Story for the Day: Requited
Here is part of the story arc I'm just finishing for book 12. Someone gets his affections returned. Enjoy.
The celebration of Frewyn’s coming to the islands endured throughout the afternoon hours: Abharaas was shared, music was played, lilting hymns were sung, dances were performed, and everyone was disposed to enjoy themselves whether being regaled by the melodious air of the bards or being beguiled by the sight of the sleek Haanta women undulating their hips to the varying rhythms of the skin drums.
While the party from Frewyn was being entertained, Hathanta was at liberty to remain at his master’s side. He delighted in caring for Soledhan and remaining in the company of those he had come to love, but being beside the one who nurtured and cared for him was ever an enchantment to him. He gloried in his master’s words and bask in the warmth his sagacious smile provided. Though he had met with him every night during their usual convention during Saalikaa Madaraas, there was something particular about being in his master’s physical graces that gave him joy. He had raised him, guided him and honoured him with all of his blessed teaching, and the respect he held for his master answered in a serene countenance and a reciprocal smile.
Hathanta spoke in quiet words with his master, remaining just beyond the entrance to the celebration grounds, close enough to hear and observe the revelry but far enough not to interfere. He was invited to take part as everyone on the islands was, but for him the true source of celebration was garnering the soft council of the one person he had so longed to see. He and Hebhiitsu remained outside the ceremonials for some time, discussing the voyage to the islands and the business of the Eastern Continent when Hathanta suddenly observed Varthrasta walking toward the celebration. His heart leapt and he ceased speaking. He was astonished to see the reticent stonecutter so close to the ceremony and without the usual covering over his eyes. He smiled, his eyes glowed with joy, and his did his utmost to conceal the fullness of his overwhelming exaltation at seeing him.
There was something, however, that kept Hathanta from gazing in Varthrasta’s direction: he was looking at him. Hathanta at first believed that perhaps the reclusive stonecutter was looking at his master and he turned his gaze back toward the celebration, but a quick sideways glance conveyed that his presumption was incorrect. He was looking at him, even approaching him. He must command himself, he must guard himself against losing composure, but he was nearing, he was looking for his attention, and Hathanta soon discovered that he was unable to avert his eyes from the one he had wished to see but had nearly relinquished notions of hitherto. He turned to the stonecutter to greet him and inhaled, exhaling with a collected aspect.
“Varthrasta,” he said, bowing low. “Kodhanaas.” He placed his hands into his sleeves and used the screen of the long, white fabric to obscure his hands gripping his forearms in hopes of assuaging his budding anxiety. His object came closer to give his salutations, causing Hathanta’s breath to quicken. He stood upright and respectful, remaining a fair distance, attempting not to seem overjoyed and diminishing his smile to convey just enough pleasure in seeing him.
Hebhiitsu noticed his student’s sudden alteration in conduct and stepped away with his mate to give the two the solitude the impending situation must require.
Varthrasta made a small inclination of his head. “Kodhanaas, Themari,” he hummed in reverence. He perceived Hathanta’s desperate stillness and did not draw nearer to spear him any added agitation.
“You may call me Hathanta, Varthrasta,” he said, only too happy to repeat the stonecutter’s designation. “You have allowed me your name. It would be undeserving of me not to permit you mine.”
Varthrasta made a small smile but said nothing to accept or deny the allowance.
Hathanta felt all the trepidation the silence afforded and looked to his master for comfort but Hebhiitsu had gone into the celebration with his mate and had left him to bear the situation as well as one of his generous and timid constitution could. He swallowed and in a tremulous voice said. “You have been well here on the islands?”
“I have been,” Varthrasta replied in peaceful tenor. “Training with your master has not been painless, but I am improving.”
“I am pleased to hear this. I was worried-“ Hathanta stopped. He grew nervous, believing that he had become too informal in his conversation. He averted his eyes to recollect himself and began again with, “It was everyone’s hope that you would find means of relief. You are able to walk the islands without your covering?”
“I am,” Varthrasta said.
Hathanta became sensible of the stonecutter’s silver, pupil-less eyes once he had drawn attention to them. He had always found them fascinating, even since the day he had rescued him from Varron’s camp. His breathing slowed, he becoming lost in the abysmal nature of Varthrasta’s silver eyes. A flush of his cheek revived him and he looked down to hide his embarrassment. He became conscious to the remembrance of what the stonecutter’s eyes could recognize: his every intention was laid before him. He sighed, acknowledging that there was little meaning in attempting to hide, and ventured to preserve his civility even though his intent must already be conceived. “Are you yet able to join the celebrations?” he said hopefully.
Varthrasta shook his head. “No. I have not advanced as much as Mhardhosa has in his training. He is a far better student than I am. I am fortunate to be able to look at others much less be in the company of so many.”
“His difficulties are different. I am certain that with more time, you will be able to fully govern your abilities. You have already done so well is such a short period.” His commendation was well-intended but was silenced when Hathanta realized that Varthrasta was staring at him: he had not blinked or turned aside. It seemed that he was being inspected, for what he had little idea, but he hoped that whatever the stonecutter saw, he approved whether he was gauging him now or how he would be a few days hence as his eyes would determine. Hathanta interlaced his fingers behind his back and gave Varthrasta a hesitant smile, nervous as to what he could see in his prospect.
The stonecutter admired Hathanta more than was advisable, for the more he scrutinized the more unsettled the Themari became. He found much to laud in the tall, ashen creature. He always had done, but was tentative to say lest he give Hathanta false hopes of his affections being requited. He had always been subject to Hathanta’s kindliness and charitable character but had not seen the extent of his generosity until now: to sacrifice his own comforts to give solicitude to others, especially one whom he would have in a more affectionate consequence. He felt for him considerably and began to reflect that perhaps such a caring and altruistic creature’s attentions were not so undesirable as he once believed they might have been. He gave Hathanta a small and conscious smile, and said gently, “Will you walk with me along the shore?” while gesturing toward the grey sands of the Mharvholan coast.
Hathanta started, inhaling with uncertainty. He thought perhaps he had fathomed it while being caught under the penetrating gaze of two silver eyes. He waited to hear this offer contradicted but it was not. He had not dreamt it, and he being so wanting of the stonecutter’s company was indefensible to resist. “Of course,” he breathed, succumbing to his highest joys. He bowed in receipt of the invitation and followed Varthrasta to the edge of the sands where they began their walk together.