Eragon sighed. The sixteen-year-old brunet looked over at his girlfriend, Arya, who was sitting across the classroom from him. As he gazed at her jet-black hair and emerald green eyes, he wondered for about the twentieth time that day why he wasn't happy. Any guy in his school would have done anything to be in his position. And just like the other nineteen times the thought passed through his mind, the answer hit him. Hard. He sighed again.
When the bell rang, Eragon ran from the classroom, wanting to get to his next class before Arya caught him. He was unsuccessful.
She came up next to him, slipping an arm around his waist, and whispered, "Hey," in his ear.
He turned to her and smiled. To most people, he would have looked like your typical boyfriend greeting his girl, but that was far from the truth. Only one person would have known how fake that smile was. His brother, Murtagh. The person who was the reason why he wasn't happy with Arya. But neither of them would ever know it. Eragon kept up his façade until he reached his next class. He said good-bye to Arya, giving her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. He kept himself under control until he slid into his seat next to his best friend, Saphira. As soon as he sat down, he slammed his head against the desk and grabbed at his hair.
The blonde turned her sapphire-blue eyes to him and asked, "If it bugs you that much, why don't you just break-up with her?" Saphira was the only one who knew about his crush that was more than a crush on his brother. She also knew why he was dating Arya in the first place.
"You know I can't just do that!" He snapped. "First of all, she'd be devastated. Secondly, I do not want to go back to the days of Murtagh's teasing and jokes. And finally…" Eragon trailed off, unable to find a third reason.
"And you know that that is complete bull," Saphira countered. She would have said more, but their English teacher walked in and they had to stop. She mouthed to him, "We'll talk more later." Eragon just shook his head and tried to concentrate. Once Saphira started on something, she didn't give it up easily.
The final bell ringing found Eragon once again trying to escape someone; this time it was Saphira since Arya had to stay after for Drama. And, once again, he was unsuccessful.
Just as he was walking out the front doors, he felt a tap on his shoulder. He jumped and turned around to find Saphira behind him with a fierce look in her eyes. The few times he had seen her look like that had not been pretty.
Because Eragon had stopped moving, and other students were trying to leave, Saphira pushed him out the door and down the stairs into the parking lot. There, she turned him to face her and smacked him upside the head, not hard enough to really hurt, but with enough force so that her message got through. While he rubbed his head and fixed his hair, she said, "That's what you get for trying to ditch me."
"I wasn't trying to - ow!" Another smack, this one harder.
"Don't deny it. You were trying to get away from me because you're too scared to actually deal with your problems!"
Eragon winced. She was right and he knew it. He lowered his voice, not wanting anyone else to hear. "So what? My problem's not all that easy to deal with! How many people do you know that are in love with their brother?" As he spoke, he turned red and started to shake.
Saphira sighed. The school parking lot was not a good place to have the discussion that was coming. She put her arm around Eragon's shoulders and led him away from the school to the park nearby.
They soon reached their favorite area of the park, a giant oak tree that most people barely even noticed. It was there that Eragon had first told Saphira about his feelings for Murtagh.
They sat down against the trunk of the great tree, their backpacks a barrier between them and the rough bark. Saphira turned to Eragon and said, "You can't keep this secret forever."
"I don't need to keep it forever. Just until either me or Murtagh moves out," he mumbled.
"You know what I mean. A secret like that can destroy a person."
"I'll be fine. I've already kept it for three years. A few more shouldn't matter."
Saphira rolled her eyes; she was getting impatient, something that didn't happen very often. "Okay then, let's talk about you and Arya. It's not fair for you to lead her on like that. Let her be with someone who really cares about her!"
"I do care about her!"
"But not the way she thinks you do!"
Eragon could not find an answer for that. As usual, Saphira was right. He let out a small sigh, then asked, "What do you want me to do then?"
"Break-up with her. But do it nicely. And be honest."
"I can't tell her that!"
Saphira shook her head. "I didn't mean that. I meant tell her how you feel. That you guys are better off friends. It's only been four months, she'll believe you. It's not like you guys have done anything past kissing."
Eragon blushed at this. It had been awkward kissing a girl who had been his friend for years. Especially because of his situation. He nodded. "I'll talk to her tomorrow, before homeroom. I hope she doesn't hate me after this."
"Well, she might be mad at you for a little while, but she'll get over it. Arya bounces back pretty quickly from that sort of thing. Who knows? Maybe someday you'll be able to tell her the real reason you're dumping her." She smiled.
Eragon laughed. It had been hard enough to tell Saphira, his best friend since birth. It would be practically impossible to tell someone he had only known for a few years.
