Wake Me Gently

I tried to avoid Darken Rahl as much as possible for the next few days. Granted, this proved impossibly difficult at meals, considering he always made it a point to sit with me. It was also more difficult than usual to go off on my own after dinner. You see, he had (through some stroke of genius) discovered one of the few things I find irresistible: chess. When he did manage to persuade me to stay, we passed the time playing chess and conversing informally in the study (as my mind kept nostalgically me: the room where we saw each other for the first time.) When he didn't manage to get me to stay, I tended to wander to parts of the palace that I'd never been to before; that way, he'd be less likely to find me.

One of the nights that I was able to evade him, I stumbled upon a tower I had yet to climb. At the top of it was an empty room, with a single window.

Absolutely perfect. I need a place to think where no one can find me.

So I stared out of the window at the tiny diamonds in the night sky, and let my worries float to the top of my mind. I enjoyed being in D'Hara and working for Darken Rahl. I had grown oddly attached to my cave, Hemlock was practically being treated like royalty, I was eating like a queen, I had more time and resources than ever to work on my magic, I could bathe regularly again, and Darken Rahl was hopefully falling head-over-heels in love with me. Life couldn't have been better; D'Hara had truly become my home.

Yet, I somehow desperately yearned to leave. I didn't want to get any more attached than I already was. I had been sent there, to spy on and completely deceive Lord Rahl, by Zedd. And what happened? Lord Rahl had me calling him Darken. I knew that, in the end, Richard would undoubtedly kill Darken. That's why I needed to get out of there quickly; why would I help the Seeker kill the man I was hopelessly in love with? Maybe, if I made a break for it that night, it wouldn't be too late.

I sighed, tears filling my eyes.

It was too late.

I can't leave Darken…I love him.

Suddenly, I heard footsteps behind me.

Speak of the devil.

Before either of us could speak, I turned to him. His outer-layer robe wasn't on him for once; instead, I could plainly see the sleeveless top he wore under it. It was of the same deep crimson as his outer-robe and robe-bottoms, with similar intricate gold designs. It was slit almost completely down the middle, giving a (rather attractive) view of his chest.

"There you are," he said. "When no one said they'd seen you, I got worried…Ember, are you crying?"

Damn…forgot about that.

Not knowing what to do, I remained standing there, crying, looking at him pathetically. Without saying a word, he walked over to me and embraced me compassionately. Suddenly, with the feeling of his strong arms around me, everything about life in D'Hara seemed right again. Resting my head on his shoulder, I closed my eyes.

I'm home.