Prologue: Rushima played with the village children. Eating up the laughter and smiles she could draw out of them. Aras, whom she hadn’t noticed was watching. After the passing of his wife, she was the only thing aside from his family that could make him truly happy and she, unlike his family could make him happy in the simplest of ways. Just her coming up to him and saying hi would draw his mostly down spirits into pure happiness. Watching her like this even made him happy and he’d continue to do it until she noticed. He didn’t end up drawing her attention until one of the kids had to go home. She began walking over to him though he knew she would have preferred to fly over. That was the one thing that broke his heart about Rushima, that she let people make her feel like she should hide being half fairy. There wasn’t anybody who was particularly rude or mean about her being different but being the only halfling among a world of basically nothing but pure blooded elves made her feel uncomfortable most the time and he knew the other elves caused it. Her childhood had been rough at times and it was only because her father wasn’t an elf but a fairy. It had caused the other children when she was small to exclude her at times and make her feel like an outsider in her own world. “Aras” He stood, smiling, enjoying once again how she said his name.
‘I was wondering if you’d accompany me on a little adventure”
“Another one of those bucket list things I promised my wife I’d do”
“I’d love to go. When do we leave?”
“Can you be ready to go by tomorrow?”
“Of course” Aras smiled at her, that handsome smile that made her heart go wild every time. It was short lived enthusiasm though. She shouldn’t want him so much and she hated she couldn’t help herself. He was inviting her on another trip in memory of his wife and all she could ever think about was how handsome and amazing he was and how much she wished she could be with him. She had passed nearly fifteen years ago now and she still made Rushima feel guilty for loving him.
Present Day: Rushima was dreaming, another sex dream of her and Aras. It was abruptly interupted by a concerned Minka waking her “Rushima, are you okay?” She lightly blushed and rubbed her eyes “yeah, why were you worried?”
“you were moving a lot in your sleep” Minka and her fiance Jedrick had come with them. It was a last minute decision since they had so happened to drop in on her for breakfast the day her and Aras had planned to set out. They were so sweet as a couple and it made her desire for Aras worse though she did love their company. She was glad when they came back from helping Donat the two had chosen to stay instead of make a new life in a new world. If they had left they wouldn’t have built such an amazing friendship and at this point she couldn’t imagine her life without the two of them as friends. “I’m fine Minka”
“sorry for waking you then”
“No worries” Rushima looked around “where are the men?”
“Jedrick wanted to go fishing”
“Why’d you stay?”
“Aras wouldn’t go since that would leave you alone. I offered to stay so that Aras would leave. He was worried about you getting hurt by something” Rushima laughed “That Aras, always the worrier.” Minka giggled “well about you anyway”
“he worries about plenty of people”
Minka smiled. “I guess so.”
“Well since the guys went fishing, do you want to explore a little?”
“Sure, sounds like fun.” Rushima got up and Minka left to get her boots. She changed into something appropriate for hiking. Minka returned as she was tying her boots and Rushima couldn’t help but grin at the dagger bucked around her waist.
“Did Jedrick give that to you?”
“He insists I always have a weapon on hand.” She laughed. “He’s still worries when he’s not with me.”
“You two are so sweet together.”
“He’s a good man, I am so grateful to Aras, his brothers and Ryoko for freeing Jedrick. He can finally be who he is without fear of wrath from his father and brothers” Rushima smiled, Aras was so great. His wife had been incredibly lucky to have him. The two women walked off, deciding not to stray too far so the guys wouldnt panic, especially Jedrick. Staying here made him paranoid somebody might hurt Minka to punish him for his families acts and even a few he was forced to do. The things he would forever hate himself for doing even though it was just out of fear.
“So, how is the wedding planning?” Aras asked as he hooked another fish.
“Good, Minka is so excited. She isn’t even worried about anything else. I guess I worry enough for both of us.”
“Good, I’m getting stronger and Minka is enjoying working with women again. She actually has a of high profile clients set up for a play being put on. They want her to do their makeup.”
“That’s wonderful, I’m happy you two have settled in.”
Jedrick glanced at him. “What about you? Anything new going on?”
