The busy village was filled with spirited people, bustling around the market. Ido looked utterly out of place, sitting on a crate with his hands shackled behind his back. People openly stared as they passed, not bothering to bow.
Ido met my eyes and gave me a wry smile. I looked away, my grip tightening on Kygo's arm. He looked down at me. "What is it, Naiso?"
"Nothing," I answered.
Kygo looked at me tightly. "Then let go."
Taken aback, and a little bit hurt, I did. Kygo muttered something about meeting someone important, then hurried off. Confused and upset, I leaned against a cart, watching him go. He turned left, and suddenly all was clear: he was going to the Blossom House.
Tears of anger rushed to my eyes. Stop being stupid, I told myself, he's the Emperor. It's his duty to keep a harem. He isn't a monk. The words didn't make me feel better, though.
My eyes flitted to Ido again. His gaze was already upon me, frowning. I lifted an eyebrow, as if to ask what was wrong. He shook his head, then jut it toward a food stand nearby, giving me crooked smile. I rolled my eyes. Men. All they wanted was food.
I approached the cart and bought a dumpling. I paid the bowing, quaking man. I turned and started walking to Ido.
His eyes shone when he saw the dumpling. "Ah, food. I haven't had any since yesterday."
My eyes widened. "What? Who's idea was that?"
He smiled wryly. "His Majesty's."
My hands clenched. Kygo. This day just kept getting better and better. "Don't worry; I will speak to him."
Ido smiled, amused. "Why would you do that, Eona? Why do you care?"
Heat rushed to my face. "I don't. I mean…I do…I just don't want to see anyone suffering."
He shrugged. "I'm not complaining. Now take off my cuffs so I can eat."
I took out the key from my hidden pocket, then took off his cuffs. He stretched his fingers, smiling wickedly. Seeing my alarm, he rolled his eyes. "Now that the feeble cuffs are off, I can plan my great escape in this busy village with guards at every corner. Feel free to run around and panic."
I scowled. "I know you cannot escape. Your will is mine."
"Whatever," he grumbled.
"Eona!" a voice called. I turned my head. It was Kygo, a distance away, standing impatiently with two merchants. "Naiso, get over here!"
I sighed. "I have to go."
"You do not have to go if you don't want to," Ido said quietly, "I don't like how that man is controlling you…hurting you."
"He is not," I protested.
Ido looked up. "Denial," he proclaimed.
I narrowed my eyes. "Why do you care?"
"Eona!" Kygo called again.
I gave Ido a last look before hurrying to join the Emperor. He introduced me to the merchants, who proceeded to rattle on and on about things I couldn't care less about. My eyes stayed on Ido. Was it possible for a man like himself to show compassion? To show that he cared?
From where I was standing, I saw a child, probably not even five summers old, crawl out from behind a stack of crates. She looked impoverished, starving. She came to a stop beside Ido, gazing up at him with wide eyes. Ido scowled, turning his back on her, about to take a bite out of his dumpling. Halfway to his mouth, he stopped, turning around. The child was still looking hopefully at him. Sighing, he stuck out his hand, handing her the dumpling. The child was absolutely ecstatic. She stood on her tiptoes and gave him a kiss on the cheek, making Ido freeze. She then skipped away, oblivious to the fact that she had just kissed the Rat Dragoneye. Ido's stunned face turn into a soft smile.
And my heart started beating ten times faster.
I excused myself, cutting a merchant off in the middle of a sentence and earning a glare from Kygo. I made my way to Ido.
"You…" I could barely form words, "She kissed you!"
"Jealous?" Ido asked, back to his wolfish smile, "It's alright, you may kiss me, too. For a small fee, of course."
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, please. The only person that would kiss you is—"
"You, Lady Eona," he finished, "Who is heartbroken because her one true 'wuv' has gotten bored with her."
I crossed my arm. "And who, exactly, is my one true 'wuv'?"
"That would be me," he said, smiling roguishly, "Who I meant, though, was that boy to whom you're the Naiso."
"Kygo?" I voiced, "No! He…he hasn't gotten…" But even as I spoke, I knew Ido was right. Kygo did not care for me, anymore; not as much as he used to.
Ido saw the realization in my eyes. I braced myself, waiting for his jeer. But when he spoke, his voice was soft, "You deserve better than the Emperor, Eona. You…you are a true prize."
My eyes shot to his, trying to search for any insincerity, waiting for the punch line, but he just gazed at me. Were his eyes always this gold, flecked with red? And his eyelashes…they were so long and dark.
"Eona?" Ido said.
"Yes?" I asked, still dazed.
"I want another dumpling."