Jain clutched his stomach around the arrow protruding from his lower abdomen as he trudged through the snow, his sword held in his right hand. He wasn’t sure how long he had been walking; an hour? two? He had left his dead horse back there after it had been brought down by archers. The ambush had been brutal. He had watched his brothers slaughtered, their blood splattering across his face and armor as he fought to help them. He had barely escaped and even now he wasn’t sure he was going to make it. He panted, his skin dotted with sweat that the cold air turned to pinpricks of ice. The toe of his boot caught a rock hidden beneath the snow and he had to brace himself on his sword to keep from falling all the way down. He crouched their on one knee, struggling to push himself back up.
“Excuse me, are you alright?” He raised his head at the concerned, feminine voice and found himself staring at her. Snow swirled around her, pulling at her her hair and the cloak draped over her shoulders. She had a covered basket in her hands, her fingers covered with gloves to keep them from the cold. Was he hallucinating? He felt himself tip over, the snow coming up to meet him as he fell to his side. “Oh my god.” She was suddenly next to him, her fingers smoothing back his hair.
“Go.” He said weakly, not wanting her caught in any sort of crossfire if he was being pursued.
“Shh, it’s alright. Let’s get you up.” He was so exhausted, but her concern gave him strength and he helped her help him stand. She pulled his arm over her shoulder then lifted her basket and they started the slow journey to her home.
The journey felt long and his exhaustion was getting worse but he kept making himself walk. Now that this kind woman was helping him he refused to pass out, he refused to make her carry his full weight. If she was going to mend him back to health he felt the least he could do was walk himself to her residence as best he could. When they finally made it she set him on the couch since it was the nearest thing. She could tell how hard it had been for him to walk there with her. If she was stronger she would have carried him but helping him walk was the best she could do.
Saadet went to her bedroom and pulled the blanket off her bed. It was the thickest one she owned and he would need it much more than her. Another thing she could plainly see was that he had been in the snow much too long. “thank you” he said weakly, hoping he had actually looked at her when he said it. His vision was so blurry. “thank me once I get that arrow out of you and mended. I’m sorry for the pain pulling it out will cause” He laid back and she quickly pulled it out, dropping it to the floor so she could close the wound before he bled much more.
She was so fast and he was so weak and out of it Jain barely felt the pain. He hardly uttered the words thank you before he passed out right there, his body eager to rest. She had been hoping to get him in bed first but at least here he’d be near her fire. She got one going again then found another blanket to lay on him. She then picked up the arrow and took it to her kitchen to throw it away.
She managed to get his boots off and moved him into a more comfortable position. He still held onto his sword and she gently pried his fingers open and propped it against the wall. He was so pale and his lips were blue. His skin was dotted with sweat and spattered with blood that couldn’t be his. She wondered where he had come from. She went ahead and got some soup cooking, wanting him to eat something when he woke. She knew he would need it, especially after being wounded and trekking through the snow. She glanced at him when she heard him mumbling, but when she checked on him she realized he was dreaming. He sounded troubled and she ran her fingers through his hair for a few moments hoping to soothe him.
Jain was frozen as he watched the slaughter of his companions, brothers and sisters who had stood next to him in battle time after time. He called to them to turn back, but the horses were in a panic as arrows and swords penetrated their hide. He screamed and jerked awake, coming up into a sitting position as he panted. He heard footsteps and reached for his sword, but it was gone. “Whoa, easy.” The feminine voice brought him back and he found himself looking up into a pair of beautiful, bright blue eyes. “You need to relax, you’re still recovering.” She pushed him back down, smiling at him. “Do you remember me?”
“You were…in the snow.”
“Yes, I found you wandering around out there.” She pressed her palm against his forehead. “You have a fever.”
“Shh, just relax. Let me get you something.”
He took in her worried expression. “Your name?”
“Saadet and who are you?”
“Okay Jain, I’ll be right back.”
