Written for the fluff_bingo on dreamwidth. I reallyyyyyyyyy need to play this game again :B

Zael felt his palms and fingers and muscles protest loudly. He wasn't sure if his hands were bleeding already, but he didn't care. It was taking so long already. He owned that sword for over a year already and he still couldn't wield it.

"It's too big for you." Dagran had said. "Start with smaller ones." But Dagran didn't understand. Zael needed to be strong. He needed to be able to protect whoever he wanted to protect. He didn't want to be held back and let himself being pampered and protected just because he was a bit younger than Dagran. Zael had as much the right to fight with a sword as Dagran. He wasn't a small child. He could decide for himself; he was ready.

He swung the sword and tried desperately to hold it tight and not loose balance and still be precise. But something was always amiss. Either he was falling over or his sword was slipping or he didn't hit his target. Gasping and panting, he lowered his sword and bent over. His side was hurting and his throat painfully dry.

"Are you finished?" Zael startled but couldn't look up. He was embarrassed and his side was hurting too much.

"No," he replied through gritted teeth. He heard Dagran sigh.

"Zael, you could've at least asked me to help." Zael blinked quickly. "We're friends, aren't we?"

"Yes," he mumbled. Suddenly, Dagran's feet entered his field of vision.

"Come on." Dagran sat down and now Zael could see his face. His friend was looking very serious in his worry. Zael nodded and slowly lowered himself to the ground. He could breathe more freely when he leaned his head back. The sword slipped to the ground. "Give me your hands." Zael could feel Dagran cleaning his hands and applying a salve. Zael meanwhile watched the clouds passing by. A few leaves were flying over them; they were brown and grey – dead, all of them. Dagran wound a thin bandage around his palms. When he was finished, he kept Zael's hands in his. Zael blinked slowly and looked at his friend; Dagran was still worried.

"Promise to call me next time."

"Alright," Zael answered lowly. Dagran smiled.

"Good. We promised to become knights together, remember? I can't do that without you." Zael returned the smile.

"Yes, we're going to be knights together."

Dagran's mouth twitched. "We're going to be knight commanders."

Zael's smile widened. "Lieutenants."


"Lords." The boys were grinning at each other by now. "And we're going to support each other always."

Dagran nodded. "And if one of us is promoted before the other, we help each other."

Zael nodded. "Yes, we'll always stay friends."