Things seem to calm down. Until Europa seems to be suggesting something she’s not
“Time to be off!” Libby called, turning about. “Don’t forget that y’all are older, and end up doing something you shouldn’t!”
She made her way to the deeper water and then vanished below it without a ripple. Logres heard Europa’s teeth grind again.
“Annoying woman!” She spat. “Using her own family…!”
“About that, Europa,” Logres said, standing and pulling her up with him. “I punched your brother, Flittermouse. He threatened my sister.”
“Punched?” She took on a hard look. “How is he? Permanent damage?”
“I don’t think so,” he replied. “He was able to speak and fly away just afterward.”
“Oh.” She relaxed. Slightly. “Threatened your sister how?”
“He’d a sharp object, similar to that,” he pointed at the one stuck in her cord. “He held it out and demanded to take Georgie back to your home. I objected and took it from him.”
He held up his right hand. Some type of porous tape closed the cut, but it was clearly visible.
“He cut you?!” Shocked, she took his hand with hers.
“Not exactly. This was just an accident when I took it from him.”
Her eyes moved up to his with her face showing surprise; surprise that quickly fell to anger, he thought. She pulled her object out of her belt and held it point-up between them.
“It’s called a knife, Logres,” she began. “It’s a tool, but it’s a tool that can be used to injure or kill.”
“I understand now, beloved. I shall take better care. However,” he looked over her shoulder at the Wall. “It would be better if we did not fight, at all.”
“Yes,” she returned the knife to her cord, “it would. But sometimes, we’ve little to no say in the matter.”
A small silence fell. Logres realized he was wasting moments that he could be holding her. He made a motion, but…
“Logres? I… was wondering…” She both lowered her eyes and grabbed at the front hem of her scarlet tunic. She stopped.
“Ah! Er… well…” She continued to mutter. “After what your cousin said, this is a little embarrassing!”
“What she said!” Her eyes and voice both raised. “I mean, yeah, we’re older and all, but…”
He gently placed his hands on her shoulders.
“Is there something you really want to do, Europa?”
She nodded vigorously, the top of her head brushing his chin. She gripped her tunic tighter.
“Just because we’re older… still… I want… could we…?” She took a deep breath and pointed with her right. “Could we play, on the beach, like we did when we met!”
He turned north, sliding his right hand to hold her left.
“Come on! Let’s play!”
There were fewer shells than along the coast of his home, but the rocks were interesting. Europa was on the strand sorting them while Logres carried another double-handful. Waist-deep in water, his right foot slipped on something smooth. Reluctant to lose what he’d already collected, he reached down, partly submerging his face, to feel what he’d slipped on. About the size of his palm… oh, well.
He released what had been in his right hand and picked the new rock up. Standing up, he held it in front of his face. It caught a rare line of light from the sky and flashed.
“Logres!” His love called from the beach. “What is that?!”
He shrugged and continued inland. Earlier, a few cycles into their play, he’d realized he should have changed into his water clothes, but as he was already soaking…. From her time on the strand, Europa’s tunic was nearly dry. Earlier, when it was wet and glued to her, it confirmed what his hands had told him: all curves. They’d been some lengths apart when he’d noticed, but he called to her.
“You are so beautiful, Europa!”
Her face faded a bit to match her tunic. Oh. She could make small bumps on her chest just as Libby-cousin did. She saw him staring.
“Th – thank you, Logres!” She began to move her right arm across her chest, but thought better of it and waved, instead. “You are very handsome!”
They’d smiled and returned to their tasks.
Back in the present, he walked up the beach and then kneeled in front of her.
“Here.” He handed her the golden stone, the size of his palm and about as thick.
“It makes me recall your hair; so pretty.” He said. A bit of Libby’s, too, but he wasn’t that stupid.
“Ohhh…” She held it up and looked closely. “It’s amber! I didn’t know there were any pieces still this big that had not already been found!”
He could have rooted around in her gifted memories to understand that but preferred to focus on the wonder on her face and amazement in her eyes.
She moved it just a little away from her.
“What are you going to do with it?”
“What do you mean? I’ve already given it to you.”
Her eyes glimmered.
“I can… it’s mine…?” She breathed just before throwing her arms about his neck. “Thank you, Logres!”
He put his hands on her waist.
“I’d rather this, anyway.”
He heard her soft laughter in his ear. Neither moved.
They both felt the signal.
“Oh.” She spoke.
He leaned back, his hands still on her.
“That’s it for now, it seems.”
She nodded, blinking quickly.
“I… I shall try to come back…” he trailed off as she slowly shook her head.
“There is… strange talk… in my homeland.” She began, looking left at the Wall. “It is probably just more lies, but there is this word…”
“Yes?” He asked.
She moved her eyes from the Wall to his.
“The word is ‘openness,’ beloved.” She smiled to break his heart. “We both must return home, now, but let me test this word!”
He saw her lips curl and a defiant look in her eye.
“Next time, I am coming for you!”
They stood, still holding each other. They kissed again.
Without a word, she turned and walked towards the Wall. He turned west, towards the route that would take him home.