He watched her walk away, almost grateful he didn’t have his sword. If he was any more out of it he might have hurt her. He felt terrible but he laid there on her couch grateful to this woman. He knew he’d probably be dead if she hadn’t happened upon him and offered her help. She could have easily ignored his pretense and went about her day but she came up to him anyway and brought him into her home. It was for people like her he wanted peace, she deserved to live in peace. He took in more about her when Saadet reentered the room. She looked to be about average height for a woman with long white hair that only made those gorgeous blue eyes pop on her face.
He didn’t know if it was his vision tricking him or not since he knew he wasn’t well but she seemed to be an elf. Typically if a being had pointed ears like hers they were of elf descent. Her soothing voice sounded again, claiming his full attention “take this please and then I want you to eat this bowl of soup” she had both on a tray so he brought his arms out from under the warmth of the covers to take it from her. He took what she had given then began eating her soup while she moved a little, motioning to his sword “it’s right there, I want you to be comfortable and I’m sure to be so you’ll want to know where that is”
He swallowed the bit of soup that had been in his mouth before saying “thank you, until my mind is more clear I suppose it’s better it’s not on me”
“Hopefully you’ll feel a lot better next tiem you’re up. I hope your body has warmed.”
“these blankets are amazing”
“My brothers are obsessed with giving me warm blankets so you have them to thank” he chuckled, causing her to laugh at her words too and add “they are just the protective type. You could pretty much call them obsessed with anything to do with my well being”
“I don’t blame them. After all you did just let a stranger into your home.”
“A wounded stranger, better to be kind than leave someone in need. Besides, even if you had been evil, I don’t I could have left you out there.”
“Well I’m not, I can promise you that.”
“I can tell.”
He smiled. “So, how many brothers?”
“Three, two older, Simidh and Parlan, and one younger, Fionn. Simidh looks identical to our father though, black hair, grey eyes and he’s really tall. Parlan and Fionn have the same hair and eyes as me, we get it from our mother.”
“And you’re elves?”
“Yes, you wouldn’t believe it if you saw him, but Simidh is in his mid-fifties.” She smiled fondly as she talked about her siblings, playing with her hair. “So, what about you?”
“I’m human and a soldier.” He slowly sat his bowl on the small coffee table. “I will repay you for your kindness, Saadet, I swear it.” He looked out the window and could see that it was still snowing. “I need to find a way to get a message to the King and Queen of this land. We were ambushed and I’m sure they don’t know.”
“We were delivering a peace treaty.”
“You need get better first. You can’t go out there half dressed with a fever.”
He chuckled. “On my honor, I will not leave this house until I am well. I don’t want to cause you more worry.”
“I’ll go with you to deliver the message if you want. Letting me come is how you can repay me”
“You leave me with no choice but I need you to understand it will be dangerous. Someone out there doesn’t want the message delivered. They could try again to keep the message from arriving”
“Life is always a risk, I mean look where I live. Do you take me for the cautious type?”
“hence why your brothers worry but personally, I admire bravery. They should be proud to have you as a sister”
“we should probably stop talking. You need to just be relaxing” she set the bowl back on the tray and took it to the kitchen. When she came back she said “I don’t have a spare bed but maybe you should take mine for awhile. I’m healthy so it’s better I take the couch”
“and have one of your brothers happen to stop by? They might strangle me”
“I wouldn’t let them”
“I’m pretty tough though, even in my weakened state.”
She laughed. “You’re extremely confident.”
“I have to be, I’m a soldier. I also can’t make you sleep on the couch.”
“You’re not making me, I’m telling you.”
He let out a little sigh. “You’re incredibly stubborn. Alright, but if it wouldn’t trouble you to much I’d like to take a bath.”
“Sure. You should let me help you though, you might fall down.”
“Sounds good, thank you.”
She left him long enough to get the water running then came back and sighed when she saw him already sitting up. “You need to take it slow.”
“I’m alright, I might be a bit weak, but I can stand.” He slowly got to his feet and stood still when his vision swayed a little. He took a couple of deep breaths, clearing his head. “There, see.”