“Nothing really, it’s why I’m doing another one of these bucket list things. I dedicated four years of my life to my brother so now I just need to figure out somthing else to do you know. Until I figure it Rushima and I can just keep doing this stuff. Thankfully she is always happy to come along with me. I enjoy when you and Minka come but she’s..well..she’s been one of my best friends since we were teenagers. She makes these trips enjoyable.”
Jedrick smiled but didn’t comment. It was exceedingly apparent after getting to know him he loved Rushima and just didn’t realize it but like Rushima he didn’t know if it was appropriate yet so it kept Jedrick from shaking Aras and telling him he loved her. Aras would figure it out in time and when he did get around to realizing it he hoped for Aras’s sake it wasn’t too late and she was already taken by another man. Aras never seemed actually happy without her around and Jedrick didn’t know if any other woman would due for him.
The guys still weren’t back by the time Rushima and Minka returned. They were hungry, so Rushima put together a couple of sandwiches and handed one to Minka. “Do you think we should go find the guys?” Minka asked.
Rushima would love to spend more time with Aras, but every moment she was in his company was both happy and sad. “Maybe we give them a few more minutes.”
“Okay, Rushima, do you…um.”
“Do you want me to show you some of my make up techniques? I mean do you think Icould use you as practice? I have these clients that want me to do their makeup for a play and even though I do this sort of thing all the time, I think it would be good to practice.” It wasn’t what she had really wanted to ask, but she didn’t want to put Rushima on the spot.
“Sure, sounds interesting.”
Minka pulled her make up out and began working on Rushima. It was a slow process because Minka wanted to make her look as stunning as possible. She was nearly done by the time the men came back. They had enough fish to probably last them the rest of the trip. Aras nearly dropped the fish he was carrying as he was stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Rushima. She was always so beautiful but the way Minka had painted her face was making it hard for Aras to breath. Especially because it wasn’t until that moment that it hit him that he was attracted to her, that he always had been. He wasn’t single when they met so it didn’t really occur to him but somthing about what Minka had done had hit him and made him realize how stunning Rushima was.
“Give me a second Jedrick and I’ll help you clean the fish.” Minka said.
“take your time baby, there’s no rush.” Jedrick came around and looked at Rushima. “Wow, you did a really good job. You’re so talented.” He kissed the top of Minka’s head. “What do you think Aras?” He looked up when Aras didn’t answer. “Aras.”
“Sorry, she looks great.” Not just great, he thought, but absolutely stunning. It was like looking at a goddess come to life. He cleared his throat. “So uh, have fun today?”
“We explored a bit.” Rushima said once Minka finished her makeup.
“You weren’t bothered were you?” Jedrick asked.
“No way, we didn’t even go that far.” Minka answered with a warm smile. “We just didn’t feel like waiting around.”
“Besides, I have magic and Minka has her dagger, between us no man or beast stands a chance.” Rushima added. She turned back to Aras. “Want my help with your fish?”
“Oh, uh sure, I mean yes, thank you.”
“are you okay?” she wondered if something happened while he was out with Jedrick. It didn’t cross her mind a moment it might be her making him nervous. “yeah, really, sorry” Minka and Jedrick cuddled while they sat together as Aras and Rushima cleaned fish. “Hey so now that they are out of ear shot did anything happen? You were being weird” Aras blushed “I swear I’m fine”
“Okay, if you’re sure.” His heart was hammering and he was glad she didn’t have sensitive enough hearing to know how she was effecting him. It was mostly so overwhelming because he was still processing the fact he had always been attracted to her. Suddenly feeling all that he was feeling had him on overload.
When they finished with the fish, Aras put everything away while Rushima cleaned up the mess. “Would you like me to make you something to eat?” She asked.
“I’m fine, thanks.”
“Okay. Are you sure everything’s alright?”
“You look flushed.” She touched the back of her hand to his forehead. “You’re warm, are you feeling okay?”
“Yes, I promise. Maybe I need something cool to drink.”
“well then I’ll get you some water” she walked over to their stuff and grabbed a canteen of water, handing it to him. “thank you Rushima” He regained his composure and was able to act normal around her again. He didn’t want her worrying and he was just now realizing years of feelings. He had to sort through them himself before he was able to talk to her about them, if he was even going to talk to her about them. Since Aras and Rushima went through all the work of cleaning and storing the fish they weren;t going to eat tonight Minka and Jedrick cooked.
