A dream of any good anthropologist. To play a village fool in era they are researching. This was what Noah came to do here and the only reason why he kept his sister's whereabouts secret. It took him close to a year to convince others he wasn't putting them in danger, that he'd only play his part and then leave, allowing them to use the excuses fit to their purpose to seal his disappearing.

That until his heart watched the child grow and place unseen chains around him. Blind little Ivy Walker had been mere toddler when they arrived, a simple child and thus knew nothing of his real age – none of the younger ones did. Twenty four candles instead of thirty six – who wouldn't want to become a decade younger?

He made the mistake once, allowing her smoothing words caress his taunting mood and that was it. From that day forward he was dog to her, followed her around and kept keen watch over every move she made, only to pull back his own scary acting should she even whisper the word "Enough!".

That seemed sufficient for a while, but then she bloomed like honey clover and seemed just as fragile in her ways, yet there was nothing timid about her. Blindness had given her strength and wisdom, prudence that would never allow her to choose jester over a knight.

Thinking so he knew his banter days were close to an end. He was old enough to know why his heart ached when he longed to be with her. She had always considered him a good friend and as the custom went – no fool had ever recovered from their illness before and he planned to be no exception.

The door flew open and he almost fell off his chair. He used the quiet room to hide and be himself, but now Ivy was standing on the door, eyes fixed on the distance.

"You are free to leave now, Noah Percy!"

He held his breath for a moment, but rose quickly. He thought of acting up and replying with his usual show, but instead fell quiet.

"Something matter?"

He shook his head, forgetting she couldn't see.

"Then what is it?"

He took two steps to her and said without thinking: "Jam on your lip."

Her eyes flew up and she frowned, trying to see through his mischief.

He knew he'd gone too far. It was too late to play it around, it had sounded just as normal as any other man on the village. He thought of capturing her and closing the door, demand she'd listen and force her silent, but he didn't move a muscle.

"Noah?" Her breathing changed, echoing his low flow of air coming from his dry lips. "You sound so odd!"

He'd probably never have the chance, he decided then and sized for her middle before brushing his mouth gently over her cheek. She froze between his hands, but he knew better than to let her go and fall on her ragged feet. The woman had no proper experience with anyone yet and he knew already then he wasn't taking advantage of it. He only wanted to seal a pack for silence, steal her first kiss, which he never wanted to give to her first and real suitor.

He felt her warming up, heat rousing aromas of lily soap she used to wash her neck every evening.

"What is this?" she demanded to know, "What are you playing?"

Oh, he had no plans for games tonight, he grinned, and instead of an answer he pushed another kiss against her skin, closer to the mouth. She didn't insist him to stop, so he placed next one on her nose, before drifting down and biting down her flesh. She gasped, opening her mouth enough for him to make his move and he took every advantage of it.

Ivy's hands sought place to rest. At first they tried to come between them, force him away, but that ceased the moment his lips took over hers. Now they stopped on his arms, grasping tightly around his slender muscles, but couldn't find rest there and slid between his chest and arms on his back.

The chill that followed wasn't unknown to his mind, but he couldn't stop and went with it.

He gently pulled her to step away from the door and nudged the door close. It did with silent fizz and gave him enough time to push her against the wall.

She reached her hands out and searched out for his face. He immediately stopped.

"You shine like sun in my eyes. Why?"

He didn't think the question was meant for him.

"Who are you?"

"Noah Percy." He said quietly, not trying to play his part. She'd give him a slap should he even try.

"That's what you say, but you're not the Noah I know!"

"No."

"Who are you?"

"I am Noah, I just…" He wet his lips. He'd feared the question in the past. How would he explain this without risking their cover?

"Play a fool?" she helped with the words. "For how long?"

"Few years." It wasn't really a lie.

"Why haven't you said anything?" she insisted, "You could be treated differently!"

"I didn't want to." He confessed, doubting his own words. He wanted so much to be like others, so she'd choose the knight he believed himself to be over the jester he was playing.

"Noah Percy, you're keeping secrets from me!" she started with her usual teasing tone, but the sweetness was nearly gone.

"I keep many secrets," he replied quietly and looked down on his twitching hand. It tend to go over the edge whenever he felt nervous and right now he had every right to feel the stretch on his personal pet project.

"And what is your purpose on this one?"

He couldn't decide if his mind was simply blank or he couldn't decide between all the reasons he'd made up for such occasion. Instead he lowered his face to her level and nearly kissed her again, but he stopped only an inch away. He had to thrust his hand past her against the wall to stop himself and pushed away.

She frowned, like sensing his movement, but being agitated that he hadn't finished. She thrust forward and forced him away from her path. She went straight for the door and nearly hitting it.

She came to a halt and turned, slowly reaching for the knob.

"Then I think you'll need another hour here, Noah Percy, figure out what is your purpose deceiving me!" she said seriously and disappeared between the narrow doorway.

He sat down against the same wall where Ivy had just been, feeling the knots in his stomach tangle up. She hadn't locked the door, but he had no intentions to leave. He had to think.

An hour later he left. It was late afternoon and he first headed home and put his jacket on. Then he went to search for her. She couldn't be far; she never went for long walks or distant searches. Small hill was the most probable place and that's where he took his first trip.

She was there, snapping pieces from a straw, deep in her thoughts.

He sneaked closer like he loved to do and sat next to her, being back to his crazy self. He placed his head on her shoulder and whispered sheepishly the three little words and placed unnoticeably to anyone who'd walked pass, a kiss on her ear.

Her eyes didn't move, but she smiled, just like before and he smiled too, shyly closing his.

He felt tired. Yes, one day someone else would claim her, but that didn't stop his love or trust.