Lyrics: 'Wake Me Up' by Avicii. I listened to this song on replay for two whole days. I know. You guys are shocked it's not from Bastille, right? Don't worry, the next one probably will be. :D

Chapter Seven: Ritual and Revelations

Feeling my way through the darkness
Guided by a beating heart
I can't tell where the journey will end
But I know where to start

In place of the evening meal, I fasted.

Where the daily cult was offered by Quintus to his Lares and Di Penates, I sat on the cold, hard tiles, eyes closed, breathing in slowly and deeply. I fasted, as deference to the gods, whose power and divinity had given substance to my hopes, who had answered my prayers in healing my cousin. The food I would have eaten was collected for my ritual.

Typically, a ritual was conducted, and terms of agreement were set out during it; I will do this if you do that. Roman religion was based on that same principle, of do ut des. I give that you might give. Our religion was practical; it followed a certain construct. And sacrifices had to be offered for an accompanying prayer to be effective. But I had made no sacrifice for my prayers to be answered.

Instead, my fasting was in recognition of their divine being, their supreme power, their hands in our lives. And my ritual would be to share my meal and to offer my gratitude, my faithfulness and loyalty to them.

When Gaia entered the room, she knelt on the other side of the stone altar. I was the praesul, the one in control of the ritual, and I had gathered all the materials I would need before I began meditating. I walked around the room, lighting the candles and burning the incense. To thank the gods of the heavens, I had to perform the ritual during the day, and the last rays of light from the setting sun brightened the room, throwing a deep, orange-red light on us.

When I finished, Gaia stood, and I handed her the vessel, an ornately carved vase, that held the pure water. The purification ritual. She poured the water over my hands. And in turn I sprinkled it three times over her forehead.

We knelt in front of the altar, Gaia on one side, and I on the other. To the gods or goddesses, of celestial, earthly or infernal origins, that I would ask to act as witnesses, I had to make the appropriate sacrifices. To Vesta, the goddess of the hearth, I lit the fire in the large bowl in the middle of the alter, and to Janus, the god of beginnings, I called to him before I began the ritual. Vesta and Janus were the traditional witnesses to call for a ritual. I offered to them an initial sacrifice of incense and wine.

And again, I washed my hands in the pure water.

Then I made, in invocatio, the request for the attendance of the gods and goddess I prayed to earlier in the day. I called on Angitia, Vejovis, Febris and Apollo, the ones who the main sacrifice would be for.

The invocation would normally be followed by a prayer, the precatio, where the terms of the offering and what we wanted in return for that offering, were laid out. Instead, I thanked them.

To the gods and goddesses of healing, the mighty, divine beings of healing powers I have asked to be here today, I offer my thanks and gratitude for sparing the life of Quintus Batiatus, my cousin who I hold dear. His return to health is due to your guiding hands and I thank you. My gratitude shall forever be yours. My sacrifice today is to you.

I repeated it three times. And as with the custom for prayers, a sacrifice would be made. Slowly, I dropped parts of my meal into the fire. The stink of burning food swamped the room, made even more pungent by the thick layer of burning incense.

Then came to the sacrificial blood catching. I did not sacrifice an animal. Instead, I would show my deference, my loyalty; I would give them my blood. The liquid of life. I would offer it in thanks for granting Quintus his life. My blood for his life. Slowly, I lifted the copper blade, my hands barely shaking.

I placed the blade against my left palm, closing my hand around the blade, I pulled. A sharp, stinging pain set my hand on fire, and I held back a wince. My eyes watered slightly. I lifted my hand up over the flames and opened my hand. The swell of crimson red liquid covered my pale skin, spilling over the sides and dripping into the bowl and into the flames. Small, sizzling sounds could be heard when a droplet hit the hot bowl.

My hand stung, and it made it difficult to coordinate my movements, my fingers jerking slightly. I had cut deeper than I meant to, and I would have to wait for the ritual to be over before I could clean and bandage the cut.

I thanked the gods again for attending, before thanking my two witnessing god and goddess. I did it in reverse order; first Janus, then Vesta. I poured them wine and then incense in turn for each. Then the gods departed at my words;

"Nil amplius, Superi Dii, vos hodie flagito; satis est."

Then, I turned to Gaia, to dismiss her presence for the ritual;

"Factum est. Di deaeque omnes, superi inferique, vos semper ament et cupiant."

And her response was; "Di immortals faciant, tam pias quam felices."