She guided him to her bathroom where she started helping him undress “you don’t have to do this”
“You’re weak and healing, let me”
“I’d imagine stuff like this is also what makes your brothers worry” she smiled humorously “as cocky as you seem to be, in this state at least you couldn’t really hurt me. I’ve been living on my own a long time and I grew up with only brothers so i’m tougher than I might appear” He wanted to tell her he could be faking, that she really did need to be careful with people but he felt he might annoy her if he kept bringing such things up, especially since he himself wasn’t faking and really did need her help to get better. She helped him into the bath then said “yell for me if you need me alright? I’m serious, don’t hurt yourself”
“I’ll yell” She walked out and he let himself slide down a bit more into the comforting heat of the water. He looked around her bathroom. It was simple, you could tell it was a woman’s bathroom but it wasn’t overly girly. A beautiful hairbrush and a couple things for her hair laid on the counter. There were also a few bubble baths and scented shampoos that would also indicate a woman’s bathroom. The hairbrush is what mostly caught his eye. It was so pretty and intricate. He wondered where she got it and who made it.
He almost laughed at himself thinking so much of an item like a hairbrush but it looked more like an artist piece than something just for making your hair tangle free. His mind was soon back on the peace treaty, he hated not being able to take it right then. He hated the fact people could be so closed minded that they’d actually attack their group for trying to bring peace to the lands.
A knock sounded on Saadet’s front door as she was folding the blanket Jain had used and she peeked out the window to see her brothers. She sighed, of course they would come now. She opened the door and her youngest instantly wrapped her in a hug. “Hello, Fionn.”
“Simidh said we had to come because of the storm.”
“It’s good I did, she may have wandered out on her own without being able to see.” Simidh said as they all stepped in. He held up a couple of bags. “Food, just in case.”
“And a couple of new blankets.” Parlan said, showing two tied up bundles in his arms.
“Thank you, but you really don’t have to worry.”
Simidh’s eye was immediately drawn to the sword. “Who does that belong to sister dear?”
“Listen just put everything away first, alright and then I’ll explain, but you have to promise to listen.” She grabbed Fionn’s hand. “You can help me.”
“Just, I think he’d be more comfortable with another man helping out, he’s more polite than our brothers.”
“Who is this he?” Parlan asked.
“Just put stuff away.” She pulled Fionn back to her bathroom and tapped on the door. “May I come in?”
“Yeah.” Jain called back and she pushed the door open.
“You have a man in your house?” Fionn asked in a shocked whisper.
“Shush, I’m thirty-three for goodness sake and it’s not like that.” She smiled apologetically at Jain. “I thought you might want my brother to help you out since you were kind of iffy on me doing it. You have the same equipment so, I hope you don’t mind.”
“Are they all three here?” Jain asked.
“Yes, sorry. Be nice, Fionn, he’s sick.”
Very protective brothers were in the house so now Jain just hoped he could convince them he meant Saadet no harm. He was confident that even now he could defend himself but he was far too grateful to her to raise a hand to them if they reacted poorly. He just hoped if they couldn’t see he was harmless when it came to their sister that at least she could stop them. Fionn helped Jain out then helped him dress before they went back to her other brothers “so guys, this is Jain. I found him out there wounded pretty badly. I’m tending to him until he is better than I’m helping him deliver something to our rulers. He was attacked because of the peace treaty they have.” She said it all as fast as she could while still speaking clearly. She knew with her brothers seeing a man here, even wounded she needed to give a quick explanation regardless of her age. She could live another fifty years and they’d still fuss over her like she was seven.
Simidh stepped closer, looking Jain over. “You’re a warrior. So the sword is not just for show.”
“I was trained by some of the best.”
“If you mean my sister any ill will you should leave now, we will not let you off if any harm should come to her.”
“I wouldn’t lay a finger on her. I owe her a great debt.” He rested a hand against his abdomen. “Without her, I would be dead.”
