I'm not quite sure why I did it. I'm not sure why she did it, either. At the same time, we pushed our hands forward and we were able to hold hands. Her touch was surprisingly warm. Although, for a creature that spends all day in the sun, I guess I shouldn't have been too surprised.
She looked just as shocked as I was that we were able to cross the barrier. Had she expected me to say no? I certainly had expected her to say no.... So what made her say yes? She didn't seem too pleased by the idea.
"Now what?" she asked, dropping my hand.
"You get to explore one another's realms," Elder Arlan said with a small smile. "Roan, you will go to our realm this afternoon and Lillian, you will go to his realm this evening."
She just nodded. I knew what she was thinking for I was, too.
What did I just get myself into?
The two elders walked out and we watched them disappear.
"Do you think it'll really work all the way?" Lillian asked.
"I suppose there's only one way to find out," I shrugged.
I took a deep breath. I had heard stories of vampires trying to cross the barrier. They died painful deaths. It was unpleasant to hear what happened. But, if they were forcing me into a loveless marriage, then I might as well go out with a bang. So, I sighed and stepped forward.
I stood beside her and looked at my body. I held my hands in front of me.
"No fire," I mumbled. "No pain. I suppose it's safe."
"I'll try," she breathed and I could sense her excitement in spite of it all.
She looked timid and I smirked. I knew she'd be able to cross since I was but I wanted to have some fun. I pushed her between her shoulder blades and she screamed as she was forced across the line. I laughed as she rounded on me.
Until I had an arrow in my face.
"Relax!" I said, holding my hands up. "Jeez! It was a joke!"
"I could have died!" she said but put the arrow back in the quiver and her bow on her back. "You can't just push me into certain death!"
I rolled my eyes and grabbed her arm, pulling her back to the elven side. "I knew you would be safe, Greentree."
She frowned. "Is that how you address each other? By last names?"
She didn't sound insulted and I was taken aback briefly.
"No," I said. "But I don't feel comfortable enough with you to call you by your first name."
She led the way out. "So it's just something personal for you?"
"Yes," I confirmed. "I don't even call my best friend by his first name."
She frowned but didn't say anything for a few moments.
"So would you prefer I call you Dragomir?"
I shrugged. "How do you address one another?"
"By their first names," she answered as we exited the Meeting Hall.
"Then call me Roan," I sighed. "I might as well accept your customs, however bizarre they are," I added, watching as a he-elf swung between the trees, yodeling like an idiot.
She groaned. "Ignore Prim," she said. "He's...." She looked around and lowered her voice. "He is a prost."
I rolled my eyes. "English, please."
She glared for a second. "It means fool."
"Ah. Yes, that I would have to agree with," I said. "Your steps are stone...."
"What are yours?"
Elves were staring strangely at us. Some gave us wide berth and I felt a feeling of sadness coming from Lillian. Though I couldn't read the minds of supernatural beings, I could sense their emotions. I followed her gaze to a group of she-elves who looked terrified.
"So it's true," one of them gasped as we walked over to them.
They gaped up at me and I resisted the urge to roll my eyes. I had a feeling these were Lillian's friends.
"This is Roan," Lillian said. "Roan, these are my friend Penelope, Opal, and Tilly."
"Friends?" one of them repeated. I felt Lillian's anger. "Friends don't marry the enemy!"
"It's not like that, Opal," Lillian said.
"You've betrayed us, Lillian Greentree," she snarled and Lillian's shoulders tensed. "How could you agree to marry him!?"
"Opal," one of the other she-elves intervened. "It wasn't her choice."
"Actually, it was," Lillian said.
They fell silent.
"And it was mine," I added, deciding to speak up at least once.
Suddenly, Opal slapped Lillian. I stared in shock as the other elves did the same.
"Your father would be so ashamed," Opal hissed.
In the blink of an eye, Lillian had an arrow pointed at Opal. Her face was furious.
"Don't make me loose this arrow," Lillian snarled. "Take it back."
"No," she said. "Come on, girls. We have work to do."
Opal turned and walked off. The other girls stared at Lillian who was putting her arrow away, her face impassive. I felt the sadness, though.
"I'm not going," one of the friends said and Opal glared at her. "What you said is wrong and totally unfair, Opal Evergreen. If anyone would have ashamed parents, it would be you. Lily is sacrificing a lot for the unification of our people. I'm sure... Roan is, too."
"Let's go," I muttered to Lillian. "Show me where you live."
Lillian nodded and led the way but she didn't speak. I wondered what happened to her father that made that she-elf speak in past tense. I tried to think of a way to comfort her. That's what my father would do. I sighed. I was awful at this shit.
"Well, here's my hut," she said quietly. "Do you need to step inside?" she asked when she saw the grimace on my face.
"Please," I said, surprised at her concern.
The door was nothing but fabric and she pushed it to the side. It was cool and dark in her hut and I looked around. She didn't have much. Just a bed, a dresser with probably some more of those strange outfits, and a bookshelf.
"Why the outfit?" I asked, gesturing at it as she passed me a cup.
"Standard hunter outfit," she said. "It helps us blend in better with the forest."
I nodded, taking a sip. I cringed and pulled the cup away.
"What is this?" I asked.
"Grass tea," she answered, drinking some of her own.
I stared at her. "Wait. Are you saying that you took grass from the ground and turned it into tea!?"
She arched a brow. "Well, yes."
"I'm sorry but that's disgusting," I said and put the cup down. I shuddered. "And dirty."
She rolled her eyes. "You drink blood," she retorted. "How is that any less dirty?"
I frowned. "We'll talk about that later. Show me more of your realm."
She sighed and put her cup down, too.
We walked back outside and she stopped suddenly. I bumped into her and caught her before she fell forward around the waist. We both froze then I let go, clearing my throat.
"This can't be happening," the he-elf from this morning said, standing in front of Lillian with his arms crossed and his chest thrown out. "No. You're not marrying him, Lily."
The aura she put off was slightly intimidating.
"Now isn't the time, Trevor," she said. "I'm supposed to be showing him the realm."
"He's a spy," the he-elf argued.
I threw my head back and laughed.
"A spy?" I repeated. I shook my head, smirking. "Find another excuse to pass off your jealousy. Now, excuse us. I'd like to see these gardens I've heard rumors about."
I put my hand on Lillian's back.
"Jealousy?" she repeated as we walked.
I looked at her. "Seriously? You haven't caught on?"
"Well, yeah," she said. "But no one else knows."
I sighed. "Part of being a vampire," I muttered. "I can't read a supernatural being's mind but I can sense their emotions."
"The gardens you're talking about are this way," she said. "There's more sun exposure, though, so we'll wait until the sun lowers some more before we go over there."
She looked around curiously and I waited.
"Ah. Follow me. I want to show you my favorite place."
I shrugged and did so. We entered the forest and she led me to a small cave. I frowned as she shimmied in.
She smirked at me. "Afraid?"
"Of course not," I snapped. "I might be a bit too big, though."
She rolled her eyes. "Just come on, Roan."
I hesitated but knelt down. The hole was bigger than I thought so I squeezed in after her. We slid down a slope and came out at the base of a small lake.
"Wow," I breathed, looking around.
"It's my favorite place," she repeated, putting her head on her knees with a smile.