Dreams of Change(2)

By: Brandy L Rivers

She took a moment to consider her options.

Leave and never see the man again. Merova couldn’t bear that idea.

Or stay and find out if she could trust him. Curiosity won out.

* * * *

Halstien had never seen anyone more beautiful. Her eyes were a pale green that shimmered like precious gems. Her long golden hair hung in waves that called to his fingers.

He’d heard the stories of her power. Knew the clans all wished to use her. No, he wanted nothing from her other than her heart, if she were willing.

One look and he knew she was his other half. He’d never imagined he would find someone for him. And there she was.

The only thing he wanted was to see her smile, and he’d do anything to make that happen. Even take her far from the mountains to find their own place in the world.

Through rifts he’d traveled and found new lands. Though something had always kept him rooted to the mountains. He’d never ventured far for long, always coming back. And now he knew why.

He led her through the forest to the home he built for himself. His parents’ home had been destroyed with spells. After burying them, he moved farther into the forest, preferring to avoid the towns except when he needed to trade. Luckily, he could pass for either.

Smiling, he nodded to his home. “Not much, but it stays warm and it’s comfortable enough.”

“It’s perfect, and thank you. I wasn’t ready to go back to town yet.” She glanced down, clearly nervous.

“Because people ask too much of you?”

Glancing away, she nodded.

As much as he wanted to reach for her hand, he didn’t. Instead, he met her gaze. “I don’t imagine it’s easy to trust, but I will never ask for anything. My parents died because my mother was tired of the demands of both her clan and my father’s. She was Sylvan. He was a mystic. And after they fell in love, the mystics wanted to use her talents against her own people.”

“What happened to them?”

“They warned them not to have a child. They didn’t heed the warnings, and Father took her away the moment he learned she was pregnant.”

“You grew up without either clan?”

He lifted a shoulder. “There are other outcasts in the forest. And I have been in each village to trade, but I am always careful to only display my talents that fit with that village.”

“And the Wildling Fae? Have you gone to our town?”

He nodded. “The easiest to trade with. They don’t ask, but they’re happy to do business with me.”

“What happened to your parents?” she asked again, her gaze unwavering.

“I went hunting ten years ago. I came back to our cabin razed to the ground and their charred husks. An old friend who lived nearby told me what happened. My parents never told the elders about me, and it’s the only reason I’m still here. Neither the Sylvan, nor the mystics wanted a hybrid born. They consider my magic too destructive and would hunt me down.”

A tear slid down her face. “I’m sorry, Halstien.”

He managed a smile. “Not your fault. But it’s why I won’t ask for anything. I understand all too well the burden of those wanting too much from one person.” He moved to the hearth and started a fire. “In any case, you’re welcome to stay for as long as you want. No one will find us here.”

“I need to go back in the morning. My family will worry and begin to search for me if I stay away too long.”

“Whatever you need, I will make it happen. Whatever you want, I’ll do my best to ensure.”

“Thank you.”

“And if you ever need to get away again, I’ll be waiting to bring you back here, or take you far from those who demand things from you.”

She blinked slowly, a smile spreading. “I believe you. I shouldn’t. I’ve heard it all before, but you’re different.”

Dipping his head, he put fresh meat on the fire and sat down beside her. “Tell me all the things that make you happy.”

Frowning, she lifted a shoulder. “Hardly remember what makes me happy. I’ve been pestered for things for so long that I’ve forgotten anything but pushing people away. So, you tell me, what makes you happy.”