Eleanor drifted back to consciousness, the heady feeling of sleep gradually replaced with agony. The flesh connecting the left shoulder to her neck screamed in protest as she tried to rise from her bedding. Eleanor would let out a tortured wail, had someone not raised the flaps to enter the tent. She’d seen plenty of Amazons shrug off similar wounds in the heat of battle – she got tasked with healing them, after all – and it would be a disgrace to Princess Loren if she showed signs of weakness over such a paltry thing.
Eleanor tried smiling through gritted teeth. She failed and it twisted into a grimace as she turned to face whomever came to visit. Her pain was abruptly forgotten when she saw the expression of utter relief on Queen Karen’s face. The bowl was upended, the sweet smelling content soaking through the pelt covering the floor of the tent, and Eleanor stiffened in surprise as strong, Amazon arms surged forward to trap her in an embrace.
“Quiet.” The demand was cold, slicing straight into Eleanor’s heart. Lithe fingers lifted her chin, the elf almost recoiling at the steel in Karen’s eyes. Before she could utter a word a pair of familiar lips eclipsed hers. Dumbfounded but pleased, Eleanor kissed back. It was not a gentle kiss. The agitation in the Amazon woman was apparent, the press of her lips too harsh to be considered passionate, too desperate to be considered longing.
A scene she’d witnessed during her childhood flashed in her mind: a stoic, heavily wounded elf exchanging a final kiss with his lover as arrows darkened the sky and fell like rain.
Eleanor sucked in a breath as the Queen finally drew back. “K–” she tried, but was given no reprieve as the woman surged forward to claim her lips again. A wrathful tongue batted past her quivering lips and met hers. She felt herself melting, the mindless pleasure making her head swim and her heart pound. It felt like many years later that Karen finally drew back, the smack of her lips cutting through the silence and bouncing off the padded walls of the tent.
“You took the arrow meant for the Druid,” Karen finally said, the severe look she previously wore giving way to a vulnerability that made Eleanor’s heart ache. “I saw it happen right before my eyes. It pierced through your leather, the tip emerging from your back in a burst of colour.” A heavy breath, accompanied by a full body shudder. Karen’s grip was crushing but the elf barely felt it through the pain in her voice. “I’d thought I lost you.”
Eleanor struggled to find the appropriate words. None were forthcoming. Finally, she settled on, “I was armoured, and Myrth was not. I did not have time to think, so I acted.”
“Self-sacrificing fool.” Karen growled. Eleanor resisted the urge to make a quip about her previous slave status, and sighed deeply.
“I apologize for making you worried.” She said, gently covering the hand around her wrist. The size of her hand paled in comparison to her lover’s but she felt it right in order to convey her regret. Their kiss had momentarily shattered the walls that normally made her hesitate in touching the other freely. “But I do not regret it.” Karen’s eyes flashed with fury, but softened when Eleanor leaned up to kiss her once more. She took in the elf’s haggard face and let her fingertips dance around the bandaged wound.
“If I had not been the one to drop it, I would be furious to dispose of such fine fur.” Karen glanced at the bowl of porridge she’d dropped.
“You could always hunt for another, my Lady.”
“Perhaps.” Karen looked at her, finally smiling for the first time since Eleanor woke. “I shall get you another bowl. It would be in poor taste to let you starve after you’ve found your way back to me.” The Amazon Queen let her eyes linger on Eleanor as she made to exit the tent. With a final silent reassurance that the elf would be there when she returned, Karen took in the brilliant smile directed at her and departed.