Over dinner Rushima wondered if she had done something wrong. She kept glancing at Aras only to find him staring off, seemingly deep in thought and when she did catch his gaze, he would quickly look away from her. They had always been at ease with each other, but now he was avoiding her. She sighed as she took another bite of fish. “Does it taste okay?” Jedrick asked.
“Yes, it fantastic.” She answered, putting on a smile.
“Good, I’m still not sure about my cooking skills. Minka says my food is good, but when you don’t really have to do anything for yourself you’re never really sure.”
“It’s good, I promise.”
“He always seems to think I’m making it up.” Minka said with a little laugh. “He has a talent for cooking, but he keeps trying to get better.”
“I only want you to eat the best.”
“Any better and I’ll get fat and then I won’t be able to get out the door.”
“I’m not worried about that. Then you will be all mine. I’ll just stay home with you, making you fatter and fatter” Minka giggled and he couldn’t resist kissing her. The next day they finished their journey to where they had been headed, one of the many places Aras and his deceased wife had never gotten around to seeing. It was truly beautiful and once again Rushima could see why she would have wanted to come here. She glanced over at Aras again, he was still being weird but she was laying off bothering him about it.
“This place is amazing.” Minka finally said. “Could we camp here for a couple of days, it has such a wonderful view.”
“You never have to ask. If you want to stay here, we’ll stay.” Jedrick replied and they started setting things up while Rushima and Aras both stood there looking out over the valley. It was covered with brightly colored flowers and when the wind changed, they could smell them.
“She would have really liked this place.” Rushima said softly. “She would have had us build a bonfire and then danced until her legs fell asleep.” She glanced at Aras, willing him to say something. “We made it here, I hope she can see that.” She patted his back and he jumped, startled out of his thoughts. “Sorry, I’m going to go help Jedrick and Minka, you just enjoy this place.”
“Yeah, okay.” She gave him the briefest of smiles before leaving him there. He watched her until Jedrick’s eyes met his then he quickly looked away, not knowing if his friend could see what was on his mind. He needed more time to think, to sort through his feelings for Rushima.
“Rushima?” The familiar voice caught her attention “Tommy?” She said excitedly and ran to hug him. Thomas was an ex boyfriend of hers. They had been broken up about thirty years and had ended on good terms. He decided to move and she didn’t want to go, he accepted that and they had remained friends, mostly pen pals but if they saw eachother they hungout happily, not a bad feeling between them. There wasn’t even the awkwardness of being exs because their relationship was just never that serious. They hugged and Minka ran over “Hello” she said and Rushima introduced them. She pointed to Jedrick “that’s her husband and I know you remember my friend Aras”
“Hey man, good to see you again.” He held out his hand and Aras shook it. “So what have you been up to?”
“Just traveling with Aras.” She answered.
“Well hell, it’s good to see you.” He hugged her again and Aras felt a sudden stirring of jealousy. He was shocked at himself. It wasn’t like he had a right to feel that way, she and Tommy were friends, even if they had dated, they still cared about each other and he hadn’t realized his feelings for Rushima until just recently.
“What are you doing out here?” Rushima asked. “Stalking me?”
“You wish, you’re not that special.” He teased. “Just traveling like you. I’ve been up here before, decided it was time for another visit.”
“Well, do you want to hang with us or do you have prior commitments?”
“I can definitely hang, I’ll just go get my stuff real quick. Want to come? Your friends can come too if they want, the path I took is really pretty.”
“I’ll stay here.” Jedrick said.
“Me too.” Minka chimed in. “Aras, you should go though, this trip was yours so go and see what there is to see.”
“Okay” he said, still trying to reign in the jealousy. The two of them hadn’t even been that serious together so Aras knew he had really nothing to be jealous over. Still, as they walked he couldn’t help but be petty and try to walk as close to her as possible. He didn’t know what he was doing but for whatever reason it made him feel better. Thomas just talked about all the things he liked about this area and added “you’d live real close to this Rushima if you would have just moved with me” She shrugged and hooked her arm in Aras’s “I couldn’t leave this lug”
“Oh I see, wound me further why don’t you.” He feigned hurt and she punched his shoulder. “Ouch, I’m hurt, I think you broke something.”
“Oh poor baby, do I need to make a sling.”
