The Opportune Moment
The two figures hurried out of the rain and into the small watermill. The bigger of the two glanced once back over his shoulder to ensure that they had not been followed. Darkness had fallen as they had run and it had granted them cover. But for how long he wasn't sure.
Who would have thought they'd have been ambushed in open daylight. Well. Open evening light. Most people had been inside and they had been on their way back to the inn. Davin would be worried by now, she thought, but she said nothing as she clenched her bleeding hand.
"Come here, Dina," Tano said. He was standing by a table a small bath of water already at his side.
"How did you get that so fast?" she asked as he made her sit in a chair.
His pointed up as he gently studied her hand. As she looked up she noticed a hole in the roof. "Oh."
His callous hands graced hers as he worked on her hands. The cut was deep and her already dirty hands wasn't making it better, so he had set to work to clean them, as gently as he could. She winced a couple of times but said nothing otherwise. Then he started bandaging her hands and did it a little too tightly and she pulled her hands back inhaling sharply.
"Sorry," he mumbled, "black smith's hands…I know they're rough."
"It's ok," her uninjured hand landed on his and her green eyes finally turned to look at him. He gave it a tiny squeeze and turned back to his work.
It had been many years since he had stopped being affected by her gifts and he often wondered why. She seemed to have an idea of why but refused to tell him. Callan was the same with her mother, but neither of those two knew either. The only thing her mother ever said was that some day a shamer would meet someone who could look them in the eyes and that someone was … how had she put it? Oh yes, she had stopped her sentence and stared him down. "Don't you dare make the same mistake her father did," she had said, and then she had turned away and muttered to herself. "Or maybe it was I who made a mistake. Well, better than have her raised by that woman."
He'd never got anything else out of her.
He knew what it meant. He had used years thinking about it and he had used years studying her and he was sure now. Even if it wasn't what her mother had meant it was about what they made of it, wasn't it?
"I'm sorry for being so reckless, Tano," she admitted as he let go of her hand.
He smiled gently and patted her knee. "We got out of there with only scratches."
Her cheeks heated and she looked away pointedly. "It's only been five years," she said, "I should have known there'd still be knights out there."
"And so should I," he said, gaze hardening. "But, Dina –" her eyes widened slightly and she turned to look at him "- we all make mistakes. We made plenty of those during the war and I must say that I regret nothing."
Inhaling sharply she turned back to look at him. "Nothing? Nothing at all?" she asked. A small smile spread across her face. "You've said that before."
"I guess I have," he said as he rose and glanced out the window.
They had taken refuge in a small watermill just outside the port they had been going to for a job. Dina had taken over her mother's role as Melussina was taking a break. Dina was still her mother's apprentice but now-a-days it was more of a title until her mother completely retired. And though he was a blacksmith Tano would take Callan's as the protector of the Shamer.
When he saw none he checked the knife at his side, sighed and turned back. "We'll have to stay here for the night."
She didn't seem surprised by this at all, just looked around trying to adjust her vision to the dark. "Do you think they'll be gone by morning?"
"If not we'll have to try to try and find a way past them and see what has become of Davin," he said and looked around as well. It had been a while since the water mill had been abandoned, but most of the furniture the family had left on their haste to get away. Another scar of the war with Drakan.
"It seems," she said, "that it wasn't that big a family." There was a thump as she threw herself on something soft. "Or just poor. One big bed. I remember when we didn't have separate rooms."
Dina let her hand trace the rough fabric and felt the tips of dirt under her fingers. She heard him sit in a chair and throw his legs up on the table. He'd stay there, she knew that. And yet… a drop of water hit her cheek and she realized that her soaked clothes was becoming a disadvantage to their plan. To stay hidden they'd have to stay in the darkness, which meant no fire and no warm air to dry their clothes.
"How are we going to dry our clothes?" she asked.
She heard him move, a sudden movement, that showed that he had been caught in his own thoughts. "What?"
"The clothes. They're soaked. We can't start a fire to dry them," she sighed. It wasn't the first time she'd caught him in his own thoughts over the last few weeks.
She heard him stand and she heard fingers slide over the surface of the table. When it stopped there was silence for a moment before he continued to let his hand slide over something. A wall. Then he stopped and she heard a creek of a wardrobe.
"Nothing here," he muttered. "And if so I imagine it would have been eaten by moths by now."
"Looking for extra clothing?"
"Yeah, but there's nothing here. They'd have taken everything with them."
She snorted a laugh and fell back on the hard mattress. There was a scratching sound of disturbed mice and she turned to glance around. It didn't seem like they had been on the bed. Good, that meant they could sleep on it.
