Ora kept her attraction to Corbin quiet from everyone. They would think she was insane. She did not even tell Coby, who insisted on being her guardian since Corbin had hit her. Ora had wanted to be alone, she wanted to escape from her thoughts and run into the wind, breath in the deep pine scented air. But she couldn’t, Coby was watching her anxiously.
“Coby you do not have to be here” Ora licked her lips and looked at her feet. Coby was good at sensing her pain; she knew that if she were alone, Corbin would come. He can sense me, Ora thought with satisfaction.
“Yes I do, Ora. It is not safe for you out here”
“It is not safe for anyone out here, yet there are some that do not need bodyguards” Ora moaned, kicking at a tree branch like a child.
A deep twinge in the pit of her stomach silenced her. She looked up, alert. She could feel herself being watched, the familiar feeling she only got when Corbin watched her. In the beginning it unnerved her, now it warmed her. A dark opaque figure loomed over the trees. Coby had not noticed, he was creating a path for Ora – lifting the trees to stand erect. As Coby lifted the second tree Ora ran. She knew that he would not catch her and Corbin’s shadow was moving with her letting her follow it out into the caves.
Beneath the waterfall she found him, Corbin was sitting on the ground, delicately gazing at a piece of onyx stone, for the entire cove was made of it. He had not acknowledged Ora’s arrival, or he had not appeared to.
Ora felt awkward, she didn’t know what to say or do. She stood in the entrance waiting.
Corbin stood and looked Ora over, for the first time there was no hatred in his dark eyes. “I can feel the light...coming off your skin" he whispered, in a moment of weakness he stepped forward and almost touched her neck. Corbin realizes the weakness in the admittance and threw the Onyx stone to the floor the crack echoed up Ora’s spine. She kept her distance.
"I-I saw your shadow...I followed it" she admitted, feeling – for once, brave enough to look into Corbin’s beautiful face.
"You were wrong to...you-you are always around...Why is that? You should learn your place and -and just stay there" Corbin moaned and shook his head.
"I thought you were sending for me" Ora could not help but admit it, she felt ridiculous. Corbin looked as though he were in pain and for the first time he truly was.
"Well I wasn't!" Corbin knew he was lying; he could not help but send for her. Lure her here, just look upon her. His inward battle of his head and heart was driving him insane.
"I shall go then" Ora turned quickly but was suddenly pulled back by her hair. She screamed loudly, and in the distance Coby was running towards the screams. Ora's head cracked against the stone and she was showered in black. Corbin had pulled her around to face him. Their faces were millimetres apart, Corbin's black eyes stared back into Ora's yellow eyes, suddenly blinded. He blinked, he did not know whether to apologise or not.
The pain in Ora's head was sickening. Corbin's hand was full of her long hair. She gritted her teeth, and glared into his eyes.
"What do you want?" she snarled, she could hear Coby roaring in the distance, she wanted nothing but to call out to him, but her fear and shock had gagged her. Corbin’s warm breath caressed her face, almost hypnotizing her.
"You" Corbin said the words in disgust, in self defeat. He suddenly presses his lips to hers.
Ora was surprised, stunned, disgusted. She has no memory of this attraction or impulse. What Corbin was doing seemed so natural, yet his mouth was hard, his lips were cold and his tongue wet. His grip on her never loosened, she was frozen. When would he let her go? She thought. Where was Coby?
Beneath the waterfall he would never see them. Corbin's lips moved, pressing them harder to her lips. His hand slid from Ora's hair to her back, pressing her body against his. She felt suddenly warmer, and for the first time she could feel her lips moving along with his. She found herself suddenly gripping his neck, his arms any part of him that could be closer to her. It was only when Coby's roar became more audible that they broke apart. No words were spoken; Ora let her yellow eyes move over Corbin, taking in our beautiful his face was. His mouth was shiny and wet from their kiss. She left Corbin in the cove, and leapt down, into the water.
Ora ignored Coby's begs for her to answer him and runs, she runs for hours. Until her legs are numb from the speed. Trees whistle past her, Birds squawk above her. When she reaches the cliff she skids to a stop, gulping in the salty air. She can feel her skin warm from excitement, her hands were trembling. She sat delicately, her legs dangling from the edge of the cliff. She was confused; Corbin had admitted he wanted her. What did that mean? She thought. What did he want of her?
Ora lay back, the warm creosote against her head, the afternoon sun clinging to her skin.
Corbin remained in the cove all night, he felt ashamed to leave it. He had never, in his existence become so weak to his emotions. How had he let this girl be so quick to change him? Even now his heart swelled to the thought of seeing her once more. He placed his hands before him, against the black stone and observed them. His hands that had touched her where now warm, his lips were wet from her kiss. Corbin was thinking, his wise mind picking through ways in which he could keep seeing Ora, without Hades finding out.
