Prophecy Story Index || The Sentinel Fan Fan Fiction
Set a few months after 'Silent Song'......
Kell stared at the empty doorway, where a moment before Dorien had been standing. No one had seen him there. No one had realized he was listening. They hadn't been expecting him so early. He was supposed to have been teaching a class for a bit longer, giving them time to wind down a little from their late afternoon sword practice.
At least once a week, they liked to get together, just to talk, just to be friends, without the distractions of duties interfering. Usually it was just the four of them -- Kell, Dorien, Jydan, and Blaen. Sometimes Camella would show up and stay for a little bit, but not often. She still wasn't comfortable with the two new additions to their little circle of friends -- namely, Jydan and Blaen.
Next week Melaani would be joining their little group. She had finally agreed to come to their little evening get-together. At the moment, she was in a late evening tutoring session with Ryana, but that would be over at the same time as the class Dorien was teaching. So that left Kell, Jydan, and Blaen alone in Dorien's outer workroom, lounging on the couches and chair, talking quietly about days gone by.
It was supposed to be nothing more than a pleasant evening.
But that wasn't how things had gone.
It hadn't gone that way at all....
Blaen snagged a handful of grapes from the bowl on the table in the midst of the circle of couches and chairs, then leaned back onto the large soft chair again, slouching down rebelliously. Jydan shook his head from where he was sitting on a couch, chuckling. "You're such a glutton, Blaen."
"Hey, man, I'm tired. You've got me working double time helping you with your duties, much less my own." He popped a grape into his mouth, grinning unrepentantly.
Jydan rolled his eyes, and Kell, at the other end of the couch, laughed. Blaen only ate another grape, shifting around again in the chair, ignoring them to concentrate on the food.
They enjoyed the soft silence for a few moments, then Jydan turned to Kell, eyebrows raised. "So, when you do you think you and Dorien are gonna get married? I mean, we all know it's coming sooner or later."
Kell sighed. "I know. Sooner would be better. The court advisors are getting restless and worried. Bad enough that they don't like the idea of me marrying the Royal Bard, but I think they'd just be happy if I married at this point."
Blaen laughed. "They want more heirs, you know."
Kell glared at him, then rolled her eyes before looking back at Jydan. "What's with him tonight? Did he fall into a sugar bin or something?"
Jydan shook his head. "I have no idea what's with him. Probably found some great discovery in the library or something. You know these academic types -- they're a little flighty at times."
"Hey!" A pillow flew through the air and smacked Jydan in the face.
Kell lifted an eyebrow. "Flighty indeed."
Jydan merely tucked the pillow behind him. "Thanks, Blaen. I was about to ask you for a pillow. You read my mind."
Blaen muttered under his breath as he leaned forward to snatch more snack food.
Kell went back to the discussion. "Anyway, as for when we'll get married, I don't know. I guess," she hesitated, looking toward the doorway, "I guess whenever Dorien asks. I'm not that easy to talk to about marriage and Dorien tried before only to have me avoid the subject. He sorta dropped it after awhile. Got too frustrated probably."
"I seem to recall some similar frustration."
Blaen looked over at both of them, eyes darting back and forth, wondering where the conversation was going.
Kell glanced across the few feet separating her and Jydan, meeting his eyes for a long time. Finally she breathed out, "Yeah, I'm sure you do. I wish I could have told you more then, but ..."
Jydan raised a hand. "No, it's okay. Now, at least. I didn't really understand why then, but now I do. And everything's fine." He stretched out and grasped Kell's hand, squeezing it, smiling. "And I'm thrilled that you finally found the person you were looking for in Dorien. He's a good man."
"Yes, he is."
"And he loves you very much. Even I, the nearly-always-blind-to-the-obvious, can see that."
Kell chuckled, then whispered, "Yeah, I know he loves me. I still wonder why sometimes."
"So do I." Jydan grinned widely, a wicked twinkle in his eyes.
This time it was Blaen's turn to laugh as Kell glared at Jydan. "You are gonna pay for that." She leapt forward before Jydan could move, tackling him and sending them both onto the floor. Blaen yelped and pulled his feet up into the chair before they got smashed by rolling bodies as they grappled and wrestled with each other like two children. Fortunately for them, Kell had decided to wear pants instead of the skirts she had been wearing more and more often. Not that it would have stopped her.
Blaen sighed and rolled his eyes as Kell and Jydan laughed and wrestled on the floor. He said over the low volume of their laughter, "C'mon, guys, you're gonna bust something in here. And Dorien would not be pleased. Actually, neither would I." There was no response from either of them other than a few thuds and laughter. He went on, talking more to himself than to them, remembering the past. "Just don't start making out like you did before. That was one shock I don't care to repeat."
