Sarah woke with a vague sense of uncertainty. Bothered by the fact that the feeling didn't seem to be hers Sarah sat up. Sounds of sleep wafted though the small house and Jason’s bed roll had been moved from the room. Quietly swinging her legs out of bed, she moved to gaze out the window. It looked out to the street, opposite the way the feeling was coming from.
Unsure if this was real or a dream Sarah hastily threw on a dressing gown. She made her way softly down the stairs to the kitchen. There she looked out into the backyard. In the shadows by the wall, a man stood tossing a dagger. Sarah didn’t need to see his features to know who it was.
What’s wrong Jay, she sighed to herself.
Everything was the response in her head. Jason paused his tossing and looked towards the window. We need to talk.
Yes, Sarah agreed, nearly certain she was going crazy.
Grabbing a poncho from pegs next to the door she threw it around her. She smiled, realizing it was Jay’s, and slipped out into the night. Jason had resumed dagger tossing in the pale starlight.
“Hey,” Sarah said once she was within a step or two of him.
“Sarah,” his reply was monotone as he continued his actions.
Sarah turned and leaned back against the wall next to him. Silence spread between them like a comforting blanket. But like the cloak, she soon found it unbearable. Setting the cloak on the wall beside her she turned to Jason.
“What’s bothering you?” she asked now certain that the uncertainty she had felt was his.
Jason remained silent.
“Jay?” Sarah’s voice choked on his name as she broke the silence again. “It’s my presence isn’t it?” His glance flicked briefly to her, but the dagger continued its arc. “Of course it’s my presence,” she sighed and closed her eyes. “God, I can’t imagine what it would be like if roles were reversed. I wouldn’t know where to begin, but I’d find a way.” Sarah opened her eyes to look at him. “I mean, something brought us together so we must belong together, right?”
Sarah couldn’t help the tears that sprung to her eyes. She could feel her own frustration at trying to adapt to this world as well as his inner turmoil. Turmoil about what she wasn’t sure. Suddenly Jason stuck the dagger into the wall.
“Sarah,” his voice was choked with emotions.
Taking her hands in his own, he studied them. Sarah was about to speak when he lifted his head to look at her.
“Sarah,” he whispered, “to marry you would be the greatest reward of my life.”
One of his hands left hers to caress her cheek. A soft smile began to spread across her lips.
“But,” his hands dropped and her smile faded. “I have no idea what kind of life we will have together, or even, if we will make it that far.” Jason turned to lean on the wall next to her.
“What?” Sarah turned to face him, hands on her hips. “Just because neither of us have ever been able to commit before...”
Jason chuckled and smiled. “I do not mean it in that way,” he sighed and his smile faded as he looked into the night. “I mean, that we are likely to be called back into service and our mission more dangerous than the last.”
“We?” Sarah wasn’t sure she’d heard him right.
“Yes we,” Jason lifted a hand to touch her cheek. “The Gods have brought you here for a purpose, and I highly doubt that purpose is to marry me.”
“So why don’t we just elope and get married now?” Sarah ignored the fact that her head was beginning to hurt.
The shock on Jason’s face was enough to tell Sarah she’d said something outrageous.
“Sarah,” Jason’s voice softened as he took hold of her shoulders. “One cannot marry without first completing Tri-Luna and one cannot begin Tri-Luna without the Gods Blessing.” His eyes closed for a moment before returning their focus on her. “Though I suspect we would not be denied, it would destroy the illusion, if I have not already done so, that I am Not in love with you.”
“Oh,” Sarah couldn’t help but say as his distance, broken by random moments of tenderness, suddenly made sense.
Jason’s hands ran down her arms so that he again clasped her hands in his own. “If the King determines my judgment has been compromised because of my feelings for you I will be dismissed from the Scouts.” He looked at her wryly, “Given that I am nobility, it would not be of consequence except, my father will disown me upon our betrothal.”
“Why?” Sarah was puzzled. She knew Jason and his father didn’t get along, but to disown his own son seemed a bit drastic.
“Because, my love,” Jason let go of one of her hands to tuck a wayward strand of hair behind her ear. “You have no dowry and even if Griffon adopted you and gave you Rosaline’s dowry it would not satisfy him.”
“So,” Sarah was beginning to see why Jason was in turmoil, “If we take your father’s disownment as a given. Where would your being dismissed from the Scouts leave us?”
“To put it bluntly?” Sarah nodded. “Paupers,” Jason continued, “with nothing but the clothing on our backs.”
“Then what do we do to keep you from being dismissed?” Sarah looked at their rings, “Give up being engaged?”
“No, his highness would notice the change.” Jason let go of her and stepped back. He drew himself up to the Scout Sergeant Sarah had gotten used to seeing. “Instead we must bury all emotion and go for the logical explanation.”
Sarah’s heart cried, “For how long Jay?”
Jason relaxed and pulled Sarah into his embrace. “I don’t know Sarah.” He sighed. “I don’t know.”