“Oh yes, my arm is clearly shattered.”
“I mean it though, I couldn’t just up and go, I love where I live, I have everyone and everything there I need there.”
“I know and if you’re happy then I’m happy. We had a lot of fun, we still do.” He nudged her with his elbow. “So, any new boyfriends? Anyone I need to beat up for breaking your heart?”
“No and besides, I’d have already broken them.”
“Yeah, but I’d still want to get my punches in. How about you Aras, dating anyone?”
“No, it’s just me right now.” He answered. “I haven’t really thought about it much.” He didn’t add the until now, he was still processing that and if he should say anything.
“That’s too bad, but I understand.”
As they walked him remembering why he had also liked Thomas made Aras relax if even just a little bit. He was fun and a genuinely nice guy. Thomas didn’t have a bad or unlikable bone in his body. Aras helped Thomas carry his belongings back to where they’d be staying then Thomas insisted on setting his tent back up himself. “you two go have fun, enjoy, really” Rushima took Aras’s hand “yeah, come on” She hoped he would go. She was so worried about him. She just wanted to make him smile, to make it easier for him to live without his deceased wife. She wondered if he was thinking of her and maybe thats why he was sad.
“Where are we going?” Aras asked.
“Don’t know, just thought it’d be nice to walk with you. Didn’t you say there was a lake around here, we could go swimming like we used to back then. I bet we could find some really pretty stones.”
“I bet I can still hold my breath longer than you.”
She smiled up at him. “Is that a challenge?”
“Of course, I can’t let you show me up.”
“Well get ready to lose then.”
It felt like old times when they got down to the water and started competing. He was smiling again and being him. However she had managed it she felt relief all that awkwardness was gone. Eventually Thomas, Jedrick and Minka joined them and they started playing chicken. Thomas was the judge and sat beside the water to make sure both teams were playing fair. They played until they were all hungry and returned to their camp to cook more of the fish Jedrick and Aras caught. “You guys have a nice supply” Thomas said, more accustomed to just getting enough fish for a meal at a time. “There was a lot where we just were so we figured why not? That way we didnt have to wait so long once we got hungry.”
Rushima and Thomas cooked and it caused Aras to battle his jealousy again. He just decided to go over and help them which made Rushima happy. They lost track of the days as they all just enjoyed being out there. The only reason they left was worry Minka might miss the job she had been hired for. She had a good reputation and didn’t want to hurt it. After Thomas left Aras grabbed Rushimas arm “Um, maybe you two should go ahead Jedrick and Minka..we’ll catch up or just meet you at home..”
“Okay” Minka said and Jedrick nodded. The two walked away and Rushima looked at Aras in confusion. He let her go “I’m sorry, I just need to talk to you and I think I have a better chance at doing it if it’s just us”
“Oh good, you’re going to tell me why you’re being weird?” Her chuckled nervously “sorry”
“No, it’s fine, I just knew something was up. Especially with how weird you were with Thomas too. You liked Thomas”
“Why don’t we go sit by the water? Maybe it’ll help” He pulled Rushima into a tight hug and she just held him in return silently.
She could hear his heart beating, loud and fast like he had just run a marathon. “Rushima, I…I think I might be in love with you.” He said softly.
Her heart jumped in her chest and she pulled back to look at him. “What?” Was all she could say.
“I realized it just recently, how beautiful you are, how you make my heart race, my jealousy over Thomas. It was like a punch to the gut. I…I needed to say something.” He stroked her cheek. “You’ve been right in front of me and I just looked past you.”
Rushima was so happy she felt like crying “Aras, truly? You love me?”
“I think I have for a really long time. I was just so heartbroken over my loss I didn’t see it” Rushima kissed him and he kissed her back needily. They ended up on the ground, just kissing and feeling one another. When they stopped they cuddled and just talked about things they had never talked about before as both their hearts raced. “I wonder what my brothers are going to say when we get back”
“Hopefully good things”
“well they think you’re pretty awesome, Ryoko does too”
“regardless I’ve wanted this so long Aras” They wound up staying out there for about another week before returning home and sharing the news with everyone. Everyone was as happy as they thought they’d be and more. Aras was now on healed and moving on from his deceased wife and there was nobody more perfect for him than Rushima.
~ The End