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Auriala nervously wound her long thin fingers around the golden strings of the packet.
She had spent much time preparing it. Everything down to the dark maroon paper that covered it was picked after much thought. Even now she wasn't fully satisfied.
It is a stupid tradition, she thought. For centuries, at time of war, the royal women would bid farewell to their beloved with parting gifts and much ceremony.
She had never even thought much upon the subject until now.
Until now, when it was thus thrust upon her. For her engagement had been quite sudden. Arranged in such a hurry that she had not even known until just days before.
But now was different. It had been several weeks since he had placed that ring upon her finger. In any other situation she would have adored that ring. It was beautiful. A thin white elfish band, encrusted with many small diamonds. It sparkled now as the moonlight hit it. Mocking her. She loathed it. It had stolen from her any chance of true love.
Auriala smiled at this thought. She never had time to think of love, until it became impossible.
But she didn't hate Darian. She couldn't properly place her feelings for him.
This packet was for him. The fact that it existed, eliminated the likelihood of any feeling of hate.
What disturbed her now was that the parting ceremony was over. She had not given it to him then. On the contrary she had been quite rude to him the whole evening.
He had come to her. But she had had no words for him. Not even a smile. They had parted on a few sarcastic words, which were not placed directly.
She felt bad now. For she had been almost in tears when her father kissed her goodbye. He had seen her. Their eyes had met, if only for a second.
Auriala stiffened at the sound. Her heartbeat quickened. She had been so deep in her thoughts, she had forgotten why she was there.
She slowly turned towards the sound. Carefully placing the parcel out of view.
He was wearing his uniform. The emerald and gold of our now united countries. He looked quite handsome. And a bit annoyed.
"You wished to speak to me?"
"Y-yes. I... well, you see....I"
"Please be quick, princess. I have other matters to attend to." His words seemed harsh. He wasn't smiling.
Auriala hesitated, she could easily talk her way out of this. She wouldn't have to express the thoughts that were making her stomach churn and her heart ache. No, she would definitely regret it later. She must speak.
"As is expected of me, I would like to wish you a safe journey and a great victory." She spoke this all in one breath, so it was a wonder that he understood her at all.
From his expression he didn't seem to fully believe what he had just heard. When he had swallowed her words, his expressions changed. He looked even more annoyed and a little angry.
"Is that all your highness?" Darian asked, his words dripping with sarcasm.
"Well, yes." Auriala replied bewlidered.
At that he turned and made his way to the door.
Before she could stop herself she ran after him, "Wait!"
"What?!" he said turning on her. He was looking directly down at her now.
She craned her neck to look him full in the face, "Dont you have anything to say to me?"
"What should I say to you? What can I say? Obviously you were forced to confront me after your utter disregard this evening."
He glared down at her now red face. She looked beautiful. Her long black hair woven carelessly about her neck. Her small flushed face was contorted in anger, her hazel eyes flashing.
Darian hadn't noticed how mesmorizing they were before. His gaze made its way down to her mouth, which was indignant and quivering.
His anger seemed to vanish at that. She was about to cry. All of a sudden he wanted to comfort her.
"Nobody made me come here!" she cried turning from him.
"I came of my own accord." Auriala grabbed the parcel and threw it across the room.
Darian reached out and caught it. "There is your parting gift, and yes, I made it myself", she said quietly wiping the tears that now streamed down her face.
Why are you crying? He's right to be angry. I was hurtful. Auriala watched as he carefully unwrapped his present.
As he saw what was inside Darian looked up at her. His eyes were bright, with an emotion she could not place.
"Do you like it?" she asked taking a step towards him.
He pulled out the long dark cloak and pulled it about his broad shoulders. It contrasted wonderfully with his bright uniform.
"I love it" he replied grinning, admiring the lacework around the neck.
Her heart lept at the sight of his smile. She had never seen him smile like that before. She felt oddly warm.
"There's more." She walked upto and put her hand in his left pocket and pulled out a small glass vile.
"This is very useful for whenever you fall ill. It will help you to recover much faster." She handed it to him.
Darian took the vile and pretended to study it for a moment. He felt horrible now. He hadn't expected a nice word from her, but this. He turned his gaze back towards her.
Auriala had been watching him carefully. She was content. He had liked-- no, loved her gift. When their eyes met, her stomach jolted horribly.
His eyes were tender and smoldering all at once.
He reached out and touched her face with his right forefinger. Tracing her jawline he leaned forward and kissed her softly on her cheek.
He lingered there a second and then whispered is her ear, "Thank you."
He stepped back and making a slight bow he turned and walked out of the room.