“Come on, you should be relaxing.” Saadet said as she gently grabbed his arm and guided him over to the couch. “Please stop worrying so much, brother, he has a fever.”
“Please, he is right to worry.”
“Still, he could wait until you’re better to try intimidating you.”
Simidh sat down on the other end of the couch, crossing his arms. “I’m you’re brother, it’s my job.”
“I don’t know Simidh, he doesn’t seem very scared of you.” Parlan said, sounding amused. “Most men would be shivering and ready to run.”
“His over protectiveness is out of love, I cannot fault him for that. Your sister is kind and beautiful, she took me at my word, brought me into her home. All three of you have every right to be suspicious of me, but I swear on my honor as a man and a warrior that I wouldn’t dream of hurting her.”
“Hush now, you don’t have to explain yourself. Let me make you some tea.”
She walked away, knowing her brothers would at worst keep questioning him. “are you sure nobody else was alive? You couldnt have been on your own” the brothers could see obvious pain on his face, making them believe in his story more. “Yes, I’m sure, even wounded myself I made sure to check. If I managed to get anywhere I needed to know if anybody needed to go back for them”
“we are sorry then” Parlan said then Simidh asked “so what’s this about our sister going with you to deliver this treaty?”
“she insisted” That all three of them believed so Simidh spoke again “we will go too. She is our sister and if you’re attacked again we will want to be there”
“Are you boys hungry?” Saadet asked.
“We can always make something sister.” Fionn said.
“As long as you’re sure, I won’t mind.”
“Please, we’ve intruded again and you have a guest.”
She nodded as she put water on then came back and sat down on the couch between her brother and Jain. He was starting to put together a picture of who her brothers were. He already knew Simidh was the most the protective. Jain could see he took his position as eldest seriously. Saadet had not lied when she had said he was tall and he put him over six feet. Parlan was just as protective, but he had a more laid back air. He was sure the second of them teased his siblings constantly. Then there was Fionn who was equally as protective, but had a gentleness to him. Jain was sure he could fight if he needed to, but he mostly seemed to go with the flow.
“Do you remember how many men attacked you?” Simidh asked.
“It happened so fast, we barely had time to react. There were twenty of us total, but we were reduced to nothing in moments.”
“We’re going to get you where you need to be, Jain. I promise.” Saadet took his hand and he felt a calming warmth sweep through him.
They soon enjoyed tea together then her brothers left her alone with Jain to cook since they had dropped in without warning again. Their sister was always happy to cook for them but they felt it was only right to do some of the cooking too. “I think you’re winning them over” Saadet whispered to Jain. He smiled then took a sip of the small amount of tea he had left. Between the three men food was soon prepared and in front of them. “thank you guys, for everything” while she didn’t need their help she still appreciated that they cared for her like they did.
“I’ll get the blankets and pillows for you three.” Saadet said once she was finished eating.
“Thank you sister.” Fionn said.
“Where will he be sleeping?” Simidh asked.
“In my room with me.” Saadet answered before Jain could answer. She held up her hand when Simidh started to protest. “No arguing, he’s my responsibility and please don’t forget, I’m not a baby anymore. I think I’m allowed to sleep next to a man.”
“She has a point.” Parlan said with a chuckle.
Saadet took her dishes to the sink then went and retrieved all the blankets they would need for a pallet. Her brothers finished eating and washed the dishes then Simidh moved the coffee table over so Parlan and Fionn could lay out the blankets. “Are you sure this is alright?” Jain asked as he got to his feet.
“Absolutely, I trust you and you still need me to watch over you in case you get worse.”
“Could you bring my sword then? I know your brothers will be here, but I would feel more comfortable if it were nearby.”
Saadet carefully lifted his sword, carrying it for him to her bedroom, placing it just as carefully by the side of the bed he’d be on “Is that a good place for it?”
