Closed Quiet Celebrations

Zhol surprises Khara on her birthday.

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Khara on February 24th, 2015, 2:54 am

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22 of Winter, 514
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She was flying, soaring above tree tops and buildings of stone that seemed entirely incomprehensible. There were no mountains, there were no worries, and her eyes! Her eyes saw everything. So much detail and so much beauty and yet her focus was only on one thing, a silhouette against the rising sun, arm outstretched to greet her, to give safe haven in a world that was so utterly lost and confusing and -

The scene suddenly broke apart, everything melted around edges and faded to a blissful darkness that came with a delicate warm sensation. It took several moments before Khara realized that it was the gentlest of kisses was pressed against her lips that was rousing her from sleep. The details of the dream fled and all that she was left with was a feeling of her heart soaring to meet something, someone. Maybe it was this exact moment that it had been anticipating. The moment when the gentle pressure left her, leaving her wanting only more as her golden hued eyes finally flickered opened to look up into the impossibly green ones she would always be happily lost in.

Another few moments passed before Khara's groggy and dream clinging mind finally caught up with reality and accepted it openly. Zhol came into clear focus and for one blissful moment he was all that her world was comprised of. Her hand slowly rose from where it had been half tucked under Zhol's arm and a pillow to gently rise and press cool fingertips against his warm cheek. An instant of panic suddenly pushed it's way forward as a frantic question of what time of the morning it was dissolved almost as soon as it formed. She didn't have work today, she didn't need to go anywhere, and neither did he. They could stay here, just like this for as long as they both wanted.

This was something Khara could get used to, to be awoken every morning with a soft kiss and the instant adoring gaze of the single person in all the world she wanted to see it from. In a few chimes she would be considered almost nothing, another Chiet whose value was only as good as the use they made of themselves. But for now? For now she felt as if none of that mattered. Zhol saw her as more, as something even beyond an Endal, perhaps, and for several sleepy ticks Khara was more than happy to simply accept that fact.

Her head rose from the pillow, just long enough for her eyes to close as her lips met Zhol's again, this time of her own doing; the barely-made contact fleeting, lighter than the brush of a feather, and yet if such a thing was possible, reflected all the complete love and devotion she found was so easily given to him. The pillow she had brought from her room seemed harsh in comparison as her head came to rest against it once again and her fingertips lingered against his skin in the softest possible manner.

"Don't say you missed me. I haven't gone anywhere." Her voice was soft, barely above a whisper and in reply to a comment that Zhol sometimes made if he woke her, an apology, an excuse for having done so that was never necessary.

A small cringe, a soft groan, and the barest of muscles straining to relieve whatever tensions they may have gained from whatever positions they had found themselves in the night was allowed before Khara stirred a bit more. She finally lowered her hand from the gentle touch she had placed upon him and dragged the back of it across her eyes, bidding the lurking temptation of returning to sleep to leave her.

"So now will you tell me what you have planned today? Or is it still secret?" The Common tongue refused to fully form in her mouth and came out in a soft slur that threatened to retreat back to the quiet hesitant chirpings of the first that had left her.

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Zhol on February 24th, 2015, 2:58 am

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But he did miss her, that was the thing. From the moment she closed her eyes, and her breathing became a gentle breeze against his skin, he started to miss her. He missed seeing her eyes. He missed hearing her voice. He missed the way she sometimes stumbled over words, those tiny adorable errors reminding him of just how much of an effort it was for her to speak a language he understood; how much he must matter for her to be willing to do so. He missed her laughter. He missed being able to make her smile. He missed the way she brushed her fingers against him, absently, without realising. He missed being able to indulge the urge to kiss her every time it overcame him. He missed being able to interlace his fingers with hers. Spending the night with her, and holding her close; that was perfection, yes, but so was everything about her.

His lips settled against her forehead, a long, lingering, loving kiss left against the wispy strands of hair that sleep had turned into an adorably unruly fringe. "Still a secret," he admitted, his voice soft and laced with teasing.

His expression faltered ever so slightly, a note of regret forming behind his eyes. "I'm sorry I woke you," he said, his gaze flitting away for a moment, before willpower steered it back. "I just didn't want you to wake up and find me gone. I have -"

He stopped himself, barely avoiding giving too much of the secret away. "- I have a few things to get ready. It won't take long, just a few final touches, and then I will come straight back." He hesitated again, another glance away from her eyes. "I'm sorry. I know I promised that we could spend all day together, but I'll only be gone a few chimes. A bell at most."

