Chapter CXIII

When Keiran was summoned to Court, he thought he was going to be pardoned. For everything he’d done. And everything he hadn’t done.

It took him two days to reach the capital. Two days alone with his thoughts. You can think a lot of thoughts in two days. And not all of them particularly pleasant.

No, he simply couldn’t deny it. His thoughts all went in a circular motion, drawn back by some invisible force to the one person he really didn’t want to think about. Strange, how her face kept appearing behind his eyelids, as if it was scorched into his head.

And he saw her on the road: her long hair bouncing down her back, her nervous chew of the lip, the way she curled her clothes around her fingers.

Her smile, so bright and rare and oh-so-precious because of it.

Her eyes, deep green like trees in summer, flecked with autumn leaves, full of sharp pine needles and soft rabbit fur.

He’d always known she was beautiful. She was famous for it - everyone in Disnarta knew of the beautiful Lady Beatrix, flawless, perfection itself.
So why did it surprise him each time he saw her, each time he thought ‘Ye gods, she’s so beautiful,’ each time he realised how much he loved her.

Funny to think how he’d disliked her at first. For her pride, her coolness towards anyone and everyone, how Carla did everything she was told unquestioningly and Beatrix thought nothing of her friend’s compliance, the arch of her eyebrow, the little frown that appeared above her nose when she noticed anything remotely out of place, and unconscious way she made rude remarks, as if it had never occurred to her that she might offend.

And not so long ago, he’d hated her. Hated her for the way she’d deceived him. For the way she had tried to be something she was not. The way she’d attempted to fit in with the outlaws. For simply being born a Countess.

She’d changed so much since then. Grown stronger, taller. More beautiful, more wise. More wonderful in every way. Not perfect. Never perfect. But wonderful.

And he? Had he changed? Of course. Otherwise these thoughts would never have entered his head. No, he was not perfect.

Not perfect. But wonderful.

The End

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