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Kindling In My Soul

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When Jeorge had met Midia, their future was a forgone conclusion. Before their births they had been betrothed, and Jeorge's mother introduced her by saying "Greet your future wife, Jeorge."

That did not sit with either of them.

Midia like jump and run and shout, to roll in the dirt and play fight all day. Jeorge liked to stay in and read, and when he did train it was with a bow. That was not to say they hated each other, far from it. When they did interact, it was always pleasant, as they both shared the concept of the ideal, stalwart knight. They would regale each other with legends and pour over books of tall tales until the sun set and it was time for Midia to go home. But marriage? They were too ill suited, surely.

As they aged, their temperaments grew even farther apart, yet their bond deepened against all odds. They both detested the inclination of the nobility to sit idle while others died for them, and chose to chase their ideals together, to follow that internal spark they shared. They trained and studied and grew, side by side.

And Jeorge fell in love. And he thought, nay knew, she loved him as well, but she was a woman of action, and a slow bubble of affection was not something she would notice.

Willing to live with the idea she may never know, he chose silence. Her free spirit was what he loved about her, after all. No one and nothing could chain down the human inferno that was Midia. So willing to shrug off the teachings of her family, unlike his cowardly self. A force of nature in the guise of a woman.

So, Jeorge waited.

It was many years after he met Midia that he met Astram.

Jeorge had enlisted in the Archanean knights to escape the shackles his family attempted to tie to his ankles, and that is when he first saw him.

While his feelings for Midia aged liked a fine wine, the heat in his belly for Astram burned down his throat like a hard liquor. Stout and built, the man was a human battering ram, and had the stubborn personality to match. He spoke in shouts, and most of what came out his mouth was something about justice, Nyna, violence, or both.

And Jeorge yearned. To be so free and open, to think so little of the judgement of others. To be held by those arms attached to the shoulders that seemed to shrug off any obstacle before them.

He knew Astram felt at least some of that same passion igniting inside him. He felt the curious gazes, the pats of the shoulder that lingered just a little too long. Jeorge loved him, and he was loved back.

But yet again he waited.

Whatever there was between them and him paled to what fire burned between Astram and Midia. They had locked eyes that first meeting, and though the first thing out of their mouth was an argument, it didn't take someone with as keen an eye as Jeorge to know that's not what they'd really like to be doing. It didn't take them that long either, and soon bitter conflict became hushed whispers and poorly hidden brushes of the hand.

They were in love.

Yes, they both loved Jeorge, but they were in love with each other.

So Jeorge chose silence once more. Better for them to have their happiness than him selfishly claim his own.

(He punctuated his last sentence in the letter to his mother, formally ending his engagement to Midia, with a smile.)

For all the infamy his keen observational eye had garnered him, he could have not predicted what happened in a thousadn years.

After the second war, they both joined his Archanean Rangers, discontent to let their blades dull in peace time. Patiently and undemandingly he remained by both their sides, pleased enough to be allowed to be with the people he loved, even if he ached with desire anytime he saw them expressing affection. He was their captain now, and had other matters to distract him from his yearning.

So when he accepted an invitation from Astram to spar after a patrol one night, he assumed nothing of it. This was routine, he did this with all his men, even ones who were the object of his divided affection. They were currently encamped near the boarder, following up on reports of a large number of bandit attacks in the area, so they would be training once most of the men went to sleep. Midia was set to keep watch by the fire.

"Astram?" he called as he approached the forest's mouth, where they set to meet. At first, he saw no one, before the sound of footsteps put him on his guard...

...until the recognized them as familiar. Both of them.

"I thought you were tonight's watchman, Midia," he said as he turned to meet the pair, voice attempting to be stern. He always failed.

She smiled mysteriously, beautiful as ever under the moonlight, elegant and deadly, "Gordin agreed substitute for me, once I explained the situation."

"Situation...? Is there something I need to know?"

"I'd say you've known for a long time, Jeorge," Astram grinned toothily, "You always were a wily one."

Still confused, Jeorge set aside the training bow he had brought as they closed in him, and for the first time in his life, he felt more like the prey than the predator.

"We've known you a long time, Jeorge," Midia began, "You probably know us better than anyone. Better than ourselves. You know that we prefer to act once an idea gets in our head."

"It's honestly a surprise it's taken us this long to come to the conclusion," Astram continued, reaching out to squeeze Midia's hand, "Now that we know, though? No more waiting."

Eyebrow rising high on his brow, Jeorge felt like he was suffocating on smoke, "That's quite cryptic for the two of you."

"You want me to speak plainly?" Smiling broadly, Midia detached herself from Astram to grab Jeorge's cheeks, and in the same proud, unwavering voice as ever, announced, "We're in love with you."

Quiet fell over them, the only noise the rustling of the leaves in the breeze and the low chorus of crickets in the background. After what may well have been a whole other lifetime, Jeorge spoke, "'We're'? Both of you?"

Astram strode over, placing a hand on Jeorge"s shoulder, "Yes. We know you feel the same. I'm sorry we've kept you waiting so long, my friend."

This had to be a dream. He had always assumed...he thought...he felt like he'd live like that forever, following the trail of ashes they left in their wake, nourished like a tree after a forest fire. But now here they were, offering themselves to him like a roast on a platter, like he hadn't been waiting and wanting and desiring alone for so many years.

He thought he might cry, and to hide the possibility he pressed his fists into his eyes, voice wavering with years of buried emotion, "It sickened me to do so, but I have spent so long assured that my foresights and assessments were correct. I thought I knew that this day would never come," he released a shuddering sigh, "Maybe I was running from the thought of what I would do when it did."

"Our ever steady Jeorge," Midia said with love and sympathy, kissing his forehead.

"Patient and wise," Astram added, kissing his cheek.

No longer able to maintain his calm, he threw one arm around each of their necks, pulling them together into an embrace, still shaking like a new born calf. They squeezed back just as tight, both laughing at his uncharacteristic discomposure. Once he had gotten his fill, he pulled back just enough to peck Midia, then Astram, on the lips, giving in to an urge he had stifled for too long.

"Apologies, I could wait no longer."

"None needed," Astram said, stealing another, longer kiss. Jeorge groaned against his mouth. Pouting, Midia nuzzled into his neck in jealously, so Jeorge turned his head to kiss her just as deeply.

So long he had waited...the release of tension was like a wave against the shore, dousing the internally consuming flames that had been lapping at his heels for almost ten years.

"I have loved you both from afar for so long, I had forgotten how it was to exist any way other than in agony."

"You will never know that feeling again, my dearest Jeorge," Midia's voice was a sweet as the kiss she laid upon his cheek, and Astram's tenor was as tender as the lips he lay on Jeorge's palm, "Never again. You have seen for years how we love one another, and now we will love you just as much."

"I will hold you both to that," he warned playfully, and he was silence by another kiss. He was slowly losing track of what part of him was being kissed by whom, but he didn't have it in him to care. He did finally cut his own euphoria short, picturing a lonely and shivering Gordin left with responsibility for the whole squad.

"We should get back. I'm sure Gordin was happy to help, but it would disquiet me to inconvenience him for so long."

They nodded, and Midia grasped Jeorge's hand while Astram's arm remained slung over his shoulder. Together, they walked back to camp, whispering sweet nothings and making promises of making up for lost time, and Jeorge's soul finally felt the peace it had been waiting for all these years.•