A/N: Plain fluff. Nothing more. Just a short fluffy conversations about ends and means... cute memories... Really, it's just fluff. Enjoy! Please review!
Characters: Daine, Numair
Time: Post-Realms of the Gods
Disclaimer: Everything you recognize belongs to Tamora Pierce, not me.
"Hmm?" His response was a sleepy grunt, one hand gently exploring her cheeks and nose as it searched for a loose curl to toy with.
Daine flipped over on her side to get a better look at him. His swarthy face was framed by the moonlight streaming through the window. "Sorry. Did I wake you up?"
Though his eyes were still closed, he smiled. "No, magelet. Did you have a question?" His hand tangled idly through her hair.
"I was just wondering… when did you fall in love with me?"
Numair's hand stopped moving. He opened his dark eyes now, contemplative. "I thought I told you that. When the barrier fell, I - "
"You said that's when you knew," Daine specified, "but looking back… when do you think it started?"
"You risk my saying something that may or may not make me sound like a lecherous old man," he said dryly, but Daine only laughed and kissed his cheek, nestling her head comfortably on his shoulder.
"I was just curious, old man."
He resumed his stroking of her hair as she cuddled even closer to him beneath the blankets. With her head on his chest, she felt the vibration of his words as he spoke. "Well. I still don't know when, or what, it was, specifically. But perhaps… I remember two summers ago, flying with you in bird form. Racing, dancing. I had never felt more free. It was almost like a mating dance, the way we flew together, I never realized it then - "
"You're right," Daine said happily, reminiscing. "I hadn't noticed either! But you had a terrible headache afterward from using up so much magic on the shapeshift, I remember - "
"And you were right there to nurse me back to health."
"And scold you. You know, with your build and the fact that we're mammals, it'd be much easier for you to do a magic-shift into something like a mountain lion. Or a panther."
Numair gave a great groan. "Oh, gods, I can't imagine learning another form. One takes enough toll on my Gift as it is. Besides, sometimes I need the wings and the small size. And… I would never trade flying with you for anything." He pulled her head to his for a sweet kiss. Daine smiled against his lips.
"So… was that when it happened, then?"
"Perhaps," said Numair, "but upon reflection… I could never isolate one moment. For all the time I've known you, I've cared about you – it, well, changed along the way, but it has always been there."
Daine's chest filled with the palpable, peculiar kind of warmth that she only felt when she was with him. It spread from her heart all the way to her cheeks and toes, pulling her lips into a broad smile. Words failed her, so she simply squeezed herself closer to him and kissed him again.
"Well then, magelet? And you?" His eyes were sparkling. "When did you fall in love with me?"
"You risk my saying something that may or may not make me sound like a silly little girl," she said tartly. "What if I said that, upon reflection… I've loved you all along?"
Numair laughed, soft and deep. "I was charming, wasn't I?"
Daine kicked him – but only lightly. "If I had to pick… I remember the first time you told me about Ozorne. When you were young, I mean. And how you came to Tortall and lived on the streets. I realized… that you trusted me, as much as I trusted you. I liked that feeling."
"I'm glad." He slipped an arm around her and kissed her once more, gentle and lingering. "I love you very much, Daine."
"Mmm. Love you too." Daine closed her eyes. She didn't really know what had made her start this conversation, but suddenly she was more sleepy than she thought. It was just so comfortable, being next to him. "G'night, Numair."
She fell asleep almost right away, soothed by his rhythmic heartbeat, his warm hand on her skin, and his slow, deep breaths.