That was when he looked up and saw Dorien standing in the doorway, eyes wide with shock, face pale, staring at first at him, then to the area next to Blaen, in utter disbelief. Blaen glanced past the couches and saw Jydan and Kell, wrapped in each other's arms, frozen in the midst of their wrestling match on the floor. The picture it presented was the wrong one. Blaen shot to his feet, choking out, "Dorien! You're early! I, we, they ..." He stuttered to a stop and swore to and at himself, using some of the more colorful expressions that he'd heard Jydan use on occasion.
By that time, Jydan and Kell had finally untangled themselves from each other and rapidly got to their feet, both having heard Blaen's last comments before he had jumped out of his chair. They looked at each other nervously, then Kell took a step toward Dorien, hand outstretched.
"Dorien, I can explain."
He just stared at her as if he didn't even recognize her, then started to shake his head. "I, um, I ..." Words failed him and he ran.
Silence descended onto the room, with no one brave enough to break it. Then with a soft thud, Blaen fell back into the chair, his head in his hands. "I am such an idiot. I can't believe I said that. It was so stupid, so foolish, so ..." He growled at himself, then shoved both hands over his face before lifting his eyes to look at Kell. She was still staring at the open doorway, hand slowly falling to her side, loss and regret painted on her face.
Jydan walked to her side, touching her shoulder. "Go after him, Kell." When she didn't move, Jydan nudged her toward the door. "Hurry, before you lose him for good."
Kell looked up at him, eyes bright with emotion. Swallowing hard, she nodded and dashed from the room.
The two men watched her leave, then looked at each other across the room. Blaen dropped his head in his hands and muttered under his breath, swearing softly. A moment later, a hand descended on his shoulder, squeezing it tightly.
Jydan's voice was quiet and filled with guilt. "It's not your fault any more than it is mine, Blaen. And when Kell gets him to come back, we'll both apologize."
"And if he won't come back?"
Jydan didn't answer for a long time, then shook his head. "I don't know, Blaen, I don't know."
At first, Kell couldn't find Dorien. It was almost as if he'd just disappeared. One of the guards finally told her that they remembered seeing him leave the Academy building, but beyond that, no one had seen him. Making a quick side trip to gather Tavi, she set out looking for him. At the edge of the stables, Kell leaned forward in the bareback saddle, whispering in the black stallion's ear, "Find Dorien, Tavi. Take me to him."
Tavi whickered to her in response and started forward, heading for the lightly forested areas at the back of the palace grounds. Kell peered into the early evening darkness, one hand on the reins, the other gripping a handful of Tavi's mane. The bright half-moon and multiple stars out in the clear sky overhead gave her enough light to see by. Come on, Dorien, where are you? Please don't do this. I need you. You know that. She paused, shivering, more out of worry than cold. Don't you?
With Tavi, it didn't take her long to find Dorien's trail. From the prints, Kell guessed that he had taken one of the roan mares out, probably only throwing on a bareback saddle, much as she herself did. In a hurry and didn't want to waste time putting together a full saddle. Tavi followed the trail easily enough. It led up into the gently sloping hills just beyond the Academy, a place where she knew Dorien went to get some peace, to think, to create. It was his special spot. A place she had never gone to unless invited. She hesitated, but then grimly forced herself forward. I need to see him, to talk to him, before it's too late and I lose him to this.
She found him standing on the cliff overlooking the Academy. Shielded by trees, a person could stand for hours, watching the Academy grounds and not be noticed. It was why Dorien had chosen this place for his private spot. And probably partly why he had retreated there as well. He would be able to see anyone who was coming. As soon as she dismounted and threw Tavi's reins over a nearby branch next to Dorien's own mount, Dorien spoke in quiet, terse phrases.
"I hoped you would leave me alone, Lin." He snorted. "Obviously I was mistaken."
Kell didn't move, just stood far back from him, watching him as he leaned against a tree. "I couldn't leave you alone, Dorien. I have to explain. I have to tell you what happened -- what really happened."
"And what if I don't want to know? What if I know enough already?"
She took a step closer to him, wrapping her arms around herself, trying to push away how chilly it was outside. She'd left the Academy grounds without stopping to pick up a cloak and the early winter chill cut right through the single layer of clothing she wore. With determination, Kell took a breath, saying, "What happened between Jydan and I, it's nothing compared to what we have. I was attracted to Jydan, I admit that. But it wasn't the same as how I am attracted to you."
