after her and treated her like the most important woman in his life, but made a point of never changing the way he acted towards her; in his eyes she was still the same best friend she'd always been.
Sometimes Djaq thought it funny that amongst the chaos of their lives it was the calm that brought out the real problems; the chance to reflect and think often let the internal struggles surface. There were times she would go in search of Will and find him sat in tears, sometimes she'd see the despair in his eyes and take him somewhere quiet, he'd pour his heart out and bare his broken soul and no matter how much he cried and told her he felt useless, no matter how broken and ugly he felt and no matter what his troubles she never failed to hold him close and tell him with all sincerity, "I adore you. You are so beautiful and you will always be loved." And as failing as she might think her words, he'd thank her and kiss her forehead, and she'd be content in knowing he was comforted.
The first time she'd ever felt so close to him had been that winter's night in the forest; they were cold and hungry, separated from the others and then it got worse. Then came the ambush and the searing pain in her side, and finally all that talking and the knowledge she'd shared had amounted to something; it helped him save her life. True, it was strange how she remembered his terrified expression with fondness and smiled when remembering how he'd cried and told her to hold on. Despite his desperation he'd remained strong; he'd protected her from the onslaught of hail and took her to the shelter of the cave, his voice frantic as he told her to stay awake. She remembered all too well that she had never been more terrified, but for that fleeting moment when he stopped and looked into her eyes she lost all sense of fear and there was only him. She remembered her flickering focus and how through all the confusion his voice was still clear. She remembered how his hand fumbled for hers and how she'd held onto him for dear life, some unclear desperation for him to stay close. But there he'd stayed, that same desperation in his touch, his eyes shining with tears as he cried his heart out and just begged her to hold on, for him. And somehow, through all the panic and desperation, he had saved her.
It was that night that she'd realised how close they were, that somehow they had each become part of the other and she was surprised to find that it didn't scare her but just felt right. She still remembered the feeling of his fingers in her hair and his hand against her cheek as he'd sat with her and talked for hours about how much he truly adored her. She remembered how he'd curled up beside her and waited for her to fall asleep and she'd looked right back at him and said, "It will take a lot worse than this to get rid of me, I promise." And he'd melted her heart with his smile and with such sincerity whispered, "Good."
As she thought back on it now she could see that from all the time they'd spent together they had really taken the time to get to know each other properly. And although she could never be sure exactly how well he knew her, she could see that Will had broken through her defences and found the real her, and she was surprised to find he embraced the hidden her just as much as the rest of her. And in the same way she was certain she had learnt enough to truly know him, to understand him as a person, to know the way he thought and how he felt from just one look in his eyes.
Except there was one look that was different. Sometimes she'd see him looking at her from afar, often she would see it from the corner of her eye, or for a fleeting moment before it faded from his eyes, but it was only ever there when he thought she wasn't looking. There were times she thought she knew what he was thinking or could see the emotion in his eyes, but each time she'd see something more. A glimpse of despair, anguish or a hint of a broken soul, but there was always an underlying lift; a look of enchantment, some deep affection or the adoration she saw when they laughed together. And indeed she thought it strange how her heart longed to know what he was thinking in those moments.
So it came as no surprise when once again she found herself watching him; she watched with concern as he was drawn out of his thoughts and gazed right back at her, his expression unfaltering even as she continued to stare at him. It was strange how he hadn't looked embarrassed like usual, and there was no sign of that smile she adored so much, just the same bewildering look as always, until his expression dropped; he suddenly looked sad, disappointed perhaps, and turned away and walked off into the forest. Something inside of her broke at the defeat in his eyes, she didn't understand the change, in fact nothing had changed at least to her; he was still her best friend, she still needed him just as much as always, but then perhaps she had been wrong in thinking he felt the same.
"Will." She found him hiding in a secluded part of the forest, sat against a fallen log, head in hands. His gaze switched from the ground up to her, he smiled half-heartedly then looked back to the floor. Something inside her stopped her from going any further; half of her wanted to go and hug him but the other half thought she might be the reason he was upset. But whatever it was, even if it tore them apart and meant she lost him, she still had to know; surely it couldn't be worse than this. In fact she was sure she had never seen him more broken and it tore at her heart. "Why do you look at me like that?"
