It is always difficult for me to wake up inside.
Apparently, when I was a child, I used to sleep just outside of the aravels, no matter where the clan was camped. They’d find me curled up in a blanket, sometimes near the aravel, sometimes with the halla, sometimes on the very outskirts of camp, sleeping soundly. I don’t recall this, really, but everyone assures me it’s true.
For the past month, I have awoken inside a cramped, communal bedroom in the Grey Warden’s safe house. It takes me a few minutes to tamp down the rising panic and breathe slowly, no matter how tightly Emanuel has wrapped himself around me in the middle of the night. I share his bed now, even though it’s barely big enough for one of us. The Warden-Commander gave us such a look when ‘Manuel suggested that I just bunk with him rather than having my own bed. “It’s an elf thing,” he said, with those wide eyes and undeniable smile. Nobody would believe that, but it wasn’t as though it mattered. The Wardens have no rules against…well…whatever Emanuel and I are doing.
I would certainly prefer more privacy—more air, but I can’t lie to myself well enough to say that I’d rather be outside of the city, sleeping alone in a tent. It’s more the “alone” part, than anything else. Enough time has passed since Tamlen that I no longer grieve, I no longer want to. I always will—there will always be those nights when I close my eyes and see his smirk behind them. But he’s not mine anymore. He has been under the care of Falon’Din for far longer than he belonged to me.
Yet…falling in love is still an awkward game. I have become fond of ‘Manuel so swiftly. He overwhelms me completely. I have wanted from him and given to him and come to understand that this is far more than just pent up desire and attraction. It’s more than sharing the same Warden sickness, more than having similar bodies, similar ears. Did I feel this for Tamlen? I think it’s different, but not, like the other side of a coin. There’s guilt in comparing them, like it’s a kind of sacrilege.
He has beautiful eyes and it is worth waking here if I can watch them open in the morning, long lashes fluttering, that blue like an open sky. Then he’ll smile—he always smiles—and I’ll feel it in my bones like a deep, healing bruise. He’ll kiss me, and I won’t mind that we’re surrounded by fifteen half-sleeping recruits, on a lumpy mattress, inside.
I say “good morning,” and it means “I’ve fallen for you, you beautiful, sweet thing.”