OH...MY...GOD...I'm back everyone! my computer was being fixed. I didn't have my other files for this story so it felt weird trying to continue it. I did kinda draft an idea for a new story if you want to check it out. Anyway...yeah...here we go.
(This is the rewritten version of the chapter. I have made it better. Thank you "our entwined souls" for helping me, and for making my day with a review!)
Alyce's words were still knocking around inside my skull. How...how had she known of my feelings. Had she read my thoughts? Or had my feelings just been so obvious that everyone but me already understood them? Had Alyce simply made a lucky guess? This was giving me a headache. I was tempted to ask Bann of his cousin's grace, for Alyce's strange empathy raised my suspicions, but I felt this would be too nosy of a question.
"I apologize for my cousin..." Bann said, his face red from Alyce's teasing. "She is a bit...eccentric at times..." Bann wasn't looking me in the eye, and he was rubbing the back of his head, embarrassed. "What did she say to you?"
I could feel my face heat up at the memory of Alyce's words.
"That 'feeling', Lord Prince, is called jealousy."
I couldn't tell him that.
"Oh!" I stammered. "N-nothing...she just... explained something to me..."
Bann looked at me hard now. He didn't believe me, but he didn't try to pry.
Was that it? Was I jealous? Jealous of what? Bann? The girls that touched him?
I looked at Bann, and was stunned at the fondness I felt when I looked at his face. He was still rubbing the back of his head, ruffling his dark hair and staring at the ground. He had a very appealing face, and I enjoyed being around him. Maybe...maybe I-
No...no! I shook head. These couldn't be my feelings. We're both men.
Bann's worried expression faded and he smiled at me.
"Well...if that was all then...anyway, we still have plenty of time left. We should enjoy ourselves!"
We spent the rest of the day at the festival. We visited the artisans' stalls, we watched street performances and parades, Bann even attempted to teach me how to dance at one of the musical performances. He didn't seem to mind at all that it involved him wrapping an arm around the waist of another man, but I didn't exactly try to stop him either. He was so excited. I didn't have the heart to tell him that, as the prince, I already had been taught how to dance.
I had to pull my hood over my face as we danced, as I didn't want Bann to see the obvious blush that had crept onto my face. A blush that only deepened when Bann's hand accidentally brushed against my...well...backside, as we were dancing.
As the day went on, my strange feelings towards Bann only grew stronger. Every time a girl came up to flirt with him, every time one of the women at the market stalls made eyes at him, I felt...
That night, after the sun had set, Bann and I sat together on the edge of the large fountain in the center of the square. It was getting late, and it had been a busy day. I could feel my eyelids growing heavy.
"Raffin?" I heard Bann ask beside me with a small laugh. "Are you tired?" I realized I had been nodding off a bit, and my head now rested against Bann's shoulder. I sat up, embarrassed.
"N-no." I stammered. But I couldn't suppress my yawn. Truth be told, I was exhausted "Well...maybe a little." I sighed.
"Should you be getting back to the castle? It's late." He said, sounding a bit worried.
I thought about it.
"No." I decided. "I really don't want to, and it's late enough that if I went back now, I'd likely get stopped by a steward and brought to my father. If I don't go back, they'll assume I just spent the day in my rooms. It's not unusual behavior for me, they won't check."
"Well...okay...if you're sure." Bann said. "Would you like to stay at one of the inns tonight?"
We found a nice looking inn nearby, and despite my protests, Bann said he would pay for our room.
"You don't have any money on you." Bann had argued.
"But If I just-"
"Tell them you're the prince? They could never keep that quiet, your father would hear. And they wouldn't be very likely to believe you without proof anyway."
That was how we had ended up in this room. This room...that had only one single-person bed. Bann had limited funds, and he was right. I couldn't tell them I was the prince without my father hearing of it, or without having the inn's staff laugh in my face.
I was changed and sitting on the bed when Bann came back into the room, also changed, and carrying the extra blanket he's gone to get from the innkeeper.
"Well then." He said. "You can take the bed, Raffin." he said with an easy smile. "I went to get this so that I could sleep on the floor."
He walked over to the side of the bed and began spreading the blanket across the wood-plank floor. It didn't look very comfortable...
I reached out and grabbed his wrist. I felt my cheeks warm up. Why do I blush so much when I'm around Bann?
He turned to look at me, surprised. As I spoke I turned my gaze to the floor.
