Chapter 5: Discussing a Resolution
Anna and Nathan sat for a moment, mulling things over in their minds and wondering what aspect of resolution they should discuss first.
Anna had no idea what to say, having not specifically lined out any possible conversations for she and Nathan to explore. So, she sat next to Nathan, enjoying the forest around her; the sound of birds chirping in the trees, the green smell of the lush plant life, the cool dampness of the morning dew coating every surface. She took in everything around her, just appreciating the peaceful morning; relishing just being alive to experience it all. In her heightened awareness of all the precious things around her, a new and unique smell reached her nose. It was musky, smelling of wood and pine needles, hinting of linens and sweat. It took her a moment to realize that what she was smelling was Nathan. She looked up at him, her green eyes meeting his bright blue, feeling blood rise to her cheeks; both for embarrasment and because she knew he had been staring at her.
Anna lowered her head to recover from the ever-recurring blushing, when Nathan broke the silence:
"What are you thinking about, Anna?"
Anna was surprised by the suddeness of his voice.
"Nothing important, really, just enjoying the nature surrounding us."
"Yes," Nathan looked around. "It is quite beautiful, isn't it?"
"Your country seems to be much greener than Wrouh, your soil much richer and softer than ours."
"Yes, more comfortable, much easier to sleep on." Nathan said, a light laugh in his voice and a smile gracing his lips, enhancing his already handsome features.
Anna smiled in return, glad for the opportunity the humor gave to break the ice and start the conversation.
"What is your country like; your people?" Anna ventured curiously.
"Well, my people have many traditions that we abide by in nearly all aspects of our lives. Traditions concerning farming, labor, relationships, commerce and war," Nathan explained. "Our traditions are the base of our culture, and we rarely differ from them."
"Oh, I see. Give me an example of one."
"Well," Nathan thought for a moment, then spoke lauching into an oration. "Oaths, for example..."
"Vows of promise, marriage, and war- among others- we take very seriously. Breaking such and vow can be punishable by death."
"Ah.... And our ancestors swore an oath to fight," Anna concluded. "An oath that still lives..."
"Yes; the result being this thousand-year war we wage against each other."
"If only there was a way to resolve the war by convincing our fathers to swear for peace," Anna admonished.
"Yes. Alas, it would be impossible even for them to meet...."
"Yes...." Anna lowered her head, saddened by such a prospect.
"Tell me of your country and people, Anna," Nathan requested.
And she did so, she and Nathan trading information about themselves and their people, even going far enough into their personal lives to speak of their parents and friends. She enjoyed speaking to Nathan, though was still wary about giving too much information. However, she felt herself opening up to Nathan in a way that she had never before opened to anyone. It was easy to speak to him because he didn't know her; he didn't judge her because he did not have a reason to. He wouldn't go off telling someone else what she had said, as many of the courtiers would do if she had confided in them. Nathan really listened to all that she said, and gave his oppinions accordingly when prompted.
Before Anna knew it, the sun was already high in the sky. If she stayed much longer, her parents would be suspcious seeing as she had been gone nearly the whole day yesterday.
It seemed that Nathan knew exactly what she was thinking.
"Anna, we have tarried too long here, speaking of unintended things -pleasant subjects, yes, but unintended nonetheless... You cannot stay long, I know that, and I am sorry for keeping you. You may go if you need to."
"Yes," Anna confessed, "I should go... It is a shame that we have not accomplished anything of great value." She rose and started toward her horse.
"Yes. And you cannot continue to come here to meet me in the day when you have other duties to attend to. It would be too suspicious."
Anna nodded, agreeing. She did not want to sound too eager, but she convinced herself that she was only doing this for the good of her people and his. "I could come by night if you would be willing to meet with me."
He stood. "Yes, if you wish it. We could possibly be the main factor in stopping this war; I would do anything to assure that."
"As would I," Anna affirmed, reaching the chesnut stallion and preparing him for the ride back to the castle.
As she struggled to untie the knot securing the horse, Anna felt a pair of strong hands encase her own. She looked up to see Nathan standing there beside her. "Here, let me help." She looked up at him as he untangled the rope, admiring the way his touseled sandy hair framed his chiseled jaw. She felt embarrased again at her interest in Nathan, and quickly reprimanded herself just as he finished.
"I shall try to meet you here tonight, well after dark," she said quietly.
His gaze met hers, and just as he had the day before, Nathan took Anna's hand in his, kissing it sweetly, lingering for just a moment before releasing her.
"I shall anxiously wait here till you return, fair Anna."
She smiled up at him, then allowed him to help her into the saddle. Once fully mounted, she took hold of the reins and with a firm slap spurred her horse onward, allowing herself one last glance back at Nathan's striking silhouette.
Chapter 5: Discussing a Resolution