"I'm sorry." He turned his head away from her, obviously trying to resist the urge to cry.
"No, that's not what I meant. I want to understand, make me understand." He looked up at her with tear filled eyes and amongst the pain in their depths she saw the slightest hint of relief. "I want to know." She urged him; she was never usually one to push him to talk, but she felt like this was tearing them both apart.
"Really? Do youhonestlywant to know?"
"Yes." She lost all sense of self control and crossed the distance between them, dropping to her knees beside him and immediately pulling him into a hug. "Yes." She pressed her forehead against the side of his head. "More than you could possibly know."
"Djaq." He shook his head, the slightest smile appearing on his face. "If I wasn't so sure this would pull us apart, make you hate me…"
Djaq reluctantly released her hold on him and gently leant her head on his shoulder. "Oh Will, don't you know that I will always need you? There is nothing in the world that could ever change that." She sighed; it was funny how sometimes it could feel impossible to explain what her heart knew so well. "But that look, sometimes I think..." She struggled for the words to explain what she saw in his eyes. "It's like… sometimes I think you are happy, I mean I see the same look as when you're laughing, it's like the look of someone that's finally home after a long trip, or someone that has everything they've ever wanted… But it's strange that at the same time I see sadness; I see a tortured soul, or the look of someone that knows they'll never get home; like you've had all your hopes and dreams destroyed." She sighed, knowing she couldn't even begin to cover what she saw. "I just don't understand it." She looked up at him to see it there in his eyes; the exact look that she'd been trying to explain. "What is it? I mean, I don't understand what could be behind so many emotions, or what I could have done to cause it." Will pulled away from her, getting to his feet and moving away. She watched as he wiped the tears from his eyes, keeping his back to her and saying nothing. She walked up behind him and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Talk to me."
"You want to know what it means?" He turned to face her. "Whenever I look at you…" He suddenly stopped, sighing as he mustered up the courage and the words he needed. "When I look at you, I am overwhelmed with emotion, and I mean every time. You amaze me, you are just the most beautiful, most courageous, bravest, most brilliant woman I have ever met and I swear everything you do just enchants me. I mean I know you see me watching but I can't help it, because I utterly adore you, and I know I've told you that before but there are not enough words to explain how I feel. You have saved my life in more ways than you know, you make me so happy, you are my escape from everything, and yes I could spend forever trying to describe what you mean to me, but there is just no point because it cannot be done. I need you Djaq, and that's not an exaggeration because without you this dismal life in the forest would not be worth living, and I am so lucky to have you in my life, and be your best friend. I mean to get to make you laugh and see your smile every day is just amazing and I'm even luckier to be your confidant because when you let me in like that I get to know all of you, and I can't describe how amazing that feels." He stopped for a moment and just stared at her, he had never meant for so much to come pouring out, but the damage was done, there was no harm in explaining the rest. "But yes it does hurt; it is so painful to be so close and yet so far. I cannot count the number of times that I've seen you cry and just wanted to hold you close until you've stopped. Yes, sometimes it feels like torture to see your pain and not comfort you, and yes more than anything I wish I could hold you near and call you my wife and as stupid as it might sound I find myself dreaming of falling asleep with you in my arms and growing old with you. I know I don't deserve it, I know I don't really deserve what we have now let alone any more, but I will always want you Djaq, and sometimes I hate myself for never having the courage to tell you how I feel, and not just because I'm so desperate for you to feel the same." He blinked back the tears and took a moment to stop his voice cracking. "But because I believe everyone deserves to know when they are loved, so here I am, finally telling you; I love you, Djaq."
For a moment she just stared, not knowing what to say. "Oh Will." She reached out a hand to wipe the tears from his cheek, knowing she was crying herself. "I'm so sorry."
He leant his cheek into her hand, wanting to remember this last intimate moment with her before she would surely keep her distance. "No, I'm sorry. I knew I shouldn't have..."
His words were cut off as Djaq cupped his face and leant up to kiss him. His arms wrapped instinctively round her waist as she leant her forehead against his. "I love you, Will." It was funny how in one moment all those feelings had suddenly made sense. "I love you too." And as he pulled her close and kissed her once more he knew without a doubt, she was worth the wait.