And the ritual was complete. I felt a rush of energy leave me, exhaustion and weariness taking over. I called for the servants to enter, as I doused the fire and blew out the candle and incense. Quickly, they took away the instruments I used to be cleaned, and Cassia came over to help clean my hand.

"Blade cut deep," she said, as she wiped a cloth over my hand, removing traces of blood.

I nodded, eyes stuck on the red seeping from the cut I made. It reminded me of the spray of blood onto the sands of the arena. I was thankful this was not as serious a cut. "Hands were anxious to finish."

She nodded understandingly. Rituals were tiring; they left me exhausted and fatigued, and if I felt that the ritual required me to give blood, I was always anxious to cut myself. It felt wrong to me, to open up flesh to give way to the red liquid, despite doing it for the gods. It was a good thing that any animal sacrifices were usually done by my brother, if they were domestic rituals, or by a religious advocate, if they were public rituals. I would not be able to do that to an animal.

Cassia washed out the bloodied cloth in the bowl of water she brought, rinsing it, before continuing to clean until my hand was void of red stains. She wrapped a length of cloth around my hand, tying it tightly, before leading me to my room to change my dress. It had a few drops of blood, a few smears, that she would have to wash out right now if I did not want it to stain.




I spoke with the Doctore. His scarred face was intimidating. So was his low, rough voice that was almost threatening and seemed to carry an undercurrent of constant doom.

But he knew what he was doing in training those gladiators, and I figured his experience was written in those scars.

I told him that when Quintus was better, I would relay everything we discussed, so he did not fall behind in his work, but until then, I would attempt to see to his business. He nodded understandingly, but I got the feeling he did not wish to talk with me. It was understandable; I was a woman and young in age, making me severely limited by both. I had hoped all I would be doing was approving things and making decisions for small, inconsequential matters, no real flair for business necessary.

He did anyway and I made a list of everything in my practiced script.

The new recruits were doing well; they were smaller, but he felt confident at least two of them would survive.

Oenamaus was ready to return to the arena; his wounds were healed and he was of a form prepared for fighting.

More practice swords needed to be purchased. They were inexpensive.

The other men were training well, their skill and ability measuring to his expectations.

And…he sighed before he told me the last bit, like he regretted having to ask. The champion requested an audience with me. I froze.

"What?" I asked, just to make sure I'd heard that right.

"Champion wishes council with you."

I bit my lip, eyes furrowed. What, did he want me to throw more olives at him? Because I could; it was very soothing, to throw things at the person who seemed to only want to infuriate you. "I do not think would be wise."

He nodded like he agreed with me. "Will convey response."


I didn't want to see Gannicus. Didn't want to give him another chance to mock me, or make me blush at his brash, loose words. Didn't want to hear his voice; rough and husky and shiver-inducing. Didn't want to look into those erotically intense eyes that left my skin burning with just a look. Didn't want to watch as his sinfully sensual mouth lifted into his trademark arrogant, playful, cocky grin. Didn't want to see the smooth, perfectly muscled expanse of golden-brown skin that was on display, a complete contrast to the pale, un-muscled physique of Roman men. No, I didn't want to see him, and I did not find his form appealing.

Which of course, was a complete lie.

If I was being perfectly honest with myself, which I hadn't been, I would find that I did want to see him, if only to know why he wanted to see me. And as the doctore turned to leave, our business concluded, I sighed, "Wait…send Gannicus."

He nodded once and left.

I let my breath out in a rush, and began pacing the slightly disordered room that was where Quintus held his business. That had been a mistake. Of course it was a mistake. Bringing Gannicus to me? Ridiculous! By granting him an audience, I was encouraging his behavior. Which I shouldn't be doing; he couldn't speak to me in that way, in the way that he did. If someone heard him…

That was what I was worried about? Someone hearing him? I mentally scolded myself for such foolishness; I should be worried that he would not stop.

Or maybe that he would…

No! Absurdity! Ridiculousness! Lunacy! Of course I wanted him to stop! Of course I wanted him to leave me alone. Then, perhaps, he would stop occupying my thoughts. And dreams.

I was too exhausted to deal with him. My limbs ached, and my hand throbbed painfully. My stomach complained about the lack of food from my fasting and groaned at the fact that I could not eat until the morning. I wished to lay down, close my eyes and sleep. Rituals were always so exhausting; they required so much more than just words and actions. They required me to be completely, single-mindedly focused on any give specific act at any given specific time. They required full devotion, the feeling meant to fill my body and almost leak out of me when I reached bursting point. They required me to know exactly what came next and what to say, so I did not mess it up and thus bring offense to the gods. They required a lot of me, and when I was done, I often spent for long hours to recuperate.

