The Varden slept soundly the eve before the siege of Uru-Baen. Weapons had been polished and sharpened so as to be grabbed as soon as the signal was given at dawn.
Eragon walked quietly among the Varden's tents, his long strides purposeful. Within seconds he was at his destination. Rapping on the central pole of the tent in lieu of a knocker, the dragon rider waited.
"Enter" A female voice called out, knowing full well who he was. Eragon allowed a smile to grace his handsome features before he stepped into the tent.
Arya sat with her back to him, writing. Eragon waited patiently as she finished her paragraph, dropping the feather pen back into the inkwell.
"Yes?" The elf asked, swiveling around on her seat to face him. Eragon felt a flush in his cheeks as he went over the words he was about to say in his head.
"Go on" Saphira nudged. Eragon felt his ears turn pink and vaguely wondered if it was the spirits he had drunk before coming to visit Arya. What he was about to do was beyond foolish.
"A-arya" He started. The she-elf raised her eyebrows.
"I wish to convey a matter of some importance" He continued, his voice becoming more confident as the words came. Arya motioned to a stool opposite hers, but he shook his head.
"First, I wish that you would hear me out fully before speaking your opinion" Arya nodded in consent and Eragon took a deep breath, steadying his heart. Him and Saphira had been preparing for this moment for the past few hours, it was no time to lose his nerve.
"I have been reviewing my actions over the past few years as the battle draws nigh, and one thing stuck on my conscience in particular... That of my actions towards you in Ellesmera"
Arya stiffened visibly, and Eragon held up a hand.
"I wish to apologize for my rash actions. My feelings were... unruly. I was too young, too inexperienced" Arya frowned, but relaxed her posture, and Eragon took it as a sign to continue on. He had gotten himself thus far, time to finish what he started.
"I have spent much time thinking about this, and I truly meant to put it off until after the war was over, but seeing as things have grown more complicated as of late, I thought I would tell you now"
Eragon took a moment, staring into Arya eyes. He could see that she knew what was going to be asked of her, but he smiled inwardly. A fool's cause was still noble if there was a fool to fight for it.
"Arya...I-" She cut him off by leaping away from him as if burned, her stool toppling over.
"NO, Eragon. I thought I made myself clear in Ellesmera. I will not marry you, no-"
Eragon held up a hand, locking eyes with her. She quieted, but her fists still clenched. He motioned to the stool, trying to keep his face as blank as possible.
Arya took a breath and sat, her eyes narrowed. Eragon let the seconds drip by, just fixing her in his gaze. To his surprise, Arya broke the silence.
"I love you" Eragon cut over her. Arya froze in place, not moving a muscle. They stayed silent for more time, then Eragon made way to the tent flap, only turned around at the last moment. His expression was an odd one, he knew.
"My intention tonight was not to ask for your hand. I know your feelings have not changed. I merely wanted you to know that you were the one I truly cared for, in the event I die tomorrow. Nothing I can say will bring you to see into my heart, but know I have devoted myself to you, Arya. Always"
With that, he left, leaving a motionless elf in his wake.
Eragon went back to his own tent, shoulders slumped. Saphira lay outside, and she raised her head when he came near. Knowing full well that he didn't want to talk, she lifted a wing so he could curl into her belly. It was their favorite position, and never failed to help the mood of the young rider.
Eragon laid back, letting his mind go blank. Saphira hummed, and he let the darkness of his waking dreams overtake him, all thought of love forgotten.
"Eragon" Saphira's voice cut into the darkness of his mind. Eragon sat bolt upright, blinking.
"A pesky two-leg wants to know where you are" Saphira raised her wing, and a clearly terrified page was revealed, blinking up at him in the early morening light.
"Well?" He asked, since the page had seemed to forget how to speak.
"T-The lady-elf A-Arya wishes to see you, Shadeslayer... She says it is of some urgency" With that, the youth bolted, courage failing him. Eragon chuckled, then his expression turned sour at the thought of his destination.
"Wish me luck" He said to Saphira, patting her scales.
"Good luck, little one" Saphira curled back around herself, looking like a blue mountain. Eragon smiled, knowing that she would keep a mental eye on him while he was gone.
