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Sun and Water

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Once upon a time, Jester had a thing for Fjord.

It was an arbitrary thing, as she looked back on it now. Fjord was her first friend and first travelling companion. She had read countless stories about handsome prince charmings and princesses that needed rescuing. She was lost in her own mother’s fairytale romance with her lost father, and Jester couldn’t wait for her own fantasies to come true. She thought everyone had a story like that. She thought Fjord was that story.

And she believed it, for longer than she cared to admit. It wasn’t until she had witnessed that incident back at Dashilla’s lair that it felt like her fantasy shattered.

And sure, that was a hard pill to swallow. But she had started to look at Fjord in a different light, and that may have been for the better. He was handsome, of course, but she knew now that he really needed a friend more than anything.

She also saw Caleb differently.

It looked like she wasn’t the only one who became enamored by their warlock. But this time, those feelings may not be so unrequited.

When she watched them cut their palms and lay them down on the altar, just to find out what it did, it made something sick twist in her gut - neither her or Yasha knew what to do. But there was an intensity as they gripped hands, something in their eyes that spoke of more than just the altar, more than just the morbid curiosity shared between them. And it was like she could see clearer, like the rose-colored lenses lifted and she could see what was actually in front of her instead of what she wanted to see.

She got over it, eventually. Just in time for Nott to update her on the nature of their relationship.

“So I think we should set them up or something, ‘cause I kinda told Fjord that Caleb’s been flirting with him, but I don’t know if he believed me,” Nott was saying, and Jester tuned back in. “And I feel like he’s too scared to do anything, and I’m not just gonna let him hurt my boy, right?”

“I don’t think Fjord wants to hurt Caleb,” Jester said, and it was still weird talking about setting Fjord up with someone else when not that long ago, Nott had been giving Jester advice about wooing Fjord. Back when she was under the illusion of her Oskar-fantasy.

There was still that ache that she nursed in private, deep in her heart that longed for love. It wasn’t for Fjord now, not anymore. Rather, she was mourning the loss of that idea - of falling in love, and someone loving back.

It wasn’t a great feeling, but it was better than mourning a person that she never had in the first place.

“Not intentionally,” Nott said, bringing Jester back to the conversation. “But he still might. Which is why I think we need to set them up, so they don’t have a choice to ignore this.”

Jester giggled at the idea. “Maybe. Any ideas?”

Nott was quiet, tapping a finger on her chin. She shrugged. “Not right now.”

“We’ll think about it, yeah? I’ll draw some ideas down,” Jester suggested. In reality, she already had some ideas drawn up from a long time ago - she’ll just repurpose them.

Nott grinned. “That’s a great idea. Thank you, Jester.”

Jester couldn’t help basking in the feeling of helping a friend. Nott bounced off her bed and gave Jester an excited half-hug, before she darted out the door of the shared bedroom. Beau was probably off writing notes or training, and she left her bed on the other side of the room a mess.

Normally, Jester would fix it without Beau needing to ask, but her talk with Nott made something occur to her that she was curious to ask about. Once she was sure Nott had gone off and busied herself with something, Jester hopped up from her bed and headed to the library.

Like she expected, Caleb was in there. Essek had been there earlier in the day, which had prompted Nott to hunt her down, and like expected, Caleb was still reviewing his notes. Probably trying to memorize the spells Essek taught him.

She half-expected Beau to be in there, but she must be out doing something else, if she hadn’t left the Xhorhouse entirely. A small part of her was disappointed, and she wasn’t ready to unpack why yet.

Instead, she sat in a chair beside Caleb. She saw his lips pinch as he noticed her presence, but he continued jotting down notes even as Jester leaned closer with her chin on her hands. He finally paused with a sigh, letting his quill rest in the inkwell before turning to her.

“Yes, Jester?” Caleb asked, turning his full attention to her.

She grinned, her tail swinging gleefully behind her. “Hi, Caleb.”

Caleb chuckled. He was always unable to stay mad at her. “Hi.”

“So, I had a talk with Nott,” Jester said, and couldn’t help her giggle when Caleb shot her a suspicious look. “And I’m just curious, so like, tell me if you want to. Because I’m a super trusting friend and I won’t like, tell anyone.”

Caleb raised an eyebrow but didn’t say anything, prompting Jester to continue.

“So, and be honest--” Jester reached out a hand and placed it on Caleb’s wrist, slowly turning his palm until it faced upwards. “--What was the reason for this?”

Caleb had gone still and she wondered if she pushed too far too soon. But then he sighed and his fingers clenched around the scar that Jester uncovered.

“I was curious,” He said, slow, cautious. “We were curious.”

“I mean…” Jester paused, her face pinched as she carefully thought for her words. “I know that you wanted to know what that altar thing did, but there was more to it, wasn’t it?” She paused again, then, “I saw you researching it the other day. Blood pacts. What are you trying to find?”