Rituals were not a quick thing, to be taken lightly and to be performed in between other daily tasks.

Metal clinking made me open my eyes. I did not realize I'd closed them. The guards brought him to the room, leaving him chained, before waiting outside of the room. I found it laughable that they thought some chains and two guards would be a match for Gannicus. I had seen him fight. I was no fool. But my exhaustion made me extra vigilante, despite the sensation I had that said I was completely safe with him. I was too tired to be a good judge of people and their intentions, I knew it would be unwise to believe in feelings when my own stomach craved food in the way it did.

I scowled at his grinning face, realizing that it was the result of agreeing to meet him. Now he thought I wanted to see him. Which…may not be entirely untrue. But that was beside the point. I did not want him to think I wanted to see him. I did not want to give him that sort of power over me.

"You asked for counsel?" My words demanded he got to the point. I could not say I expected him to do as I demanded.

His lips lifted into a jesting grin, "I thought you wished for closer target, as aim was off from on balcony." He was talking about the olives. And insulting my aim.

By the gods, I knew I was doomed. "Do not place temptation in path."

He grin stretched further across his face, and he opened his mouth, no doubt to make some comment on how he was my temptation really, not throwing olives at him, when his eyes dropped to my hand. More specifically, the hand wrapped in cloth where I had cut myself.

His eyes zeroed in on it, and he took a quick step forward, his chained hands raising as if to grab that hand. I took a startled step back from him, my heart fluttering, and my butt hit the edge of the desk behind me. He continued to come towards me, and I could not move back any further. In less than a second, he was right in front of me. I contemplated screaming. That was all I had to do; open my mouth and let loose a scream, and the guards at the door would come bursting it and Gannicus would be removed from my presence. It was all I had to do.

But I didn't.

I didn't feel threatened. He had not stepped towards me as if to gauge my reaction, as if he were testing me. He had not moved quickly, he had not struck me, he had not lunged in attack. Instead, he had seemed almost to move without thinking, his mind focused on something else. He invaded my space and closed the gap between us in one long step so that he was right in front of me.

His chained hands reached down and lifted my hand that had the bandage wrapped around it. He was touching me. He way laying his hands on my body without permission. If Lucretia were here, in my place, Gannicus would be severely flogged, or worse. I was a noble Roman woman and he was a slave. Why was that so hard for him to understand?

"Remove hands from me, or will command guards to cut from body," I warned, my voice shaky. My heart thundered in my chest, threatening to leap out. I could not stand his proximity. It made me nervous, made my mind hazy and less coherent.

He was so big, right in front of me that my eyes were in line with the smooth, buffed muscle of his chest, right below his collarbone, and gods he was so close that I could feel the warmth of that exposed skin. He was so warm. It drifted across to me, enveloping me in it. Despite the heat of the night, it was not unpleasant. My blood rushed about my body in an odd way, making my neck feel strange and making me lightheaded. And I could smell him, the deliciousness of his scent that made him very male, and very strong and very dominating. It made me weak at the knees as it swirled around my nose, clogging my mind and causing me to blink sluggishly. It felt like time had slowed down to a stop, and there was nothing in the world but him and me in that instant.

His large, rough hands held my injured hand like it was incredibly fragile, like it was the most breakable thing in the world, and he certainly didn't want to break it. Where his skin touched mine, a jolt went through me, tingling and deliriously good. I wanted to close my eyes and revel in that simple, gentle touch. I wanted it to never end. And his eyes. Gods above and below, his eyes. At my words, they had flashed to mine, burning me. They burned so hotly, it was a wonder he was not scorching my skin. It was a wonder I had not burst into flames. Those glittering, piercing eyes held mine in a long, drawn out gaze, with an intensity that was overwhelming and dizzying and addicting. It made my body hum with a sort of pleasurable heat-like vibration, spreading from my cheeks, to my neck, down my arms and torso all the way to my toes.

In that moment, I would have done anything he asked of me unthinkingly. Because I couldn't think. There was only him. And I wanted to hear his voice and taste those perfect lips, I wanted to add that to the onslaught on my body's senses and completely engulf me with him. Gannicus, the gladiator slave, the arrogant, jesting man who was less than dirt to my kind, the Romans, who was good only for dying in entertainment, in the bloodiest, goriest way possible. He made me lose my mind and not even care if I was sane.

I blinked.

