Roan hesitated before going to get his blanket. He sat beside me, both of us leaning against the hut wall. I sneezed a couple times as I tried to find the way to word everything.
"I don't want you hearing this from someone else," I said finally, pulling my blanket closer.
"Two she-elves mentioned they were murders," he whispered and I sighed.
"When I was a little elf, my parents and I were in the woods," I mumbled. I drew my knees up and put my chin on them. "They were both hunters and I wanted to see them work. At first they didn't want to but agreed eventually. So, the took me near that stream we bathe in."
I bit my lower lip, closing my eyes as I saw it all again.
"We took a break for lunch. I was playing in the water when two humans came into our realm. This wasn't unusual. We would cross to their realm occasionally, too. But they were men and my father pulled me closer to him. I think he could tell that they didn't have good intentions."
I sniffed, my nose running from my sickness and tears. Roan moved closer to me and held one of my hands.
"The first one grabbed me. When you're a little she-elf, you only wear a dress...."
"Oh no," he groaned, leaning his head back.
"He didn't get far," I said quickly. "Dad sent an arrow through his shoulder and told me to run for Elder Arlan. I was too scared. The second one had my mom and she was trying to fight him off. Elder Arlan has this... connection to the realm, though, and came as soon as he could. He got held up, though. One of the men sent a dagger through my mom's neck but she managed to kill him before she died. The same thing happened with my dad."
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Elder Arlan felt responsible," I continued. "He knew why the men had come but, like I said, he got held up and got there to late. So he raised me."
"Is that you're a hunter?" he asked after a while. "Because your parents were?"
I nodded. "And I have the best eyesight. I can even see in the dark."
"Impressive," he said.
I sighed. "Well, now you know."
"Why did they say your parents were murderers? It sounds like they were just defending you and themselves."
"Because the death of the two men sparked this stupid argument with the humans," I sighed. "They were positive Elder Arlan was lying. So, Elder Arlan had to do something he hates doing. He had to use his magic to show them my memories. After that, humans weren't allowed in our realm for 20 years. The elves blame me for it. They won't listen to my side of the story because I was so young."
I could feel him staring at me but I didn't look up.
"When's the next full moon?" he asked suddenly.
I frowned at him. "Huh?"
"The next full moon," he said. "When is it?"
I thought. "Five days I think. Why?"
He just nodded. "You should get some more rest," he said, letting go of my hand. "I'm sure Elder Arlan already knows you're sick."
"Probably," I said and lay back down.
To my surprise, he helped me get my blanket around me. Then he did something that shocked me more.
"All right," he said. "You better stay awake for this."
I frowned as he made grass tea. He made a face as he poured a cup full. He lifted the cup as if to say 'Cheers' and drank it in one gulp. I laughed as he shuddered, screwing his face up as he swallowed. When he did, he coughed.
"Gross," he groaned, his whole body shuddering. "Oh, that's worse than sheep's blood!"
I laughed some more as he finished drinking the pitcher.
"I lost the best," I said as he got in his bed and faced me. "Why did you do that?"
"Because I cheated," he answered. "I was almost certain it was for one of your parents you made the soup for."
I threw my pillow at him. "Ugh! You are a cheater!"
He laughed and threw it back. "Yep. Which is why I drank the pitcher. Now go to sleep."
I had one more week left in the realm and I was torn with how I felt. I was upset but, at the same time, I was looking forward to seeing more of the vampire realm. To my sadness, my friends didn't spend much time with me. They didn't even seek me out.
When I was feeling well again, Roan insisted on taking me to the statue of Adelpha. I was planning on doing that on my last night.
"You can go then, too," he said that morning. "But tonight's that full moon you were telling me about."
"Oh yeah," I said.
Our friendship had blossomed after I told him about my parents and we loosened up around each other. When he asked why I wanted to give the blood to Adelpha, I explained again the significance of the full moon: how it was her gift to the elves much like giving the elves love and the blessing of crops.
It was an overcast day so we visited the gardens.
"Finally," he said, putting his hands in his pockets and looking around. "And let me tell you, Greentree, they live up to their rumors."
"What rumors?" I asked as we wandered among the vegetation.
"It's said that it has the beauty of a thousand moons," he said. "They say it stretches on for a million miles and makes the air shimmer from whatever magic the elves us. It's also said that one taste from the Forbidden Fruit will kill you."
I giggled a little. "Come with me."
I led him down to the end of the row we were on. We stopped next to a fruit that looked like a shriveled plum. He sighed.
"Don't tell me this is the Forbidden Fruit!" he said and I laughed. "Oh, how underwhelming!" he complained. "Can it at least kill you?"
"How about you try?" I asked, passing one to him.
He narrowed his eyes. "You eat one with me."
I shrugged. "Sure."
We popped them into our mouths and, at the same time, cringed. I shut my eyes as I chewed and swallowed.
"Holy shit," he coughed, bending over. "That's worse than the grass tea."
I laughed. "Those rumors probably came from the taste of the fruit.
"No kidding," he said and I passed him a strawberry to wash the flavor down with. "Okay, time to visit Adelpha."
I didn't understand why he was so adamant about this but I went along with it. When we got to the shrine, he passed me the vial of blood. I looked at it curiously.
"You know, a deer was my mom's first kill, too."
I looked up. The clouds had cleared and the moon was high. I knelt down and uncorked the vial.
"I give you this offering, Mother," I said and poured the blood on the base of the shrine. "From my first kill to your heavens. May you accept my gift and send me your blessings."
I stood back up and sighed.
"My turn," he said and I turned to him.
He was facing me, his expression confused.
"So, when we first met, you told me an elf's first kiss was to happen in front of the statue of Adelpha under a full moon," he said and I nodded. He stepped closer. "Well, I stole that from you. I want to make up for it."
Before I could really comprehend what he was saying, his lips were on mine again. My eyes shut automatically as his arms encircled me. This time I felt something stir in me and I kissed him back. I put my hands on his chest and allowed him to deepen the kiss this time.
My body was warm though the air was cold. At first I thought it was our combined body heat but Roan had always had a cold body temperature. As our tongues moved together slowly, though, I realized what has happening and I put my arms around his neck. He pulled me closer.
I pulled away first and looked into his blue eyes.
"Did you feel that?" I whispered.
"It depends," he whispered back, his eyes focused on mine. "What did you feel?"
"Warm," I breathed. "It- Adelpha. She's given me her permission."
He tilted his head, touching my cheek. "What do you mean?"
I closed my eyes. "She's given me her permission, if I choose to, to fall in love with you."
He didn't speak. Instead, he pulled my body to his. We had hugged a couple times. He had never hugged anyone before and wanted to know what it was like so we were trying it out. This time, though, it felt more natural and I shut my eyes as his hands slid up my back. I pressed my cheek to his chest.
I couldn't think of anything to say but it was obvious I didn't need to. So, until the clouds covered the moon again, we stood and embraced one another; both of us a little confused but also a little happy.