Calwyn sighed in relief as she stepped out of the small door she had made in the side of the black palace. She had been cooped up far too long without being able to stand in the sun and look at the perfectly blue sky above. Hathara was practically sucking the life from her, keeping her closeted inside its thick walls.
She took a few steps out, squinting as her eyes adjusted to the light. The wind whistled around her tall frame as she stood stock still, letting her body soak up the sweet sunlight. After a while of just swaying in the breeze, Calwyn began to walk away from Hathara, not even bothering to glance over her shoulder. A walk would do some good for her tumbled thoughts.
Sometimes the black palace felt like a prison, bleak and encasing. Her friends were all busy with their duties, yet she had none of her own to occupy her. Calwyn doubted any one of them would miss her if she left for a while.
The red dust of the Hatharan bowl drifted in front of her, and Calwyn realized just how lonely she really was. A tear tracked through the grime on her cheek. Though she treasured their mission, their purpose, more and more she found herself wanting to go home to Antaris, to sing with her sisters and eat with the other novices, and become a full priestess. There was an unwanted pang of jealousy as she thought about the novices that became priestesses already, and what she had missed.
The jealousy ate at her as she walked. It wasn't fair. The mission came first, to stop Samis, but she was stifled waiting inside Hathara for something to happen. She gave an unhappy sigh that was quickly lost on the light breeze.
Having decided she'd gone far enough, Calwyn knelt on the dusty red ground and fell to her back, staring up at the massive expanse of blue sky, her dark hair splaying around her. The sparse white clouds above moved along with their own rhythm, drifting lazily across the azure heavens.
Her thoughts drifted to Darrow, now the Lord of Hathara. Something had shifted between them and she didn't like it. Most of the awkwardness between them was just her own bloody pride, but there was something else too. Something she was almost afraid to unearth.
It was true that Darrow was very precious to her. He was her anchor, and no matter how much she would deny it, she cared for him deeply. He was the only thing that kept her in Hathara. If not for him, she would have left ages ago. He was the first, and probably the last man she ever loved deeply.
Another mournful sigh, and Calwyn's eyes closed.
She felt more at peace out here than she had in the last week. Perhaps it was the wind blowing over her face, or the sun on her body, but she felt better than before. Almost like a weight had lifted off her shoulders. Maybe the thinking had done her some good. Without realizing it, Calwyn drifted off to sleep.
What felt like hours later, Calwyn woke to find herself being shaken vigorously.
"Wha-" She stammered out, opening her eyes in a flash. Darrow's serious face was just mere centimeters from hers, his gray-green eyes boring into her own brown ones.
"What do you think you were doing!" Darrow yelled. Calwyn's eyes widened and she looked around, realizing it was significantly later in the day than when she'd set out.
"I-I just needed to see the sky..." Calwyn stuttered, trying to gather her wits. To her surprise, Darrow pulled her into a tight hug.
"When no one knew where you were, I was so worried you had left me." He mumbled into her shoulder, his voice low and muffled. Calwyn threaded her hands through his hair.
"I would never leave you like that," Calwyn replied. "I would at least say good bye."
Darrow pulled away, studying her face.
"You aren't happy here." It was a statement, not a question. Calwyn was debating whether to lie or not when Darrow held a hand to her lips.
"I can see it in everything you do. My distance from you has not helped matters."
"No, it has not..." Calwyn sighed.
"I have been foolish in how I spend my time." Darrow agonized. "I see now how much it has hurt you."
Calwyn bit her lip, looking out on the desert plain as tears pricked at her eyes.
"I missed you." She whispered, her words almost lost on the wind. Darrow's face softened as he reached out and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
"I missed you too, dear love." He murmured, making her flush.
"Calwyn, I have been thinking about... Us." Darrow continued. Her heart leapt into her throat. Darrow opened his mouth to say more but paused for so long, Calwyn began to believe he had forgotten what he was going to say. Impatient, Calwyn pressed her burning lips to his. This sparked Darrow to life, and he pulled her closer, moving his lips against hers in a way that sent shivers down her spine.
"That's for taking so long, you silly man." Calwyn said when they finally broke apart. Darrow threw back his head and laughed, something she had not seen him do for quite some time.
"You never cease to surprise me, love." He said, humor glinting in his gray-green eyes.
"May it stay that way!" Calwyn laughed. Darrow stood, pulling her up with him. Calwyn complied, wrapping her arms around his middle. This time together wouldn't come again for a while, but it was better than weeks without a single embrace. Calwyn sighed as Darrow seemed to read her mind, pulling her closer.
"Calwyn, when this is through..." Darrow began. Again he paused, and Calwyn grew impatient.
"Darrow, what on earth do you keep trying to say?" She said exasperatingly as she pulled away from his embrace to stand, hands on hips. Darrow blinked.
"I-I would like you to be my wife."
Darrow chuckled as Calwyn's jaw dropped. "Surely love, you didn't think I thought of you that way?"
"I honestly didn't... I did not think you would ever want me by your side, at least in that way." Calwyn replied, snapping her jaw shut and throwing her arms around him.
"I have wished for you to be by my side since long ago in Antaris." Darrow murmured into her hair. "I have been thinking about marriage more these past few weeks, our friendship becoming what it has. I-" Darrow continued.
"Yes, yes, I will be your wife. You're a fool if you even thought you had to ask." Calwyn interrupted him.
A smile broke out on Darrow's face, unlike any other he had given her before. He gathered Calwyn into his arms and kissed her hard, his warm lips melding to hers. Calwyn kissed back, running her hands through his flaxen hair. Darrow's scent washed over her, and she thought she would melt, right there in his arms.
"My impatient girl. We will marry soon, give it time." Darrow said between kisses, and Calwyn nodded, her heart fit to burst.