Saphira flushed. "Okay, so maybe you won't tell her. But if things work out the way you secretly want them to, then she'll find out anyways."
Eragon opened his mouth to make his usual protests of how it would never happen and Murtagh would never like him like that, but Saphira stopped him with a hand on his shoulder and a look that said, "Never say never."
All Eragon could do was smile and shake his head. All of a sudden, he felt a vibrating in his back pocket. He pulled out his cell phone and flipped it open. It was a text from who else but Murtagh, saying, "Mom wants you home. NOW. Did you forget something? -Tag."
Eragon jumped up. "Oh, shit!" He had forgotten that it was his turn to take out the trash and that fact had been completely driven from his mind by his argument with Saphira. "I gotta go home! My mom's gonna kill me! I can't believe I forgot! Shit!" He grabbed his bag and ran out of the park. He was lucky that he lived near both the school and the park. He arrived home in a matter of minutes.
When he burst through the back door, Murtagh was sitting on the couch, listening to his iPod. When he saw Eragon, he pointed up to let him know their mother was upstairs. Eragon nodded and crept into the kitchen. Not wanting to alert Selena to his presence, he brought the disgusting-smelling trash outside to the barrel as quietly as he could.
He was finally successful at something that day. When he returned to the kitchen, his mother was still upstairs. Eragon sighed in relief. Picking up his bag, which he had dropped en route to the trash, he walked back out into the living room. He plopped down on the opposite end of the couch from Murtagh. He picked up the remote and turned on the TV, flipping through the channels trying to find something to watch. There was nothing on, so he put on one of those talk shows where your wife sleeps with your three brothers, then becomes pregnant and she doesn't know which brother is the father, but he wasn't really paying attention. His conversation with Saphira was still running in his head. He must have looked upset because Murtagh sent him a questioning look. Eragon just shook his head, telling Murtagh it was nothing and he was fine.
Murtagh obviously didn't believe him, Eragon could tell by the look in his dark hazel eyes and the one raised eyebrow, but he didn't push the subject. He knew that if it was really important, Eragon would talk to him. At least, that's how it how it was three and a half years ago when he moved in. it seemed like Eragon was coming to him less and less. And it wasn't that he was having fewer problems. Murtagh knew that as well as his own name. He could always tell when Eragon was having trouble. And he hated not being able to help. Murtagh knew his protectiveness went beyond normal brotherly feelings. He also knew that Eragon would probably never fell the same. But that was okay. He could deal until either he moved on, or, although it was very unlikely, Eragon returned his feelings. He had dealt with worse pain that unrequited love at the hands of his father, Moran, which was why he was in his mother's, living room, sitting next to his younger brother on the couch and for the first time in his life, Murtagh felt truly safe. He smiled to himself at that thought. He was glad that Eragon had never had to live with Morzan. He wouldn't have been able to bear it if Eragon was forced to suffer through the same torture he had lived with for almost sixteen years. Thinking about all of that made Murtagh so angry, he was afraid of himself. He stood up and stormed across the room, then upstairs to his bedroom, slamming his door shut behind him.
The sound of a door slamming snapped Eragon out of his stupor. He hadn't even realized that Murtagh had left the room. Next thing he knew, his mother was running down the stairs, looking worried and nervous. Eragon stood up when she entered the room and asked, "What's up with Murtagh?"
Selena shook her head. "I don't know. I thought maybe you would. Did he say anything to you?"
"No. He hasn't said a word to me since I got home."
"Well," she started," do you think you could try to talk to him? He's always been more open with you."
"Yeah, sure Mom." And he turned and walked up the stairs. He tried to move slowly, not wanting to get here too fast, but before he knew it, he was standing in front of Murtagh's bedroom door.
Stupid! Why did I say I'd do this? Whenever Eragon was alone with Murtagh, he had the bad habit of blushing a lot and fumbling over his words. That hadn't been a problem earlier, when he was distracted by his thoughts, but now…
He sighed. I might as well get it over with. He raised his hand curled into a fist and knocked twice.
A grunt from inside the room told Eragon he could come in. he pushed open the door and looked around the room that, after close to four years, had become quite familiar to him. Formerly a guest room, Murtagh had since made it his own, covering the light green walls with posters of his favorite bands. The bed, covered with a darker green comforter, was up against the far wall. A bookcase filled with books and DVDs was in the opposite corner. Murtagh was seated at his desk, now facing the door where Eragon still stood. Murtagh jerked his head towards the bed, mumbling, "You can come in."