Caleb was quiet for a long moment. His face went a shade of pink, then his eyebrows pinched together as he thought on something difficult. Slowly, his fingers unclenched to reveal the full scar, a long bump across his palm that had healed over but not yet faded.

“It was a promise,” Caleb said, and his voice was still tight, like there were things he wasn’t saying. “That we would be… available for each other, should we need it.” He paused, taking a moment to flip through his notes. He pointed to a page with a list of scribbled notes, most of which were in Zemnian. “I’ve been feeling odd since that whole thing and I thought I would look into it. Well, um. Blood pacts hold a lot more power than I originally thought.”

Jester cocked her head. “Like what?”

Caleb brought his hands together and his thumb rubbed absently at the scar, and Jester was certain he wasn’t aware of it. “Like…being in sync.” He met her eyes and she saw that he was tired, worried. “It is hard to explain.”

“Like….” Jester trailed off, until something her mother once said came to mind. “Oh! Like, my Mama once said that when she met my dad, it was like he always knew what she was thinking. Like when they knew each other, they really knew each other, you know?”

Caleb blinked at her, and she took joy in seeing the lovely shade of red that crossed his face. “Oh. Uh, ja . I suppose.” He suddenly turned from her, a hand partially covering his face from view. “But it might be a little more than that. I mean--” He flipped another page in his journal and briefly mouthed the Zemnian scrawled there. “--at first, it was feeling him nearby. Like, if he had just entered the room, I knew it was him even if I didn’t see it. Then it became knowing what mood he was in. I thought I was good at tells, but I’m not good enough to read Fjord, and you know how closed off he can be. Then, on the battlefield, it was like I could tell he when he was getting hit, and where. I could feel the pain.” His hand drifted to his chest, as if rubbing at a phantom pain.

“That sounds like it hurts,” Jester said, and really, this was more than she was expecting. She thought he’d confess his love over their resident warlock and she could tease him about it, but this was almost as interesting.

“It did,” Caleb confessed. “But the bond is just getting stronger. I’ve started to be able to tell where he is in the house.” He pointed a finger up to the ceiling. “Right now, he’s in his room. You can check it if you want.”

Knowing Nott just came from Fjord’s room to talk to her, she didn’t. “I believe you.” Her tail flicked behind her, interest piqued. “Has Fjord felt the same things?”

Caleb’s eyebrows upturned in uncertainty, and she took that as a no. “I haven’t asked yet.”

“Why not?” Maybe she could still get that confession she was fishing for.

“I, uh.” Caleb closed the journal and clasped his hands together for something to do, to stall. “Fjord hasn’t told me if he feels anything strange. He would come to me if he felt anything like that.”

Jester gave him an unimpressed look. “You do know this is Fjord we’re talking about, right?”

Caleb chuckled. “Right. You’re right.”

Jester nudged him, scooting her chair closer so their shoulders pressed together. Caleb let out an exasperated sigh, but he was still smiling. “I think you should talk to him. Because, like, I’m not as perceptive as Caduceus, but I notice a thing or two.”

It might have been her suggestive tone, or the knowing smirk she wore, but it caused Caleb’s face to pale and his eyes to widen in fear. “Jester, I don’t want to overstep, if there’s anything between you two--”

Jester cut him off by laughing, a little embarrassed. Had she really been that obvious? “There is nothing between me and Fjord, Caleb, don’t worry! So what if I had a little crush? He didn’t like me that way and I got over it.” She turned Caleb’s palm over again and laced their fingers together. “And besides, I want to help with whatever it is you two have.” She leaned in and whispered conspiratorially, “You two are super cute .”

The color flared back into Caleb’s face and he couldn’t help a smile that he hid behind his free hand.

“I feel like I do not have a choice if you help, do I?” Caleb asked, but he didn’t sound like he was complaining.

“Not at all!” Jester said, chipper, and Caleb laughed softly.

Caleb clasped Jester’s hand between both of his, and gave her an earnest smile. “Thank you, Jester. Really.”

She grinned back at him, and she was relieved to feel only excitement to bring her two friends together. “No problem, Caleb! I’ll make sure Fjord falls super in love with you, like in my books!”

Caleb shook his head, but did not dispute it. “I’ll talk to him first, about all this. Then we’ll see how it goes.”

Jester giggled and hugged him, not letting go of his hand. “I’m glad you found your fairytale.”

Caleb pulled back and gave her a curious look. “Fairytale?”

Jester waved her hand. “Nevermind.” She stood up from the table, her tail giving Caleb a flick on the ear. “You talk to him and tell me what happens. If he gives you shit, I’ll kick his ass, okay?”

Caleb chuckled and waved as she headed out of the room. “Will do, liebling .”

Jester bounced out of the room with a lighter heart than she anticipated, and an idea to do some research of her own.

She should send a message to her Mama. Just to ask a couple questions.