“Yes, I can grab it easily if I need to” she grabbed something comfortable to sleep in while he just slipped into her bed. Once changed she came back into her bedroom then laid down at his side. “do you need anything before I let myself fall asleep?” she asked gently. “No, you just rest. If I need anything I know where to find it at this point”
“How’re you feeling?”
“Like we might be able to leave tomorrow”
“if you still feel like you can in the morning I’m happy to go ahead and leave with you”
“You’ve been a real angel, Saadet.”
“Just don’t force yourself, okay?”
“I won’t, I promise.”
She moved close to him, making his heart flip when she draped an arm over him. “You’re still warm, but I bet if you sleep tonight, your fever will break.”
“I’m sure it will.” He reached up and took the hand resting on his chest, letting his thumb stroke over her knuckles. “Thank you my beautiful goddess of the snow.”
“That’s what you looked like when I saw you, like a goddess, almost like you weren’t real. I’m glad you were. As cruel as fate is, at least I was able to meet you and your family.”
Saadet blushed. “Rest now, okay?”
“Okay” In mere moments he was out, his body still tiredd from everything he had been through to get this peace treaty as far as he had. In the morning what Saadet thought proved to be true. Jain no longer had a fever and seemed ready to travel. She used a little more healing magic on him just to be sure everything inside of him was properly healed for him to be doing something as strenuous as traveling. “Now who is a worrier?” Parlan teased but it didn’t embarrass her. They set off, hoping they didn’t run into any trouble along the way. Saadet hoped whomever had attacked their group thought Jain had been eaten by something in the snow.
“We’re getting close to where we were ambushed.” Jain said, letting his hand rest on his sword.
“We’ll go around then.” Simidh said as he veered off from the road. “It will be safer since Saadet is with us and you shouldn’t have to see your friends like that.”
Saadet took Jain’s hand, giving it a gentle squeeze. “I’m sure the King and Queen would lend you some men to retrieve them. They deserve a proper burial.”
“We’ll even help.” Parlan said.
“At this rate, I’ll never be able to repay your kindness.”
“Don’t worry about it, we’re doing it for Saadet and because it’s the right thing to do.” Fionn replied.
Saadet gave him a warm smile and he felt his heart do a little flip. She deserved something from him. He thought about it as they trekked slowly through the snow, all of the men on high alert and keeping Saadet in the middle of them. Even though the goal was to deliver a treaty, to all of them she was more important. They all felt relieved when the castle walls came into view and hurried to the front gate where Jain showed the guards his credentials. Once they were let in, they were truly able to relax. The inside of the castle was warm and they were asked to wait while the King and Queen were informed.
“It’s a little sad.” Saadet said.
“What do you mean?” Jain asked.
“We only just met and now you’ll be leaving.” She felt incredibly selfish in that moment. In such a short time she had started to like him. He was so kind and selfless, it was hard not to.
“I do have to go back to return my men to their loved ones.” He took her hands in his. “If you would allow me to return, I would happily stay by your side.”
She smiled, relieved he wanted to be near her too “you can come back” Jain kept Saadet’s hand until the King and Queen entered to thank them. They discussed how to get the group he came here with back home to be buried then set the plan in motion. They wound up staying where he was from about a week for him to sort things out and watch his comrades buried but after that week they returned to Saadets home. Their feelings had grown even stronger at this point, to much more than simple like for one another and her brothers were happy. They liked Jain after getting to know him and felt he would take good care of her.
I hope you’ll be happy here.” Saadet said once they were relaxing together on her couch.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
“Well you lived in the city and I’m kind of out in the middle of nowhere, plus the weather is naturally cooler even in spring and summer.”
He chuckled as he lifted her onto his lap and hugged her. “I swore to stay by you always, no matter where you go, I will follow.”
She giggled. “My goodness, you take this code of honor thing pretty seriously.”
“It’s not just that, I really and truly love you. My heart belongs to you and you alone. My love and loyalty belong to you my sweet, Saadet.”
“Would you do me the honor of being mine forever? I would love to marry you if you’ll have me. I hear there is a ceremony your people perform, one that bonds the couple in every way. I want that with you.”
