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I Love You

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"Where are they?" three-seasons-old Cyra whined, squirming in Otega's wiry arms. "I want to see them!"

"You'll see them soon," Otega sighed. Cyra was always a handful when her family was away on the sojourn. Now they were back, and she would get to see them after Lazmet finished his traditional post-sojourn speech.

Otega approached the wings of the stage where the rest of the Noaveks stood, then placed Cyra down to peek around the curtains. Lazmet was just closing his speech.

"Okay, not long now-" Otega started, turning to face Cyra. She stopped short when her eyes fell on empty space, then cursed as she turned to see the child propelling herself across the stage. Too late now.

"Mommy!" Cyra squealed, arms open.

Ylira turned around, then broke into a beam at the sight of her daughter. "Cyra!"

She scooped her up into her arms and held her close. "There you are, my darling! Were you a good girl for Otega while Mommy was away?"

Cyra nodded emphatically. "Uh-huh! I missed you!"

Ylira smiled. "I missed you too, baby girl."

Cyra nuzzled her cheek into the crook of Ylira's neck. "I love you, Mommy."

Ylira sighed blissfully. "I love you, Cyra."

"Hey," Ryzek said, sliding Cyra from Ylira's grasp to his own. "Did you miss me, too?"

"Yup!" Cyra nodded. "I drew you a picture, too. I left it on the table, but it's supposed to be a surprise."

Ryzek grinned. "I'll try to act surprised, then."

"I love you, Ryzek." Cyra stretched up to plant a kiss on his hair.

"Love you, Cyra." Ryzek stretched out his arms to deposit her in the care of Lazmet, who had now finished his speech. His eyes creased with a smile as he took her.

"Hello, little daughter," he said. "How was your time with Otega?"

"Good," she chirped. "I made dinner with her. She let me stir the pots, and I cleaned up all the mess afterward."

Lazmet laughed, a sound that seemed strange coming from him. "That's my Cyra," he sighed fondly.

"I love you, Daddy," Cyra announced.

"I love you, Cyra." He propped her up on his left shoulder so that she could see the crowds of Shotet people, all cooing adoringly at the words they had heard on the microphones hovering nearby. "Do you want to wave to your people before we go home?"

She gave the crowds of Shotet an enthusiastic wave. "I love you, Shotet!" she cried gleefully.

"We love you, Cyra!" the crowds chorused back, all reciprocating her wave.

Cyra jaw dropped open as Lazmet handed her back over to Ylira. "Did you hear them?" she gasped. "They said they love me! Did you hear?"

"I did," Ylira smiled. "They all love you, Cyra. Every last one of them."

Cyra didn't stop smiling for hours.

Sifa glanced out the window, watching for the Shotet floater that was sure to appear any minute now.

When meeting at the feathergrass all those seasons ago, she and Ylira had agreed that Ylira would smuggle Cyra out of the manor to stay with Sifa and her family for a few weeks the day before Akos and Cyra's fourth birthday. That day was today, and Sifa's visions had predicted the pair would arrive at dusk. Any minute now.


The door slammed shut and eight-seasons-old Cisi came running in to the kitchen. She tugged on Sifa's coat. "Mommy, there's a Shotet floater coming in! Should we hide?"

Sifa looked out the window again, this time spotting the floater. The headlights flashed, three times, then once, then three times again. The signal.

"There's no need to hide," she told Cisi, kissing her on the forehead. "I've been expecting them. They're visiting."

She took the hand of her confused eldest daughter and lead her outside, nerves jumping in anticipation.

"Shotet floater coming in," Aoseh murmured to her as she entered the garden, shielding Akos and Eijeh behind him.

"I know," she replied coolly, disguising her anxiety. "They're our guests."

Before Aoseh could ask any more questions, the Shotet floater lowered itself into the yard, and the door opened slowly. For a few moments, nothing happened. Then, Ylira made her way down the ramp and into the garden, little Cyra on her hip.

Sifa choked back tears at the sight. Cyra looked just like her, just like Aoseh- very much like Cisi and Eijeh, too. A true Kereseth. She tried not to cry.

"Hello," Ylira said, voice strained. She was also fighting her emotions at the sight of Akos, who looked just like all of the Noavek boys she loved so much. "I am Ylira Noavek."

"We know who you are," Aoseh snarled. "You're Lazmet's wife, a tyrannical Shotet warr-"

"Aoseh," Sifa said in her warning tone. She placed a hand on his forearm to soothe him, then stepped forward. "It's good to see you again, Ylira," she said. "I assume this is Cyra?"

