Posted by jillyfae
Naessa and Falenath had been met by scouts well away from Ostagar, and whisked off to talk to Keeper Darana and Ninnion at full speed. While it was nice to know the Dalish scouts were as smart and observant as they generally thought they were, it meant Naessa hadn’t managed to track down Ferron for a quiet word before she had to be Keeper again.
And there were far too many Keeper things to do. Meetings, and plans, and redistributing supplies and halla and aravel, and deciding what to do with the mirrors, and Grandmother’s things, and taking care of Stennar when she unexpectedly showed up with a trail of horses, and choosing a new travel schedule through the snow.
For all it was glorious to see Darana and Ninnion, and surprisingly satisfying to be getting down to work she was slightly shocked to realize she did actually know how to do, her mind and eyes kept wandering until she could find Ferron.
Every time she looked, he was standing quietly in the back of the crowd, his brown eyes fixed on her, a smile hiding in their depths. And every single time her heart skipped a beat, and she’d lose track of whatever conversation she was supposed to be having for just a moment, before dragging her attention back to her duties.
Ninnion kept teasing her for still being just as crow-witted as ever, successful solo-Keeper or not, but Darana’s quiet smile suggested she’d picked up on the real cause of her former pupil’s distraction. Which is promising, yes? If Darana’s picking up on it, then it’s good news, right? We both meant what I think we meant?
Finally, finally, the day’s work was done, and dinner was over, and Naessa kicked everyone else out of her aravel and sat down with a cup of tea. And sighed. Now, how do I get Ferron in here without alerting the entire encampment to the fact that I want to talk to him in private?
A slight scratch at the hatch inspired an awkward scramble as she hurried to open the door, delighted but not particularly surprised to see that Ferron had perfect timing.
“Come in, come in,” she insisted breathlessly, stepping back until she tripped over her own feet and landed on the floor with a thud. Before she’d managed more than an embarrassed wince, Ferron was kneeling next to her, capturing her hands in his own.
“Hi.” His fingers were gently stroking her hands, his smile lighting up his entire face.
“Hi,” she managed, smiling back. How, in the name of elvhenan that was, did I never notice how handsome he is, before? Did I really take him so much for granted I never even looked? I’m an idiot. What can he possibly see in me?
Feeling perilously close to a blush, Naessa’s eyes dropped, and she stared wordlessly down at their clasped hands.
“I’m glad… that is… it’s nice to… “ Ferron’s voice trailed off awkwardly when she didn’t look back up.
Oh no, neither of us knows what to say. We’re going to be sitting here in silence forever. She finally forced herself to look at him again, opening her mouth to say something, anything, hopefully nothing too stupid, when he leaned forward to kiss her.
His lips were soft against hers, and it felt so nice, and truly, staying here forever was starting to seem like a really good idea.
“Huh?” She sighed softly when he stopped and leaned back, opening her eyes to blink at him.
“So… um.” Ferron shifted awkwardly.
“Yes?” Naessa felt oddly breathless, and could tell he was having trouble figuring out what to say, but she couldn’t for the life of her think of a useful reaction, so she just waited.
“What do you want, Naessa?” One of Ferron’s hands slipped from her grasp, and reached up to cup her cheek.
“Hmm,” she sighed again, leaning gently against his palm. Right now? I can’t think of anything else. Just this. “I missed you.”
“Glad to hear it.” Ferron smiled down into her wide grey eyes, apparently having rediscovered his equilibrium. And sense of humor. “Thought you might have just missed your tea. You left it all with me.”
Naessa giggled softly.
“Now that,” Ferron’s voice dropped to a husky whisper, causing Naessa’s already overworked heart to speed up in anticipation of something. “That is a beautiful sound. I haven’t heard that in a very long time.”
“You always could make me laugh,” Naessa answered shyly. “Why did I never notice that before?”
“You generally don’t notice anything until someone hits you over the head with it,” Ferron grinned, dropping his forehead to rest on hers, noses gently touching as they stared into each other’s eyes. “Part of your charm.”
“I think you’re enchanting. Brilliant, loyal, determined, beautiful. And you’re cute when you blush. That’s a new one. I like that.”
“Ferron…” Naessa whispered, half delighted, half embarrassed.
“Yes, my Naessa?”
Your Naessa. I like that. I like everything about this. I want you to stay here, with me. Always. Why can’t I open my mouth and say any of that?
“You’re thinking too much, again,” Ferron pointed out when she failed to say anything for several long, quiet moments.
“Spend the night with me,” she blurted out in a rush.
Ferron leaned back on his heels and tilted his head slightly as he contemplated her in silence. “No.”
What? But, don’t you? You said… “Oh,” she managed softly, staring down at her hands in her lap, blinking hard, suddenly cold without Ferron right next to her.
Strong callused fingers under her chin forced her to look back up to his face. “I will not just be the Keeper’s semi-secret affair, Naessa. I want more than that.”
“What? That’s not
- but - I didn’t mean!” Naessa sputtered before slamming her mouth shut and taking a deep breath, latching on to the end of his statement in desperation. “What do you want?”
The noise growing in the back of Ferron’s throat sounded suspiciously like a frustrated growl. “I want to know what’s going on in that pretty head of yours!”
“But you always know what I’m thinking.” Naessa eyes felt tight and hot, her heart trying to thud to a halt in her chest. He’s supposed to be better at this than I am. He’s always better at the people stuff than I am. He notices things I completely miss. She edged forward until she could feel the warmth of his body close to hers again. “You’re the one who interprets me for everyone else!”
“I have no idea what you’re thinking. I never know what you’re thinking. I’ve seen you figure out a new way to string your bow in the middle of a conversation about mushrooms, or cry when you accidentally squashed the last flower of the season, and yet you were completely composed every morning when Mihalia brought you tea after, when you were both healing after… ” He swallowed, hard, unable to finish his sentence.
“I can only interpret when you give me something to work with. And you’re not talking. Help me out here, please.” His voice had dropped back down to the husky whisper that caused remarkable shivers to run down her spine. His hands were stroking wisps of loose hair back against her braids, his gaze roaming across her face as he spoke.
“Oh,” Naessa mouthed soundlessly. He’s almost as confused as… but I’ve never, I was never going to… I don’t know what to, how to… “I don’t know how to help you. You’ve always been the one to help me.” Naessa gasped, her hands clenching at his shirt to stop him from pulling back again. “Once you made me notice, I realized I always counted on you to be there, with me, for me. If Darana had sent me away alone, or with someone else, I wouldn’t have been able to… I wouldn’t have made it here without you, Ferron. I don’t want to, without you.” She paused, her fingers relaxing their grip as she realized what she’d been failing to say. “I love you.”
“Aah,” Ferron’s slow smile as he sighed was the most beautiful sight she’d ever seen. “In that case, I would love to spend the night with you. And every night after that, for as long as you’ll have me.”
Naessa flung her arms around him, joy exploding through her chest. She had to swallow several times before she managed to get her voice back, whispering softly in his ear. “Forever seems like a good start.”
“Then forever it will be, my lady.”