A/N: Okay, firstly (as I forgot to do in the previous chapter), a great big THANK YOU to all who reviewed, from the bottom of my heart. I really appreciate the suggestions and comments; and am glad to see that there are Sam/Lirael fans out there. The (Abhorsen fndom) world seems much less lonely with fellow shippers out there. On this note, if anyone out there is reading this; please, please, PLEASE contribute to the Sam/Lirael pool-this is a plea from a fervent Sam/Lirael junkie. And no, they don't have to be related so it isn't technically incest unless you're insistent on sticking to canon. So...*hinthint* :D
For my part, this will be slightly AU for several reasons; one of which I want to point out being Sam's characterisation.
Sam may or may not have changed during subsequent books, but I don't know if he did (or if he even had any appearances after Abhorsen). In any case (because I refused to continue reading when I found out their blood ties prevented any viable romance between Sam and Lirael), my Sam is an in-between one who's on the verge of attaining the maturity of adulthood, but not quite yet. So if Sam seems OOC or anything, this is just a heads-up that I've intended him to be like this specifically.
Disclaimer: Garth Nix's. And on with the show we go.
Like Fictions You Would Make
So I lie down against your back
Until we're both back in the hospital
But now it's not a cancer ward
We're sleeping in the morgue
-Epilogue, by The Antlers
Lirael recovered first, uttering his name with what sounded (to his childish gratification) vaguely like a hint of relief.
To his credit, whether or not the Bee Keeper detected her sentiment, he hid any other reaction well, save a curt, frustrated nasal exhalation. Likely at my interruption, Sam thought with petty glee-an emotion that was becoming a constant companion that night. Nevertheless, the lanky man followed up with belated and elementary decorum in the brief nod and murmured verbal greeting, "Prince Sameth."
"Lovely evening, is it not?" The Prince bade dryly, before turning to Lirael in a purposeful manner. "Sorry for interrupting, but Mother's tasked me to fetch you to her room-something about wanting to discuss urgent border matters."
He was scarcely able to contain his mirth at the relief that flooded her orbs for the split second before she hid it. With a sudden surge of empathy for her awkwardness (and perhaps mostly because he was taking a little too well to the role of competitive suitor), Sam quickly addressed the other man with all the contrived sincerity he could muster; "My apologies sir, but Lirael's presence is required elsewhere at the moment; if we may depart now...?"
Naturally, the Bee Keeper conceded to Sameth's diplomatic prompting, a skill he'd honed after years of court education that he'd been subjected to, upon his parents' insistence. And so extending his arm to Lirael (as courtly decorum once again required), he briskly escorted her down one of the paths leading across the garden, towards the royal wing of the palace-a location that Jonathan the Bee Keeper was conveniently barred from under ordinary circumstances.
He maintained his brisk stride up the spiral staircase, and did not cease his ascent even as they passed the level of Sabriel's chambers. Sometime during their climb, his hand slipped from its more formal position in a clenched fist, arm hooked in support of her wrist placed upon his forearm, into a more intimate handhold, his fingers squeezing hers in instinctive comfort.
"So Sabriel wanted to discuss the urgent border issues," She offered dryly, failing to hide her amusement when he finally led them up to the roof.
"Indeed. The cows along the border, you know," he intoned, with the most serious and concerned voice he could maintain; but was unable to stop the grin that slipped out at the end.
His heart stuttered when she gave an answering half-grin-a grin that he had not seen directed solely at him in a long time-and then again when he realised that she'd yet to tug her hand away.
"Thank you, Sameth."-uttered quietly in such a heartfelt, essentially Lirael manner, and accompanied by a squeeze of fingers.
Then all too soon, hands parted gently, and the grin melted into a contemplative (if a little melancholic) expression as she turned half-away to lean against the stone ledge.
Silently, subtly, Sameth took in the scene-the expression on her face, tendrils of hair fluttering gently in the night breeze-as the moonlight encased her in the sort of cliched, ethereal glow that those sodding poets harped on about and that he'd never fully realised the attraction of until that moment.
Charter forbid, he was starting to sound like one of them.
Then he noticed the blankness that was starting to eclipse her previous expression, watching with a dawning panic as old Lirael retreated back into her post-Dog shell, and softly interjected; "How've you been, Lirael?"
To his relief, the question was effective in casting out the blankness. However, in typical fashion, she didn't answer it, but instead casted curious eyes to his profile as he perched beside her in a mirrored stance. He could hear the silent query, wondering at his sudden sentimentality-for their relationship had always comprised unspoken emotional support; rarely did they voice aloud the 'Are-you-okays' and the 'I'm-here-for-yous'. Those sentiments were nonetheless relayed, somehow-it was a sort of mutual understanding they had come to.
Casting his gaze to an invisible point into the darkness below, he smiled faintly. "I just miss...everything."
I miss you, was what he meant, really; but he was fairly certain she understood-as she always did when it came to many things. This was the fundamental nuance underlying their bond.
No, he wasn't afraid of losing their special kindred telepathy of sorts. In fact, what he was more afraid of was losing the battle against confining the single sentiment that had been clawing and raging from within him-all because their bond facilitated the bursting of the proverbial dam. And more than that, he was struggling with the irony and the wrongness of it all.
Sameth the realistic coward was afraid to see the revulsion and shock that would undoubtedly flood her entire disposition once she got wind of it.
Sameth the optimistic fool yearned for the release and looked to the soul-resonating joy that accompanied her acceptance.
From the corner of his eye, he watched as she turned back to watch the same darkness.
I love you, he longed to whisper.
And she wouldn't speak, but her lids would be lowered in contemplation as she pondered the weight in his words, the implications of each consonant. He'd step closer and gently pull her against himself, and she'd allow his arms to cradle her as she'd finally tilt her face up to his, tender lips parting-
He yanked himself back to the present with a bitter smirk of self-condescension, and her response came; belatedly and softly, yet not any less audible-
But he knew that close as they were, their telepathy didn't work all the time, even if he sometimes fooled himself into thinking it did.
A/N: In retrospect, so much for avoiding awkward moments-Jonathan's characterisation was fully coincidental but bizzarely 'prophetic'. Grah. I WANT MY SAMETH :( Hope all of you managed to avoid awkward moments in your own lives anyway.