"It is," Ylira said, smiling at the calmed bundle in her arms. "Cyra, this is Sifa."

Cyra beamed brightly. "I love you, Sifa."

Sifa was taken aback by the words. She gave Ylira a look as if to ask, and she laughed.

"Laz let her say that to the whole crowd at Shotet when we got back last week," she explained. "She was so happy when they said it back that she's been saying it ever since."

Sifa smiled, teary eyed again. The first words her daughter had ever said to her was 'I love you'.

"I love you, Cyra," she echoed. Cyra's beam grew wider.

Ylira set Cyra down and took her hand. Sifa kneeled down at her height to look her in the eye.

"I know you're too young to go on your sojourn yet, Cyra," Sifa explained, "so you get to go on your own special sojourn here, with your Mom, for a few weeks." She chose not to specify which Mom she was speaking of.

"Okay," Cyra said brightly.

"You'll be staying with me and the rest of my family," Sifa continued. "This is Aoseh-"

"I love you, Aoseh," Cyra called, waving.

Aoseh grinned, hisearlier anger apparently sated (though worry still rested in his eyes). "Love you, Cyra."

"This is Cisi-"

"I love you, Cisi!"

Cisi smiled shyly. "Love you, Cyra."

"This is Eijeh-"

"I love you, Eijeh!"

Eijeh gave Aoseh a weird look. Aoseh nudged him and he shrugged a little. "Uh, love you too, Cyra."

"And this is Akos," Sifa finished.

"I love you, Akos!" Cyra cheered.

Akos peered out from his hiding place behind Aoseh's legs, shy. "I love you, Cyra," he said quietly, unsure of himself.

"Kids," Sifa continued, standing back up, "this is Ylira and Cyra Noavek. They're going to stay with us for a few weeks."

"Weeks?!" Eijeh cried. "But they're Shotet!"

"Now, Eijeh," Sifa chided. "Be nice. They're our guests."

"Why?" Cisi piped up, curious. "Were the other Shotets being mean to them?"

Sifa tried to hide her smile. "I don't believe so," she said. "Now, let's go inside and find somewhere to put their things, shall we? Aoseh, Eijeh, I'll help you boys carry in the bags. Cisi, you show Ylira your room, and Akos, you show Cyra yours."

Everybody got to their tasks, not without confused mutters and indignant grumbles. Akos hid his face from Cyra as she trotted over to him, shy.

"Hello," she said, tilting her head to try and see him.

"Hi," he said, voice muffled.

"Are you scared of me?" Cyra asked. "Is it because I'm a Shotet?"

Akos nodded.

"I won't hurt you," Cyra promised. "I haven't learnt how to hurt people yet."

Akos peeked out from under his coat. "When you do learn how," he asked, slowly, "will you use it against me?"

"Not if you want to be my friend," Cyra answered holding out her hand. "Will you show me where your room is?"

Lowering his arms, Akos eyed her outstretched hand warily. After a few ticks of thinking, he took it in his own, carefully.

"Okay," he said.

That night, after a family dinner of deadbird and saltfruit, Cyra and Akos were sent up to bed.

"I can sleep on the floor," Akos offered. "Or I can sleep with Eijeh."

Cyra laughed. "Don't be silly. Here, get into bed and scooch over. Then there's room for both of us."

Akos did so with hesitation, but Cyra had no worries evident as she crawled in after him.

"There!" she said cheerily. "Nice and cozy."

"I don't like sleeping with a pillow," Akos said.

"I'll take the pillow, then."

They got themselves comfortable, then settled down, tired from the day's events.

"Akos," Cyra said, the word slightly slurred from fatigue. "Guess what."


"My birthday's tomorrow."

"Mine, too." Akos paused. "Are you sad you don't get to see your Dad and your brother on your birthday?"

Cyra shrugged. "A little," she said. "But if I have fun with you guys, I'll be happy still."

"I'll help you have fun," Akos vowed.

Cyra smiled into the dark. "Thanks. I love you, Akos."

"I love you, Cyra."

"Shotet are weird," mumbled Eijeh, getting into his own bed across the room.

The next time Cyra visited the Kereseth family was her and Akos's seventh birthday.

"Happy birthday, Akos!" She cried, running to him with arms outstretched as soon as she was off the floater.

