A beam of sunlight nudged at Leasha to open her eyes. The bed was hard and uncomfortable beneath her and yet the maiden in her arms was warm and comforting. Leasha pulled her closer. Then remembered.
Her eyes were open in a flash. Suddenly awake, she leapt off the wooden table and darted around to check over the precious, injured Wealderling.
Breanna was still.
Her wound had healed, but when Leasha tentatively pulled back the leather of her tunic, she could see the venom had left its mark. Tentacle scars reached out across Breanna’s abdomen from the point where the talon had ripped into her. Leasha’s hand stroked the soft flesh. She should have protected her better. They had all come on this quest to protect Breanna, to get her to the Wizards so she could learn everything she needed to and turn back the Dragons. Yet now she lay wounded.
But Breanna was strong.
Her skin had cooled and her blazing fever had passed. Her breathing was steady and her lips parted softly as she slept. She nuzzled slightly at Leasha’s hand as she stroked her neck and the Elf princess lingered a little too long after checking the rhythm of her heart.
Breanna would recover.
Leasha was relieved. Her patient was healing. Yet… something deep within her had hoped it would take longer; that she could tend to her more, and would be needed by her side for long hours… alone.
But it wasn’t to be.
She had done her duty, healed her friend, and now, all too soon, they would be parted.
When they reached the Wizard’s Tor, their quest would be over. Breanna would enter training, secluded from the outside world to learn the secrets of the Wizard Council.
It was unlikely that they would ever even see each other again.
Could Leasha join the Wizards? Give up everything; her life, her Queendom, her family name… but for what? She wasn’t even sure if-
Breanna’s eyes flickered open.
Leasha snapped her hand away as if her skin burned. “Bree?” She held her breath waiting for an answer.
It took Breanna a moment to focus on Leasha. She tried to sit up.
“It’s all right!” Leasha said, helping her move to the edge of the table, “you’re safe.”
“Where are we?” Breanna asked hoarsely as she looked around.
“A Druid settlement. You’re still weak but the worst has passed.”
Breanna winced and clutched her side as she tried to stand but Leasha was relieved to see a hint of a smile at her lips. “I see you are always to be my nursemaid?”
Leasha laughed. “Well, if you must insist on getting yourself poisoned all the time!”
Breanna smiled at her. She had the deepest, darkest brown eyes and they held such courage and kindness. The young women held each other’s gaze for a long moment and Leasha was sure that Breanna found it just as difficult to pull her eyes away.
“I feel like we’ve been here before…” Breanna whispered.
Leasha reached out, stroking Breanna’s cheek. “Only this time it’s different.”
“This time everything is different…”
Her heart pounded. Leasha knew their brief chance to be alone together was ebbing away. It wouldn’t be long before they were torn from one another. She wanted more. She needed more. But now was all they had.
“I…?” It was a question Leasha barely dared to voice, but she edged forward, nervous yet somehow certain.
Breanna stared at her, there was pleading in her eyes. “Yes,” she whispered.
It was all she needed to hear. Leasha pulled her closer and Breanna sank into her arms with a rush of warmth that left her powerless. The touch of their lips was soft at first but with a gradual intensity that sent a flickering magic along Leasha’s skin. At once her heart stopped and her breathing ceased, the room around her swirled into nothing and there was only the giddy sensation of finally being kissed back.
“I see you’re awake then?”
In an instant, they flew apart.
Leasha’s hand went to her mouth, and she knocked a kettle as she fumbled backwards. “Yes,” she stammered
“Good to see you well.” The Druid woman, Rozen, round hipped and broad-shouldered, marched over to the startled Breanna. “You know, your beloved did not leave your side for an instant.”
“Oh, she’s not my-” Breanna stammered.
“I’m not her-“
“I mean, we’re friends-“
“Y-yes, yes, of course, I mean, of course-” Leasha’s cheeks were hot. She looked away as her jaw tightened.
“’Friends’?” Rozen laughed. “Well, you ‘friends’ must be parched something rotten, aye?”
“Yes, yes, yes we must,” Leasha stammered, backing out the hut and unable to bring herself to catch Breanna’s eye, “I-I’ll go to the well.”
She turned and darted for the outside. As the cool air of day hit her hot cheeks, her stomach twisted. She could hear Rozen laughing. What would that Druid woman think?
An unfamiliar pang of guilt twisted in her gut; she had just walked out on Breanna. She’d left her the very moment they had first…
She turned, unsure if she could summon the courage to head back inside.
The shout startled her. A Druid Guard ran past and darted towards a crowd gathered in the village square. “An army Sire, spotted on the horizon.”