Ora had finally escaped. Coby had done nothing all week but watch her, observe her every movements. It was not only Coby but also Azrael and Ora could not be sure but she felt as though the whole tribe were watching her. She shook her head, silly me, she thought. Paranoia has got the better of me, Ora sighed and kicked at the twigs beneath her feet. There was a faint rustling behind her, her heart leapt but fell almost within the same moment. Of course Corbin would not make a sound if he were to come see her, which he had not done since their last meeting.
Ora had casually started up a conversation with Miriam, a woman almost as old as Azrael who had told Ora that the pressing of lips to each other was called “kissing”
And then Miriam had cringed at the word as if it were Leto. Ora was intrigued.
The rustling behind Ora had stopped; the silence had brought her back to reality. Where Corbin was now standing a few metres ahead of her, his dark eyes had abandoned their harsh gaze. His mouth curved into a little smile, Ora imagined for a moment that his lips were on hers again.
The silence stretched.
Corbin stood watching Ora, waiting. He considered that she might have been able to verbalise her feelings much better than he could. But she had not spoken yet; her pale yellow eyes searched his features that he took no effort to compose. He felt warm, excited, and stared at Ora with adoration. Ora opened her mouth to speak, but Corbin spoke first.
"You must be confused" Corbin said gently, his voice unrecognizable even to himself.
Ora waited a moment, hoping that her voice would not shake
"Yes" she agreed, having no other words to say.
"I am also" Corbin cleared his throat "I did not expect this to happen"
The forest was silent, no animals or birds came or went. The wind was noiseless as it sailed through the high trees. The deep green blurred in Ora's eyes as she thought of what to say.
"So...you do-you do want me?" Ora's momentary fear was erased before she had finished her last words.
"Yes. Despite the rules that love is forbidden, despite what Hades wants" Corbin could feel the rebellion within him, he felt free, elevated - excited that he could do something independently. Love was his key to freedom and independence, because to love Ora, was not a product of Hades evil plans or an order from his tribe. It was a request, from Corbin to Ora.
A panic that almost crippled Corbin roamed around him, what if Ora did not want him? What if he had deluded himself to think that she wanted him as he her?
Corbin remembered all that he had said to her, and cringed at his own cruelty. He pictured her face as they separated from their kiss. Corbin was choking, the pain and worry was overwhelming.
Ora looked to the ground for a moment; she could not bear to look at his eyes until her decision was made.
"I need to go..." Ora whispered still not meeting his eyes "...I will come back later"
Corbin did not say a word, but let her run back towards her tribe. She thought of ways to ask Azrael if it were alright if she loved another, she thought of asking Coby, but knew how much he hated Corbin. Ora felt loved for the first time in her life and she wanted nothing more than to exult it. But she couldn't. Her heart was pounding so loud, it echoed up her throat, her eyes streamed with the wind.
"Azrael" Ora bowed, he was sitting in his tent, and the great white canvas billowed in the wind.
"Yes my child?" Azrael's voice crackled with age, he coughed, clearing his throat.
"I wanted to ask you something" Ora sat cross legged beneath him, giving the impression that he was her king, and she his servant.
"What is it like to love?"
Coby was sharpening arrows behind Azrael, his head had snapped up, he was listening.
"Well my child, it is not something I can express to you properly. The only love I have is for my children" Azrael gestured to the tribe's tents and then back to Ora.
"Yes, I know. But there are different types of love...am I right?"
"Well, you are not wrong. But that love is forbidden within Silvanus Forest. As you know, our bodies mutate and change. It would be no good to become reproductions here and now"
"What if it did not lead to that?" Ora was defiant. She wanted the possibility.
"It would not be love at all. I shall repeat it is forbidden, too dangerous to consider. We are immortal, creating a new born child is inhuman and careless and I will not have it for you my child"
Azrael's kind eyes searched his daughter's face. He knew that look, he feared it. She tried her best to smile and walked away. Back into the forest.
Corbin was standing in exactly the same place that Ora had left him in. His expression had not changed either, though his hair was slightly matted from the light rain that had started in her absence.
"Azrael forbids it" Ora begin; she had found the courage to look into Corbin's face. His hard features did not change.
"As does Hades...but it does not mean-"
"Yes it does" Ora argued at once "I cannot lie to Azrael, and nor you to Hades. If you defy him, what will he do?"
"Previous defiants to Hades have been kill-"
"Well then you cannot do it!" Ora was hysterical. She could feel her mouth trembling with fear and disappointment. "You cannot, we cannot. There is too much at stake here"
"Do you not think it is worth it?" Corbin asked stepping closer to Ora, he looked excited, elevated. "Do you not think that we have taken orders from our leaders for too long and maybe that they do not know all? Maybe that, they have no experienced love before therefore, they cannot know the true extent or greatness of it at all?"
Ora had no words to say, her heart was racing.