~ The Rain ~ pg 3

She had kissed him… Right there, in the middle of the road and in front of their entire approaching party, Fiora had kissed Alex on the cheek. As innocent as it must have seemed to her, still the pit of Civyl’s stomach churned from it. It was not lost on him how the gesture changed Alex. His demeanor towards Fiora had turned from purposeful stoicism to devoted adoration. And by the way all of the Birchwoods avoided eye contact with him, he didn’t think it was lost on any of them either. 

Only Fiora remained obliviously, serene in the face of Alex’s improved behavior. Civyl cursed under his breath time and again, each time he saw her rest her hand on the one Alex clung to her with or heard her laugh with him. Didn’t the fool girl understand what she had done? What she was still doing?!

The only thing that kept Civyl sane was the fact that Alex did not avoid him as the others did. Every time they passed, Alex would meet his eyes. Each shared glance he could see the man’s change but also the man’s pain, and with it, an understanding. Fiora was not and would never be Alex’s flower. That the man knew it and did not challenge it was enough for Civyl to allow the situation to go on unchallenged. 

Well, that and the fact that Fiora truly did seem much more comfortable in her ride. Alex was true to his word, keeping her healthy. They had stopped for a short supper much later than normal and Alex had suggested Fiora ride sidesaddle for the next stretch. Civyl had thought it an odd choice, but within the full tick, Fiora’s head began to nod. Alex had known her weariness and prepared for it so they could continue to ride as she slumped against him. 

Now, as the sky darkened, Civyl slowed his horse. With the clouds blocking out the moon and stars, it would be black as pitch soon. Alex brought his steed up next to him. Everyone else stayed back, willing to be out of the conversation. Civyl squinted in the fading light at Fiora’s limp form. “How is she?”

“She sleeps peacefully,” Alex answered shifting her weight slightly more to his shoulder. If the man was fatigued at all from holding her, he did not show it. 

“How much further to Hailie,” Civyl asked as he peered ahead. If it was more than ten ticks, they would be out of light entirely. 

Alex was shaking his head with a furrowed brow, “At least a full tick. Probably more.”

“Then we should make camp-“ Civyl started but Alex cut him off.

“We must keep going.”

“What?” Civyl stared at him. “Why?” As if in answer, the sky above them rumbled its promise of downpour.

Alex did not give him a different answer but turned to call back to the rest of the group. “Light the brands. We make for Hailie, quick as we can. If the Fates are with us, we may yet reach shelter before the rain.”

The End

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