My reaction unnerved me. He unnerved me. I didn't understand what was happening to me so I just wanted him to stop, so I could move away and think properly again. Being so close, he made me weak.

His eyes stayed locked on mine as he moved those kissable lips. "Let me."

And damn it, I did.

Slowly, he unwound the bandage, every slight graze of his gentle fingers on my skin sent another jolt through me, and with each one, the jolt moved closer and closer to the pit of my gut. Every time, the jolt lingered a little longer, and heated my core.

And then he was tossing the cloth onto the table behind me, and bringing my hand up close to his face to inspect the cut. I felt his warm breath on my hand. He moved my hand this way and that to catch the light from the flickering candles. I had not realized how dim it was. How quiet and still it was. I could almost pretend we were in our own world.

Agonizingly softly, he traced a finger down over the crusted blood of the gash. His voice was urgent and low, those assessing eyes now firmly situated on me. It made me want to squirm. "The cause?"

I shook my head and tried to find my voice that had somehow left me. I cleared my throat. "For blood catching, of ritual in thanks for saving cousin."

"You bleed for your gods." His eyes were hard, like he did not approve at all, his mouth set into a firm line. It was odd, seeing such a stern expression when he was usually so lively. "Why?"

I was confused. Did he not understand the concept of a ritual? Had he ever seen one? "It is proper. It is required."

"It is absurdity. What gods say must bleed for them?"

Again, it was hard to find my voice. "Will cause offense with words spoken in haste and without thinking."

"Fuck the gods. Fuck them all, that would cause you to bleed." His eyes were so hot.

I yanked my hand out of his grip. "Stop!"

One day, he would regret those words. He would truly anger them, and then that would be his end. I did not want them to think I agreed with him. I did not want to gods to think I held the same opinion, and thus punish me as well. How dare he make insult of my belief. They were my gods, and I knew they were real. I could feel it. His opinions were irrelevant. They did not matter.

He was only a slave. And a gladiatorial one at that.

My hands connected with his smooth skin as I shoved him, forcing him to take a step back. Despite putting all my force into it, he only stumbled slightly and did not move further, though he knew my intent and my wishes from the thrust. To put more space between us, I darted in quick steps to the side, and he pivoted his body to face me.

The fragility of our separate world was broken, leaving behind the messy world of reality in its place.

"True reason for request of counsel?" My voice was colder than I intended. I just didn't understand what was happening to me, and I couldn't make sense of what I was feeling. I needed him to leave, so I could try to puzzle through it.

He blinked, and for the second time tonight, he did not grin and jest like I expected him to. There was something suddenly so infinitely sad about his eyes. But perhaps that was from the poor light of the room. "Brother, Oenamaus, is ready to retake to sands and regain title Champion."

"I am aware. Have spoken with Doctore." His eyebrows raised in surprise, like he had not expected it. "Is that all?"

"I…request you inform Dominus yourself."

I frowned. He did not make sense. "Why?"

"Perhaps, if words were from cousin, Dominus would consider them," he explained.

I looked at him. Really looked at him. He completely understood the implications of his words. Over the past few days, I had come to understand that the Champion of a house was better off than the others. He received the best of everything. He received extra gifts, better ones. Wine. Money. Women.

"You are Champion," I pointed out.

In that moment, he did not seem to agree. How many times had he thrown that achievement in my face? How many times had he boasted of himself as the Champion of the House of Batiatus and reaped the rewards of that title? And here he was, trying to convince me to speak on behalf of his brother to help him become Champion, to take the title from Gannicus. I did not understand this gladiator. He bewildered me. Just when I thought I understood his ways, just when I thought I could get a grip on his jesting, bold ways and deal with them, he threw me for a spin and made me question everything about him again.

Who was this man?

His name was Gannicus. He was a gladiator slave. He was a Champion of this house.

But who was he really?

I wished I could just figure it out.

I nodded curtly in response to his request. I would inform Quintus, but I doubted at the good it would do to help him. With my promise secured, he turned and walked to the door of the room.

He glanced back, that familiar taunting grin lifting his lips, "Dream of me tonight, again."

The he was out of the room, the guards escorting him before he could see the shock register on my face. He just threw me about, confusing me until I didn't know which way was up. I backed up to the desk and slumped on it.

I was so exhausted.


So. Yeah. It's been a while. I feel bad about that.

But, I have good excuses. And yes, the plural was intentional. I had last pieces of assessment due, then I had to study for my exams, then I actually had those exams, and then I went on holiday to Vanuatu for a week. Truthfully, the last bit I'm not sorry to have as an excuse. It was wicked awesome.