Eragon slowly crossed the room and sat down on the edge of the bed. He looked over at Murtagh, who was staring at the brown carpet at his feet. Although Eragon couldn't see his face, he could tell Murtagh wasn't just angry; he was filled with rage. Eragon had only seen Murtagh like this once before, right before he moved in with him and his mother. The cause then had been Morzan and the abuse he put Murtagh through. But that couldn't be the problem now. Morzan had died two years ago in a drunken car crash. What could be causing it now? "What's wrong?" He whispered to himself.
"Do you really want to know?"
Eragon's eyes widened. He hadn't thought Murtagh had heard him. "What?"
"I said, do you really want to know what's wrong?" Murtagh was no longer looking at the rug. His dark hazel eyes were staring into Eragon's chocolate brown ones.
Eragon couldn't speak. He could barely move, but he somehow managed to nod his head.
Murtagh stood up, crossed the room, and sat on the bed next to Eragon. Eragon turned to, putting one leg on the bed, to face him. Murtagh took a deep breath and said, "I need to say this, so don't try to stop me while I'm talking. No matter what I say, don't interrupt, okay?"
Eragon was confused, but he said, "Okay."
Murtagh nodded and began. "You and Mom both know what I suffered through at the hands of our father," he clenched his fists, "You guys don't know this, but I think about it a lot. I don't like talking about it, which is why you guys don't know. I try not to show how angry it makes me. I know that that's wrong, but I can't help it. You never lived with Morzan, so you don't know what it was like. I learned at a very young age not to show emotion. Living her with you and Mom has helped a lot, but I still have a long way to go. I know I probably went off topic, but I needed to say that, "he smiled, but just for a brief moment. It soon disappeared. "This is the part that's the hardest for me to say. The reason I got so angry today is because I wasn't just thinking about what that bastard did to me; I was thinking that thank God you didn't have to go through that. And I was thinking about what I'd do to him if you did. Eragon, I'm dead serious about this. If he ever did anything to you, I would've killed him with my bare hands," Eragon's jaw dropped in shock, "That's how much I would've hated him if he even laid a finger on you. I hate Morzan for what he did to me, but if he had tortured you, too, I would've lost it. You probably think this is just me being protective of my little brother, but," he met Eragon's eyes again, "it's so much more than that. And I don't blame you if you hate me for this, but, Eragon, I'm in love with you. I have been pretty much ever since I moved in." He said it casually, as if he'd been talking about sports or the weather, but Eragon could tell from the look in his eyes how much he meant it, and that made Eragon happier than he'd ever been.he thought to himself. To Murtagh, he said, "Hate you? That's not possible considering I'm in love with you, too."
Now it was Murtagh's turn to be shocked. His jaw dropped slightly, his lips forming a small "o." Eragon couldn't help himself; he claimed those lips in a fierce kiss. How different it was from kissing Arya. All the passion he had kept pent up was released, and he could tell Murtagh was experiencing the same feeling. He also knew Murtagh wanted more.
Eragon felt Murtagh's tongue on his lips, and parted them to let him enter. Now they were tasting, exploring, fighting a fight for dominance that neither could win. Finally, they broke apart, panting, staring into each other's eyes. There was a split-second moment of tension, it snapped, their lips met again. They plunged back into battle, Murtagh gaining an advantage this time. He pushed Eragon down on to the bed so that he was on top of him. He slid his hands under Eragon's shirt, moving to pull it off. At that point, Eragon pulled away, and said, in between pants, "Mom's downstairs. She'll hear us. We can't. Not now."
Murtagh groaned. Eragon was right. He sat back up, pulling Eragon up with him. "So," he said, putting an arm around Eragon's neck and kissing the top of his head, "now that we've confessed our love for each other, what's gonna happen with you and Arya?"
"Well, right before I came home, Saphira managed to convince me to break-up with her tomorrow morning. Something about not leading her on…" He smiled at Murtagh, who smiled back.
"Okay. So what do we do about us?"
Eragon thought about that for a second before responding. "Well, I'll have to tell Saphira, since she already knew my half of it anyways, but other than that, d'you mind if we keep this under wraps for a while?"
Murtagh shook his head. "I'll have to tell Thorn, "Thorn was Murtagh's best friend, a tall red-head with golden eyes, " but other than that we can keep it a secret. That is," there was a mischievous glint in his eyes, "if you can keep your mouth shut."
Eragon's jaw dropped in mock disbelief. "Me? You better keep your mouth shut!"
"But I thought you liked it better with my mouth open." He leaned in and lightly kissed Eragon, who promptly blushed.
"Oh, shut up! We better go downstairs and let Mom know you're okay. I came up here to talk to you 'cause she was worried."
"All right. Let's go."
The two brothers stood up and went downstairs together, their new secret forcing smiles on their faces.