Juniper

a/n: in this story, arriane never went into the church.

…...

flame

"I was found by the prince," Arriane said, the pads of her fingers pressing against the stone that made up the tower walls. "I collapsed a few miles from the town. He found me and brought me here. I am a ward of the king; have been for seven years now."

Roland said nothing, staring out into the night. He was leaning his elbows on the wall, eyes hard.

"I like it here. More than I expected I would."

There was a hard block in his throat and Roland struggled to swallow it down. His skin had been freshly shaved and the oils he had put on his jaw caused his skin to glow in the reflected light from the one candle Arriane had brought out.

It was late, the hours creeping onto dawn. He had been up here for hours, but she had only come a half-hour before.

"You were lucky," Roland said eventually, his voice dry and low. He didn't continue. She wondered just what he had been doing since the fall, but he gave no inclinations.

Arriane looked at him, but he ignored her inquiry and kept his gaze east. After a moment, she turned back. A breeze pushed past them, sweeping over her exposed skin.

"It is beautiful here," he observed quietly, "it looks as though the hills go on forever."

"It is."

More silence. Then: "you shouldn't have come with me."

Arriane inhaled sharply. "I made a promise."

"It was asking to much of you to keep it."

"You never asked anything of me," she defended slowly. He didn't respond. Arriane sighed, looking back at him. He was being awfully quiet tonight, especially considering the the fact that he had every reason to think she hadn't survived the fall-after all, she had thought so of him. The flame of the candle wavered and the night grew dimmer. "Are you going to stay?"

Roland considered this, and then finally, turned his head to look at her. His hand brushed out and trailed along her neck for an instant before he shut his eyes and took a long, heavy breath. "It's good to see you, Arriane."

...

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