But I'm back, and on break until February next year. Which hopefully means I can get more written. I honestly would love to say I'll update once a week. But I won't. We all know this to be true, so let's not kid ourselves here. I'm an unreliable updater. There. I said it.

But admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. I'm working on updating sooner, I really am. But enough about me. How are you guys? Do anything exciting other than cuss and swear and mutter vile things about me and how long it's taking to update a damn chapter? No? Can't say I blame you.

Anywho, about the chapter. Who knew Gannicus could be so tender? I did, I did! But really, it was only for about a minute, and then he was back to his usual self. But it's progress. They had a bit of a deeper, more meaningful conversation this time round, and I hope you guys liked it.

Also, if you were wondering, the process of the ritual is semi-accurate. I don't have a complete understand of how they worked, but if you're interested in knowing what was and what wasn't, all you gotta do is ask! I don't mind! I get way too excited when I get to share my love of the ancient world with people who also have an interest in it!

I also realized that this is actually going to be quite a long story. I didn't realize before, but I have a talent at really drrrraaaaaawwwwwiiiiiinnnnnnngggggg things out, so let me know if you get sick of it.

And, as usual, on to the replies. I swear, these take longer to write than the actual chapter itself! Haha :P

Gannicusmelitta: Hey! Thank you so much! You're going to get sick of hearing it, but I really feel the need to say it all the time. Yay! He does know what her name is now (ohmigosh, ohmigosh, that's where I got it from! *Squees in fangirling way* I heard it, and I was like "Yes! That's Aureliana!"). Aaaww, thank you! I'm glad you thought Gannicus' POV was good. I don't know if I liked it, so I don't know if I'll ever actually write from it again. But your support of it is super sweet :D HAHA! I'm so glad you liked that bit where he was catching to olives – it was so random when I thought about it that I just couldn't resist putting it in, especially when I pictured him doing it in the first place! I love writing her infuriated and him intrigued. She is definitely different, probably because the other women he would have seen would have been friends of Lucretia or Quintus, so that specific type were more likely for him to see. Liana is probably the first to get herself invited with the specific purpose of speaking to him. That makes her different from the get go. I'm love that you're enjoying it! Yes, I'm thinking another visit to his cell will happen soon, but in the meantime, I hope this was a good enough substitute. You asked for something deeper, and while this wasn't exactly ocean deep, it wasn't kiddie pool shallow either. Give him time, they'll work up to the deeper stuff soon! I hope this was a step in the direction you wanted! You're absolutely right about Gannicus, and I tried to let Liana get a tiny, tiny glimpse of that in this chapter. Yep. I always intended for Liana to save Gannicus, not the other way around. But shhh! That's a secret! Thank you so much for reviewing again! I love hearing your thoughts! And about the updates, when I'm in uni, it's whenever I get the chance, which is highgly irregular, but when I'm on break, I try to make it more structured as I specifically go through each of my stories and methodically add another chapter in the order they were last updated. But I tend to fail at that too. Sometimes, I just feel like writing something in particular, so I could update three chapters within the span of a week and then go for weeks without a single update. Sorry 'bout that, but when I get a feeling, I get a feeling. And I can't argue with my feelings :P

RebelGeneral: Thank you so much! I'm so glad you liked it! (And thanks for PMing me, of course!). Haha, I don't know how it's the first time you're reading it! That's understandable; I think almost everyone likes Gannicus and Sibyl together, but considering I haven't seen them, I wouldn't know! Haha, still haven't seen the last season (War of the Damned). But I'm stoked I've managed to ake you like Aureliana too! Thank you so much! I'm really, really happy I've made a fan of you and that you seem to want to read more! Thanks so much for reviewing this for me! I love that you have fun reading this!And sorry, but what do you mean by "I am hoping Gannicus spares vessuvius"?

Sandradee27: Yes, yay for Gannicus! Thank you, I'm glad you liked it! And oh my gosh – "Set heart a flutter within breast"! I love it! I know, they speak oddly, but I love it! Pretty sure this chapter wasn't very good in terms of that, but I have to watch the episodes again to get a hang of it again. It's been a while since I watched any of it! I'm glad you liked his POV, so no, I won't rewrite it! Hahaha! No problem confirming about Melitta – I love when people ask specific questions and I get to answer! Even if it was meant to be a secret, I'd totally spill the beans if someone just asked! I'm the worst secret keeper. No, I know what you mean about Oenamaus! Thanks so much for always reviewing! I love hearing from you!

