Upon arrival to the Mountain Kingdom I was reunited with some of the people I cherished and loved the most. I enjoyed many evenings recovering from the chill of winter with a little too much Apricot brandy and in the company of some good friends. We were in a small and darkened room with a faint fire burning on the hearth, we had laid blankets across the floor to make the wooden planks a little more comfy to sit on, the Fool sat cross legged next to me, opposite Kettricken, Starling and Kettle. It was on this night that we discussed our journey beyond the Mountains and to Verity. Kettricken had little hope at finding her husband but still we decided on a route which was most likely to lead to him. We were to spend one more night in the Mountain Kingdom and then embark on our journey the following morning, this meant for a busy day tomorrow packing, and with little rest.
The evening before our department led to a visit from the Fool. I let him into my room and watched as he plonked himself onto my bed and began to stare at me with an expression full of worry. ‘Fitzy Fitz, do you think Nighteyes will be safe on this journey?’ It shocked me to see that the Fool’s primary concern was for Nighteyes and not himself, obviously their bond had grown stronger during our time in the Mountain Kingdom. ‘Of course, he has a winter coat to keep himself warm, there’ll be a lot of game to chase and he’s used to running long distances, he’ll be fine.’ I saw relief flood into the Fool’s face showing he truly cared. ‘And you’ll be ok too Fitz? I know you want to go back and see Molly, are you sure you’ll be happy going on this fools errand?’ I wouldn’t have put it as a fools errand, more like a journey to save the King I love and admire, a man who will ease the worry of the Red Ship Raiders and put forging to an end. This is what I truly live for. Recently Molly had begun to fade in my mind, she wasn’t the Candle Maker in red skirts any longer, but an independent woman who could get on with her life without me. ‘Fool, of course I’ll be ok! Me and Nighteyes are used to travelling long distances, it’s you who we should worry about, with your fair skin so prone to the cold. But thank you Fool, it means a lot to know I have a friend as caring as you.’ The Fool sat up and smiled sheepishly, I walked over to him and gave him a hug to say thank you. He leaned his body into me and sighed with relief, he was warm and had a mild apricot scent. ‘Thank you’. He released the hug and then bid me goodnight. Within a couple of hours when the first light arose, our small company met by the Jeppa’s and made our way towards Verity.
We walked alongside the Jeppa’s which were carrying our belongings; tents, weapons, food, scrolls and extra clothing. Kettricken led our small group for the first couple of days whilst we were still close to the Mountain Kingdom, Starling and Kettle trailed behind, with The Fool, Me and Nighteyes at the back of the company. Our conversations were sparse as we concentrated on keeping up our fast pace. As daylight faded we found a flat area surrounded by woodland to set up our tent, it was during our first night together when I realised my feelings for Molly had changed, maybe I had spent too much time away from her or maybe it was that I felt more strongly about another? I cast this thought aside. Kettricken and Nighteyes hunted half a dozen rabbits which were cooked and stored for our evening meal. We made a small fire and huddled before it, we ate in silence treasuring the rarity of a hearty meal. During the evening our conversations turned away from Verity and our quest to the singing of old songs of Buckeep and to rhymes from the Mountain Kingdom. As the evening drew on our company started to settle down in their sleeping areas, this left me and the Fool alone. We sat in companionable silence watching the fire flicker until we heard the shallow breathing of our sleeping friends. I glanced across to the Fool, the fire illuminated his cheekbones and created dancing shadows across his face. He looked adorable, huddled up and cosy within a blanket. This thought shamed me, had I forgotten about Molly? I think it was then that I realised I loved the Fool, over the past couple of years I had grown fond of him and begun to enjoy his small visits, but it was only now that I realised the true extent of this love. I shuffled closer to him and he shared his blanket with me, sharing the warmth. I could feel him shivering against me and decided something had to be done about this. I put one arm around his waist trying to spread the warmth. ‘You’re the one man I know who can be shivering when wrapped up in layers of blankets.’ He chucked softly, ‘I’m just glad you’re here to warm me up.’ I smiled at his comment, how very much like the Fool. ‘We should probably find an area to sleep, we’ll be up at first light again.’ I gave a sigh. I’d have done anything to prevent moving from this position, I was so close the Fool, I could feel the warmth his body gave off, and the steady rhythm of his breathing, I was too happy to move. ‘We could just bring some Pillows over here and remain by the warmth?’ He agreed and we quietly gathered the pillows and led on them, we shared our blankets. I kept my arm around him in case he’d get cold in the night. The Fool didn’t seem to mind, he shifted his body closer to mine and closed his eyes, his breathing begun to shallow. I stayed awake a lot longer than he, my mind was racing. My lifelong friend had stirred something in my heart, he had broken a barrier which had prevented me from loving him as I should. At least now there was a way I could repay him from all the hurt I had caused, I’ve known he had loved me for years and I had been silly to deny him and cause him years of loneliness, always so close to me but never allowed to express his feelings. It must’ve hurt.
I closed the distance between our bodies and turned to face him. His face was peaceful in his sleep and there was a small smile upon his lips. They looked so delicate and soft, I wondered if they’d taste of Apricots too. I used my thumb to stroke along his cheek, they were cold to touch. ‘Fitz?’ The Fool looked up to see me staring into his eyes, arms around him and hand on his cheek. ‘Fool, you know how much I love you right?’ He closed his eyes once more and tried to stop a tear from sliding down his cheek. I gently wiped it away. He shifted his head onto my chest and smiled sleepily. ‘Of course, I just wondered when you’d realise it.’ The Fool closed his eyes as if to sleep once more, I lowered my arms to be hugging around his slender waist, he agreed to this movement and hugged me back whilst entwining our legs. ‘Goodnight, Fool’ I whispered and kissed his forehead. ‘Goodnight, Beloved.’ It was the most peaceful night I’ve ever had.
Light began to seep into our tent, I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was awake and I didn’t want to move from the Fools embrace but I realised we couldn’t let others see us like this. At least not yet.
I must have fallen asleep because when I next awoke I still had my arms around the Fools waist and his hand was placed within mine. I was vaguely aware of Ketricken whispering to Starling, i heard brief mentions of both I and the Fool. They had most likely spotted us in the corner. Starling abruptly stood up red faced, she marched to stand in front of where the Fool and I were sleeping. 'I knew you were a she and I love with Fitz' The Fool sat up with a grin, he stared at me as if daring me to deny it. The Fool was a he but how could I deny our love? Of course I couldn’t deny such an adorable creature, I scooped him up into a close hug and whispered close to his ear ‘we could do a lot more than just hug.’ I kissed his cheek and watched as he blushed. Starling was shocked, she looked aside and busied herself with the making of breakfast. I led back down with the Fool, savouring these last few moments of privacy. ‘Fitz, did you need to do that in front of the whole company?’ I chuckled, ‘of course, I’m just so glad to finally be at peace with my decisions, I have no more reasons to hide my feelings from you and we can finally make up for lost time.’ He raised one eyebrow questioningly and leaned closer towards me. He rested his lips upon mine and kissed me gently. We used our tongues to explore each other’s mouths, he was so soft and delicate and tasted of Apricots. I smiled into him and felt at peace. ‘Thank you, Fool.’
The rest of the journey felt like a dream, The Fool and I didn’t need to hide our love, we hugged and always walked with our hands entwined. The bond between the Prophet and the Catalyst was as strong as any wit bond I had ever known. We were truly happy and found comforts in each other’s arms. Our companions didn’t seemed to mind our joining, they were glad that we no longer caused each other small hurts or sorrows, however it took Starling a little longer to accept that we were immune to her charms.