Throwing water into his face, Ime closes his eyes. He feels the water droplets roll down his neck and bare chest. He’s thankful for the readily available water. During his training the only cleansing he got was from his swimming. He’s even more thankful for the private bathroom in his and Meah’s room.
With his hair still dripping, Ime enters the bedroom to see Meah sitting on the large bed. She’s wearing a thin, white nightgown that barely covers the top of her thighs. Her hair falls over her shoulders, waves dancing against her skin as a gentle breeze moves through the room.
A smile is on her face and her eyes sparkle with her magic as well as from the moonlight outside. “It’s nice not to be alone.”
Ime crosses to the edge of the bed and crawls onto it, leaning towards Meah and kissing her. She leans back to allow a better angle and places her hands on the sides of his face.
They part and Ime maneuvers so he’s sitting next to her. “I don’t want you to ever be alone.”
Taking his hand in hers, Meah leans her head on his shoulder and closes her eyes. She breathes deeply, taking in his scent. “I can feel how you’ve changed.”
“I can say the same for you.” He plays with her hand, using his thumb to make small circles on her palm.
Shaking her head, Meah’s smile fades. “I haven’t changed.”
“You organized the messages sent to our allies, something I was afraid wouldn’t be done before I returned from training.”
“I only did what needed to be done so everything would be easier when you came back.”
“That’s something the old you may not have been strong enough to do.”
“I’m not strong. I won’t be any help once the fighting starts.” She glances up at Ime. “I know you don’t want me to join in the fight.”
Pulling her close, Ime’s expression becomes serious. “You’re safer here.”
“But you’ll need Healers at the battleground. I can defend myself.”
“If you join in the fight, Klaeon will focus all of his forces on you. It’ll be better for you to stay away.”
“So I don’t distract any of you.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You didn’t have to.”
Silence grows between them. They can hear others in rooms around them readying for sleep. Daniil and Kylii speak low and quickly to one another. Jaxon locks his door and cleans his armor and weapons. Footsteps move stealthily down the hall and a tiny knock precedes a door opening. Whispers follow and soon the door closes.
Meah listens to the sounds of the city falling asleep and her magic playfully reaches for Ime’s fire. The warmth is welcoming and she feels it fill her. She squeezes Ime’s hand and nuzzles closer to him.
Wrapping his arms around her, Ime kisses the top of her head. “I like feeling your magic. It’s comforting.”
“Hm,” Meah answers, her eyelids lowering.
“It’s a better feeling than Klaeon’s magic.”
Meah’s magic roughly pulls away, moving so quickly a shock shoots through Ime’s body. He gasps and a hand goes to his chest. He stares at Meah with wide, confused eyes.
She shoves herself from him, her eyes mixed with anger and fear. “Don’t ever compare me to him.” Her voice shakes with rage.
Tears threaten to fall from Meah’s eyes. “You were.” She looks away from him. “I haven’t forgotten what Wynsil told us in Eraunel. I can take Klaeon’s magic away, like he took your fire.”
“We already discussed that. It was never an option. And Wynsil said you counteract the living magic inside of Klaeon.”
“He didn’t tell us the whole truth.”
Standing, Ime held his hands up, confused. “What are you talking about?”
The tears fall down her cheeks and she meets his eyes. “I’ve felt it. When I heal magic users, I’ve felt it. I’ve felt where their magic comes from.” She breathes, but it’s strained as she sobs. “Klaeon steals magic…I can destroy it.”