Koryandrs: Hey! Thanks so much – I've noticed you've reviewed quite a lot of my stories, and I just wanted to say thanks again! It's super nice of you to in the first place, let alone multiple of my stories! I'm really glad you think it looks good! I hope you liked this chapter too! :D

Waffenmac: Wow, thank you so much! I'm stoked, firstly, that you think my story is fantastic, secondly, that you managed to find something you liked straight away, and thirdly, that you are interested in seeing where I go with this story! Aw, you're going to make me blush, saying things like well written and wonderfully developed story! Really though, thank you so much! It means a lot to me, and I'm really glad you're liking it! I hope you liked this chapter too!

Lissil: Heeeyyyy! Thanks for reviewing again! Love hearing from you :) Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed my attempts at Gannicus' POV. I know, he was so hard to write, but I wanted to at least try. I don't think I'll be doing it again. I'm glad you liked that he's been trying to get reactions from Liana, I thought it was very human too :D Thank you for your input about the laughing at her bit, I really appreciate that you give me your honest opinion! I actually had not intended it that he was laughing at her. I had meant that at first, he was smug with himself; pleased he could affect her in that way, and that smugness led to being pleased, and then amused that she tried so hard to deny it, even though she took too long to answer and thus gave herself away. I had meant it that he found her amusing in that, even though she knew she was caught, she tried to lie her way out of it. But I guess that wasn't as clear as I meant, so should I clear that up then? Make it more obvious that he was amused at her antics, not mocking her for thinking of him like that. Yes, I agree, I think I will only make it from Liana's POV. I much prefer hers and I can't do Gannicus' complex character justice. Huh! I haven't actually read anything else on here I don't think, so I haven't been paying attention to 1st person 3rd person. I switch which one I write in for different stories, so sometimes I'll finish a chapter that's in third person, then come to this one and half way through accidentally switch to third and then have to go back and fix it all again. Haha! Glad you liked the reference about Barca! Oh, most definitely! Neither of them will ever get Gannicus – he is completely ours. And we don't like to share. :D

Valeera: Ohhh, thank you! I love being the first story people just venturing into this fandom find! It's so fun, and makes me super happy when they enjoyed it! Gosh, thank you so much – I'm really flattered that it's your best decision concerning fanfiction! You're going to give me a big head! In seriousness though, I'm really, super glad you think the plot is well written, that you think Cassia and Aureliana are both well written and likable, and that you want more interaction between Liana and Gannicus! (This last point is the one I'm most pleased about, because I love, love, love, writing them! I have so much fun!). Haha! Glad you liked the dream sequence. It's funny, because I really toned it down with that bit. I wanted to go all out there, but considering it's the most sexual piece I've written, I was a bit unsure! Thank you so, so much – I'm stoked you think this story is awesome and that you seem to want to read more! And thank you for PMing me! Seriously, love hearing from you in those! And thanks for the song tips! I'll definitely look into it for future chapters!

Guest: I'm so stoked you want to read more and are excited for this chapter! I hope it was worth the wait, even though the wait was ridiculously long! Thank you for taking the time to leave me a review – it really made my day! I hope you enjoyed this chapter as much as I enjoyed writing it! :D

Beautifulmistake1: Awwww! Thank you! (Is it wrong that I'm secretly pleased that you miss my updates like whoa?! Because I do. I really do.). I will definitely be continuing it, and you flatter me when you say it's beautiful! Yeah, it's so frustrating when life gets so busy that I don't have time to do what I really want, and that's write! I love writing these chapters (and I'm super pleased there are people who want to read them!), and it's just sad that I don't get a chance for weeks at a time. I'm glad you're here to support my story :) I'm so pleased that you like their interactions! I've probably said this before, but I love writing them! Seriously, I grin like a maniac when I write them together, and people passing me in the library then avoid me like the plague. But whatever. More space for me :P Jeez, I feel so flattered right now – that you think I've got Gannicus down the way you would put him down on paper! He is so lovable. That's how I see Liana, so I'm sitting here going "Yes! She gets Liana!" Innocent with a hint of spunk. Love the way you put it! There is nothing better than hearing that my story makes people happy, so thank you so much for telling me! and thank you so much for reviewing! I really, really hope you enjoyed this chapter!

Yep. Just as I suspected. I just checked, and it seems my reply to you guys, my awesome, awesome reviewers who are just so awesome, is actually half the length of my chapter! No wonder it takes me forever to update! I spend so much time replying to your awesomeness! And I love every second of it :D