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Khara on March 13th, 2015, 10:12 pm

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"Oh," Khara breathed, the hint of disappointment she felt was barely contained. "Okay."

Her hand reached out to gently run down his arm, fingertips lingering even as Zhol left the bed they had shared for much of the season. The forlorn look she gave him leaving as his words echoed in her mind, a bell at most. A single bell wasn't so bad, not really. It would give her plenty of time to actually get ready. Still, Khara couldn't help but avoid every urge to dart out from under the blankets and wrap her arms around him and beg him no to leave her at all as she watched Zhol dress and leave, only letting her eyes leave him and raise to the ceiling for the brief instant that she knew he might be uncomfortable with her seeing. The hand that had trailed against his skin made the small grassland sign he had taught her just before he slipped from the door, and then she was alone.

For a few moments she allowed herself the comfort of remaining in bed, wrapped in blankets still warm from her - Gods, she really needed to come up with a term for exactly what they were, or maybe ask Zhol if there was one, or something. Lover still wasn't really right, after all, not in how others would think of it. The thought finished in a huff and Khara finally got up and walked over to the small chest they had moved from her room that contained all her belongings. For a tick or two she held the satin vinati she had purchased that Zhol still hadn't seen in her hands, considering wearing it before finally deciding that perhaps now wasn't quite right for it. Which left the other set of clothing she had purchased, well Zhol had for her.

The black shirt she seemed to have on permanent loan from the horse boy was shrugged off before she pulled on the ramie top and cotton bryda that felt overly lightweight in comparison to her usual wool work clothing. Once clothed she sat back on the bed and divided her hair into three separate strands, fumbling and undoing and redoing and finally mumbling instructions to herself as she wove each piece around the other in sequence to form a loose braid that draped casually over her left shoulder.

There was no reflective surface to try and judge if she had done a good job, or looked okay, so Khara nervously stood up and put her arms behind her as the seamstress, Leyla, had suggested. The position still felt awkward and exposed and uncomfortable, but if it made Zhol not think she was so nervous, then it would be worth it. The Chiet was trying to figure out how best to shift her weight and shoulders so she felt a bit more relaxed when a knock at the door startled her. Zhol wouldn't have knocked if he was returning; the fact someone had was entirely unsettling. True, a Dek runner had found her here before, and they hadn't exactly made it a secret she was more or less staying with Zhol, but surely it couldn't have been for her?

The door was opened slowly until the sight of a lontev attired person came into view. Another one of the drudge then, just like last time. Already her heart began to beat uncomfortably within her chest at the parallel.

"Yes...?" She inquired, the reluctance to even ask made her sound strangely timid towards the Dek girl standing almost as nervously as she was.

"I have been told to fetch you by an Avora. He will meet you at the gates." The girl, whom Khara couldn't tell if she was younger or older than the scout herself was, spoke softly. A twist of a familiar flinch came before she continued, "He said you have to come quickly."

Khara could only mutely nod in reply and watched the drudge scurry off before she closed the door slowly. Her heartbeat was painful now, thudding heavily in her chest as a sweep of anxiety began to cave in on her. Zhol wouldn't have summoned her, he said he would be right back. Azira wasn't the Avora who had either because the Dek had said he was waiting on her. She didn't really know any other Avora, certainly no one that would have asked for her specifically.

Quickly. She had to leave now. There was no time to change into more appropriate clothing and spare the beautiful garments that Zhol had bought her, no time to do anything but quickly gather her bag that contained her work things, slip on her kantinu, and only as an added thought did she scoop up her bow and quiver. He would meet her at the gates. Who was he, though?

As Khara hurried through the warrens her insides turned to ice. There was another Avora that knew her name, had called her by it, had used it almost as if it was the most distasteful thing he had ever uttered. Her breath quickened at the thought. No. Please no. Anyone but him. Please, gods, anyone but him.

The thought wouldn't leave though and already her mind was conjuring visions of the blacksmith who haunted her nightmares standing with a smug smile on his face as she obediently came as he asked. Of how he'd grab her arm and drag her back inside. Of what he might do to her. I have no need for you anymore. His final words on their last encounter suddenly burst into her mind, Not today, at least. The sickly smile he had given her was remembered and Khara felt her entire body begin to tremble as she came closer to her unwanted destination.