"Happy birthday, Cyra," he answered, wrapping his arms around her enthusiastic frame.

"I'm taller than you," she teased him, pulling away.

"Oh, shut up," Akos said, smiling. "How was your sojourn?"

"Great!" Cyra beamed. "We went to Trella. When we came down through the atmosphere to land, all these birds got stuck to our windscreen and we had to scrape them off with a knife, it was disgusting."

Akos laughed. "I bet it was," he said. "You know, my dad said he would take me to another planet one day. I even get to choose which one."

"Cool!" Said Cyra. "Trella's nice, if you're considering it. It has these really sweet fruit that my dad likes, altos arva, and the mountains are so high the fog turns to cloud."

Cyra told Akos all about it while he helped carry her things inside, then shared her tales with the entire family in the lounge after dinner. Ylira chimed in with her own opinions every now and again, playfully teasing Cyra, and all seven of the family were in stitches by the end of it. It was nice to have the Noavek girls visiting again.

"I'm guessing," Akos said as he prepared for bed that night, "that you aren't going to let me sleep on the floor again?"

"That's right," Cyra confirmed. "Now, scooch."

Akos did as she asked commanded, and Cyra pulled up the blankets over both of them.

"Good night," she said.

"Good night," Akos replied.

"I love you," she joked.

"You're making me blush," Akos complained.

"I know," Cyra smirked.

The next visit was scheduled for when Cyra and Akos turned ten.

"Cyra and Ylira will be here soon, right, Mom?" he asked his mother, whom he knew would know the answer.

Sifa bit her lip. "I'm sure," she said, sounding uncertain.

Akos was about to ask her something, ask her what was wrong, when he heard the floater approaching. It's flight path was wobbling, like the pilot was inexperienced. Why? Ylira had always flown herself, and she was a steady pilot if Akos ever knew one.

"Cyra," Cisi greeted her as she climbed out of the door.

"Where's Ylira?" Eijeh asked, clearly seeking the Shotet sweets she often brought with her.

The Kereseth children were surprised when the question elicited a tear from the young Noavek.

"Ylira is dead," she choked out bitterly, wincing.

It was only then that Akos noticed the tendrils of darkness wrapping around her, travelling faster as she cried.

The children reached for her, but she stepped away. "No. You can't... you can't touch me. See? Currentgift." She held up her hand, clothed in shadows. "They're currentshadows. They cause pain to anyone touching them.

"Even you?" Eijeh frowned.

Cyra nodded. "Even me."

"Why don't you come inside, dear," Aoseh said gently. "Sifa's got some tea prepared. I suppose you'd like something to eat."

"Yes, thank you," Cyra gave him a teary smile. "I'll be there in just a moment. I just have to collect my things."

Everyone started to traipse inside- everyone, that is, but Cyra and Akos. Akos followed Cyra into the ship and placed his hand on hers. He concealed any sign of his pain at doing so, and Cyra jumped at the contact.

"What are you doing?!" She yelped, yanking her hand away. "I told you, it hurts! Don't touch me!"

"If you can take the pain, so can I," Akos said quietly, even though it had always been obvious who was the stronger of the two. He put his hand back on Cyra's. "You need the comfort, anyway."

Cyra stayed where she was, completely frozen, for what seemed like an eternity. Then her face crumpled, bursting into tears, and she buried her face in Akos's shoulder. He held her to him, stroking her hair, consoling, until her sobs died down.

"Sorry," she gulped.

"No," Akos told her simply. "I won't allow you to be."

She gave him a small, shy smile, then wiped her face clean. "We should get going. They'll all be waiting for us."

And perhaps most of them were, but one specific Kereseth had been standing in the doorway to watch the scene unfold since it had began. A prophecy come to life.

By the time Akos and Cyra got her bags inside, though, Sifa was already minding her own business in the kitchen.

That night, Akos found Cyra weeping again in his room. She shook him off when he tried to comfort her, like she had the first time.

"I shouldn't have used you then," she whimpered. "We're friends, I should be protecting you."

"I should be comforting you," Akos reasoned, but Cyra shook her head rapidly.

"You don't know what I can do," she sobbed. "It, it, it doesn't j-just hurt people..."

"What are you talking about?" Akos reprimanded. "Tell me."

Cyra started crying again. Then she peeled off her coat, revealing a sleeve of armor over one arm. She undid the straps, and pulled it off, revealing a row of neatly cut marks.

"Are those...?"