"Uhm..." I muttered. "I-if...if you want...we...we can..." I gulped, embarrassed of what I was suggesting. I looked up at Bann. "We could...share...the bed..." The red that sprang to Bann's face was visible in the lamplight seeping in from outside. I knew that it was a bad idea to suggest it. "N-never mind!" I stammered quickly. "Forget I said anything! I was just-"
"N-no!" Bann blurted. I looked up at him startled. His face was very red now, and his wrist felt warm in my hand.
"No." He said again. He was smiling now. "I-I mean yes... I mean... thank you." He finished, still stammering.
I lied down on the bed and slid over, trying to give him as much room as I could. It was a tight fit. When he'd first gotten into the bed, he'd slid over too far and had to reach an arm around my waist to keep me from falling off of the other side.
"S-sorry." he said quietly.
"It's fine..." my voice was hardly audible. I'm not even sure he heard it.
I let him keep holding on so I wouldn't fall, and we ended up sleeping face to face. Or...face to chest, as Bann was taller than me. Bann's breathing gradually slowed, and he was asleep.
I felt Bann's arm tighten around my waist as he slept, and my heart jumped into my throat. I knew it now. With my own suspicions, and Alyce's explanations, I knew. All of the signs are there, all of the symptoms that I've never known myself, but have heard of. I get nervous when he's near me, and even more so when he touches me. I get jealous when girls touch him, and we have so much in common... I can admit it to myself now. I buried my face in Bann's sleeping chest and wrapped my arms around his waist. I know it now...
I've fallen in love with Bann.
I woke to the sound of Bann's cheerful laugh. I move my face from his chest so that I could see him.
"Good morning, Raffin." he said we he noticed I was awake. "Did you get lonely in your sleep?" my arms were still around his waist. "That's so...Raffin? Raffin! Have you been crying?" his hand came down and wiped my face with his thumb, it came away wet. I looked at the shirt of his bedclothes, which I now saw were wet where my face had been. I hadn't known I'd been crying. It was then that I realized...that I was still crying. Two warm trails of tears were sliding down my face.
"Raffin! Raffin what's wrong? Please, tell me!" Bann sounded so worried...but, I was still so tired. I didn't know why I was crying, and I didn't have the energy to try to work it out. Without realizing it, I fell back asleep against Bann's chest without answering him.
The next time I woke up, it was later. Mid-afternoon from what I could see out the window. The first thing I noticed was that Bann was no longer in the bed with me.
I sat up in bed just as Bann was coming back into the room.
"Oh!" Bann said, a smile on his face. "You're awake! You must've been exhausted last night. You slept for a while. It's five now." he laughed. "Well...I guess we did go to bed late. I think it was around...six in the morning? The festival never really stops until the end of the second day. No matter how late it is, there's always someone awake doing something. It's no wonder we didn't notice how late it was getting." he came over and sat at the foot of the bed.
"Are you feeling okay?" he asked. "You were crying this morning."
"Oh..." I said, remembering what I'd realized last night. "Yes...I just had a bad dream..."
"Hmmm..." Bann hummed, not sounding entirely sure. "Well okay then." He grabbed my hand and pulled me out of bed and onto my feet. "Well you slept pretty late, but we still have until midnight before the festival ends. The festival ends with the fireworks! They start at ten-thirty and last until the end, so we have a few hours."
After I had changed back into my festival clothing, we decided to go and meet up with Alyce before she had to return to the castle. As a Graceling, she was still technically Randa's property, and her allotted time had been used up. We talked with Alyce for a bit, walking around the festival, and by the time Alyce had to leave, it was time to go find a spot to watch the fireworks.
Bann was absolutely ecstatic. He ran ahead of me and turned back to call to me.
"Hurry up, Raffin!" he called. "I know I great spot!"
The spot he brought us to was beautiful. We were on a small hill outside of town that was covered in wildflowers, and Bann said that it had a great view of where the fireworks would be. I didn't see anyone else around, and when I asked, Bann told me that it was because there was an area within the town designated for watching the fireworks that most people used, so we would be the only ones here.
The sun had gone down at this point, and Bann and I were lying down in the grass talking, when he nudged me and pointed to the sky.
Just then, the first of the fireworks exploded into a shower of color, closely followed by a second. The first in Pale blues and silvers, the second, in reds pinks and golds. I stared, wide-eyed. I had seen the festival fireworks from my window in the castle, but never so close before. Bann laughed at my reaction.
"Nice huh?" he asked.
"It's amazing!" I exclaimed as more fireworks burst into the sky. "This is beautiful!" I turned to look at Bann, but his smile was gone. "Bann?"