Tears were streaming down her cheeks as she finally reached the gates and stepped outside. Even Syna's light was no comfort as she kept her blurred vision focused entirely on the ground. She couldn't look up, couldn't see him standing there. Her hands clasped in front of her as her head remained bowed; it fell into place all too easily, compliant posture forming despite every mental scream to run and find Zhol instead.

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Zhol on March 13th, 2015, 10:47 pm

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Oh gods. Oh dear gods, what had he done?

The anxious expression, the one that had loitered on the boundary between panic and a grin shattered the instant that his eyes fell on Khara. Everything that he had so carefully poised, the meticulously groomed and braided horse that it had taken nearly twenty chimes to position in exactly the right place, the sleigh packed with blankets for warmth that he'd spent a nervous eternity getting just right, the leather and buckles on the tack and straps that he'd polished until gleaming; those were forgotten in an instant. Not a smile. Not surprise. Not that frustrated relief of having been caught out by a sneaky deception. Khara was in tears, and it was all his fault.

In an instant he was upon her, bundling her up in his arms with all his might. "It's okay," he whispered, squeezing her tight, kisses planted atop her beautifully braided hair. "I'm sorry, Khara -"

He wasn't sure what horrors her mind might have conjured; wasn't sure what the dek had said, or how badly she might have deviated from the very specific words that he had instructed her to say. That didn't matter much, though; he knew the kind of dark places that Khara's mind could wander. It was a stupid plan. He should have known better. This was all his fault.

"- it's only me. I shouldn't have lied, I just..."

He trailed off, drawing far enough back to meet her gaze, letting her see just how much sorrow and regret was welling up behind his eyes. "You were supposed to walk out," he struggled, his mouth fumbling and stumbling over some of the words, "And, and, and, you were supposed to see, and I was supposed to say -"

His shoulders slumped, his eyes fell away; his hands slid down Khara's arms, gently wrapping around her fingers. His gaze was focused on them now; he couldn't bring himself to look at her.

"Good morrow, my lady," he said softly, quoting the lines he had been practising, muttered under his breath as he worked for the last several days. "Your chariot awaits."

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Khara on March 13th, 2015, 11:57 pm

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She had wanted to completely melt into his hold, to let herself feel like unformed molten glass that only ever took shape and became herself when Zhol was around. Her terror had turned quickly into relief and then reshaped into a feeling of foolishness that had her pull her hand away from his slowly so that she could wipe the back of it across her eyes.

"It's okay," she echoed. "She-she said... and I thought... But no, it does not matter. I was wrong and I am very happy to be." A glance was given to the carefully planned out display behind him and a grateful look was given as she tried to have her eyes meet his reluctant ones once more. "I think I have messed your surprise."

The clipped laugh that left her was forced a bit, but clearly reflected the unease the sudden shift in emotions had caused. She didn't blame him for the misunderstanding, she didn't blame him for anything; Khara didn't know if she ever could. Certainly not for this.

A slight sniffle and she tugged herself tightly against him once more. "Thank you. It is a very nice cherry... urhm... chair..." Another small laugh shook her shoulders and Khara sighed in an effort to calm both her racing pulse and her stumbled words. "The word you said."

Another deep breath and Khara loosened her hold on him and her hand gently raised to cup against his cheek. The gentlest of pressures was used to encourage Zhol to look up, to stop avoiding her eyes, tear stained as they still were. "I do not look how I wanted to for you. I was going to wear the coat you bought for me and I should not be crying. You said you would never let anything bad happen to me again, if I remembered that, then I would not have had any worry."

Another look was given past him at the horse and sled, taking in the details that she hadn't at first glance. There was obvious care put into everything, it was unfortunate that one little misunderstanding had ruined Zhol's efforts at setting everything up so perfectly. But then, if there weren't misunderstandings it wouldn't exactly be them, would it? The smile that formed and remained as Khara looked back to him was far warmer, relief finally giving way to a mix of gratitude and uncertainty how to react to such kind gestures. "I am still your lady, though. Right?"

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Zhol on March 14th, 2015, 12:25 am

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Zhol lowered his lips to hers, not a passionate kiss but a gentle, adoring one. "You have not messed anything," he assured quietly, gently brushing the tear streaks that Khara had missed from her cheeks. For good measure, he planted kisses against the tracks they had taken as well, determined to remove every last glimmer of Khara's sadness, no matter what it took. "You look beautiful -"

A small unsteady smile flickered onto his lips, faltering not for lack of desire to smile, but out of worry that he should not do so quite so soon. "- and you will always, always be my lady."