"Kill marks," Cyra confirmed. "I killed these people, Akos. They're dead. Because of me." A fresh wave of tears took her over. "T-t-touching them! I t-touched them and the shadows pushed into them and I-I, and they died, I just, I..."

Akos wrapped his arms around her tightly and she cried harder.

"You won't kill me," he whispered. "We have a deal, remember? If I am your friend, you won't hurt me. You can't help your currentgift from hurting a little, but I know you won't kill me. That would cross a line, I think."

Cyra laughed through her tears, then turned to return Akos's hug. He ignored the sharp pain radiating from her and concentrated on the hug, holding her tightly.

"I love you," Cyra choked. Akos knew what she meant- how she meant it.

"I love you, too," he whispered.

The Kereseth's didn't hear from Cyra until she and Akos's fourteenth birthday, when her floater almost seemed to just materialise in their backyard without warning.

"Cyra," Akos said, the only one home at the time, surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"Hello to you, too," she teased, much more upbeat than the last time he'd seen her (despite Sifa having told the Kereseth kids that her father had passed not long after she'd left last time).

"I didn't mean it like that," Akos said, smiling. "I'm just surprised. You skipped the last visit."

"Yeah... well." Cyra looked at her feet. "Sometimes things just don't work out when you want them to."

Akos didn't press whatever it was she was hiding. Cyra put her walls up for a reason, and she didn't like people to see what lay beyond without her permission.

Instead, he held his arms out to her, beckoning for a hug. She smiled and walked into it... then stiffened. It took Akos a moment to register what was missing.

Pain. Cyra's touch brought him no pain.

Pulling back just barely, just so he could see her, he saw that her eyes were wide in shock- she couldn't feel the pain, either. Her skin was clear of currentshadows.

"Akos," she said warily. "What's your currentgift?"

"I don't have one," he answered. As an afterthought, he added, "that I know of."

Cyra's eyebrows drew in, giving her a look of caring, almost, of sweet vulnerability.

"You have one," she breathed. "Your currentgift takes mine away."

He was too stunned to register the full meaning of her words, and just smiled.

After the news spread that Cyra had returned, many of the Kereseth's did the same- Cisi from training at her medical school in Shissa, Aoseh from harvest work in the iceflower fields, Sifa and Eijeh from whatever it was they'd been up to at the temple recently.

Akos and Cyra told each of the others excitedly of Akos's currentgift, Akos eyeing Eijeh carefully for a hint of jealousy and finding none.

They spent the night in the loungeroom watching movies together, Cyra's hand clutching Akos's for relief from her pain. Akos got several raised eyebrows from his siblings, but he only blushed and turned back to the screen.

"Sorry if it's been weird, today," Cyra apologized that night. "Holding hands, and all. In front of your family."

"Don't worry about it," Akos shrugged. "They can think what they want. You've been hurting for too long. I want to help you."

They shared a smile, crawling under the covers together.

"I love you, you know," Cyra said seriously. "Not in that way, or anything, but... you know."

"Yeah," Akos nodded. "I know. I love you, too."

They smiled.

"If I hear kissing, I'm going to throw a pillow at you," mumbled a voice across the room.

"Eijeh!" Cyra and Akos yelled at the same time.

"What? I don't want to hear that. This is my room, too."


"It is! And I'm not giving you privacy just so you can suck face. It's disgusting."

Akos groaned in defeat, his face aglow with blush, and Cyra giggled at him.

"Brothers," muttered Akos, covering his face with his hands.

"Yours is better than mine," Cyra pointed out. "Humiliation is better than being forced to murder people, trust me."

"Ryzek forces you to murder people?!" Eijeh squawked.


Cyra's next visit was also a surprise, coming just a few days before her and Akos's sixteenth birthday.

"Early this time?" Akos asked jokingly, raising his eyebrows as he helped Cyra carry her bags in toward the (empty) house.

"Yeah," Cyra sighed. "Home sucks. Ryzek sucks. Currentshadows suck. I just needed a respite."

Akos stopped, putting down the bags, and gathered Cyra into his arms. She relaxed and hugged him back, relief finally with her.

"I heard about your Dad," she whispered, suddenly. Akos sagged.

Not long after the last time Cyra left, Aoseh had been found dead in his own iceflower field, his wounds suggesting an attack involving currentblades- weapons wielded only by the Shotet. Akos's family had been broken by the attack- the children grieving over their lost father, and in anger at their mother, who had surely known of the event beforehand. Despite having managed to move on (somewhat), to Akos, the hurt still seemed fresh.