Eragon ran to Arya's tent, striding right in. Arya sat in the same position as the night before, looking like she hadn't slept. She didn't move as Eragon walked in. She didn't even chide him for not knocking.
"Sit" She said flatly. Eragon complied. When the elf said no more, Eragon wondered if she only called him to her to annoy him. He was about to speak when she beat him to it, sensing his impatience.
"I have thought upon what you said last night"
"And, I have come to a conclusion" This surprised Eragon, unsure of what to say.
"I refused you in Ellesmera for many reasons. The most prominent of which being that you were, as you said, too young. I also felt that it was not the time for such things, and that a union for us could only cause more harm that good"
She paused, weighing her thoughts.
"That does not mean, however, that I do not care for you, Eragon"
This hit him like a pile of bricks. He had assumed that her refusal had to do with lack of affection and propriety.
"In light of the impending battle, I have searched myself for answers. No doubt you were surprised by my actions last night?" Eragon nodded.
"I was raised to do the most rational courses of action for my people, Eragon. I was not raised to take liberties for myself. However..."
She paused once more, and Eragon kept his eyes fixed on her face. For the duration of her pause, she didn't look up at him, but when she finally did, he almost fell off his stool. In her grey eyes swam many emotions, uncharacteristic for her, or for any elf.
She was fighting herself, Eragon could tell. As soon as this thought came to mind, words appeared in his head. The power of them struck him, nd he knew it was what he needed.
"Mor'amr onr nuanen hjarta" He said softly. Arya gasped, then a tear spilled down her cheek. Eragon reached forwards and brushed it away, as gently as if he were touching porcelain.
Arya met his eyes again, taking his hand from her face and clasping it in her own two.
"More than anything, I have wanted to be loved" She whispered, and Eragon knew that he was seeing a side of the elven woman that no one had ever seen before.
"If you let me, I will love you forever" Eragon replied, bringing his other hand to hold hers. Arya leaned forwards ever so slightly, unsure. Eragon recognized what she was trying to do.
"Not too soon" He said, smiling at her. Arya look relieved. They sat in their positions for a while as the sun gradually lightened.
"They will sound the alarm soon" Eragon said, reluctant to pull away, but knowing he had to. Arya nodded, slipping her hands away from his, her face expressionless.
"Try to rest" He said tenderly, getting up and stretching. "You will need your strength" Arya rost as well, catlike. As Eragon turned to exit the tent, he felt one of her hands on his back.
"Be careful" She said. As she said it, she slipped her arms around his waist. He turned and embraced her in return, feelings welling up inside.
"Does this mean that we will pledge ourselves to each other when the battle is over?" Eragon asked, resting his chin on Arya's black hair.
"Come to the pavilion before the second call" Arya replied, slipping out of his embrace and walking past him in the direction of the pavilion.
Eragon smiled, resisting the urge to whoop and yell.
"Well done, young one" Saphira said, her joy mimicking his own. He ran as fast as he could towards his tent and dragon, not stopping until he had bounded up to Saphira.
"I'm going to be married" He said giddily. Sahira huffed in laughter.
"I am proud of you, Eragon. I can think of no better match for your mate" Eragon gave his dragon a grin.
"I should go tell Roran!" He said, spinning around for effect and once again to get him in the right direction. Saphira chuckled as her rider raced off towards his cousin's home.
"Roran!" Eragon said loudly when he reached the tent. There was a scuffle, then his cousin emerged bleary eyed.
"What is it? Have they sounded the call? What is-" He stopped as he noticed Eragon hopping from foot to foot and grinning.
"Eragon?" He asked.
"I've done it" Eragon said, his happiness radiating like the sun.
Roran's jaw dropped.
"To WHOM?" He asked, rubbing his eyes as if he thought he was still dreaming. Then, as he saw Eragon's grin, a look of comprehension dawned on his face.
"It's Arya, isn't it? My congratulations, Brother" He held out his arms and the two men embraced.
"Seems you can't long be outdone by me, can you? Not even on the farm" Roran chuckled. Eragon nodded in reply.
"Come to the Pavilion before the second call. We plan to do it there" Eragon said. Roran held out his hand and they shook.
"I'll be there"
Eragon walked back to Saphira feeling like he was walking on clouds.