“really, so soon?”
“If it’s not too soon for you it’s not too soon for me” she could see no hesitation in his eyes, absolutely no fear or second thoughts. She kissed him, Jain deepening it. When they could manage to pull back from eachother she answered softly “Of course I’ll marry you. You’re an incredible man”
“when would you like to?”
“I don’t know, maybe my parents will have some ideas. I’ve never thought about marriage before” He tucked some of her hair behind her pointed ears “all that my heart needs to hear is that you’ll marry me. However long it takes to figure out how and when doesn’t matter to me”
He wanted to tell her family immediately and she couldn’t help but smile at how much energy he had. She was sure that it had something to do with his training and when he said he wanted to go into town and let them know, she didn’t protest and went with him. He scooped her up once they were on the road and didn’t put her down again until they were standing at Simidh’s door. When her brother opened the door, the first thing Jain said was, “I ask you permission to marry your sister.”
“Uh…” Simidh was taken off guard for a moment, but quickly collected himself. “Is he really asking me?” He directed the question at his sister.
“It’s just his way I guess.”
“You should probably ask our dad, not me.” He said to Jain.
“You’re her older brother, with your acceptance it will be easier. I want to be married in the way of your people, to be completely bonded with Saadet. I know you may see my question as a bit old fashioned, but I also know you only want the best for your sister.”
“Like Saadet always says, you’re adults. Besides as far as I’ve seen you’re her perfect match. She’s her and you’re incredibly level headed.”
“Hey.” Saadet said.
“I would be proud to call you brother.” He held out his hand and Jain clasped it, shaking it.
“I’ll get the other two, you go ahead and head over to our parents house.”
He seemed even more excited now that her oldest brother gave them his blessing. It was absolutely adorable, she didn’t mind at all he wanted to ask her family first. When they arrived at her parents home they were over joyed at his question. They started right away on wedding plans, her parents having hundreds of ideas when it came to everything involved, “It sounds a lot like you two have been thinking about my wedding for awhile” Saadet said teasingly and her mother replied “well of course, we always knew you would. You’re amazing so of course one day I man would want to keep you forever” Saadets cheeks lightly tinted as she smiled.
Both Jain and Saadet were grateful to her parents for having so much thought out. When the day of their wedding came, Jain stared wide eyed and open mouthed as Saadet and her father walked toward him. If it hadn’t been for Simidh grabbing his shoulder, he would have stepped down to greet her. “Patience brother.” Simidh whispered as both Parlan and Fionn let out a chuckle. He took her hands when she was given to him and smiled lovingly at her, causing her to blush.
“You’re so beautiful.” He said. He looked her over, taking in the dress her mother had had made.
“You look good too. Very aristocratic.”
His smile widened and he looked up at her mother who was performing the ceremony. “Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.”
“It’s okay, we’re all happy for you.”
Jain found the ceremony to be magical. He had never witnessed it before now and absorbed every moment, every word uttered by Saadet as she made her promises of love and carefully chose his own to convey his adoration for her. Her mother cut their hands and he laced his fingers through hers, staring into her eyes as their blood mingled. Her emotions came crashing over him, her joy, her nervousness, and the he swore he could feel the stuttering of her heart. His cheeks flushed and he watched as hers did the same. They were so connected he could feel everything and it humbled him.
“Can I please kiss her?” He asked, receiving a laugh from the small group.
“Yes.” Saadet’s mother said as she wiped at the tears in her eyes.
Jain began kissing her, trying not to make it overly passionate since everyone was looking at them. It was a struggle but he managed, moving his lips sweetly against hers. They felt so much that neither of them could stop crying. After the ceremony they enjoyed a feast, socializing and soaking in the bliss of taking this step in their relationship.Kids already came up and both were up for it without the slightest hesitation. They assured everyone they’d be trying soon. That day and teh ones following were absolutely amazing and the start to what Saadet felt would be a wonderful life.
~ The End