"Yeah," he said sadly. He wasn't sure what else to say.

"I thought I should warn you," Cyra said. "Before anything worse happens."

"Warn m- wait. You... you know who did it?" Akos asked her, breathless.

"Yes," Cyra replied sadly. "My brother's men- Kalmev Radix, Suzao Kuzar, and his steward, Vas Kuzar. Ryzek sent them... but he wasn't looking for your father."

Akos frowned. "Who was he looking for? Why? What happened?"

Cyra sighed. "Lets go inside."

Half an hour later, after Cyra's things had been put away and she and Akos were seated on the couch sipping at cups of iceflower tea, she consented to tell him more.

"Ryzek is afraid of his fate," she explained. "His fate is this- and you cannot tell this to anybody- the first child of the family Noavek will fall to the family Benesit. He wants an oracle, so that he can avoid his fate."

"Avoid his fate?" Akos wrinkled his nose. "That's impossible."

"I know that," Cyra huffed irritably. "It doesn't mean Ryzek will listen. Besides, that's not the point of the story."

Akos thought back over her words a little, then blinked as realisation dawned. "He wants my mom."

"Or your brother," Cyra says. "He's not picky, as long as it's an oracle."

Akos frowned. "Eijeh's not an oracle."

"Yes, he is," Cyra argued. "The fates were announced by the assembly after my last visit, remember? Just a few days before Ryzek's men... well. You know."

Akos did know, but he didn't appreciate the reminder. He scowled.

"The head master shut off the power in the school, the day the fates were announced," he declared. "I didn't hear any of them. And my mother has not told us a thing."

"Well, she ought to have," Cyra said. "Eijeh's an oracle. Or he's going to be one, anyway. And Ryzek wants him- or Sifa, or the falling oracle, whoever she is. And he'll be back. That's why I'm warning you."

Akos nodded, wary. It was a dangerous thing she had told him- and she had put herself in danger in doing so. He doubted she knew how thankful she was, but didn't say a word.

Things had been changing, with him and Cyra. Or maybe it was just him. He saw her differently, these days, than he used to when they were young. She had gone, in his eyes, from a scary Shotet, to his friend, to someone he wanted to help, to...

Well, he wasn't sure what this was, wasn't sure what he felt for her now. But it had changed. Drastically. Too tired to address the change, Akos put his hand in Cyra's and they sat back against the couch in silence together.

Akos couldn't muster the courage to talk to his mother, or his brother, for that matter. In fact, he didn't want to talk to anyone. He hardly even wanted to think.

He slipped outside into the cool night air and leaned against the big tree in the yard, breathing deeply. It didn't take long before he heard the door, but he didn't have to look up to know who it was.

"Hiding won't do you any good," Cyra chided, coming to stand near him. He didn't move, not even his eyes.

"I'm not hiding," he protested. "I'm... processing."

Cyra snorted, but it seemed to be with mirth, so Akos didn't address it. They stood side by side for a while. Content without words. Then, Cyra's hand slipped into Akos's, careful. His skin prickled, and his mind whirled, wondering if she sought only relief or comfort as well.

"You don't have to do anything about it yet," she said quietly. "You don't even have to say anything yet. That's why I came to warn you now; so that you could have time to think it through, and everything." She rested her head against Akos's shoulder, and he let go of her hand in favor of putting his arm around her shoulders.

"Thank you," he said sincerely. "I don't think you understand what it means to me. Beneath all the layers of panic and confusion, I have an awful lot of gratitude for you."

"Says you," Cyra smirked. "You and your current-deadening fingers changed my life. You... made it worth living. Made me laugh, and cry, and love, and live. Gave me a place in a world I wasn't meant to know."

Cyra's eyes turned to the stars in the night sky and the twinkle of the current, letting silence envelop the pair once again. Akos eyed her, frowning.

"Love?" Akos asked quietly. Cyra looked back at him, questioning. "I make you laugh, and cry, and love?"

Cyra looked down. Akos saw her cheeks heat with a rare blush.

"Of course," Cyra said, just as quietly. She was deadly serious.

She looked back up at Akos now, her soft, dark eyes wide and almost vulnerable. Deep, warm, soulful.

"Do you remember," she asked, her voice low and serious, "the first thing I ever said to you?"

Akos was about to retort no, of course not, when it came to him in a flashing of blinding light.