"Will you tell me why you were crying now?" Bann whispered. "I know you were lying when you said it was a bad dream, and Alyce...Alyce thinks something was on your mind today...she told me that she thought you seemed troubled at dinner today." he looked so worried and sad. Clearly my not telling him had hurt him.
My breath caught in my throat. I swallowed hard.
"I-I can't..." I stammered. Bann looked as if I had slapped him. "I...if I told you...you would hate me..." I whispered.
I couldn't tell him. I didn't even know exactly what it was I couldn't tell him. I knew that it had something to do with my newly realized feelings for Bann, that it had something to do with the inevitable trouble that would follow should I chose to pursue these feelings, but I didn't exactly know how my feelings for Bann connected to my tears.
Suddenly Bann was kneeling over me. Knees on either side of my hips and hands on either side of my face.
"Are you Stupid!" He shouted. I was startled, Bann had never been so harsh with me before. "Are you stupid, Raffin? Do you think I could ever hate you? You? My first and only real friend? You? The one who looks passed how inferior in class I am to you? How the hell could I hate you? You, who offers such undeserved friendship towards me? You...you...who...who...who I..."
He closed his eyes tightly and I saw tears leaking from the corners of his eyes.
"DAMMIT RAFFIN!" And suddenly...he was kissing me. My eyes widened as his lips pressed against mine. I made a surprised squeak into the kiss, and he pulled away.
"Dammit...Dammit, Raffin...I...I'm sorry...I..." he whispered through his tears. "I..." He trailed off, silent tears still streaming through his tightly shut eyes. I touched my lips with the tips of my fingers, not sure if I was more surprised that he'd kissed me, or that I was upset that he's stopped.
"Bann..." I began. I couldn't just sit there and watch him cry. He'd comforted me when I cried, I could try the same for him. I reached up, a bit hesitant to touch him when he was like this, and wiped away his tears with my thumb. "Bann...it's okay." My words only seemed to make his tears fall faster. I wanted him to know that it was okay, that, in fact, I wanted him to kiss me again. But, I didn't know how to get those words out. I gulped, nervous of what I now knew I was attempting. "Bann..." I started again. I placed my hands on either side of his face, shifting so that I was lying in a way so that my elbows were supporting me, and pulled his face closer to mine. His face was now mere centimeters from mine.
At my actions, Bann's eyes shot open, and his tears began to slow.
"Raffin..." He started, surprise evident on his face. "are...are you certain?"
I was blushing now, my actions catching up with my mind, and I was growing flustered. I tried my hardest to make myself sound determined, but my next words still came out as nervous and wavering.
"I...I am." I managed to get out, my blush deepening to the shade of the darkest rose in Meilin's gardens. Bann looked unsure, and nervous. The smallest blush was creeping onto his face. It was amazing how much you notice of a person's feelings when your face is less than an inch from theirs.
He gulped. His voice was a rough whisper. "Are you certain that you're certain?" He asked again. Bann had regained some composure, and his face was serious. "Your father..." I gulped again at the thought of Randa. He would be furious should he find out. But, I couldn't bring myself to care.
"I am." I said, my voice quiet. Bann nodded.
Neither of us spoke now. When I felt Bann moving away slightly, I closed my eyes tightly and prepared myself for rejection. But, when I felt him moving closer again, ever so slowly, I opened my eyes.
We were so close to one another right now. Bann, so strong and sturdy, lying above my slight frame. His knees on either side of my hips, one hand in the grass beside my face, and the other now softly resting against my cheek.
We didn't say anything else, the gap between us closed very slowly, until his lips met mine for a second time.
This kiss was different. We were both aware of the situation this time, and it was slower and more meaningful than the last kiss. I had never kissed anyone before, but I was almost certain Bann had, so I tried to follow his example. When we pulled away again, faces flushed and breathing heavily, neither of us said a word, we simply moved together for a third time, deepening the kiss. We were both hesitant, unsure of how this would affect our relationship, but at the moment, none of that seemed to matter. There was just Bann and I, two friends coming together, kissing until long after the fireworks had passed.
Oh wow you guys! Something romantic actually happened in this chapter! Aren't you excited?! I know I am! Fair warning though...after this chapter, the stories rating will be changed to "M" for the later...escapades of Raffin and Bann. (aren't they cute?!) By the way, Did any of you readers go to Naka-kon this last weekend? I was there! You might have seen me. I was wearing a Silver Wig, black and white striped elbow length gloves, black pants, and a white wolf tail. My shirt changed every day. Any way Naka-kon is an anime convention that takes place here in Kansas...so...don't expect that many (if any) of you saw me there. Anyway...Reviews please?