He turned, looking at her through the gloominess. He was more in the darkness than she and while she knew that he could probably make out her features, she couldn't see much more than his figure. But that was enough for her to know how he felt. He was moving stiffly, jerkily, and his arms were crossed tightly over his chest, as if both holding himself together and warding anyone else off. "Why me, Lin? Why not Jydan? It's been obvious to me since I met him that the two of you are much better matched than the two of us."
"Because I don't love him, Dorien. I love you. You and no one else."
Dorien paced away, still furiously upset that Kell had the gall to chase after him, to follow him, when he wanted to be left alone. He stood on the cliff, arms crossed, back to Kell, not wanting to see her, to hear her, to know she was there at all. "Just go away, Your Highness. I don't want or require your company right now."
"Dorien ..." For a moment, frustration and hurt overrode everything else in her voice from his refusal to talk to her rationally and from his reverting to a formal title to distance himself. 'Lin' was the only name he used for her much anymore, unless her formal title was required. To go back to that title now wasn't a good sign. "Please listen to me."
"Why? So you can tell more lies?"
"I haven't told you any lies!"
He whirled to face her. "You didn't tell me that there was something between you and Jydan."
"That was a long time ago, before we met. I was lonely. So was he. But somehow I knew it wasn't right, that it wasn't the right time or the right person."
"And I suppose I am." Dorien's voice was sharp and sarcastic. "Me. The little minstrel, the guy who can sing songs about the great Kellessan but who can't wield a sword worth anything. Someone who'd rather go read a book or write some stupid piece of music instead of trouncing raiders. Someone who hates to fight. Someone who is obviously not Jydan's equal in anything and could never be. I can't be your equal and he can."
"I don't want you to be my equal, Dorien! I have never cared about that. You know that." Kell's voice broke through his tirade, cracking with the intensity of her words. She strode toward him, talking quickly, not letting him say anything. "I want you, as you are, nothing else. I want your words. I want your music. I want your songs. I want your wisdom. I want your kindness. I want your joy of peace, your joy of life, your joy of books. I want your love." She placed a hand on his chest, over his heart. "I want you."
He stepped back, removing himself from her reach. "And I want the truth."
Kell blinked away the furious tears in her eyes. "What truth would you have me give you, Dorien? What truth do you want to hear? The real truth? Or a truth that will allow you to keep pushing me away?"
He closed his eyes and looked away. "Don't try to turn this on me, Kellessan. This isn't my fault."
She winced, this time because Dorien had referred to her by her warrior name, not a good sign either. "I'm sorry! Is that what you want me to say? Well, I am. I'm sorry you heard what you did. I'm sorry you're hurt. But it was a long time ago! It's over now. It wasn't even there much to begin with. Yes, there were feelings between us. Yes, we thought about each other. Yes, we kissed. But that was all. I knew it wasn't right. And for some reason, without me even telling him who I really was, Jydan believed me. We ended that part of our relationship, but remained friends. And that is all we are now. I promise you."
Dorien turned his back to her, clenching his fists at his sides, and tilting his head back so he could see the stars. In a quiet, broken voice, he asked, "Why didn't you tell me? About the two of you?"
"Because I knew what you would do, what you would think. I didn't want to hurt you. I know you think you're not the right match for me, that my love for you isn't real enough, that yours for me isn't good enough." She stepped toward him, laying a hand on his back. "And I know you're always comparing yourself to Jydan. I don't want Jydan, Dorien. The woman he marries will have to accept that Blaen is more important to Jydan than any woman could be. I would never be able to accept that, and Jydan would never be able to love me enough to make up for it. We would fight, argue, yell, scream, and in the end, hurt each other -- and Blaen -- terribly. I don't want that and neither does he. It's what we decided then and it's still true now. There is no more of those feelings between us. The memory of them is still there, yes, but that's all." She leaned forward, slowly wrapping her arms around Dorien's waist, pressing her face into his back.
Dorien stiffened in her embrace, but didn't move away. "Then what am I? Second-best? A lesser choice? Someone to have because things didn't work out with Jydan?"
Kell fought to keep her voice calm. "No! That's not it, not it at all. I never loved Jydan the way I love you. I never could and never will. You make me complete, not Jydan, and not anyone else either. You are the first, the only, and the best choice." She swallowed and went on, her voice unsteady with emotion. "I love you, Dorien. Please don't let this end now. I know I should've told you the truth right after Jydan came here, but I couldn't. Tonight was the first time I've even really given much thought to what happened between myself and Jydan in years. And if you really want the truth, it was because I had mostly forgotten it."
Dorien didn't move or say anything in response.
Kell sighed heavily, calling on those famous 'Kellessan nerves of steel' to hold herself together. She pressed a tender kiss onto Dorien's back through his tunic, then slipped away. "I guess I'd better go." She turned away and padded silently over to Tavi. Gathering the reins in one hand, she swung up onto the stallion smoothly. She stared at Dorien's non-moving figure one last time, whispering, "Goodbye, Dorien."