He hesitated, glancing at the horse and sleigh for a moment, before gazing back at Khara once again. "But today you are more than just my lady. You are -" He stumbled over the words. "- you are often sure that you are worth nothing, that everyone is better than you, that you deserve the bad that happens, and that you do not -" His voice faltered again, the sentiment difficult to convey. "- deserve me."

His throat tightened; he swallowed hard, trying to loosen it enough to continue speaking. "But you are wrong. To me, you are better than everyone I have ever known, and you deserve more than I can ever give you. I would treat you like an Endal princess if I could, and today, I -" His smile took a sheepish turn. "I am going to try."

Zhol's fingers closed a little tighter around Khara's; he hoped desperately that his words would do at least something to undo the damage that he had caused. "I do not know how they celebrate birthdays in Wind Reach. We have a little way to go until we get to your surprise, but, when we get there, I -"

It wasn't his thoughts that distracted him this time, or his words; it was Khara's eyes, the beautiful orbs of gold that he so easily found himself lost in.

"- I hope it will be okay."

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Khara on March 14th, 2015, 3:08 am

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It always amazed Khara how effortlessness it was for Zhol to reassure her but that he always felt the need to try far beyond what he actually had to. Just being there was enough for her, but the gentle kiss, the tightening of his hands around hers, everything else... There was no debt between them, no urging to reciprocate beyond what their hearts demanded, but if such a were to be calculated, there was no way that Khara felt she would ever be able to repay him. Zhol hadn't been wrong when he stated she felt that she didn't deserve him, but that didn't mean she wasn't grateful for every single moment they were together.

She wasn't entirely sure what he meant by Endal princess, but it sounded fantastical and she was instantly curious as to just how far Zhol had gone to try and treat her like one. It would be a guilty pleasure, though. Chiet like her weren't supposed to be treated this way, even if they had caught the love of a higher caste member. Somehow though, Khara imagined, that no one who had found themselves in a similar position probably ever really cared about what was proper in terms of their partner. Love was love, and no caste system was going to limit it - especially where Zhol was concerned, apparently.

"I know it will be perfect," she whispered before quickly stealing a kiss of her own. A sudden realization of where they stood came upon her and she glanced back to the thankfully closed gate. If it hadn't been Winter, no doubt she would have seen Val's amused smile at their antics.

"I do not really celebrate my birthday," Khara admitted. "But I think I can, because I have a reason to now." Her own hands tightened around his, a gentle squeeze hopefully indicating the unspoken reason she mentioned.

Her eyes finally left his as another glance was given to the waiting sled. Suddenly a flurry of questions assaulted her thoughts and she couldn't help but let some loose into the world. "I have never ridden in one of those. How fast does it go? Where did you find one? Is... Is that Smoke?"

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Zhol on March 14th, 2015, 3:47 am

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"Smoke won't pull us too fast," Zhol replied, answering both her questions at once. "We don't have far to go, I just thought this might be a little more comfortable than clambering all the way up on top of Smoke again. And besides -"

Finally, an uninhibited, warm, genuine smile managed to find it's way to his lips. His thumb gently brushed across the backs of Khara's fingers as he gazed into her eyes. He wasn't sure whether he was excited, or anxious, or perhaps both at the same time, but the prospect of whisking Khara away, of finding out if everything he had planned - and the partial aspect of it that he had been able to execute; curse Kalea and curse Winter for depriving him of the flowers and fruits and ingredients he'd wanted - would make Khara feel even a fraction as special as she was to him, had his heard thundering at a galloping pace.

"- nice as it was to ride with my arms around you the last time, this way I get to look over and see how beautiful you are... and maybe I won't have to wait the entire way until I get the chance to kiss you."

His cheeks reddened at that, and he exploited his momentary distraction to take a step backwards, clearing his throat as if that would somehow dislodge his previous words. He didn't release her hand though, just adjusted his grip and, lowering himself into a respectful bow, raised it to his lips and placed a gentle kiss against her fingers. "If you'll come with me, my lady," he said, affecting a crude approximation of a Sylirian accent as he led Khara the rest of the way to the sleigh, "We have a celebration to attend."

