written for a challenge on fiefgoldenlake dot proboards dot com! Go check it out :D


The summer Kel turned twenty-five was hot, long, and full of thunderstorms that rattled the trees in the Royal Forest and sent most of the inhabitants of the Royal Palace huddled under archways and in corridors, dripping wet and wringing out their tunics and skirts. The pages complained about the weather straight through July, causing Neal to remark more than once about how they never really were that bad while all of their year-mates in residence rolled their eyes and ignored their maturity and knighted status to cuff him round the head.

It was during one of the most humid days of the year that Dom decided to take up residence in Kel's rooms.

"The barracks are too hot," he remarked, stretching long legs out in front of him and rolling his shoulders languorously. "Your room is nice and chilly."

Kel cast him a slanted look from where she was splayed across the bed. Sheets that had initially seemed cool and welcoming were now hot and sticky. "No, it isn't," she said, flicking her gaze up to the ceiling. "It may be more mild than the barracks or the stables, and probably the kitchens, but I would think that's all. You could go to the Portrait Gallery and it would be the same. Better, even, because of the temperature-controlling spells in there."

"Ah, but you see," Dom said knowledgeably, "you aren't in the Portrait Gallery." He paused. "Unless you've a hankering to go gaze upon the faces of our exalted past kings and queens, in which case I'm certainly up for a field trip."

"I'm staying right here," Kel groaned. "In this position. Not moving."

"Then so am I," he winked.

Kel raised her head to peer at him curiously. "Why're you so adamant to be in my company anyways? We just spent weeks trudging through mud and rain together."

"Ah," Dom lifted a finger, "but when we were busy being heroically filthy and wet, there were twenty other men there, as well as milord Raoul, and there, I couldn't do this." He moved, quicker than should have been possible in the pressing, oven-baked air, and hovered over her to give her a quick kiss on the lips. "And since I've put in the effort, nothing to lose, I might as well go for this." Another kiss, deeper and more passionate, until Kel pushes him off to haul herself up on her elbows.

"That's all very nice," she smiled, "but you've been in here a fair while without doing any of that. Could there possibly be any other reason you've set up camp here?"

"Well of course." Dom flopped down beside her, still moving too eagerly for someone with sweat-soaked bones. "I think that the constant reminder of my charming presence might be the final thing that convinces you to marry me."

Kel stared. "What."

His answering grin wasn't crooked in the least. "Proof, you see, that I'd follow you everywhere."

"Oh," and her throat choked up a little, searching for something, anything to say.

Dom took her hand. "It doesn't have to be today, or tomorrow," he said, running a finger over her palm. "But someday. You can say yes someday, whichever day you want it to be, and I'll still be here."

Her fingers closed around his. "Good," Kel said, leaning over to kiss him again, and they stared out the window at the summer rain.