And then she turned and rode away, following the winding trail down the slopes. Overhead she heard the beginning of a storm and then felt the first sprinkles as they splattered against her face and hands and soaked through her clothes.
Halfway back to the stables, she pulled Tavi to an abrupt halt and lifted her face to the dark sky. The wind and cold tore through her clothes, but she ignored it all. None of it mattered anymore. Her heart was dying. She had risked her soul, had opened her heart, had let herself become vulnerable -- all things she had sworn never to do again after Terel's death. She had chanced all she was, all she could ever be, on one man, holding to the belief that he couldn't and wouldn't hurt her, that she couldn't do anything that would ever make him leave.
And now one chance remark had lost her everything. A chance remark that she could not blame Blaen for. She knew she should have told Dorien about her relationship with Jydan, however brief it had been. Blaen might have even assumed she had told him, except for how Dorien had reacted when he had entered the room and heard Blaen's comment. And saw her and Jydan on the floor, caught in the midst of what to Dorien's eyes would be a betrayal.
Kell straightened in the saddle, finding and using that strength and detachment that had gotten her through so many years after Terel's death. She couldn't break down, couldn't afford to do so. She was Princess Linet, heir to the Rillandan throne. She had to be strong for her people. She would overcome and survive.
She was also Kellessan. And Kellessan only allowed herself to make a mistake once. Well, you made two, my girl. First, by trusting that Dorien loved you enough to stand by you. And second, you made sure he couldn't stand by you by betraying his own faith in you. Good, Kell, real good. You're just the brilliant one, aren't you? But you don't need Dorien, right? She clenched her fists. No matter that Jydan and Blaen say he's softened you, helped you become Linet again, kept you balanced. No matter that without Dorien you'll only be half a soul, just like Jydan or Blaen would be without each other. Blaen is Jydan's balance, just as Dorien is yours. Without him ...
Kell choked, then whispered, "Without Dorien, I am alone." Just like you have always been, Kellessan, daughter of no one. Just as you were always meant to be. Alone. Never a part of anyone or anything. You are a warrior, not a princess, and definitely not worthy of Dorien's love.
And because she could not cry, the heavens opened and cried for her.
Kell didn't know how long she had been sitting in the middle of the trail, letting the rain pour over her, drenching her, when she heard a hesitant voice behind her.
Her eyes flew open and her hands tightened on Tavi's reins. She shifted on Tavi's back and looked behind her to see Dorien dismounting from the roan mare and sidling up to stand next to Tavi. He laid a hand on Kell's leg, then looked up at her, entreaty in his eyes. "Please, don't ... don't go."
She slid off Tavi's back, landing with a squelch in the mud, uncaring that she'd probably ruined a good pair of shoes. Dorien stepped back a little to give her room, staring at her. He opened his mouth to speak, but didn't get anything out.
Kell laid a finger over his lips. "No, please, don't apologize. This wasn't your fault. It was mine. I didn't mean to hurt you. And I didn't mean to lie to you, even lying by simply not telling you everything. I'm sorry."
Dorien lifted a hand and folded her hand in his, then pressed it against his chest. "I'm sorry too. I know you didn't think I needed to say it, but I did, if only for misunderstanding what was happening back there. I know you were only wrestling, playing around, but between that and Blaen's comment, well, I guess I sorta lost it. It was unexpected. And it ... hurt to see. Jydan is --"
She interrupted, shaking her head. "Jydan is a friend. Nothing more. And he is the one who sent me out after you, told me to find you before I lost you. He's happy for us, Dorien. He holds no lost feelings for me. I don't need him. I do, however, need you. I told you that you make me complete and you do. Only you accept me for who and what I am. My parents have never understood the warrior part of me and would rather I just be Linet. Jydan doesn't know how to relate to the princess and would rather I only be Kellessan. You, however," Kell paused to stroke his face once, smiling, "you have shown me how I can be both, how I must be both. You have always had faith in me that I can find a balance between the two. You're always there for me. And I love you, my wonderful little minstrel. I don't want you to be anyone other than who you are."
Dorien smiled, raising his other hand to cup Kell's face, saying softly. "I love you, too, Lin."
Kell returned his smile and shifted forward to meet his lips as they descended onto hers. His hand slid around to cup the back of her head. Her free hand shifted to grip his waist. Their other hands were still tightly entwined and held over Dorien's heart.
Above them, the rain tapered off into a gentle drizzle as the moon reappeared to bathe them in a soft, ethereal glow.
- The End -
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