"'I love you'," he quoted breathlessly, swept away by the memory of the first time he met her, her cheeky, wide smile and bubbly personality. She had grown spikier since then, her jokes with more bite, but Cyra was the same. And his first words still applied, too. More than ever, actually. "I love you."

"I love you, Akos," Cyra whispered, still with that seriousness.

"I love you, Cyra," Akos replied, not an ounce of hesitation in his voice.

Cyra bit her lip in a shy smile. Returning the smile, Akos tilted her chin up and watched her eyes flutter closed in anticipation as he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers.

She kissed him back, softly at first, then deeper as his affection for her showed more and more. He took pain away from her, but he gave her so much more in return; gave her life, in a sense (or several). Gave her happiness, peace, respite. Gave her love.

Akos never wanted to live another moment without Cyra in his arms, without her lips moving gently against his. Never wanted to know a world where she hadn't been his friend, been there for him in one way or another since his childhood. Cyra was an essential part of him, and without her, he couldn't see who he was, or would be. Without her, his current gift would be a means of separation rather than connection. Without her, his grief would be all-consuming, unrelenting, without relief.

Cyra was relief, but she was more; she was warmth and smiles and warnings and encryptions; she was a Shotet with a gentle heart, a Thuvhesit with sharpened claws. She was his missing piece, his fate. Akos didn't want there to be a single path of his future that didn't lead to her.

Eventually, they managed to pull away, foreheads touching and shy eyes locked, smiles gracing their lips.

"I love you, Cyra," Akos repeated.

"I love you, too," Cyra smiled, heart warming. She traced her fingers over Akos's shirt, feeling the speeding of his heart even through the Thuvhesit fabric.

Akos bent his head again, and this time Cyra expected it and lifted her own head so their lips met somewhere in the middle. With Akos's lips on hers and his arms around her, Cyra's mind was completely unintelligible, just an indistinct buzz of elation and hope and soothed calm.

Wrapped up in his embrace, there was no jumble of bad news and scare of fates, no threat of Noavek tyranny and no agony to bring her to her knees.

There was just love.

"Haha! I called it! I called it!"

Sifa and Eijeh looked up from their mugs, their oracle conversation interrupted by Cisi's triumphant cheers. She was kneeling against the back of the couch, leaning on the windowsill and pointing out through the glass.

"I told you," she grinned proudly. "I told you this would happen, I told you!"

Sifa and Eijeh shared a smile.

"I'm sure you weren't the only one who knew," Eijeh commented drily, smirking a little as he rose from his seat to join his sister in her place on the couch.

"In the family of an oracle, guessing things correctly gives you a certain good feeling," Cisi retorted, also still grinning. "Even if it is as blatantly obvious as a certain two lovebirds we have the privilege to know."

Eijeh groaned as he looked out the window, seeing the pair in question wrapped up in one another under the tree in the garden, semi concealed by darkness. "Great. I'm sharing a room with them tonight. With both of them sleeping in the same bed."

Cisi giggled a little, covering her mouth and trying to feign seriousness when Eijeh glared at her. "Sorry. Should I give them my room, and I'll take Akos's bed?"

Eijeh shrugged. "If you don't mind having them in your bed together, yes, that would be preferable."

Cisi smirked at him. "I'll go clean up in there, then."

Cisi dashed up the stairs to do as promised, and Sifa brought her mug over to stand aside Eijeh at the window.

"I should tell Cisi, soon," Sifa mused. Eijeh gave her a look.

"I think there are two other people who need to hear from you just a tad more."

Sifa sighed heavily. "We'll just let them revel in the completion of their secret fates, for now." At Eijeh's look, she confirmed, "They are the first two people in history to have more than one fate, a fact the oracles decided would be best kept private at our last meeting with the Assembly. The second child of the family Noavek will cross the divide, and The third child of the family Kereseth will die in service to the family Noavek; those are their 'true' fates, the ones we gave to the Assembly seasons ago."

"What are the hidden ones?" Eijeh asked, though he had a feeling he knew the answer.

Sifa smiled, eyes still cast outside the window, as she said, "The second child of the family Noavek will love the third child of the family Kereseth. And The third child of the family Kereseth will love the second child of the family Noavek."

And in that peaceful night, with the air cool around their warm bodies, it was as if those were the only fates to exist for them.

But their 'true' fates would come to find them, in time.

And they wouldn't have to wait long.