Still… she moved her hands around to check for unneeded surprises and fount none. Next she removed most of her clothes. Not so much that it was indecent and not so much that it would leave her with a cold in the morning.
"Dina?" there was a warning in his tone. "What are you doing?"
"Taking off my clothes."
"You heard me," she said and felt her cheeks heat up. This was embarrassing enough as it was. "I'm not going home with a cold."
"You will be cold if you plan to sleep naked."
She spluttered a protest and knew her face had reached a whole new shade of red. This had just become far more embarrassing than it had to be. "I wasn't going to –" his laughter interrupted her. "What?"
"Let me guess. You're still in decent clothing, just not so much that you'll catch a cold," he said, the tone of his voice showing her that he was still laughing. "Alright –" rustling of clothes followed his words "- I see one problem with your theory, though…"
"Tano… what are you doing?"
"Taking off my clothes."
"You heard me. I don't want to go home with a cold either."
Dina huffed and crossed her arms, turning, what she hoped was, her side to him. Inhaling deeply she tried to keep her heart from beating too frantically. He was… he was… he was… her brain shut down, refused to think the word. "This – this still leaves a hole in the theory," she reminded him. "If we're both half – if we're both victims to the cold like this how will any of us go home without a cold?"
A warm, rough, hand touched her shoulder and she almost jumped away. "Sorry," he whispered, "I didn't mean to surprise you."
"Body heat," she muttered, trying not to think of how close they'd be for the coming hours. "Why hadn't I thought of that?"
She felt him shift and his hand move down her arm. When it stopped at her waist she felt him hesitate before his arms snaked around her and pulled her close. She held back a gasp as she felt his naked chest against her back. "Tano… I don't think…"
"I know," he sighed as he guided her to lie down, "but it's better than nothing."
She turned to curl up against his side as he pulled a blanket over them both. Warmth was already spreading through her exhausted body. His hand came to rest on the top of her head, gently stroking her hair and she fell asleep to his quiet, calm breathing.
It hadn't taken her long to realize that Tano was her reason for blushing and for her clumsiness. It had taken her longer to realize why he affected her in such a way. A few years actually. But when she had it had taken all her willpower to look him in the eyes again, and it had taken even more willpower to hide it from him. She couldn't tell him, not yet. She feared that it would come between them. Tano would not try to own her like other men would try. He wouldn't control her time or force her to stay indoors. That wasn't how Tano was.
She'd been surprised when she had found that Callan were training him, that he and Davin were both still training. After the war it seemed pointless, but he reminded her that she still needed an escort, now that shamers were feared. She'd accepted his logic with a nod, but had also been glad that it was Tano who'd be the one to escort her. Davin came along on most of their outings but always stayed out of their way, which meant that they took time to roam the cities after her work was done.
When she woke up the next morning it was to the sun shining through half-rotten curtains and Tano pulling her roughly out of bed and onto the floor. Well, she landed with an 'oomph' on top of him and his hand went to cover her mouth immediately.
"Knights," he whispered. "Quiet."
Something stirred outside and she stiffened. "Do you see anyone?" someone, a man, yelled.
"No. Are you sure they went this way?"
"Yeah. But they must be long gone by now."
"Let's move on."
Several others agreed and they heard them move on and she relaxed, letting her eyes drop again. As she rested her head on his chest a chuckle rippled through him. "You shouldn't fall asleep again. We have to go back to the port and find your brother."
"How did you hear them?" she muttered, without listing her head or opening her eyes.
"I was already awake."
Gentle hands caught her shoulders and she was pushed to sit up. Her eyes shot open and sleep's fog, clouding her mind, finally lifted. She scrambled away from him, blushing extremely. "I- I- Tano, I'm so- sorry," she stuttered and scrawled few meters away from him.
Then she noticed that his eyes were laughing again and he kneeled before her, taking her hand like the night before. "Let's check that wound of yours," he said.
The examination, cleaning and re-bandaging went a lot easier now that he had the light. Not that he hadn't been thorough the evening before, but now that he could see his hands were a lot gentler. As he finished his thumb graced her wrist in a gentle caress before letting go.
As soon as his skin wasn't touching hers anymore she reached out and grabbed his hand. His eyes widened a little at her boldness, but then they gentled as she placed it on her yaw. "Did you know?" he began. "That there's something called an Opportune Moment?"
"No… what's that?"
"This," he whispered and the next thing she knew his lips were on hers.
