Again, thank you to all reviewers and supporters, and to Tamora Pierce for writing such great characters. I'm sorry this chapter is so short- I really struggled with this one. More to come soon, I promise. Also, if anyone is interested in beta reading for me, please send me a review and let me know.
He caught her hand before it moved any further, silencing her snarl when he brought it to his lips. He pulled her close and kissed her thoroughly, tangling his hands in her long, curly hair as he did.
"I promise that we can do anything you're comfortable with from now on. And I promise to talk things through with you instead of jumping to my own conclusions and making life harder for both of us. But in exchange, I want something from you."
He paused, and she raised a single eyebrow while she waited for his conditions. "First, I want to request that it not be tonight. Not because I don't want to, and not because I have any more qualms about making love to you, but because I want our first time together to be an incredible, unforgettable night. I don't want to look back and think that mere moments before we were finally together, you were crying and I was the cause. Please, my love... Not tonight."
"What does 'qualms' mean?"
"Does that mean you agree?"
"Maybe. What does 'qualms' mean?"
"It means concerns."
"Why didn't you just say 'concerns' then?"
"I agree." She understood him. She had always understood, and loved, his silly romantic notions and his grand gestures.
He reached over to draw her close just as she yawned, and he suddenly noticed how tired she looked.
"Are you alright, sweetheart?"
"Just tired is all. Didn't sleep yesterday, 'cause I was so nervous about barging in here tonight, and then the crying and..." She trailed off. "Just tired."
Numair reached down and grabbed a shirt off the floor. He handed it to her and watched as she buttoned it up and slipped out of bed. As she brushed her teeth and washed her face, Numair took a few deep breaths and began sorting through the events of the evening. He was a genius, and as such, was neither used to nor enjoyed the feeling of being an idiot, but it had occurred to him that if he was going to spend his life with Daine, it might be something he would have to get used to. He had never really bought into that "love makes you blind" nonsense, but he was beginning to realize that Daine was definitely his blind spot. How could he not have realized that she was taking his caution as rejection? And when had he talked himself into thinking she wasn't really ready to make a lifetime commitment to him? She was young, yes, but he also knew first hand how determined she could be once she made up her mind about something. Not to mention everything she had given up to return to him...
She climbed back into bed and looked up into his eyes. "Whatchya thinking?" she asked.
"Just that I am a very lucky man," he said, leaning down to kiss her. "I love you, Daine."
"I love you too. And I always will."
Numair smiled as he tucked Daine's head into the curve of his shoulder, smoothing his hand over her hair while she drifted off to sleep. He was a lucky man, indeed, and if his darling Magelet was ready to give herself to him, mind, soul, and body, then it was time he stopped questioning what was best for her and instead start focusing on making their life together incredible.