Carefully, he helped Khara climb aboard, attentively adjusting the blankets to ensure she was as comfortable and cosy as it was possible to be. Close enough to satisfied, he circled around behind the sled and climbed aboard himself, nestling up beside Khara and encouraging her to snuggle up against him, one arm wrapped around her shoulder but still holding the reins. Another kiss settled itself atop her waves of copper hair. "Ready?" he asked, letting his head rest against hers.

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Khara on March 14th, 2015, 4:48 am

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She had to admit that it was more comfortable this way, and far less awkward. Not that Khara hadn't liked riding Smoke with Zhol without all the extra things, but riding a horse had proven far stranger than she had expected and had left her unexpectedly sore the next day. The sleigh on the other hand allowed her to sit normally and under the comfort of the warm blankets. Overall considering her earlier state of panic, the fact she could gently rest against Zhol's side and not worry about trying to control a horse's movements or anything else was exactly right for that moment.

She nodded at his question and shifted closer to Zhol's side and her arms moved to wrap around his waist. If this was just the start, she couldn't wait to see what else Zhol had planned.
__________________________________

It didn't take long, not that Khara had tried to keep track of time as they had ridden along. She didn't recognize where Zhol led them, but that hardly mattered, though it did strike her a bit odd that there was somewhere in Mount Skyinarta that he knew that she wasn't familiar with. It didn't cause any sort of negative emotions, not unless curiosity was considered one. How had he found somewhere that she had no need to go? What was here? What was worth keeping a secret?

She was certain to find out sooner rather than later, but it was almost agonizing having to wait. The fact she was being led slowly from the sleigh by Zhol's guidance didn't help matters. Nor that he had told her to close her eyes and she was entirely reliant on him. The reliant part wasn't bad, but the urge to sneak a peek, to barely crack an eye open to see her surroundings was sorely tempting. The urge became all the greater as suddenly she felt a rush of heat meet her as they continued on. There was only one thing she could guess that could cause such a sensation outside and the excitement she felt at the prospect of seeing such some of Skyinarta's volcanic activity almost broke her promise in keeping her eyes closed. She'd be able to see when they were leaving, after all. Compared to the chill Winter air of the ride, however, the heat suddenly seemed almost oppressive.

It didn't last, and soon the sounds of the outside world were blocked out and their footsteps seemed to echo. Each step brought cooler air with it and the light that had been filtering through her eyelids eased before everything seemed entirely black. Just where had Zhol taken her? It was thrilling and a bit scary but somehow in a good way as she waited in hopes he'd let her finally see what he had planned out.

"You will need to bring me back here one day when I can see the walk up, you know?" She softly teased. "Can I open my eyes now or will you keep me waiting so longer?"

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Quiet Celebrations

Postby Zhol on March 14th, 2015, 5:07 am

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"Just a few moments longer," he promised, tightening his grip on her hand for a brief moment, before slowly slipping himself free. "Don't move, I just need to stop it being so dark."

It was Zhol's turn to close his eyes, not for concentration, but for concealment. As swiftly as he was able - which was not very - he willed a small orb of res into being, a flick of concentration turning the outer surface into a flickering flame. Careful to keep the burning orb within reach, he slowly willed it from candle to candle - nineteen in all, one for each year of Khara's life so far - converting the darkened cave into a warm and welcoming space filled with the dancing shadows cast by the candlelight. The orb continued to move as he willed it, abandoning the candles scattered around the cave's edges and advancing to the centre, where a campfire had already been prepared the evening before. A twinge of guilt twisted in his stomach at the lie he'd told; he had been here last night, not working late as he'd told Khara. Perhaps not something worth feeling guilt for, and yet he did; especially after the distress his earlier attempts at a benevolent deception had caused.

Slowly, he lead the orb of res in a spiral across the camp fire's kindling, smearing the fragment of his soul across the surface, willing it to transform from fledgeling flames into a crackling fire. Last, he slipped the blankets - the ones that had kept them warm on the journey here - from his shoulder, and added them to the others spread on the ground beside the fire, halting to adjust the picnic basket, the wine, the mound of half-concealed gifts that stood waiting and ready; fidgeting nervously out of a desire to make everything just right.

"Okay," he said at last, tentatively, his voice faltering slightly as he returned to her side and gently took hold of her hand once again. "You can open your eyes now."

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