It wasn't a long passionate kiss filled with love, like the ones Rosa had described from the books she had started reading. It was just a short, sweet kiss that he quickly broke again. Dina sat there for a moment, listening to their breathing and feeling the heat of his body still so close to her.
"Were you waiting for such an opportune moment?" she whispered.
"Pretty much," his voice was light.
"Why not last night, then?"
A chuckle. "Because that would have sent the wrong messages," he told her, his thumb running over her cheek.
Finally she opened her eyes and stared seriously into his. "It would," she agreed. "But what messages are you trying to send me now, Tano?"
A small smile crept onto his lips and he rose. When he offered her his hand she took it and he pulled her to her feet. "What message would like me to send you?" he asked as he entwined their fingers.
Staring down at their hands for a moment she muttered "the right ones."
He handed her the dress she had been wearing yesterday with an "it's still damp, but it's better than nothing," before letting go and grabbing his own clothes. They dressed in silence both keeping an eye out for more dragon knights. Dina doubted, though, that any would return as it seemed that they had given up their search earlier.
"What would the right messages be?" he asked. "Because as I see it, it would depend on the person."
She turned to face him, fully dressed in her only half dry clothes. "Why did you kiss me?"
"Because I've wanted to." The answer came immediately, just like the time he had told her that he didn't fear her.
"A very long time."
She smiled up at him, feeling her cheeks warm again. "You spoke to my mum about being able to look me in the eyes, right?"
"What'd she tell you?"
"Not to make the same mistake your father had done… or something along those lines," he scratched the back of his neck and glanced at the window.
A laugh bubbled up from her chest and she had to sit down on the bed for support. His puzzled expression only made it worse and it took her a moment to gather her wits. "It was just as much mom who made a mistake," she said when she had completely calmed down. "But I think… what she means is… that you shouldn't leave me."
His crooked smile returned. "And why would I ever do that?"
She huffed and crossed her arms. "How would I know?" she muttered darkly as she looked away. Why were they beating around the bush? "It's just a warning."
He was still smiling as he kneeled before her, his hand coming up to once again caress her face. "Well, leaving you behind would make me feel very much ashamed," he said seriously and she almost giggled at the wordplay. "You have no need to fear that I'd ever leave you, Dina."
They stared at each other for a moment before she muttered. "Another opportune moment?"
"I think so."
A smile spread across her lips and this time she was the one to kiss him.
"So…" Dina said as they headed back into town. "Where did that talk of opportune moments come from in the first place?"
He chuckled, but she noticed that he was still scanning their surroundings. "I'm honestly not sure if it was Callan or Davin who mentioned it first," he admitted. "I think it was Callan… one day when we were ready for some training they arrived arguing about a fight Davin had had with Rosa. Davin couldn't understand exactly what he had done wrong and Callan gave us a lecture on the opportune moment."
"Really now?" she said, her mind reeling. She remembered a particularly nasty fight between her two siblings. Rosa wasn't really her sister, but they had lived together since their first encounter with Drakan. "And he approves of their relationship?"
"Yeah. Why wouldn't he? Don't you?"
She sighed and scratched the back of her neck in thought, a habit she had picked up from spending so much time with Tano. "We've been calling her 'sister' for so long…"
"You never were siblings in the first place," he reminded her. "But if they became official it would be the proper title, at least for you to refer to."
She sighed wistfully. "It's just a matter of time," she muttered, "how I wish I could get married."
He seemed genuinely surprised at that and she thought she'd elaborate. "Shamers don't have husbands," she told him, "they have life-partners at best, but you've seen how badly that works out."
"Callan and Mellusina seems to work it out just fine," he reminded her. "And why shouldn't we be able to do it just fine as well?"
She grinned up at him. "Now there was a message I could understand."
He stopped and stared at her for a moment his mind reeling. She didn't wait for him, just continued walking down the road, laughing, and knowing that he'd catch up to her eventually.
OMG! THERE's a SHAMER CHRONICLES category! I wish someone would fill it up already!
Well, I honestly didn't know that until I wrote this but now I'm just even more happy that I did. I dunno how many of these names are only Danish or how many have been changed in the English version BUT since xD mine is based on the original version *laughs evilly* I think I have a right to use them!
This is something I thought of writing two days ago, I really have no idea what it is about other than fluff which I usually don't write. It came to be because I was watching Pirates of the Caribbean 1 and Will is a blacksmith which I had forgotten and my mind just SCREAMED Tano. Some of you may see that I have taken a bit from a scene in said movie and thrown it in somewhere here, in this fic.
I hope you enjoyed